Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A two-week suspension for 'John and Ken': Reactions?

Photo by Ben McLeod/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Reaction to the temporary suspension of John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of KFI 640 AM's "The John and Ken Show" has been growing since it was announced this afternoon, with the duo given a time-out until February 27 after making what the station is referring to as "insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston" that I won't repeat.

And of all the reaction tweets so far, this one from Joshua Steckler (@joshuasteckler) seemed the most relevant given recent history:

Of all the things these two say, it took Whitney Houston to get them suspended??

Several groups have been calling for Kobylt and Chiampou's heads, or at least their show, for some time now. In the past few months, both Latino and Asian American groups have sought to have the show taken off the air. Most recently, Asian American civil rights groups in Los Angeles protested after the hosts made disparaging comments about Koreans in a January segment. From a story on the Pacific Citizen website:
On a Jan. 5 airing of the talk radio show, hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou began a discussion on unethical business practices. Part of their comments included statements about Korean American painters as “scam guys” who seek to “rip people off.”

The comments stirred immediate responses from groups like the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Korean Resource Center, which called the hosts’ comments racist and a continuing attack on immigrant communities, including the Latino and African American communities.


Last fall, several Latino groups picketed Clear Channel's offices in Burbank, demanding the show be taken off the air after the duo gave out the phone number of an immigrant advocacy group's spokesman on air, prompting their fans to deluge the man with hate calls.

This afternoon the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, whose spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera was the victim of the hate calls, put out a brief statement applauding the temporary suspension, part of which reads:

Their distasteful, inappropriate and offensive diatribes know no bounds. We call on KFI to consider suspending these two traffickers of hate indefinitely. We also call on KTLA TV 5 to remove this objectionable pair from the station's daily programming. Multicultural Los Angeles deserves better than John and Ken.

A similar statement came from the Pasadena-based National Hispanic Media Coalition:
"A temporary suspension is not enough. How many times do John and Ken get to spew their hate, apologize and then do it again after taking off a long weekend? KFI must permanently remove John and Ken from the air. Los Angeles deserves better," said Alex Nogales, NHMC President & CEO.

The media group has long criticized the show for its characterizations of immigrants, in particular Latinos. In its statement on the radio station's website, KFI said: "KFI AM 640 Management does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind." It continued:
John Kobylt said, “We made a mistake, and we accept the station’s decision. We used language that was inappropriate, and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston.”

Now it's time to hear your thoughts. Is a two-week suspension for the "John and Ken" hosts too much, enough, or not even close?
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