Andrea Tantaros sues TRN

By on Oct, 10 2013 with Comments 0

Andrea TantarosFox News’ “The Five” host Andrea Tantaros has sued Talk Radio Network 10/10, the home of her syndicated morning talker, accusing it of fraud and breach of contract. She also sent a letter to TRN terminating her employment agreement on Wednesday, reported The Wrap. With Tantaros gone, TRN will lose the seventh-rated talk radio show in the country. She’s asking for an unspecified punitive damages.

In the suit, Tantaros said that TRN CEO Mark Masters made several false statements to recruit her for a radio show, including that Laura Ingraham, whose show Tantaros replaced, “was a nightmare, difficult to deal with, and an impossible and unfair negotiator and that is why Defendant TRN was planning to part ways with Ms. Ingraham and why her coveted time slot would be available,” and that TRN would invest millions of dollars into promoting Tantaros’ new show to the approximately 300 local stations with which it had syndication deals. Masters has responded — see below…

Tantaros said she agreed to enter into a contract with TRN based on those statements, her salary determined by a combination of a fixed rate ($300,000) and a percentage of revenue, in December, said the story.

She later discovered that TRN had sued Dial Global/Westwood One (which TRN itself claimed in its lawsuit controlled 95% of ad revenues for syndicated radio talk shows) several months earlier, which she said was not disclosed during her contract negotiations: “Thus, at the time Defendant TRN’s CEO, Mr. Masters, was wooing and soliciting Plaintiffs to enter into the Host Agreement and the Guaranty with it for the Tantaros Show, Defendant TRN did not disclose the existence of the Dial Global lawsuit to Plaintiffs and further did not disclose that it was in a dispute with one of the largest advertising sales syndicators in the United States.”

The suit also noted that TRN “laid off most of its staff and many others simultaneously ‘resigned’ from their positions, including, and critically, most of Defendant TRN’s sales team.” Some of those staffers worked on Tantaros’ show and were replaced by members of Mark Masters’ family: “Plaintiff Tantaros found herself in a situation wherein she no longer had a competent executive producer, a full-time call screener, a paid assistant, or a sound effects manager, and further, had either no guests or only decidedly ‘C-list’ quality guests, was provided with no research for the third-rate guests that were booked for the Tantaros Show, a lack of sufficient research for the topics at hand, provided with no editorial guidance, and she was expected by Defendant TRN to basically produce her own show. In addition, there no longer was any meaningful sales force to sell her program to advertisers or potential advertisers and there was no affiliate relations staff at Defendant TRN to service the needs or the requests of the Tantaros Show’s affiliates…TRN’s ‘implosion,’ the suit said, has caused Tantaros’ own brand and reputation, and her Fox News employer to “repeatedly expressed its concern at the implosion of Defendant TRN.”

Tantaros said she is still owed several salary payments.

TRN recently shuttered of its America’s Radio News Network; lost Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage in 2012 and Phil Hendrie in 2013.

Mark Masters, CEO of Talk Radio Network Entertainment, Inc., has released the following Statement on its behalf:

“Our relationship with Andrea has been wonderful. She is a brilliant host and a talented person.  Until very recently, we had an excellent relationship with her.

We are now concerned that a third party is misleading her to their own direct benefit.   This is not an uncommon problem when the host of a successful syndicated radio show has achieved such early success in our industry.

In any event, we look forward to the prompt resolution of the matter in our favor, and to moving forward on a positive and mutually rewarding basis with Andrea for many years to come.

In the approximate nine months that Andrea has been in syndication with TRN Entertainment, the combination of our investment of our radio expertise, training, coaching, support, promotion, affiliate relations, time, effort and substantial dollars into the development of the Show and of Andrea as a radio personality, combined with Andrea’s growth as a radio personality, has built the Show from start-up status to the seventh largest talk radio show in the Talkers’ rankings, and has landed Andrea on the cover of the October talk radio issue of Radio Ink.  To our knowledge, this has never been done before.  It is a testament to the mutually successful collaboration between Andrea and our team.

Regardless of this temporary intrigue, there is no legal basis for Andrea to terminate our contract (to the benefit of a predatory competitor), and we will require, and fully expect, her to abide by its terms.  Contrary to certain reports we have heard, we are in full compliance with our obligations under the contract, and are prepared to enforce our rights.”

See The Wrap story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: Masters can’t make Tantaros come back to work, but because of her contract with TRN to do a show, she legally can’t work for anyone else in radio.  Separately, Tantaros will breach her contract when she doesn’t do her show for TRN. Masters will likely not “terminate” her for these breaches, but that’s probably up himself and the TRN board.

About The Author: Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.

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