New B98 radio co-host involved in 2007 contest that led to woman’s death

A new co-host for the morning show at Wichita’s B98-FM was one of three radio personalities fired from a California station five years ago after an on-air contest led to a woman’s death.

Adam “Lukas” Cox, who goes by Lukas on the air, has been hired by Clear Channel Wichita to replace morning co-host Brett Harris, who left in July, station officials announced Thursday.

Cox will start work Monday, co-hosting the long-running morning show with Tracy Cassidy and producer Kathy Deane.

“After one of the more extensive talent searches in the history of Wichita radio, we’re thrilled to welcome Lukas to the B98 team,” said Rob Burton, vice president and market manager for Clear Channel in Wichita, in a news release.

“Lukas is a veteran on-air talent and we’re excited to have him entertain listeners every morning alongside Tracy and Kathy.”

In the news release, Cox said: “I’ve known Tracy for several years and I’m eager to work together to create engaging morning radio.

“B98 is a great radio station, with a long and rich history, and I’m looking forward to making Wichita home for many years to come.”

In January 2007, while Cox was a morning personality for KDND-FM in Sacramento, Calif., a 28-year-old woman named Jennifer Strange died of water intoxication hours after participating in an on-air radio contest that was broadcast live by the station.

The contest, “Hold Your Wee for a Wii,” promised a Nintendo Wii video game system to the contestant who could drink the most water without urinating or vomiting. Strange, who placed second in the contest, died a few hours afterward of water intoxication, a fatal dilution of the body’s normal balance of electrolytes.

According to news reports, Strange’s family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the radio station’s parent company, Entercom Communications, and in 2009 was awarded more than $16.5 million in damages.

Cox, one of 10 radio station employees fired after the incident, maintained he wasn’t responsible for the woman’s death, saying he carried out the contest on management’s orders.

“I really don’t think that we did anything wrong,” he told Sacramento television station KCRA in 2007. “We just did our jobs. … We just did what we were told to do.”

Several months after the incident Cox said other radio stations were hesitant to hire him because “they’re scared that they’re going to get bad publicity. … That’s the only thing that’s holding them back.”

“I just want to get back on the air and go back to work,” he said in the 2007 television interview. “That’s all I want to do.”

Officials with B98 did not mention the California case in its news release Thursday and so far have not responded to questions about it.

“Out of policy we don’t comment on past employment or personnel matters,” Burton said in an e-mail.

Cassidy also declined to comment.

Cox was one of three people who served as an on-air partner for Cassidy in early 2010, while Harris was working on a deal to start his own station. In February 2010, Harris signed a new three-year contract with B98-FM and returned to the morning show.

According to Thursday’s news release, Cox has “more than 20 years of on-air experience at top radio stations across the country,” including KHFI in Austin, KDGE in Dallas and WHTZ in New York.

Cox, who according to reports has been living near Phoenix and working in Internet radio, could not be reached for comment. On Wednesday he posted this on his personal Facebook page:

“It’s official!!!!!!! I just signed a contract to be the next morning show host for B98 in wichita Kansas. I am excited to be back in radio. … My new partner is tracey and she is great.”

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