With thoughts of lawsuits in his head, disgruntled radio talk show host Stacy Taylor flew to Chicago on Saturday to start a new job with WLS-AM.
As recently as two weeks ago, Taylor, one of the most popular radio personalities in San Diego, thought he was staying with KSDO-AM (1130). He had tried desperately to get out of an agreement he signed two months ago with the Chicago station. He wanted to continue his afternoon show with KSDO and to keep his young family in San Diego.
Taylor said he signed the agreement only to provoke a counteroffer from KSDO, believing there was a provision nullifying the WLS agreement if KSDO chose to exercise its option to extend his contract.
On Aug. 30, long after he signed the agreement with WLS, KSDO finally offered him a three-year extension of his contract. Relieved to be staying in San Diego, he signed the contract. Of course, that meant he would have to get out of the deal with WLS.
No way, said WLS, threatening hefty lawsuits if he tried to break the agreement.
Two weeks later, Taylor says, KSDO told him its extension was invalidated by the WLS agreement, and KSDO demanded he return his signed copy of the contract. He did, after making another copy for himself.
Last week, Taylor and his attorney made one last effort to get out of the agreement with WLS. Unable to work a deal, Taylor agreed to report for duty today. But he refused to sign a contract that, he says, would have tied him to the station for five years, with WLS getting right of first refusal should he get any other offers.
"I'm going primarily to pick up a paycheck and get out of any threat of a lawsuit," Taylor said.
He doesn't know how long he's going to be in Chicago. He plans to be a commuter; his wife and two young sons are staying in San Diego.
Meanwhile, Taylor is contemplating a suit against KSDO for "breach of contract." He says it reneged on the deal to extend his contract.
"If they had a problem, they should have made that determination before they signed it, not after," Taylor said of the contract.
KSDO management said Taylor's problem was between him and WLS. KSDO general manager Mike Shields, contacted last Thursday, was unaware of Taylor's decision to go to Chicago. He said he had been instructed not to comment on any aspect of Taylor's contract negotiations.
"He'll be sorely missed," Shields said.
Taylor has been off the air at KSDO for two weeks. No permanent replacement has been named.
Taylor is scheduled to go on the air for WLS the week of Oct. 22, in the 9 a.m. to noon slot.
"He'll be welcomed with open arms," said WLS general manager Tom Tradup.
Some people, including top KNSD-TV (Channel 39) personnel, were surprised the station didn't take advantage of the baseball playoffs to schedule high-visibility newscasts after each game, traditionally a big revenue earner. Reportedly, some station personnel assumed it was going to happen, while others knew nothing about it. When the subject finally came up in a staff meeting, it was too late to schedule the post-game newscasts, especially since the news department is preparing to debut its two half-hour shows Oct. 16. General manager Neil Derrough said he was more "disappointed" than surprised, and blamed it on a communications mix-up. . . .
Former Channel 39 anchorman Ron Fortner has lost his afternoon talk show on KVSD-AM (1000); a "financial decision," a station spokesman said. "It's the nature of the beast," said Fortner. "It's a small station in a large market." Fortner has been down this road before. He lists stints with KSDO and XETV's (Channel 6) short-lived attempt at a 10 p.m. news show on his resume. Fortner's show is being replaced, starting today at 4 p.m., by "Financial Sense" and the "Phoenix Phyre Show," which focuses on the occult, astrology and other mystical subjects. . . . Phoenix Phyre's JoAnne Jordan quickly agreed to terms with KVSD, but then refused to sign the contract. She wanted to wait. "Mercury is in retrograde," she explained to management. . . .
As a crippled B-1B bomber circled Edwards Air Force Base on Wednesday afternoon, the KFMB-TV (Channel 8) news team took the type of risk that can easily backfire in the era of style over substance. They went live to the scene during the 5 p.m. newscast, leaving anchors Susan Roesgen and Stan Miller to ad lib. Sure enough, it backfired. Roesgen confused viewers by saying the landing gear on the plane wouldn't go down, even though the landing gear was clearly visible, and it was only the nose gear that was stuck. Miller squirmed; Roesgen tried to kill time. The result was very close to dead air. The anchors probably shouldn't be blamed, though. The mistake was made by the backstage personnel, who didn't understand the limitations of their anchors, didn't supply them with enough information and stayed with the live shot long after it was clear nothing was going to happen for a while. . . .