EMMIS RADIO FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST LONG-TIME MEDIA PERSONALITY “BIG BOY” FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT

Seeks Injunction to Protect Emmis’ Rights under Big Boy’s Employment Agreement

Seeks Injunction to Protect Emmis’ Rights under Big Boy’s Employment Agreement

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Sara Jones, (323) 217-8164, sara.jones@edelman.com

LOS ANGELES, February 3 – 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.”

According to the complaint, Alexander’s agreement provided him a 60 day window at the end of its term to entertain offers from other broadcasters, on the condition that he provide Emmis with a copy of any offer received and a right to match the offer.  On January 16, 2015, Alexander provided Emmis with a copy of an offer from iHeartMedia to anchor a direct competitor in Los Angeles for an annual salary of $3.5 million, along with other benefits.  Despite Emmis’ match of the iHeartMedia offer, Alexander informed Emmis that he intended to take the iHeartMedia offer and would move to the Emmis competitor.

Because of the immediate and immeasurable damage that Alexander’s breach of his commitment would have, Emmis felt it had no other option than to protect itself and enforce its rights by way of the lawsuit.  Emmis will be requesting a hearing on the preliminary injunction prior to expiration of Alexander’s employment agreement on February 28.

Emmis Communications – Great Media, Great People, Great Service®

About Emmis Radio LLC and Emmis Communications Corporation Emmis Radio LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emmis Communications Corporation, a diversified media company, principally focused on radio broadcasting.  Emmis operates the 9th largest radio portfolio in the United States based on total listeners. Emmis Communications owns 19 FM and 4 AM radio stations in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Austin (Emmis Communications has a 50.1% controlling interest in its radio stations located there), Indianapolis and Terre Haute, IN. 

 

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