Lawsuits flying over Tama Broadcasting


The current and former management of Tama Broadcasting don’t agree on much. But they do agree on one thing – the company is not in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as was reported by the New York Post. The FCC is investigating claims by the former management of illegal transfers of control of the stations – allegations denied by the current management.

Meanwhile, the lawyers are making out well. The federal bankruptcy courts are not involved, but several other courts are.

Dr. Glenn Cherry and his brother, Charles Cherry II, the founders of Tama Broadcasting, have filed a federal lawsuit in Florida against the D.B. Zwirn Special Opportunities Fund for a quarter billion dollars. They are seeking class action status for the lawsuit, claiming that the hedge fund has targeted small and minority-owned radio groups as targets for acquiring their assets on the cheap. Other lawsuits are pending in various state courts in Florida and New York among the various parties – Zwirn, Tama and the Cherry brothers.

The Cherry’s no longer control Tama. The FCC granted a change of control last year to their financial backer, the Black Enterprise/Greenwich Street Fund (BE). Glenn Cherry remained as CEO for a while, but BE fired him last December and hired Dr. Ted Bolton, the well-known radio researcher, as the new CEO. So it’s now a battle of the doctors – a PhD research guru and a veterinarian who grew up in his family’s media business. Charles Cherry, by the way, is a lawyer and is part of the legal team fighting Zwirn in the various courts.

RBR/TVBR received a copy of the questions that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau sent to Tama late last month regarding allegations by Dr. Cherry of control of the Tama stations being transferred to a Zwirn affiliate without the consent of the FCC. The questions deal with who is making hiring and firing decisions, who employees the staff of the stations and whether any assets have been sold. It also asks for copies of any and all LMAs or similar agreements.

Tama has 30 days to reply to the inquiry, but Dr. Bolton assured RBR/TVBR that contrary to the allegations, the stations have not been transferred or sold and “continue to remain under the control of Tama Broadcasting.” The nine stations in the Tampa, Jacksonville and Savannah markets are being LMA’d to Straight Way Radio, a Zwirn subsidiary. Bolton said the lender is well aware of the FCC’s rules and he said that Tama has employees at all of the stations who are under his control. “Nothing has been done out of the ordinary or anything illegal,” he said of the LMA relationship.

Bolton told RB R/TVBR that the game plan now is to improve Tama’s performance. He said no final decision has been made about whether or not the stations would eventually be put up for sale.

How are they doing? “Much better,” Bolton said, claiming there had been a “dramatic improvement” in performance.

The Cherry brothers say that is not true, that there has been no increase in revenues.

So, they still don’t agree on much.