Whitney Houston: Radio, flag controversies precede funeral
With Whitney Houston's funeral looming Saturday in her home state, controversies surrounding her death bubbled up on both coasts, one involving New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the other involving Los Angeles talk-radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampiou, who were suspended Thursday after insensitive comments about the dead singer.
Christie found himself defending his Tuesday decision to have state government buildings' flags lowered to half-staff on the day of Houston's funeral.
"I am disturbed by people who believe that because her ultimate demise — and we don't know what is the cause of her death yet — but because of her history of substance abuse that somehow she's forfeited the good things that she did in her life," the governor said at a news briefing Thursday. "I just reject that on a human level."
On Twitter, he pointed out, "Flag being lowered for her cultural contributions as an artist & New Jerseyan. Her struggles w/substance abuse r a diff topic." He also noted that during his time in office flags had also been lowered for 31 fallen soldiers from the state as well as all fallen police officers.
Meanwhile, radio station KFI hosts Kobylt and Chiampou were suspended "for making insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston," KFI said in a statement on its website. "KFI AM 640 Management does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind."
The DJs on Wednesday had called Houston a "crack ho" and referred to her as "cracked out for 20 years" — she'd publicly denied smoking crack — with Kobylt saying, "Then you find out she's dead and it's like, really, it took this long?'" Additional slams can be heard in audio from the show, posted by Urban Informer.
"We made a mistake, and we accept the station's decision," Kobylt said in the statement. '"We used language that was inappropriate, and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston.'"
KFI host Tim Conway Jr. also was joking about Houston's death during his 7-10 p.m. show Wednesday. Jon and Ken were expected to be back on the air Monday, according to L.A. Now.
— Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: A man signs a condolence book for singer Whitney Houston outside the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J., on Friday. Credit: Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images.