Price offers on-air apology
|Audio :Recording of an on-air telephone interview Friday between state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser and KSSK personality Larry Price.|
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dan Nakaso
KSSK radio personality Larry Price apologized on the air to state Sen. Gary Hooser yesterday and said there is no place for the kind of "insensitive language" and "inappropriate remarks" he used last week during an interview with the state Senate majority leader.
Price also apologized to KSSK listeners and the people of Hawai'i for his comments to Hooser on Friday morning's show.
"If my comments were offensive to anyone, I realize it was wrong to make them," he told KSSK listeners during his morning show. "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."
Shortly after the apology, Price's KSSK partner, Michael W. Perry, said on the air, "I think you're crazy. You don't have to apologize. ... The Senate has to apologize."
The controversy began when Price, in an interview Friday, asked Hooser where he was born and raised and whether he had blue eyes.
Hooser asked, "Does that matter?" To which Price said, "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 ... that sounds suspicious."
In a statement yesterday, Hooser said: "While I have not heard from Mr. Price directly, I understand that he issued an apology for last week's remarks on his radio show this morning. As much as I personally appreciate his effort to address his inappropriate and offensive statements, it is clear from statements that continue to be made on the show that the management and owners of KSSK still do not understand the seriousness of the matter.
"Radio station KSSK and Clear Channel Communications have an obligation to their listeners and all of the people of Hawai'i to acknowledge that the views expressed last Friday are inappropriate and unacceptable in our community. I remain hopeful that they will eventually address this matter in a way that is meaningful and supportive of our shared values."
KSSK General Manager Chuck Cotton did not return telephone calls yesterday seeking comment.
After yesterday's KSSK show, Perry spoke to The Advertiser on Price's behalf and said Price wanted to put the issue to rest.
Perry characterized Price's comments as "an uncategorical, definitive, no weasel words, full-on apology. That was his decision. I, of course, don't agree with it."
Cotton had issued an apology on Price's behalf on Saturday. Cotton and Price spoke Sunday night, Perry said.
But Cotton did not pressure Price to apologize, Perry said, and no one knew what Price would say until he spoke following yesterday's 7 a.m. news update.
Before and after Price's apology, Perry said, the station received "a ton" of calls from listeners about the Hooser interview. Most supported Price, Perry said. Callers who were critical generally had not listened to the interview, Perry said.
Most "leaned to supporting Larry, as you'd suspect," Perry said. "People who said it was a bad thing to say hadn't heard the interview. If they heard the interview, Larry's point was exactly the opposite. ... He's a bigger man than I am because I wouldn't apologize."
Even though Perry and Price now consider the Hooser episode closed, Perry said, "we'll have the loonies call in who still haven't heard what he actually said and we'll deal with that."
After Price's apology, Perry told him on air, "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."
Perry went on at length, calling himself "the blue-eyed member of this morning team."
"This was not about racism," he told listeners. "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?"
Perry: "I didn't think so."
The original exchange between Price and Hooser on Friday came after Hooser argued that the Hawai'i Superferry, which is to begin interisland service in July, should have conducted an environmental impact statement. Hooser said, "A close and honest look at the law would say that the Superferry should have done an environmental impact study."
Price later said: "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."
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."
Reach Dan Nakaso at email@example.com.