Indian leaders win several concessions from KQRS after Barnard show comments
More than a dozen American Indian leaders filed into the corporate offices of radio station KQRS-FM (92.5) this morning to lodge a formal complaint against the show of morning talk show host Tom Barnard over what they said were extremely offensive comments about suicide rates on the Red Lake reservation in northern Minnesota.
By Curt Brown and Terry Collins, Star Tribune
Last update: October 29, 2007 – 1:11 PM
American Indian leaders secured several concessions today after meeting with executives at KQRS Radio (92.5 FM) in the wake of troubling on-air comments during Tom Barnard's popular morning program.
After the meeting at the station's corporate offices in southeast Minneapolis, KQRS president and general manager Marc Kalman said the station would take the following steps:
-- Broadcast a public apology.
-- Give equal air time to positive issues involving the American Indian community.
-- Work to hire American Indian interns.
-- Continue airing public service announcements for the suicide hot line.
-- Invite members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton and Red Lake tribes to be on the morning show.
Tribal leaders said that overall they're pleased but would have preferred stronger measures including some of the on-air personalities being fired.
The uproar stems from a broadcast last month in which Barnard and co-host Terri Traen talked about the Red Lake and Shakopee tribes while discussing a report by the state Health Department that Beltrami County has the state's highest rate of suicide among young people.
The jocks then mentioned Bemidji and the Red Lake reservation, both in Beltrami County.
"Maybe it's genetic; isn't there a lot of incest up there?" Traen said about the tribe.
"Not that I know of," Barnard replied.
"I think there is," Traen continued. "Don't quote me on that, but I'm pretty sure."Well, I'm glad you just threw it out there, then," Barnard said to laughter in the background.
Barnard also criticized the Shakopee Sioux, who own the Mystic Lake Casino, for "doing a hell of a job helping them out."
Traen commented, "They don't give them anything?"
"Hell, no!" Barnard replied.
Bellecourt said Red Lake has received nearly $4 million in grants from the Shakopee tribe since 2004 toward building a new Boys and Girls Club, assisting with the recent rebirth of the tribe's walleye fishing industry and creating a center in Bemidji to address sexual assault.
More than a dozen Indian leaders filed into the KQRS corporate offices about 10 this morning to lodge their formal complaint.
"These were irresponsible comments that are way out of bounds and intolerable," said Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd (Buck) Jourdain, before the meeting at the offices in southeast Minneapolis. Jourdain compared the comments to those several months ago by Don Imus about the Rutgers women's basketball team that were racial and sexual in nature. Imus lost his syndicated radio job over that incident.
"Those comments [by Imus] were about losing a basketball game, and these are about life and death," said Jourdain, "and we're not going to endure this ignorance any longer in a state that emphasizes Minnesota Nice."
Jourdain added that there has not been a suicide on his reservation in more than two years.
Joining Jourdain and others from the Red Lake reservation for the meeting were members of the American Indian Movement and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux.
AIM co-founder Clyde Bellecourt on Sunday said the remarks about the Red Lake Chippewa and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux tribes were "ignorant."
The KQ morning show, known for its pull-no-punches style when delivering weird news, ethnic jokes and political diatribes, is among the most popular morning programs in the Twin Cities.
Barnard has been "getting away with this crap for years," Bellecourt said.
Minority groups have long criticized Barnard and his crew for their on-air banter.