October 2, 2009
In a videotaped deposition of Entercom Communications President and CEO David Fields, he talked about his rise to the Presidency of his father's company at the same time radio consolidation occured. Fields said that they owned about a dozen radio stations in 1988, whereas by 2000, they owned roughly 100. (Today Entercom owns 300 according to their website.) As a result of consolidation, they changed their business model to have three regional Vice Presidents who would oversee the market managers, who were each in charge of about six radio stations. He said that his market managers acted like CEO's.
Fields said it was not the job of Sacramento Market Manager John Geary to be involved in any way with contests or day to day promotion of radio stations. He said they had established a different chain of command for contests, one that bypasses their general, or market managers. The promotions director and the program (station) manager were to go directly to the legal department at Entercom Communications Inc. to vet any contests except "no brainers."
Fields said that as CEO, he had to approve the contest guidelines drafted by his chief lawyer Jack Dunleavy. But he admitted he had not reviewed the Power Point presentation before it went out, because he trusted Dunleavy's judgment on such things. Asked if he were aware that Carmela Masi had drafted the guidelines, not Dunleavy, Fields said that he knew Masi was on Dunleavy's team, and didn't know how the lines were drawn. He said he was not aware of the unwritten policy that any any contest including ingestion or physicality have on site medical personnel.
When asked if he had personal knowledge of Masi's schedule, Fields said he did not, or that Pechota would call Masi, and not get return calls. He said it was company policy that there was no discretion given to the local level for anything beyond "simple contests," and he was unaware of any exception to that. He said it was illegal for Legal to be giving stations that discretion.
NOTE: Because of this reporter's travel schedule, I was unable to be in the courtroom for the Pechota or Masi testimony. Other observers who were present told me that Pechota talked about the discretion she was given in deciding what was a "simple contest," and that in her testimony, Masi did talk about the discretion she gave to promotion managers. Transcripts of the trial are not yet available, and although they are public records, will come at a cost of $1.00 a page. (Federal courts require transcripts to be put online within 30 days, but this is a state court matter.)
Fields was also asked about the Entercom Code and Conduct Manual, where it says any information supplied to customers should be accurate and complete to the best of your knowledge. When asked whether that standard would apply to contestants, Field said he was not familiar with the document, although he had signed it.
For video of the Jennifer Strange story, please go to www.broadcastblues.tv .
For earlier trial coverage and commentary about media issues, please see the September archives .