Andrew Zepeda sues Cumulus for breach of contract


GavelAndrew Zepeda, former host of “Andrew Z in the Morning” on Cumulus’ Top 40 WWWM-FM (Star 105) Toledo, was fired late December along with his on-air team including wife Michelle. This, because Andrew was sentenced to 30 days in the Wood County, OH jail and placed on probation for five years for charges relating to a 2010 break-in he orchestrated at a pizzeria he previously owned.

Now, Zepeda is suing his former employer for breach of contract. Zepeda, 43, filed a complaint in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against Cumulus Broadcasting LLC of Toledo claiming he was wrongfully terminated and that Cumulus has wrongfully ordered him to stop streaming live and recorded content on the Internet.

He recently announced that he, wife Michelle, Calen Savidge, Brandon Doriot and Corey W. King are joining online Toledo’s App Station beginning 2/25.

He says that Internet radio is not the same as a commercial radio station and therefore does not violate the “non-compete” clause in his contract that was in effect while he was employed by Cumulus and for six months after.

His attorney, Beau Harvey, said in a statement that Cumulus had threatened to sue Zepeda for broadcasting on Toledo’s App Station. “We don’t believe there’s any competition whatsoever,” Harvey told The Toledo Blade. “They are different entities.”

Zepeda is seeking a court order declaring the non-compete language in his contract does not prohibit him from broadcasting on the web. He also is seeking in excess of $250,000 for compensation he claims is owed to him from the remainder of the three-year employment agreement he signed with Cumulus on 5/1/12.

See The Toledo Blade story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: Bottom line, it’s all in the language of the contract, but  in Ohio, the precedent for this kind of case has favored DJs. D.A. Peterson, Inc.’s CHR/Classic Hits WDJQ-FM Alliance-Canton-Youngstown, OH was denied an injunction last April by Judge Charles E. Brown of Stark County, OH Common Pleas Court to silence two former hosts (Patrick DeLuca and Charlotte DiFranco) who launched their own online radio station, They started the online station after leaving WDJQ. The station had said their actions violated a noncompetition clause. Steve Okey, who represented the duo, argued the language prohibited them from running a business that was “the same or essentially the same as a commercial radio station.”