L.A. DJ Sues Station For Wrongful Termination

Claims involve knowledge of alleged payola at KJLH.

A Los Angeles DJ is suing his former radio station and its owners for wrongful termination, claiming he was fired after learning of alleged "payola"-type practices.

The suit, filed today (Sept. 22) in Los Angeles Superior Court, also alleges unfair business practices and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and other costs.

Bill Dirks, who uses the name Frankie Ross professionally, was an on-air personality at R&B station KJLH, which is owned in part by Stevie Wonder and Taxi Productions, according to the action.

The suit claims that in June 2003, Dirks was contacted by a representative of an unspecified record company who said he "was angry with the station" because he had paid $3,500 to ensure airplay of an Earth, Wind & Fire song that was not receiving "an adequate amount" of spins.

Earth, Wind & Fire last year released the album "The Promise" on its own label, Kalimba Records, which was distributed by RED.

Dirks says in the complaint that he informed KJLH program director Aundrae Russell of the conversation. He says Russell "appeared to be angry and upset" that Dirks had the information and, from that point forward, became "negative and hostile" toward him.

Roughly two or three weeks later, the action claims, KJLH conducted a promotion in which it spotlighted Earth, Wind & Fire music, interviews and information for an entire day. Dirks claims that to his knowledge, the station had never before conducted a full-day promotion for any artist other than Wonder.

The action states that Dirks discussed the situation with KJLH's general manager and, later, with Wonder, who was "very concerned."

The complaint states that around Oct. 13, 2003, Russell terminated Dirks offering no reason or cause.

Representatives of KJLH and Wonder's company Steveland Morris Productions could not be reached for comment by deadline.