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Airwaves: March 13, 2009

The Dynamic Duo

John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou occasionally drive me crazy. Sometimes its the hypocrisy -- supporting their “cool” writers union friends when the Writers Guild was on strike; admonishing supermarket workers during their strike that asked for far less. Sometimes it is the fact that much of their research and show prep is little more than reading the local newspapers the morning of their show.

But in the end, John and Ken, afternoons (3-7 PM) on KFI (640 AM), are the taxpayer’s best friend.

While many California politicians and the Governor are falling all over themselves because they finally passed a budget months after it was due, the afternoon duo have been reporting on ways in which these politicians -- Republicans in particular -- made back room deals to make it look like they didn’t break their pledge to not raise taxes, even though they did.

Now, perhaps it might be impossible to balance a budget without said taxes, at least in the short run. But John and Ken have been railing about government waste for as long as they have been on the air. Had anyone in power listened, we might not be in the mess we find ourselves.

Recently the pair have taken literally to the streets to do what they do best: rally their listeners into action. Last week in Fullerton, foe eample, John and Ken hosted Tax Revolt 2009, an event in which an estimated 8000 people descended into a local restaurant to protest upcoming tax increases and related upcoming ballot initiatives. Among the activities: smashing -- with a sledgehammer -- VHS and DVD movies that featured Governor Schwarzenegger back in his acting days.

Not that everyone is a fan. A writer for another newspaper stated that John and Ken are too simplistic in their coverage, that they lack detail and nuance. Yet that just shows the writer never actually listens to the show. Yes, as I said earlier, at times their research is lacking. But this isn’t one of those cases. John and Ken have been covering the budget crisis in California for a long time, explaining in detail what happened in the past, what should have been done about it and why we’re so far in the hole revenue-wise.

And as far as I can tell, they are about the only ones doing it, at least locally.

But John and Ken do have a lot of fans, as shown by the turnout at the tax revolt as well as their continued ratings success on one of America’s most popular talk stations. And those fans can put a lot of pressure on people, whether those people like it or not. There are reports that calls to offices of politicians jump dramatically when the team asks listeners to get involved. Rarely does a talk show have so much power.

So even though I don’t always agree with them, I’m glad to have John and Ken on my side, looking out for me and all the other taxpayers of California.

Early in the Morning

While I’m on the subject of KFI, can someone please send Bill Handel to an english class? Or at least force him to sit through his top of the hour show intros? While I absolutely love his morning show, I am so tired of hearing “KFI uh AM 640, uh more stimulating talk radio uh 8:06 in the morning ...”


Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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