Nickinello Is Ousted

By Sarah Jones

BOSTON–Billboard crusader Lou Nickinello has apparently been relieved of his duties as president of AK Media’s Massachusetts office in Stoneham.

Nickinello, a former Massachusetts state representative known for placing inspirational messages on area billboards, was put on an indefinite ‘paid personal leave of absence,’ according to company representative Roseanne Marks.

Nickinello could not be reached for comment.

Marks declined to discuss Nickinello’s sudden exit and employees have been instructed not to talk to the media, ‘or else,’ according to a source inside the company.

Randy Swain, the president of AK Media Northwest in Seattle, is acting interim president. Swain flew in two weeks ago to ‘take care of business,’ said a source inside the company.

‘His boss came in and couldn’t understand why they were losing all this money,’ said a source close to Nickinello, adding the inspirational billboards cost nearly $12,000 a month.

AK Media’s Massachusetts office owns 2,564 billboards in the state, making it the largest outdoor player in the area. The former legislator joined what was called Ackerley Communications 13 years ago after an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor.

His exit from AK Media has troubled a longtime acquaintance, Ad Club president Elizabeth Cook. ‘The (billboard) sayings have made an enormous amount of difference in people’s thinking,’ she said. ‘The media is consistently criticized for giving us violent and unappealing things to think about and this is a vehicle that has given us inspirational things. . . . There are so many people who don’t like advertising and say we don’t make a contribution and being able to point to (the signs) really makes a difference.’

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

New England