FCC Sends Four St. Louis Area AMs To License Revocation Hearing
The FCC has announced that it has designated Entertainment Media Trust for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge to over alleged violations of the Communications Act and FCC rules.
1190 KQQZ Fairview Heights IL, 1430 KZQZ St. Louis, 1490 KFTK East St. Louis IL, and 1510 WQQW Highland IL were acquired by the company between 2006 and 2012. A petition to deny was filed for their 2012 license renewals in which local resident Mark Kern stated that the company was being run by Robert Romanik, despite he being ineligible to hold an FCC license as a convicted felon (obstruction of justice and bank fraud).
The FCC concluded in an investigation that Romanik provided all of the funds for the acquisition of the stations, but while not listed as a party in any FCC filing they supported Kern’s claim that Romanik held de facto control over the stations including negotiating the LMA agreement for 1490 KFTK with Emmis Communications. The FCC states that Entertainment Media Trust, which also operates as Insane Broadcasting Company, failed or was inable to provide responsive information to the agency and is setting up the hearing to establish whether there has been an undisclosed de facto transfer of control of the Stations to Romanik, EMT engaged in misrepresentation and/or lack of candor in its applications and other communications with the Commission, or if the Trust shields Romanik or the Trust’s beneficiaries from holding attributable interests in the Stations under the Commission’s ownership attribution policies.
A 2012 Riverfront Times story adds more details about why Kern got involved as Romanik would constant attack Kern, then Commissioner of St. Clair County Illinois and his family on-air. Last year a court order of protection was filed against Romanik after he gave out a person’s home address and told listeners to “visit” him in retaliation for leading a boycott against KQQZ.
1490 KFTK is now leased to Entercom where it simulcasts Conservative Talk 97.1 KFTK-FM Florissant to help that stations coverage on the eastern side of the St. Louis market and feeds 98.7 K254CR St. Louis. EMT/Insane Broadcasting operates the other three stations with 1190 KQQZ as “Hot Talk/Killer Kountry” including a daily show hosted by Rominik, 1430 KZQZ running Oldies and 1510 WQQW currently Silent.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau
announced today it has designated St. Louis area-based Entertainment Media Trust (EMT) for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge to determine whether it committed serious violations of the Communications Act and the Commission’s rules. If found to have committed these serious violations, EMT’s licenses may be cancelled.
EMT purchased four AM radio stations: KFTK-AM (formerly WQQX-AM), WQQW-AM, KZQZ-AM, and KQQZ-AM in the St. Louis, Missouri market between 2006 and 2010. The company filed renewal applications for each of these stations in 2012. After receiving a petition to deny those applications from local resident and listener Mark Kern, the Media Bureau conducted a multiyear inquiry into the allegations that the stations were actually controlled by Robert S. Romanik, who has been convicted of felony offenses for obstruction of justice and bank fraud, which would be a violation of the Communications Act and the Commission’s rules.
The Bureau’s investigation found significant evidence supporting the claim that Romanik exercised de facto control over the stations. The investigation confirmed that Romanik established EMT and provided all of EMT’s funds for the acquisition of the stations, but was not listed as a party in any of EMT’s applications.
The Bureau’s investigation also found that Romanik has identified himself as a radio station owner on various forms disclosing his political contributions, purported to assign EMT’s beneficial interest in the radio stations to his longtime girlfriend, Katrina M. Sanders, and participated in negotiations involving a Local Programming and Marketing Agreement with Emmis Radio, LLC for KFTK in 2016. In addition, the investigation showed that EMT’s 2012 trust instrument was executed after EMT acquired the stations and does not appear to contain provisions insulating Romanik from ownership of the stations as required under Commission rules.
The hearing will be scheduled and heard by the Commission’s Administrative Law Judge.