The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

14 January 2007

107.9 FM Sacramento Listener Contest, Entercom


Entercom Stunt May Have Killed Young Woman

*** Major updates on this story are found here ***

Has an Entercom- sponsored stunt killed a young woman in California?

After reports that a contest run by the firm's The End 107.9 FM asked listeners to drink and retain very large quantities of fluid, that's what Sacramento- area authorities are wondering today.

From KCRA 3 in Sacramento:

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento County coroner's office said a 28-year-old woman may have died of water intoxication after taking part in a radio station's water-drinking contest.

Assistant Sacramento County Coroner Ed Smith said a preliminary investigation found evidence consistent with water intoxication in the death of Jennifer Strange.

Strange's mother found her daughter's body at her home Friday afternoon in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova after Strange called her supervisor at her job to say she was heading home in terrible pain.

Strange took part in a contest Friday morning at radio station KDND 107.9 in which participants competed to see how much water they could drink without going to the bathroom.

Already spreading like wildfire across the Internet, the news has already been linked at the Drudge Report, featuring this video clip:

So far, at least, there's been no word from the station itself or the company.

In Boston, Entercom owns WEEI- AM and WRKO and in Seattle, KIRO and KTTH, among other stations.

UPDATE: Here's another Sacramento news report via YouTube. Apparently the contest was called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" and the other participants also felt ill afterward. So far, Entercom isn't talking:

From the Sacramento Bee, many more details here:

A 28-year-old mother of three died from water intoxication hours after competing in a radio station contest to see which contestant could drink the most water without urinating, according to preliminary autopsy results released Saturday.

Jennifer Lea Strange was found dead by a family member in her Rancho Cordova home around 2 p.m. Friday, authorities said. Sacramento County Assistant Coroner Ed Smith said Strange's mother and husband told coroner's officials the young woman had taken part in a contest at The End (KDND, 107.9 FM) on Friday morning that was based on drinking large amounts of water.

The winner of the contest reportedly won a new video game system.

Strange told co-workers that she planned to take part in the contest before going to work, and that she was trying to win the game system for her three young children.

Smith described the amount of water Strange drank as "excessive."

A preliminary autopsy "revealed no life-threatening medical conditions to explain (Strange's) sudden death" and initial findings were "consistent with a water intoxication death," according to a Coroner's Office statement issued Saturday.

The final cause of death is not expected for several months, the statement said.

"We don't really know for sure how much she drank," Smith said. "But to get water intoxication, you have to drink a lot."

Sacramento sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran, a department spokesman, said there would not be an investigation because "this is not a criminal matter."

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  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger breakdown, at 14 January, 2007 15:19  

  • I don't know.

    I agree it is sad, but wouldn't you think, at her age, she'd have had the common sense not to drown her system like that?

    I wouldn't be surprised if she had some unknown, undiagnosed condition that would never have been any rate, I can't see how the station or the hosts could be held responsible.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 January, 2007 21:02  

  • Let's see, trying to hold down as much liquid as I can without going to the bathroom.....I do this every time I go to the bar...

    By Blogger Capitalist Infidel, at 14 January, 2007 23:12  

  • Of course, like with everything else, it was either the libruls fault, or she was drinkin' librul water...or drinkin' water librullie!

    Either way, Brian's going to get the librul angle in there somewhere.

    No, wait, I got it - the water was siphoned (buh-dum dum) from Gloria Wise via AAR!

    Took me a second, but I figured it all out - partisan-report-away, Brian!

    (note - yes, ultimately a sad story - lots of stuff to excess can kill - I'm one of those crazy libruls (am I??? I don't subscribe to blanket definitions - oh, well) - Entercom responsible? Don't think so - they said hold your water, not bring yourself to harm.

    Anyone who will do that to themselves for $250 + tax??? they own their own issues...

    I only feel sorry for the family & friends she left behind by placing too much importance on something so obviously material...I work my butt off to get things for my kids - but, if I do myself in in the process - no more good works will even be possible...

    Seems simple math to me...

    By Blogger TJ, at 14 January, 2007 23:44  

  • Oh, and brian (more bad puns coming, duck now, folks)...

    Piss-poor reporting on your part. Announcing the second video in the update, you stated the second video named the contest as "hold your wee for a wii"...

    The first video included that, as well...

    By Blogger TJ, at 14 January, 2007 23:47  

  • This condition has a name:

    When I go hiking I drink water for the first hour or so and then switch to alternating between water and Gatorade or similar, adding in both sweet and salty snacks.

    If she'd drunk Gatorade instead of plain water she might have been OK.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 15 January, 2007 00:48  

  • Either the morning show didn't run it through promotions (not atypical, morning guys hate "rules" or corporate types) or the promo person was an idiot. There have been enough reports and lawsuits regarding water intoxication to make anyone half informed know you don't do this promotion. In North Carolina, there was a landmark lawsuit with a Bar promotion that did a "Drink 'Til you Pee" Promotion which effectively banned "Happy Hour" promotions not only for the alcohol intoxication but because of the kidney damage and water intoxication that can result.

    Entercom is going to get hit with a huge lawsuit and all the release forms in the world won't get the company off the hook for liability. The FCC will also take a dim view of this and likewise levy serious penalties as well not to mention potential challenges to the license as well.

    My morning shows used to hate me for being the promo nazi I was but we found ways to do fun promotions that didn't get any of us fired or in court. I was always used the story about how I created a nine car pile up on a bridge in the middle of morning rush hour traffic. It cost us a lot of money but the publicity and the ratings were priceless. I ended up turning the accident into another promotion that made the victims happy as hell when I turned their damaged hulks into rolling works of art and gave them all a chance to win a new car.

    This will likely be settled out of court for huge sums with a non-disclosure agreement just like the Cumulus Million Dollar Morning Giveaway last year.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 15 January, 2007 05:56  

  • Whoops.. addendum. That was one Hundred Grand withe respect to Cumulus. The winner waited for two hours to win One Hundred Grand, went to the station and was given a $100,000 bar. She sued.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 15 January, 2007 06:38  

  • "I agree it is sad, but wouldn't you think, at her age, she'd have had the common sense not to drown her system like that?

    I wouldn't be surprised if she had some unknown, undiagnosed condition that would never have been any rate, I can't see how the station or the hosts could be held responsible."

    On this point, hash, I think that possibility is open. I'm no doctor, but if she had some pre-existing condition, the stress on her bladder may have set off some kind of toxic chain reaction. Again, I'm no doctor.

    Only thing is we may not know the autopsy results for sometime. I saw the video report from KOVR-TV in Sac-town and it may be months before anyone knows what happened. In terms of the report, except for someone pouring a water bottle on the ground to simulate relieving oneself (BLECH!), it was a good report.

    Now in terms of Entercom. If they had the contestants sign some kind of affidavit or paper regarding safety and such, then the family or estate of this woman has no case. If not, then the family should sue away. But I wouldn't be shocked if the FCC gets wind of this.

    For the station, if I was Station Manager and had enough sense to know about right and wrong:

    1) The PD and those in house involved in the contest would hear "YOU'RE FIRED!"

    2) I would also attempt to see to it that those involved never work in radio again and I would publicly name them and shame them.

    Would I try to change the format as KDND is a top 40 station and for me, if I may quote Bob Seger:

    "Today's music ain't got the same soul..."

    Well, that one would have to involve some big thinking.

    Oh, and dave carroll, which station did you work for (re: the $100,000 debacle)?

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 15 January, 2007 08:32  

  • Stop the presses! I actually agree with hash for once.

    A. this was a stupid stunt. I seriously hope the PEABRAINS involved have to find employment where they will never, ever be able to stage such stupidity again.

    B. This woman's family will probably get some money, but the lawyers involved will get rich.

    C. This was not the liberals' fault.

    By Blogger PCD, at 15 January, 2007 09:21  

  • Patriot World,

    Thank God this wan't my nightmare to deal with. The station was WLTO in Lexington, KY. Here's a link from the law firm

    I ran marketing and promotions for the five-station Wilmington, NC cluster before semi-retiring to Mexico to write my novel. I'm very proud that, when I inherited it, Wilmington was the worst cluster in the company at a time when Cumulus was all but dead from the scandals that rocked the company in its infancy. For the last four years it was one of the company's most heralded and profitable when I finally walked away after six years.

    Did such a good job, in fact, the bosses let me do a very controversial talk show as well. Not something most promo types should do unless you are known for your outrageous viewpoints and opinions.

    Gotta love being the paid dissenter in a company. Being the anti-yes man is great if you can take the stress or, like me, actually kinda dig it.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 15 January, 2007 16:09  

  • "I'm very proud that, when I inherited it, Wilmington was the worst cluster in the company at a time when Cumulus was all but dead from the scandals that rocked the company in its infancy. For the last four years it was one of the company's most heralded and profitable when I finally walked away after six years."

    What were the scandals?

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 15 January, 2007 18:19  

  • This woman shows the condition of our country. Stupid people are breeding faster than smart people. Do the math.

    By Blogger pf1, at 16 January, 2007 00:50  


    By Blogger shockedbyindifference, at 17 January, 2007 09:36  

  • True, their webpage says nothing about the incident, but I do notice that all references to the Morning Rave have been removed.

    Ten employees, including everyone on-air at the time, have been sacked.

    By Blogger Snowed In, at 17 January, 2007 10:11  

  • Its definitely sad that individuals would host such deadly contest. They should be ashamed of themselves. to have medical professionals and individuals call in to warn them and to have them ignore the warnings is disgusting!! And for those blaming the women should also be ashamed, not many individuals know about water intoxication. it is not something they teach everyone in school. I know about it because I am a nursing student but for the lay individual it is not common knowldge for most. My condolences go out to her family. May she rest in peace.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 November, 2009 07:50  

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