NJ 101.5 has suspended two radio talk show hosts who called New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal “turban man” and “the guy with the turban” on the air on Wednesday. Grewal is the state’s first Sikh attorney general.
Mid-day hosts Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco had been discussing Grewal’s recent order to suspend marijuana prosecutions, when Malloy said he couldn’t remember Grewal’s name, and told Franco “I’m just going to say the guy with the turban.” The two continued to call Grewal “Turban Man” throughout the segment.
They acknowledged during the show that their reference to Grewal could be considered offensive, but then suggested it was Grewal’s fault. “Listen, and if that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name,” Malloy said. “If you called me ‘baseball hat man’ and I was in a culture where nobody wore baseball hats and they called me ‘baseball hat man,’ should I be offended?”
The station announced the suspensions around midnight on Wednesday.
“We are aware of the offensive comments made by Dennis and Judi during Wednesday’s broadcast,” read the statement issued by the Ewing-based station. “We have taken immediate action and have taken them off the air until further notice. We are investigating the matter and will have further comment shortly.”
Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement prior to the suspension expressing his anger.
“I’m outraged by the abhorrent and xenophobic comments made earlier today mocking Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on the Dennis & Judi Show on New Jersey 101.5,” he said. “Hate speech has no place in New Jersey, and it does not belong on our airwaves. Station management must now hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments.”
Hundreds of people bashed the station on social media on Wednesday. Others questioned the suspensions on Thursday and chastised the station for being “politically correct.”
Grewal also tweeted about the incident Thursday morning: “My name, for the record, is Gurbir Grewal. I’m the 61st Attorney General of NJ. I’m a Sikh American. I have 3 daughters. And yesterday, I told them to turn off the radio.”