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FREE SPEECH FOR JOCKS

QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:

I'm a jock at a young-end rocker in New England. Recently, we fronted a show by a baby band with one hit record. The band was horribly rude and ill-mannered, and I let it get to me. The next day I submitted an editorial to one of the trade publications which suggested that record companies take a greater interest in how their young, struggling acts treat the radio stations and fans the record company is trying to win over.

My boss called me into his office yesterday and said he wasn't sure what he was gonna do about this. What exactly does this mean? Does he have grounds for termination? Should I be screaming about my First Amendment Rights? Do I need a lawyer?

I really, really want to keep this great gig and I certainly don't want a controversy stemming from some band no one's ever gonna hear from again to interfere with my success. I suspect the record company would want a printed retraction but that's completely out of the question. What should I do?

DAN REPLIES:

> My boss called me into his office yesterday and said he wasn't sure what he was gonna do about this. What exactly does this mean?

Probably exactly what he said. He was upset by it but doesn't know what to do.

> Does he have grounds for termination?

That completely depends upon the terms of your employment. If you have a written contract that explicitly states you can be fired only for "Cause," and if the examples of Cause don't include this incident, probably not.

> Should I be screaming about my First Amendment Rights?

No. The First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring speech of its citizens; it does not apply to employer-employee relationships.

> Do I need a lawyer?

I don't know if you need one yet, but you should use one only if:

A) You're prepared to deal with the station using that as evidence that you are not a "team player."

B) You're prepared to fight a long, protracted, and expensive battle. Neither of the above is meant to discourage you from getting a lawyer; they're just part of Reality.

On the other hand, you might quietly consult a lawyer with mentioning it yet to the station.

>I really, really want to keep this great gig and I certainly don't want a controversy stemming from some band no one's ever gonna hear from again to interfere with my success. I suspect the record company would want a printed retraction but that's completely out of the question. What should I do?

Odds are it will blow over without repercussion. If your boss initiates more conversations about this, perhaps you want to try this tact:

1) I shouldn't have sent in that article without asking your advice first. You've been in this business longer than I, and I should have availed myself of your broader perspective.

2) I am sorry if this has caused you or the station any concern.

3) In hindsight, I realize I reacted so strongly to the incident because I felt the band's attitude was hurting both the radio station and our listeners, and I leapt to the defense of both. KXXX is like my family, and I reacted as though someone were spitting on my family. I guess I have to learn that not everyone in our business treats people as respectfully as we do here at KXXX.

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