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‘The Dumb Zone’ Is Back, For Now, As Cumulus Continues Mediation With Former KTCK Hosts.


Dan McDowell and Jake Kemp are back to posting episodes of “The Dumb Zone” podcast after agreeing to briefly put the controversial show on hold as part of ongoing mediation with their former employer Cumulus Media. How long the show can continue and what restrictions may be placed on the former sports “The Ticket” KTCK-FM & AM Dallas hosts remain up in the air, pending a court hearing.


A federal court order issued Wednesday pushed back until Sept. 15 a hearing on efforts by Cumulus to get a preliminary injunction to force Kemp and McDowell to stop releasing new episodes of the show.


The legal filings have been flying fast and furious since Cumulus sued McDowell and Kemp on Aug. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The broadcaster alleges the pair violated their non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disparagement clauses by launching “an identical” podcast to their former radio show at KTCK and hijacking their former radio show’s social media accounts.


An initial application filed by Cumulus for a preliminary injunction to force Kemp and McDowell to shelve the show was rejected by the judge in mid-August. U.S. District Judge Karen Gren Scholer wrote that Cumulus failed to show “that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result” from the hosts continuing to anchor the podcast.


After Cumulus subsequently filed an Emergency Motion for an injunction, the court referred the case to a mediator and a hearing was held Aug. 21. After the hearing, the parties agreed to continue trying to resolve the dispute via mediation and the hosts agreed to cease uploading any new episodes of “The Dumb Zone,” and to not promote the podcast or discuss their dispute with Cumulus publicly until an Aug. 29 hearing. But the Aug. 29 hearing was cancelled to allow more time for mediation and the hosts then resumed uploading episodes of their podcast. The court has reset the hearing for Sept. 15. That’s also the deadline for McDowell and Kemp to file their legal response to the Cumulus suit.


Cumulus maintains “The Dumb Zone” is “a carbon copy” of “The Hang Zone,” which McDowell and Kemp hosted for KTCK for three years. According to the complaint, the two hosts began recording “an identical” podcast called “The Dumb Zone” covering Dallas-area sports and targeting a male audience, once they knew they were parting ways with the station.


McDowell and Kemp, who had been with “The Ticket” since 1999 and 2006 respectively, resigned July 14 after more than three years in the noon-to-3pm slot. Each of the hosts had a six-month non-compete clause in their contract with Cumulus, along with confidentiality and non-solicitation provisions.

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