KFI Apologizes for Genocide Comment

 

Glendale, CA — The Armenian National Committee-Western Region (ANC-WR), joined by community organizations and activists, met with KFI640-AM radio show host Bill Handel and station management today regarding offensive comments that aired on Handel’s radio show on May 13 and 14 during a discussion between Handel and Lara Hermanson.

Acknowledging that a line had been crossed, Handel, KFI and Clear Channel management apologized to the Armenian American community.  With Handel himself being a descendent of Holocaust survivors, he also made it clear that recognition of the Armenian Genocide is something he has been aware of and passionate about throughout his career and promised to continue raising awareness about the issue.

“We deeply regret the inappropriate comments that were made on Bill Handel’s show last month which deeply hurt the Armenian American community.  The comments were wrong,” said Robin Bertolucci, KFI Program Director.  “We take responsibility for this offense as any genocide, including the Armenian Genocide, are serious topics that should not be used as the basis for humor.”  KFI will be issuing an on-air apology on June 12 at 6:30am. KFI also released a video apology from Hermanson and Handel.  

The issue began on May 13th, during the late morning segment of the show when Handel made an off- hand comment to “get rid of the Armenians,” as well as other groups, as a humorous solution to the cost of healthcare in America.  Greg Garabedian a local listener who heard the comment wrote to the station to express his concern and disappointment with the remark. However, in responding to the letter on the air the following day, the situation was made worse when studio colleague Lara Hermanson stated, “what the Turks started, Bill will finish.”  The statement referenced the Armenian Genocide and outraged the Armenian American community.

“I wrote the letter because that comment immediately drew me to the Armenian Genocide and my family’s experience,” said Garabedian.  “For me, here was another situation where Armenians were being used in the context of a joke, but on an issue that is of extreme importance to the community.”

The ANC-WR requested a meeting with KFI management to convey the community’s outrage and ask that the situation be addressed.  In the meantime, the ANC-WR reached out to dozens of activists and community organizations, such as the Armenian Bar Association, eager to work together on the issue.

“Today’s meeting with Bill Handel and KFI-640AM and Clear Channel management made it clear that genocide is not a joking matter,” said Zanku Armenian, member of the ANC-WR’s KFI Task Force. Handel and station management recognized that a very serious line was crossed in a poor attempt at humor and are truly apologetic for the pain they have caused to the Armenian American community. In addition to their apology, the meeting led to a constructive discussion about the importance of educating the public about the Armenian Genocide. This is a positive outcome to a very unfortunate incident.”

In addition to Bill Handel, present at the meeting were Program Director Robin Burtolucci, Director of Marketing Neil Saavedra as well as Greg Ashlock, President and Market Manager Clear Channel, Los Angeles which is KFI’s parent company. Joining the ANC-WR for the meeting at the KFI studios in Burbank were representatives from the Armenian Youth Federation, Unified Young Armenians, the ANC Glendale, and Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian.

“Of course the comments on May 13th particularly conjure up the emotions tied to the Armenian Genocide, but the May 14th show was an opportunity to take a step back and address this problem but instead bolstered our interpretation of the first day’s comments,” says Vache Thomassian, Chairman of the Armenian Youth Federation-Western Region.

In the days following the incident, the community learned about it through the efforts of Greg Garabedian and others such as Burbank resident and columnist for Asbarez Daily Newspaper, Garen Yegparian who wrote about the matter in his May 22nd commentary. As KFI was slow to address the matter, news about the incident and the inappropriate comment spread rapidly throughout the community spurring chain e-mails, online petitions, and even a group on the popular social networking site Facebook.

“Genocide is not a joking matter and this issue should have been addressed from day one.  However, this episode showed us that our community is alert and ready to take action to counter such inexcusable comments,” notes Aroutin Hartounian, President of Unified Young Armenians.

The positive outcome was a result of many community organizations and supporters working together.  “The message was heard thanks to the efforts of thousands of community activists and other organizations who voiced their indignation over the past several weeks,” said Stepan Boyajian, chairman of the ANC-WR KFI Task Force.  “We deeply appreciate everyone’s efforts.”

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7 Comments

  1. Armenian Social Network said:

    I used to listen to Bill Handle years ago while commuting from Pasadena to Westlake Village and I have heard many times where he defended Armenians and the cause… Bill is a good person and loves the Armenian community – I’m glad that he apologized and we can put this behind us. I still can’t get over Lara’s comment, but she seemed genuine in her apology and we have to take it as is and accept her apology as well. Good job Armenians and ANC!!!

  2. Harutyun Hakobyan said:

    There is no forgivness to neither of them. handel and hermanson are racists in the cores of their hearts. They should have taken some history cources before having an access to public speaking.Late and demanded apologies will not change their true beliefs. People like them do not have place in any business, especially radio business.Unfortunately, some Armenians are very forgiving.

  3. Ruzanna said:

    Շատ հետաքրքիր կլիներ տեսնել, թե ինչպես կվարվեր այդ նույն Բիլ Հանդելը, երբ որևէ հայ լրագրող, Ամերիկայի մյուս “ոչ ամերիակացիներ հանդիսացող հրեաներին” Ամերիկայից վտարելու առաջարկ աներ, իսկ նրա զրուցակիցն էլ հրեաների մասին խոսելիս ասեր. “Այն ինչը սկսեց Հիտլերը, կավարտի …Արամը”… /Հազիվ թե հրեաները բավարարվեին լոկ ներողությամբ/:

    Հրեաներն իրենց սրբության սրբոց Հոլոքոստի վերաբերյալ ամենաչնչին կասկածի կամ վիրավորական ակնարկի դեպքում իսկ մեծ աղմուկ են բարձրացնում: Իսկ ով է նրան իրավունք տվել հայերին վտարելու տարբերակ առաջարկել, իսկ իր զրուցակցին` ծաղրել հայերի մեծագույն ողբերգությունը:

    Իմ խորին երախտագիտությունն եմ հայտնում բոլոր հայերին, և Սփյուռքում, և Հայաստանում, ովքեր իրենց ձայնը բարձրացրեցին այս խայտառակ կատակի առնչությամբ, և բողոքի հուժկու ալիք ստեղծեցին: Կարծում եմ, որ չպետք է բավարարվել միայն նրանց ներողություններով, և Ամերիկայի հայ համայքը պետք հետամուտ լինի նրանց դատական կարգով պատժելուն:

    Պարոն Հանդելի կատակը կանխամտածված էր /կարծում եմ, որ նրա մեջ խոսում էր նախանձը հայերի նկատմամբ, իսկ թե ինչի հասցրեց հայերի նկատմամբ թուրքերի նախանձն անցած դարի սկզբին, բոլորիս է հայտնի/, և դրա համար և նա, և նրա զրուցակիցը պետք է խստագույնս պատժվեն:

    Եվս մեկ անգամ, շնորհակալություն բոլորին` այս գործում ունեցած իրենց ավանդի ու միասնական լինելու համար:

  4. OTONIEL AJALA DOURADO said:

    GENOCIDE IN BRAZIL: THE MISSING MASS GRAVE WITH 1000 VICTMS OF “SÍTIO CALDEIRÃO”

    THE MASSACRE OFF THE BRAZILIAN HISTORY BOOKS

    In CEARÁ, BRAZIL, there was a massacre committed by army forces and military police of Ceará state in 1937, against the peasant community of Catholics of “SÍTIO CALDEIRÃO”, which had as its religious leader Blessed JOSE LOURENÇO, follower of Father CICERO ROMÃO BATISTA.

    THE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

    The criminal acts took place initially through aerial bombardment, and then, on the ground, the military using various weapons such as rifles, revolvers, pistols, knives and machetes, killed women, children, adolescents, elderly, sick and all living things that was within reach of their arms, acting as if at the same time, were judges and executioners.

    A CIVIL ACTION BROUGHT BY THE ONG “SOS DIREITOS HUMANOS”

    As the crime committed by the Army and the Military Police of Ceará State was against humanity / GENOCIDE / CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY is considered inalienable by Brazilian law and by international agreements and conventions, and so the “ SOS DIREITOS HUMANOS”, an NGO based in Fortaleza – Ceará, Brazil, filed in 2008 a Public Civil Action in Federal Court against the Federal Government and the State of Ceará, requiring that: a) they inform on the location of the mass grave, b) exhumed and identified through DNA and buried with dignity all victms in the mass grave, c) the documents about the massacre be released to the public and crime should be included in Brazil history books, d) the descendants of victims and survivors are compensated in the amount of R$ 500 thousand reais, e) other applications

    EXTINCTION WITHOUT TRIAL OF MERIT OF ACTION

    The Public Civil Action was extinguished without ruling on the merits on 16/09/2009 by the 16ª Federal Court in the city of Juazeiro do Norte , Ceará, Brazil.

    “SOS DIREITOS HUMANOS” APPEAL BEFORE THE TRF5ª REGION

    The “SOS DIREITOS HUMANOS” disagreement with the magistrate’s decision of the judge, appealed to the Regional Court of the 5th Region of Recife, with the following arguments: a) there is no limitation for the massacre of the “SÍTIO CALDEIRÃO”, because it’ s a crime against humanity, b) the remains of victims of the “SÍTIO CALDEIRÃO” not disappeared from the Araripe mountain (CHAPADA DO ARARIPE), and can be founded like the Czar of the Romanov family, who was killed in 1918 and found in 1991 and 2007;

    “SOS DIREITOS HUMANOS” DENOUNCES RIGHTS TO BRAZIL TO THE OAS

    THE “ SOS DIREITOS HUMANOS” , like the families of the victims of the Araguaia Guerrilla, reported in 2009, the Brazilian government in the Organization of American States – OAS, human rights violations perpetrated against the community of “SÍTIO CALDEIRÃO” na Chapada do Araripe, Crato, Ceará, Brazil.

    THE “URCA” AND “UFC CAN FIND MASS GRAVE

    The Regional University of Cariri – URCA, the Paleontological Research Laboratory – LPPU and the Federal University of Ceará can find the mass grave, as they have technology to do so.

    Please help us to find the MASS GRAVE with technical suport or with people.

    Peace and Solidarity,

    Dr. OTONIEL AJALA DOURADO

    OAB / CE 9288 – 55 85 8613.1197

    President of SOS – DIREITOS HUMANOS

    http://www.sosdireitoshumanos.org.br
    sosdireitoshumanos@ig.com

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