News And Politics

KFI's 'crack ho' and 'slut' comments prompt City Council criticism (updated)

March 21, 2012, 4:28 p.m.

A sign from a protest outside Clear Channel offices in Burbank last October. (Credit: Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC)


Scroll down for an update to this story.

The Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday calling upon radio and TV outlets to ensure their on-air hosts do not make sexist or racist remarks on Los Angeles' airwaves.

The resolution*, which was authored by Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry, came in the wake of several controversial statements by KFI 640 AM radio personalities.

On February 15, KFI's talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the "John and Ken" show, referred to pop music singer Whitney Houston as a "crack ho" three days after she died. (It wasn't the first controversy the pair had caused.)

Then, on February 29, KFI syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh referred to Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke as both a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying before Democrats on Capitol Hill about women's access to contraception.

"It is very polarizing and highly unnecessary to attack people on the basis of their ethnicity or their genders, and to use pejorative terms, particularly when they're dead," said Perry, the resolution's author, to OnCentral, referring to Kobylt and Chiampou's characterization of Houston. "That's what this is about."

Perry said she wasn't "trying to shut people up" – she just wants to elevate the conversation. "I agree that everyone has the right to express themselves," she said. "And as one who lives here, I have the right to express myself and the right to express my disagreement.

"It's just a way to elevate the conversation so that people can be aware that there's another viewpoint out there and maybe people should consider that," she added.

The resolution passed with a 13-2 vote. The two no votes were Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Mitchell Englander of Council Districts 15 and 12, respectively.

"I find the comments made by the KFI hosts absolutely disgusting," Buscaino said in an email statement, "but that doesn't change the First Amendment, nor does it change the fact that this City Council has absolutely no jurisdiction over KFI or any media outlet." He added that the Council's job was to create jobs, improve public safety and provide "core city services."

As of press time, KFI hadn't returned a request for comment.

Update, March 22, 2012 at 10:45 a.m.: KFI spokesman Neil Saavedra sent OnCentral this statement via email in response to the city's resolution: "Clear Channel Los Angeles and KFI support the spirit of the L.A. City Council resolution regarding the need for diversity of personnel, inclusionary programming and appropriate on-air language across all media."

KFI, which is run by Clear Channel Communications, averages about 1.5 million listeners during any given weekday and is referred to in the resolution as "Clear Channel's flagship AM radio station in Los Angeles."

*Note: An email from Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry's office clarified that the first "NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED" in the original resolution text had been amended to: "NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that by adoption of this Resolution, the City Council urges all management of radio and television stations in Los Angeles to do everything in their power to ensure that their on-air hosts do not use and promote racist and sexist slurs over public airwaves in the City of Los Angeles; and…"

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