Two broadcasters at KATV, Channel 7, in Little Rock apologized Wednesday for their “insensitive” actions the previous month.
The station was criticized after a white anchor appeared on air wearing an afro wig to “celebrate” weather in the 70-degree range, calling the segment a “return to the 70s,” according to a Twitter post from Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Tucker said a member from the local chapter notified the national organization.
News director Nick Genty was fired as a result, but the suspended anchor returned to the air Wednesday night.
“I want to take a moment to apologize and be accountable for a terrible decision I made when I last appeared on this newscast back on Sept. 16,” said Chris May, the evening news anchor. “That night I did what many of you have said I did. I appropriated a look that was not just unprofessional, it was insensitive and it was offensive.
“My intentions were irrelevant. All that matters was how I made people feel, and it is clear that I caused many people, many African-Americans in particular, to feel pain. And for that I could not be more sorry.”
May told listeners that the incident has led him to “more closely examine myself and the station to more closely examine its mission and purpose in covering our entire community.”
“In both cases we can and we must do better,” he said. “And moving forward, we promise we will.”
May said he was grateful for a second chance to earn the trust of viewers and to continue serving Little Rock and Arkansas.
Barry Brandt, chief meteorologist at the station, also issued an apology, saying he made what he thought was a “lighthearted reference to the 1970s using a prop during my forecast.”
“Please know that it was never ever my intention to offend or cause any harm,” he said. “This incident has taught me to be more aware of cliches and stereotypes and the damage they can cause. It was insensitive. It was objectionable. I apologize deeply for my actions. And I will work to regain your trust.”
Last month, Sinclair Group Manager John Seabers said the company will implement further training for sensitivity and workplace conduct to ensure that such an incident doesn’t happen again.
According to Tucker, station managers met with the Central Arkansas Association of Black Journalists, and she listened in.
“I listened & learned: ALL managers are White. 40+ employees, only 8 Blacks. City is 42% Black,” Tucker said in a Tweet on Sept. 22.
She was complimentary of Sinclair in subsequent tweets and commended the company for firing Genty.
On Oct. 4, Tucker posted on Twitter: “We had productive conversations with @WeAreSinclair CEO and upper management. They promise to investigate past and current racist complaints and ‘reform’ the culture @KATVNews.”