A representative of the Los Angeles Urban League and other African-Americans met Monday with KFI officials and talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, who resumed their afternoon shock-talk show after two weeks of suspension. The time off was billed by the station as a response to a quip on the show, right after Whitney Houston died, that likened the black singer to a "crack ho." KFI general manager Greg Ashlock and program director Robin Bertolucci were in on today's meeting, which included Chris Strudwick-Turner, the Urban League's VP Marketing & Communications; broadcast veterans Kevin Ross, Lee Bailey, Dominique DiPrima and Isidra Person Lynn; and communications strategist Jasmyne Cannick.
Afterward, the ad-hoc group put out a statement. It's after the jump.
We understand that some would see this as a David verses Goliath battle - Clear Channel is a $17.2 billion global corporation, while we are a small coalition of concerned business and media professionals who also happen to be African-American. Given Clear Channel's stated view on the value they place on diversity, it is our belief that leadership on the importance of diversity must start at the top. KFI AM 640 is Clear Channel's number one AM radio station in the country in the News/Talk category, and the most listened to station in Southern California, according to the Los Angeles Arbitron Portable People Meter ratings between January 6 – February 2, 2012, . John and Ken’s unfortunate and insensitive comments regarding Whitney Houston unmasked a deeper problem that continues to go unchecked. Simply put, when you don’t have workplace diversity, it becomes okay to call a black woman, or any woman, a “crack ho.” KFI, Clear Channel's top station, has 14 shows, and 13 of them are hosted by white males. There are no blacks in their newsroom.
When you have no African-American colleagues around youall day, people often become desensitized to what other groups find intolerable. This ultimately fosters an environmentwhere negative comments can go unchecked and corporate guidelines and policies are no longer being enforced.
KFI has a long history of being racially insensitive. It’s our expectation that with true diversity, situations like this can be avoided. A diverse work environment includes the hiring of blacks not only as on-air talent, but asfill-in talent, paid contributors, producers, engineers, and news reporters.
It means developing and fostering relationships with online news entities that cater to African-American audiences.
We want to see Clear Channel be better and what better place to start, since their main business is radio, and since their number one radio station is in the second largest media market in the country—than with KFI. KFI is the station that sets the tone and example for all of Clear Channel's other stations around the country.
We know that all of the other Clear Channel stations across the nation will benefit from KFI taking a leadership role on this issue.
Help us help KFI comply with Clear Channel’s statement on diversity and hold them accountable.
Photo of Chiampou, Cannick and Kobylt by Isidra Person Lynn