Sharky Waters

Encinitas band Switchfoot played the Sports Arena December 2 with Alanis Morissette, the B-52s, Train, and two other bands. The show, called Jingle Ball, was sponsored by Clear Channel pop station Star 94.1. According to a document released in July by New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer, Switchfoot's appearance may have been a form of payola.

Earlier this year, Spitzer's office launched the investigation that yielded the Sony BMG Music Entertainment payola scandal. Sony (which includes Switchfoot's label Columbia) agreed to pay $10 million for engaging in pay-for-play practices during the past three years. Spitzer implicated Channel 9-3-3 program director Diana Laird; she allegedly accepted a plasma TV in exchange for playing a Mariah Carey song. Channel 9-3-3 (owned by Clear Channel) fired Laird in October.

In the document released by Spitzer, Switchfoot is mentioned by name; it is alleged that radio stations had to commit to playing Switchfoot music before the band would play at those stations' Christmas shows. If a deal existed between Columbia and Star 94.1, it could have been made without knowledge of the band. Switchfoot's management had no comment.

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