Seattle's B J Shea Subject of Complaint By Host
A female morning host at Seattle's KQBZ-FM (known as "Radio For Guys"), is suing her station over what she calls a hostile work enviroment, created by mid-morning shock jock
B J Shea.
Shea, a Boston native, is known for Howard Stern-like antics on the air. Morning personality Robin Erickson says she's had enough abuse, according to Bill Virgin of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
In the story, she describes being subjected to an anti-female work setting and being insulted by Shea personally.
Curiously, Erickson named KQBZ owner Entercom as a defendant (fair disclosure: my former employer), but not Shea himself.
What the article doesn't mention is that this is at least the second time there's been a major issue with Shea. Previously, there were complaints from former KIRO-AM reporter Donna Renae, now an ABC Radio News correspondent.
Part of the agreement at the time called for KQBZ's operations to be hidden from KIRO's newsroom, with miniblinds drawn in the windows at all times and the door to remain closed.
Later, that proved insufficient, as further complaints involved the path Shea, his staff and especially his raunchy guests would take to reach the studio door, as it passed through KIRO territory.
Finally, KQBZ's entire operation was moved from Entercom's Eastlake facility, into a downtown building where the company's FM music stations are located. Renae left KIRO for a CNN radio job a short time later.
Years earlier, Shea had been fired for advocating violence against Christians on the air. A union-backed arbitration ruling, months later, ordered him reinstated.
One would imagine this background would be contained in the suit, but that hasn't been disclosed.
Despite that history I have mixed feelings about this legal action.
One the one hand, I know that favored on-air personalities are generally protected from termination, no matter how bad the behavior.
But didn't Erickson know what she was walking into at KQBZ? After all, she's a market veteran, well aware of the station and Shea's reputation. Shea was there first, doing what the company hired him to perform.
Second, where is this going and what's the aim? The company isn't giving any ground, it doesn't appear that a settlement is likely, at least not now.
A lousy environment is only going to get worse, after the suit is settled, it isn't going to be a fun place to work.
So unless this is an attempt to get paid out for the rest of her contract and collect damages, I don't see the point. It's unlikely Shea will be terminated as the result of her suit.
The funniest aspect of this: Shea has no comment on the matter. How often does that happen?
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer- 5 May 2005- Bill Virgin)
The Buzz's promotional slogan is "Radio for Guys," and the suit contends that that is part of the problem.
"The Shea program regularly features verbal attacks on women. These attacks repeatedly and crudely attack women in general and specifically in the workplace, claiming, among other assertions, that women are bad employees whose presence in the workplace is bad for men."
The suit contends that Shea specially mocked Erickson "on the basis of her gender and age" on the air in August. On-air attacks resumed after Shea was disciplined, it adds.As an example, the suit notes that the Robin & Maynard and B.J. Shea shows share a studio. Shea's staff, the suit says, posted signs on the wall including one reading "All Women are Filthy Lying Whores." When Erickson asked station managers to remove the offensive signs, managers removed almost all materials, an action "intended to cause hostility by other employees" toward her, it says.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for "emotional distress, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment" as well as medical and legal expenses.