An attorney for former WPGC radio personality Ranelle Sykes and a representative from CBS Radio, WPGC’s parent company, have confirmed that Sykes’ legal dispute with the station’s management has been resolved.

Sykes, known as her on-air personality, Rane, was upset with what she thought was unequal pay for the same, and sometimes, more work as her co-host, Keith “DJ Flexx” Clagon. Sykes has a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia and a law degree from George Washington while Clagon only has a high school diploma.

Sykes and Clagon formed the on-air duo known as the “Home Team,” which occupied WPGC’s primetime slot from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on weekdays for the majority of her tenure with the station and from 2 p.m.-6 p.m., the shift she worked right before she left.

“I refuse to be treated like a female sidekick, intern, part-timer, or on-air assistant when I am doing all the work for practically half the pay,” Sykes resignation letter said. “It is outrageous and disrespectful that WPGC’s target audience is women 18-34, but WPGC is not willing to pay me, a 32-year-old woman, with a bachelor’s degree, law degree and 14 years of on-air radio experience the same as my co-host, a man in his 40’s with a high school diploma.”

As a result, Sykes filed suit in May requesting $100,000 in compensatory damages and another $100,000 in punitive damages from CBS Radio.

The story didn’t stop there for Sykes. Sykes filed another claim in Prince George’s Circuit Court last month claiming reprisal because she was not allowed to continue working after she’d given the station her two week’s notice and had her benefits interrupted this summer.

However, CBS Radio disputes that saying that Sykes quit and per company policy, benefits and employment are terminated when someone resigns. Moreover, CBS Radio’s senior vice president of communications, Karen L. Mateo, said the letter to the station Sykes included in her lawsuit was not her only communication to WPGC.

While there has been no comment on Sykes’ claim to her benefits, CBS Radio Washington, D.C. senior vice president and market manager Steve Swenson informed Sykes in an e-mail that while she would not be allowed on air, she would be paid through her two week’s notice.

Sykes’ original claim was moved to U.S. District Court for the Southern Region of Maryland. On Nov. 9, the claim was moved to U.S. District Court for the Southern District for New York, where CBS Radio is headquartered.

Sykes is the second high-profile departure from the station in less than two years. Longtime morning drive DJ and former host of BET’s Video Soul, Donnie Simpson left the station soon after CBS Radio took over the station because of creative differences.

Neither side would comment on the terms of the resolution.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO