Conniff and Aspen’s KNFO to air it out in court
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – A former talk-show host for Aspen radio station KNFO has taken his ex-employer to small claims court, where he’s seeking $7,500 in back pay.
Michael Conniff, host of the “Con Games” show that ran for nearly six years on KNFO, filed a one-page complaint last week in Pitkin County. His suit claims KNFO owes him $1,500 a month from October 2009 through March. While that adds up to $9,000, Conniff said he’s seeking only $7,500 because that’s the maximum amount in damages small claims court allows.
The suit comes after “Con Games” was pulled from the air in April by KNFO management, which replaced his daily two-hour broadcast with “Imus in the Morning.”
The Basalt resident, whose “Con Games” show is now broadcast Saturday and Sunday mornings on the FM station KUUR, said he typically got paid on time by KNFO. But during his last six months at the station he tried to negotiate a contract with KNFO, leaving his pay in limbo.
“I though it was a negotiating tactic, and we continued to negotiate and they said they would give me a contract. They kept promising and promising, and by March I’d had it,” he said.
Conniff said his relationship with KNFO soured sometime after he moved his broadcast location from the station studio to Aspen Meadows. Technical difficulties came with the new locale, and KNFO demanded that Conniff return to the station, according to Conniff. He didn’t, and on April 7, KNFO “locked the doors” on Conniff and didn’t let him return to the airwaves, he said.
Steve Wodlinger, an executive at Denver-based NRC Broadcasting Inc., which owns KNFO, said he had not seen the suit and that the company does not comment on personnel issues.
Conniff previously addressed the alleged issue of nonpayment on his website, aspenpost.net, on which he blogs about a variety of issues, typically with a liberal bent. In a blog dated April 9, 2010, Conniff wrote that he had tried to buy the station but the deal fell through.
“That was in December 2009, and from that point forward I’m afraid to say that my show – always under-appreciated and frequently unloved – became an out-and-out target of station management. They tried to move me out of [the] morning drive, the best slot in the schedule, to afternoon; then they tried to move me out of morning drive to 1-3 p.m., the worst place in daytime radio.
“Why would you want to treat a popular show like that, one that literally made the station hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years?”
A trial has been set for Oct. 13.
Aspen City Council approved a contract with Daniel Joseph (DJ) Watkins during Tuesday’s regular meeting to move forward with his intentions to operate his proposed “Aspen Collective,” which is currently occupied by Mia Valley’s Valley Fine Art.