By Alex Eastman ’23
Both Earlham College and Richmond High School announced Friday that they have cut ties with local radio broadcaster Troy Derengowski. He and his company, Radio Troy, will no longer provide commentary for sporting events for either institution.
“The views expressed by Troy on recent public broadcasts on his Facebook page, including those associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, do not align with the College’s core values of respect for persons, peace and justice, and community,” Earlham College’s statement read in part.
Richmond Athletics also posted a short statement on Twitter, stating, “Due to recent events Richmond Athletics will no longer be working with Radio Troy.”
The swift backlash comes after Troy and his wife Suzanne Derengowski, a Richmond Community Schools board member, posted a video to Facebook criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.
The exchange was brought to light by Jason Clark, a former RCS teacher. “RCS School Board Member Suzanne Derengowski and husband Radio Troy come out against BLM and say that systemic racism doesn’t exist,” Clark tweeted, along with a link to the now-deleted video. Clark also told his followers to “go to every board meeting. Vote her out.”
“How do we know that when a black person is killed by police officers, it’s racially motivated,” Suzanne asked in the husband and wife’s video. “Like, how do we know that?”
Troy added, “I guess it’s always assumed.”
The Derengowskis also mentioned that more white people than Black people are killed by police, a fact that, while numerically true, is misleading as it does not factor in population demographics.
Troy also dismissed the existence of systemic racism. “It’s not systematic, like they claim it is, if systematic means pretty much everybody, that the whole system is messed up. And you haven’t been able to prove that.”
Suzanne Derengowski remains on the RCS school board as of this writing, despite the efforts of protestors who stood outside the RCS administration building on Friday.
“I just don’t believe that there should be people on our school board, representing our school system, or covering our school athletes that are posting racist things on the internet or on social media, or that even think that way,” Earl Conners Jr., the organizer of the protest, said.
Emily Christian, a concerned parent and paraprofessional, echoed a need to fight racism in the community. “I think that more and more of our society is feeling way too complacent about racism, and thinking that it’s just a political statement to be anti-racist,” she said.
Emma Bryant, a Richmond High School student, was one of many who wrote to School Board President Brad Walton to demand Suzanne be removed from her position. “Suzanne’s ideals show her true colors as a racist and Richmond schools are full of beautiful and diverse children who need to be cared for,” she wrote. “That woman has shown that she is incapable of doing so, causing me to demand her out of the school board.” Walton has made clear that the board does not have the power to remove her.
Jerard O’Byrne, who worked for Radio Troy for two years, says he had a positive experience and working relationship with Troy. “When I was working with him, I really never had an issue with the man,” O’Byrne said. “He was fair, he never treated me poorly or anything like that.”
O’Byrne also noted the differences between the person that he knew and worked with and the one in the video. “When I was with Troy, we never really spoke about this particular topic, but he knew how I felt because, before every game at Earlham, I took a knee, I was kneeling right next to him during the anthem, and even then, we never discussed the topic,” O’Byrne said. “The two years I worked for him, I never got that kind of vibe, and even when I would see him interacting with Black athletes and Black coaches when I was there it was never that kind of vibe, so just hearing what he had to say, it was very shocking to say the least.”
Troy and Suzanne read a prepared apology Thursday night, denying that they meant harm. “We were hurtful, apparently, to many of you,” Troy said. “And I apologize.”
Troy, going off script, also attempted to explain himself to Thea Orr, a Facebook Live commenter who pointed out his use of the term “you people” in his apology to refer to those he admitted he had hurt. “I didn’t mean that,” he said. “Thea, come on. It wasn’t what I meant.”
Jordan Frye, an RHS alum who knew Troy through athletics, said he doubted that the apology was genuine. “He faced backlash from hundreds of people,” Frye said. “He has to try to save his butt which we see has failed.” He continued, “Troy didn’t do it for us or the community.
“A public apology should largely consist of ‘What I said was wrong,’” Andy Dudas, the facilities manager at Dudas Law, said in a Facebook post. “What there should be none of: ‘apparently what I said was hurtful.’ That’s not an apology.”