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Controversial from its inception, upstart Hollywood, Fla., dance radio station Party 93 is being sued by Miami competitor Power 96 for $10 million in a defamation lawsuit, alleging that the newcomer has slandered Power 96 with its hard-edge promo advertising. In the lawsuit filed in Florida’s Miami-Dade Circuit Court last week, Beasley-Reed Acquisition and partner Reed Miami Holdings — the owners of Power 96 — sued Atlanta-based Cox Radio, the owner of Party 93, for defamation and intentional interference with business relationships. The station is seeking $5 million in compensatory and $5 million in punitive damages. Power 96 claims that since January, when WPYM-FM Party 93 launched, the new station has embarked on a scheme to steal listeners and advertisers by exaggerating on the air how often Power 96 runs commercials. “We caught them playing 20 commercials in a row,” stated one on-air promo about Power 96, according to the lawsuit. Another alleged that Power 96 doesn’t play 18 songs in a row as it claims, but is “more likely to play 18 commercials in a row,” according to the lawsuit. Power 96 says the accusations are false and have resulted in a decrease in listeners for Power 96 and an increase for Party 93. The promotional spots that Party 93 has been running include several that make fun of the Power 96 disc jockeys, but most paint the station as playing too many commercials and too little music. The marketing campaign has been blistering, with Power 96 countering with contests that paid out money to listeners who called in when certain commercials play. “This has been very damaging to our reputation,” said Greg Reed, general manager of Power 96. “It’s like McDonald’s saying Burger King is serving horse meat.” Mike Disney, general manager of Party 93, said he is looking forward to a court fight. “We have been accurately counting the number of commercials they play,” he said. “We only play six spots an hour. I look forward to pointing this out in court.” Party 93 targeted Power 96 because “they’re the leader in the market” and “they were the station playing the most commercials,” Disney said. “It’s a marketing thing,” he added. “Power 96 is the easiest to go after because they are heavily laden with commercials.” Still, he was surprised that his rival filed suit over his station’s marketing efforts. “If I was a judge, I’d be mad,” he said. “This is important?” Controversy dogged Party 93 from its start. Lovers of Beethoven and Bach bemoaned the loss of Party 93 predecessor WTMI-FM, one of the few classical stations left in South Florida — or anywhere. They accused the station of succumbing to corporate greed. But the station has caught on like wildfire in dance-crazed South Florida, and Disney said the station’s audience doubled from January to February. Power 96 recently axed its longtime morning drive-time DJs, some of the best-known radio personalities in the market, as ratings for the lucrative slot slipped. Power 96 program director Kid Curry also canceled his own long-running afternoon program.

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