Steele Communications apologizes on air for behaviour of radio host

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on February 27, 2013
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.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com