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Radio One alleges ex-WTLC DJ violated 'payola' policy

October 25, 2013

The owner of Indianapolis R&B station WTLC-FM 106.7 has accused a fired disc jockey of violating its policy on payola and choosing which artists receive airplay.

Maryland-based Radio One Inc. levied the allegation against Krishna Henderson-Hutchinson, who was known on WTLC as “First Lady Khris Raye.”

WTLC fired Henderson-Hutchinson last December. She filed a lawsuit in Marion Superior Court in June, alleging breach of contract and seeking at least two months of back pay.

Radio One had the case transferred to federal court in Indianapolis after it first appeared the former on-air personality was seeking more than $75,000 from the company. 

But the complaint was remanded back to Marion County court recently, where Radio One  last month alleged that Henderson-Hutchinson violated the company’s “Payola, Plugola & Music Selection Compliance Policy,” which requires pre-approval before a song is added to the playlist.

“Henderson-Hutchinson engaged in an intimate personal relationship with a musical artist, whose songs (she) added to Radio One’s playlist and substantially increased on-air play without Radio One’s approval,” the company said in a recent filing.

The artist wasn't identified. The suit did not specifiy whether she received any compensation for arranging airplay for the artist.

The radio industry adopted such policies in the 1950s after Congress conducted a number of hearings into complaints that record promoters were paying DJs to play artists’ songs. Payola accusations aren’t as common today.

An attorney for Henderson-Hutchinson has denied Radio One's allegations.

“My client never engaged in payola and never received any type of compensation,” said her attorney, Andrew Wirick of Hume Smith Geddes Green & Simmons LLP.

Henderson-Hutchinson joined WTLC in 2005. Beside serving as a disc jokey, she’s held other roles such as music director and as assistant program director at WTLC-AM 1310.

Radio One also alleges she added other musical artists to the playlists without authorization and that she accessed her email account following her departure, in violation of her employment agreement.

The broadcaster seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.

Earlier this month the station fired personality Rusty Redenbacher for playing a song on which he sang vocals, thus violating a policy against self-promotion.

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