KETK News has learned staff at The Breeze, a Jacksonville-based radio station, has been terminated.
According to multiple staff members at 95.3 102.3 The Breeze, all of their staff members have been let go, including the station president, Bill Waller.
According to Program Director Carter with The Breeze Morning Madhouse, the Morning Madhouse crew showed up for work at 5:30 a.m. to locked doors. He said the locks had been changed, so they found their way to an open side door.
The crew began their normal routine and went to the front of the building to retrieve something when they noticed handkerchiefs over cameras inside the building, according to Carter. The crew also came across more locked doors that were normally free to walk through.
At this point, sensing something was wrong, Carter said they called their boss and president of the company, Bill Waller. When he arrived at the station in Jacksonville, Waller was served with a termination letter.
Eventually, Jacksonville Police showed up at the request of the owner. The staff was told by police they were trespassing, Carter stated.
When the crew told police they worked at the building, police contacted the owner, who came to the scene. She has been identified by multiple staff members as Susie Waller, who now holds power of attorney after the recent death of former owner Dudley Waller.
Police stated the woman claimed she had terminated the staff and notified them on Friday, according to Carter. However, the crew denied they were notified. Carter said members of their team represented their station on Saturday and were not aware of any job loss. KETK can confirm Breeze employees were working a peace rally in Tyler on Saturday as stated.
The employees never spoke to the owner Monday morning and have yet to receive word from her. Carter said they have been reaching out to Susie Waller for more than a month after air conditioning failed in the building.
“We were used as pawns in a family dispute,” Carter said.
According to Carter, Bill Waller has made multiple offers to purchase the station and was expected by the staff to buy it and continue operations.
Carter stated the radio station’s sister station, Kompa, is currently off air and he would “only assume” The Breeze would be in the dark at midnight. KETK checked the airwaves and a poor signal is currently emitting from The Breeze.
Carter told KETK nobody on their staff saw the layoffs coming.
“It’s pretty hard seeing all this happen to people you consider family,” Carter said.
He said the group still plans to take part in a Longview peace rally on August 10, but they were not able to make the announcement Monday morning.
KETK has reached out to Susie Waller for comment, but we have not received word back. Calls to the The Breeze are unanswered.
Bill Waller issued a statement to KETK where he accuses Susie Waller of OSHA violations:
“I was informed by the Jacksonville Police Department (JPD) that the daughter [Susie Waller] presented them with a document giving her power of attorney for the radio stations owned by her Mother including the Breeze and Kompa. JPD officers also informed employees that, according to Susie Waller, the daughter, they had been terminated as of Friday, the 29th of July. The employees had reported OSHA violations to the owner on the 27th of July and had requested a meeting with the owner. The employees had been working in sweltering heat without air conditioning for more than a month. It may have been the heat or something else in the aging building that had caused several employees to become ill and seek medical treatment. Instead of meeting with the employees to discuss the possible OSHA violations, the employer fired them.”
This story first came to light after a posting on the Morning Madhouse Facebook page.
“First of all we want to apologize to all our Listeners, all our Advertisers and all the Charities we benefit.
This morning, we were all informed that everyone at the station was terminated. We showed up at 5:30am to kick off the Morning Madhouse only to find the locks on the door had been changed. Then we were greeted by the Jacksonville Police Department (who were all extremely nice and understanding). The owner’s daughter showed up and while hiding behind the station tells the Jacksonville PD that we had all been served with notice of termination on Friday and we were now trespassing. None of us were ever served or notified of anything! If fact, we were all busy conducting a community wide Peace Rally on Saturday.
While our hearts are broken and 15+ people need to find new jobs to support their families we still feel blessed. For the past several years, we have had the honor of working with an amazing team led by Bill Waller and Angelica Love where we all felt like family. Not only that but we have had the most amazing listeners in the world who have always supported us and for that we will always be thankful.
As for all the charities please know while we may not have a radio station any longer that we will always be there to support and help you as well as all of East Texas. You’re our Family and our home!
Please keep us all in your prayers as our amazing staff searches for their next step in life while trying to understand all the injustice that has been done.
To our listeners, our advertisers, our charities or just our friends, although we are outraged and devastated by this injustice, what matters to us most is that you continue to support our causes, that you continue to support local artists and that you continue our mission to make East Texas a better place.
We love you East Texas!
-Your Morning Madhouse Team and all your friends formally with The Breeze and Kompa”