KFI’s John & Ken: A Hissing Contest With Snakes

There’s an old saying that you can’t win a hissing contest with a snake.

That adage seems particularly true reading about the latest push — this time by Latino activists — to boycott KFI’s John & Ken show and get the hosts, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, taken off the station.

Admittedly, their latest attention-getting salvo — giving out a guy’s cellphone number on the air — was clearly juvenile and irresponsible. As Laobserved.com’s Kevin Roderick rightly noted, it’s the “lowest trick in the talk radio bag of cheap stunts.”

Yet having followed John & Ken’s shtick for years, it’s pretty obvious that the only thing they love more than condemnation from such activists is reading a story about it in the Los Angeles Times. John & Ken’s show is a perpetual outrage machine. And given the advertisers local talk attracts, they’re less vulnerable to pressure tactics than national programs with sponsors that tend to be more sensitive about their images.

In short, the counter-attack isn’t just a waste of time; it also plays right into their hands, further bonding the hosts to their audience. And they’ll spend a good part of their show today, no doubt, using it as ammunition, railing against both the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Times.

Not that this absolves KFI management from its role in allowing the hosts to behave boorishly. If program director Robin Bertolucci had any guts or class she’d pledge that the hosts won’t give out such private information over the air again, and if they do, reprimand or suspend them.

But that’s not the way talkradio works, especially with such a popular duo in a niche-oriented industry. In talkradio, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. And as John & Ken have demonstrated time and again, the loudest and angriest voices win.



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  1. Fred Cuples says:

    This article is misleading. The cel phone number given out was far from private – it was one of the contact numbers listed on a press release sent to the KFI news room.

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