Industry Views

Pending Business: Non-Compete

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imIt’s complicated, this whole Federal Trade Commission ruling potentially banning the non-compete. Considering where you stand on the non-compete concept, it’s really all about evaluating the five “C” profile of your media business.

Personally, I sit at a roundtable where all sides are given equal consideration. More about that roundtable later.

First the five Cs of your media business: Company, Culture, Customers, Competition, Compensation. Let us define each.

1. Company – What is the image and reputation of your Company (management) internally?

Externally? Is your Company viewed as a destination or last resort for employment?

2. Culture – Is the atmosphere on your sales team or in your talent pool upbeat, positive performance driven, supportive, with access to key management? Is there a feedback loop that makes employee voices valued in this new world of Zoom, Teams, etc.? Is achievement recognized in a positive manner? Do sellers and talent have input into goals? Are missed goals treated like broken glass or the start of a learning curve?

3. Customers – Advertisers and audience are important customers. Advertisers, the cash register of any ad-based media model, move in only three directions – increase their spend, decrease their spend, flatline spending. Audience scale is the currency of your performing talent. Audience, like advertisers, can only go in three similar directions – increase, decrease, level off. If you are a subscription-based media entity, pay close attention to overdelivering subscriber expectations and lowering churn.

4. Competition – Keep a close eye on what your competitors are paying, how they are recruiting and what they are changing.

5. Compensation – My favorite. Have the courage to pay for performance at the high end and many of your non-compete clauses may not be needed.

Check the boxes on all five Cs in the model as outlined. Now back to my roundtable.

When you consider your company’s view, the non-compete in any media business that provides training (sales, talent, and other personnel), promotional investment, exposure to confidential research and strategies, is not simple to eliminate.

Consider the following:

1. The talent/show that is backed with a six-figure promotional campaign. Should the talent/show be allowed to seek employment at a competitor who is smart enough to realize, your company invested the money to make the talent/show a success, and all the competitor needs to do is revise compensation and lift a few restrictions? Your company’s investment could never be paid back.

2. Ever sit in on a focus group project? When the participants open the perception spigot, the bucket can fill up with verbal gold. Whomever gains access to that research and the resulting strategic change in direction has their hands on confidential information that can help drive results off the charts. How is the company’s investment in that research protected? What about the employees learning how it all works?

3. Good sales training, seminars, and off-site are not cheap, and considered an investment in all sellers and management. Should you really be permitted to walk across the street with no notice and all that expensive training in your laptop?

I’m writing this column as a roundtable, considering all sides and it is still complicated.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry News

Beasley Gets Injunction Against “97.5 The Fanatic” Host Anthony Gargano

According to a report by Kevin Kinkead at Crossing Broad, Beasley Media Group and WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” have won a preliminary injunction in which air personality Anthony Gargano leaves the station and he has to abide by the terms of his contract, which includes a non-imcompete effective in the Philadelphia market for six months after the official separation. This comes after Gargano announced his role as a content provider for AllCity Network’s new Philadelphia sports content platform PHLY and Beasley charged that Gargano was violating his deal with WPEN. According to the terms of the preliminary injunction, Gargano can’t do any work for AllCity that appears on PHLY; he may do a national podcast and radio show with Brian Baldinger but PHLY can’t promote it; he can’t divulge confidential information about Beasley practices and can’t solicit Beasley clients until 18 months after the date of the injunction. Read the Crossing Broad piece here.

Industry News

Cumulus vs The Dumb Zone Set for September 15

The legal battle between Cumulus Media’s KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas-Fort Worth and former midday hosts im Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp has its next court date on September 15 for Cumulus’ Renewed Emergency Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Request for Preliminary Injunction. Cumulus is suing the duo for alleging they have violated their non-compete and other clauses in their contracts with the company. The two sides have been ordered to mediation over the matter.

Industry News

Cumulus and Former KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas Hosts Ordered to Mediation

The legal skirmish between Cumulus Media and former KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas-Fort Worth sports talk hosts Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp is being ordered to mediation by U.S. District Court Judge Karen Gren Scholer. Cumulus had petitioned the court for an emergency temporary restraining order to stop the duo from publishingim their podcast “The Dumb Zone,” arguing that it violates the terms of their contracts, specifically the non-compete clause. McDowell and Kemp left “The Ticket” in July after being unable to come to terms on a renewal due to the two sides’ disagreement over digital initiatives. Since then, the two have been producing the aforementioned podcast. In response to the suit filed by Cumulus, McDowell and Kemp argue, “Plaintiff’s business is the operation of terrestrial radio stations – old media – and it was only in that business that Plaintiff employed Defendants. Plaintiff has realized only too late that it should have been moving into new media platforms for years now. Defendants’ new venture does not compete with Plaintiff, and their words and actions have complied with the restrictive covenants of their employment contracts despite, as will be shown below, almost all of those covenants are illegal restrictions on Defendants’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.” Mediation has been set for August 22.

Industry News

Cumulus Seeking TRO Against McDowell and Kemp Podcast

According to a report by WFAA-TV, Dallas, a federal judge in Dallas is denying Cumulus’ request to prevent former KTCK-AM/FM hosts Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp from recording more “The Dumb Zone” podcasts. As a result, Cumulus is refiling its complaint against the duo and is seeking a renewed application for a temporary restraining order. There has been no ruling on that subsequent filing. As TALKERS reported onim Tuesday (8/8), Cumulus filed suit against the duo on August 4 claiming they are in violation of several clauses in their contracts with the company. McDowell and Kemp left Cumulus last month after they were unable to come to terms on a renewal to remain with “The Ticket.” The sticking point was their desire to explore digital initiatives outside of their work with Cumulus. They have since launched a podcast via Patreon that Cumulus says violates their six-month non-compete. The company also alleges the two have violated the non-solicitation and non-disparagement clauses of their contract and additionally alleges they have “commandeered” company-owned social media accounts, threatened to release “conversations Defendants illicitly recorded” with company executives. Cumulus is seeking “emergency injunctive relief” plus attorneys’ fees and costs. McDowell told listeners to the podcast released on Sunday (8/6), “We’re working with certain advisors. We’ve been advised that we are doing nothing wrong, so don’t stop, for now. So right now, we are putting this out there, and what’s in store for tomorrow? I don’t know.” Read the WFAA-TV story here.

Industry News

Cumulus Sues Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp for Violating Non-Compete

Cumulus Media is filing suit in U.S. District Court in Northern Texas against former KTCK-AM/FM, Dallas-Fort Worth personalities Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp claiming the duo are in violation of several clauses in their contracts with the company. If you recall, McDowell and Kemp left Cumulus last month after they were unable toim come to terms on a renewal to remain with “The Ticket.” The sticking point was their desire to explore digital initiatives outside of their work with Cumulus. They have since launched a podcast via Patreon that Cumulus says violates their six-month non-compete. The company also alleges the two have violated the non-solicitation and non-disparagement clauses of their contract. It alleges the duo have “commandeered” company-owned social media accounts, threatened to release “conversations Defendants illicitly recorded” with company executives. Cumulus is seeking “emergency injunctive relief” plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Industry News

FOX News Sends Tucker Carlson a Cease-and-Desist

According to a report by Mike Allen at Axios, FOX News has sent a cease-and-desist to Tucker Carlson related to his two “Tucker on Twitter” programs. Carlson and FOX parted ways in the aftermath of theim Dominion Voting Systems settlement but Carlson remains under contract to FOX (through the end of 2024) and is still being paid by FOX. This is a fairly standard non-compete situation found in most television and radio contracts. Carlson and his attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, argue that FOX is attempting to stifle Carlson’s First Amendment rights. This case appears to be headed to court. Read the Axios story here.

Industry News

Tucker Carlson Debuts on Twitter; FOX News Cries Foul

According to a report by Axios, FOX News has notified Tucker Carlson’s attorneys that they believe his Tuesday Twitter broadcast is in violation of his contract. The Tuesday program was Carlson’s first broadcast since he exited FOX News Channel in April. FOX argues that the showim was a violation of the non-compete portion of his contract. Axios reports that Carlson’s lawyers say, “Any legal action by FOX would violate [Carlson’s] First Amendment rights.” The Axios piece goes on to say that Carlson is accusing FOX News of breach of contract for breaking their promise to not settle the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit in a manner in which it would indicate wrongdoing on the part of Carlson. It’s been reported that firing Carlson was a part of FOX’s settlement agreement with Dominion. Read the Axios report here.

Industry News

Tucker Carlson Wants Out of His Non-Compete

According to a story by Nicolas Reimann at Forbes, former FOX News Channel star Tucker Carlson, through his attorney Bryan Freedman, is working to get out of his contract with FOX News that could keep him offim competing news outlets through 2025. Carlson and FOX parted ways several weeks ago but Carlson’s contract with the media firm could keep him from working from another media outlet while FOX continues to pay him $20 million per year. Reimann’s piece indicates that Carlson is fielding offers from numerous conservative news/talk outlets including Newsmax, Rumble, One America News, and The Daily Wire. Freedman told Axios, “The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.” Read the Forbes story here.

Industry News

Talk Host Jack Harris Vows to Return to Tampa’s Airwaves

After being let go from his two-hour morning drive show on iHeartMedia’s news/talk WFLA, Tampa last week, longtime market talk radio personality Jack Harris says he’ll return to the air in the market. The 81-year-old Harris tells the Tampa Bay Times that there is interest from other broadcasters but the six-month non-compete in his iHeart contract prevents him from working elsewhere right away. Harris says he didn’t get the chance to do a farewell show – something iHeartMedia West Florida president Chris Soechtig denies. Salem Media Group says it’s offered to host a farewell show on its crosstown news/talk WGUL “AM860 The Answer,” but also doesn’t want Harris to get into a legal tussle. Read the whole story here.

Front Page News Industry News

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Today’s Homeowner Media Founder and Host Danny Lipford is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Home ownership issues, from the rising cost of housing to the maintenance and improvement required to protect and enhance one’s investment, are deeply tied into the national conversation about America’s economy. One of talk media’s leading experts on the myriad issues facing homeowners is Danny Lipford, founder/host of the notably successful “Today’s Homeowner” syndicated radio and TV programs. Lipford is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Harrison methodically taps into Lipford’s educated perspective on current concerns about inflation, supply chain backups, and the labor force shortage in addition to the programming and advertising compatibility of the home improvement genre with the news/talk radio station format. Don’t miss this extremely informative conversation. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Cumulus Media Signs VP of Programming Operations Doug Hamand to Long-Term Extension. Programming executive Doug Hamand and Cumulus Media sign a new, long-term agreement that will keep the vice president of programming operations with the company for the foreseeable future. Hamand joined the company in January of 2016 after having served with iHeartMedia in a number of executive programming positions for 21 years. Cumulus SVP, programming operations John Dimick says, “Doug is a fierce competitor and expects the best from our content teams. His expertise and experience with multiple formats have enabled Cumulus Media to maintain its leadership position. Doug has definitely earned this new deal and many thanks for the hard work, dedication and commitment to Cumulus Media.” Hamand says, “Working the last five years with this team of exceptionally talented format VP’s, alongside Brian Philips, John Dimick and Greg Frey has been rewarding! I am glad to have helped PDs and market managers in key Cumulus cities achieve success in ratings and revenue. I look forward to serving these markets and the industry for more years to come.”

Jon Hansen’s ‘Your Money Matters’ Added to WGN-AM Program Schedule. Local media figure Jon Hansen joins the daily program schedule at Nexstar Media’s WGN-AM, Chicago as host of “Your Money Matters” beginning February 7. The program – featuring topics including the basics of personal finance, investing and wealth management, financial security, financial literacy, and retirement planning will air from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Monday through Thursday. Hansen says, “I’m looking forward to learning things along with the audience. Just like them, I’m someone looking for ways to save money, smart ways to spend money, and how to prepare my family for life’s surprises. I’m looking forward to engaging with experts who can help everyone – no matter their financial background. ‘Your Money Matters’ will be a show driven by the listeners’ questions with their needs and financial goals in mind – and I promise we’ll have a lot of fun along the way.” WGN VP/GM Mary Sandberg Boyle comments, “No one is more knowledgeable in hyper-local business and community news than Jon Hansen. He is the perfect host to navigate these challenging topics and make them relatable to our audience.” Hansen also hosts “Let’s Get Legal” on WGN Radio on Saturday afternoons.

Bill Michaels Clears Non-Compete; Show to Air on iHeartMedia’s WOKY-AM, Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Bill “The Big Unit” Michaels will return to the airwaves in Milwaukee after a false start five months ago. Michaels’ program had been airing on Audacy’s crosstown sports talk WSSP-AM prior to that station’s programming changes that saw the show dropped. iHeartMedia added “The Bill Michaels Show” to its sports talker WOKY-AM on August 30, but received a cease-and-desist from Audacy because Michaels had a non-compete in the Milwaukee market that kept him off the air there until now. Michaels’ show airs in the Madison market on Mid-West Family Communications’ WOZN-AM/FM. The 10:00 am to 2:00 pm show will begin on WOKY-AM “The Big 920” on Monday (1/17).

iHeartMedia Atlanta and John Hope Bryant to Launch ‘BUILDING the Good Life’ Podcast. The Atlanta operations of iHeartMedia are teaming up with entrepreneur, philanthropist and globally recognized financial literacy advocate John Hope Bryant to launch a new iHeartRadio Original podcast titled, “BUILDING the Good Life with John Hope Bryant.” iHeartMedia says the podcast showcases “Bryant’s gift for delivering inspiration through authentic and intimate conversations with some of the world’s most extraordinary people, culled from his unique orbit of leaders from business, entertainment, sports, media and government including Killer Mike, CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman and Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar.” Bryant says, “This show is all about the magic of aspiration, inspiration, growing and maximizing human potential – delivered through the reach of the largest podcaster in the country. I have been a builder since I began my entrepreneurial journey as a 10-year-old boy in Compton, California, later creating Operation HOPE in response to the Rodney King riots, which evolved into the building of over 40 for-profit and non-profit organizations. This drive to build began as I listened to stories from those around me growing up in South Central Los Angeles and began to recognize the importance of everyone’s story: that by listening we can hear, by hearing we can see, and by seeing we can reach our full potential.”

WABC, New York Owner John Catsimatidis Offers $10k Reward for Arrest and Conviction of Teen’s Killer. WABC-AM owner and Red Apple Media CEO John Catsimatidis is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the man who shot and killed 19-year-old Kristol Bayron Nieves during the robbery of an East Harlem Burger King restaurant last weekend. The perpetrator appears in surveillance video wearing dark clothes and a mask. He got away with about $100 dollars. Nieves had been working at the restaurant at 116th and Lexington Ave for about three weeks.

FOX News Channel Promotes Jeanine Pirro to Co-Host of ‘The Five.’ FOX News Channel personality Jeanine Pirro is promoted to full-time co-host of “The Five.” Pirro has been a substitute co-host of the show since 2020 in addition to her work with FNC as a legal analyst and host of the weekend program, “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” Pirro joins the program that features a rotating cast that includes: Harold Ford Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and Jessica Tarlov as the co-hosts for the liberal seat and conservatives Greg Gutfeld, Dana Perino and Jesse Watters. FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott says, “‘The Five’ continues to be a beloved show by the American audience. Each of the co-hosts are accomplished and insightful talent with diverse opinions and terrific chemistry who will certainly help drive this ensemble program going forward.” Pirro will continue hosting “Castles USA” on FOX News Media’s streaming service FOX Nation, where she dives into the rich history of iconic castles around the country.

COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, Midterms/Trump & the GOP, Voting Rights, Economy/Inflation, U.S.-Russia Relations, and Prince Andrew’s Legal Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/12). The high rate of COVID-19 cases across the U.S., the fate of the Omicron variant, and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s spat with Senators Rand Paul and Roger Marshall; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announces refusal to cooperate with House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol; speculation about which party will control Congress after the 2022 midterm elections and Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP; President Joe Biden’s push for Congress to take up the Voting Rights Act; the state of the U.S. economy and the high rate of inflation; the U.S., NATO and Russia meet over the Russian troops amassed at the Ukraine border; and Prince Andrew faces a civil suit brought by Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.