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Former KTSU Advertiser Alleges Bait-and-Switch by Station Management

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In 2010, event planner Sharon Johnson says that KTSU-FM 90.9 management sabotaged a trip she had put together for the 2010 New Orleans Jazz Festival. As a result, she may file a class-action suit "because it hurt me badly," Johnson tells Hair Balls.

Two years ago, Johnson organized a bus excursion for Houstonians to attend the jazz blowout in Louisiana. The package included round-trip fare, a room in a four-star hotel and entry to the festival grounds.

To pique additional interest, Johnson decided to pay KTSU for on-air advertisements, a strategy that worked. "Every time they ran the ads," says Johnson, "I received three to four calls from people who wanted to go."

As the date for the New Orleans Jazz Festival approached, Johnson thought it would be a good idea to focus her ads in a tighter time window that included drive-time hours.

According to Johnson, KTSU staff told her, "Sure, but you have to give us more money." As a result, she hammered out a deal to buy 55 KTSU sponsorship memberships up front, which Johnson would then try and sell to the people registered for the bus trip.

"When I gave KTSU a $300 down payment up front, that's when they did the bait-and-switch on me" by pulling all of her ads off of the air, says Johnson.

Two weeks later, at Johnson's urging, she scored a sit-down meeting with Texas Southern University's School of Communications Dean Dr. James Ward, KTSU General Manager George Thomas and KTSU Assistant General Manager Donna Franklin. At meeting's end, Johnson says that Dr. Ward admitted that the pulling of ads was the wrong move and made the decision to start re-airing them.

"But it was too late," says Johnson. "It's like somebody deflates your tires for two weeks and they tell you to get back on the road for the long trip. In other words, people felt like there wasn't enough time to pay for the trip."

This is just the latest allegation of mistreatment lobbed at KTSU, chronicled in detail in the Houston Press's "All That Jazz" cover story.

In response to the feature article, TSU School of Communications alumnus and former KTSU on-air personality Terrance Coburn writes, "I personally have experienced pretty much everything you reported, from the events that led to the wrongful removal of Aaron Cohen to the lackluster management staff at KTSU.

"Myself personally as an undergraduate student (2004-2007), I experienced wrongdoings from the staff and management that led me to part ways with the station before I graduated. It's a shame, really, because when I read that Juan [Flores] and Kyle Scott [Jackson] were no longer at KTSU, it just broke my heart because they were one of the last few TRUE personalities at the station."

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