Morning-show personalities on 97 Rock were just trying to be funny last week when they solicited Polish jokes from callers on one of the biggest days of the year in Polish-American culture, according to radio station management.
But the on-air talent "used poor judgment" when they put the callers on the radio on Dyngus Day, the day after Easter, the station's owner said Monday in a statement.
The station apologized "to any and all that were offended," according to the statement from Cumulus Media Buffalo.
97 Rock drew flak over the jokes, including a protest outside the Polish Cadets Hall on Saturday. Critics called the jokes "highly disturbing, offensive and intolerable" on a day when Polish-Americans celebrate the end of Lent.
Dyngus Day is popular in Buffalo. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people gathered for last week's parade and celebration in and around the Central Terminal.
After hearing the jokes on the station, some Polish groups demanded an apology and threatened to boycott the station's advertisers.
Later on Monday, one of last week's leading critics of 97 Rock said he accepted the station's apology.
"The folks at 97 Rock made a heartfelt apology and I think the entire Polish community can take it to heart ourselves," Eddy Dobosiewicz said in an email. "It's especially easy to believe they're contrite when you take into account all the truly positive things they've done for Western New York."
Management at the Buffalo radio station said the morning-show personalities – which include Rich “The Bull” Gaenzler, Rob Lederman, Christine Klein and Steve Tripi – apologized on the air on Friday. Gaenzler was off on Dyngus Day, with DJ Jickster filling in, according to the station.
As part of the fallout, the station has been receiving and responding to "many disturbing emails," according to Steve Bearance, vice president of Cumulus Media Buffalo, which also owns 103.3 The Edge, Sports Radio, 1270 The Fan and Classic Hits 104.1.
In addition to the emails, Bearance said someone threw a rock through a window of the radio station's van over the weekend.
Here's the full statement issued in an email from Bearance:
"At 97 Rock and all of our Cumulus stations, we take listener feedback very seriously. Last week, our 97 Rock morning team used poor judgement when taking calls from listeners with Polish jokes, trying to bring humor to a day of celebration, and we sincerely apologize to any and all that were offended. Our team apologized on air last Friday and individually to those listeners that contacted us directly.
"We are here to support the Buffalo community," the statement continued, "and have supported the Dyngus Day Parade and celebration, among many other community events, for several years. We will continue to support the parade and celebration in a more positive way in the future."
The station's morning show has a semi-regular appearance by a character known as "Polish correspondent Stan Yeshinski."
Bearance described the bits involving the character Yeshinski as "light humor," and said the station has not received any complaints before this.
Dobosiewicz, co-founder of the Dyngus Day parade and president of Dyngus Day Buffalo, is also a former stand-up comic and no stranger to making controversial remarks.
Dobosiewicz faced accusations of racism two years ago after he posted a picture of baboons on a car in a tweet about riots in Baltimore after the death of a man in police custody.
In a news release issued before Saturday's protest, Dobosiewicz seemed to acknowledge at least some prior missteps.
"As a former stand up comic," he wrote in the release, "I've stepped over the line and no one knows better than me that not all jokes are funny."
In addition to accepting 97 Rock's remarks of regret, Dobosiewicz reached out to 97 Rock management and morning-show personalities.
"Everybody makes mistakes," he wrote, adding an invitation to share Polish drinks.
"We'd like to invite Steve Bearance, Rob Lederman, Christine Klein, Steve Tripi and Dave Jickster to join us at the Polish Cadets for an ice cold Zywiec or maybe a little Krupnik," Dobosiewicz wrote. "I'll buy."
Story topics: Shared