Price sorry for jabs at Hooser
But KSSK's sincerity is in doubt after Perry says the apology wasn't necessary
KSSK radio personality Larry Price apologized on the air yesterday for comments he made during an interview last week with state Sen. Gary Hooser.
But Hooser and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa complained that comments from Price's co-host, Michael W. Perry, show that KSSK is not taking the incident seriously.
In a contentious on-air interview Friday, Price asked Hooser if he had blue eyes and was born on the mainland, while making the point that "local people" are suspicious when such people say they are speaking "honestly."
After Price apologized yesterday, Perry said the apology was not necessary and that Price's comments were taken out of context.
State senators said KSSK still owes the public a further apology because one offered by radio show host Larry Price yesterday was overshadowed by his co-host saying his statement was unnecessary.
Popular morning show personality Price apologized yesterday for "inappropriate remarks" he made Friday about state Sen. Gary Hooser's California birthplace and blue eyes during a live interview.
After the 7 a.m. news reports, Price said, "I would like to take this time to apologize to our KSSK listeners and the people of the state of Hawaii for the inappropriate remarks made to Sen. Hooser on Friday morning's show.
"If my comments were offensive to anyone, I realize it was wrong to make them," he said. "There's 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."
But Price's apology was followed by a four-minute-long commentary by his longtime partner, Michael W. Perry, who defended Friday's remarks and said no apology was necessary.
"You're crazy, you don't have to apologize," Perry said. "I am the blue-eyed member of this morning team. This was not about racism; it was about hypocrisy."
Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau) said KSSK still needs to prove that they understand the seriousness of the situation following Price's apology yesterday.
"I appreciated (Price's apology) and that sounded sincere," Hooser said yesterday. "But placed alongside the comments of Michael W. Perry, it makes me doubt that the station and Clear Channel Communications are taking this seriously. They seem to be trivializing the event."
KSSK General Manager Chuck Cotton, who released an apology Saturday, did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment on Price's apology and Perry's remarks.
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa also released a statement saying, "While we recognize that Mr. Price offered an apology (yesterday) morning, it was clear that neither his co-host nor radio station KSSK are treating this matter with the seriousness it is due. This episode cannot be fully closed until Perry and Price, KSSK radio and Clear Channel Communications indicate that they understand and accept the impact of Mr. Price's statements on the public."
Perry and Price, who have been on air together for 24 years, invited Hooser onto their morning show Friday after being critical of the state Senate this past legislative session. Halfway through the 15-minute interview, Price asked Hooser about his birthplace and blue eyes.
Price's comments sparked public debate between locals and mainlanders, with some listeners drawing a connection to Don Imus, a nationally known CBS radio talk show host fired recently after an uproar over his comments calling the Rutgers University women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."
Gerald Kato, a journalism professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said while he believes there should not be laws restricting free speech, remarks similar to Price's do not belong on public airwaves because they stop productive dialogue.
"Where you come from and what color your eyes are is the measure of what kind of dialogue you're going to engage in," Kato said. "That's a conversation stopper, and we want to encourage full and free discussion on the public airwaves."
He added that Perry's commentary following Price's apology shows that he believes there is no need for one.
"I think the station needs to be clear with them and with the audience what they believe is acceptable on-air chatter," Kato said.
In his remarks after Price's apology, Perry continued: "I understand you're apologizing. On the radio, people hear 60 percent of what we say and 40 percent of what we mean. I understand that. You're calming the waters, that's good.
"That's just so typical. Cries of racism, I'm a victim, I'm a victim," Perry said.
"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," Perry said.
Perry concluded: "We have a broken system here, and we keep electing the people who are broken because nobody challenges them. So we challenge them and what gets reported? Blue eyes. ... You don't have to apologize, the Senate has to apologize. Blue-eyed Perry on the left."
PRICE QUESTIONS HOOSER'S HONESTY
During a morning interview Friday, the following exchange between radio host Larry Price and state Sen. Gary Hooser prompted a formal apology:
Price: "You keep using the word 'honest,' senator. Where you from?"
Hooser: "Where am I from? Kapaa."
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."