Cynthia DeNicolo, Melissa McGurren press defamation cases against The Mix

Cynthia DeNicolo and Melissa McGurren

It’s been nearly four months since morning host Eric Ferguson resigned from WTMX 101.9-FM in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations by employees of the Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary station.

While The Mix may have hoped to move on since then, two of Ferguson’s accusers are keeping up their legal fight over the company’s efforts to whitewash the whole sordid matter.

Cynthia DeNicolo and Melissa McGurren are pursuing separate defamation lawsuits against Hubbard Radio for public statements the company made denying their claims that Ferguson mistreated women at the station, according to recent court filings reported by Inside Radio.

DeNicolo, who was an associate producer on the morning show for 20 years before she was laid off in 2020, accused Ferguson last spring of coercing her into performing unwelcome sexual acts in 2004.

Eric Ferguson

McGurren, who succeeded Kathy Hart as co-host of the morning show in 2017, said Ferguson subjected her to an “unbearable hostile work environment” with the knowledge of their bosses. McGurren left The Mix after 22 years in 2020 and now co-hosts mornings on Audacy country WUSN 99.5-FM.

“Statements Hubbard made in response to DeNicolo’s and McGurren’s suits against Ferguson are at issue in the defamation complaints that Hubbard wants the court to dismiss,” Inside Radio reported. “DeNicolo claimed that Hubbard defamed her in statements it made to the Chicago Tribune after the newspaper first reported on her original suit against Ferguson.

“In arguing for the court to deny Hubbard’s motion to dismiss her suit, DeNicolo alleges that when the company made the statements, ‘it had ample notice that Ferguson was a serial abuser of women at The Mix, directly contradicting its published statements.’

“Similarly, McGurren’s request to deny Hubbard’s motion to dismiss argues that Hubbard’s statement to staff at The Mix – published in its entirety by Chicago media reporter Robert Feder – ‘falsely calls McGurren a liar and attacks McGurren’s credibility and integrity.’”

DeNicolo and McGurren are represented by Chicago attorney Carmen D. Caruso.

Earlier, attorneys for Hubbard Radio had both defamation suits moved from Cook County Circuit Court to U.S. District Court before seeking to have them dismissed.

Hubbard described the company’s statements as “innocuous” and argued that they do not meet the legal definition of defamation.

Chris Petlak, who’d been co-hosting afternoons on The Mix since 2020, was named in January to succeed Ferguson as morning host alongside regular contributors Nikki Chuminatto, Brian Paruch and Violeta Podrumedic and executive producer John Swanson.

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Frank Baker: It’s nothing short of amazing how far down the Tribune sports “section” has fallen. I hesitate to use the word section, because often it’s only 3 pages. First, you need a magnifying glass to read the statistics, there virtually no accurate radio/tv listings and, worse, for a paper in a major market like Chicago, not bothering to provide out-of-town box scores for any of the major sports is just a slap in the face to the serious sports fan. If Ms. Kaschube wants to see what a sports section SHOULD look like, she should pick up a copy of the Sun Times. Especially their Saturday edition. The S/T may be lacking in the news department, but their sports section is light-years beyond the Tribune.