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Radio personality caught in rival stations' quarrel


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POSTED: Sunday, October 11, 2009

A battle over talent is brewing between rival radio groups, catching stand-up comedian and radio personality Augie Tulba in the middle.

Tulba joined long-time KCCN-FM 100.3 morning show host “;Lina Girl”; this week on the station operated by Cox Radio Hawaii, a unit of Atlanta-based Cox Radio Inc.

The Sept. 30 announcement that he would join FM100 drew an Oct. 2 letter to Mike Kelly, vice president and general manager of Cox Radio Hawaii, from Jason Wolff, owner of California-based Frontier Radio Investors LLC. Frontier is the minority shareholder of Visionary Related Entertainment LLC, licensee of several stations on Maui, Kauai and Oahu.

“;As you are aware, August Tulba is currently under contract with Visionary Related Entertainment LLC,”; Wolff wrote. (Tulba's first name is actually Augusto.)

“;The pilikia (trouble) is not with me,”; Tulba told TheBuzz. “;The contract I signed was with John Detz, not with Jason.”; Detz is VRE LLC president.

Tulba's contract expired in November 2008, but he continued to work for the company and still hosts shows as an at-will employee on Visionary's neighbor island stations, including KNUQ-FM 103.7 and KHEI-TM 107.5 on Maui, KSRF-FM 95.9 on Kauai, KTBH-FM 102.1 on Hawaii island and KMKK-FM 102.3 on Molokai.

He quit doing the morning show on KQMQ in March and the six-month non-compete period ended before his employment with Cox, but Tulba sought and obtained clearance from Detz.

Wolff's letter says a Sept. 18 memo from Detz declaring that Tulba is no longer bound by the non-compete clause is “;incorrect”; and that “;Mr. Detz does not have the authority to release Mr. Tulba from his contract.”;

At the root of the dispute is continuing legal maneuvering between Wolff, who controls Visionary's Oahu stations, and the Maui-based executives that control its neighbor island stations. The company restructured from a 51-percent-and-49-percent ownership structure to 50-50 in 2008, leading to a cascade of problems between factions.

Neither Detz nor Wolff could be reached.

Cox Radio Hawaii is “;happy that Augie has joined us,”; said Kelly. “;We don't agree with (Wolff's) letter, that's really all there is to it.”;

Tulba's hiring and the documents he presented were examined by Cox's attorneys “;and from everything that we can tell, John Detz is authorized to sign the release”; and Tulba's hiring was “;legitimate and legal.”;

Tulba finds the matter frustrating. “;I don't know why the guy's doing that. They had no interest in me and now I'm a threat to their business. What is that?”;

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).