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Remarks by a radio talk show host that were considered insensitive to African-American students in the Toledo Public Schools reverberated throughout the community Saturday.
"It made my blood boil. I'm very offended by his comments," said Christine Varwig, a board member of the Toledo Parent Congress.
The Parent Congress has called a news conference for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Thurgood Marshall Building on Manhattan Boulevard — the Toledo Public Schools headquarters — in response.
WSPD-AM 1370 host Brian Wilson on Friday said the school system doesn't teach students to think or be entrepreneurs.
"But certainly, teaching little monkeys to peel bananas and so on and them learning to do it correctly on cue does not mean that they've learned everything except a funny parlor trick," Mr. Wilson said in the broadcast, which originated from his home in Virginia.
Reached there Friday, he said that he was not referencing African-American students.
Mrs. Varwig said, "Whether those were racial tones he took or not, it came across that way."
The news conference will, in part, seek an apology from Mr. Wilson — as did Larry Sykes, member of the Toledo Board of Education, on Friday and as did Toledo Mayor Mike Bell Saturday.
"Comments similar to that people would have to know would be a lightning rod in this community and most likely most people would see it as inappropriate," Mr. Bell said.
Later, the mayor said, "There needs to be an apology … He's apologizing to the kids. It's about them and so, yes, I agree that would be appropriate."
Bob Vasquez, the school board president, on Friday said Mr. Wilson's remarks were inappropriate and offensive.
The Rev. Kevin Bedford said the NAACP, of which he is Toledo president, would send a letter to WSPD-AM's corporate owners asking that Mr. Wilson retract his statement and apologize to the community.
The Rev. Bedford also said he would try to set up a bridge-building meeting with Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson could not be reached for comment yesterday nor could executives of Clear Channel Communications, the San Antonio-based firm that owns WSPD-AM.
The Parent Congress has members from all the schools in the Toledo system, and Mrs. Varwig, a past president, said she expects they'll attend today, as will students, teachers, administrators, support staff, and school board members.
"I'm not big on press conferences. I'm more of a doer," Mrs. Varwig said. "I thought there is no way that I can let something like this go and let the negative comments that he [made] affect our children like that.
"Our kids in our city need to have cheerleaders, and I think that it's our job as parents to step up and say, ‘You know what? Enough's enough. You're not going to pick on the kids; you're not going to pick on our teachers anymore,'?" Mrs. Varwig said.
"I think that Clear Channel needs to take a look at their personnel and maybe he doesn't need to work there any more … I would like to see him apologize to our students, that would be first and foremost," Mrs. Varwig said.
Mr. Wilson doesn't limit incendiary remarks to the airwaves. Atop his Web site is a picture of a microphone aflame.
His most recent blog post, on Nov. 7, 2010, takes Toledo to task.
"For the last 5 years, I have been contending with some of the most idiotic, aggressively ignorant, apathetic, delusional morons I have ever encountered in 45+ years of Talk radio – from NYC to DC to Atlanta, DFW [Dallas-Fort Worth], San Francisco and dozens of other markets and audiences in between," Mr. Wilson wrote.
"This gaggle of people is concentrated in NW Ohio, specifically the ‘greater' Toledo metropolitan area.
"Here you will find this stultifying concentration of blithering idiots on the planet. Chalk it up to an abysmal ‘public education' system, the staunch lunacy of ‘progressive' liberals, the historically imbeded [sic] anal-cranial entitlement mentality, a certifiable newspaper publisher, and the unholy alliance between Democrats and Organized Labor for a pathetic density that defies any other explanation."
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.