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Emmis Seeks Preliminary Injunction Against “Big Boy”

Broadcaster alleges breach of contract in California Court filing

Before the end of this month, Emmis Radio will seek a hearing in a California court on its allegations that one of its personalities has breached his employment contract.

The broadcaster is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Kurt Alexander, whose air name is “Big Boy” on KPWR(FM), from moving to competitor iHeartMedia.

Emmis has filed a complaint in Superior Court for the State of California, in Los Angeles County. In the complaint, Emmis says it invested “substantially” to turn the former body guard into an on-air personality over the past 20 years, helping him develop into the “star” that he is today. Alexander lives in Los Angeles County and that’s why the suit was filed there.

The complaint asserts that Alexander remains under contract to Emmis through Feb. 28, and that he breached his employment agreement by not first giving Emmis a chance to offer employment terms “substantially similar” to a competing offer. Within five days of receiving the terms which includes a $3.5 million salary and other benefits — like four weeks of vacation and “personal, private jet transportation two times a year for domestic travel, including Hawaii” — Emmis says it matched the iHeart offer, the broadcaster says in the complaint.

In the lawsuit, Emmis asserts Alexander “agreed that Emmis had ‘stepped up’ and substantially matched the terms” of the iHeartMedia proposal and characterizes iHeart as a “long-standing competitor.” iHeart is not a party to the suit.

However Emmis states in the complaint that Alexander’s attorney informed Emmis that iHeart intends to use Alexander to “build” a new radio format in the Los Angeles market around Alexander’s “brand.”

The iHeartMedia station is not specified in the complaint and iHeartMedia had no comment to Radio World on the litigation.

Emmis Chairman/President/CEO Jeff Smulyan said in a statement he was “personally saddened” by Alexander’s actions “and the impact they will have on our brand and our people.”

Because of the “immediate and immeasurable damage” that Alexander’s breach of contract would have, Emmis asserts it had no other choice than to protect itself and file the lawsuit. The broadcaster will seek a hearing on the preliminary injunction before Alexander’s employment agreement expires on Feb. 28.