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Update: NHMC spokeswoman Rosalia Tenorio says the advertisers walking away from John & Ken are Verizon and AT&T Wireless as well as Vons and Ralphs, the last two of which are not currently running spots on the show but have in the past. First posted at 3:38 p.m. on Tuesday.
At least three major advertisers are pulling out of the John & Ken talk show on KFI AM 640 following pressure from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the org's leader told us today.
The NHMC planned to announced which advertisers have pulled out tomorrow before staging a protest and press conference outside of KFI's Burbank studios Thursday, NHMC president Alex Nogales told the Weekly.
He said many Latinos were fed up with anti-immigrant "hate speech" on the show (the pair also appears regularly on the Los Angeles Times' sister TV station KTLA), considered by many to come from a right-wing perspective that targets conservative white men.
The organization says John & Ken have for years been characterizing Latinos with a broad stroke -- as the source of the state's fiscal and economic problems. The hosts have railed against so-called "anchor babies" -- children born as citizens to illegal immigrant parents.
"They talk about anchor babies and how Latinos are taking away your child's education," Nogales says, adding:
Their audience is out of control. They use the most vulger and most prejudicial language you can imagine. And they [John & Ken] incite it.
NHMC spokeswoman Rosalia Tenorio told us "action" against John & Ken -- some reports have called it a boycott but she says it's a move to bring pressure on advertisers -- has been in the works for months but that a recent incident "triggered" this week's protest:
In their unsuccessful campaign against the California Dream Act that allows undocumented students to receive in-state tuition, John & Ken announced the mobile phone number of immigrants' rights activist Jorge-Mario Cabrera on-air.
Cabrera then received a flurry of filth-mouth feedback. The Los Angeles Times quotes one voicemail message that he transcribed:
Hi, this message is for Mr. Cabrera. Listen, you pile of garbage...You need to pack your [expletive] up and go back to wherever it is you came from. Nobody wants you here. You are invading the legal people that are in this country and ruining this country. I hope you choke in your own vomit.
Nogales says, "It is not an isolated incident -- it's been going on for several years."
We suggested that John & Ken have their audience -- angry white men -- and many Latinos don't listen to them anyway: Why not let the duo have their free speech?
"Do they have First Amendment right," Nogales said. "Yes, but we do too. We have the same right to show our displeasure and demand they will be ousted."
With ominous shades of Gabrielle Giffords, Nogales predicted that John & Ken's criticism of immigrants would someday inspire "the crazies to go out and shoot someone."
He argues that if such ire were aimed at African Americans it wouldn't have been tolerated for so long.
Nogales also threatened the possibility of challenging KFI's FCC license on the grounds that the station, particularly with John & Ken as its major local show, does not serve its L.A. County community, which is half Latino.
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We have a email into KFI's corporate parent, radio giant Clear Channel, for its response. (Interestingly the company recently announced that it has partnered up with Latino media behemoth Univision to distribute some of its Spanish-language content).
The NHMC claims that Clear Channel asked for a meeting with the group then pulled out Thursday, hastening its announcement about advertisers tomorrow and subsequent protest and press conference Thursday.
The latter events happen outside the studio building at 3400 W. Olive Ave. starting at 11 a.m. Thursday (the press conference is at 11:30).