The FCC has denied a Petition For Reconsideration and Application For Review filed by former 106.5 KWOD owner Ed Stolz and has deleted the license for 107.9 KDND Sacramento.
Stolz, who has been battling Entercom to have his 1996 sale of then KWOD (now 106.5 KUDL and home to the former KDND programming) rescinded for the past two decades sought to have his case added to the license revocation proceeding so that he could have KUDL turned back over to him and also sought to have all of Entercom’s other Sacramento station licenses revoked. The FCC ruled against his petitions seeing no merit to his arguments and is not a party of interest in the dispute between Media Action Center and Entercom that led to the license revocation hearing.
The full FCC order can be read here.
Entercom released a brief statement saying.
Entercom has submitted a public filing today voluntarily turning in license to operate KDND in Sacramento to facilitate the timely FCC approvals for the planned combination with CBS Radio.
While, the 107.9 license will be shut down on Wednesday, February 8 this will not mean the end of the “End” format. The End will move en-masse to what is now Hot AC “Star 106.5” KUDL on Monday, February 6 at 9:00am. That would also be a slap in the face to petitioner Ed Stolz who has long been battling Entercom to have his 1996 sale of 106.5 for $25 million rescinded after a case of seller’s remorse.
Once turned into the FCC, the 107.9 license will be dark until the next FCC auction when it will be put up for bid. When the FCC pulled the licenses of Contemporary Media’s five stations including 98.3 KFMZ Columbia MO and 107.5 WZZQ Terre Haute IN in 2001 following owner Michael Rice’s conviction on child molestation charges, his legal challenges kept the stations out of auction and off the air for a decade and a half. 98.3 only returned to the air in November 2016, while 107.5 Terre Haute was reclassified as a non-commercial allocation is still a Construction Permit held by Terre Haute Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Entercom will not challenge the revocation of the licenses but it will still be 3-5 years minimum before anything returns to the 107.9 frequency.
Original Report 10/27/16: The January 2007 “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest at Entercom CHR “107.9 The End” KDND Sacramento that led to the death of Jennifer Strange could lead to the loss of the station’s license as the FCC has scheduled a hearing proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge to determine whether the station’s license should be renewed.
On January 12, 2007 the station’s “Morning Rave” morning show held the contest where listeners had to drink as much water as long as possible without urinating to win a Nintendo Wii video game system. Jennifer Strange had finished in second place during the contest but after returning to work that day died from water poisoning. Program Director Steve Weed (now SVP Programming for iHeartMedia Central California), morning hosts Steve Maney (now at WNKS Charlotte), Lukas Cox (now at KRBB Wichita), and Trish Sweet (now Jayde Donovan at WPLJ New York) and six others were swiftly fired. In 2009 Strange’s husband won $16.5 million compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit against Entercom.
Now the consequences will be much higher. KDND’s license renewal filings in 2005 and 2013 will be heard by a judge to determine whether Entercom will be able to continue operating the station after petitions to deny from Media Action Center and Ed Stolz and an informal objection by Roger Smith. The FCC states that “Based on the totality of the evidence, there are substantial and material questions of fact as to whether Entercom: (i) designed and conducted a contest that was inherently dangerous; (ii) increased the danger to the contestants by changing the announced Contest terms; (iii) was aware of the potential dangers of the Contest and water intoxication; (iv) failed to protect the contestants from the potential dangers of the Contest; (v) failed to warn the contestants of the Contest’s potential dangers; (vi) prioritized entertainment value over the welfare of the contestants; and (vii) failed to conduct adequate training and exercise appropriate supervision of Station KDND employees and the Contest to ensure the safety of the contestants.”
The renewal hearing will be held within nine months of today’s order.
Negligently causing the death of a member of the Station’s listening audience, as the jury found of Entercom at the Trial, appears to be prima facie contrary to the public interest. Accordingly, we are unable to make the finding required by Section 309(k)(1)(A). We therefore designate Entercom’s license renewal Applications for hearing in order to develop a more complete record and provide Entercom with an opportunity to raise additional facts and circumstances, including those not related to the Contest, that may be relevant to our public interest determination. In addition, we specify that the hearing proceeding will commence no later than the first business day after the nine-month anniversary of the release of this Order. We further expect that the Presiding Judge and the parties will move through this case expeditiously and that, upon conclusion of the hearing, the Presiding Judge will make all reasonable efforts to issue his Initial Decision on an expedited basis.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 309(e) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 309(e), Applications for Renewal of License for KDND(FM), File Nos. BRH-20130730ANM and BRH-20050728AUU, are DESIGNATED FOR HEARING in a proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge in Washington, D.C. to be commenced no later than the first business day after the nine-month anniversary of the release of this Order, upon the following issues:
(a) To determine whether Entercom designed and conducted a contest that was inherently dangerous;
(b) To determine whether Entercom increased the danger to the contestants in the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest by changing the contest terms;
(c) To determine whether Entercom was aware of the potential dangers of the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest and water intoxication;
(d) To determine whether Entercom failed to protect the contestants of the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest from its potential dangers;
(e) To determine whether Entercom failed to warn the contestants of the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest of the contest’s potential dangers;
(f) To determine whether Entercom prioritized entertainment value over the welfare of contestants of the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest; Federal Communications Commission FCC 16-153 35
(g) To determine whether Entercom failed to properly train and exercise appropriate supervision of Station KDND(FM) staff and the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest to ensure the safety of the contestants;
(h) To determine, in light of the evidence adduced under the foregoing issues and the totality of circumstances, whether Entercom License, LLC operated Station KDND(FM) in the public interest during the most recent license term; and
(i) To determine, in light of the evidence adduced under the foregoing issues and the totality of circumstances, whether Entercom’s Applications for Renewal of License for KDND(FM), File Nos. BRH-20130730ANM and BRH-20050728AUU, should be granted.
The FCC has concurrently dismissed Stolz’ challenges to Entercom’s license renewals of stations in other markets. The full order can be read here.