By: John Molori
May 30, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Mural mess
- Sales saga
- Dog pound

Brockton artist sues ESPN Radio Boston Another former ESPN Boston staffer speaks out; Safari time

Brockton artist sues ESPN Radio Boston

Media Blitz has learned of current litigation between ESPN Radio AM 890 Boston and local artist Anne Cook.

Cook, a Brockton resident, filed suit against ESPN Productions, Inc. and ESPN Radio Boston on May 11, 2006 charging them with eight counts including Breach of Contract, Breach of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Misrepresentation, Deceit and Tortious Inference with Contract Rights, Negligence, Unjust Enrichment, Conversion and Quantum Meruit.

According to Cook, in October of 2005, she responded to an ad from ESPN Radio on craigslist.com, a popular classified ad website. The station was seeking an artist to paint a mural for the station's Charlestown offices. More than forty-five artists responded to the ad, including Cook, who left a CD of her work at ESPN Boston.

"The deal ESPN was offering was a trade for on-air ads," says the 45 year-old Cook who has done art work for the YMCA, Laborers' Union Local 22, W.B. Mason and Franciscan Children's Hospital. "When so many artists responded, (ESPN Boston CEO) Jessamy Tang changed the deal. Artists would have to provide their own supplies and paint the entire mural free of charge."

Cook eventually signed a contract with ESPN Boston stating that the station would pay her $500.00 for art supplies and, upon completion of the mural, would produce and air $15,000.00 in ads, sixty 30-second spots, for Cook. The mural would depict Fenway Park and the Kenmore Square area and reference the ESPN logo. ESPN Boston picked up the mural from Cook on February 28, 2006.

"I started painting in November (2005) and finished in February (2006)," says Cook. "When I finished, they said thank you. I tried calling Jessamy Tang several times to set up the ad production and she got angry that I got in touch with her. I also tried other extensions and called Kara Lachance, the station's current promotions manager, but got no response."

According to Cook, the only response she did get was disturbing. She states, "I did speak to someone at ESPN Boston and they told me that the station sold the mural on e-bay. That was troubling. Honestly, I don't blame any of the employees. It all comes from Jessamy Tang."

Cook says her painting took more than 700 hours to create and is 6-feet high and 36-feet long in nine sections. It remains at ESPN Boston. She says that she spent more than $500.00 in out of pocket expenses and is seeking monetary damages from ESPN Boston. She says that the station's latest offer to her is "take the $15,000.00 in ads or nothing."

Cook, who is represented by Attorney Steve Scalli of Foster, Scalli and Murphy in Everett, relates, "I am seeking a dollar figure. I want justice. It would be nice to be compensated. At this point, I also want to get the mural out of there. They are upset that I filed suit. It's leaning against a wall in there and I was told that there are already some scratches on it.

"I told them that I would call the (Boston) Mayor's office, but they don't care. ESPN thinks they are bigger than Boston. Their attitude is that they can do what they want and no one can tell them differently."

In response to Media Blitz's calls and emails, Tang referred me to ESPN Boston's attorney, David Baum of Sonnenschein, Nath, and Rosenthal LLP with nine offices throughout the United States.

Baum would not comment on whether ESPN Boston would provide any financial compensation to Cook, but did say, "I do not consider this a major dispute. It should be resolved and will be resolved. As a lawyer, my job is to make bad situations better. This thing will likely go away soon."

Baum believes that the crux of this dispute is simple miscommunication. "Ms. Cook made a deal for radio spots and we have offered her these spots as part of a settlement. We have always been there for her. I don't believe that she called so many times with no response. I understand that she is an artist and artists are emotional as they should be to be successful.

"If she wants the mural, we'll give her the mural. If she wants the spots, we would be happy to produce the spots and air them. I am confident that we'll work this out within days."

As to the eight counts in Cook's lawsuit, Baum says, "Pleadings are often misread by those who are not lawyers. I won't fuel the fire by casting aspersions on her claims. We'll live up to her agreement or let her back out of the agreement."

Regarding Cook's claim that an ESPN Boston staffer told her that the station sold her mural on e-bay, Baum states, "I don't think that happened. There might have been some confusion on her part. She may have called ESPN in New York and people might not have understood what she was talking about. We are eager to make her happy."

ESPN exit

A former ESPN Radio Boston employee has contacted Media Blitz to tell of his ordeal as a station employee. Joseph Alex worked at ESPN Boston for just three weeks in July of 2005 before being fired. Alex responded to an April 24 Media Blitz in which both former and current ESPN Boston employees shared their stories of troubles with station CEO Jessamy Tang.

"It was the worst experience of my professional life," says the 29 year-old Alex who now works as sales and marketing director for his family's business on Long Island. "ESPN Boston recruited me from my job with the Genesis Fund. I met briefly with Jessamy and accepted a sales position that they offered. She sold me on radio advertising and I needed to make more money."

Alex joined ESPN at the station's infancy. "I secured eight or nine appointments a week," he relates. "But it's hard to sell a station that is not up and running. All we had was "Mike and Mike" (morning show) and syndicated ESPN programming." Alex says that he sold the station's first live commercial to Shipyard Brewery. After just three weeks on the job, he was dismissed.

He relates, "I was fired with no warning. Jessamy didn't even have the (guts) to fire me herself. She had the business manager do it. All they said was that it wasn't working out. I had no idea that things were not going well. No one ever said anything to me until I was fired."

Alex discusses his view of Tang's managerial style. "She was very much into everyone's business, a classic (expletive deleted)-buster. It was like she didn't want you to be successful. I would lie about appointments just so she wouldn't go with me and interfere.

"When she did come with me, she would try to run the show. If it was a big account, she would say it was too big for me. She went to MIT so she thought she knew everything. Thanks to that job, I got into debt. I had to pay for my own cell phone and had no expense account. Lunches were on my own dime."

It would be easy to chalk up Alex's statements as sour grapes fr om an inadequate sales rep. However, it should be noted that upon his firing, Alex was immediately hired by Sportsradio 850 WEEI as a sales account rep and had success between July and November of 2005.

"WEEI was a blast," says Alex. "I didn't want to leave, but in November, I had to move closer to home for family reasons. WEEI sales manager John Karpinsky helped me get a job at WFAN radio. I did $50,000.00 in business for WFAN between November (2005) and May (2006), then left to join my family business."

Jessamy Tang has not responded to phone calls and emails from Media Blitz regarding Alex's statements.

Dog Day

Eddie Andelman's Annual Hot Dog Safari will take place on Sunday, June 4 from 9am-4pm at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. The popular charitable event will once again benefit the Joey Fund and the quest for a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

This year's event features Grand Marshals Gino Cappelletti of WBCN 104.1 FM, Loren and Wally from WROR and Ernie Boch, Jr.

The Safari will be simulcast on a number of Greater Media radio stations including 105.7 WROR from 10:00 a.m.- Noon, live updates on WKLB 99.5 FM from Noon-2:00 p.m. and Andelman's Sports Huddle from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on 96.9 FM Talk.

Event highlights include live wrestling from NECW, a plethora of hot dogs, sausages and other foods, a hot dog eating contest, an auction, celebrity guests, kids rides, face painting and live horse racing.

In 16 years, the Hot Dog Safari has raised millions of dollars for cystic fibrosis research. Tickets are $10.00 in advance or $15.00 at the door, or log onto HotDogSafari.com for more information.

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, Boston Sports Review, New England Ringside Magazine, Boston Baseball Magazine, Methuen Life, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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