Category: KFI

KFI apologizes but promises little in letter about John and Ken furor

John and Ken of KFI-AM

Executives at KFI-AM (640) have responded apologetically to a coalition of black leaders angered over derogatory comments made by controversial afternoon hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou about the late singer Whitney Houston but fell short of agreeing to the groups' pleas for more diversity on-air and in the station's newsroom.

In a two-page "memoradum to the Los Angeles community," program director Robin Bertolucci and fellow executives said, "We've heard your voice" and appreciate the comments and criticisms regarding the outspoken views of the afternoon team and other hosts. "We have already improved our policies" and are making additional changes "that will be long lasting and fruitful for the entire community," the memo said.

The memo pointed out that John and Ken have previously apologized for their "insensitive comments" on Feb. 16 about Houston, including referring to the singer as a "crack 'ho." The station suspended the team for seven days. They returned to the air Monday and apologized again.

The memo said that John and Ken would participate in "cultural sensitivity training furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot of Los Angeles."

Although representatives of the Los Angeles Urban League and other activists had asked KFI in a meeting at the station on Monday to increase diversity, executives made no specific commitments. Measures offered in the memo included expanding KFI's internship program to target minority students and finding "a platform for auditioning a diverse group of local hosts and guests."

L.C. "Chris" Strudwick-Turner of the Los Angeles Urban League, who attended the meeting, said KFI's memo marked "an initial step" but ultimately had "no teeth and no accountability." Strudwick-Turner, who is the organization's vice president of marketing and communications, said the Urban League would be establishing a "watchdog group to find out how to make this have some teeth."


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Photo: KFI's Ken Chiampou, left, and John Kobylt during a live show in Fullerton in October. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.



Have KFI's John and Ken lost their KTLA jobs?

KFI-AM (640)'s controversial drive-time hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou returned to the airwaves Monday after their seven-day suspension for inflammatory remarks about deceased singer Whitney Houston. But the episode may have cost them their nightly gig at KTLA-TV Channel 5.

The team was missing Wednesday from its usual nightly simulcast spot during KTLA's 6 p.m. newscast, and sources say they have been absent from the newscast all week.

Executives for KTLA, which, like the Los Angeles Times, is owned by Tribune, declined comment.

KFI, the top-rated talk radio station in the Los Angeles-Orange County market, suspended the controversial team Feb. 16 for remarks Kobylt made about Houston, who had died a few days earlier, including referring to her as a "crack ho." KFI Program Director Robin Bertolucci said the remarks "just violated our standards" in a statement issued when the duo was suspended.

Kobylt later admitted that the pair had made a mistake, and apologized to listeners and Houston's family.

Angered by the comments, a coalition of black leaders on Monday went to KFI on Monday to ask executives to hire more minorities for positions on-air and in the newsroom. Having more diversity would help decrease negative feelings toward people of color at the station, they said.

Coalition members said the executives planned to respond Thursday with a plan to increase diversity.


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Photo: John Kobylt, left, and Ken Chiampou at their Burbank KFI-AM studio. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press


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