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WEEI host Chris Curtis suspended for on-air comment involving ethnic slur, ESPN analyst Mina Kimes

Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Chris Curtis, the WEEI on-air personality and producer who used an ethnic slur during Tuesday’s “The Greg Hill Show,’’ has been suspended without pay by the station until next Wednesday.

Curtis was on Thursday’s show at the start of its opening 6 a.m. hour and offered a meandering apology before leaving to begin his suspension.

During Tuesday’s show, Hill and co-hosts Courtney Cox and Jermaine Wiggins were discussing Boston’s possible ban of miniature bottles of alcohol, also known as a “nip,” and ranking their favorites.

Curtis interjected, “Oh, I’d probably go Mina Kimes,’’ referencing the prominent ESPN NFL analyst and personality who is Korean on her mother’s side. “Nip” is also a slur used against Japanese people.

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During his apology, Curtis said without elaboration that he did not mean to say Kimes’s name, but that of actress Mila Kunis.

A spokesperson at Audacy, WEEI’s parent company, had suggested on Wednesday that Curtis had simply conflated the two names. Kimes, after becoming aware of the story Wednesday, changed her Twitter profile photo to a picture of Kunis.

“I attempted to bring up Mila Kunis, which was not really that funny, [it was] sophomoric and sexist, but for reasons I don’t understand, I said Mina Kimes,’’ said Curtis. “That was never the intention for me to say her name. It had nothing to do with the subject matter, and it dragged her into a controversy through no fault of her own regarding a slur and her race and it’s not at all what my intention was.

“But it doesn’t matter because of the absolute chaos that my words created for someone who is just doing her job covering the NFL at ESPN.”

Curtis also apologized to the show’s listeners and noted that working at WEEI is “the dream of my life and not a privilege I take lightly.”

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He didn’t explain whether he was aware “nip” is a slur or what his attempt at a joke would have meant if it had been about Kunis.

“It was something that was … there’s really no other way to put it, it was dumb and it was silly,” he said. “And it’s brought a lot of things to the forefront for people that did nothing wrong.”

Boston City Council president Ed Flynn shared a statement with the Globe.

“The use of ethnic or racial slurs is never acceptable. At a time when there are increasing levels of anti-[Asian American and Pacific Islander] hate, it is even more critical that we recognize how words can be used for harm and division. The word used [Tuesday] is a slur against a person of Japanese descent, and must not be used again. Words matter, and they should never be used to add to the flames of racism, sexism, and discrimination,” Flynn wrote.


Chad Finn can be reached at chad.finn@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeChadFinn.