On February 15, KFI Los Angeles radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chaimpou of the John & Ken Show were suspended after Kobylt referred to the late Whitney Houston as a "crack ho." Following the suspension, Nancy Meza, an intern at the UCLA Dream Resource Center which studies labor, education and immigration issues, detailed her own experiences being targeted by John and Ken and their listening audience after the co-hosts read her cell phone number and email address on the air. In the Huffington Post, Meza noted that Kobylt and Chaimpou's comment "comes [as] no surprise" to regular listeners of the program and that the hosts "put nothing but hate speech on the radio waves." From the Huffington Post:
I have personally felt the hate and unprofessionalism that comes with their so-called reporting. On May 20, 2010, nine brave students held a civil disobedience action in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard in front of the West Los Angeles Federal Building to advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act. The nine demonstrators were all U.S. citizens and took this action in solidarity with their undocumented friends and classmates. One of the protesters was an Iraq War veteran.
Stationed only a few blocks away at a coffee shop with my lap top and cell phone, I was responsible for media outreach. From our makeshift office, I sent out press releases with updates and took calls from reporters. Identified as the media spokesperson on the press release, my cell phone number was listed and widely circulated for media purposes.
That afternoon, the John and Ken show publicly announced my cell phone number and email address on air, which had been intended for media purposes only, and launched a national campaign asking for my deportation. I received over 300 calls in one day and my phone and email were completely shut down. Many of the messages I received included death threats, among others. The disk jockeys also began selling t-shirts online as part of their campaign. "Deport Nancy Meza" was printed on the front of the shirt and a phone number to Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the back. It was available in different colors and sizes for about $30. Baby and toddler sizes included. I couldn't fathom the thought of parents buying "Deport Nancy Meza" t-shirts for their children and babies to wear.
This kind of anti-immigrant activism is typical for Kobylt and Chiampou. And this isn't the first time they've given out the personal information and cell phone number of an immigration advocate on the air -- or the first time their actions have resulted in death threats and harassment.
On September 1, 2011, Kobylt and Champou aired the personal cell phone number of Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). The hosts urged listeners to leave messages about Cabrera's advocacy of the California DREAM Act, telling them to "congratulate" Cabrera on "his victory," which they described as "the theft of tax money for illegal aliens." In a September 8, 2011, Huffington Post column, Cabrera described some of the "very angry, and at times threatening calls" he received.
Meza's post also called for the permanent removal of John and Ken from the radio, as well as an investigation into their "hate speech."
Suspending this hate speech is not enough; John and Ken need to be taken off the air. They themselves have shown a track record of unprofessionalism. Being bullied by John and Ken did not scare me into silence. I am not afraid of taking action, if anything, their personal attack mobilized my entire network of supporters and friends. I know I am not the only person who has been through a John and Ken-approved media assault. How long do we have to wait before these hate mongers go too far? Their suspension last week gives us an opportunity to take a step forward and put a permanent end to the hate speech that John and Ken embody and perpetuate on air.
Meza is correct that Kobylt and Chiampou regularly put "hate speech on the radio waves." A recent study by the UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center titled "Quantifying Hate Speech On Commercial Talk Radio" looked at the prevalence of hate speech in Los Angeles County talk radio programs and found numerous "instances that met the study's criteria for statements targeting a vulnerable group or their supporters" in LA's John & Ken Show. In particular, the study found that the show disproportionately targeted Latino, Mexican and immigrant groups. The study looked at instances of hate speech from 2008 and found that the John & Ken Show repeatedly targeted immigrants, Latinos and Mexicans.
From the study, which looked at The John & Ken Show as well as The Lou Dobbs Show and The Savage Nation:
The report found that The John & Ken Show had only a 55 percent accuracy rate and that it's "unsubstantiated claims related either entirely or predominantly to undocumented immigrants and governmental agencies or public officials that were characterized as supporting them or facilitating their negative impact on society."
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) has spearheaded a campaign to educate advertisers about The John & Ken Show's hate speech and have them removed from KFI Los Angeles entirely. To date, numerous advertisers on both a local and national level have dropped the show, including GM, Verizon, and AT&T, as well as the Los Angeles-area grocery store chains Vons and Ralphs.
Despite these campaigns, Clear Channel, which owns KFI, as well as their market manager Greg Ashlock wrote letters in September defending the hosts' actions to Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC). Clear Channel has not issued a statement regarding The John & Ken Show since the hosts' February 27 return to the airwaves.