Wednesday, September 27, 2023

D/FW Radio: The Dumb Zone Podcast Case Has Been Resolved

The case between Susquehanna Radio and Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp of The Dumb Zone podcast has been resolved, with no further trial, motions or hearings pending.

A new episode of The Dumb Zone was released shortly after the judge's ruling Tuesday, where Kemp read a statement short saying the resolution was "mutually agreed upon."

Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp, co-hosts of The Dumb Zone podcast and former KTCK 1310 The Ticket radio hosts, are recording and releasing new episodes at a fairly steady rate. 

Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp

The former hosts of 1310 The Ticket’s midday The Hang Zone program left the station over the summer, announcing their status on July 20 on YouTube after prolonged contract negotiations fell apart. The pair, who had been together as co-hosts since 2020, quickly moved to start their new podcast venture, unveiling their first The Dumb Zone episode on July 25 for the nice price of $6.90 a month.

The brief period between the duo’s departure from the station and the beginning of their new venture was at the heart of the legal drama. In August, Susquehanna Radio issued McDowell and Kemp a cease-and-desist order, claiming the men were violating their contracts’ noncompete clauses. In a move that was only surprising to anyone who had never listened to the Hang Zone, McDowell and Kemp wasted no time in having a little fun with the legal letter for their quickly growing listenership. Within the first few weeks of podcasting on the Patreon platform, The Dumb Zone has attracted nearly 5,000 subscribers.

Once it was clear The Dumb Zone would neither cease nor desist, their former employer sued the pair, claiming that the new show is nearly “identical” to their old show. For nearly two weeks in late August, there were no new episodes, but since Aug. 29, the episodes have been released on a steady schedule.

Susquehanna, a subsidiary of  Cumulus Media, wanted a judge to stop that.

Until this year, Cumulus would have been likely to prevail. But in May, one of President Biden’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board published legal guidance finding that overly broad “noncompete” agreements can violate federal labor law. Issued by the agency’s general counsel, the guidance does not yet have the force of law. But because Democrats hold a majority on the NLRB, it suggests a major change in federal policy may be on the way once the panel takes up the matter, according to The Washington Post.

At stake was not just the future of the co-hosts’ musings about the Dallas Cowboys schedule and Disney casting controversies, but also the status of millions of other workers across the country affected by noncompete clauses that many economists believe unfairly restrict workers’ options.

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