FCC Complaints Uncovered through FOIA Reveal a History of Public Outcry against KFI AM
PASADENA—(Jan. 11, 2012)— Today, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) releases American Hate Radio: How a Powerful Outlet for Democratic Discourse Has Deteriorated into Hate, Racism and Extremism. The report sheds light on the prevalence and the dangers of hate speech on American radio. Revealing complaints filed by consumers with the Federal Communications Commission, FCC, which NHMC uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, request, the report documents years of public allegations of hate speech against KFI AM 640, a Clear Channel Radio station (OTCBB: CCMO).
American Hate Radio explores how hate groups and hate crimes have spiked while hate radio’s popularity and reach have grown. The report notes that radio is the primary way that people consume media, reaching 93% percent of Americans each week. In the 1990s, the news-talk format developed, and it is now the predominant radio format with almost 1,800 dedicated stations nationwide. However, as the report reveals, the quality of news-talk radio programs varies a great deal. All the while, the number of hate groups in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2000. The five states with the most hate groups are California (68), Texas (59), Florida (49), New Jersey (47) and Mississippi (40).
To exemplify the type of hate-filled rhetoric that plagues American radio, the report synthesizes hundreds of consumer complaints to the FCC against KFI AM, a southern California radio station. The full report is available online at: www.nhmc.org/hateradio.
“FBI statistics reveal that hate crimes against Latinos spiked 40% between 2003 and 2007. Recent reports show that hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise in California and Washington, DC – with California experiencing an increase of almost 50% in the last year alone. In addition, we have over 1,000 hate groups across the nation, a number that has doubled in the past decade. Within this atmosphere of intolerance, we cannot afford racist and divisive language on our airwaves, especially language that encourages violence and hate. NHMC hopes that this report will facilitate a civil discussion about the problem as we explore non-regulatory, non-legislative solutions,” comments Alex Nogales, President and CEO of NHMC.
FCC records indicate that, between 2008 and 2011, over 240 consumers filed complaints about KFI’s programming. 82%, specifically alleged hate speech or violent speech. All but a handful of these complaints were against shock jocks that continue to regularly pontificate on KFI’s airwaves. The following summarizes some of the complaints that consumers have filed with the FCC in regards to KFI’s programming:
One consumer complained in October 2008 about the The Bill Handel Show, stating, “...Bill Handel and his other...announcer said that EVERYDAY is a HIT A JEW DAY[.] PLEASE FIRE HIM.”
A complaint filed in March 2008 alleged that Rush Limbaugh referred to Barack Obama as a “n***er.” The complaint stated, “I heard him literally shout this word on KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles, CA...I have to say, I was more than a little disappointed...to hear your commentator Rush Limbaugh make a veiled reference to Presidential candidate Barack Obama as ‘President N***er’.”
A complaint submitted in December 2009 against The John and Ken Show alleged that one of the two co-hosts said that “when he was playing tennis some ‘stupid, illegal alien, leafblower guy’ had blown dust into their tennis game.” The complaint went on to state, “[T]he announcer (John or Ken) wanted to ‘pound him to a pulp with his racket.’ This is hate speech. The announcer suggests that because the worker was Hispanic he was an illegal alien...”
￼A consumer complaint from March 2010 about The Bill Handel Show claimed: “This radio personality used the N word (N***ER) over the air describing The Congressional Black Caucus Members of the 111th Congress.”
“Sadly, hate speech is rampant on American radio. This hate goes way beyond political speech and hyperbole. Some radio pundits encourage and legitimize violence and hate towards groups that are perceived to be ‘the others’ because they think it is profitable. KFI is only one of many broadcasters that choose to air divisive and irresponsible language. NHMC believes that broadcasters should not profit at the expense of people’s safety. That’s why we wrote this report, and that’s why we have ongoing campaigns against The John and Ken Show and José Luis Sin Censura,” adds Jessica Gonzalez, Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs at NHMC.
Pundit’s Quotes revealed in NHMC’s ‘American Hate Radio’ Report
“[Blacks are] 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares [if they are heard]?” KFI AM’s Rush Limbaugh
“[Mexicans] bring their third-world habits and foul our life.” KFI AM’s The John and Ken Show
“So, if we...really enforce our borders and get into euthanasia, for example...and get rid of, let’s say, Armenians...” KFI AM’s The Bill Handel Show
NHMC and over forty supporting organizations are working together to take KFI’s The John and Ken Show off the air due to the shock jocks’ demonization of the Latino communities and other people of color. The campaign has collected several victories. Eighteen advertisers have pulled ads from the show and/or promised to no longer advertise. The latest corporations to do so are Toys”R”Us and Guess, Inc. Additionally, ten former John and Ken advertisers stopped advertising on the show, without expressing their commitment in writing. More information about the campaign can be found at: www.nhmc.org/johnandken.