He knuckled.... no other way to look at it.
After making waves, Jay Severin back on airwaves
‘Evolution’ of a humbled shock jock
By Jessica Heslam | Sunday, May 31, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Coverage
A kinder, gentler Jay Severin will return to the airwaves Tuesday, the right-wing shock jock said yesterday, just hours after 96.9 WTKK-FM announced the end of a month-long suspension.
“I plan for it to be a better show,” Severin said in an exclusive Herald interview reflecting on the furor that erupted in April when he referred to Mexicans as some of the world’s “lowest of primitives” and “leeches” while talking on-air about the swine flu.
Severin said he regrets those remarks and plans to apologize from his “heart” on his show Tuesday.
“I certainly intend to do everything I can do to apologize in a full and sincere manner,” Severin said.
Hired in 1999 to bring his brand of inflammatory radio to Boston, Severin, 58, has stirred controversy for years with his comments about immigrants, Muslims and Democratic politicians - for instance, repeatedly referring to Barack Obama during the election as “Osama Obama.”
Yesterday, the host said, “I don’t disagree with the station’s assessment that the show had taken an overly negative tone recently and that would be separate and apart from certain remarks that I made.”
In a statement announcing Severin’s return, the Greater Media-owned WTKK said it had conversations with Severin over the past several weeks about his “hurtful, inappropriate remarks” and he understands “that we will not accept this type of commentary on our airwaves in the future.”
Based on this understanding, the statement said, the station agreed to end his suspension.
“We want to emphasize that WTKK still strongly supports an open and spirited debate about the many issues our community and our country currently face,” the statement said. “Our goal is to maintain a level of discourse that is compelling and thought-provoking, yet civil and respectful.”
The April 30 suspension came after Severin’s ratings dropped during the first three months of this year with the new Portable People Meter ratings system. Severin - who makes more than $1 million a year - fell from fifth to 15th place in the afternoon-drive ratings among the key 25-to-54-year-old listeners from the same time span last year.
“Quite naturally, my ambition is to do the best show I can do,” Severin said. “I’m still the same person but like all other people, I recognize when I need to apologize and when I need to improve.”
When asked why he thought his show had taken a negative tone recently, Severin said: “I can’t say I know that, but I may speak to that on Tuesday.”
News of his return angered some who had protested Severin’s remarks.
“It doesn’t seem very intelligent to associate with somebody who spreads such hate, to try to sell your products through that man,” said Franklin Soults, spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “But that’s their business decision to make.”
Severin referred questions about the conditions of his return - including whether he took a pay cut - to his agent and attorney, George Tobia. Tobia declined to comment on the conditions, saying simply, “Jay is very excited to be back in the fold on his station. He loves working there and he’s excited about doing a great show for WTKK.”
When asked what it’s been like to be off the air for a month, Severin said it’s been “unpleasant.” However, he said, he always thought he would return to WTKK.
“There’s 10 years of context here of me . . . and because of my extraordinarily strong relationship with my colleagues and with (Greater Media chairman and CEO) Peter Smyth, I was confident - with a commitment to do the kind of show that they want me to do and I think the audience wants me to do - that this would be worked out.”