Documents reveal specific payments.
New York State attorney general Eliot Spitzer’s lawsuit charging Entercom Communications of illegally trading airtime for “secret” payments outlines numerous specific instances of alleged dirty dealings in the state’s lengthy Exhibits To Complaint filing.
Entercom has responded to the March 8 filing by saying it is confident a court will "fully and fairly" resolve the claims of payola leveled against the radio group by Spitzer’s office.
But in nearly 67 pages of documents obtained from Entercom, very specific payments are attached to airplay that the station promised to either record companies or the independent promotional reps working those records for labels.
One memo dated Oct. 1, 2001, from Pat Paxton, Entercom senior VP of programming, offers a detailed checklist of annual payments to stations from indies in exchange for an exclusive indie relationship with stations. Monies run as high as $150,000 for top 40 WEZB New Orleans, $125,000 for top 40 WKSE Buffalo and $125,000 for rhythmic top 40 WQSX Boston, with more than a dozen other stations slated for payments of at least $100,000.
“As my message earlier stated, we need to get our indie policy in place so we can budget correcently,” Paxton wrote. “To help move this process forward, here are the average dollar amounts each station seems to be worth."
Another memo dated Feb. 21, 2005 from AC KUDL Kansas City OM Thom McGinty, talks about the advantages of not using an exclusive indie: “KUDL works with two separate indies but neither are under contract. We also work directly with all the labels to get the most bang for our buck. I would estimate that we probably do 2-3 thousand a month in promotional dollars and goods. I would not be advantageous for us to go strictly with one indie.”
In one of the more blatant bids for promotional monies, top 40 WKSE Buffalo PD Dave Universal sent an e-mail to Brad Davidson at Sony, asking “Do you need help on Jessica (Simpson) this week? 1250? If you don’t need help, I certainly don’t ‘need’ to play it.” Davidson responds, “Sorry I didn’t see the 1250. That is fine with me. Can I put it on the board?”
Universal also promises airplay for a B2K single: “a guaranteed spot in rotation next week for 1500.”
Another series of invoices titled “Entercom Independent Promoter/Record Label Support Authorization” appear to outline monies and goods collected by various stations in exchange for support of specific artists. For example, one station noted “$750 and 1 Sony Playstation” in exchange for support of a Jennifer Lopez record, designated to a “street team fund.” $1,200 was tagged for support of Big Tymers, $1,200 for Good Charlotte, $750 for performing at Kissmas Bash for Los Ketchup. $1,300 for John Mayer with “not sure yet” for its planned use.
A memo in April 2003 approves the purchase by Universal Music of a “desired laptop that we are ordering for (country) WBEE (Rochester). It runs about $2512.” A follow-up e-mail from Dave Symonds, OM of Entercom Rochester, confirms receipt: :That you again; we enjoyed doing the promotion with you.”