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 (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_3NCIIEalE). 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.