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Group criticizes radio DJ’s remarks

June 04, 2009|By Jason Wells

GLENDALE — The Armenian Council of America was the latest critic to voice displeasure over comments made on Bill Handel’s KFI morning radio show in which he and his co-hosts, in a sarcastic bite at curing a stressed health-care system, suggested selling off Glendale as a way to “get rid of all the Armenians.”

Italian and Irish immigrants were also roped into what KFI AM 460 Program Director Robin Bertolucci called a “crazy over-the-top parody.”

In the May 13 segment, Handel suggested shoring up the nation’s borders and banishing immigrant groups as a way to cure an over-burdened health-care system.

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After broaching the Armenian population, a producer on the show said, “What the Turks started, Bill will finish.”

The segment has invited a growing chorus of critics who have called or e-mailed the show to complain.

The recording has since been removed from the radio station’s website, but it was recorded by the Armenian National Committee Burbank Chapter and since been circulating in e-mail action alerts.

Representatives from neither of the local chapters, nor the Western Region offices, could be reached for comment.

Peter Darakjian, director of the Armenian Council of America, said in a statement that if similar comments had been made about Jews or blacks, “they would turn the world upside down until they got justice.”

Bertolucci defended the segment as a political commentary that was misinterpreted, pointing out that Handel has publicly supported the efforts of Armenians to have the Genocide of 1915 officially recognized in the U.S.

“I’m deeply sorry that anyone was offended,” she said. “People who know Bill Handel know his history and know what he stands for.”

Had the on-air dialogue been anything but hyperbole, she added, “trust me, this would be a very different conversation.”


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