A television meteorologist is out of a job one day after Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott called for his firing for making a racial slur during a broadcast. An executive at the station, WHEC (Channel 10), apologized to viewers on the air during an evening broadcast Monday.
During a weather forecast on Friday which showed a live shot of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, Jeremy Kappell appeared to refer to it as “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.”
Kappell, who had been WHEC’s Chief Meteorologist since October 2017, said on Twitter Monday afternoon that he had been fired. The station’s vice president and general manager, Richard A. Reingold, later confirmed Kappell’s dismissal in a statement.
Warren and Scott called for Kappell to be let go on Sunday evening.
“It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur,” the statement from Warren and Scott said. “The individual responsible for the slur should no longer be employed at Channel 10.”
“As a result of that broadcast, meteorologist Jeremy Kappell is no longer with News10NBC,” Reingold said. “We believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard.”
Reingold made a statement on the station’s 5 p.m. newscast to speak directly to WHEC viewers. He also told anchors Jennifer Mobilia and Brett Davidsen that he first learned of Kappell’s on-air comment on Sunday morning.
“The minute we learned about it we jumped on it,” Reingold said. “We spent all day yesterday investigating it discussing it and reviewing it. (The mayor) did not have any impact on our decision because we did not know about it.”
Reingold would not say whether he believed Kappell’s slur was intentional.
“It’s a difficult painful decision and I think anything that transpired between Jeremy and those conversation should remain private.”
Kappell said Monday that he simply “stumbled over words” and he asked to be able to air an apology and explanation.
“I have never and would never do anything intentionally to tarnish the reputation of the greatest civil rights leader of all time,” Kappell added.
Prior to joining WHEC, Kappell worked at stations in Texas, Mississippi, Kansas and Kentucky.
Reinglod said the station had conducted an internal investigation before making the staffing change.
“These words have no place on News10NBC’s air, and the fact that we broadcast them disheartens and disgusts me; that it was not caught immediately is inexcusable,” Reingold said. “I regret that we did not immediately interrupt our broadcast and apologize on the spot.”
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SOURCE: USA Today; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Sean Lahman