Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hold your wee for a Wii.

This was a radio promotion at a station in Sacramento. Contestants drank water and he who held it the longest without going to the restroom - won the Nintendo Wii. Seems simple. Radio stations conduct contests like this every day. This contest killed a woman. A 28 year old mother, trying to win the game system for her kids, overdosed on water (water intoxication) - and died.

The first thing I asked myself was, could I ever have been dumb enough to conduct this contest? Even with hindsight - (and it's 20/20 and all) - I would have never ever been a part of a contest like this. With any thought at all - an educated person would conclude this contest was "risky" at best. The radio hosts and the management should have thought it through. Certainly they would have discovered the risk. Hell, a simple phone call to a family doctor would've alerted them to the possibility of disaster. They apparently didn't make the call. The contest went on - and the lady died.

Now, the fallout. The radio stations company, Entercom, is trying to "distance" themselves from the whole thing. Entercom has "suspended" the morning show - whom they apparently blame for the incident. Undoubtedly, they'll claim the whole thing was the idea and creation of the morning show - and they had nothing to do with it. This of course, to cover their asses in the sure to follow - lawsuit.

This is as wrong as wrong can be. Entercom brass in Sacramento knew completely what their morning show was doing. It's on the air!!!!! This promotion might not have been sent to the company lawyers, but certainly the station PD & GM knew what was going on. What happened was preventable - Entercom didn't prevent it - and they'll have to pay. Legally, this is open & shut. I feel badly for the family of the dead contestant - but I also feel badly for the stupid on air people - who've been abandoned by their company. They were no doubt dumb, but in this case this was a collaboration in "group stupidity".

33 comments:

Your Daughter said...

I am appalled!! I had a friend in high school who had to go to the Emergency room for consuming too much water. Seriously, I can't believe they wouldn't have researched this idiotic idea more! My heart goes out to this woman's children.

Briblog Blog said...

News update!!! KDND fired 10 employees over this bit. The PD & GM survived. I don't get it. This isn't the whole story - just round one of CYA. These people are being "hung out to dry."

Briblog Blog said...

Here's the audio:
http://www.sacbee.com/static/newsroom/kdndslides/

I guess the managers thought this was cute. Fire the management for not minding the store.

Your Daughter said...

I still cannot believe this. It's so sad to hear the audio.

benson said...

None of us is as dumb as all of us.

This just in said...

Sacramento Sheriff Investigates Water-Drinking Contest

The Sacramento sheriff's office is reportedly investigating the death of Jennifer Strange, the 28-year-old mother of three and contestant who died last Friday in the bladder-buster stunt held by Entercom CHR KDND-FM (107.9 The End)/Sacramento. Sheriff John McGinness told the Sacramento Bee that he will meet with the District Attorney's office for the possibility of criminal manslaughter charges.

At first, McGinness said that criminal charges would not be filed since Strange freely took part in the promotion. However, after reviewing audio of the show, he thinks there may a criminal case since potential dangers of water intoxication were warned of and then dismissed. McGinness also said manslaughter charges could be filed if it's determined that morning hosts did not render aid. Strange reportedly complained of headaches.

The PD got it too said...

Entercom has fired "Morning Rave" hosts Trish, Maney & Lukas (pictured) from CHR KDND-FM (107.9 The End)/Sacramento along with seven other employees, including PD/Station Manager Steve Weed. The move follows the death of a contestant (a 28-year-old mother of three) who participated in their bladder buster-type bit for a chance to win a new video system.

Jennifer Strange drank nearly two gallons of water during the contest and was found dead about five hours later in her home. She was the runner-up among about 18 competitors in the bit called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii."

In a statement released this afternoon, Entercom/Sacramento VP/Market Manager John Geary said, "Effective immediately, the Morning Rave program is cancelled and ten employees are no longer with the station."

Your Daughter said...

Shut that station down. Reckless idiots don't deserve a spot on the airwaves.

Newsflash said...

Wrongful-Death Suit Filed Against KDND-FM/Sacramento

Sacramento law firm Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham, the firm representing the family of Jennifer Strange, officially announced today that a wrongful death suit will be filed against Entercom CHR KDND-FM (107.9 The End)/Sacramento over its "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" bladder buster contest, that allegedly resulted in her death.

"This family has been devastated by a shameful, irresponsible and negligent act of premeditated recklessness," said senior partner Roger Dreyer. "The station knew this was a dangerous and potentially deadly stunt, but flippantly dismissed the dangers. Now three young children have lost their mother, and their father has lost his wife, because a radio station wanted to boost its ratings and increase its advertising revenue by taking advantage of a young woman who simply wanted to win a prize for her family."

Yesterday, Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said he would launch a criminal probe into Strnage's death because of the Morning Rave's on-air comments. At first, McGinness said that criminal charges would not be filed since Strange freely took part in the promotion. However, after reviewing audio of the show, he thinks there may a criminal case since potential dangers of water intoxication were warned of and then dismissed.

"Hearing the tape, it's very clear they knew of the dangers and could foresee that this could lead to Jennifer's death," Dreyer said. "They knew the health risks of drinking too much water, they knew Jennifer was feeling ill, and yet they let her leave the station without warning her to call someone for help or seek medical attention. Their brazen disregard for her personal safety is numbing and inexcusable."

Mike said...

I heard the audio the woman sounded fine when she finished drinking the radio hosts wouldn't know to stop her. I think we need to stop blaming others for our stupidity. She should know to stop drinking when her body is actually expanding to fit the water. The radio show did a gag and this woman was fully at fault. If I afford you a nintendo to jump off a cliff and the one to break the least bones wins would you? No and if you do its your fault if you die. It was a stupid idea with little research on the radios part but this woman is to blam for her death.

Briblog Blog said...

Mike, While generally - people these days accept no accountability & responsibility for their actions, the radio station created a forum for this "mishap." Watch this story closely. I believe strongly the legal system will hold this company responsible.

Krypto said...

I know many of you think that Mrs. Strange is responsible for her own actions and should have known better, but consider this. You participate in a contest with the understanding that yes, there is a chance you could get sick or injured. However, there is also a certain expectation that those holding the contest will ensure that the contest proceeds in as safe a manner as possible. There is an assumption that certain safeguards have been put in place, and in this case, they obviously weren't. If the radio station had seriously considered the risks, they would have had medical professionals on site who could have checked the contestants at the end of the contest. Not having these safeguards is negligence, regardless.

Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the effects of water poisoning, and to those of you who say "she should have figured out that she should go to the doctor," part of the problem with water poisoning is that the effect is similar to intoxication... you can't think straight. It might seem like the logical thing to do (go to the doctor), but logic and intoxication don't go hand in hand (think of the last time you got drunk).

My final comment to those saying she signed a waiver, so she should have known the risk. When you participate in any contest, expect to sign a waiver. It's just become standard practice, regardless of the risk, or lack thereof. But that waiver often does not properly outline the risks involved. Even more important, many waivers are quite long and people are often not given sufficient time to look over the entire document. By not listing all the risks or by not ensuring that a contest participant has fully read and understood the waiver, a waiver can be considered invalid.

This was an unfortunate incident, but one that could have been easily avoided if the radio station had taken the proper precautions. That's why they are negligent. Mrs. Strange may have made a stupid mistake, but it was the radio station staff that are ultimately responsible for their contests and for the safety of those involved, etc.

Anonymous said...

The myspace for the station no longer lists Trish, Lukas or Maney as its "friends."

That's funny.

FCC said...

Attorney Asks FCC to ''Terminate'' KDND's License

The attorney representing Jennifer Strange's family has sent a letter to the FCC asking the agency to "terminate" KDND (107.9 The End)/Sacramento's license following its "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" bladder buster contest, that allegedly resulted in her death. Roger Dreyer is asking the Commission to make an example out of the Entercom CHR outlet.

"We believe the conduct of the radio management and on-air staff mandates that your agency terminate the radio station's license and discipline its ownership for their wanton disregard of the safety of the participants in this contest," he wrote. "We believe action of this nature is required by the FCC to send a very clear and unambiguous message to radio station ownership across this country that this type of irresponsible conduct that degrades, humiliates and endangers citizens will not be tolerated. A 'death penalty' of this nature to a radio station would send a clear message to radio station owners that this type of behavior is unacceptable."

Dreyer also says that he gave Entercom and KDND until Wednesday (January 24) to supply him with further information that he requested about the promotion. If the company misses the Wednesday deadline, Dreyer and his Sacremnto law firm of Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham plan to file a wrongful death suit on Thursday (January 25). (01-22-07)

Anonymous said...

Now the FCC is being petitioned to cancel their takeover of some CBS stations. HAHA

Anonymous said...

January 24, 2007

A petition has been filed with the FCC to halt the sale of 16 CBS Radio stations to Entercom in light of KDND/Sacramento's fatal Hold Your Wee for a Wii water-drinking contest. In the petition, attorneys for Royce International Broadcasting allege to the FCC that Entercom is “a highly-leveraged criminal enterprise that cannot be relied on to serve the public interest.” The petition claims that Entercom cannot be trusted to properly serve the public and that "Entercom is responsible for the tragic death of Jennifer Strange. It was a stupid radio stunt designed to raise the ratings and revenues of Entercom’s KDND-FM in Sacramento, California until it went horribly wrong.”

The petition concludes, "The Commission has a policy that requires licensees to conduct contests with due regard for the public interest... There is no evidence in the record to show that Entercom cares about anything other than generating revenues, by whatever means. It certainly did not care about the public it was licensed to serve when it solicited and accepted illegal bribes from record companies [referring to the recent payola investigation]. Nor did it care about the public interest or the Commission’s rules when it repeatedly broadcast indecent material at a time when children were likely to be in the audience... As this last tragedy demonstrates, it is willing to do anything for money, including recklessly endangering the lives of the public it has been licensed to serve."

A wrongful death lawsuit in the case could be filed as early as tomorrow by Strange's family.

Briblog Blog said...

Jurors in the the wrongful death suit against Entercom and KDND-FM in Sacramento have awarded a whopping $16.6 million to the family of Jennifer Strange. Strange, 28, died nearly three years ago after finishing second in 107.9 The End's "Hold Your Wee For a Wii," the now infamous bladder buster stunt put together by the Morning Rave.

Attorneys for Strange's husband and children had asked the jurors to hold KDND, and its parent company, Entercom, liable for Strange's death -- seeking between $24 and $34 million in damages. Entercom's lawyer told the seven-man, five-woman jury that if they do find either party at fault, that it should award Strange's survivors only $4.5 million in damages.

Entercom's attorney admitted in closing arguments that top officials at KDND made "serious, tragic mistakes," but that they shouldn't necessarily make corporate parent Entercom Communications liable for Strange's death on January 12, 2007.

Strange died after participating in KDND's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest for the popular and then hard-to-get Nintendo video game to whoever could drink the most water without urinating or vomiting. The Sacramento County Coroner's Office druled that died of acute water intoxication. Even though the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department investigated the case, no charges were filed.

Plaintiffs attorneys filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her husband, William Strange, individually and as guardian of their two young children, Ryland, 6, and Jorie, 3, and Ronald Sims, the father and guardian of the women's oldest son, Keegan, 13. (10-29-09)

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