Emmis And Big Boy Come To Legal Settlement
Emmis and Kurt ‘Big Boy’ Alexander have reportedly come to terms on a settlement of their legal matters connected to Alexander’s jump to iHeartMedia’s “Real 92.3” KRRL Los Angeles last year.
TMZ reports that terms of the settlement are confidential with both sides paying their own legal fees. The loss of Alexander to the newly launched competitor to Emmis’ “Power 106” KPWR has had a significant impact on Emmis’ bottom-line. The company reported 5.1% declines in revenue in the third quarter of 2015 and laid of 32 employees to make up the difference.
Update 3/4/15: With the legal injunction out of the way, iHeartMedia has announced that Big Boy will debut on “Real 92.3” KRRL on Monday, March 9.
Update 3/3: At today’s hearing Emmis was denied an injunction keeping Kurt ‘Big Boy’ Alexander from joining iHeartMedia’s “Real 92.3” KRRL until the completion of a trial. The court did agree that Emmis is potentially due damages from Alexander and iHeart, which will be settled in court barring a preliminary settlement. While Big Boy is now free and clear to join iHeart, a start date has not been announced.
Emmis released the following statement following the ruling, “While Emmis is disappointed with the Court’s ruling and will evaluate our legal options, we are pleased with the Court’s indication that damages are an available remedy at trial. Emmis remains resolute in continuing to protect our legal rights and committed to the continued success of Power 106.”
Update 2/11: Emmis has won a temporary restraining order to keep Big Boy from jumping to iHeartMedia’s “Real 92.3” until a hearing on Tuesday, March 3. At that time the Court will determine whether a longer injunction is necessary through the completion of a trial. Emmis has released a comment stating, “We are pleased with the Court’s ruling, and look forward to continuing to make our case to protect Emmis and our rights under our employment agreement with Big Boy.”
Update 2/3 10:15pm: Emmis has issued a statement stating it is suing Big Boy for breach of contract.
Emmis is seeking millions in damages and injuctions preventing Big Boy, real name Kurt Alexander, from joining iHeartMedia. The suit claims that Alexander came to Emmis on January 16th with a $3.5 million contract offer from iHeart as he had a 60 day window to solicit offers with Emmis having the right to match, which they claim they did but Alexander deciding to take the rival offer instead breaching his deal.
Emmis Radio, LLC, a subsidiary of Emmis Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: EMMS), today filed suit against Kurt Alexander, also known as “Big Boy” on its Power 106 Los Angeles radio station KPWR-FM, for breach of contract. Emmis is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the long-time media personality and host of its morning show from moving to competitor iHeartMedia, Inc. in addition to millions of dollars in damages. Emmis first discovered Alexander, 45, working as a body guard more than 20 years ago, and has invested substantially over the years in helping him develop into the star that he is today.
Emmis’ complaint, filed in Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Central District, asserts that Alexander, who remains under contract to Emmis through February 28, 2015, breached his employment agreement by failing to honor its “right of first refusal” provision to match an offer from an Emmis competitor. Under the terms of Alexander’s employment agreement, he specifically agreed that if he received an offer from an Emmis competitor – and Emmis agreed to provide employment on terms “substantially similar” to the competitor – Alexander would enter into a new and exclusive employment agreement with Emmis, and would not move to a competitor radio station. Despite acknowledging Emmis’ matching offer, Alexander turned his back on his radio home of more than 20 years and plans to move to a Los Angeles-area radio station operated by iHeartMedia, which would immediately launch a new format as a director competitor to Emmis.
“Big Boy has been a beloved member of the Emmis family for more than two decades, and we are particularly dismayed by his breach after we agreed to meet the iHeart terms,” said Jeff Smulyan, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Emmis Communications. “I am personally saddened by his actions and the impact they will have on our brand and our people.”
Could a jump across the street to iHeartMedia bring back “The Beat” brand to the market? Anonymous registration for 923TheBeatLA.com was made last Friday and associated social media accounts have been reserved. Currently Rhythmic Oldies “Hot 92.3” KHHT, the station was known as “The Beat” from 1989 until 1999 when the brand moved to 100.3, where it would remain until 2006.
In a statement regarding the whereabouts of Big Boy, Emmis told AllAccess, “EMMIS COMMUNICATIONS is in contract negotiations with BIG BOY, host of BIG BOY’S NEIGHBORHOOD on POWER 106 FM LOS ANGELES. Our contract with BIG BOY does not expire until FEBRUARY 28th, 2015, and we hope to successfully resolve our talks by that time. In the interim, J. CRUZ will be hosting the morning show.” Up until now the former bodyguard has spent his entire radio career at KPWR, working his way up from nights to afternoons and since 1997 has been a fixture in mornings.
KPWR is currently ranked sixth in the Nielsen Audio ratings with a 3.8 share. KHHT is 14th overall with a 2.5.