Management at iHeart—Radio removed two Island 98.5 radio deejays from the station’s morning drive-time show after they mocked singer Paula Fuga at an on-air fundraiser for the Hawaii Foodbank.
Chuck Cotton, president and general manager of iHeartMedia, issued a statement Monday saying “Slick Vic” Harris and “KreyZ” Oshiro “are no longer part of the Island 98.5 Wake Up Crew.” Cotton did not say whether Harris and Oshiro had been fired. He said he could not share “any further details on personnel matters for privacy reasons.”
Also Monday, Fuga and iHeartRadio Honolulu announced they will start a statewide campaign to end hunger.
Harris and Oshiro teased Fuga about eating out of a garbage can after she disclosed during the Tanks Fo’ Giving Foodbank fundraiser that she had done so as a hungry child while living homeless on the beach.
Cotton and other executives from iHeartRadio Honolulu met with Fuga and her team Monday. Following the meeting, they joined Fuga in issuing this joint statement that said in part, “Fuga’s courageous transparency at Tanks Fo’ Giving has afforded a renewed opportunity to better support the crisis of community hunger in the islands. … Moving forward together, iHeartRadio Honolulu has committed all of its resources to build a coordinated campaign that will support a statewide mission to end hunger in Hawaii. We look forward to sharing those details in the coming week.”
Cotton said in a separate statement, “The on-air comments made by DJs ‘Slick Vic’ Harris and ‘KreyZ’ Oshiro this past Friday were highly insensitive and do not represent the values of Island 98.5 (or iHeartRadio Honolulu) and our commitment to the communities we serve.”
Cotton added, “We want to sincerely apologize to Paula Fuga and to any others who were offended. Please know that the situation has been addressed internally.”
Cotton also thanked the Hawaii Foodbank and said he looked forward to “our continued partnership on this extremely important cause.”
Ron Mizutani, Hawaii Foodbank president and CEO, said in a statement, “Paula Fuga is the embodiment of quintessential nourishment, rising above the negativity with genuine aloha. We are incredibly grateful for her vulnerability, poise, courage and compassion.”
“Paula’s example inspires our mission. It reminds us that hunger knows no bounds,” he said. “Hunger, in and of itself, is already universally unforgiving; it does no good to perpetuate it further with insensitivity, discrimination or humiliation. At Hawaii Foodbank, we do not condone this type of behavior.”
Since the incident there’s been an outpouring of public support for Fuga from all walks of life, including other Hawaii entertainers like internationally famous musician Jack Johnson and Grammy award-winning recording artist Kalani Pe‘a.
By Monday evening a change.org petition, calling for “A wake-up call for the Wake Up Crew,” already had garnered more than 7,400 signatures. The petition, 808ne.ws/wakeup, asked that the Wake Up Crew and Island 98.5 “be held accountable and reprimanded to the fullest extent.”
Many in the community also have been moved to donate to the Hawaii Foodbank in Fuga’s name.
Fuga did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
However, in a social media post Sunday, she said, “Kindness is what we need more of in our world and I hope this becomes a teachable moment. One that incites heartfelt generosity and genuine compassion for the families and especially the children of Hawai‘i, who are likely experiencing hunger now more than ever, due to the economic crisis brought by this pandemic.”
She expressed gratitude for the “overwhelming outpouring of support for me in what I felt was a vulnerable situation. I survived a lot worse than bullying throughout my life and wish no one any ill will.”
Fuga has performed at the White House three times, and she has teamed up…