Skip to comments.WRKO Legal Moves Silence Carr (Not Howie Carr live thread week of Sep. 24, 2007)
Posted on 09/24/2007 5:42:37 AM PDT by raccoonradio
(Scott Fybush): *A MASSACHUSETTS judge barred WRKO (680 Boston) Howie Carr from jumping ship to rival talker WTKK (96.9 Boston) last week, but the decision didn't make the host's future much clearer.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allan van Gessel ruled Wednesday, just hours before Carr was to have started his WTKK morning shift, that while WRKO owner Entercom couldn't enforce the non-compete clause in Carr's contract, it could enforce a clause that allowed WRKO to match any competing offer for Carr's services.
What does "match" mean? There's the seven-million-dollar question as the legal battle keeps plodding along: would merely matching WTKK's paycheck be enough to force Carr to stay with WRKO, or are there other factors at play, too, such as the Red Sox preemptions that have annoyed Carr all summer, not to mention WTKK's FM signal and the conspicuous absence of Carr's nemesis Tom Finneran over at the Greater Media talker.
In any case, WRKO succeeded in barring Carr from his scheduled Thursday morning debut on WTKK, but for now that's the extent of the victory. Carr was already off the air at WRKO last week while the lawsuit was being heard, and he's not rushing back to the WRKO studios now, either, which leaves substitute hosts filling the afternoon slot both there and on the remaining affiliates of Carr's syndicated show.
Over at WTKK, the picture's only marginally brighter. While the station issued a statement saying "we are disappointed that Howie will not be on WTKK tomorrow, but we are hopeful that he will be a part of the Greater Media family in the very near future," there's every reason to expect Entercom to drag the legal wrangling out as long as possible, which leaves WTKK filling its morning drive slot with substitute hosts as well. That's Michael Graham, for the moment, with weekender Michelle McPhee handling Graham's usual 10-noon slot.
WTKK is moving forward in other ways - it has a new website in development, and it's started to use a new logo proclaiming the station as "Boston's Talk Evolution." (Given the political bent of most of the station's hosts, we'd think "Boston's Talk Creation" might be more in order, but we digress.)
I noticed Jay Severin returned to the lucrative afternoon commute. Didn’t they boot Michael Graham out of that slot. Does Jay really do better than Michael? I find that hard to believe.
“Honest Jay” Severin keeps his Pulitzer Prize proudly on display in his Manchester-by-the-Money mansion.
I guess Jay beat Howie in a couple ratings books but more recently it was said that Howie’s ratings beat Jay’s. (Both stations, though, were beaten regularly by WRKO’s
sister station WEEI and The Big Show.)
Graham picked up the slot when Jay moved to syndication
and then Jay returned to afternoons, with Graham moving first
to 7 pm and then to late mornings...WTKK figuring they’d
rather have local hosts on 6 am to 7 pm and then syndicated
I should have to remember, as far as we’re concerned it
is The Not Howie Carr Show. I like Howie’s sense of
humor, too, and his voice is a bit more pleasing. Feinburg
might be OK on occasion but it sounds a little too laid
Someone on a radio messageboard noted that Feinburg does a nationally syndicated show on weekends (1-4 pm, I think)
and they found they liked it better—he was dealing with
hard issues like the war, not “pop culture”. They were
in N. Conway NH and picking it up on a station from Maine.
I, too, noticed a Maine station running the weekend
Todd show while up in N. Conway a while back.
“Welcome! You’ve found your way to the website of
The Todd Feinburg Show. 1-4 pm Saturday/Sunday ET”
This past week, while I was in the Boston area cleaning out my parents’ house, I’d generally flip over to WEEI or ESPN radio if I was in the car, or just leave on the TV if I was home.
When I get back to California in the next couple days, I’ll probably just fire up iTunes and listen to music.
Is there something so utterly different about employment law in the radio world that prohibits a no-longer-contracted person from working for whomever he wants? I am not an attorney (although I did go to law school many years ago), and perhaps someone will shed some light on this subject. If an employment contract contains a contingent clause allowing the employer a right of first refusal and/or the right to match an external offer, why isn't the employee free to accept or reject such an offer at will?
This makes utterly no sense to me. I can understand why WKRO wanted a right to match another company's future offer to Carr, but why would he be bound to accept it? If he explicitly agreed to do so at the time the original employment contract was negotiated, then perhaps he ought to get a new attorney.
but that's about the size of it for me.
“If an employment contract contains a contingent clause allowing the employer a right of first refusal and/or the right to match an external offer, why isn’t the employee free to accept or reject such an offer at will?
This makes utterly no sense to me.”
I think Fybush’s question about what it means to match the offer should be considered more. While WRKO could surely match the financial part of the offer if they so desired, WOULD they match the working conditions? The preferred shift, the removal of the threat of pre-emptions for sports, and other concerns that made for all-around unpleasant working conditions for Howie. So even if they offered him the same MONEY, they’re still not matching the OFFER.
I think Entercom is saying that Howie IS contracted, to
them...because they matched WTKK’s offer, and there’s the rub.
Does the offer include: morning show? on an FM station?
no Red Sox pre-emptions? etc. or is it just a case of salary.
Howie’s WRKO salary was better than WTKK’s actual BASE offer.
WRKO paid him $790k and the orig. offer was for $50k less
per year; WTKK offered him maybe $500k but with a lot
of incentives that would be paid if he hit certain goals.
Entercom can say, “Well, we don’t know yet if he’d hit those goals because he hasn’t started working there, but there you go: we give him $740k, they’re offering $500k. Case closed.”
Or actually maybe WTKK’s offer was closer to WRKO’s
than that, but WRKO argues they MET his offer.
But...what about the incentives...?
>>If an employment contract contains a contingent clause allowing the employer a right of first refusal and/or the right to match an external offer, why isn’t the employee free to accept or reject such an offer at will?
Don’t know but the right of first refusal is why Howie isn’t on WTKK yet.
>>why would he be bound to accept it? If he explicitly agreed to do so at the time the original employment contract was negotiated, then perhaps he ought to get a new attorney.
>>The preferred shift, the removal of the threat of pre-emptions for sports, and other concerns that made for all-around unpleasant working conditions for Howie. So even if they offered him the same MONEY, theyre still not matching the OFFER.
That’s what I think, too; WRKO couldn’t match THOSE conditions.
As far as Howie being out of his contract, while Howie’s
lawyers are saying his contract ended last Wed., WRKO is
saying that since they met the offer (again: salary-wise,
not incentive-wise, and not “working conditions”) that he
is now under contract to them until 9/30/12.
And Howie is not showing up for work, and not getting a paycheck. The Herald columns and the book receipts
are probably pretty good but eventually I’m sure he’d
love to return to radio...and collect a big fat paycheck
from greater media.
I think you make a good point, in that WTKK has offered Howie Carr something very different from what RKO has in mind. WTKK is offering a morning drive-time slot without the threat of sports preemption that
benefited ONLY Entercom by enhancing its advertising revenue while diminishing Carr’s audience. But what I’m questioning is the right of one party to a terminated contract to prevent the other party from contracting freely with a third party.
We can’t understand it, because we don’t know the actual language in the contract with Entercom. It sounds like it’s an automatic extension for 5 years if WRKO matches the contract within 6 months of the expiration date. If they are only required to match his salary, Howie may indeed be screwed.
I agree: it is difficult to make a proper assessment without being able to see the terms of the contract (which, of course, we never will).
>>a morning drive-time slot
WRKO could tell Howie he can have morning drive and put
the Felon on in afternoons
>>without the threat of sports preemption
No sports pre-emption with a morning show; and if he
wanted to keep doing 3-7 (for salary they’re offering)
they can say, “no baseball pre-emption this yr after Sox
are doing with playoffs...spring training next year,
we’ll put those games on WEEI...regular season? Most games
start no earlier than 7 pm—afternoon games are on WEEI—
and we could have WEEI carry that pre-game show at 6:30
and WRKO picks up game at 7. No pre-emptions (again, IF
they tried to get him to “honor the contract” but kept
him in afternoons)
there were other advantages to WTKK though like FM
signal that doesn’t fade after sunset; supposed
younger audience; etc
I doubt that Entercom would agree to that - Carr would be in direct competition with D&C on WEEI.
Howie is in danger of jumping the shark.
yes now that you mention it; though Howie at 3 pm was in direct competition with WEEI’s the Big Show which has
been #1 in that slot for certain ratings periods. Though
we’re talking sports vs. current events talk in the PM,
while in the AM D&C do some current events talk and not just sports, and there would be a bit of “competition” there.
Actually, I’m catching up on all of the opera recordings that Mrs NHD can’t stand on the home system.
If only I could put a car on auto-pilot, I could catch up on some sleep. :-)