PORTLAND — The two companies that dominate Portland’s radio market are locked in a legal battle over one of southern Maine’s most popular radio personalities.
Saga Communications of New England has filed a lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court to stop Lori Voornas from going to work for Citadel Communications.
Voornas left Saga-owned WMGX, where she was co-host of the “Tim and Lori Show,” two months ago to work for Citadel, which owns competing station WBLM.
The lawsuit says Voornas signed a contract that forbids her from working for a competitor within six months of leaving Saga.
Saga said Voornas violated that agreement when she sent out promotional letters saying she is putting together a new morning show for one of Citadel’s stations.
“We just want to enforce the contract she signed,” said Chris McLaughlin, an attorney for Saga. “Saga takes time and energy to develop somebody like Lori Voornas. For her to leave and let a competitor benefit from what Saga has invested in is not fair.”
Mike Sambrook, general manager for Citadel, said the lawsuit came as a surprise.
“She has not been on the air yet, so I was surprised that there was something wrong,” Sambrook said. “There is no issue as we see it.”
Saga is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep Voornas from working for Citadel.
The legal battle pits the biggest competitors in Portland’s radio market against each other. Citadel owns five stations: WBLM, WCYY, WCLZ, WJBQ and WHOM. Saga owns six stations: WMGX, WYNZ, WPOR, WGAN, WZAN and WBAE.
A state law enacted last spring could affect Saga’s lawsuit. The law states that broadcast industry contracts that block employees from getting jobs with the competition are “presumed to be unreasonable.”