Powderhorn story blows up on WCCO anchor's tangled tongue

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 3, 2008 - 9:15 PM

"Afterwards Chris Shaffer said to me, Do you realize what you said?" WCCO-TV's Bill Hudson told me Friday. "So I went back and looked at the tape and couldn't believe it."

Hudson, a weekday morning show anchor, was reading a story about the Powderhorn Park neighborhood when the N-word came out of his mouth.

"It's just a very, very unfortunate incident. One I feel very sadly about. That's the unfortunate part of live television," said Hudson.

Hudson apologized on air Thursday for the slip; the apology was posted for a time on the WCCO-TV website.

"I have been receiving lots of nice e-mail from people. In my 28 years of broadcasting, this is the first time something like this has happened and it would have to be this. What I was attempting to say, and I remember stumbling over the word but I don't remember how it came out, was neighborhood. It came out neiggerhood but when you say it fast, what does it sound like."

Sounds like a word you wouldn't want to say, especially sitting next to co-anchor Angela Davis. "Angela heard it immediately and didn't say anything to me, fortunately. Probably would have thrown me off for the whole show," he said.

People who know Hudson, including Davis, say he is not the kind of soul to have this word on his heart or head. Some friends of mine have half-jokingly suggested that maybe this is an early sign of Tourette syndrome. "Well, that's a problem. Could be," laughed Hudson. "It's a slur of the tongue in more ways than one. It's just a very embarrassing, very humiliating experience."

It's more than that, according to St. Paul's Human Rights Department director Tyrone Terrill, who said the offensive word sounds nothing like "neighborhood."

"This shouldn't happen in 2008. This is ridiculous," Terrill said Friday. "I can't believe it. .... Everybody says, It's a mistake, it's a mistake, it's a mistake. They are not mistakes. I don't believe Don Imus' [slur] was a mistake, when he talked about the Rutgers women."

Music makeover

After Christopher Hopkins killed the live music, he was much more relaxed at his book-signing party for "Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45."

The ReVamp! Salonspa co-owner was gently dissatisfied with the mood being created by the guy on a guitar. "What do you think of the music?" Hopkins whispered. I think the guy was singing or playing a James Taylor song about then; however, I like Sweet Baby James. But it wasn't my party so I suggested Hopkins suggest some songs to be performed. Instead, Hopkins mingled some more, with many of the fashion victims he transformed in his wonderful book. And when Hopkins couldn't take it anymore he asked the guitarist to stop.

"At first he said, Hey man, that's OK, that's OK, it's all cool. And I said, 'Really, really, I'm sorry and you're great.' And he said, Hey, you know, I wouldn't have done it. I think it's kind of rude but it's all cool," Hopkins told me. "And I feel bad. I've got to have another drink to get over it."

Hey, it's an honest conversation, which is not what I had when I telephoned a certain "radio personality" at what I'm calling Radio Station X. I had mislaid my invitation and my now-eX-friend pretended not to know anything about Thursday's private party.

At the party, Hopkins told X that of course, I was invited: "Why wouldn't she be invited?" X should stop superimposing her hostilities toward me onto mutual relationships.

Not only was I invited but on the back of the envelope containing my invitation, which I eventually found, Hopkins wrote four little words guaranteed to ensure that I would show up: "... Robert will be there ..."

That's Hopkins' partner in life and work, Robert Lindquist, a fellow I adore, as do many others.

Video from the party can be seen at www.startribune.com/video.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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