Losing the Stanley Cup and the KFI Radio Debacle

The burning question: Can there be life in Hockeytown after losing the Stanley Cup? Yes, thanks to Los Angeles’ radio station KFI and I will explain why.

Dejected and with sunken heart late on the evening of Fri., June 12, I wondered to myself, “How the heck can we face tomorrow knowing the Detroit Red Wings lost the coveted Stanley Cup?” It was a terrible feeling. I couldn’t believe the game’s outcome, but there it was: a score of 2-1 in favor of the hard-playing Pittsburg Penguins.

It was on home ice, the seventh and last game, and with loyal Red Wing fans outfitted in red and white yelling their lungs out hoping noise would put the Penguins off their game—enabling the home team to nail the game to retain the Stanley cup for another year.

Smugly we muttered to ourselves, “We’re one of the original six teams in the National Hockey League, who are these Johnny-come-latelies with names like the Panthers, the Devils, and the Sharks?”

Wings goalie Chris Osgood sadly had it right: “No excuses, the Penguins played hard and won.” Congratulations to the victors.

Life did return, though very slowly. The sun rose the next morning, but not quite so brightly, while the local sports channels analyzed what went wrong with the Red Wings. Instead of a huge victory parade through downtown Motor City, it was Mario Lemieux’s Penguins hoisting the cup after planting a big smooch on it and drinking bubbly.

Detroit has taken a beating this year. Our proud history as the Motor Capital of the world has been diminished with auto company bankruptcies, and dealership and plant closings. We are reeling from a tremendous number of job losses. The city’s mayor has finally been banished from office after plunging the city into disgrace. A win for us would have helped raise our self-esteem. Don’t count us out: We’re gritty and gutsy Detroiters or from thereabout.

But the hockey gods had something else in mind this year. We’ll be back strong next season though, and the fans will be there again to cheer their warriors on. Detroit loves its Red Wings!


Our attention now can be turned to the emails telling of the KFI disc jockeys’ remarks in Los Angeles and their remedy to save the government money by ridding Glendale of Armenians. The statement “What the Turks started, Bill will finish” caused an uproar in Armenian communities across the nation, resulting in a flood of protest emails to station management showing that Armenians have fire in their bellies and that the Armenian Genocide remains an issue of vital importance.

I came alive and raring to go in defense of the genocide. This disc jockey jerked me out of the hockey doldrums and put electricity through my fingers as I tackled the computer keyboard with a vengeance to contribute my share to the growing protest.

Some of the angry comments follow.

From Canada: “Congratulation to those of you who protested.”

From Michigan: “Bill Handel succeeded in offending every Armenian on the face of the earth.”

“Armenian history has not been a happy one and the wounds suffered in 1915-23 are deep and unhealed.”

From California: “I do not believe these were a parody or said in jest. There is nothing funny about genocide. My great grandmother had to dress my grandfather as a girl so the Turks would not kill him.”

Another: “My grandmother’s father’s throat was slit from ear to ear because he was a Christian.”

“I will no longer listen to your station when you condone this type of racism”

“To deny the Armenian Genocide is to perpetuate it.”

“Would you jest about the Holocaust?”

Finally, “As a second-generation Armenian, I take offense to the remarks made by Handel concerning the Armenians. The only reason I am here today is because the Turks massacred my family.”

“We need to contact your sponsors since you are insensitive to this situation”—signed, “a proud Armenian.”

And so the protests continued to pour in and the station sent out letters of apology, but wisely they finally met with members of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) Western Region, Armenian youth and community leaders, and the Armenian Bar Association to defuse a most unfortunate situation and to seek redemption from the outraged community in the form of an apology.

The disc jockeys apologized for their inappropriate remarks, stating, “We take responsibility for this offense as any genocide should not be used as a basis for humor. Bill Handel himself is a descendent of Holocaust survivors and has made it clear he has been aware of and passionate throughout his career and promised to continue raising awareness about the issue. KFI will be issuing an on-air apology on June 12, also releasing a video apology from the Lara Hermanson and Bill Handel the ones making the crude remarks…”

Congratulations to those of you who rose up, brought this to national attention, and immediately contacted the radio station with protests. This type of vigilance must be maintained. This type of response from the community must grow until people realize that Armenians are here full force to defend the dignity of our martyrs. Clearly, the diaspora serves a vital role in our continued fight for justice.

Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”


  1. Why congratulations? This man–Handel–still has a job. There is nothing to congratulate our community about. Also interesting to see the hockey lament came first.

  2. Just a little correction ;-) Detroit was one of the original SIX teams in the NHL, not five! Montreal, Toronto, New York, Boston, Detroit and Chicago.
    And we all know who’ll win it next year —-> Les Canadiens de Montréal!

    Very nice article though!


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