Oklahoma TV station apologizes for giving rapper the boot

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 22, 2014 7:24 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma City television station has apologized to a popular music artist and said it made a mistake when it booted the hip hop artist off its Monday "Oklahoma Live!" morning show after producers found out he was a rapper.

Oklahoma City-based performer Jabee Williams, who is black, said on Tuesday the move by TV station KSBI may have been racially motivated.

KSBI President CEO Vince Orza, a former Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate, said his station typically does not invite rap or heavy metal artists for its morning show but it should have let Williams perform, especially since he has also been on the show twice.

"He is a professional, who showed up on time, ready to entertain our audience as he has in the past. I wanted him to hear directly from me that he is welcome to perform on 'Oklahoma Live!' and KSBI. I apologized to him, and he very graciously thanked me for calling," Orza said in a statement on Monday night.

Williams said he was told to leave the set by the show's executive producer who told the rapper he was not the type of artist they wanted put on the air.

"We showed up when we were supposed to and they told us we couldn't play after they found out I was a black rapper," he said.

"I'm not angry about not playing. I'm angry about the way we were talked to, the way we were treated. We didn't do anything wrong," he said.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)