Friday, June 17, 2016

Saginaw Radio: More Testimony In Johnny & Blondie Case

Johnny and Blondie
Johnny Burke and Blondie's former boss testified in federal court this week that the ex-radio host used content segments from the former WHNN morning show, had access to customer contact and pricing information and confused listeners and advertisers about "returning home" to work at the station.

According to, Scott Stine, operations manager at WHNN 96.1 FM, owned by Cumulus, testified for more than an hour in U.S. District Court in downtown Bay City Thursday, June 16.

Cumulus Media filed suits in April against Burke and his partner Blondie, whose real name is Bonnie Belger-Holzhei, saying the duo was in violation of non-compete and non-solicitation clauses in their employment agreements they entered into with Cumulus and/or Citadel Broadcasting. Cumulus wants a federal judge to issue an injunction barring the longtime radio personalities from hosting their new internet radio show.

At a May 25 hearing, attorneys for Cumulus said they were no longer pursuing a non-compete against Burke, but were going after him for violating a non-solicitation clause in his contract.

The countersuit comes after Burke, 61, and Belger-Holzhei, 53, filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against their former employer. Burke, who was the voice of the radio station for the past 25 years, and Belger-Holzhei were fired in January when the station underwent a format change. After being fired, they launched a live-streaming show online and on social media called Johnny and Blondie Live.

Attorney Thomas Paxton, who is representing Cumulus, questioned Stine about content that Burke and Belger-Holzhei used on their internet show and whether they poached WHNN customers to advertise on the show, which broadcasts online at and on the streaming app Periscope.

Stine testified he heard content that was previously used on WHNN, including segments called "Butthead Bulletins" and "Office Joke of the Day." He said the ideas for those segments or the content for the segments came from a subscription service called Show Prep Services paid for by WHNN.

In cross examination, Saginaw attorney Victor Mastromarco Jr., who is representing Burke and Belger-Holzhei, argued Burke designed the segment "Butthead Bulletins." He also said Burke and Belger-Holzhei each used a three-month free trial for the subscription service, arguing Stine wouldn't know if the radio duo was using content from the service paid for by WHNN or through their free trials.

Stine also testified that Burke and Belger-Holzhei had access to customer contact information and advertisement pricing information through documents used for remote broadcast appearances. Additionally, Stine said Burke and Belger-Holzhei had access to a company "shared drive" that contained information about the radio station's customers.

"They would have information about WHNN prices and customer contact information," Stine said.

Paxton's line of questioning in the middle of Stine's testimony was aimed at his argument that Burke and Belger-Holzhei stole WHNN customers and confused them about their affiliation with the radio station.

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