Community reacts after radio hosts Kimberly and Beck fired for racist comments

Raven Brown
Updated: June 03, 2020 06:19 PM
Created: June 03, 2020 06:08 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Local radio show hosts Kimberly and Beck were fired Wednesday morning after making racist comments on the air Tuesday.

“Angered, outraged, deplorable,” Rashad Smith of the Rochester Association of Black Journalists said. 


Smith said those were words that came to his mind when he heard former radio hosts Kimberly and Beck were on 95.1 talking about the violence in Rochester over the weekend and referenced a video of a group of men beating a couple with a 2 by 4 on Monroe Avenue. 

Kimberly Ray can be heard asking if the men were acting "N-word-ly” and “N-word-ish” and Barry Beck could be heard saying, “They were acting thuggerly like I think. They’re thugs.”

iHeart Media of Upstate New York President Bob Morgan sent a statement saying:

“We made the decision to terminate Kimberly and Beck yesterday as soon as we learned of their comments and informed them early this morning. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior, which is antithetical to our core values and beliefs and to our commitment to our community and everyone in it.”

Smith said while firing is a first step it’s not enough. 

“The conversation changed to okay that's fine,” Smith said. “Folks were satisfied with the firing but we know that the fight continues and so I think the biggest concern for us is if they were able to make that comment on air, imagine what's being said in the break room."

The Rochester Association of Black Journalists released a statement to iHeart to take extra steps. 

“RABJ is committed to diversity and fairness in the media. To suggest people were acting "N-word-ly" is deplorable, insensitive, and detrimental to our community--particularly during the current climate. These remarks by Kimberly and Beck were clearly racist and should not be on the airwaves. We hope that this incident serves as a clear example for the desperate need for more diversity on the iHeart radio stations in Rochester. 
We are grateful that Bob Morgan of IHeart radio has taken action and fired Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck for their outrageous behavior. In addition, we request that iHeart Media: 
1. Ensure that Ray and Beck are will not be hired at another iHeartMedia station 2. Provide diversity training for all staff where materials are made public  3. Hold a local or national search for diverse on-air personalities to replace Ray and Beck. 4. An internal agreement signed by all staff to remind them of iHeart's Standard Operating Procedures 
RABJ hopes to work with Iheart media on these suggested actions to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

“If somebody opens his or her mouth and utters something, whether it's reflex or well thought out. Words are powerful,” President and CEO of Action for Better Community Jerome Underwood said. 

Underwood said firing is simply a transaction.

“We are deeply interested in transformational change. Every institution in America has embedded systemic and institutionalized racism,” Underwood said. 

Hoping for more action from all community members needs to be taken to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. 

“That’s our work,” Underwood said. “To get to the practices, the policies and literally the ideology that holds people inferior literally just because of their appearance."

News10NBC reached out to both Kimberly and Beck individually to see if they would want to go on camera or provide a statement for us.

We have yet to hear back from them.

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