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Local talent competition shuts down

Local talent competition shuts down

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WTVN) -- It's called "Ohio Idol" and some of the people involved with the talent search and touring group say it's a scam.

"It's a money making operation and it's not going to be people are thinking that it's going to be," said Jami Kinton, a former manager and emcee.

She says that Ohio Idol owner Steve Wise was never interested in the contestants or anyone else, just making money. Kinton claims Wise misrepresented what he would provide those in the competition and the winners. She left midway through the second season of the competition.

"It wasn't an organization I wanted to be a part of and not just from a legal standpoint. It didn't seem like a safe operation to be a part of," she said.

Abby Boland was the winner during the first season. She claims she was fired during the tour. Wise says she was paid her entire $10,000 prize money, but was let go because she was failing to appear for rehearsals. 

The second season winner, Greg Cooley, claims he was not paid all his prize money. Wise says Cooley was paid half of his money up front, then Cooley quit during the season. Cooley denies that he quit, but said he fulfilled his contract. 

Wise says the season two contract was changed to spread payments out to make sure the talent appeared at the tour events. Both Wise and Cooley provided numerous texts and emails that made a case for each of their points of contention.

Ohio Idol problems have included lawsuits claiming Wise failed to pay judges and Westerville Central High School which served as a host site for a competition. The judges from season one settled out of court with Wise. Westerville City Schools confirmed winning a $6,900 judgment, but Wise says he's looking to appeal the decision. He claims the school scheduled two other events at the same time he was under contract to use the building and the school failed to provide a sound system. Wise believes he does owe the school money, but not the amount awarded in court.

Wise says Ohio Idol will "go out of business" at midnight on Saturday, though they'll finish out this season which will finish up early next month.

"There will be no season four," Wise said without giving an explanation.

Not everyone thinks the competition was a bad thing. Condrea Webber, a former contestant and current manager, says many of the problems have been a misunderstanding. She accuses Westerville City Schools of not living up to their commitment to Ohio Idol.

"I do know that the Westerville things weren't up to the standards that Mr. Wise had wanted, so I think that's where a lot of discrepancies came in there," she said.

She claims that things have improved significantly since the first couple of seasons.

"All of the judges always get paid, all of the facilities get paid. We are under new management with me, so there's no problem there."

Ohio Idol used to be a part of major events in central Ohio like Red, White, and Boom and the Ohio State Fair, but both pulled their agreements with the competition after hearing complaints.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says his office hasn't received any complaints about the competition, but if they do they'll look into it. He says you always have to make sure you do your homework before signing up to participate in these competitions, especially if they're asking for money up front.

 

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