An Object Lesson

This class started May 13 with insipid comments on the Bill Handel Show on KFI640 AM in the “LA market.”

First point to take note of, an Armenian listener, hearing Handel’s comments, was offended, and wrote a note, immediately. He didn’t wait for instructions from someone or an organization who “knew better.” He didn’t make the perfect the enemy of the possible. He just sent off an email.

The next day, as shock radio hosts are wont to do, Bill and his cohort started to mock the email. This time, they went too far, and the infamous line “What the Turks started, Bill will finish” was uttered.

Now, point two to note comes in: The listener, getting really insulted and angry, called the ANC and conveyed what had happened. Of course, a task force was quickly assembled to address the issue.

Point three is the laudable willingness of the ANC to jump in and act. That’s when I learned of this matter and wrote my first piece about it. A rough plan of action was in place with room to escalate if the first efforts bore no fruit. The offending audio clip was posted to an ANC website whence people could hear it.

Naturally, as more and more people in our community learned of that insufferable utterance, more calls and emails were received by KFI. I got queries about this from people who I hadn’t heard from in years. Parts of my article were cut and pasted and used by various individuals and groups. I took it as quite a compliment. Comments about this issue following the online versions of my article ran the gamut—from naysayers to those advocating strong action, some of which were on the list of escalations mentioned above. Many people started probing further. A group was set up on Facebook. One person wrote to tell me they’d contacted the FCC. Others asked what to do. (My apologies to whomever I did not get a chance to respond.) An online petition sprouted and had garnered close to 1,600 signatures as of mid-Thursday, June 11. A video with the offending remarks and subsequent canned response from KFI, a non-apology explanation that missed the whole point, was posted to YouTube ( E
ven a demonstration was called for Friday morning, June 12, when Bill Handel was to have his star placed on Hollywood Boulevard!

Fourth point: Initiative is laudable (see also point one). All these efforts paved the way for the ANC-organized meeting with KFI. The Armenian Youth Federation, United Young Armenians, the original activists who got the ball rolling, and Glendale City Council member Ara Najarian were also present. The interplay between individual action and organized representation is very important. Both are necessary to a successful outcome.

Fifth, it’s probably fair to say that we, as a community could have had a little more coordination in our efforts. Its absence didn’t hurt this time, but it could in the future. Just something to remember.

Perhaps the most important object of this lesson is that people are interested. They will act, if asked, through various organizational, personal, and communication/technological channels. Repetition matters too. I received word of this from four different people, once it got rolling. It “went viral” as the current terminology goes.

This small victory is heartening as such, particularly coming on the heels of a period of glumness-inducing news. Let’s keep taking action and we’ll slowly, surely make progress, despite our internal naysayers.


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. Good work, but if we want to hit where it hurts, we need to go after their advertisers. A copy of the recording along with a letter that pointing out why they shouldn’t be advertising with those who promote genocide should do.

  2. I can’t believe you are all so stupid to be congratulating yourselves over being reactionary idiots. Armenian people are mostly smart people, you must be the stupid ones. You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. You know NOTHING about this show and it makes you look incredibly naive and foreign to just fly off the handle and get each other all riled up over a MISUNDERSTANDING. You are completely misinterpreting the tone and political beliefs of KFI and the show in question. The comment about the Turks was not made by the host, and I notice that you deliberately avoid mentioning this fact. If you think you should be proud of yourselves, I suggest you examine whether or not you were RIGHT about the conclusions you drew about this audio clip, rather than how organized you are in creating pressure to shut up people WHO AGREE WITH YOU!! You will not be effective in silencing this host and you will hurt your own community by showing that you do not care about the truth of the matter if you can show how powerful you are despite being wrong. If you oppose free speech and want to silence the pro-Armenian public then by all means continue making yourselves look like weak, ignorant, crybabies.

  3. Dear LaughingatYou,

    I appreciate your candor in your last article, but the fact of the matter is, we are not going to take a passive stance on defamatory commentary. Being smart is knowing when to step in and reject your vile sound bite, not to laugh it off like all the other losers would after a hard-days work at the local comedy store. In retrospect, only to subtly accept your sound bite through laughter (the easy gate-way), making way for more agressive approaches of defamation thereafter. We act the same way as the Jews would act if put in the same position, to hit it where it hurts… We still haven’t mastered the way of counter-attack, but we’re smart we eventually will! Make no mistake, just as we were being attacked in Ottoman Turkey through communal envy, we feel that in a post War era in the U.S. feelings in the media haven’t really changed. Through being complaisant and passive a victim only encourages more aggression by the opposition! Sorry we can not be a model victim for you and your staff.


    A Conscerned Armenian Compatriot

  4. Dear LaughingatYou,

    I do appreciate the level of candor you have shown in your last article, but the fact of the matter is speaking about our Nation, our People, or our Cause is of sensitive matter to us. Being smart is to know when to step-in and reject your vile sound-bite, not by sitting passive and complaisant, as the latter only encourages more bias and more aggression. We still are a young race in this country, to know the art of war takes some getting used to. Your radio sound-bite was nothing but hate speech in my opinion. Try directing that type of radio show to the Jewish community I am sure they will come to arms just as fast. So, I am sorry that we as an Armenian community can not be considered one of your model victims, as we are now finding out the ways on how the game is played. Like Chess, we’ll master that art of the play in due time just as well.


    A Conscerned Armenian Compatriot

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