Cumulus Non-Compete Trial Begins


This battle comes from the Saginaw market, where fired WHNN-FM hosts Johnny Burke and Blondie first filed a lawsuit against Cumulus, claiming age discrimination. Cumulus then filed a counter-suit claiming the two violated their noncompetes by broadcasting a show identical to the one they were doing before they were fired, online. Cumulus claims Burke used WHNN’s proprietary information and solicited former advertisers for their new internet show,

M-Live reports that Burke was questioned for two hours Wednesday. Burke launched the internet show back in January on Periscope, using the Twitter account @WHNNJohnny, an account he created while employed by the radio station. He told the court he never used the account until launching his show on Periscope after he was fired. Burke testified that he would have changed the name of the account but would have lost thousands of followers. He then worked with Twitter to fix the situation and now uses the handle, @MichigansMorningShow. He has nearly 20,000 followers on Periscope.

A Cumulus attorney also questioned Burke about his knowledge about WHNN’s advertisers and whether Burke solicited WHNN customers for sponsorship of his new show. Burke told the court “The sponsors came to us. We never solicited a single sponsor.” He said the show has made less than $10,000 in revenue since launching.

M-Live reports that Cumulus is not going after Burke for violating a non-compete because the company would have had to pay him six months of his $125,000 contract. The company is going after Blondie (Bonnie Belger-Holzhei) who was only being paid $31,200 by WHNN. The company is also going after both hosts for allegedly using the stations proprietary information.


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