Black activists call for Clear Channel to make changes following DJs'
By Gary McCarthy
Los Angeles Wave
(February 29, 2012) A group of Black community activists received a
face to face apology from KFI-AM radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken
Chiampou of the "John and Ken Show" following the duo's "crack ho" slur
against the late Whitney Houston.
The delegation also used the Feb. 27 meeting to call for KFI's parent
company, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., to ensure more minorities
are hired at the station in the newsroom and on air.
The group included Blair Taylor, president and CEO of the Los Angeles
Urban League, media strategist Jasmyne Cannick, activist Najee Ali and
broadcaster Lee Bailey.
"John and Ken did apologize to us for their comments mocking Whitney's
death," said Ali.
"That was important because she's our fallen sister [and] she's not here
to defend herself, so it was up to us. However, the bigger picture is
holding Clear Channel accountable for more diversity.
This is a David and Goliath fight, but it is an important one to ensure
that African-Americans are hired in the newsroom and as on-air
personalities, in fact at all facets at Clear Channel."
He added: "We met with the program manager as well as two other top
executives and gave them a list of demands, and they promised they would
get back to us in 72 hours with a written policy of what they intend to
Included on the list of demands is the following, according to a
statement issued by the leaders who met with the station:
• The hiring of more Blacks as on air talent -- full-time, weekends and
as fill-in hosts
• Similar to cable outlets, the station should feature paid KFI
contributing commentators who can discuss issues with the on-air from
• Clear Channel must employ more Blacks behind the scenes such as
producers, engineers, sales representatives, professionals in marketing
and promotions, as well as college interns of color. This is not limited
• KFI specifically needs to collaborate with online news and
entertainment sites owned by African-Americans, and broaden the
listening audience through community outreach events and public affairs
Cannick said the communications giant had to be held to account. "You're
the No. 1 AM radio station in the country and the No. 1 station in the
L.A. market, and you have 14 shows, and 13 of them are hosted by White
men, only one female, no African-Americans on air and no Blacks in your
newsroom," she said.
"That creates and fosters an environment where you can call a Black
woman a 'crack ho' because there's no one around to tell you different."
On Feb. 16, Kobylt was telling listeners what he thought the singer's
friends -- in particular her mentor, recording industry impresario Clive
Davis -- could have thought in dealing with Houston's well-known alcohol
and drug problems.
"She hasn't had her head screwed on right for over 20 years," Kobylt
"At some point, you're sick of it all ... 'Here comes the crack ho
again, what's she gonna do?' ... After a while, everybody's exhausted.
Then you find out she's dead and it's like, 'Really? Took this long?'"
Following an outcry, the pair was suspended for a few days and returned
to the air on Monday.
By Wednesday, a Facebook page had been created entitled "Diversify
KFI," that provides a visual aid to demonstrate how there are no
people of color included in the station's on-air lineup.
Cannick's own personal Facebook page includes a recording of
racially-charged comments by Handel, who joked that the Congressional
Black Caucus "always serve grape soda" at its functions.
Though angered by such remarks, Cannick circulated an essay last week
that called the latest incident "a wake-up call to the Black community"
about the use of slurs against Black women by African-American rappers
"So while John and Ken were undeniably wrong in using the words 'crack
ho' to describe Whitney Houston, the reality is that they are two white
guys on the radio in Los Angeles who have a majority conservative white
audience they play to," she wrote.
"And even if they used the word 'ho' every day to describe Black women,
they still wouldn't come close to the damage that's already been done
and continues to be done on a daily basis in the Black community with
our own use of the word."
Go to Target Market News homepage
Burrell Communications hosting conference on changes
in black media
Muse Communications, nation's first multicultural ad
agency, marks 25th year
Networks led by Magic Johnson, Sean Combs chosen for
carriage by Comcast
Kim Hunter launches executive search firm for marketing, communications
Harley-Davidson celebrates African- Americans' contributions to riding culture
Most of top 25 advertisers in Black-oriented media
are increasing spending
Oprah's tweet to millions of Twitter followers draws
fire from Nielsen
AT&T again underwrites Black History Month special featuring Maya Angelou
Tom Joyner calls for Roland Martin to apologize for
Interactive One claims record-setting traffic levels for its sites in 2011
Click here for
more recent news stories and our news archive
Return to top of page