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Divided radio company might now find harmony


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POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

A lengthy and often acrimonious internal radio company battle appears to be approaching a final conclusion.

The 17-station group built under the Visionary Related Entertainment name is going truly splitsville — in a move predicted by industry watchers when the company restructured, giving equal interests and power to the operators and the money guys in January of last year.

California-incorporated but Maui-based VRE, has filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission indicating it will keep five stations on Maui (including one licensed to Paauilo, on the Big Island) for a $500,000, 10-year promissory note — while giving up 12 stations to Jason R. Wolff, president of Frontier Radio Management Inc. and Frontier Radio Investors LLC, the money guys.

Neither party could be reached for comment on the record for this column.

The Maui faction had filed suit against the Wolff faction in May 2008, and Wolff filed a countersuit which eventually resulted in an Aug. 5 mediated settlement — with sessions presided over by a retired judge. The agreement is submitted as a supporting document with the FCC filing.

               

     

 

Stations involved

       

Staying with Visionary

        KAOI-AM 1110 Kihei

        KAOI-FM 95.1 Wailuku

        KDLX-FM 94.3 Makawao

        KNUQ-FM 103.7 Paauilo

        KHEI-FM 107.5 Kihei

       

Going to Frontier

        KQNG-FM 93.5 Lihue

        KQNG-AM 570 Lihue

        KUAI-AM 720 Eleele

        KSRF-FM 95.9 Poipu

        KSHK-FM 103.3 Kekaha

        KUMU-AM 1500 Honolulu

        KUMU-FM 94.7 Honolulu

        KPOI-FM 105.9 Honolulu

        KQMQ-FM 93.1 Honolulu

        KDDB-FM 102.7 Waipahu

        KTBH-FM 102.1 Kurtistown

        KMKK-FM 102.3 Kaunakakai

Then, however, a dispute arose as to whether the settlement and its terms releasing the Maui faction “;from any claims or obligations under the financing (agreement)”; was legally binding, according to supporting documents filed with the FCC.

On March 24 and May 20 of this year, the Maui Circuit Court and retired Judge E. John McConnell, who had overseen the mediation, issued respective rulings discharging the Maui faction of any liability in the previous financing agreement.

Both sides are required by the settlement to file assignment of license applications with the FCC, which the Maui faction did yesterday.

The commission lists the assignment-of-license application as “;accepted for filing,”; meaning all the paperwork — and there is a virtual forest of it — is in order.

While staffing of VRE's neighbor island stations has remained fairly stable since the failed 50-50 restructuring, numerous personnel, including top-level executives, have been dismissed from or have otherwise left employment at the Oahu stations, with cost-cutting often cited as a reason for separations that were involuntary.

At least one dismissal resulted in an out-of-court settlement for breach of contract.

Another, involving comedian and radio personality Augie Tulba, was reported on recently in this space.