Dubbed “more stimulating talk radio,” KFI 640 AM Los Angeles is making strides to live up to that moniker. This past weekend, KFI introduced new talk shows hosted by industry veterans Morris O’Kelly and David Cruz. These host additions are one of Clear Channel’s effort to expand its radio programming to more thoroughly address the needs of our diverse communities.
“This show is not about color, not in terms of skin tones. The Mo’ Kelly Show is about color as in color texture, hue, voices less often heard and views less commonly expressed. This is about addressing the deficiencies in our dialogue,” opined Mo’ Kelly.
As his first guest, Mo’ Kelly introduced Tim King, founding president and CEO of Urban Prep Academies in Chicago. Boasting a 100% graduation rate and a 100% 4-year college matriculation rate for the past three years, this public, all-male, open enrollment charter school certainly belies the view that many of KFI’s traditional listeners may have of young, Black males. The Urban Prep Academies is “shatter[ing] data points and recast[ing] the ways that Black males are thought of, treated, and think of themselves in society,” said King.
Mo’ Kelly’s show also throws in some humor and entertainment. One segment titled “Battle of the Talking Heads” is fashioned after a boxing match. Left- and right wing opponents are placed in a “blue corner” or “red corner.” Mo’ Kelly asks each opponent seven questions from news of the week and they have 30 seconds to respond. Listeners are chosen to serve as judges and a winner is chosen after all seven rounds. Questions range from politics to sports, and serious to mundane.
Mo’ Kelly aptly sums up his show by saying “let’s get ready to listen to each other, laugh at each other, and most importantly learn from each other in the process, in this journey to what I call the truth.”
David Cruz’s debuted show featured a diverse panel of guests who addressed a myriad of issues relevant to Southern California residents. Arnaldo Torres, Political Analyst at Univision Network, Cameron Espinosa, director of Student Outreach of Associated Students, Santa Monica College and Dr. Eric Hoffer, professor of political Science, Santa Monica College discussed the current debate surrounding tiered pricing of premium classes at community colleges. Ruben Navarette, Jr., contributor at CNN.com and a nationally syndicated columnist joined Torres to discuss unemployment, healthcare, and racial affairs.
A roundtable discussion concluded the show with Denis O’Leary, educator, board trustee and cultural painter, Richard Francis, attorney and former mayor of Ventura, and Florencia Ramirez, author, environmentalist, and conservationist. This eclectic group of intellectuals conversed about topics ranging from the plight of returning veterans to the state of the economy and its effect on the classroom to organic foods to the disproportionately high incarceration rate of black and brown people.
Clear Channel can be applauded for taking steps to diversify talk radio’s dialogue. “It’s okay to disagree, but together let us argue towards unity,” said Mo’ Kelly.
MO’KELLY can be heard Saturdays, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and DAVID CRUZ can be heard Sundays, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on KFI AM 640 or streamed live on iheart radio . Guests can call in or text at 1-800-520-1KFI / 640640.