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Aftra Files Grievance In Kute-fm Format Change

September 18, 1987|JANE LIEBERMAN | Lieberman, a graduate student at USC, is a Calendar intern. and

Clouds are still hovering over KUTE-FM (101.9), known as the "Quiet Storm." The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists filed a grievance this week on behalf of 12 members who were fired by the station Aug. 31.

The union claimed in its filing with the American Arbitration Assn. that KUTE planned to violate the labor agreement by not properly using staff announcers and by subcontracting some employment to a nonunion company. The station has told its programming personnel that their jobs would be terminated when it introduces a new format in October.

AFTRA director Joe Medine accused the management at KUTE-FM, which is owned by Golden West Broadcasters, of "union busting."

"We're very upset about what (the station) is doing, not replacing all the announcers that they are firing," Medine said.

Station manager Bill Ward denied the union-busting allegations. "That's ridiculous. There's nothing to that," he said. But he declined to comment on the specifics of the AFTRA grievance.

Ward said earlier that the layoffs at KUTE--including six full-time and six part-time announcers represented by AFTRA--were undertaken in preparation for the change to a new format, "Niche 29," replacing its current album-oriented, adult-alternative music. The changeover is set for early October, when the station will change its call letters to KMPC-FM.

Both Ward and his new program director, Sam Bellamy, who replaces Laurence Tanter, have refused to elaborate on the format. A new staff is being assembled. Bellamy said that she is considering rehiring some KUTE disc jockeys, but has not made any final decisions.

Medine said that the union was protesting because it believes that the new format will not involve having a staff announcer on duty at the station at all hours, as the contract requires, and because it believes the station plans to get around hiring union members by using programming from Transtar Radio Network, a satellite programming service.

Gary Fries, president of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Transtar, confirmed Thursday that the company will be supplying programming to KMPC-FM and that it has no union contract. Transtar says it provides six different program formats in servicing hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

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