For years, the hugely popular conservative talk radio program, “The John and Ken Show,” airing on Los Angeles-based station KFI AM 640, has managed to stay on the air.
It never happened.
Until yesterday, when the pair were suspended for their unsavory remarks regarding Whitney Houston, the recently deceased American popular singer whose public battle with addiction, proved to be the kind of inappropriate fodder the pair couldn’t get away with.
Hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou will be off the air for the next nine days. But their rhetoric has a history of supporting vigilante sentiments and actions that never before resulted in suspensions for any period of time.
Last month, several Asian American organizations denounced Kobylt and Chiampou’s remarks about "Korean painter scam guys." And as early as this month, protests were held at the station’s Burbank studios.
Last September, Jorge-Mario Cabrera, Director of Communications and Public Relations at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), was inundated with over 400 phone calls by John and Ken listeners after his office and cell phone numbers were aired. Listeners were encouraged to call Cabrera to voice their opposition to the California DREAM Act, which would eventually be signed into law in October 2011, and allows qualified undocumented students access to federal aid for higher education, a set of laws that CHIRLA supports.
In a transcript from one of the calls that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Cabrera received calls like this:
Hi, this message is for Mr. Cabrera. Listen, you pile of garbage…You need to pack your [expletive] up and go back to wherever it is you came from. Nobody wants you here. You are invading the legal people that are in this country and ruining this country. I hope you choke in your own vomit.
Prior to this, the pair directed their ire at Nancy Meza, an undocumented immigrant rights activist who served as press contact for a civil disobedience demonstration that blocked traffic on Wilshire Boulevard on the Westside. Enraged over the traffic that affected their commutes that afternoon, Kobylt and Chiampou began an on-air campaign to deport the UCLA student. Meza’s phone number and other contact information was aired along with the number to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to the Washington Post, Alex Nogales, President of The National Hispanic Media Coalition said in a statement: "A temporary suspension is not enough. How many times do John and Ken get to spew their hate, apologize and then do it again after taking off a long weekend? KFI must permanently remove John and Ken from the air. Los Angeles deserves better."