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Talk radio hosts get an earful at Occupy L.A. encampment

John and Ken, who have been mocking the movement on their conservative radio show, receive a mixed response by demonstrators at City Hall.

October 28, 2011|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • John Kobylt, center, mixes it up with Occupy L.A. protesters as he and Ken Chiampou broadcast live from City Hall. The two have been mocking the movement on their conservative radio show on KFI-AM (640).
John Kobylt, center, mixes it up with Occupy L.A. protesters as he and Ken… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Conservative talk radio hosts John and Ken showed up at Occupy L.A. for a live broadcast Thursday, setting off a chaotic scene of jostling and shouting. If their aim was to provoke, they succeeded.

The hosts, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, have been mocking the protest on their popular afternoon show on KFI-AM (640). When they entered the encampment of tents surrounding City Hall, accompanied by four security guards dressed in suits, they were quickly flanked by a crowd of several dozen protesters.

Some demonstrators greeted them with smiles and handshakes. Others screamed that they were pushing "right-wing propaganda." At one point, the crowd drowned out the broadcast with cheers of "We are the 99%."

A woman walking by who asked about the commotion was told by a protester: "It's a conservative radio show here to make people sound and look stupid." Eventually, tensions eased and the hosts conducted a series of interviews with protesters.

The show was the subject of controversy recently when the hosts read on the air the mobile and office phone numbers of a local immigrant rights activist. The activist reported receiving hundreds of hate-filled phone calls as a result, prompting a boycott launched by the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

General Motors on Wednesday became the latest company to pull ads from the show in support of the boycott.

During a commercial break Thursday, a protester in a shirt that read "No human is illegal" approached the radio personalities. He was Rudy Pisani, an 83-year-old Korean War veteran.

"Have you served your country?" Pisani asked angrily.

Kobylt said he had, by paying taxes.

"You've got some gall, brother!" Pisani shouted before stalking off.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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