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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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ESPN 700’s Bill & Hans apologize for making jokes about Native Americans

On Wednesday, ESPN 700’s Bill Riley and Hans Olsen forgot one of the first rules of broadcasting -- treat every microphone as if it’s live.

The pair apologized on the air Thursday for making jokes about Native Americans that — well, the most polite way to interpret them is, um, racially insensitive.

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"We made the on-air apology," Riley said. "We believed our mics were off. The producer at the studio didn’t turn the mics off. And some joking comments got caught on the air that we clearly inappropriate."On Wednesday, during what was supposed to be a commercial break, listeners heard an exchange between the hosts of "The Bill & Hans Show," who were in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament, Olsen said he had $1,500 in his pocket, and he intended to hit the casinos and gamble.

That’s not the smartest thing to talk about under any circumstances, but it’s not the troubling part of this exchange.

The former BYU football player went on to say he lost $4,000 at an Indian casino, at which point Riley joked about Native Americans taking from the white man.


Olsen finished off the exchange by joking that he had helped build a wigwam.

Double yikes. Triple yikes.

And it’s hard not to note the irony of this happening on the station that carries Utah Utes football and basketball.

But the pair did issue the on-air apology, which Riley repeated to The Tribune.

"We are sorry and contrite and apologize deeply for our comments," Riley said.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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