FCC questions WBGR disc jockey about emcee fees

August 28, 1991|By Eric Siegel

A WBGR-AM disc jockey who was taken off the air by management 12 days ago says he has been questioned by the Federal Communications Commission about his acceptance of fees to emcee concerts.

Calvin Hackett, a drive-time DJ for the gospel station, said FCC investigators also questioned him at the station's offices last Friday about how the station chooses songs for airplay.

"They asked how songs are selected and whether I had any input into what gets on the air," said Mr. Hackett, who has been with the station for six years as an announcer and assistant program director.

Officials at the FCC's Baltimore Field Operations Bureau confirmed late Monday that the FCC is investigating WBGR, but they referred all questions to the agency's Washington office. But officials at the FCC's Complaints and Investigations Branch and its Enforcement Division refused comment on the matter, citing agency policy.

Alvin Augustus Jones, WBGR vice president and general manager, took Mr. Hackett and morning drive personality Naomi DuRant off the air after they had completed their shifts Aug. 15 but he has refused to disclose the reason for their absence, saying only that their removal was a "personnel matter" and that he would make a statement at the "appropriate time."

Repeated efforts to reach Ms. DuRant have been unsuccessful.

Mr. Hackett has said he has not been told why he was taken off the air but has acknowledged that the station was looking into the propriety of a $500 fee he is to be paid for emceeing a gospel concert Sept. 8 at the Fifth Regiment Armory. He said the station wanted "to clarify" that the payment, half of which he has already received, was to emcee the concert and not promote it on the air.

It is a violation of federal law to receive money to broadcast material on the air without revealing that the broadcaster is being paid and the identity of those making the payments.

Mr. Hackett said he hoped the station would clarify his status quickly, adding, "In my eyes, I haven't done anything wrong."

The Sept. 8 gospel concert, featuring Shirley Caesar and the Mighty Clouds of Joy, is a fund-raiser and get-out-the-vote rally for City Councilwoman Jackie McLean, D-2nd, candidate for city comptroller. But McLean campaign officials deny knowledge of any improprieties connected with the event.

"The only thing the candidate does is select the promoter and show up at the concert," said Arnold Williams, treasurer of the campaign. "At the end of the program, any [profit] will go to the committee." HC

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