PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A talk radio host who’s made derogatory remarks in the past that have landed him in hot water apologized Friday for calling protesters at a political event ‘‘union hags’’ and ‘‘whores,’’ but critics insist he should still be fired.
WPRO-AM host John DePetro called in to his morning show and told a fill-in host he regretted not choosing his words more carefully in September.
‘‘The language I used was not in keeping with the family friendly atmosphere that I try to maintain for the thousands of people who listen to me,’’ DePetro said. ‘‘Going forward I intend to approach debates on the current topics that we talk about in a more sensitive style.’’
The show is heard throughout Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts. Prior to his WPRO show, DePetro was fired from Boston’s WRKO-AM after he called a gubernatorial candidate a ‘‘fat lesbian.’’ He later apologized. He had earlier been suspended from WRKO and ordered to apologize after calling the then-head of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority a ‘‘sissy boy.’’
During his WPRO show in September, DePetro called protesters outside a fundraiser for a potential gubernatorial candidate parasites, cockroaches, ‘‘union hags’’ and ‘‘whores,’’ spelling out the word.
A group calling itself ‘‘For Our Daughters,’’ which is backed by labor unions, launched a social media campaign last month to get Rhode Island-based jewelry makers Alex and Ani to drop its sponsorship of the station.
Maureen Martin, an official for the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and the group’s chairwoman, said Friday that DePetro’s apology was not good enough and that DePetro should be fired.
‘‘If he was actually sorry, he could have said that six weeks ago,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s just too little too late.’’
She said they planned to intensify the campaign with support from several national labor unions.
DePetro has not been on air all week, but it’s unclear whether he has been disciplined. The program director declined comment and the station’s general manager did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Earlier this week, DePetro’s lawyer called the effort to get him fired a smear campaign. Attorney Timothy Dodd also said that DePetro had filed a police report Tuesday after he said two men threated his physical safety and told him they were going after him and would get him off the air. The East Providence Police have not released the report.
Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce said that while the company’s business was not hurt by the campaign, he was happy to see there was an apology. But he added that the campaign targeting the jewelry firm was misplaced and the company has no role to play in the issue.
‘‘It’s certainly is not appropriate to ask people to be part of an effort to hurt Rhode Island. It’s just as bad as anything else that went on in this discussion,’’ he said, referring to the campaign.