John and Ken Talk Red in a Blue State
John and Ken, who do a PM drive talk radio show on KFI, AM 640 in Los Angeles, were recently selected as the best Local Talk radio Hosts by Radio and Records Magazine. They were selected for this distinguished award over the hundreds of local talk shows hosts across the nation because:
a. They provided excellent coverage of a local public policy issue
b. They raised a substantial amount of money for a prominent local charity
c. They insulted just about every political group in Southern California especially those associated with the Democratic Party and homeless, disabled and Hispanic advocacy groups.
If you answered “c” you got it right. While John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou like to consider themselves as equal opportunity critics of local politicians in the Los Angeles area and in the State of California, they have focused most of their wrath on individuals and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party and liberal causes.
This might seem strange in State that is overwhelming Democratic with an Hispanic population of 35%, but this is talk radio -- the medium where the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage dominate the national airwaves, so there is no reason for local talk show hosts to buck the trend. In fact, John and Ken, who are number one in afternoon drive, are not the only right wing talkers in Los Angeles during that time period. The second rated PM talk show is Larry Elder on KABC with the bottom held up by Salem’s Hugh Hewitt on KRLA and the lone liberal talker in the foursome, Randi Rhodes, on Air America Radio’s LA affiliate, KTLK.
How far to the right are John and Ken. To get an idea let’s take a look at what they have to say. Or I should say what John has to say since he is the foil to the straight man played by Ken.
Commenting on the Democratic plan to allocate a small portion of a bond issue proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to social programs, John said that “the Socialists in the legislature insist on taking whatever available money is floating around and giving it to the elderly, the poor, and the disabled. It’s always the elderly the poor and the disabled.”
John was particularly outraged by the partiality of Democrats to mass transit. Here he got a shot in at three of his favorite targets – Democratic politicians, Hispanics, and disabled people.
They [the Democrats] want ugly buses for smelly poor people, illegal aliens, and homeless people, that’s what they’re into because they’re are the Socialist Democratic Party.
Remember the Fairness Doctrine. When equal time had to be provided by broadcasters on political issues. This not a concern for talk radio in general and John and Ken in particular.
Over the past five months, I have monitored about 50% of the broadcast hours of the John and Ken Show, which runs from 3 to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. (They recently started a Saturday edition of the show from 3 to 5 pm.) During that time, they interviewed 38 people, including 16 state legislators on a variety of subjects including illegal immigration, public schools, child pornography, and capital punishment. All of guests represented the conservative side of the arguments and all of the politicians were Republicans. However, despite this obvious bias, John and Ken see themselves as non-political.
Once again John tries to establish how fair and balanced they are. “We tell you the truth because we are not on any team,” John says, “The other guys are going to tell you what they wish was going on during an election year.” I guess the other guys are liberals and Democrats.
Probably, the most blatant case of how John and Ken use their radio show to promote a political agenda was in the weeks prior to the special statewide election in November, when the electorate was considering five propositions put on the ballot by Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger. They allocated virtually all of their airtime to supporting the Propositions, which called for reductions in state mandated spending for education, increased power for the Governor and decreased power for legislature. They interviewed several Republican politicians and had a number of chummy chats with Gov. Schwarzenegger.
In spite of their efforts, all five propositions went down to defeat. Were John and Ken humbled by this setback? No way. They called the electorate “stupid” and “misguided,” and were particularly angry with the unions representing teachers and firefighter.
“The Unions spent so much money lying to people that Schwarzenegger now can’t go around and get the legislature to do his bidding,” John said. “The [California] legislature is like a Middle Eastern Islamic Fundamentalist State. There is no free democracy.”
Yes, no free democracy in a fair election open to all the people, but lots of democracy on the John and Ken Show which spews right wing talking points on KFI AM 640 to hapless motorists stuck on freeways as they try to get home from work.