Diversity Crucial For Clear Channel’s KFI, Activists Say
"KFI, Clear Channel's top station, has 15 shows, and 14 of them are hosted by white males," said Jasmyne Cannick, a political and pop culture critic, in an interview. "There are no blacks in their newsroom. When you have no African-American colleagues around you all day, people often become desensitized to what other groups find intolerable."
When discussing Houston’s death on Feb. 16, the KFI duo bought up her past drug problems in a derogatory manner.
"It's like, ‘Ah Jesus . . . here comes the crack ho again, what’s she gonna do?" said John Kobylt, according to the recording from the show.
The duo was briefly suspended over the remarks. KFI’s management said that they do not condone or tolerate such statements. The show resumed on Wednesday after a seven day suspension. However, they may have lost their nightly newscast gig on KTLA, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The hosts apologized for the derogatory comment on Feb. 17.
"We made a mistake, and we accept the station’s decision. We used language that was inappropriate, and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston," said John Kobylt, who made the comment.
Cannick said she was satisfied with the apology but that she understands the black community's anger.
"I am okay with the apology because first, I am clear and have always been clear on where I stand with John and Ken as a black person and as a black woman," she said. "What that means is that I am not under the illusion that they like me or black people all that much or that the apology was sincere—and I say that as a fan of the show and as a black woman."
Cannick said that the comment regarding Whitney Houston has brought to light a "deeper problem that continues to go unchecked." She, along with other activists, are calling to see more diversity within the ranks of KFI.
"There are black people, like myself, who work in broadcasting who fall inline with KFI's "target audience" in terms of being more on the conservative," she said. "And that’s already been proven with past hosts like Kevin Ross, Joe Hicks, and Mark Whitlock who all were once hosts on KFI. So I don't buy the excuse we can't find black talent that fits the programming of our station."
Cannick is a media personality herself.
"We can't get into any other format but hippity hop and pop music," she said. "I for one will never be that kind of radio personality. I am a news and talk girl who just happens to be black."
A Facebook page, Diversify KFI, was recently launched. It contains updates about activists’ efforts.