Guaranty Broadcasting suing Walton and Johnson over move to iHeartMedia stations

    Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to include a comment from Walton and Johnson’s attorney, Michael Eckstein.

    John Walton and Steve Johnson have moved their “Walton and Johnson” morning radio show to new stations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and now Guaranty Broadcasting is suing the duo over their actions for allegedly violating the terms of a long-running contract.

    Formerly heard on The EAGLE 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and Bayou 95.7 FM in New Orleans, the show on Monday began being broadcast from 5:30 to 9 a.m. on iHeartMedia radio stations in both cities. In Baton Rouge, Walton and Johnson can now be heard on WJBO Newsradio 1150 AM and 97.7 FM. In New Orleans, the show will broadcast on New Talk 99.5 FM.

    But while the move only became public a day ago, EAGLE 98.1 owner Guaranty filed suit against Walton and Johnson back on Dec. 13. Guaranty’s attorney, Dale Barringer, declines to comment, citing pending litigation. According to the suit, however, Walton and Johnson allegedly violated the terms of their agreement with Guaranty, which stated that the contract, initially signed in 2006, automatically renews for two years unless either party gives written notice.

    According to the suit, “neither party ever gave to the other any written notice of intent to terminate or not renew the W&J Affiliation Agreement … as required in order to avoid the automatic renewal of the contract.”

    The suit also suggests the two sides spent much of October and November butting heads over new terms for the contract. Guaranty was trying to reduce Walton and Johnson’s base fee amount in exchange for a longer contract term. The duo was unwilling to agree to such changes, the lawsuit says.

    The suit is seeking unspecified damages to be determined at a trial. Michael Eckstein, a New Orleans-based attorney for Walton and Johnson, says his clients deny the allegations in the suit.

    “It is certainly our opinion that the allegations that were stated and the facts that were stated in the petition are totally incorrect and baseless,” Eckstein says. “We expect to be successful against Guaranty’s claims against us and in our counter claims.”

    No date for an initial hearing has been set.

    In a Facebook message, Guaranty says a new live local morning show will be introduced on Monday, Jan. 9.

    —Stephanie Riegel 

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