Oh, Laird, Not Payola

Last week was not a good week for Diana Laird, the program director who oversees Clear Channel stations KHTS/Channel 9-3-3 (Top 40) and Z-90 (hip-hop hits). On Monday, July 25, it was announced that she would lose control of Z-90 because of its sale.

On Tuesday, a report of Laird's alleged acceptance of graft-for-airplay appeared in the New York Times. The article began, "To disguise a payoff to a radio programmer at KHTS in San Diego, Epic Records called a flat-screen television a 'contest giveaway.' "

The national head of promotion for Epic Records, Joel Klaiman, was fired last week. Laird was not the only program director who allegedly accepted graft from Sony BMG Music Entertainment (which includes Epic), but she was the only one from San Diego.

Clear Channel issued a press release: "The allegations made today will be fully investigated, and any wrongdoing will be met by swift and appropriate disciplinary action." What does that mean regarding Laird? A request for comment from Laird was not returned. Local Clear Channel programming VP Jim Richards referred all questions to Clear Channel headquarters in San Antonio, which e-mailed the same press release.

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