KQRS morning show host


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — KQRS-FM morning show host Tom Barnard shrugged off criticism Tuesday over comments he made this summer that sparked protests from Hmong immigrants.
“I will say what I want to say,” he said in his first show since the station apologized on his behalf Friday. “I will attack who I want to attack.”
Barnard did offer an apology to anyone offended by his attitude but said he would not curb his edgy humor. “I will always be an insensitive guy and if that upsets you, I apologize,” he said.
Station executives backed Barnard in a news release, saying he “apologized for his insensitive comments and reiterated that he never intended to offend the Hmong community.”
The station’s apology came after more than a half-dozen advertisers pulled their spots from the top-rated Twin Cities station. Barnard’s show also is the top-rated morning show in the area.
But the community activists who launched the advertising boycott said they still want a “sincere” on-air apology from Barnard for specific comments he made on June 9.
On that day, the station’s morning personalities read a newspaper account of the slaying of a newborn Hmong child by its 13-year-old mother, who had been raped. The conversation then included several jokes about the Hmong culture and pidgin English dialect.
“We will get (an apology),” said Leslie McMurray, an organizer of Community Action Against Racism, which was formed to protest the remarks. “What the community wants is respect and freedom from verbal assault on the public airwaves.”
KQRS officials said on Friday that the station would no longer use an Asian character called “Tak” on the show. The station also plans to air Asian-American public service announcements and establish scholarships for Asian Americans.
In addition to an apology, CAAR organizers are demanding that the station take disciplinary action against Barnard.
“Tom Barnard can say what he wants to say. Tom Barnard can attack who he wants to attack,” said McMurray. “(But) he will take responsibility for the impact of his language on our communities.”
Barnard said he and his sidekicks will continue to say what they want.
“I don’t feel bad about any of this,” Barnard said. “Everybody gets the same amount of love on the show. Everybody gets the same amount of hate on the show.”
Julie Hoover, a spokeswoman for ABC Radio Group, would not comment on Barnard’s remarks Tuesday but said station officials are working hard to resolve the dispute.
“We have confidence in the station that they will work it out,” she said.