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KDND License Renewal Hearing To Be Held Before Administrative Law Judge

107.9 The End KDND Sacramento Hold You Wee For A Wii License Renewal FCC HearingThe 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.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

1 Comment

  1. Profile photo of Joey Schwartzman


    The end of The End?

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