Forest City, Iowa – It began as a viral video that turned into two firings and a conversation about racism.
Two employees at radio station KIOW have been 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 was a teacher within the Forest City School District. She is no longer employed by the school.
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Harris, in an exclusive interview with KIMT, said he had been suspended but was eventually fired.
“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 the students they were talking about in the recording.
FORGIVE, SAYS STUDENT WHO WAS TARGET OF RACIST COMMENTS: http://www.kimt.com/content/news/Eagle-Grove-student-targeted-by-racial-comments-speaks-out-462145703.html
“These two are grown adults ... 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 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 the following 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.
The station called the comments directed at members of Eagle Grove High School “deplorable” and said “KIOW in no way condones or supports these comments.”
A letter of apology was sent to school officials on Nov. 30, two days after the basketball games between Eagle Grove and Forest City.
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