New Jersey 101.5 radio hosts Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco returned to the radio Monday after a 10-day suspension for making derogatory comments about state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
"We had a tough week but I do want to say that we learned a lot this week," Franco said during the opening of the show, according to NJ.com.
The duo, who have hosted 101.5's Dennis & Judi Show since 1997, received harsh criticism and were suspended without pay after repeatedly referring to state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, the nation's first Sikh attorney general, as "turban man" during a broadcast on July 25.
Malloy said he couldn't remember Grewal's name, telling Franco that "I'm just going to say the guy with the turban." The pair continued to refer to Grewal as "turban man" throughout the segment, and even acknowledged they knew the term could be considered offensive.
"Is that highly offensive? … Could be. But if you call me 'baseball hat man' in a culture where nobody wears baseball hats, and they call me 'baseball hat man,' should I be offended?" Malloy continued. "I would say no."
Among the loudest critics of Malloy and Franco's comments was Gov. Murphy, who said their rhetoric was "abhorrent and xenophobic" and called on management at the station to "hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments."
In a video posted on the station's Facebook page July 26, Malloy offered a "heartfelt apology" to Grewal without mentioning him by name, claiming both he and Franco were "very upset and deeply affected" by the controversy over their comments.
"He certainly deserves much more respect than that," Malloy said. " We try to do humor in our show every day with current commentary, and we try to brighten up peoples' day, and … we failed at that."
Grewal told reporters last week that he wasn't seeking apologies from Malloy and Franco over their comments, which he referred to on Twitter as "small-minded intolerance."
"I didn't ask for an apology, I didn't need an apology," Grewal said. "I'm more concerned about the level of discourse. … It's not just a radio station. We all have to be more responsible because words do matter, and comments lead to conduct, as we've seen across this country."
In an interview in March with my colleague Jan Hefler, Grewal said hateful comments he received growing up in Essex County with his parents, an engineer and a bookkeeper who became naturalized citizens, helped motivate him to pursue a career in law enforcement.