Citadel And Peak Square Off In Boise
May 15, 2007 at 5:48 AM (PT)
THE IDAHO STATESMAN reports a BOISE radio war is being waged in federal court. CITADEL BROADCASTING, which owns six radio stations in BOISE, says the Chief Executive of PEAK BROADCASTING (a former CITADEL executive) and four other former CITADEL employees now working for PEAK stole confidential information from the company.
PEAK is a new player in the BOISE radio market. In MARCH, PEAK bought six former CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS stations as CLEAR CHANNEL dumped small-market stations nationwide. Several of the stations have formats that compete directly with the CITADEL stations. Since then, three CITADEL managers based in BOISE and a COLORADO-based executive have resigned to take positions with PEAK.
...initiated a scheme to raid the ranks of Citadel Broadcasting employees... by recruiting and luring away key employees and managers.
In a lawsuit filed last month, CITADEL alleges that PEAK CEO TODD LAWLEY "initiated a scheme to raid the ranks of CITADEL BROADCASTING employees (and, thereby, cripple CITADEL BROADCASTING in a host of markets) by recruiting and luring away key employees and managers." One manager took a disk from a CITADEL computer that contained customer and market data, plans, projects, revenues, expenses and promotional materials as well as monthly sales goals, plans, projections and results, CITADEL says. CITADEL said such information in the hands of competitors would be "devastating" to the company.
In a response filed last week, PEAK denies the allegations and said the defendants did nothing unlawful and any information they obtained was readily available in the public domain. Attorneys for both companies were not immediately available for comment MONDAY (5/14).
LAWLEY, a former Regional President with CITADEL and the company's third-highest executive, resigned in NOVEMBER to become CEO of PEAK. PEAK also bought CLEAR CHANNEL stations in FRESNO that CITADEL was vying for. CITADEL alleges LAWLEY used inside information from CITADEL to compete for the FRESNO stations.
The other defendants include KEVIN GODWIN, former Regional Manager for CITADEL; MICHAEL OWENS, the former GM for CITADEL/BOISE; and MICHAEL SUTTON, the former GSM for CITADEL/BOISE. RICK SUTHERLIN, who is also known as RICK STEWART, was hired by OWENS FEBRUARY 26 to be the new PD of CITADEL's Country KQFC/BOISE. SUTHERLIN's first day was to be on MARCH 19, but OWENS allowed him to start work a week earlier. CITADEL said he had access to the station's information including its playlists, marketing plans and strategic goals. CITADEL says SUTHERLIN didn't return to work MARCH 19.The company alleges that during the week of MARCH 12, SUTHERLIN secretly traveled to FRESNO to meet with LAWLEY.
CITADEL is requesting compensatory damages in an amount to be decided at a jury trial, but that would exceed $10,000. The company is also asking for an award of any profits from PEAK that were received because of the company's use of CITADEL information. The company wants a permanent injunction against PEAK and its employees from using any information obtained from CITADEL. The lawsuit began in ADA COUNTY District Court in BOISE and was transferred this month to U.S. District Court in BOISE. No trial date has been set.