MAGGIE’S WIN: Former WNIR morning drive co-host Maggie Fuller has scored a big victory with a state agency.
Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels reports that Fuller won an appeal of her unemployment case with the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Review Commission.
The agency’s Kevin Thornton said Fuller had “just cause” to quit the station September 17th, the same day co-host Stan Piatt left early – upset with how the station handled his retirement exit.
Fuller’s exit, and Piatt’s early departure, fueled white-hot rumors all over Northeast Ohio radio.
Yes, we heard the rumors back in September. We hinted at them here, and noted that we would not publish them due to ongoing litigation, and our inability to confirm the very stark rumors.
Fuller filed for unemployment, claiming the station had mishandled the incident and left her no choice but to resign.
What you’ve probably heard in offices and studios and coffee shops is now public record, thanks to Fuller’s win on the unemployment claim and Heldenfels’ article. (And yes, Rich talked with us on social media at the time – he heard it all, too.)
First, the outcome of this stage of Maggie Fuller’s case, and yes, the case is based upon an incident involving WNIR midday host John “Couchburner” Denning:
The decision overturned an earlier ruling that she did not have just cause for quitting.
The latest decision, by Kevin Thornton of the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Review Commission, concluded:
“A coworker of claimaint [Fuller] unleashed an obscenity laced tirade against her at a station sponsored party at a country club. … [T]he employer conducted no investigation into the matter, other than getting a statement from the coworker, even though they could easily have spoken to the management of the country club and the morning host [Stan Piatt], who hosted the party.”
The decision said failure to investigate and to discipline Denning showed the station did not take his conduct seriously and also faulted WNIR management’s “failure to discipline the coworker in a meaningful manner for his despicable behavior.”
Heldenfels reports that the report fills in some of the details of what exactly happened August 29th at a station party at the location of regular advertiser, Stow’s Roses Run golf course:
At the party, Denning approached Pam Darkow, a regular listener to the station, the commission decision said. Denning brought up an old dispute with Darkow over his writing about her on Wikipedia.
Denning asked Darkow who had told her what he had done. She said it was Fuller.
Denning began to rant about Fuller, who was not present, the decision said. He called Fuller a liar and referred to Fuller with a notoriously crude anatomical reference. Piatt attempted to quiet Denning but Denning continued to use the anatomical insult about Fuller.
Yes, an insult we won’t reprint as we, at least, respect women.
And yes, Piatt’s role is now public…making it rather clear why Fuller called her former colleague “a hero” at the time.
Comedian Mike Conley, one of the auditioners for the opening left by the death of talk radio icon Howie Chizek, got involved, but got no response from WNIR station manager Bill Klaus or his brother Bob Klaus, the station’s sales manager.
(And Conley tells Heldenfels: “I have nothing against that radio station. I have nothing against Mr. Denning.” His day job is apparently as a circulation supervisor for the Beacon Journal.)
The decision says station management basically relied on a statement by Denning, and did not act further.
Again, the information released in the decision and in Heldenfels’ article pretty much matches everything we had heard.
Fuller tells Heldenfels that her legal fight isn’t ending with the favorable unemployment decision:
“I’m going after them,” she said. “I’m not going to take this laying down.” She and her attorney plan to contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
WNIR “handled this very badly,” she said. “This really could have been cleaned up with a simple apology and a promise letter saying it would never happen again.”
As regular readers of this blog would certainly attest, the list of things WNIR management has “handled very badly” over the past few years may well require extra storage on this server if were to be posted here…
EXECUTOR GONE: After word spread that the executor of Howie Chizek’s estate was in, well, hot and cold water over the apparent inability to properly shut off the water at the late host’s Twinsburg home, most expected him to be bounced from that job handling Howie’s $1.6 million estate.
That has now officially happened.
Cleveland attorney Charles M. Morgan was removed from taking care of Chizek’s estate, reports the Beacon Journal’s Ed Meyer.
The “series of mistakes and mishaps” cited in Summit County Probate Court included the rupturing of water lines at Chizek’s home, which sent water flowing out of the house (“gushing out the front doors”, according to Howie’s brother Larry), and caused, according to the court, $118,000 in damage.
The Beacon reports that Morgan has 10 days to show why he shouldn’t be removed as the executor of Chizek’s estate.
The home and a large chunk of that estate will go to 28 year-old Eric Sylvester, a former St. Ignatius athlete, after the drawn-out probate process is completed…