As promised, KFI-AM and Clear Channel have responded with a plan to improve the station’s diversity, after meeting with black community leaders 2/27–11 days after they referred to the late Whitney Houston on the air as a “crack ho.”
Clear Channel’s KFI-AM LA talkers John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou were suspended after Kobylt made the comments in the week following Houston’s death. Black activists met with the hosts and KFI management to push the station to hire more minorities, both in the newsroom and on air.
“KFI has 14 shows, and 13 of them are hosted by white men,” activist and communications strategist Jasmyne Cannick said. “There are no blacks in their newsroom. This fosters an environment where insensitive comments like this can happen. And they are not living up to Clear Channel’s statement of a commitment to diversity.”
Members of the group that met with KFI told reporters CCME promised to respond within 72 hours with a plan to improve the station’s diversity.
Here’s the response letter, sent to RBR-TVBR by the MMTC. MMTC Chief David Honig tells us MMTC is monitoring this but is not directly involved.
Memorandum to the Los Angeles Community
RE: We are listening
Over the course of the last several months, we’ve heard your voice. We appreciate all of the comments, criticism and suggestions that have been provided to us.
The individual conversations and community meetings we’ve had served as a productive beginning and formed the basis for many of the initiatives detailed below.
We have already improved our policies and further, we are making additional programming and operating changes that will be long lasting and fruitful for the entire community.
Here are the steps we are taking or plan to take:
- John and Ken have apologized sincerely, on the air, for the insensitive comments made during their show last month. The apology was again echoed when John and Ken returned to the airwaves.
- A representative from our meeting was invited onto the John and Ken show that day to discuss why the comments were particularly offensive to the African-American community.
- KFI will work with members of the community to update guidelines for our on-air hosts in a way that is helpful in a live unscripted environment. We have already started this process and will share the policy with community leaders when it is complete.
- John and Ken, along with key staff and management, will participate in cultural sensitivity training furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.
- On significant issues, KFI will capitalize on its web presence to share important links to other community websites making a variety of viewpoints available to our listeners.
- KFI will expand on its successful internship program to target minority students.
- Finally, we are reviewing our talk formats and will find a platform for auditioning a diverse group of local hosts and guests. While our plans are still developing, we anticipate creating unique programming to reflect important issues to our multi-cultural community. This will be a great launching pad for identifying talent for future opportunities. Interested parties can contact us at [email protected] or by mail at the address below.
These are our initial efforts and are designed to underscore our good faith efforts to generate greater good and better understanding. We appreciate your support in growing this important work.
Greg Ashlock, Market Manager
Robin Bertolucci, Program Director
Neil Saavedra, Marketing Director