Whitney Houston death jokes spark changes at radio station

By Tim Kenneally, Reuters

Posted at Mar 03 2012 04:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2012 12:01 AM

LOS ANGELES - Whitney Houston's death -- or rather, the crude comments made about Whitney Houston's death by on-air personalities John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou -- have prompted a number of changes at Los Angeles radio station KFI AM 640.

In a memo "to the Los Angeles Community" issued Thursday, the radio station noted that it has enacted new policies -- and will continue to enact new policies following public criticism over the comments.

According to the memo, the station said that Kobylt and Chiampou -- of KFI's "The John and Ken Show" --- will undergo cultural sensitivity training, along with "key staff and management." The station said that the training will further Kobylt and Chiampou's "awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California."

On a broader scale, the station said it is reviewing its talk formats and "will find a platform for auditioning a diverse group of local hosts and guests.

"While our plans are still developing, we anticipate creating unique programming to reflect important issues to our multi-cultural community. This will be a great launching pad for identifying talent for future opportunities," the memo reads.

The station also said it will be working with members of the community to "update guidelines for our on-air hosts in a way that is helpful in a live unscripted environment," and will "expand on its successful internship program to target minority students."

Kobylt and Chiampou sparked outrage -- and earned a week-and-a-half suspension -- in February when, days after Houston's death, they made a number of on-air comments that many considered inappropriate.

Among the comments, the pair called Houston a "crack ho," said she had been "cracked out for 20 years," and wondered of her death, "Really? took this long?"

The pair apologized in a statement issued by the station that also announced the pair's suspension.

"We made a mistake, and we accept the station's," Kobylt said. "We used language that was inappropriate, and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston."

(Editing By Zorianna Kit)