Our VoiceCulture

LA’s KFI AM 640 Finally Suspends Controversial Radio Hosts

Charlotte Williams • Feb 28, 2012

A Los Angeles radio station was recently held accountable for the ongoing race baiting radio program of two notorious radio hosts. KFI AM 640 (Los Angeles) suspended John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, the hosts of the “John and Ken Show,” for making racist and derogatory comments on air. This pattern of hateful commentary is nothing new for the show’s hosts, though.

The one week suspension handed down by KFI management last week was not solely due to their divisive, racist rants against immigrants, Blacks, Asians, other communities of color and/or progressive groups. The suspension was primarily prompted by the hosts “making insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston.”

The National Hispanic Media Coalition previously confronted KFI programmers about the hateful verbal assaults of John and Ken directed towards immigrants, Asians, and other issues of social justice. In 2011, NHMC was instrumental in an organizing effort that led to major national and local advertisers pulling their ads from the radio show. Although the goal of NHMC and other local groups was to have the radio show cancelled, it is telling that the untimely death of a pop icon played a major role in their campaign and became the catalyst for the suspension of the show’s hosts. The show aired with guest hosts.

The host’s negative comments against Houston have also prompted a timely and relevant response by a group of Los Angeles African American leaders, community representatives, clergy, etc, as they called for a meeting with KFI Radio management. This development, perhaps, will encourage a renewed sense of urgency for sensible and thoughtful dialogue on immigration issues within the black community.

Arguing for the 1st amendment rights to the “free speech” of the radio hosts, KFI management was initially firm in their support of the hosts’ opinions and their “one million listeners,” all in the face of their consistent bashing of the immigrant community. NHMC is committed to responsible journalism, and condemned the demonizing of “hard-working immigrant folks who only want to make a living and be part of this society.”

Getting the show off the air, even temporarily, is a positive benchmark for the campaign. The end result is even more critical─we must continue to confront these voices of hate, fear, and bigotry until they are no longer provided the megaphones through which they rant.

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