Reuters: ten fired after radio contest death

Matthew Osborne
Thu Jan 18 22:52:38 EST 2007

On Wed, 17 Jan 2007 21:14:25 Richard Chonak
<> wrote the following summary of a
news report on :

> Entercom has fired 10 staff members of KDND-FM
> Sacramento after a 
> 28-year-old listener died Friday, apparently from
> water intoxication 
> (hyponatremia), after participating in a
> water-drinking contest.  The 
> mother of three drank about 7 quarts of water in an
> effort to win a 
> computer game unit.   According to Reuters, on-air
> DJs conducted the 
> contest even though they were aware of -- and made
> jokes about -- a 
> previous water-drinking fatality case.

I have to admit, although I've personally been out of
the radio industry for almost 6 years to the day now,
this story has affected me and bothered me incredibly.
 In this instance, 10 people were fired, and the best
breakdown I've heard of that is - 3 morning show
hosts, and 2 weekend hosts/morning show producers. 
Which leaves 5 more people, which I would assume is
probably the majority of the promotions staff for
Entercom Sacramento (and definitely the entire
promotions staff affiliated with KDND).  I guess what
bothers me most, as a former promotions assistant for
a medium market station group similar to this, beside
the fact that someone was killed very likely as a
direct result of participating in this event, is that
it appears to me that several promotions people that
may not have been involved in this event at all are
gonna be held legally liable for it anyway once the
lawsuits start flying.  Although the station group I
worked for didn't own any stations that had formats
condusive to ridiculous contests like this at the time
(thank God), I guess I could just see myself in a
situation where, hypothetically, we did own a station
like this, and a couple pea-brained idiots there did
something stupid like this.  As a result, the entire
promotions department for all stations gets blamed
(since promotions people for station groups work on
events for all of the stations and not just one),
"thrown under the bus", and sued as accomplices in the
matter regardless.
    I really hope I'm just being paranoid, and that
everyone that has been fired definitely had something
to do willingly with this contest (in which case they
deserve everything they're gonna get for this).  How
many people out there agree/disagree with my
assessment/concern?  I would especially like any
responses or comments from current or former radio
promotions people, since you would understand this
situation better than others.

                                Matt Osborne
                                Schenectady, NY

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