Steele Communications apologizes on air for behaviour of radio host

Josh Pennell
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A screenshot taken from a YouTube video from David Adey featuring a recording from VOCM news. — Submitted photo

The general manager of Steele Communications has made an official on-air apology for the behaviour of “Open Line” host Randy Simms.

In the apology, Mike Murphy calls Simms’ behaviour “unprofessional and offensive.”

On Jan. 29, Simms got into an on-air quarrel with Mushuau Innu band council Chief Simeon Tshakapesh over a provincial five-year ban on hunting the George River caribou herd. Tshakapesh said he wasn’t going to adhere to the ban, and during the on-air confrontation, Simms said to the Innu chief, “I said you’re stupid and you are, you know that, right?”

In an interview with The Telegram later that day, Simms said he had broken his own rule by not keeping the topic in the form of a debate and letting the discussion descend into name calling. The next day, he apologized on “Open Line.”

Murphy says this additional apology was given because the previous one was directly from Simms. This apology was from VOCM and while it was certainly to Tshakapesh, it was to a broader group, as well, Murphy says.

“It was to the Innu of Labrador. It was to the listeners.”

Murphy says some listeners of “Open Line” expressed their disapproval of what had happened, so VOCM wanted to apologize to them, too.

In the apology, Murphy describes the station’s stance on what happened.

“Mr. Simms used coarse language in describing aboriginals who don’t recognize the province’s five-year ban on caribou hunting and personally insulted Chief Tshakapesh.”

“He failed to entertain opposing points of view. The comments were unprofessional and offensive personally to the chief and to the Innu Nation and a breach of our editorial standards. VOCM apologizes unreservedly to Chief Tshakapesh, the Innu Nation and to our listening audience.”

Whether there are any other repercussions for Simms is a private matter between Simms and his employer, Murphy said.

Simms is on vacation until Friday morning and will return to the show then, Murphy says.

Reached late Tuesday evening, Tshakapesh said he had not had a chance to listen to Murphy’s apology and would not talk with media about the matter until today.

Organizations: Steele Communications

Geographic location: George River, Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Cannotbelieveit
    March 04, 2013 - 19:04

    Randy should not have been an open line host. He only wants to hear his own voice. He has the nerve to call someone else stupid. As for the caribou, why do you believe the government. They haven't told the truth about anything else so why would you believe them? Let the first nations people take care of the herd, they know more about it than anyone here who makes uninformed comments. The chief has a right to speak too and others have a right to disagree with him. But no need to call anyone names, that is not a discussion/debate. Lots of law abiding citizens commenting here. Swear, if you can, that you have never broken any laws, swear, I dare you. Now Randy step down as mayor. People have been ashamed of your mouth for as long as you've been around. What nerve, for Randy Simms to call someone else stupid, Randy, have you ever listened to yourself? A lot of people think you are a joke!

  • gord
    March 03, 2013 - 00:08

    VOCM has just dug the first shovel full from a big hole yet to be.

    March 02, 2013 - 15:31

    I think the Host of an open line show is not there to make a comment or judge what a caller says or speaks about. It's the other callers that call in that make the argument if they agree or disagree with the caller on what he or she says? The Open Line show is supposed to be just that, an open line talk show where people can express their opinions on various issues. It's not all about the Host opinions.

  • Liz Lewis
    February 28, 2013 - 08:47

    We need Randy back on open-line, I miss him this week....He spoke the truth!!

  • Tony
    February 28, 2013 - 00:46

    STEVE there is a huge difference between you getting drunk and dangering someone's life and aboriginals using their treaty rights. Seriously read your comparison and educate yourself on Canada's ignored treaty agreements. Idle no more will eventually wake up Canadian's such as yourself. I hope.

  • may
    February 27, 2013 - 20:59

    Simms is a bit of a thug, brow beating, in a round about way. No matter what time of day he comes on, I totally tune him out.

  • Winston Adams
    February 27, 2013 - 20:54

    Most posting here support Simms and use language equal or worse than Simms. Many beleive that the law is not being followed. But consider this. The Charter of Rights says everyone is to be treated equally. But that Charter has a section which says aboriginal pre-existing rights are not to be denied or over ruled by the Charter. That is because much older laws, the Constitution of 1867 , protects aboriginal right. So these two laws are in conflict. And in some parts of Canada , treaty rights cannot be overruled by the charter Other cases have shown that at times the charter rights come second and is subordinate to the other , older law. Taken in consideration, as to which law must be folllowed, is the economic condition of the aboriginal community in general, and if they are at a disadvantage. So is this not fair? Given history and the traditional need of caribou for the Innu, they likey have a special right. This is not to say that the Innu or the Supreme court of canada would permit the destruction of the herd. But it is very likey that the Innu has a say, perhaps as much or more than the provincial government. Is this not reason for some of you who oppose the Innu to adjust your point of view on this, since there is law that likey supports the Innu has a say and rights that you or I , as non aboriginals, do not have to the same degree. Perhaps if this history and law would be explained more , there would be less insulting going on. Has this comment changed the view of anothe poster here?

  • Tony
    February 27, 2013 - 14:29

    I strongly agree with NOT IMPRESSED & TUNED OUT's comments. I feel it is time to stop listening to these uneducated radio hosts. The program is an embarrassment to say the least. If an apology was not warranted it would not have been given. Time Canadian's look at the treaty agreements and time for our government to start honoring them. My ancestors came to this country and took everything and enforced their own laws. Now it is time to honor and correct all the wrongs and stop ignoring these treaties once and for all. How many people currently in Canada complains about new immigrants coming to Canada and feel they are taking over and enforcing their cultures and ways of living upon us. How was what our ancestors any different?

    • Wally
      February 27, 2013 - 18:31

      What a cowardly move on the part of VOCM. Randy was absolutely correct to call a spade a spade. Tshakapesh made a stupid decision to ignore the ban on the George River caribou herd and defended that decision; he is stupid. If the host has to pussyfoot around every sensitive caller, what a boring show we can expect in the future.

  • Steve
    February 27, 2013 - 13:26

    To all the people who seem to think Randy Simms is in the wrong for calling out a person who publicaly stated they intended on breaking the law, I want you to consider something. What's the difference between this Chief publically stating he will not follow the law and say, me walking into the headquarters of MADD and yelling, ''Tonight I am getting drunk and driving thru your neighborhood!!!'' - Tell me, what's the difference??

  • Jerry
    February 27, 2013 - 13:18

    Stupid is stupid no matter what way you look at it. The idea of a leader/dictator encouraging his people to hunt a species to near extinction without failing to see the repercussions is STUPID. Why don't we stop bans on all species?....and NOW it's racist because it's an aboriginal group? Give me a break!! It's ridiculous! Oh and I apologize to all the idiots who I may have offended who also cannot see past themselves. Hat's off to you Mr. Simms! Great job!

    • Not Impressed
      February 27, 2013 - 18:30

      You do realize that Muskrat Falls will hurt if not destroy the caribou herd, right? Where do these animals live when their habitat is flooded? The environmental statements are all on the federal government website. They say it’s worth putting the herd at risk because of the benefits. Since you’re so smart, what those benefits?

  • W Bagg
    February 27, 2013 - 11:37

    You'd be canned at any other workplace for that behavour. The fact VOCM hasn't speaks volumes

    February 27, 2013 - 10:49

    I am aboriginal and i do not think i am above the law, if there is a ban on hunting then we must abide by this law as should the aboriginals of labrador and Mr. simms was correct , if they hunt caribou when stocks are dropping dramastically then yes they are "stupid". We are supposed to be a part of mother earth and should not be anialating a species.

    • MBC
      February 27, 2013 - 18:34

      VOCM management. and read again this comment. Randy has full support from law respecting citizens.

  • J.N
    February 27, 2013 - 10:47

    Simms dont let people speak there thoughts! If its not want he thinks is right,your cut off !! Also he is burnt out time to leave Simms your show is a joke !! Your pretty brave behind that mike, speak like that to someones face !!

  • Ron Moores
    February 27, 2013 - 10:23

    Simms was right,and he's got the right to his opinion,just like the rest of us

  • Joe
    February 27, 2013 - 10:17

    How come this other moron ,paddy dally didn't have to apolizes last year ,for advocateing the use of scab labour by OCI during the trawlerman's strike ?? Hypocrites

    February 27, 2013 - 10:16

    Apologize for what???? Randy spoke the truth. I do not know why the aboriginals think they should have their own special laws, we are all equal and i do not know why they think they are any better than any of the rest of us. My husband has indian status in his family but he is not looking for any special rights or gifts from the government. As for Steele Communications apologizing, they did not need to apologize either cause Randy was 100% right in every word he said.

  • rex
    February 27, 2013 - 09:55

    I think Randy was correct, anyone who breaks the law is stupid, those people should apologize to the people of Newfouldland and Labrador, to even think of breaking the law. If they want to be residents of this great land, then they have to respect the laws..

  • Carol O'Keefe
    February 27, 2013 - 09:46

    You people are clearly missing the point and if you are unable to give your proper names you should not be commenting on such matters. Randy Simms is offensive and condescending to many of his callers and it is time for this station to take a stand - this is a democratic society and although we may not all agree there still has to be a level of respect.

  • abby
    February 27, 2013 - 09:38

    Don't take it out on Randy. All of NL agrees ,one way or the other,with comments.Once they all get their status,it will be their way or the highway.

  • Kevin
    February 27, 2013 - 09:33

    Randy Simms was right and I don't think any further apology was necessary. Can't wait to have Randy on the air again.

  • Margaret
    February 27, 2013 - 09:29

    Simms, nor VOCM, should have to apologize. The five year ban is put there for a reason; too late when the herd is extinct. If they break the law by continuing to hunt, they should be arrested.

  • Joshua
    February 27, 2013 - 09:28

    What an ignorant person and clearly even more clear are your readers a d commenters so far. Shame on you. The rights of this tribe should be a top priority.

  • Tony
    February 27, 2013 - 09:26

    I think as Canadian's it is important to understand treaty agreements and the reason they were written. The laws and bans and rules are not the same for 1st nations peoples. And they should not be. Joe Crow's Uncle's comment is also offensive, you claim that we pay for it. Pay for what? Most 1st nations people pay the same taxes as any other Canadian. An apology was most certainly valid in this case. Our 1st nations people are just that, my ancestors moved into Canada and took what they wanted from these people and set the laws to suit our needs not the needs of the aboriginal people. Anyone who thinks the rest of the world is looking at Canada in a positive way based on how our 1st nations people are treated by our government is the one with his/her head in a cloud and "smelling too much coffee". Austrailia, NZ, and many European countries are rolling their eyes at us. Joan are you really smelling coffee? Seriously.

  • Not impressed
    February 27, 2013 - 09:26

    I chose not to listen to Randy Simms so when I read that he’s on vacation, I was prompted to tune into Open Line right away. Well unfortunately I could only listen to it for about seven seconds. Patty Daley was having a cow. He was calling young pregnant women who make less than $14,000 a year and smoke - gd stupid selfish idiots. "das an idiot" and so on. It must be hard to find respectful, half-educated people who were brought up with good manners to host a public broadcast. Certain people find bullying enjoyable and entertaining but I find it cheap and boring. It’s just not impressive and what’s more, it’s embarrassing to know it’s on the internet where anyone in the world can hear it.

  • Cornerboy Ozborne
    February 27, 2013 - 09:20

    The wannabe Rush Limbaugh of local shout radio deserves what he got here. Zero time for bigots. Breeds bullies in our children such types like that do. Switched off!

  • Tuned Out
    February 27, 2013 - 09:14

    I've just tuned out and will switch to other media outlets; goodbye VOCM and I'll boycot your sister stations and entire network; not in support of Simms, but in my opposition to your caving in.

  • Edmund
    February 27, 2013 - 09:13

    I do not particularly like Randy Simm's attitude, opinions or style and I tink he is in the public media way too much BUT on this matter he was right. There was no need for him or VOCM to apologize to anyone especially a so called leader who blatently and publically opposed the laws of the land just because he and his group are aboriginal. They have received enough hand outs from the taxpayers and it is time for them to start making a positive contribution to society instead of protesting whenever the disagree with the law. they can't have it both ways. Either conform like the rest of us or go to jail or back to living in the woods. Our elected officials and media give them way too much assistance and coverage while the rest of us play by the rules. Tshakapesh is the one who should be making the apology to all of us for his ignorance and poor leadership.

  • Julie
    February 27, 2013 - 08:57

    Please keep the conversation open and non aggressive Violent communication always hurts

  • mona
    February 27, 2013 - 08:53

    "You three people"who gave their comments her are so stupid,see the difference I am not saying the whole of nl are stupid just you few ignorant negative people.Really don't care about Simms andTshakapesh slinging words at each but do take offence to calling the whole community"you people" attack the issue not the whole of people.

  • Garry Gulliver
    February 27, 2013 - 08:49

    I listen to Open Line occasionally;I did not hear the exchange between Tshakapesh and Simms;at the beginning of every open line show, we hear this disclaimer that the views expressed by the moderator are not necessarily those of this station;the listening audience are made fully aware of this including Tshakapesh;I feel that VOCM did not have to issue an apology on their behalf;however,they're well within their right to express to Tshakapesh and the listeners that VOCM's views differ from their host;if all that Simms stated to Tshakapesh was that he was 'stupid' in not accepting the 5 year ban on hunting caribou,Simms humane side raised its head and Simms expressed that which I and many other listeners would have felt;if Simms used the word 'asinine' instead ,there may not have been such a furor over this;maybe Simms,in hindsight, should have made it clear that the decision by Tshakapesh was a 'stupid,one as opposed to implying that Tshakapesh ,himself,was a 'stupid' individual.In my opinion,VOCM does well by having Simms,with his wealth of background political knowledge, as their prime time open line host;I trust VOCM continues to support Simms by keeping him as one of their hosts;I'm sure Paddy Daly can get 'hung by his tongue' at times as well!Hopefully,Tshakapesh accepts VOCM's effort to apologize but the on air apology the next day by Simms ought to have sufficed;time heals!

  • Harvey
    February 27, 2013 - 08:46

    Simms seems to be able to take a lot of holidays...did he not just come back from golfing in sunny climes?

  • Michelle Hickey
    February 27, 2013 - 08:37

    Mr. Simms should be insulted and offended that his employer did not back him up. Mr Simms spoke the truth and that's not my opinion, thats a fact. What give anyone the right to think they don't have to obey the same laws that everyone else follows.

  • Joe Crow's Uncle
    February 27, 2013 - 08:34

    That's what got this crowd the way they are; accountable to nothing or no-one and we get to pay for it and even apologize when THEY are wrong.

  • Joan
    February 27, 2013 - 08:26

    Simms was right And IMO didn't owe Tshakapesh an apology.Isn't he(Tshakapesh )supposed to be a leader.He came out and said he wasn't going to obey the ban.What kind of a leader would do that?It's an issue that should be supported by him and his followers.He needs to wake up and smell the coffee.I guess now he'll want an apology from me.

  • Nick
    February 27, 2013 - 08:22

    Anybody who is calling aboriginals "stupid" should be kicked out of Canada to their original country in Europe or elsewhere. You are their guest; any guest who insult host deserved to be kicked out.

  • Jim
    February 27, 2013 - 08:21

    To those of us who agree 100% with Randy, there should be an apology for that apology. I think as law abiding citizens of this Country, we have rights too. It's time for Mike Murphy to show us some respect!

  • Ben
    February 27, 2013 - 08:13

    Tshakapesh should apologize for being stupid.

  • Barney
    February 27, 2013 - 08:09

    Good for ratings though.......I didn't hear the show but I did listen into Randy's apology which I thought was sincere............for Steele to apologize as well is good. Now lets move on.............

  • david
    February 27, 2013 - 08:00

    At long last, "VOCM" has abandoned it's acronym, thrown the "Common Man" under the bus, and joined the world of professional, arse-covering cowards. Huzzah!

  • Happily Retired
    February 27, 2013 - 08:00

    About time. This was the rudest behaviour I have ever heard of on this type of show, and his original apology was an insincere farce. VOCM should have aired this apology long before it did.

  • Tom
    February 27, 2013 - 07:51

    Simms’s was right in what he said. They are stupid for ignoring a moratorium, and they will be let away with it and they know it. How about all the fishers ignore the cod moratorium? Where would they end up? The point is as a whole Mike Murphy is bowing to stupidity. IT IS A BAN TO PROTECT AN ENDANGERED HERD. No excuse to hunt it. I for one have listened to my last Steele communication and had my last stay at their hotels until he apologizes to everyone else for accepting that the hunt is right, and by apologising to the idiots, Mike agrees to what is happening. BOYCOT EVERYTHING STEELE.

  • LovesmesomeInnu
    February 27, 2013 - 07:23

    Simms was right, shouldnt of had to apologize at all.

  • Bk
    February 27, 2013 - 07:23

    What's the apology for? Randy spoke the truth. Laws are to be followed by all Canadians.

    • Law-abiding Canadian Citizen
      February 27, 2013 - 10:03

      I agree wholeheartedly with what Randy said. All these aboroginals think they are above the laws of the land and it's about time they are put in their place and shown that the laws that are passed by all levels of Government are just that; LAWS, and LAWS are meant to be followed by EVERYBODY, not just some.