Seaford: Popular DJ taken off air over ad row

A DISPUTE has erupted after a DJ who volunteered at a Seaford-based radio station was taken off air.

Tony Vanburger, real name Colin Jackson, said he was ‘gutted’ after finding the letter informing him of the decision in a printer when he arrived for his slot at Seahaven FM on Friday.

The Seaford resident has been a volunteer with the community radio station for four years, firstly on Drive Time and for the past two years as the Breakfast Show host.

But his time as a volunteer came to an end last week when he found the letter and left.

A Facebook page has been set up in support of the 60-year-old, who said, “I like to do my show off the cuff and because I’m doing it live I will make the odd mistake, I’m not infallible.

“I enjoyed it very much. To be honest I’m quite surprised by it all.”

The letter, written by Seahaven FM managing director Nick Mallinson, on behalf of the Seahaven FM Board of Management, read that despite numerous discussions with Mr Vanburger he was still not showing awareness of his responsibilities.

The letter said he had seemed to have ‘total disregard’ after he was told his slot should not contain too many contemporary songs or those not suitable for the Seahaven FM target audience, adding, “We also discussed the ad breaks at our last meeting.

“Firstly the timing of the hour ad breaks which should be at twenty past the hour and twenty to the hour; you still regularly disregard this by a considerable margin.

“Secondly we also brought to your attention, the most serious matter, which was that you were omitting to play ads that are scheduled.”

The letter went on that the veteran DJ had failed to play scheduled ads on seven occasions in October.

His actions were of such ‘a serious nature’ and ‘potentially damaging for the station’ that the decision was made to take him off air for the foreseeable future.

Mr Vanburger said it had not been a malicious act that saw him omit some of the scheduled ads.

He believed his decision to work for another radio station, which was internet based, had caused problems.

Seahaven FM was set up by businessman Nick Mallinson to provide the community with local news on the radio.

He said that Mr Vanburger had been suspended for not playing sponsors’ messages Mr Mallinson explained,“The local radio station for Newhaven, Peacehaven and Seaford in East Sussex has been broadcasting on FM for nine months and relies heavily on sponsorship for funding.

“Despite warnings, Mr Vanburger continued to miss ad breaks, saying he didn’t have time to include them in his programme, so the decision was made last Thursday (October 27) to take him off air.”

Mr Mallinson said it had been a mistake that led to Mr Vanburger finding the letter of suspension on the Friday morning and that he had apologised unreservedly for the error.

He continued, “This was extremely regrettable but doesn’t change the facts. Tony wasn’t playing all the adverts and even after warnings, continued not to play them, so we had no choice but to suspend him.”