Walton and Johnson, Guaranty Broadcasting settle breach of contract lawsuit

    Morning radio hosts John Walton and Steve Johnson have settled the breach of contract lawsuit that Guaranty Broadcasting filed against the duo in December 2016.

    Attorneys for Walton and Johnson declined to comment, citing an agreement between both sides in the case, but confirm the litigation has been “amicably resolved.” An attorney for Guaranty did not return a call seeking comment. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

    Guaranty filed suit against Walton and Johnson late last year after the duo moved their long-running morning drive-time show from Guaranty to competitor iHeartMedia.    

    According to the suit, originally filed in the 19th Judicial District but later moved to U.S District Court in New Orleans, 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. Guaranty, according to the suit, contended “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 suggested the two sides spent much of last fall 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.

    In May, Walton and Johnson filed several counterclaims, alleging, among other things, that Guaranty failed to pay them the bonuses they were contractually owed based on their high ratings in the market. The settlement resolves both the original suit and the counterclaims.

    Locally, Walton and Johnson, which first aired in 1983 on WQUE in New Orleans, airs on WJBO Newsradio 1150 AM and 97.7 FM. In New Orleans, the show is broadcast on News Talk 99.5 FM.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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