L.A. council decries racist, sexist language on airwaves
The Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for radio outlets to put an end to racist and sexist language on the airwaves.
The resolution, which passed by a 13-2 vote, is a symbolic statement that decried recent incidents involving local KFI-AM (640) talk-radio hosts John and Ken.
The duo, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, referred to the late Grammy-winning singer Whitney Houston on the air as a "crack ho."
Though an original draft leaned specifically on the station and its parent company Clear Channel Media to ensure that their on-air hosts do not use such language, an amendment to the statement instead broadened it to all local media outlets.
The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Jan Perry, Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Bernard Parks. Among other things, it says KFI has 15 on-air personalities and "only one is female and none of them are African American.”
After the controversial comment, KFI ordered seven-day suspensions for the popular hosts, saying that the station “does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind.”
At the time, the station also made several pledges to increase sensitivity to minorities at the station. Kobylt and Chiampou agreed to take part in “cultural sensitivity training,” the station said, “furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”
A message left with the station for comment was not returned.
Talk radio host Dominique DiPrima of KJLH-FM (102.3) was among a number of speakers in support of the resolution. DiPrima said that a lack of diversity among radio hosts contributes to the prevalence of derogatory speech on the airwaves.
“Instead of censoring people, or firing people, we want to see representation in terms of hiring and clear standards of what can and can’t be said on the air,” she said.
Councilman Paul Krekorian said that the aim of the resolution was not to stifle free speech, but rather to push society to agree on what is appropriate speech and reject what is not.
“It’s exactly appropriate for this council to speak up against the vile things we hear on the airwaves,” he said.
-- Stephen Ceasar at Los Angeles City Hall