San Antonio Stations Tiptoe Around Racial Slur

Amidst the rare occasions when a TV station becomes the actual local news, such as KABB San Antonio meteorologist Mike Hernandez uttering a racist term on air the morning of Jan. 16, it's a unique challenge for the rival stations to cover. They know the guy in the news. They probably like the guy in the news. Maybe they used to work with him, or hope to work with him in the future.

One of my first thoughts when hearing stories such as the KABB one is, what the heck the guy said that got people so upset. But some of the San Antonio stations left that bit of information—vital information, if you ask me—out of their reports. Are they squeamish about repeating the racially charged term because it's, well, racially charged? Do they view it as not relevant to the story?

Radio station WOAI covered the story from the angle of the social media maelstrom it sparked:

KABB Fox 29 television has provoked a storm on social media after posting an apology for a 'racially insensitive term' used by weatherman Mike Hernandez on this morning's TV newscast.

The station said it is 'taking action immediately,' in regards to the comment, and said in a statement that it does not 'tolerate this language.'

"We sincerely apologize to you, our viewers, for the use of this offensive language on the air."

Sinclair owns KABB, a Fox affiliate. Sinclair also owns WOAI TV, while Clear Channel owns the radio station WOAI. The WOAI radio report made this clear:

Even though Channel 29 is a Fox affiliate and both it and WOAI TV Channel 4 are owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, Fox 29 is not assoiated with 1200 WOAI Newsradio.

I don't see any mention of Herndandez's offensive statement on the KABB or WOAI sites.

KENS led its coverage of it with Hernandez's apology but, like the other stations, left out what exactly Hernandez said that made it a "storm", in WOAI radio's words, in the first place.

San Antonio's Express-News website,, offered more detail on the Hernandez situation.

A San Antonio weatherman apologized Thursday for using a “racially insensitive” term while referencing Martin Luther King Jr. Day during KABB FOX 29's morning broadcast.

Meteorologist Mike Hernandez referred to the upcoming holiday meant to celebrate the life of the civil rights leader as “Martin Luther 'coon' Day.”

The word has historically been used as a racist term to refer to African Americans.

The station issued an apology via their Facebook page and Hernandez later said he was sorry for what he claims was a mispronunciation.

Here's what KABB said on Facebook Jan. 16:

This morning on FOX News First, meteorologist Mike Hernandez unintentionally said a term when trying to reference Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This term is racially insensitive. We do not tolerate this language. We sincerely apologize to you, our viewers, for the use of this offensive language on our air. Please know that we take this seriously and we are taking action internally. We appreciate each and every one of our FOX San Antonio viewers and this in no way reflects the views of our station.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.