AUSTIN (KXAN) - The hosts of the popular KLBJ weekday show "TheTodd and Don Show" have been yanked off the air for the nexttwo weeks after a backlash to racial comments made about illegalimmigrants during a show earlier this week.
Station managers on Wednesday said Todd Jeffries and Don Pryorare suspended without pay after Pryor, a co-host, used a derogatoryterm several times during a discussion about what to callimmigrants during a Tuesday morning show. Undocumented workers andillegal immigrants were among the terms used as common examples inthe media.
Pryor, who said he was making sarcastic comments about racism,used the word "w*****k" dozens of times during the hour-long showas a tongue-in-cheek example of what to call Mexican nationals whoenter the country illegally. By KXAN's count, the word was used 34times.
Producer Jeffries, who co-hosts the show, didn't say the word -and in fact tried to stop Pryor - but was being held responsiblefor the remarks because, managers said, he should have done more tostop Pryor. Jeffries is also the station's News Director andconducts news cut-ins during the morning drive.
The show will have a guest host for the next two weeks, andneither Pryor nor Jeffries will be available for speakingengagements representing KLBJ.
Managers said they have reached out to Austin's Hispaniccommunity, including Austin City Councilman Mike Martinez, in theaftermath of the controversy - which began Wednesday morning whenthe U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association - with more than 1,000members in Central Texas alone - demanded an apology and threatenedto boycott the station's advertisers if management didn't respondappropriately.
An apology issued by Jeffries and Pryor on the air on Wednesdaydid little to placate their concerns. It was unclear on Wednesdayafternoon whether the strong reprimand by station managers would beaccepted by the association, which planned to meet Friday todiscuss a boycott.
On Wednesday, after the association began to threaten a boycott,Pryor said the remarks were made in sarcasm and humor - apparentlyas a way to highlight how Americans had used the racist term fordecades.
"It does not reflect our management," said Pryor. "I often usesarcasm."
They went on to say, "We are sorry. We do want to move on fromthis." It was unclear from the broadcast whether it was Jeffries orPryor who made that last comment.
Interview requests for Pryor and Jeffries were referred toVice-President/Market Manager Scott Gillmore.
The apology clearly was not enough for the association chairman,Frank Fuente, who said it was superficial.
""They took a minute today to explain themselves," he said."Yesterday they used the whole hour allowing people to use the termand using it themselves."
During the show on Tuesday, Pryor repeatedly used the termduring the discussion - which also included terms used bynewspapers, broadcast media, Hispanic advocacy groups, and evenWikipedia. After a long list of the more politically correct terms,Pryor said he didn't want to have to think about it so hard everytime the subject came up.
"What happened to the good old word "w*****k?" Pryor said duringthe show. "Seriously, what was wrong with that? It wasmemorable."
He attempted to clarify his remarks during the show, calling it"humor cloaked in racism."
"I should apologize to people, you think?" said Pryor during theshow. "Of course I'm kidding when I say bring the word w****** backinto use. I don't really want for us to start describing illegalimmigrants as w*******. I'm using humor cloaked in racism. That'sall it is. That's all it is. It's very sincere."
The discussioncontinued using the term. Jeffries repeatedly tried to stop it,and finally suggested they go to a commercial break. After thebreak, however, callers and Pryor continued in the same vein - alarge reason the Hispanic contractors' group was so angry.
Fuentes said Wednesday that Pryor was clearly trying to push useof the word. Worse, he said, the hosts allowed callers to go on airwith racial comments and slurs against immigrants, inflaming analready sensitive issue.
"In my opinion, local radio programs have a responsibility tothe local communities they serve, and it is unfortunate that The Toddand Don Show, especially Don Pryor, chose to divide thiscommunity by playing on peoples' fears and anxieties during thesedifficult economic times," Fuentes said in a statement.
He added that the hosts have "a blatant disregard for thecourageous men and women who risk life and limb in the dailyperformance of tasks critical to the infrastructure of the verycountry in which Mr. Pryor obviously prefers they do notinhabit."
Throughout the hour, the hosts continued to discuss the issueand took several phone calls from listeners.
"We should honor these people who come here to work and want tobe free like us instead of using terms like "w*****k," said acaller named Renee.
Others applauded the host for bringing it up for discussion.
"It is refreshing, especially in a liberal town in Austin, justat least having dialogue about the term," said another caller.
Fuentes said his group will meet on Friday to decide whether toboycott KLBJ advertisers.
"All of those advertisers have a responsibility as to how theyuse their money," he said. "If they are supporting that kind ofbigotry, then maybe our people shouldn't buy from them."
Mack Brown's attorney and the university's new athletics director say the Texas coach has not resigned, denying a report that Brown was ready to step down after 16 seasons with the Longhorns.
A large majority of the crowd that poured into Austin City Hall on Tuesday night was disappointed with the Parks and Recreation Department's decision to approve a smaller off leash area at Auditorium Shores.
The top prosecutor in Travis County found herself on the witness stand Tuesday to answer questions about her professional and personal history along with her history of alcohol.
A proposal to build a highway in south Austin is getting mixed reviews from neighbors.
An Austin man has been convicted in a human smuggling case in which a teen says she was forced to wear revealing clothes and sexually assaulted while bound for New Jersey.
An historic early December cold spell is slowly waning, but temperatures will remain well below average for a couple more days.