ABC Primetime Report -- Universal: "I Was Entercom's Golden Boy"
February 17, 2006 at 7:31 AM (PT)
The ABC NEW PRIMETIME payola report finally aired last night (2/16), and CKEY/BUFFALO PD DAVE UNIVERSAL, who was fired last year by crosstown ENTERCOM Top 40 WKSE for allegedly being involved in payola, defended his financial dealings with the record labels. He claimed that payments received by the station didn't constitute payola because requests for funds occurred after songs had been added to the station.
"So he says I was guilty of extortion not bribary," retorted NEW YORK STATE Attorney General ELLIOT SPITZER.
UNIVERSAL claimed that he was just doing his job. "Apparently, I'm the poster boy for payola. Little old me," said UNIVERSAL. ROSS asked, "How much money went through you from all the record companies?" UNIVERSAL responded, "I'd say usually I raised about $100,000 a year... I did really well! I was ENTERCOM's golden boy for a long time."
ROSS and UNIVERSAL had this exchange:
UNIVERSAL: "Did I go back and say, 'whattaya got on this record?' Absolutely! I did that every single time. I would take whatever I thought I could get."
ROSS: "In your view, there's nothing wrong with that?"
UNIVERSAL: "No, because I'm reinvesting that in the product?"
ROSS: "But isn't that payola?"
UNIVERSAL: Not at all! Because you're making these decisions after the fact."
UNIVERSAL claimed that the money went to his superiors at ENTERCOM, saying, "It was good for them, because I brought them money in. I was the guy doing the work for them. As much money as I could bring in, the better I looked."
SPITZER reinforced the contention that higher-ups were involved, saying, "Based on the evidence we have seen, some of the radio conglomerates clearly are participating, and knowledge of this and orchestration of this came from the very top." ROSS stated that ENTERCOM CEO DAVID FIELD declined to be interviewed for the program.
The show featured quotes from several artists. SEMISONIC drummer JAKE SCHLICHTER talked about how payola allegedly helped the band's hit song "Closing Time" become a major hit. "We definitely benefitted from payola. There's no doubt about it. It cost something like $700-$800 thousand to get 'Closing Time' on the air... to keep it on the air long enough for public taste to really grab onto it."
ROSS also grabbed a couple of comments regarding PAYOLA from artists on the Red Carpet at last week's GRAMMY AWARDS. TONY BENNETT said, "It costs a lot of money to make something famous," and FOO FIGHTERS' TAYLOR HAWKINS added, "I think back in the 70s they used to pay people with, you know, like hookers and cocaine. But now they're just doing it with straight-up money... so they can go out and buy their own hookers and cocaine."