The country's biggest radio station has apologised to TV star Alison Mau after a homophobic slur triggered outrage this week.
Long-standing NewstalkZB late-shift host and newsreader Bruce Russell drew the wrath of Mau supporters on Friday while discussing upcoming TV ONE current affairs show Seven Sharp. "Is it okay for this programme to be populated by a dyke and a clown?" Russell asked listeners. "Is that what you want to see at seven o'clock on your television screen?"
He was referring to Mau and comedian Jesse Mulligan who will front Seven Sharp with journalist Greg Boyed.
The word "dyke" quickly sparked anger. Russell made an unconditional apology within an hour, but appalled feedback continued.
"I was trying to be funny. It didn't work," Russell said on air. "I apologise and, once again, I withdraw that comment."
Mau noted on Twitter that Russell was off his usual late-night shift because "the grown-ups" were on holiday. "Let's not legitimise anything this guy says," she added.
Her partner Karleen Edmonds, added: "Um @newstalkZB homophobic much? Not cool re #sevensharp comment. #dinosaurage".
Radio Network general manager of talk Dallas Gurney told the Herald on Sunday he had apologised on behalf of the station to Alison Mau and TVNZ. Gurney said the apology was accepted. "Bruce is a good person. It's the nature of live radio that hosts sometimes say things they later regret."
Russell will return to the overnight shift next week.