By Adam R Jacobson
RBR + TVBR
Media Action Center (MAC) is one of two groups that in September 2013 challenged the license renewal of Entercom CHR/Pop KDND-FM “107.9 The End” in Sacramento.
KDND was held responsible for the 2009 death of “Hold Your Wee For A Wii” contestant Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old mother of three. The contest saw Strange drinking as much water as possible in a three-hour period without going to the bathroom. She consumed about two gallons of water and died as a result of apparent “water intoxication” – a dilution of body fluids leading to fatal changes in electrolyte levels.
The death of Strange led MAC and founder Sue Wilson to not only spotlight her passing in a 2009 documentary, but also fight Entercom by asserting the company was unfit to continue owning KDND — and every other station in its Sacramento station group.
While the FCC declined to include the other stations in a license review hearing in front of an FCC Administrative Law Judge, KDND’s fate was put into question in October 2016 — nearly a decade after the “Wee for a Wii” contest.
On Friday (2/3), it became clear that the ALJ would not need to rule on the matter: Entercom had submitted a public filing with the FCC indicating that it is voluntarily surrendering the license of KDND.
Wilson was elated. But, she wants the world to know that, in her view, Entercom is far from “the good guy.”
Wilson takes issue with Entercom for making no mention of Media Action Center’s pending litigation at the FCC to deny the renewal of KDND’s license.
An official announcement from Entercom had not been released by 2 p.m. Pacific on Friday (2/3); the Commission is expected to release the filing to the public on Monday (2/6), in its Daily Digest.
“The normal way to achieve ownership compliance is by selling, or promising to sell stations. Only the continuing hearing can explain the outright relinquishment of a license,” Wilson said.
“This is a huge victory for the public interest, and I am grateful that due to the loss of this key station, FCC compliance issues will be on the minds of this and every broadcaster moving forward,” she continued. “But to conclude that Entercom is the good guy here ignores the fact that rather than surrendering their license upon the FCC Hearing Designation Order, they have instead litigated this issue with a huge team of expensive attorneys. Only now that the FCC must approve the company’s pending merger with CBS Radio is this mega corporation doing the ‘right thing.'”
Meanwhile, while the license review of KDND is now moot, Wilson notes that the ALJ can still rule on MAC’s proposed enlargement of issues, including character, reporting, and cluster-wide misconduct.
“These issues may reflect not only on KDND, but on Entercom Sacramento’s cluster of licenses, and indeed on all of Entercom’s licenses,” Wilson asserts. “We await the judge’s decision.”