DES MOINES, Iowa — Two radio station employees made racist comments about Hispanic basketball players from an Iowa high school last week in a video that was broadcast live online.
Both employees have been fired. KIOW radio in Forest City released a statement apologizing for the broadcasters’ comments during a Tuesday boys’ basketball game between Eagle Grove High School and Forest City High School.
In the video, which appears to capture a conversation during a radio commercial break, the broadcasters opine that there are a lot of “Español people” in Eagle Grove and comment on the basketball players’ names, questioning whether they’re “foreigners.”
The two also invoked President Donald Trump.
“As Trump would say, go back to where you came from,” said Orin Harris, a longtime broadcaster of Forest City athletics.
The woman, whose identity could not be immediately ascertained. responds saying, “Some would say that. Some days I feel like that too.”
KIOW manager Karl Woodridge declined to comment beyond a statement posted online.
Wright County, home to Eagle Grove, was 11.4 percent Latino in 2016; the demographics firm Woods & Poole Economics projects that figure to be almost 32 percent by 2050. Census data show that about 5 percent of the population of the city of Forest City is Latino.
Eagle Grove Superintendent Jess Toliver said the comments were disappointing.
Toliver said Forest City Superintendent Darwin Lehmann called Tuesday evening to inform him about the broadcast.
By 10:50 p.m., the Forest City superintendent and the radio manager were on the phone with Toliver to apologize, he said.
Apology letters from both KIOW and the Forest City school district were sent to Eagle Gove, Toliver said.
“It’s disappointing when our students go somewhere and aren’t treated with the respect they deserve,” Toliver said.
He said Eagle Grove coaches and the students are involved in conversations abbut how to handle the situation and move forward, Toliver said.
“I have a letter of apology from Forest City schools, even though they handled the situation great, and I talked to the (radio) manager and owner to let them know our concerns and frustrations,” Toliver said.
The video was broadcast on the Cube, an online video service used by local high schools.