How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

L.A. city officials wade into media diversity

Photo by Ben McLeod/Flickr (Creative Commons)

It's not every day that city elected officials make a case for diversifying the staff of media outlets. Which makes a resolution passed yesterday by the Los Angeles City Council, meant to address a recent on-air controversy over racially charged language, worth noticing.

The background: In a segment last month a few days after singer Whitney Houston's untimely death in Beverly Hills, radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of KFI 640 AM’s “The John and Ken Show” referred to the late star as a "crack ho."

The duo was suspended for two weeks, but complaints continued, as the Houston flap was the most recent in a string of incidents that insulted minorities. In recent months, both Latino and Asian American groups had sought to have the show taken off the air. Asian American civil rights groups in Los Angeles protested earlier this year after the hosts made disparaging comments about Koreans; last fall, several Latino groups picketed Clear Channel’s offices in Burbank, demanding the show be canceled after the hosts gave out the phone number of an immigrant advocacy group’s spokesman on air. Their fans deluged the man with hate calls.


'John and Ken' complaints prompt Latino groups to picket Clear Channel

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A protester's sign outside the Clear Channel offices in Burbank, Calif., Oct. 13, 2011

Several Latino organizations took their complaint against KFI-640 AM's "John and Ken" talk show to the street today, picketing outside the offices of Clear Channel Communications in Burbank to call for the firing of hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou.

The conservative talk radio duo came under fire recently after giving out the phone number of an immigrant advocacy group's spokesman on air, resulting in the man being subjected to hundreds of hate calls.  Today, representatives from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the League of Latino American Citizens, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and other groups staged a rally outside the media company's offices at 3400 W. Olive Ave., attended by few dozen protesters.

"We call on KFI to fire them immediately," said Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a Pasadena-based media and civil rights advocacy group.