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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 12:30 p.m., Monday, May 7, 2007

Price apologizes on KSSK for Sen. Hooser comments

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer


KSSK's Larry Price apologized this morning for comments he made during an on-air interview with state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser on Friday.

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Sen. Gary Hooser on Friday was asked where he was born and raised, and whether he had blue eyes. The backlash against Larry Price began following that exchange.

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KSSK morning radio personality Larry Price apologized this morning for comments he made during an on-air interview with state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser on Friday.

After today's 7 a.m. news update, Price said he wanted to apologize to KSSK listeners and the people of Hawai'i for his "inappropriate remarks that were said to Sen. Hooser on Friday morning's show.

"If my comments were offensive to anyone, I realize it was wrong to make them," Price said. "There is no room for this type of insensitive language that I used. I have learned from this and I hope that Sen. Hooser will accept my apology."

Price's KSSK partner, Michael W. Perry then said, "That's it? You're apologizing?"

Price: "Yup. It's the right thing to do."

Perry: "You know what I think?"

Price: "I'm afraid to ask you what you think."

Perry: "I think you're crazy. You don't have to apologize."

Price: "Nah. The apology stands."


Price's apology came two days after KSSK General Manager Chuck Cotton issued an apology on Price's behalf for the comments he made to Hooser during the interview.

The backlash against Price started after he asked the senator on Friday where he was born and raised, and whether he had blue eyes.

The following exchange took place during between Price and Hooser:

Price: "You keep using the word 'honest' senator; where you from?"

Hooser: "Where am I from? Kapa'a."

Price: "Yeah, where were you born and raised?"

Hooser: "I was born in California. I graduated high school at Radford High School."

Price: "You got blue eyes?"

Hooser: "(Laughs) I do. Does that matter?"

Price: "Yes, to us it does. Because when local people hear somebody from the Mainland talk about how honest everything is that means that something's wrong. You know when they say 'frankly' or 'honestly' we did a lot of things, you know and stuff like that, that sounds suspicious."

Hooser: "You know, I don't really appreciate a reference to where I'm from, from California, or my blue eyes, Mr. Price."

Price: "Well I don't care what you think."

(Hear more from the recording of an on-air telephone interview Friday between Hooser and Price.)

Hooser told The Advertiser on Friday he had received several telephone calls from listeners who were upset and called Price's comments "over the line."

Other lawmakers and listeners agreed, calling into the station and to The Advertiser.

On Saturday, Cotton issued a statement that said "Larry Price would like to apologize for the inappropriate personal comment directed to Senator Hooser during Friday morning's interview. We value the trust that our listening 'ohana places in us and we extend our apologies to the senator, the residents of Hawai'i and to our KSSK listeners."


Price declined to address the issue for the first two hours of his show this morning, waiting instead until after the 7 a.m. news report.

Perry, Price's longtime co-host, repeatedly asked Price throughout the first two hours of the show if he'd like to address the situation, but Price repeatedly declined.

After Price's apology this morning, Perry then went on at length, calling himself "the blue-eyed member of this morning team."

"This was not about racism," Perry said. "It was about hypocrisy as anybody who heard the whole thing knows. If you listen to the part of the news, the interview that wasn't in the news stories, you know exactly what it was about. ... On the radio, people hear 60 percent of what we say and 40 percent of what we mean. I understand that. So you're calming the waters. OK. This is just so typical. Cries of racism. I'm a victim. I'm a victim. Racism, right. Larry Price, Caucasian father from Tennessee and Hawaiian-Portuguese mother from here. Which half of you was racist? This stuff drives me nuts. It's just so typical. A 15-second sound bite overwhelms a devastating, revealing 15-minute interview about our dysfunctional state Senate. People who heard the whole interview know exactly what this is about. Go listen to it. It's still on the Internet. I have a feeling what happened was most people heard the blue-eyed thing and then turned to the people next to them and said, 'Did you hear what he said?' They didn't even listen to the rest of it where you made your point. Your point was exactly the opposite point from the one you are accused of making and that drives me nuts.....Would you like to withdraw your apology?"

Price: "No."

Perry: "I didn't think so. You don't have to apologize. The Senate has to apologize. You're a better man than I am. Blue-eyed Perry on the left."

Price: "Price on the right."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.