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Most read of 2017: 2 fired from radio station after racist comments heard during broadcast

Story received national attention.

Posted: Dec. 28, 2017 8:06 AM
Updated: Dec. 28, 2017 8:07 AM
Forest City, Iowa – Two employees at radio station KIOW were fired after inappropriate comments surfaced on a video feed on Forest City's school website.
The video, which was broadcast on The Cube, an online video service many local high schools use, had audio attributed to KIOW-FM in Forest City linked to the broadcast. The game was played Tuesday, Nov. 28.
During one back and forth with a board operator, Orin Harris, a longtime voice of Forest City athletics, is heard saying:
“As (President) Trump would say, go back where they came from,” the man said.
The second person in the conversation was Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt, who is also a teacher within the Forest City School District. She is no longer with the school district.
“I’m sorry. I’ve disappointed all my family and friends,” said Harris, who worked at the radio station for more than 40 years.
“At first I was upset, I was angry, I had just a bunch of different emotions didn't really know how to be reacting,” Misty Padilla said.
Padilla is the mother of one they were talking about in the recording.
“These two are grown adults that have, they're not 20 years old, 30 years old, and they are older and they know what has taken place in this world growing up themselves but yet they choose to do that,” Padilla said.
Padilla's son Nikolas was contacted the night after the game she says by his coach who was first contacted by Forest City coaches. That's when they first heard the racial comments were made about him and his teammates, but it wasn't until days later they found out what exactly was said.
Forest City superintendent Darwin Lehmann issued the following statement:
"The communication that took place during this broadcast is inconsistent with the policies and values of Forest City Schools. We expect all staff to hold the same values that we teach in our education system every day,” he said. “We apologize that the inappropriate conversation was streamed over The Cube, a school-sponsored communication channel.”
KIOW released a statement.
“KIOW Radio has a long history of promoting and supporting student athletes, coaches and schools. As a company, we take great pride in spotlighting the great efforts of our local citizens, schools and communities, and we will demand that all company employees adhere to this policy,” the statement said.
During the nearly 90-second conversation, the topics include how Eagle Grove has many players with last names they think are Hispanic and "Espanol people in Eagle Grove."
“They’re all foreigners,” the two say.
Eagle Grove superintendent Jess Toliver said the school was issued an apology the night of the game and called for his school district to be respected wherever it goes.

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