Cumulus Loses Voice-tracking Battle

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Close to a dozen current and former employees of WLUP FM 97.9 “The Loop” and WKQX FM 101.1 in Chicago have been awarded back pay dating from last spring to present day after an independent arbitrator ruled against Cumulus Media over the company’s use of voice-tracking.

The decision follows two days of hearings held last January, instigated by the Chicago local of the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union representing broadcast talent. The primary issue was whether Cumulus had the right to use voice-tracked recordings of air personalities seven days a week or on holidays while paying them only for a standard work week. The arbitrator ultimately ruled that the practice was in violation of the union’s contract.

Eric Chaundron, executive director of Chicago SAG-AFTRA, said he was “extremely pleased” with the outcome and added, “It has vindicated the position we have taken from the start regarding voice-tracking at our stations.”

Cumulus declined to publicly comment on the arbitration.

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