Two former Island 98.5 “Wake Up Crew” deejays have posted social media apologies to singer Paula Fuga, whom they mocked during on-air fundraiser for the Hawaii Foodbank.
“Slick Vic” Harris and “KreyZ” Oshiro were removed from their jobs as morning drive-time deejays on Monday by Chuck Cotton, president and general manager of iHeartMedia. Their comments about Fuga were made Friday. Cotton did not say whether Harris and Oshiro had been fired.
Harris said in a Facebook apology to Fuga on Tuesday that he would have apologized sooner but was restricted from commenting. “Now that I have been released from the company, I am free to comment,” he said.
Oshiro also apologized to Fuga in a video posted Tuesday. On Wednesday, Oshiro released a second video, saying he had decided to start going by his legal name Brandon to “help break this whole egotistical side of things that have put into KreyZ Oshiro.”
Since the on-air incident, Oshiro said he’s received phone and text messages that are loving, but others that are angry and threatening. He got a similar response to his video post Tuesday.
“I’m leaving the negative comments up there and I’m actually reading them,” Oshiro said. “My friends and family and partners and coworkers they all know I’m a good guy, but what’s perceived is not. And, that’s something that I’m dealing with right now. How do I prove to myself that I’m a good guy? So I’m not going to be doing things just because of those negative posts, but it’s great to reflect on those posts as well. “
Harris and Oshiro did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
As of Wednesday evening a change.org petition calling for “A wake-up call for the Wake Up Crew” had grown to more than 8,380 signatures. The petition, 808ne.ws/wakeup, asked that the Wake Up Crew and Island 98.5 “be held accountable and reprimanded to the fullest extent.”
Some fans praised Harris and Oshiro for the acknowledging their insensitive remarks and for their sincerity. Those fans questioned if management at iHeartRadio Honolulu had overreacted and said they missed hearing the pair on the morning drive-time show.
Harris said in his Facebook apology, “I’m so sorry. I did not mean for my comment to come out the way it did.”
In the apology, Harris praised Fuga for bravely sharing her story of homelessness and shared one of his own.
“I want to share something I didn’t want to and moved on from because I was ashamed of… that I was homeless as well. I grew up in west side, picture above… My family had no house to live, no food to eat. It was a dark part of my life. I did eat out of the trash can. No I didn’t use a plate) I wore the same clothes everyday and I was bullied because of it,” Harris said. “I wish I can go back to few days ago, walked up to you to give you a hug and told you how brave you were…. I wish I could share the moment with you.”
Oshiro’s Tuesday video message was both an apology to Fuga and a plea to the community to support the Hawaii Foodbank.
“I am sorry for the words that have come out of my mouth,” Oshiro said. “What I thought would be entertainment has definitely been something that has been very hurtful. It’s taken all this to realize that I have a huge ego that I need to break and bust.”
Oshiro also committed to try to raise another $55,000 to get the Tanks Fo’ Giving Foodbank fundraiser to its $75,000 goal. He said people can donate by visiting the Hawaii Foodbank site at hawaiifoodbank.org.
On Monday, Fuga and iHeartRadio Honolulu announced they will start a statewide campaign to end hunger.
During the fundraiser on Friday, Harris and Oshiro teased Fuga about eating out of a garbage can after she disclosed she had done so as a hungry child while living homeless on the beach. The Na Hoku Hanohano award winner was so hurt that she called out Harris and left the stage in tears without finishing her performance.
Cotton characterized the on-air comments made by Harris and Oshiro as “highly insensitive” and said they “do not represent the values of Island 98.5 (or iHeartRadio Honolulu) and our commitment to the communities we serve.”
Cotton added, “We want to sincerely apologize to Paula Fuga and to any others who were offended. Please know that the situation has been addressed internally.”
Since the incident there’s been an outpouring of public support for Fuga from all walks of life, including other Hawaii entertainers such as internationally famous musician Jack Johnson, with whom she has performed, and Grammy award-winner Kalani Pe‘a.