Revenge of the Dickeys

I guess money is not a problem at Cumulus after all.

They’ve still got plenty of money to sue employees, to defend themselves against that California class action suit that will drag on and on and, of course, to pay settlements.

And just when the nation's meanest radio operators find themselves deep in legal doo doo, now this.

CEO Lew Dickey and “other brother” John Dickey have decided to file a $200,000 lawsuit against a former market manager because she had the nerve to leave Cumulus without first getting fired.

They say she violated her employment contract.

But the manager, Kristin Okesson (pronounced Oh-ka-son), apparently had an outdated employment contract that only covered her Danbury, CT market responsibilities. When Cumulus added additional responsibilities to manage far away Westchester, NY as well, they forgot to redo her agreement.

Okesson left the Dickey Nation when she got an opportunity to work for a proven employee-friendly radio group, Cox, as Vice President and General Manager of WCTZ, WFOX and WSTC/WNLK in Stamford/Norwalk, CT. (Cox still honors its managers by calling them VPs).

What’s so puzzling about this lawsuit filed in Bridgeport, CT on March 4 is that Okesson’s new Cox management position is in a market that doesn’t even compete with any Cumulus stations and cannot even be heard in the former Cumulus markets she managed.

Mister Mean Jeans is back at work again trying to punish people who leave Cumulus before their expiration date is up.

The Okesson lawsuit costs money – money in theory (if Lew Dickey is to be believed), he doesn’t have.

Cumulus, in over its head with debt, is paying legal fees that range at least between $400-500 an hour (typical case) to extract their pound of flesh.

On the other hand, Okesson has to pay for her lawyers at the similar rates just to defend herself. No word on whether she plans to countersue Cumulus.

Of course it is all intimidation.

Write this down.

The case will never make it to trial.

It will be settled out of court after the Dickeys get finished playing with Okesson. They wouldn’t dare take the chance of opening the floodgates to a loss handed down by a judge or jury.

Meanwhile, Cumulus is alleging that essentially no amount of money can make them whole for her leaving. Boy, Kristin Okesson must have been pretty damn good. Maybe they should have valued her so she wouldn't leave. Just a thought.

It sure took Cumulus long enough to seek relief – she left for Cox in October.

Perhaps they were waiting for the statute of limitations to expire on other matters pertaining to Okesson’s employment but in any case it sure didn’t look all that urgent when Cumulus waited five months to scream “fire”.

Just how mean is the Mean Dickey Machine? Let me count the ways:

• They apparently want Cox to walk away from her. Okesson is an outstanding market manager. Very competent. The type who should be working at Cox. The chances are slim to none that Cox lets Okesson go because Lew got his knickers in a bunch over being left flat. Cox isn’t that kind of company. They will support Okesson all the way against this radical, fanatical Harvard brat gone wild.

• Lew wants her cellphone number back. Apparently when she left Super Lew, she kept her phone number and now Cumulus is alleging she is using it to conduct business against them in markets where she doesn’t even work and five months after she left. Compelling legal allegations, don't you think? I hope for their sake the rest of their case is better than this. At least Clear Channel knows how to sue people.

• Cumulus alleges that Okesson has stolen two accounts from Cumulus. One is Healthy Trim, whose owner is thought to be tight with – sit down and don’t hurt yourself -- Tricky Dickey himself. That is, Healthy Trim’s owner made the independent decision himself to buy ads in a non-Cumulus market and apparently didn't think he was disloyal to his friend Lew. How tricky of Dickey. The other advertiser that Cumulus alleges was stolen away was Angels Watching Over You, a homecare company, the kind of advertiser Lew would pull the plug for – so to speak.

• Oh, and don’t worry, Tricky Dickey didn’t forget to accuse Okesson of trying to solicit Cumulus employees. Nevermind that she hasn’t hired any Cumulus people although I can imagine that, say, 100% of her former employees probably begged her to get them out of there.

When would a big bad wolf like Cumulus go after little Goldilocks when Goldilocks works in an entirely different market and can do no damage to Cumulus properties?

It doesn’t make financial sense.

Not to the struggling, debt-ridden Cumulus when if they won – IF – and got the $200,000 in a judgment – AND – after spending more legal fees to fight the appeal, all they could make assuming Okesson could pay is less than it cost them to sue her.

Wonder why these clusterf#@ks are screwing up their radio stations with decision making like this?

Okesson has been with Captain Lew since Cumulus bought the stations from Aurora, a real company, in 2002. John Dickey, the faux Dale Carnegie of Cumulus, has been her boss and she has no doubt rubbed elbows with the slew footed management style of Gary “The Terminator” Pizzati.

I hate to tell Cumulus this but they are going to lose lots of employees this year the same way they lost Okesson – from abuse and neglect. Do you realize the message it sends when you sue a person who does not want to work for you and can’t hurt you from a distant market?

Pure retribution.

So sit back and watch Tricky Dickey play with Okesson like she is a toy until push comes to shove (as it always does) and he has to go to court.

He’ll either lose or settle and make a gag order part of his payment to her (like in legal fees, expenses – you know). All hush-hush.

Lew can spin it in the happy talk press but no one is listening anymore. Real radio people know the good guys from the bad guys.

So Lew appears to be – in my opinion – angry at Kristin Okesson.

Nobody dumps the boys.

They do the dumping.

Now Lew Dickey knows what it’s like to be left at the altar.

For those of you who would prefer to get Jerry's daily posts by email for FREE, please click here. Then look for a verifying email from FeedBurner to start service.
Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.