Clear Channel’s Rush Limbaugh Calls Woman “Slut” On Eve of Women’s History Month As KFI Dismisses Black Coalition’s Call for Diversity
African-American Coalition’s Response Includes Filing Formal FCC Complaint Against KFI and Clear Channel and to Partner with Asian and Latino Groups to Advance Issue of Diversity
*LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles powerhouse station KFI AM 640, on Thursday dismissed immediate calls from a coalition of Black business and media professionals for more diversity within the company owned by Clear Channel Media Holdings. This comes one day after Clear Channel nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” for testifying on Capitol Hill about women’s access to contraception. The initial demand for more diversity was in direct response to outrageously crude remarks made by KFI hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the “John and Ken Show,” specifically the calling of pop music icon Whitney Houston as a “crack ho” three days after the legendary singer’s death.
KFI’s flaccid response resulted from a meeting at their Burbank offices on Mon. Feb. 27 with a group of Black media professionals where key areas of concern were presented to station management along with recommended solutions—including the hiring of African-Americans and more women. KFI promised they would address thefour specific concerns the group communicated within 72 hours. After reviewing KFI’s response and determining it to be 100% unsatisfactory, the coalition has decided that a more aggressive approach must now be deployed.
The following is a statement from the Coalition:
KFI’s memorandum entitled “We Are Listening” was meant to address four very specific areas of concerns. We feel it was a slap in the face and did not demonstrate a good faith willingness to find common ground. In fact, it only served to energize our collective outrage. Consequently, we plan on filing a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission that will include audio and video evidence substantiating our claims that these licensing violations are pervasive andsystemic. We are confident President Barack Obama, several local officials as well as members of Congress, and the FCC will agree with our stance that the way Clear Channel is addressing the issue of diversity is disingenuous at best and fraudulent at its worse. Specifically as to the four areas we delineated:
1. The hiring of more Blacks as on-air talent – Full time, weekends, fill-in hosts.
When asked why John and Ken were taken off the air and suspended without pay for ten days, programming director Robin Bertolucci replied, “because they crossed theline.” When asked what that line was, Ms. Bertolucci’s response was, “it’s very difficult to define but you know it when you hear it.”
48 hours later, Rush Limbaugh is unapologetically referring to a woman as “a slut” on KFI’s airwaves without any statement from KFI management or repercussions like those sustained by John and Ken. Obviously Clear Channel just doesn’t get it.
We are not interested in KFI “finding a platform.” We are aware of several talented African-American hosts right now who would be compatible with KFI’s current programming format.
2. Similar to cable outlets, the station should feature paid KFI contributing commentators who can discuss issues with the on-air from different perspectives.
We are insisting that KFI hire more African-American commentators, similar to Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, who can provide insightful expertise on a host of issues relevant to the KFI listening audience.
3. 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 to KFI.
A successful college internship suggests that KFI has been successful at hiring Blacks in producer, engineering, sales, and marketing positions and yet to date, there’s a puzzling absence of African-Americans who are currently working in these coveted positions.
4. 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.
We do not feel that simply “sharing links” constitutes a meaningful relationship between KFI and Black owned news, information, and entertainment websites that have developed a strong following of readers. Greg Ashlock, KFI’s Market Manager, acknowledged in the February 27 meeting that KFI had not identified nor made sufficient strides toward addressing issues and causes that were important to African-Americans. To not have even mentioned this in their unfortunate response further demonstrates an unwillingness to truly serve a diverse Southern California community.
To state that John and Ken will have to undergo sensitivity training is an affront to the real problem that Clear Channel wants to pretend doesn’t exist. These Clear Channel employees have already gone through diversity and sensitivity training. While on KFI’s crosstown competitor KABC, Kobylt and Chiampou engaged in various stunts, one of which got them in trouble and forced them into attending diversity training. They would later boast about how much they resented taking the courses, and disliked how Disney management made them tone down their “banter.”
What must be reiterated is that Clear Channel’s corporate policy is being completely ignored and lip service can no longer suffice. In the next (7) seven days, an all-out campaign will be launched employing the same tools Clear Channel radio personalities utilize to drive home the point that issues of importance will no longer be placated. Whether it’s imploring John and Ken’s Heads on a Stick campaign, to launching Political Human Sacrifice 2012, all remedies, legal and otherwise, will be exhausted.
Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, Muslims, and women’s groups will now be actively encouraged to join our efforts to put pressure on Clear Channel’s local and national advertisers. Traditional and new media will also be given regular updates on the status of our efforts. Our goal is to put an end, once and for all, to the racist and sexist diatribes poisoning the public airwaves on Clear Channel stations across the country.
We are calling on local, state and federal officials to ask for public comment and hearings to bring these discriminatory practices to light.
All those wishing to get involved and join this effort should “Like” our page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diversifykfi and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/diversifykfi (hashtags #DiversifyKFI and #DiversifyClearChannel).