Rooster Radio has “parted ways” with longtime morning talk show host Austin Harris a little over a week after he admitted a drunken assault on a woman.
Station boss and Hurley’s Entertainment Managing Director Randy Merren said in a press release Friday afternoon that the decision was meant to take the “Crosstalk” show in a “new direction.” He made no mention of Mr. Harris’s court case.
Woody Da Costa, a candidate for the Progressives in the last election, will take over the show on an interim basis.
Mr. Harris escaped a criminal conviction despite pleading guilty to common assault and damage to property when he appeared in court on May 21. He told the court he was “severely intoxicated” at the time and could not remember anything about the incident.
He had previously entered not guilty pleas to charges of common assault and damage to property but reversed his position on the morning of a planned trial in Summary Court.
Witnesses said Mr. Harris grabbed the woman by the throat and was pulled away by television weatherman Kevin Watler during the incident at a leaving-the-island party for the victim in March 2014.
He was initially suspended, following his arrest, from his position at Rooster Radio but was later reinstated.
A statement from the station on Friday confirmed that he has been replaced as host of the morning show, but made no mention of the incident.
“I thank Austin for his years of service, but it is time to take Cayman Crosstalk in a new direction,” Mr. Merren said in the statement.
“Cayman Crosstalk has always been at the intersection of political and business conversations in the Cayman Islands.
“We have been exploring our options on how to broaden the show’s audience and influence. We want Crosstalk to grow and become even more relevant in the coming months and years,”
He said Mr. DaCosta has credentials in hospitality, project management, property, international business and law and served on the boards of the International College of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Youth Development Consortium.
“Woody’s diverse background in business, politics and public affairs makes him well suited to lead the discussion about the Cayman Islands’ future.
“He has an excellent understanding of the many diverse points of view that comprise our unique home.
He added, “We shall miss Austin, but we are pleased to have someone of Woody’s experience take the microphone. His combination of private sector and public service experience will be a valuable asset to Cayman’s most important radio program.”