Caption: In this March 9, 2011 file photo, KFI AM 640 Radio’s John Kobylt, left, and Ken Chiampou, record their radio show at their station in Burbank, Calif. The station said in a statement that Kobylt and Chiampou were “suspended for making insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston.” Kobylt said in statement that they “used language that was inappropriate” and they “sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston.” The hosts, who often rail against taxes and illegal immigration, will return to the airwaves Feb. 27. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Community demands KFI radio hosts, John and Ken, be fired
Brandon I. Brooks
Assistant Managing Editor
Local radio station, KFI AM 640, suspended John Koblyt and Ken Chiampou, the hosts of the “John and Ken Show,” for “making insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston,” it said in a statement last Thursday.
According to audio posted online at UrbanInformer.com, the hosts called the late singer a “crack ho” and said she was “cracked out for 20 years.”
“Management does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind,” the station said.
The Houston family, community activists around the country and local organizations are in an uproar after learning that the radio station only plans on placing the two hosts’ on a temporary suspension.
The suspension is completely unacceptable considering that John and Ken have a long history of this kind of reckless behavior on the air.
How many chances can two people get when they continue to cross a line that should never be crossed?
State Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, issued the following statement on the suspension of KFI radio co-hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for comments they made about Whitney Houston.
“The untimely and mysterious death of singer Whitney Houston has shocked and saddened not only her family and friends, but also millions of her fans around the world who were thrilled and inspired by her musical genius and hard work in the entertainment world for more than 20 years,” said Senator Price.
“While these radio ‘shock-jocks’ are known for their uncivil and off-color antics on the airways, John and Ken of KFI AM stooped to a new low when they characterized the deceased popular singer as a “crack ho.”
“The California Legislative Black Caucus denounces their insensitive and vulgar statements and calls for their immediate resignation. Their two-week suspension is not enough.
“For too long the residents of California have endured a steady diet of these offensive and polarizing statements that John and Ken regularly spew on their radio show. Their hateful vitriol does nothing to promote the civil discourse and cooperation that is needed between American citizens as we tackle the most challenging issues of our time.
“There are many thoughtful and talented journalists in Southern California; KFI AM needs to replace John and Ken with some of them. I’m sure their radio sponsors will be grateful.
“The Caucus will support a boycott of Clear Channel and its sponsors if these radio hosts are not removed permanently from their lineup.” (Clear Channel is KFI’s parent company).
Organizations such as the Brotherhood Crusade, the Los Angeles NAACP, the Los Angeles Urban League and SCLC of Los Angeles, are asking for KFI AM to be responsible and do what is right by the community and the Houston family. John and Ken need to be fired immediately.
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and the L.A. Watts Times newspapers shared in the disbelief of the temporary suspension of John and Ken and was very adamant about the fact that KFI AM should expect a major backlash if they do not act appropriately and fire John and Ken.
“It is unconceivable that in 2012 those who have control of the airwaves are still disrespecting Black people in general and Black women in particular,” Bakewell shared.
“The statement alluded to Ken and John over KFI radio station describing Whitney Houston deserves their immediate termination. Anything less is a gross insult to Black people and to the memory of Whitney Houston.”
Kobylt said in statement that he and Chiampou “used language that was inappropriate” and they “sincerely apologize” to their listeners and to Houston’s family.
“We made a mistake, and we accept the station’s decision,” said Kobylt.
As of this writing, the two hosts, who broadcast their show weekday afternoons, are expected to return to the airwaves on February 27th.
It will be interesting to see how things play out now that Senator Price and the community have taken notice in addition to the barrage of complaints being filed by concerned listeners.
The community hopes that this is a permanent wakeup for Clear Channel, and that KFI AM does the right thing by its audience. They need to fire John and Ken immediately, and learn that Black people will not tolerate this type of malicious and reckless behavior any more.