WIYY-Senator feud promotes ill will, charges of vendetta

August 19, 1994|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,Sun Staff Writer

It's Hatfield and McCoy, but with a movie theater and a radio station as the weapons.

Before the movie starts at the Senator Theatre these days, owner Tom Kiefaber, either live or on tape, asks you to please not talk during the feature and, by the way, "If there is anyone in our audience today who knows WIYY's general manager, Mr. Ed Kiernan, please do him a favor and suggest an effective laxative."

Huh?

It all began three years ago, when Mr. Kiefaber's friend, WIYY (98 Rock) morning deejay Chris Emry, was fired. In protest, Mr. Kiefaber put the message, "Tune out Morning Egomania," on his splashy marquee overlooking the York Road-Northern Parkway intersection. "I discussed it with him and told him I thought it was inappropriate," Mr. Kiernan says.

"Ed Kiernan confronted me in the Senator's lobby and told me that the theater was hereby banned from mention on WIYY and WBAL radio," Mr. Kiefaber says.

Since then, they have skirmished over movie promotions, a common practice in which radio stations sponsor sneak previews of upcoming films, offering free tickets on the air and sending deejays to appear before the screening.

Mr. Kiefaber says there have been 98 Rock promotions at the Senator that have suddenly been canceled just days before the event, apparently because of the "vendetta." Mr. Kiernan says Mr. Kiefaber has "demanded" movie promotions that 98 Rock has already scheduled at other theaters. "We have supported the theater and will continue to do so," Mr. Kiernan says. "We haven't done a promotion with him recently, and I'm not sure this is going to help."

A dispute over a promotion of the recent movie "Wolf" led to Mr. Kiefaber's current verbal volley.

"My reaction is, this is kind of silly and sophomoric and weird and dumb," Mr. Kiernan says. He is not sure how much longer he'll continue making the appeal. "Hopefully, until we get some movement."

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