*LOS ANGELES – The Black Media Alliance (BMA) issued the following response to Clear Channel Los Angeles’ announcement of “Diverse LA,” a new three week series of special broadcasts airing every weekday from 9am to Noon on KTLK AM Progressive 1150, starting March 12:
In acknowledging the effort that went into formulating “Diverse LA”, our issue is with Clear Channel as it pertains to KFI, their flagship station. Unfortunately, the message that comes across is that “Diverse LA” is not important enough for management to address on their number one station in the second largest media market in the country. Instead, Clear Channel Los Angeles has relegated ourconcerns to a struggling station that has neither the cachet nor reach of their more profitable outlet.
The Los Angeles Times recently dissectedClear Channel syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s reaction to reports of 45 local as well as national advertiser defections in light of his crass comments concerning Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke on the eve ofWomen’s History Month. Mr. Limbaugh stated that the exodus was being greatly exaggerated by his opponents, and that the companies that pulled ads only accounted for asmall minority of the overall ad inventory on the 600 affiliates that carry his show.
Limbaugh quipped, “that’s like losing a couple of French fries in the container when it’s delivered to you at the drive-through. You don’t even notice it.”
Taking our cue from Mr. Limbaugh, Clear Channel announcing the audition of African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American hosts on Clear Channel’s KTLK “won’t even be noticed.” Out of 57 radio stations in Southern California as of February 2012, KTLK Progressive 1150 AM ranks no. 34 with a 0.9 listening audience share. KFI AM 640, on the other hand, ranks no. 1 with a 4.8 listening audience share, according to web-based industry trade publication Radio Online.
Furthermore, the initiative, consciously or otherwise, fails to state Clear Channel’s plan to immediately address the pervasive lack of Black producers, engineers, on-air news readers, paid commentators, interns at their non-urban talk stations. The fact that out of 15 KFI on-air hosts, there are 14 male hosts and only 1 woman in 2012, is abhorrent.
“Clear Channel still refuses to hire women hosts on KFI,” commented journalist and Alliance member Jasmyne Cannick. “I listen to KFIfrom the first word out of Bill Handel’s mouth until last word from Tim Conway Jr. Monday through Friday. It is clear that more female perspectives are seriously needed.”
The BMA feels that it is reprehensible that Rush Limbaugh called Ms. Fluke, who was simply exercising her First Amendment rights, a “slut” and a “prostitute” a mere 48 hours after John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the “John and Ken Show returned from an unpaid seven-day suspension when they referred to pop music icon Whitney Houston as a “crack ho.” What is absolutely mind-boggling is that while this finally jolted Clear Channel into formulating their “Diverse LA” initiative, Mr. Limbaugh continues to not suffer any financial loss, be required to attend diversity and sensitivity training, or be temporarily banished from the public airwaves for his repeated misogynistic behavior.
“If Clear Channel wants to truly serve the Southern California listening audience, management would have implemented changes on their own some time ago,” said Kevin Ross, host of the nationally syndicated program America’s Court with Judge Ross and a former KFI on-air talent. “In the meantime, suspending Rush Limbaugh is morally the right thing to do. The Sandra Flukecomments were offensive to women and men alike, irrespective of political ideology. It’s extremely difficult to have a serious conversation about diversity when the indefensible continues to be defended.”
Greg Ashlock, Clear Channel LA Market Manager, stated in a meeting on Monday February 27 that the Black Media Alliance’s concerns were legitimate and would not be ignored. Yet KFI/KTLK Program Director Robin Bertolucci now indicates that “Diverse LA” is for future opportunities. Given Ms. Bertolucci’s ten year plus employment history at Clear Channel, however, this untenable situation demands immediacy and expediency. And these opportunities must extend beyond just on-air hosts (which “Diverse LA” conscientiously or otherwise, fails to address).
As respected writer Gary Lycan correctly pointed out in his recent Orange County Register radio column, “KFI/640 AM has called itself “more stimulating talk radio” for years to define its programming as thought-provoking, enlightening, and entertaining. “Stimulating” is not the word I believe it would use to describe recent “angry” or “controversial” episodes by both the live and local John and Ken show and the nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh program.”
The BMA feels that given the fact that both KFI and KTLK’s broadcast licenses expire December 1, 2013, it is premature to laud Clear Channel with praise or commendations at this time. Nonetheless, the alliance looks forward to continuing the dialogue, with the understanding that this is a national issue and all eyes are looking to see whether the media conglomerate will ultimately do the right thing on all their stations.
“The efforts of Clear Channel are important, but it’s not enough,” said Kevin Ross, also a member of the BMA, 20-year radio veteran and CEO of RadioFacts.com. “We need to have a more long term. There needs to be diversity on all of their stations, on and off-air and we are prepared to provide Clear Channel with an extensive list of African-American radio professionals who fit into their current program formatting needs.”
The Black Media Alliance members include (partial listing): Kevin Ross, host of the syndicated television program ‘America’s Court with Judge Ross’, and former KABC and KFI host; Lee Bailey, 30-year radio broadcasting pioneer, founder and CEO of the Electronic Urban Report; Dominique DiPrima, talk radio veteran and host of the Front Page on KJLH 102.3 FM; Isidra Person Lynn, talk radio host, producer and former public affairs director; L. C. “Chris” Strudwick-Turner, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Los Angeles Urban League; Kevin Ross, 20-year radio veteran, on-air personality and the editor of RadioFacts.com; and journalist and communications strategist Jasmyne Cannick.
For more information on the Black Media Alliance, follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diversifykfi and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/diversifykfi (hashtags #DiversifyKFI and #DiversifyClearChannel).
source: Black Media Alliance