A ham radio is adjusted during The National Association for Amateur Radio Field Day in Benbrook, Texas. (Photographer: Mike Fuentes/Bloomberg News)

N.J. Radio Hosts Apologize for Jibe at Sikh Attorney General

(Bloomberg) -- Two New Jersey radio hosts apologized for referring to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, a practicing Sikh, as “Turban Man.” The station suspended them for 10 days.

In broadcast comments Wednesday, Dennis Malloy, co-host of a program on Townsquare Media-owned WKXW-FM in Ewing, said of Grewal that he was “never going to know his name,” and would refer to him as “the guy with the turban.” Co-host Judi Franco, in a singsong voice, responded, “Turban Man.”

“If that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and I’ll remember your name,” Malloy said. “Turban Man -- is that highly offensive?" Franco answered: "To me? No. To people who wear turbans, could be.”

Malloy and Franco, in a statement posted on the website of a station best known as NJ 101.5, said they regretted the remarks during the “unscripted and free-form” show they’ve hosted for 21 years.

“We offer our sincerest apologies to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as well as the Sikh and East Asian communities for a series of insensitive comments we made on our show,” they said. “We use humor and sarcasm to make a point and add color to the broadcast; in this instance, we were off the mark.”

They were suspended and will stay off the air until Aug. 6, the statement said.

‘Small-Minded Intolerance’

The broadcast remarks came as the two were discussing Grewal’s directive this week to local prosecutors to seek 30-day adjournments of marijuana cases while a panel devises guidelines on how to handle such court proceedings. Governor Phil Murphy and the legislature are moving toward legalization of the drug.

Grewal, 45, has spoken publicly about enduring taunts for wearing a symbol of his faith.

“This is not the first indignity I’ve faced and it probably won’t be the last,” he wrote on Twitter this morning. “Sometimes, I endure it alone. Yesterday, all of New Jersey heard it. It’s time to end small-minded intolerance.”

Murphy, who in January appointed Grewal as the first Sikh attorney general in the U.S., said Wednesday that he was disgusted by the hosts’ conduct.

“Hate speech has no place in New Jersey, and it does not belong on our airwaves. Station management must now hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments,” the governor said in a statement.

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