The contract dispute between Big Boy and Power 106/KPWR owner Emmis is getting ugly. Power 106 has now completely scrubbed Big Boy -- the station's morning host since the late 1990s -- off its website, and is now touting J Cruz (above) as its morning show host.
At issue: Big Boy had been lured away by iHeartMedia (aka Clear Channel), which planned on using the DJ as the centerpiece of its all-new Urban Contemporary outlet "Real 92.3." That station -- currently oldies "Hot 92.3" -- still plans to make the flip tomorrow, but it's not clear if Big Boy will be along for the ride.
That's because Emmis is waging an all-out battle to prevent Big Boy from making the jump. TMZ (which I find it strange they're covering local L.A. radio politics) has the skinny:
Emmis is taking it real personal, saying it discovered Big Boy more than 20 years ago when he was working as a bodyguard, and turned him into one of the most dynamic personalities on the air.
Big Boy was making $1.45 million a year -- plus bonuses and a car -- but his contract was up at the end of this month. According to the suit, Big Boy got an offer from iHeartMedia of $3.5 million plus other royalties and perks, including the use of a private jet.
But Emmis says it has a right under the existing deal to match a competitor's offer and keep him, and says that's exactly what it did ... but he told the company he was leaving anyway.
The outlet that carries Big Boy's Neighborhood in L.A. -- Power 106 FM -- started Wednesday's morning drive time ... his usual shift ... by playing music without a DJ, though one eventually came on around 6 AM.
But Emmis is on the attack, asking a judge for an order prohibiting Big Boy from bailing. Emmis also wants $5 million.
TMZ also has Big Boy's statement: “I feel nothing but love and gratitude for the nearly 21 years I’ve spent with my listeners at Power 106. I am proud of everything I accomplished over the last two decades and the contributions I made to the station’s success. All I want to do right now is get back to what I love, what I am meant to do – wake up every morning and hang with my listeners. They are my family. Their love and devotion mean everything to me.”
This is nothing new in hard-ball radio negotiations -- radio stations frequently yank all references to their popular morning hosts when things get this intense, and put it all back later. But this seems extra nasty. We'll see where it goes. (If you search inside the site, you'll find the Big Boy's Neighborhood page is still parked there.)
As for "Real 92.3," here are the details from RadioInfo.com:
The flip takes place on Friday morning at 9:23 AM and the company says that its senior vice president of urban programming Doc Wynter will serve as PD for the station that kicks off the new format with 10,000 commercial-free songs. Core artists will be Drake, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Usher, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé. Wynter comments, “The all-new ‘Real 92.3’ will be LA's new home for REAL Hip Hop and R&B. It's what LA listeners have been waiting for. Starting tomorrow morning at 9:23, we'll start rollin' 10,000 joints in a row!”