A 32-inch wide-screen TV reportedly received as payola for airplay has apparently led to the firing last week of Diana Laird, program director of Top 40 hits station "Channel 9-3-3"/KHTS.
An October 11 Clear Channel press release indicated the company was firing two employees involved in the pay-for-play scandal that surfaced three months ago; New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer's investigation put Laird and a New York radio programmer in the crosshairs. Spitzer alleged Laird played Jennifer Lopez music in 2002 after getting a plasma TV from Sony Records. Local Clear Channel vice president Jim Richards would not discuss Laird's firing.
Richards did comment on an unusual practice involving DJ Cindy Spicer. The practice of "voice tracking" enables Clear Channel to use a DJ's banter in more than one city. Spicer's voice can be heard working Clear Channel's Star 94.1 and country station KUSS (95.7 FM) simultaneously, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This may be the first time voice tracks of one DJ are used on two stations in the same city at the same time.
"This is a perfectly normal and reasonable way to increase profits," says Richards.
A female voice answered a call to the studios of 94.1 last Wednesday. She said Spicer "had just stepped out." She said on any given day Spicer would be live at Star and recorded at KUSS, or vice versa. She said on that day Spicer was recorded on Star but live on KUSS. Calls made to KUSS studios throughout Spicer's shift went unanswered.