Andrew Z plans to ignore cease and desist notice from CumulusWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: This version has been updated with the first name and title of Matt Spaulding, VP/market manager for Cumulus Media, which was omitted from the original posting.
Former Star 105 morning radio host Andrew Zepeda was served with a notice of demand to cease and desist from Cumulus Media on Feb. 28, stating that his morning radio show, relaunched Feb. 25 via smartphone app, is a violation of his noncompete agreement with the station that fired him in December.
Zepeda and his attorney, Beau Harvey, said they disagree and have no intentions of stopping the show.
Zepeda referred questions to Harvey, but said via text, “The only thing I can say is I will address it tomorrow morning at 7:30 on my show on the ‘Toledo’s APP Station’ phone app.”
Matt Spaulding, VP/market manager for Cumulus Media, said the notice was filed Feb. 25, declined to share specific details of the former host’s contract with the station, but said Zepeda’s new show is “a direct violation” of several sections.
“I can’t speak specifically to his agreement, but typically an on-air personality like Mr. Zepeda or anyone that would be on this station or any station would typically have a noncompete, nonsolicitation and nondisclosure agreement within their contract that would last for a period of time after their separation,” Spaulding said. “Typically its engaging in any type of competitive business whether on-air, online or any of the like within a certain radius of where he or she was previously employed.”
Harvey said the notice was delivered to him Feb. 28, but he has informed Cumulus that Zepeda will not stop the show.
“We don’t believe that the noncompete applies to Web radio and we’re pretty adamant about that,” Harvey said, pointing to a precedent set by a similar case in Stark County, Ohio, in which a judge differentiated between the Web and an FCC-licensed radio station. “Specifically with Andrew, they’ve limited his scope to the local business area — in other words, Toledo — whereas the Web reaches the world. … We don’t believe there’s any competition whatsoever. They are different entities. That’s really where we are. We’re kind of at a standoff.”
Zepeda’s new show debuted 6:30 a.m. Feb. 25 on a free smartphone app called Toledo’s APP Station. It airs live 6:30-9:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and replays in a loop all day afterward.
“We are jumping on a concept that is sweeping larger US cities like Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, but has yet to make its way to medium size markets like Toledo…until now!” Zepeda posted on his Facebook page Feb. 18.
Cast members include Zepeda’s wife Michelle, Brandon Doriot, Calen Savidge and Corey W. King. Zepeda said he aimed to gradually add more channels featuring local musicians and comedians.
The show is broadcast from Zepeda’s Perrysburg home, but he said he hopes to find more sponsors and studio space. Zepeda also alluded to another project in the works featuring more traditional media that would be announced soon.
Zepeda said he was ‘blindsided’ Dec. 26 when Spaulding told him “Andrew Z in the Morning: The People’s Show” would be dropped by Cumulus Media. The show had been at the station since July 2011, starting at tiny 100.7 The Vibe before being promoted to a larger signal at Star 105 in March and awarded a multiyear contract in June.
The firing came six days after Zepeda was sentenced by Wood County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry to 30 days at the Wood County Justice Center, with permission to apply for work release, and five years’ community control, including no bars or alcohol.
In October, Mayberry found Zepeda to be in violation of his intervention in lieu of conviction by participating in a Sept. 13 celebrity charity boxing match at which alcohol was served. The violation meant Zepeda was convicted of three felony charges related to a 2010 break-in at his former business. An appeal is pending.
Spaulding has declined to comment further on the firing, saying only that “there are several reasons and Andrew is aware of each.”
Zepeda was formerly a morning radio host at Clear Channel’s KISS FM, but his contract was not renewed by the station in December 2010 after charges were filed related to the pizzeria break-in.