KSSK apologizes to state senator
Hooser holds Price, not KSSK, at fault
State Sen. Gary Hooser is waiting for a personal apology from popular KSSK Radio talk show host Larry Price for racially charged remarks made about the senator's blue eyes and birthplace during an interview last week on the legislative session.
KSSK General Manager Chuck Cotton released a statement Saturday apologizing for Price's comments. However, Hooser said the apologies should come from Price.
"While I appreciate the sentiment and the apology given by Chuck Cotton, I really believe Larry Price should personally extend his apology to myself, my family and the residents of Hawaii," Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau) said yesterday.
Attempts to contact Price through KSSK yesterday were unsuccessful.
Cotton declined to comment further, other than what he said in his released statement: "Larry Price would like to apologize for the inappropriate personal comments in 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 Hawaii and to our KSSK listeners."
KSSK has long dominated the morning drive-time airwaves in Honolulu as the team of Price and Michael W. Perry draw among the highest audience-share ratings in the nation.
The duo had been critical about the Senate this session and invited Hooser to speak on Friday morning's show about education and other issues.
Perry was questioning Hooser about the Superferry when, about halfway through the interview, Price interrupted because the senator kept using the word "honestly." He asked Hooser where he was from.
Hooser told him he was born in California, graduated from Radford High School (class of 1972) and was from Kapaa.
The interview went on:
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."
The two interrupted each other in argument, and the conversation continued:
Price: "I heard you on the floor of the Senate tell Sen. (Fred) Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo) that he shouldn't say anything about Kauai or anything that's going on there because he's not from Kauai. We could turn that around and say the same thing about you."
Hooser: "I told Sen. Hemmings he should not criticize rural hospitals because he does not use rural hospitals."
Price: "You told him because he wasn't from Kauai and he didn't know what was going on there. We could say the same thing about you. You don't know what's going on here."
Hooser: "(Scoffs) I'll let the comment pass, Mr. Price. You want to talk about something productive or positive?"
After the interview, Hooser said he was "deluged" with phone calls and e-mails from KSSK listeners who also said Price's remarks were inappropriate.
Many readers also compared Price's remarks to those of Don Imus, a popular CBS radio talk show host recently ousted after an uproar over his comments calling the Rutgers University women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."
"To truly put it to rest, the station, including Mr. Price, needs to publicly acknowledge on air to the listeners that his comment was inappropriate," Hooser said. "They need to learn from this."
According to the "Perry and Price" Web site, the duo has been on air together since 1983. They host the weekday morning show and a Saturday morning show from John Dominis. The Web site says that Price won nine national awards as a TV journalist with KITV. He was also a coach of the University of Hawaii football and volleyball teams and a part-time college professor.
Price went to Roosevelt High School, received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his doctorate from the University of Southern California and Stanford University Graduate School of Business.