Photo: LA Times
Verizon and AT&T Wireless have pulled their advertising off KFI’s “John and Ken” show in response to a campaign by several Latino groups to drive the controversial radio talk hosts off the air.
Vons and Ralphs, which have advertised on the show in the past, have agreed to not advertise in the future, the Burbank Leader reported. The National Hispanic Media Coalition made the announcement during a demonstration Thursday in front of KFI’s offices in Burbank.
“John & Ken” are John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, controversial conservative talking heads who read the phone number of local advocate Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition of Humane Immigration Rights of L.A. (CHIRLA) on the air as part of their campaign to drum up public dissent for the passage and signing into law of the California DREAM Act.
Cabrera reported receiving multiple harassing calls. As part of the harassment, CHIRLA says the callers took part in “terrorizing [and] threatening [the staffer] and crashing the organization’s phone system,” according to the organization, all at the goading of Kobylt and Chiampou.
About 35 protesters walked in front of the KFI building on Olive Street, chanting phrases such as “KFI drop the hate” and “John and Ken must go.” Written transcripts of some of the messages left for Cabrera were also read aloud.
“We stand by responsible journalism,” Maria Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the coalition where Cabrera works, said. “We stand by journalism that creates dialogue, not confusion and hate.”
In a statement, KFI defended the “John and Ken” show hosts.
KFI’s Statement on John and Ken:
“Expressing your opinion is not a firing offense. KFI stands behind John and Ken and their right to speak their minds- opinions shared, incidentally, by over a million California listeners each week and protected by the First Amendment.
A handful of individuals who claim to speak for the Southern California Latino community have exaggerated or misrepresented what was said on the air in a transparent effort to advance their own political agenda and their own personal ambitions. However, the station wants to be sure that there are no misunderstandings between us and LA’s important, vibrant and diverse Latino community. We are meeting with a larger, more representative group of local Latino leaders – including representatives of LULAC, the nation’s oldest and largest Hispanic Civil Rights organization, the Latin Business Association, the nation’s largest Hispanic business group, and others – to have an open, fruitful discussion about any concerns they may have.
Because KFI refuses to fire John and Ken, as demanded by these few individuals, they have called for a boycott of their show and the station. We’re not going to validate the political agenda of a few and we reject their efforts to intimidate us, or to interfere with our relationship with our listeners.”