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Fired Cleburne radio announcer, station apologize for racist on-air comment

Grandview Bank has dropped its sponsorship of a Cleburne online radio station after racist on-air comments by one of its announcers surfaced this week.
Grandview Bank has dropped its sponsorship of a Cleburne online radio station after racist on-air comments by one of its announcers surfaced this week. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

A Cleburne radio announcer who made racist on-air comments about Arlington Seguin football players during a game last week was fired from his online station on Friday and both he and the station apologized for the comments.

Mark Banton of JacketRadio.com, which broadcasts Cleburne High School athletics games, called Seguin players “Cougroes” and made fun of a Seguin cheerleader’s weight during a broadcast of a football game between the two schools.

Banton, in an email to WFAA-TV, apologized to the Arlington school district, saying the comments were “not my heart, my nature or my personality.”

He did not return requests for comment from the Star-Telegram, which first reported the story on Thursday.

JacketRadio.com broadcast Cleburne’s game Friday night against Burleson, and announcers Monty Dobbins and Roger Gregory also apologized on air for Banton’s comments.

“It’s not at all what we’re about and it will never be as long as we’re doing this,” Dobbins told the Star-Telegram. “Mark is a good guy. He just said one thing, and we can’t condone that. That’s not Jacket Radio.”

Earlier Friday, Grandview Bank dropped its sponsorship of JacketRadio.com.

“We did it first thing this morning,” bank president Robert Stewart said. “We talked about it and the vote was unanimous. It was inappropriate and uncalled-for and we didn’t want to be associated with it.”

At Cleburne’s Homecoming game Friday against Burleson, several parents and fans declined to comment on the situation, saying they didn’t want to associate themselves with what happened.

Fans at Seguin’s game at Crowley High School also were mostly focused on football. Several parents had heard about Banton’s comments — one said she received a robocall from the school district about the incident — while others were unaware.

Van Lacey, the father of senior running back Evan Lacey, said he didn’t hear about the comments until Friday evening, just before the game. His son had not mentioned anything about it.

“Things haven’t changed that much — it’s just more hidden,” Van Lacey said of Banton’s racially-charged comments. “[Banton] was just someone who wasn’t very smart and felt the need to racially degrade teenagers for his own satisfaction. What he said about the young lady with the weight issue, that’s just a bully. That’s all there is to it.”

It’s not clear whether JacketRadio.com, which formed this year, will continue broadcasting Cleburne games.

A statement on JacketRadio.com on Friday said the website “regrets and apologizes for the inappropriate and unprofessional comments made by one of our commentators, Mark Banton,” at the Cleburne-Seguin game.

Banton’s comments were “totally uncalled-for,” the statement said.

The Arlington school district reported the incident to the University Interscholastic League, the governing body of high school sports in Texas, and banned JacketRadio.com from future broadcasts of games involving Arlington schools.

Kate Hector, a spokeswoman for the UIL, said Friday that the UIL was aware of the incident but has no authority over radio broadcasts at individual schools. However, there is a UIL media guideline requiring broadcasters to receive permission from both involved schools before broadcasting an event, Hector said.

A radio announcer from Cleburne made a racist comment about Arlington Seguin players and made fun of a Seguin cheerleader during a Cleburne High School football game last week.

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