Is Boycotting ‘Hate’ Radio a Waste of Energy?


“Boycott this popular Southern Californian radio talk show” activists told both consumers and advertisers.  Why? The two hosts broadcast an activist’s phone number. But many are questioning the boycott’s worth, including one previous ‘victim’ of the show.

Twenty groups launched the campaign against KFI’s “John and Ken” show after they disclosed an activist’s phone number and he received hundreds of vulgar messages.

The coalition is led by the National Hispanic Media Coalition alongside Latino interest groups, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the United Church of Christ‘s media justice group, among others.

Said Alex Nogales, the coalition’s president:

“These guys have been in hate speech for many years, accusing the Latino community of everything that’s wrong with America.”

Hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou broadcast the phone number of a local activist for the California Dream Act, Jorge-Mario Cabrera. The Act, which helps undocumented students get financial aid for post-secondary education, was signed into law on Saturday, October 8th.

Cabrera got more than 450 calls.

“We don’t want your people here,” one started. “You are dirty, you don’t have any social skills, you don’t have skills to support yourselves. You incite riots, you incite the American people. I hope you fall off the face of the earth.”

Nogales read the latest message he’d received to The Orange County Register:

A meditation on the theme of “you,” “illegal,” and “dead,” which cohered through verbs and curses.

Cabrera and Nogales described the voice messages as “the last straw.”

Cabrera contends that the talk-show hosts reduce the complex issue of immigration to a caricature of illegal immigrants stealing tax dollars.

“They have no idea how to provide context to the issues,” he said. “All they do is blab blab blab and they are unaware or don’t care of the consequences of their speech.”

“What advertiser in the world wants to be associated with hate speech? Especially in a county that’s 48 percent Latino,” Nogales said. “The large national corporations don’t even know they’re advertising on the show. Vons doesn’t know. Ralphs doesn’t know. Albertsons doesn’t know. Who shops in those markets but Latinos in large, large numbers?”

But another local activist Jasmyne A. Cannick whose phone number was also broadcast as well as posted on the KFI website in 2005 over a protest she organized against the death penalty and execution of Stanley “Tookie” Williams described the boycott as a “waste [of] my time”.

“Here’s a tip for Cabrera,” she wrote. “If he really wants to beat John and Ken, register his constituents to vote and make sure they show up at the polls in droves.”

Writing in Variety, Brian Lowry despairs that:

In talkradio, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. And as John & Ken have demonstrated time and again, the loudest and angriest voices win.

But, he writes:

You can’t win a hissing contest with a snake.

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 [Los Angeles] Times.

What do you think? Are boycotts of shows like “John and Ken” a worthwhile tactic?


Picture Jean-Pierre "PETE" LeClair


Ira L.
Ellie L7 years ago

Boycott ANYTHING that has to do with hatred, bigotry, lies and manipulation of facts. In other words, BOYCOTT THE TPARTY AND REPUBLICANS.

john hall
john hall7 years ago

If you don't like what you hear turn the damn channel if you don't like what you watch again turn the damn channel it's called freedom of speech no one is forcing you to watch or listen.

Beth Davis
Beth D7 years ago

Well, boycotting got Glen Beck off Fox not-news, so it can work. However, it has to be of maximum consequence and constant. It's unfortunate that so many won't pursue the cause. Talk radio is the worse enemy of the people in this country due to the lies and misinformation. Also, the person on the air is only projecting his opinion and riles up their audience who are like-minded. So it becomes bigger and more destructive, but hey, it's all about the ratings folks! (or should I say - money!)

Christine Stewart
Christine S7 years ago

Maybe it can backfire, but if advertisers realize how inappropriate the content of the radio show is, and if actual listeners boycott a show, then I bet in many cases the management will get the show to clean up its act...

Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey7 years ago

Don't boycott the program, call the sponsors, tell them that you are boycotting THEM. And do it. Money talks.

Marilyn J L.
Marilyn J. L7 years ago

I don't know if boycotting hate radio has any effect on them -- I suspect, as Kathy says, that it's more effective to boycott the sponsors & let them know why. The positive of boycotting hate radio itself is that I don't get poisoned.

Kathy M.
KATHY M7 years ago

How can anyone tell that you're boycotting a radio station? Better to boycott their advertisers, who are no doubt local restaurants & car dealerships, etc. If you want to stop something, better to strangle its source of funding than just change the channel! Sure, free speech is protected, but paying for it is a choice.

William Eagle
Bill E7 years ago

Boycotts usually don't work. I don't like Hate radio, I don't like it because there is so much of it.

Linda T.
Linda T7 years ago

Boycotts of anyone with a microphone and are using that microphone to espouse hate is always a good cause.

Dave Jersey
David Jersey7 years ago

While we are boycotting hate radio, we can also BUYcott non-hate radio. See my blog post on the boycott/BUYcott: