Controversial Los Angeles radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou are dismissing the loss of advertisers after their campaign against a leading immigrant rights activist was connected to threatening phone calls, apologizing for those calls but nevertheless vowing to continue "giving out phone numbers."
In September, Kobylt and Chiampou aired the personal cell phone number of Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communications director for the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). Kobylt and Chimapou urged listeners to call Cabrera and leave messages protesting his support for the California DREAM Act, which they called "the theft of tax money for illegal aliens."
Cabrera detailed some of the "very angry, and at times threatening calls" he received after Kobylt and Chiampou launched their campaign, including 291 calls to his cell phone alone.
On October 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that Verizon and AT&T Wireless pulled their ads from the John & Ken Show, and that Vons and Ralphs agreed not to advertise in the future. On Friday, Kobylt and Chiampou responded to what they called an "economic boycott" by promising that "nothing on the show is changing."
With Monday's comments, Kobylt and Chiampou made clear that promise includes a vow to continue the very reckless commentary that has led advertisers to reconsider sponsoring them in the first place.
Read Kobylt and Chiampous's response after the jump.
From the October 17 edition of KFI Talk Radio's John and Ken Show:
KOBYLT: We told you last week that periodically we were going to update you on the efforts of these activist groups who want to censor us and Censor you, especially when it comes to the illegal alien issue, and a couple of matters have popped up that we wanted to address. First is, we are getting emails from people who have read somewhere that Advertiser X or Advertiser Y is not advertising on the show.
CHIAMPOU: And Advertiser Z
KOBYLT: And a couple of those advertisers haven't been advertising on the show for many years for whatever reason they have. I mean advertising budgets come and go. So some of that's been overblown. Some of you have sent us emails wanting to boycott the advertisers that you think have dropped their advertising.
CHIAMPOU: Here's a sample: "Dear John and Ken, I support your right to freedom of speech. I tried to email the company to express my concern, but they now have a policy in place of not having an email address to send a letter. I got to talk to a real live human being to dictate my message to the upper echelons of this company, and hopefully it will go through the proper channels. But this is too important of an issue to allow the voices of reason like John and Ken against illegal aliens to be silenced. I support your right to freedom of speech and my right to freedom of speech. So it's time to put my money where my mouth is. I dropped Company X. We're in big trouble if you two are silenced."
But you know part of this speech we made the other day was that we really don't believe in economic boycotts, and if you listen to the show over the years, have we ever been involved in one? I can't think of one.
KOBYLT: No, we usually laugh at them.
KOBYLT: We usually get the, lets boycott Shell--
CHIAMPOU: --gas stations. That was the biggest one.
KOBYLT: Over the gas prices. So we understand the sentiment and we appreciate your support. But you don't have to drop the businesses who advertise here, or have advertised here. Don't believe everything you read in the headlines. Let's keep our policy consistent. We've never called to have any listeners boycott any business for any reason.
CHIAMPOU: Not even Arizona was going to be boycotted.
KOBYLT: Not even Arizona. And we've been pretty clear on this. So, you don't have to do it. Nobody should be doing it. And we really don't believe in boycotting anybody to censor their freedom of speech. That's just flat out wrong, and I think for obvious reasons. Now as far as Jorge-Mario Cabrera--
CHIAMPOU: Who's that?
KOBYLT: He is the communications director with CHIRLA, who got hundreds of calls and claimed that a couple of them were offensive. We wanted to let him know. We've been trying to contact him and tell him in person. Because we have made it clear, because we'll be giving out phone numbers again along the way. We've made it clear in the past, don't get abusive. Don't be hateful, don't threaten violence. We said be strong and aggressive with your opinions on the issue. But, you don't have to lapse into absurdity.
And it's kind of silly because we have 1.2 million listeners and when you have 1.2 million listeners there is always going to be a guy, or two guys or five guys who go crazy. But, we have been trying to tell Jorge, that we here at the John and Ken Show, we apologize for the hateful or any illegal calls that he received. And we've tried to contact him in person. In fact, I called him last week, got his voicemail. He hasn't called back. Various people at the station have called him, emailed him a number of times, and a representative of the station even drove over to talk to him, but he's not there. He's not answering the phone. We don't know where he is. There's no response back. But one day we hope to meet with him and talk with him about what happened.
CHIAMPOU: It made me do a double take. Illegal calls.
KOBYLT: You know whatever he is claiming they are--
CHIAMPOU: I don't know what that means.
KOBYLT: It was a public number that he put on a public press release--
CHIAMPOU: So what illegal aliens called?
KOBYLT: So I, I don't know, I don't know. They're making claims. The claims aren't true. They are getting repeated in various newspaper articles and blogs. It was a public number he put on a public press release. OK? It's shocking the way the story is covered by some people. They get the base information just flat out wrong. It's just absolutely wrong. But they just, stuff gets printed over and over again. So anyway that's where we are on that. So you don't have to boycott anybody and if Jorge-Mario Cabrera wants to call us back, we will be happy to talk to him.
CHIAMPOU: You'll hug him.
KOBYLT: Well you don't have to go that far, but I will talk to him
CHIAMPOU: Oh alright
KOBYLT: You can hug him.