Before the

Federal Communications Commission
Washington, DC 20554 In the Matter of the Applications of ) ) ) ) ) ) )

ENTERCOM SACRAMENTO LICENSE, LLC Licensee of KDND(FM), Sacramento, California Facility 65483 To: Office of Secretary Att: Chief, Media Bureau


Media Action Center in El Dorado Hills (MAC,) and Sue Wilson (“individual petitioner”) hereby petitions the Federal Communications Commission (“the Commission” or “FCC”) to deny the license renewal application of KDND FM, a radio station operated by and licensed to Entercom Sacramento Licensee LLC (“Entercom” or “Licensee”) and licensed to Sacramento, California. As demonstrated herein, Entercom

has repeatedly violated the FCC’s rules, regulations and policies and lacks the character qualifications necessary to remain the licensee of KDND(FM). MAC is a non-profit, non-partisan project fiscally sponsored by the Media Alliance, a 501-c-3 not for profit organization. MAC brings this petition on its own behalf, and on behalf of the individuals it represents who reside in the service area of KDND, including MAC Director Sue Wilson. Petitioner Wilson regularly listens to KDND. Accordingly, Petitioner has standing to file this Petition. Much of the contents

herein are based on Wilson’s personal witnessing of events at the William A Strange v Entercom trial. See declaration of Sue Wilson, attached hereto.

SUMMARY Entercom Greed’s was Responsible for the Tragic Death of Jennifer Strange. It was a stupid radio stunt designed to raise the ratings and revenues of Entercom’s KDND-FM in Sacramento, California until it went wrong. On January 12, 2007, Entercom’s KDND-FM decided to stage a contest, “Hold Your Wee for a Wii.” In the end, a 28-year-old woman, Jennifer Strange, mother of three children, Keegan, 10, Ryland, 3, and Jorie, just 11 months, was dead. To win a Nintendo Wii video game contestants had to drink as much water as possible without urinating. Ms. Strange was one of about 20 contestants. As fellow contestant James Ybarra stated: “I was talking to her, and she was a nice lady. She was telling me about her family and her three kids and how she was doing it for her kids.”2 Ms. Strange spent hours at the studios of KDND(FM) guzzling water. Fellow competitor Jennifer Winsor said she saw Ms. Strange drink 8 bottles of water, each containing 8 fluid ounces, then 10 additional 16-ounce bottles before the contest was over, a total of 224 ounces.3 Entercom kept Ms. Strange and the other contestants in a room away from the studio where they could not hear on-air comments or callers.4 KDND’s Morning Rave

2 3

Associated Press, January 13, 2007. The Sacramento Bee, January 18, 2007, see 4 San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2007.


staff clearly knew a person could die from drinking too much water – but they never informed the contestants of that fact. Testimony and depositions in the civil suit for wrongful death filed by Jennifer’s husband, William A. Strange v. Entercom, revealed that just a month before the contest, the Morning Rave spent an entire show making fun of a local college kid, Matthew Carrington, who had died from water intoxication. Entercom’s station personnel brought up Carrington’s death during the program and joked about the dangers of water poisoning. “Can’t you get water poisoning and, like, die?” a female disc jockey asked, 16 minutes into the show.5 Later in the broadcast, a nurse practitioner called into the program warning of the dangers of the contest. Disc jockeys rebuffed her, saying that the contestants would throw up before they would die. As the contest went on, Elidia Campos, one of the contestants ask Ms. Strange how she was feeling, “She said, ‘Oh, my God. I feel so awful, I’m about to pass out.’”6 But according to Entercom’s employees that was her problem. A DJ laughed: "Yeah, they signed releases, so we're not responsible. We're OK." Rather than showing concern, Entercom’s employees cajoled contestants to drink still more water. Throughout the contest, Entercom and its employees demonstrated a callous and wanton disregard for the safety and health of the people involved. In fact, Entercom and its employees purposely deceived the contestants so they would engage in this stunt. Entercom Management drafted two separate release forms. The one the contestants signed was so vague that Judge Lloyd Phillips ruled it did not constitute a waiver under California law. The other, which included warnings of physical hazards and included a

The Sacramento Bee, January 18, 2007, see The Sacramento Bee has audio transcripts of the morning show.


complete set of contest rules was never given to the contestants. Worse, the Morning Rave crew never followed the undisclosed written rules. Instead, they created rules on the fly which made contestants drink so much water, it was a clear threat to their health and safety. Several hours into the contest, Entercom’s employees interviewed Ms. Strange on the air. She said she was not feeling well, and complained that her head hurt. "They keep telling me that it's the water. That it will tell my head to hurt and then it will make me puke," she said. Eventually, Ms. Strange gave in and accepted the second-place prize: tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert. She commented that she looked pregnant, and a female DJ agreed. "Oh, my gosh, look at that belly. That's full of water. ... Come on over, Jennifer, you OK?" a male DJ asked. "You going to pass out right now? Too much water?" “This is what it looks like when you’re drowning.” Yes, too much water. Within hours, Jennifer Strange, the mother of three young children, died.7 All she wanted was to win a much sought-after video game for her children. As Ms. Campos states, “She talked about her kids the whole time.”8 Other contestants remember Ms. Strange showing pictures of her children and saying she was hoping to win the game console for them. Later that day, after station management was informed of Mrs. Strange’s death, they did not even bother to call the other contestants who had been ill to warn them of possible danger to their lives.

6 7 8

San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2007. San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2007.


October 29, 2009, a jury of 12 persons in Sacramento found Entercom Sacramento 100% liable for the death of Mrs. Strange. The contest was designed to be dangerous, in order to bring in high ratings, But safety was skirted to create scintillating programming. That, combined with a complete lack of oversight from management, added up to a lethal combination: a radio conglomerate more interested in ratings than safety. This event, along with many others which show a pattern of bad behavior, prove that Entercom does not have the character to hold the license of KDND.



SUMMARY ………………………………………………………………… I. JURY FOUND ENTERCOM SACRAMENTO LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF JENNIFER LEA STRANGE …………………….. II. ENTERCOM LACKS THE CHARACTER QUALIFICATIONS TO BE AN FCC LICENSEE .……………………………………………..………….. A. KDND Management Knew They Were Promoting a Deadly Stunt But Didn’t Tell Contestants ……………………………………….….. B. Entercom Staff Ignored Mrs. Strange’s and Other Contestants’ Illnesses ………………………………………………………… C. Entercom Corporate Structure Favors Ratings Over Safety……. III. VIOLATIONS OF FCC CONTEST RULES ……………………………. III. PATTERN OF ABUSE…………………………………………………..… IV. PUBLIC FILES VIOLATIONS …………………………………………... V. ENTERCOM OPERATING WITHOUT A RENEWED LICENSE





9 11 12 14 16

SINCE 2005 ………………………………………………………………….. 17 VI. CONCLUSION AND REQUEST FOR RELIEF ……….………………… 18 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE ………………………….……………………… 20



I. JURY FOUND ENTERCOM SACRAMENTO LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF JENNIFER LEA STRANGE October 29, 2009, a jury of seven men and five women unanimously rendered a verdict in the civil trial of William A. Strange et al v. Entercom Sacramento LLC and Entercom Communications Inc. et al finding Entercom Sacramento liable for the death of 28 year old mother of three, Jennifer Lea Strange. 9


A. KDND Management Knew They Were Promoting a Deadly Stunt But Didn’t Tell Contestants KDND staff and management knew the “Wii” contest was dangerous, but never bothered to inform the contestants of the danger; instead, they withheld information of the risks from the contestants. On air Deejays Steve Maney, Patricia Sweet and Adam Cox (Lukas) and Matt Carter clearly knew about the dangers of water intoxication. In December 2006, just weeks before the "Wii" contest, the on-air team joked about the 2005 water drinking death of

EXHIBIT A “Judgment on Verdict”


Chico State student Matthew Carrington in a fraternity hazing incident. 10 The Carrington death was widely publicized nationally 11 and also in the Sacramento area. 12 The Morning Rave team personally witnessed the effects of water intoxication during that December 2006 Morning Rave program when they encouraged their gag guy “Fester," real name Peter Inzerillo, to drink several vases of water from a tulip vase. Inzerillo, a very large man, testified he specifically remembered the December 2006 program where he and the on air talent joked about the Chico water drinking death of Matthew Carrington. After drinking about two gallons of water, he fell very ill. 14 Inzerillo further said he referred back to that show on the air during the “Wii” contest, where in response to Patricia Sweet's comment, "Can't you get water poisoning and like, die?" he said, "How much can you do, though, since that poor kid in college?” only to be cut off by the other on air hosts. 15
16 13

During the “Wii” contest, many people, including nurses, were calling into the station to warn them of the danger. The on air staff used those calls to hype the contest to produce higher ratings, and ignored the real threat. A female caller named Eva: "I want to say that, um, that those people that are drinking all that water can get sick and possibly die from water intoxication." DJ: "We're aware of that." DJ: "They signed releases, so we're not responsible. It's OK."17 Other listeners who were not put on the air also called
10 11 ; trial transcripts 12 13 Exhibit R: Carter Depo 14 ; trial transcripts 15 Exhibit B: Broadcast Transcript page 16 ; trial transcripts 17 Exhibit B: Broadcast Transcript


to warn the station of the danger, but were laughed off, and told the station was not liable, as contestants had signed release forms. 18 Staff and management clearly understood at this point that their contest could be dangerous, but contestants learned of the warning calls from their friends and families after they’d left the station.19 Friends could not warn them by phone either: no cell phones were allowed in the contest area.

Neither the on-air staff nor Entercom

management ever divulged any risks to the contestants themselves.

B. Entercom Staff Ignored Mrs. Strange’s and Other Contestants’ Illnesses

The disk jockeys at KDND were witnessing the contestants getting ill from the contest, suffering severe headaches and vomiting into wastebaskets, all while encouraging them to drink still more water. 22 Contest Winner Lucy Davidson was in great pain from drinking so much water and holding her urine so long. Even after the contest was over, she said, the DJ's would not let her use the bathroom. When she finally did, she heard someone in the next stall peeing, gagging, and vomiting, and testified said she did the same. When she finally stood up, she became lightheaded and fell to her knees, with a headache she described as "the worst hangover ever." When she came out of the stall, she realized the sounds she'd
18 19

Exhibit C: email from listener Exhibit D: Sherrod Deposition 20 Exhibit D: Sherrod Deposition 21 Exhibit E: Davidson Deposition 22 Exhibit B: Broadcast transcript


heard in the neighboring stall had come from Jennifer Strange. Davidson testified that the two did not talk, because they were unable to talk. 23 On air host Steve Maney testified he escorted Jennifer out to the lobby after the contest was over, and that she felt ill, and her stomach was distended. He told her she could stay there until she felt better and left her. Despite her condition, no medical personnel were called. 24 Despite the physical nature of the contest, and despite the fact that people were vomiting and complaining of headaches, no medical personnel was present, and no training had ever been provided to staff as to how to treat an ill contestant. 25 Many contestants were ill for many hours after the contest. 26 But even after station management learned of Mrs. Strange’s death, no one called any of the other contestants to warn them of possible harm. 27

Station Manager Steve Weed asked Market

Manager John Geary for permission to do so, but Geary specifically told him not to until he’d talked with Entercom’s legal department.
29 30

Geary asked Weed to get on the

phone – not to warn the contestants, but to find referrals for an attorney. 31 Instead of learning of Mrs. Strange’s death from the station that had sponsored the stunt, the contestants learned about it that evening on the local news.

23 24 ; trial transcripts ; trial transcripts 25 Exhibit F: Pechota Deposition 26 Exhibit E: Davidson Deposition 27 Exhibit G: Sherrod Declaration 28 Exhibit H: Davidson Declaration 29 Exhibit I: Steve Weed Deposition 30 Exhibit J: Geary Declaration 31 Exhibit I: Weed Deposition


C. Entercom Corporate Structure Favors Ratings Over Safety

The entire contest was designed to have a thrill factor to boost ratings, as is a hallmark of Entercom programming. To encourage such ratings getting contests, Entercom developed a system which gave broad discretion to individual stations with little or no training or oversight from the parent company. Entercom staff attorney Carmela Masi developed a training series about contests for Entercom Sacramento which were vague and ill-defined, and which left such determinations to promotions managers, those most involved in boosting ratings. Promotion manager Robin Pechota routinely had difficulty reaching Masi about contests, and was told to use her own judgment about them. 33 This broad discretion made it easy for Entercom Sacramento management to ignore safety, which was not discussed, and focus on “good radio” to increase ratings and profits. 34 Entercom’s management structure exacerbated the chaos which led to Mrs. Strange’s death. The one man who should have prevented it, Market Manager John Geary, put full blame for the incident on his staff. He said he had no knowledge of the contest, beyond complaints of noise from his sales staff. 35 Geary further stated that years ago, when he ran one or two radio stations, he could know everything that was going on, whereas now he is running six stations, and cannot “drill down” to know what’s going
32 33 34 35

Exhibit D : Sherrod Deposition Exhibit F: Pechota Deposition ; trial transcripts

Exhibit J: Geary Declaration


on. 36 But under Entercom’s management structure, Geary was running eight different departments and supervising 130 employees at six stations.

While economies of scale improve profits, Entercom does have the responsibility to ensure stations are properly staffed to serve the Public Interest. In short, vague guidelines about contests and too few managers for so many radio stations created the atmosphere of theatrics which resulted in the death of Mrs. Strange.

II. VIOLATIONS OF FCC CONTEST RULES Section 73.1216 of the Commission's rules states that broadcast licensees must "fully and accurately disclose the material terms" of any contests that it conducts, and "conduct the contest substantially as announced or advertised." Section 73.1216 of the Rules provides, “A licensee that broadcasts or advertises information about a contest it conducts shall fully and accurately disclose the material terms of the contest, and shall conduct the contest substantially as announced or advertised. No contest description shall be false, misleading or deceptive with respect to any material term.” 19 47 C.F.R. § 73.1216. It was proven in the case William Strange v Entercom that station KDND grossly violated FCC rules about contests, so much that a woman died as a result.

First, in the days preceding the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest, Entercom failed to air the specific rules of the contest, a clear violation of FCC Rules. None of the
36 37

Exhibit J: Geary Declaration ; trial transcripts


contestants were ever informed of the rules of the contest, which easily allowed the rules to be changed to a deadly game. Promotions Director Robin Pechota did draft rules for the Wii contest that said provided that contestants would be drinking 8 ounces of water every fifteen minutes, and specifically warned of physical hazards.

However, station management never actually

gave that document to the contestants themselves. Instead, contestants were given the generic, “Release For All Claims Including Personal Injury” 39
40 41

That release form was so generic that Judge Lloyd Phillips gave the jury instructions it was insufficient to be a waiver under California law.

Station Manager Steve Weed testified he never considered giving the actual contest rules to the contestants themselves. 43 Not only were the rules not given to the contestants, the written rules that existed were never followed. 44 The rules stated that contestants would be given eight ounces of water every fifteen minutes. Instead, the Morning Rave crew started by giving the contestants eight ounces of water every ten minutes, not fifteen. 45 That was bad enough, but by 8 AM, the hosts worried the contest would not be over by the end of their program, and so doubled the amount of water contestants would be drinking to a sixteen ounce bottle of water every ten minutes. 46
Exhibit K: “Hold Your Wee For a Nintendo Wii” Rules Exhibit L: Release Form signed by Jennifer Strange 40 Exhibit E: Davidson Deposition 41 Exhibit M: Davidson signed Release form 42 Exhibit N: Jury Instructions
38 39 43 44 ; trial transcripts

Exhibit O: Myers Depo


Program Director Robin Pechota and Station Manager Steve Weed concurred that the rules had indeed been changed. 47

This issue of Contest Rules is critical. Had the written rules been given to the contestants, had they been followed, Jennifer Strange would be alive today.


It wasn’t the first time KDND sponsored a contest without any rules. Talent Peter Inzerillo testified he had participated in other contests where there were no rules, and he had been given none for the Wii contest. 49 Inzerillo, in his character as “Fester” during the Morning Rave show, even said during the Wii contest he wanted to see the rules. He was given none. 50

Entercom President David Field said under oath that nothing on the air should ever be in “bad taste.” 51 Yet the Licensee’s actions speak louder than words. The Morning Rave crew engaged in stunts not only in bad taste, but that were potentially dangerous. They’d have Inzerillo eat cockroaches, 52 and they’d have their talent engage in stunts in which they themselves would become injured. 53
45 46

Exhibit B: Broadcast Transcript Exhibit B: Broadcast Transcript 47 Exhibit F: Pechota Deposition 48 Exhibit I: Weed Deposition 49 ; trial transcripts 50 Exhibit B: Broadcast transcript 51 Exhibit P: Field Deposition


Jennifer Strange herself entered a contest called “The Breast Christmas Ever Contest.” The prize would be breast augmentation. But Mrs. Strange, herself a medical professional, dropped out of that contest after learning the plastic surgeon who would be doing the augmentation was not reputable. 54 There are other problems with contests at KDND. A public files inspection conducted October 10, 2013, revealed two separate complaints from listeners who had won contests, but never received their prizes. This pattern of behavior showing lack of character is not only at KDND, but at other Entercom Sacramento stations as well. In 2004, the Commission fined Entercom Sacramento station KRXQ(FM) $55,000 for two indecent broadcasts aired in the previous license period. Each was fined the $27,500 maximum per incident because of the “egregious” nature of the violations - and because Entercom has been punished for indecency violations in the past. KRXQ and KDND are both managed by Entercom Sacramento, and both were under continuous management of John Geary, who managed Entercom Sacramento for Licensee from 1986 to 2013.

The Commission also fined the Licensee $220,000 for airing indecent material on two Kansas stations. 56 The Licensee’s station in Seattle was fined an additional $12,000 that same year for willful and repeated broadcasts of indecent material during the "Andy Savage Show". 57
52 53

Exhibit Q: Maney Deposition Exhibit R: Carter Deposition 54 Exhibit S: William Strange Deposition 55 56 LA Times,12-23-2004 see 57


One doesn’t have to go back to the previous license period to find evidence of poor character conducted by the Licensee. A January 23, 2007 report in the Sacramento Bee 58 lists the following:

* In late December, the company agreed to pay a $3.5 million (plus another $750,000 for costs to the state for investigating) settlement to the New York Attorney General's office as part of a radio payola scandal in 2004 and '05. The AG's office charged that Entercom had solicted bribes from record labels and traded air time for songs for a multitude of promotional items, including trips. As part of the settlement, Entercom also agreed to hire a compliance officer and do internal monitoring of promotion practices. In other words, they've promised to clean up their act and stop doing the pay-for-play practice. The FCC has finished with its investigation.

There may be many more such violations pending action at the FCC; the Commission is in a better position to know that than this Petitioner.

IV. PUBLIC FILES VIOLATIONS A public files inspection conducted October 10, 2013 by Petitioner revealed lapses in comments from the public. A file marked “2010” showed several letters and emails from the public, 53 in all. Many listeners complained of indecency violations. Two complained they’d never received a prize they’d won in a contest. Some complimented the station. The file from 2011 showed only four such emails all year. The file from 2012 contained no comment from the public whatsoever. The 2013 file showed only two.


It is highly unlikely a radio station which once received an average of one comment a week from the public suddenly received none. Indeed, KDND Deejays actually read an email complaining of racism dated September 26, 2012 on the air, and defended themselves. 59 The email, they said, was given to them by their boss. Somehow, the boss at KDND got the negative public comment, and Deejays read it on the air, but that comment never made it into the public file.

V. ENTERCOM OPERATING WITHOUT A RENEWED LICENSE SINCE 2005 July 28, 2005, Entercom Sacramento License LLC applied for renewal of its broadcast station license. November 1, 2005, Irene M. Stolz filed petitions to deny the renewal of all six broadcast licenses Licensee has in Sacramento. January 22, 2007, Strange family attorney wrote to then FCC Chair Kevin Martin, asking that KDND’s license be stripped. 60 January 24, 2007, it was reported that Martin directed the Enforcement Bureau to investigate the water drinking contest. 61 All these many years later, the FCC has taken no action against this reckless broadcaster. It is even possible that, had the 2005 petition to deny been adjudicated, Jennifer Strange would be alive today.

59 60 Exhibit T: Roger Dreyer Letter


VI. CONCLUSION AND REQUEST FOR RELIEF The Communications Act charges each licensee with the responsibility of operating its facility to preserve and protect the “safety of life.”62 The Commission, in turn, requires licensees to conduct contests with due regard for the public interest.63 This is especially true when the contest poses “hazards to life and health.”64 In the past, the Commission has revoked or denied renewal of licenses, issued short-term renewals and levied fines in cases were stations that have engaged in improper, fraudulent or deceptive contest practices.65 In this case, the licensee knew prior to promoting it, the contest was dangerous. Staff was repeatedly warned that the contest was dangerous; yet it took no action other than to mock the concerned callers. What kind of licensee is Entercom? Does it care about the safety of the public it is licensed to serve? Or is it simply willing to do anything for money, including recklessly endangering the lives of the public it has been licensed to serve. The pattern of behavior exhibited by Licensee over time shows its disregard for the public interest, and reveals tremendously bad character. Entercom is a company which repeatedly broadcasts indecent material, which engages in payola, which engages in defamation of character, which runs contests but does not give out promised prizes, which repeatedly deceives its own listeners, which endangers the safety of its own staff.
61 62 67 47 U.S.C. §151. 63 See, Policy Statement and Order, 57 RR 2d 939 (1985). 64 Public Notice, 2 FCC 2d 464 (1966). 65 See, e.g., Bremen Radio Co., 41 FCC 2d 595 (1973) (application for mitigation of forfeiture, denied); Musical Heights, Inc., 65 FCC 2d 882 (1977); Communico Oceanic Corp., 55 FCC 2d 733 (1975); Greater Indianapolis Broad casting Co., 44 FCC 2d 599 (1973) (short-term renewals); Santa Rosa Broadcasting Co., Inc., 9 FCC 2d 644 (1967) (license revoked).


Now Licensee has behaved so recklessly it has killed a woman. This behavior must not be repeated, but given Licensee’s track record of abrogating management, it is not unreasonable to believe it could. Accordingly, the FCC should set KDND for hearing to determine whether Entercom has the necessary character qualification to remain a Commission licensee.

________________________________________ Sue Wilson _________________________________________ Address


I, Sue Wilson, Petitioner and Director of the Media Action Center, do hereby certify a true copy of the foregoing Petition to Deny was sent on this 30th day of October to the following parties:

via Federal Express:

Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary Federal Communications Commission Office of the Secretary 9300 East Hampton Drive Capitol Heights, MD 20743

Carrie A Ward 401 City Avenue Suite 809 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

Sean Shannon Market Manager Entercom Sacramento 5345 Madison Avenue Sacramento, CA 95841

________________________________ Sue Wilson


Declaration of Sue Wilson My name is Sue Wilson. I have regularly listened to 107.9 since moving to Sacramento in 1991. In 2007, when the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest was held, I resided at (REDACTED) California. I now live at (REDACTED) California, where I still listen to KDND’s signal in my home and in my car. (KDND coverage map attached.) I am a former Emmy winning TV and radio broadcaster. I now run a media watchdog group, Media Action Center, which is a fiscally sponsored project of the Media Alliance, a 501-c-3 not for profit organization. As such, I listen to KDND for personal and professional reasons. I produced a story on the death of Jennifer Strange for my documentary film, “Broadcast Blues.” I also reported on the 2009 trial, “William A. Strange v. Entercom,” doing nearly daily coverage for the Sacramento Press and my own blog, The facts presented in this petition to deny are personally known to me. I and the entire community of Sacramento will be harmed if Entercom’s license for KDND is renewed because Entercom lacks the requisite character required by the 1986 Policy Statement and is not qualified to be a broadcast licensee. This statement is true to my personal knowledge and is made under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America.

Executed this 30th day of October, 2013.

_______________________________________ Sue Wilson