Hot 97 Fires Rap Radio Veteran for Ties to Yusuf Hawkins Killing

To these at Hot 97, the beloved and influential hip-hop radio station in New York, the person generally known as Paddy Duke was an upbeat and optimistic presence, working largely behind the scenes however incomes frequent on-air shout-outs for greater than 25 years. It was solely in latest days, veterans of the station mentioned, that they realized a couple of disturbing chapter of their co-worker’s previous.

Duke, it turned out, was actually Pasquale Raucci, who, as a youngster, was one among eight younger males charged within the 1989 killing of Yusuf Ok. Hawkins, a Black 16-year-old, in Brooklyn. Hawkins had traveled one summer season evening to the Bensonhurst neighborhood to take a look at a used automotive with three pals, solely to encounter a bat-wielding mob of some 30 white youths, one among whom shot him useless.

Hawkins’s homicide, which, together with the Central Park jogger case, got here to symbolize a brutal interval of racism and violence within the metropolis, is now the topic of a brand new HBO documentary, “Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn,” which led to the revelation.

“When people saw it, they was like, ‘What in the world!?’” mentioned Ebro Darden, the face of Hot 97, on his morning present Monday. “At that moment behind the scenes, corporate started to go to work to figure out who knew what when Paddy was hired and what was going to be the response. Because this wasn’t just going to be allowed to fly.”

Raucci, now 50, was rapidly fired. “After watching HBO’s ‘Storm over Brooklyn,’ Hot97 was shocked and terminated its relationship with Paddy Duke,” the station mentioned in a press release. “Nothing is more important to Hot97 than our role as a trusted community resource. The march for social justice continues.”

The firm, which is owned by Emmis Communications and MediaCo Holding Inc., despatched an electronic mail to staffers that mentioned nobody “was aware of this situation until the airing of the HBO documentary,” and famous the fast “adverse business impact and damage to our reputation.” The memo continued: “Now, more than ever, we serve as both a source of desperately needed information and entertainment, and any conflict in that relationship harms both our stations and the communities we serve.”

Still, many listeners, together with staff previous and current, have been left feeling betrayed and confused by the information, which got here amid a summer season of nationwide uproar relating to unjust killings of Black folks and a wrestle over how greatest to transfer ahead. On social media, many within the Hot 97 orbit expressed dismay and disbelief, although some mentioned that they had realized years in the past about Raucci’s function within the case. “This is so sickening and sad!” wrote Ed Lover, a defining personality on the station in the mid-1990s.

Reached by phone on Monday, Raucci declined to comment.

On the morning show, Darden and his co-hosts, Laura Stylez and Peter Rosenberg, said that Raucci had predated them at the station, having been there for more than 25 years, most recently in the production department, recording and editing commercials. They said they had been unaware of Raucci’s real name, though Darden said he’d discussed the killing once with Raucci.

“He told me he got swept up in the Yusuf Hawkins situation. He also told me he had nothing to do with it,” Darden said, recalling a conversation that he said occurred eight to 10 years ago. “What am I going to say to a guy I’m working with — ‘I don’t believe you’?”

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