KFMB-FM Faces Suit Over Gulf War T-Shirt Giveaway

KFMB-FM(B100) reaped a promotional windfall by creating a “human flag” earlier this year, a show of support for the U.S. troops fighting in the Gulf War. Now, John Kaufenberg says, it is time for the station to pay.

Kaufenberg, a local T-shirt distributor, has filed a lawsuit against the station, alleging that it reneged on an agreement to distribute 20,000 of Kaufenberg’s T-shirts emblazoned with the station’s logo and a picture of the human flag created on January 29 in the parking lot of San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

The deal called for the shirts to be sold for $10 each, with $5 paying for the cost of the shirts and most of the remaining funds paying for shirts the station planned to distribute free to the returning troops, Kaufenberg said. The shirts were to be sold through local VFW outposts, which also were to keep a small percentage of the income.

But Kaufenberg says B100 gave away 2,000 of the shirts to listeners, thereby undercutting the market for their sale. He also says the station failed to promote the sale of the shirts and didn’t give any to the troops.


“Instead of handing them out to the troops, they handed them out to promote their station,” Kaufenberg said.

The USO did receive 12,000 shirts, which were distributed to the troops, according to Terry Waldie, the executive director of the local USO office. However, it was Kaufenberg who gave those shirts to the USO, not B100.

“The promise had to be fulfilled,” Kaufenberg said.

Kaufenberg said he donated the 3,600 shirts used in the human flag out of a sense of patriotism, but he printed the 20,000 shirts to be sold as a work order for B100. The shirts cost $100,000, he says. In the suit he’s asking for $60,000, which he said represents the total cost of the shirts that went unsold.


B100 General Manager Paul Palmer emphatically denied that his station ever agreed to pay for the T-shirts.

“All we said was that we would promote the sale of the shirts on the air,” Palmer said, noting that his station didn’t allow advertisers to participate in the “human flag” and made no money from the event.

“We would never have agreed to buy the shirts. We don’t pay for shirts to be resold. That’s not how we do business.”

Kaufenberg says he made the deal for the shirts with program director Mike Novak, who abruptly left the station last spring, soon after Kaufenberg began to try to collect his money. The money for the shirts came out of his own pocket, Kaufenberg says, and, if he can’t collect, it could bankrupt him.


“B100 was taking all the credit for donating the shirts,” he said. “Well, if they donated them, why don’t they pay for them?”

Even though most news operations are complying with a court order not to show photos of Henry Hubbard Jr. in court, the face of the San Diego police officer charged with attempted murder and armed robbery is becoming a familiar one to San Diegans.

The court order--which the judge in the case issued at the request of Hubbard’s attorneys, who wanted to ensure that media pictures don’t taint any future police lineups that may include Hubbard--doesn’t prevent media from using other photos of Hubbard. It only addresses images of Hubbard in court.

This makes for a rather unusual situation. For example, KNSD-TV (Channel 39) typically shows an old mugshot of Hubbard from his days playing baseball in the San Diego Padres minor league system. Then they show Hubbard in court, with the image of his face and body electronically altered.


“We feel it is in the interests of the public to present the story with as much info as we can,” while complying with the court order, Channel 39 news director Irv Kass said.

Most local newspapers are satisfying their desire to give readers a look at Hubbard by running the old baseball photo. However, the North County-based Blade-Citizen recently went a step further, disobeying the court order and running photos of Hubbard taken in court.

Although editors from the paper didn’t return calls Friday, a source at the Blade-Citizen said that the decision to run the photos was no accident, that the editors decided to defy the order.

Hubbard’s attorney, Kerry Steigerwalt, said he is contemplating bringing contempt charges against the paper. But he also said he believes it may be counterproductive to his case to bring further attention to the photos.


Less than a year after he put the KUSI-TV (Channel 51) news on the air, News Director Pete Jacobus has left the station. According to the obligatory memo to employees, Jacobus resigned. Cathy Clark is acting news director. . . .

It was shocking to see the Channel 8 and Channel 39 11 p.m. newscasts Thursday night completely ignore the historic Gorbachev-Yeltsin town hall meeting that took place earlier that evening on rival ABC. Channel 39 news director Kass said ABC told competing stations they couldn’t use footage of the program until Friday morning. . . .

During a “Perspective” piece last week on doctors, Channel 10 commentator Michael Tuck talked of his “minor urological problem.” Thanks for sharing, Michael. . . .

Former “Third Thursday” executive producer Steve Corman is returning from Chicago to retake the reins of the Channel 39 town hall-style program. He replaces Kurt Snider, who resigned to pursue his career in Los Angeles.


Longtime KUSI-TV (Channel 51) station manager Bill Moore has left the station. In recent years, Moore had seen his role at the station diminish as station owner Michael McKinnon brought in a new management team, which includes his son, Michael Dean McKinnon, who now serves as the station’s operations manager.