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On Chase's on-air speech

During the Komets' 4-3 victory over Bloomington on Tuesday night, WOWO broadcaster Bob Chase talked at length about this story, which caused quite a stir earlier this month.

I have transcribed the entire segment. I ask you read my brief thoughts at the end ...

"Maybe I can let you in on something for a moment. We'll tell you more about it as the week goes by. My commentary on WOWO on Friday will deal and put to rest a situation that created a lot of discomfort for a lot of people. And that was a little faux pas that I uttered on Dec. 3 out in Rapid City. It really was a case of two people reconciling an error. Not one done on purpose. But just a Freudian slip because, I guess, of who I am and the era I grew up in. It would have been handled totally individually between myself and the gentleman who had notified the newspaper that he had heard me say a specific word that apparently was not very complimentary to the Japanese people in this era. Bingo, guess what happened? The newspaper writes a big story on it and from the story there, everybody was going crazy.

"I tried to find who the person was and I had a difficult time. They would not let me know that at the newspaper. I told the writer that I definitely would have, at that moment, emailed him and made my apology as profound as I could. I don't live to hurt people. People are what makes the world go round. And I love people. And I'm happy that people -- at least the majority of them -- have respect for me. I never got the opportunity until it was too late.

"I finally, through other means, found out who this gentleman was. Immediately, I emailed him a long apology and hopes that at least he would understand where I came from. Well, it took a week before he answered. As he said in the answer, he was sorry he had not written sooner but because of all the things that had happened, the activity around that story, he was in such total dismay, he didn't know what to do. He's an educated man. He's an educator in Japan. ... He could not understand. The thing that disturbed him as much as anything, and I don't read blogs; I've made that a point for many, many years, and I couldn't believe, wow, that people like that exist.

"But they also had cut into this guy's life and what had happened there. His folks were getting phone calls in Ossian, Indiana, and I was getting phone calls at my home. Some pretty nasty phone calls. When my wife would pick up and answer in a common manner, somebody would say, 'Is this Bob Chase?' She'd say, 'Yes,' and you can't believe the language that would spout from the telephone and then they'd hang up. The same thing, only probably not as badly, was happening to him.

"Anyway, to make a long story short, I didn't really know how to reach a finish on this and a wind up. I was advised by several people in the newspaper business not to go to the newspaper because it would not get the treatment it needed so there was fairness on both sides and so people could understand. I met with the general manager at WOWO and explained the situation. So this Friday morning, my commentary will deal with the injustices created by a bit of an irresponsbile known journalist.

"What I did to be sure so that you could understand it: All the email conversations that I've had with this gentleman from Japan will be posted on the WOWO Website, from my initial contact to my apology to his return with me and all the things that happened. I think you're going to find it very, very interesting when you get it all worked out. That's Friday morning and then it will be on the WOWO website.

"For all those people who misunderstood what it was all about, please, for your own good and my own vilification, and also for this gentleman who you heard more than you knew for doing this email or blog routine, give this guy a break. He's a very brilliant young man, very understanding and he made my day and made my year because there are still human beings in this world who can understand and forgive and get on with a new life. He did just that. We've become pretty good friends. When they come from Japan to the United States, we're going to get together."

OK, as I have from the beginning, I will keep my personal opinions out of this. I am being portrayed as the bad guy. I fail to see how I was remotely irresponsible. That's fine. It comes with the job.

However, Chase is completely incorrect in two things, and I want you all to be clear on this.

First of all, while he states this was all about one man's complaint, it was not. Shawn Barva was the first person to get in touch with me about Chase's comment. However, I have been contacted by many people who also heard it and were uncomfortable with it. They praised The Journal Gazette for writing about it and told me, they wish they had come forward, too.

Secondly, Chase claims that I wouldn't put him in touch with Barva. That's not the case. I told Barva the day I spoke with Chase that Chase would like to speak with him or take him to lunch. I gave that message to Barva. But that doesn't affect whether we do a story; I have bosses like everyone else.

Finally, I did try to explain these things to Chase. He was understandably upset and threatened me, so I never got the chance to tell him that none of this was personal and that this wasn't about just one upset listener.

That's all from me.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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