Author: Stephen Weir | Date: 06 December 2019
On air G98.7 has been “Groovin” just fine since the death of Fitzroy Gordon eight months ago. But, in the boardroom and the courts, there are serious ruts in those grooves following the passing of the founder and boss.
Last Thursday the fate of the station that bills itself as “The Way We Groove” was once again in front of an Ontario Supreme Court Justice. At stake was the ownership of the station, the ownership of the estate of the late Mr. Gordon and the settling of the management team to handle the Kern Street station’s crushing debt.
The case is not closed yet, however, last week the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice issued a partial decision that settles who is exactly in charge of the beloved Caribbean Canadian FM Station.
It is understood that control of the G-97.5 is now in the hands of two people, Gordon’s widow, Marvette Powell and accountant Delford Blythe, the station’s former chief financial officer and a minority shareholder.
Not part of the court ordered management team is long-time employee Alicia Wright-DaCosta, who has been the "chief operating officer" for the past two years following Gordon’s stroke and subsequent death. She is still with the station and now is an employee apparently reporting to Powell and Blythe.
The legal issues really started back in 2016 when The Delford Blythe, a co-founder of the station, a shareholder and Chief Financial Officer was removed from the company by Fitzroy Gordon. Blythe said at the time that the two friends had clashed over his concern of the station's mounting debt (he estimated at a million dollars) and possible misdirection of the station's online advertising revenue.
That court action was point on hold when Gordon took ill. A month or so after Gordon passed this April Delford Blythe, once again took the station to court because of those same concerns that the creditors were about to shut the station down.
The Insolvency Insider news-site reported that Gordon’s Intercity Broadcasting Network, the company that operates radio station G98.7 “was placed in investigative receivership on June 3 on application by Delford Blythe (and his company Jamrock Broadcasting)”.
Mr. Blythe was quoted as saying that the station is in serious financial difficulties owing “more than $200,000 to the Canada Revenue Agency; $183,000 to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal regulator; and additional sums of more than $165,000 to creditors who have received judgments against the station.”
All of the people involved in the suit – the widow, the former friend, his sons and Alicia Wright-DaCosta, the woman he named CEO – were back in court in late September.
At that hearing the court learned that the owners of Fitzroy Gordon’s estate have yet to be determined. In the meantime, according to Justice J. Dietrich “Mr. Gordon’s widow, Marvette Powell, is now the Executrix and Trustee, and the sole beneficiary, of one of Mr. Gordon’s wills “(he had at least two).
“However,” Justice Dietrich writes, “his two sons from a prior marriage, Korey Gordon and Andrew Gordon, have filed a notice of objection”. The pair is challenging “their late father’s last wills, alleging that he lacked testamentary capacity when he made them and that they were procured by undue influence.”
There are also claims that Wright-DaCosta was never formally appointed by Gordon to fill his chair. None of the company’s business minutes mention her promotion to the post of Chief Operating Officer. In September Mr. Gordon’s widow said she supported Ms. Wright-DaCosta’s ongoing involvement in the management of G-98.7 in tandem with oversight by the receiver.
In court last week both Marvette Powell and Delford Blythe agreed that the station is facing extreme financial challenges. Now with two of the original owners back in charge, their focus is to get their finances in order.
Last week’s ruling is being unpacked by the many lawyers involved in the case. Yesterday the station staff was to meet with Marvette Powell and Delford Blythe and learn about the immediate future of the station.
Everyone involved will be back in a Toronto courtroom later this month to settle the remaining outstanding issues. There is a lot to be cleared up before G-98.7 will be the place where not just the listeners groove.