Feathered Bastard

Nova M Deader than Bernie Mac? Sheldon Drobny's Mental Breakdown, and More on Randi Rhodes and 1190 AM's Implosion

I was planning to save most of this for my Bird column this week, but the news is coming too fast and furious today not to follow up on my recent post concerning Randi Rhodes' disappearance from Nova M radio. Indeed, that lefty AM talk network seems to be going down faster than last week's Flight 3407 to Buffalo.

Trade pub Radio and Records reports that, "Network general manager Eric Reinert tells R&R that Nova M is no longer an entity and that a new company called On Second Thought LLC has been formed and is moving forward. Reinart also confirms that Rhodes is no longer associated with the group."

No duh on the Rhodester exiting the doomed flight. The report also mentions ex-CEO John Manzo's lawsuit against Nova M, which you can read in its entirety, here. It's a juicy lil' dose of legalese claiming breach of contract. It also asserts that the Drobnys failed to pay Manzo's withheld taxes to the feds, that they defamed him, and generally acted loonier than Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston...or Chris Brown and Rihanna...or Britney and Kevin Federline...Hey, take your pick.

The Radio Equalizer blog has posted a statement it says is from Randi Rhodes' attorney Robert Gaulin. It reads,

"The Randi Rhodes' on-air home for less than a year will shut its doors. In an email message of February 17th from counsel for Nova M Radio, Inc. to Randi's entertainment attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, the company is said to have been advised to file for bankruptcy protection next week. All payroll deposits were reversed on Tuesday, leaving Nova's employees unpaid for the past two weeks.

On Sunday, Nova received a letter from Mr. Gaulin asserting that the contract with Ms. Rhodes was terminated due to material breaches and other reasons. Ms. Rhodes had not broadcast for over a week prior to this time, a situation which was diplomatically referred to as a `problem' that was solely within Nova's control to solve. A few days earlier, Sheldon Drobny, founder of Nova M, and a co-founder of Air America Radio, attempted suicide and is hospitalized in Chicago.

Mr. Gaulin indicated on Randi's behalf that `We saw this coming, but are most saddened by the tragic news regarding Sheldon Drobny. Randi is devastated by the impact of these events upon her fiercely loyal audience, affiliates and sponsors.Discussions are already being conducted for Randi's swift return to the air. Stay tuned.'

It's after five, so I won't be able to talk to Gaulin till tomorrow. But I did speak to a weepy Anita Drobny yesterday.She would not confirm the rumors about her hubby's suicide attempt, though she did give me a non-denial denial on it.

"My husband had a breakdown, that's the most correct thing I can say," she sobbed. "A breakdown from all the radio stuff."

As for the Manzo lawsuit, she called it "ridiculous," and stated that Manzo was just "lashing out." Regarding Randi Rhodes, she claimed, "People are saying it's about money. It's not about money at all. I just could not fulfill one of her requirements."

So what were these requirements, and does a specific type of entertainment insurance have something to do with Rhodes' departure? Did the Drobny's do some sort of deal with Mike Newcomb, and is he now sitting pretty in the catbird seat? And finally, are the Drobnys really the heavies everyone's portraying them to be, or is there a secret villain lurking in the wings, probably with an eyepatch and a fake leg? Randi's mouthpiece is right: Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment of As the AM Dial Turns...

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons