J.C. Corcoran on suspension for comments made on air
By Deb Peterson
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
LIVE WIRE: Local radio bad boy, J.C. Corcoran, was suspended from his radio show on KIHT for two weeks without pay on Thursday because of shocking statements he made about AmerenUE.
Corcoran's comments were made on his morning show on Monday. He was upset that his power went out during the Super Bowl halftime show. His first hostile comments were directed at Richard Mark, Ameren's senior vice president of Missouri Energy Delivery. Mark is African-American, and Corcoran made racially derogatory comments about him in a voice that was intended to mock black dialect.
He also criticized longtime TV anchor Karen Foss and said that since she had been hired to do public relations for the utility, she was "harder to find than Osama Bin Laden."
What really got people upset was when Corcoran talked about climbing to the top of Ameren's building "with an AK-47 and just start picking people off." Corcoran further made sexually tinged comments about Ameren executives. Some local groups who were offended by Corcoran's comments called, e-mailed and wrote letters to the station to complain. John Beck, local topper for Emmis Communications, which owns and operates KIHT, said in a statement: "In speaking with J.C., we know he deeply regrets his comments. We at Emmis Communications are deeply sorry for J.C.'s statements ... we sincerely apologize. In J.C.'s absence, the show will continue with co-host John 'U-Man' Ulett and Laurie Mac, Dave Murray and Carl The Intern." Corcoran also provides commentary on KTVI-TV (Channel 2) three times a week. Spencer Koch, GM of the station, said Thursday that Corcoran would not be back on Channel 2 pending further review of his transgressions on radio.
Later Thursday, Corcoran read a statement from Emmis' offices at Union Station. "I made a terrible mistake," he said. "I made some ill-conceived, hostile, on-air comments about Ameren. I spoke out of anger ... after 30 years on the air, you'd think I would know better. I apologize to our listeners, our community, our advertisers and the good employees of Ameren." About his suspension from KIHT, he said: "It's a punishment I fully accept."
Thomas R. Voss, AmerenUE's president and CEO, said the utility was "chagrined that J.C. Corcoran and other customers in his neighborhood lost power during a portion of the Super Bowl, however Corcoran's remarks Monday morning on K-Hits Radio went far beyond acceptable language." He said Ameren did not request any action be taken against Corcoran. "Only time will tell if today's apology is sincere and if today's action is appropriate and sufficient to prevent a recurrence," he said.
The Rev. B.T. Rice, minister of New Horizon Seventh Day Christian Church, said a two-week suspension wasn't severe enough to counter the words spoken by Corcoran.
"I don't think a slap on the wrist or to sugarcoat it is enough," Rice said in a telephone interview. "I think he really needs to go."
Rice cited the firing last year of radio personality Don Imus over a racial slur, and the 2006 firing of KTRS talk-show host Dave Lenihan after he made a racist comment about Condoleezza Rice.
B.T. Rice is the first vice president of the St. Louis County branch of the NAACP and said that he was speaking on behalf of the organization.
Corcoran is no newcomer to controversy. He was hired by KIHT in 2002 after unceremoniously parting ways with KLOU (103.3 FM) earlier that year. His career has also included stops at KMOV-TV (Channel 4); KSDK-TV (Channel 5); KSHE (94.7 FM); KMOX (1120 AM); and KSD (93.7 FM).