Top-rated talker Michael Savage has won his legal battle (launched 12/10) to free himself from his syndicator, Talk Radio Network, and can negotiate with a new network. For about 350 affiliates, he’s off the air immediately—no repeats. But TRN CEO Mark Masters says come Monday, 10/1: “We are all looking forward to announcing a bright future; radio’s October Surprise will begin on Monday, October 1st.”
That, of course, means Savage’s replacement in that time slot.
Meanwhile, Savage posted a message on his website Thursday evening under the headline “Free at Last!” that said he was free to work with any station or network from now on. He said he “will not be heard on the radio for some time.”
He will continue to update his website and produce a free daily newsletter.
We may hear sooner, rather than later, where Savage is going–maybe even by 10/1. Savage tells RBR-TVBR: “I WILL UPDATE YOU ON MONDAY. THANKS.”
Savage suit addressed his contract, claiming TRN used “illegal and unenforceable contract provisions” and “other strong-armed tactics” to intimidate him and force him into accepting a “sub-standard agreement.”
The federal case was referred to arbitration.
Savage’s lawyer, Daniel Horowitz, told WND that Savage was awarded money damages in the seven figures range and “complete freedom” from TRN.
Savage has been given ownership of his show, according to Horowitz, which means he will be off the air until he signs a contract with a new syndicator.
“Within an hour of knowing he was free, we were already talking to top names in the business,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz told the AP Savage was trying to get out a contract that was 10 years old and prevented the host from switching employers. Horowitz said the agreement lacked protections afforded to artists and entertainers under California law, and tied Savage to Talk Radio Network indefinitely.
Horowitz said Savage spent more than $900,000 fighting his case but was awarded more than $1 million in arbitration.
As WND reported, the new Talk Stream Live “Power 50,” which ranks the top talk-radio shows streaming on the Web, had Savage in the No. 2 spot. Limbaugh is #1.
More than 8 million people listen to Savage’s show each week, placing him behind only Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in ratings, according to Talkers. The immediate effect that his abrupt departure would have on companies that advertise on his show was unclear.
Savage’s bio and name already have been removed from TRN’s website.
In late 2010 when Savage filed the lawsuit in Federal Court, he was trying to get out of renewing his contract. Talk Radio Network says it exercised its right to match the competing offer. His contract with TRN expired 12/31/10. Savage says he’s been offered a better syndication deal from Norm Pattiz’s Courtside Radio, which at the time was consulting for Westeood One.
Savage said at the time TRN’s offer “does not match the terms of the Courtside proposal.” Savage claims the Talk Radio offer not only falls short in terms of financial upside, but it includes anti-competitive provisions that are illegal, limits his negotiating rights, and imposes additions terms that are not contained in the Courtside proposal.
Savage claimed his contract with Talk Radio “contains provisions that are illegal and unenforceable,” and that Talk Radio is “attempting to use those provisions to force Dr. Savage to sign an agreement he is not interested in, and to force him into an arbitration that wholly ignores his due process rights.”
He claims the deal from Courtside was “valued at several million dollars.” The Michael Savage Show aired Live Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. PT (6 p.m. – 9 p.m. ET).
RBR-TVBR observation: Savage is a powerhouse. Now he will enjoy the fruits of a bidding war. Courtside may end up getting him, from the previous deal that was offered up. But Dial-Global, Cumulus Media Networks and Premiere have deep pockets. We think the current TRN lawsuit against Dial-Global (Courtside and others are named) will not affect their interest in bidding for Savage. Savage’s winning this suit will likely embolden DG and Courtside’s position, in fact.