STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

New York meteorologist fired after using racial slur on air

A television station in Rochester, New York, fired a meteorologist Sunday after he used a racial slur on air...

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 10:13 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 10:13 AM

A television station in Rochester, New York, fired a meteorologist Sunday after he used a racial slur on air.

During WHEC-TV's Friday evening broadcast, Jeremy Kappell said "Martin Luther Coon Park," when referring to a downtown Rochester park named after slain civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Continents and regions

Discrimination

New York (State)

New York City

North America

Northeastern United States

Racism and racial discrimination

Societal issues

Society

The Americas

United States

Broadcasting industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Cable and television industry

Earth sciences

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Media industry

Meteorology

Misc people

Science

Internet and WWW

Social media

Technology

In a video viewed by CNN, Kappell says "King" immediately after using the slur and continues with the broadcast.

Kappell said his use of the slur was a mistake caused by speaking too quickly.

"What happened on Friday, to me, it's a simple misunderstanding. If you watch me regularly you know that I tend to contain a lot of information in my weather cast, which forces me to speak fast and unfortunately I spoke a little too fast when I was referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So fast to the point where I jumbled a couple of words. In my mind I knew I mispronounced, but there was no malice. I had no idea the way it came across to many people," he said in a video posted to Facebook Monday night.

Kappell said as soon as he heard the mispronunciation he "put emphasis on 'King' and moved on."

"I had no idea what some people could have interpreted that as and I know some people did interpret that the wrong way. That was not a word I said, I promise you that. If you did feel that it hurt you in any way, I sincerely apologize," he said.

Slur causes uproar on social media

Clips of Kappell using the racial slur made the rounds on social media over the weekend, prompting Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren and the city council to release a statement Sunday.

"It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday News broadcast," the statement read. "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 mayor and city council called for Kappell's termination and for an examination of WHEC's response to the incident.

"It took the station nearly two days to apologize, and only after the station was shamed into doing so by a backlash on social media," the statement read.

The Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) also issued a statement Sunday condemning the use of the racial slur on air. The organization's statement said it viewed a recording of the incident provided by a viewer.

"This is completely unacceptable and contrary to all standards of broadcasting," the statement read. "We expect a complete explanation of what happened, who was responsible and why nothing was said immediately after the Friday broadcast. We also want to know what measures will be taken to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future."

WHEC's vice president and general manager Richard A. Reingold said in a statement released Sunday that Kappell was fired after an internal investigation and discussion.

"I apologize for our broadcast of a racial slur in a reference to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park during our Friday evening broadcast," Reingold said. He added that the station believes in holding reporters and anchors "to the highest standard."

"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.

Reingold said the station's decision to fire Kappell was not influenced by the call from the city's mayor.

"We learned about this Sunday morning, unfortunately quite a while after the incident happened. The minute we learned about it we jumped on it," he said on air Sunday. "We came to the decision we did sometime before I knew of Mayor Warren's position. So I welcome her position, I understand it, I respect it, but it did not have any impact on our decision because we didn't know about it."

Kappell said in his video that he has been a meteorologist for 20 years. His LinkedIn page says he had been with WHEC since October 2017.

Kappell said he was not satisfied with the station's response to the incident.

"I'm so disappointed that my career could end this way and I'm extremely disappointed by my television station, whom I expect a certain level of support from and I did not receive at all," he said.

West Lafayette
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
Kokomo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
Rensselaer
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 85°
Fowler
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
Williamsport
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 89°
Crawfordsville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 77°
Delphi
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
Monticello
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 87°
Logansport
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 85°
Active Weather Pattern for the Work Week.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74328

Reported Deaths: 3041
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15860725
Lake7570275
Elkhart484384
Allen3902163
St. Joseph350081
Hamilton2763104
Vanderburgh196313
Hendricks1887108
Cass17959
Johnson1757118
Porter131639
Clark123347
Tippecanoe121111
Madison97965
LaPorte91130
Howard89065
Kosciusko85212
Bartholomew79347
Marshall78422
Floyd77946
Monroe75630
Delaware73052
Dubois69612
Boone67846
Noble67829
Hancock66038
Vigo65110
Jackson5865
Warrick58130
LaGrange55910
Shelby55327
Grant52630
Dearborn50828
Morgan47634
Clinton4343
Henry38320
Wayne37710
White36910
Montgomery35421
Lawrence34627
Harrison33823
Decatur33732
Putnam2888
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25034
Jasper2432
Franklin24214
DeKalb2324
Gibson2254
Jennings22512
Steuben2103
Ripley2087
Carroll1912
Fayette1897
Perry18612
Starke1787
Orange17124
Posey1710
Wabash1693
Fulton1682
Wells1682
Jefferson1632
Knox1540
Whitley1526
Washington1401
Tipton13810
Spencer1363
Sullivan1261
Huntington1223
Randolph1224
Clay1215
Newton11810
Adams1012
Jay910
Owen901
Pulaski831
Rush804
Fountain742
Brown731
Ohio655
Blackford642
Benton610
Pike530
Switzerland520
Vermillion520
Parke511
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren221
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events