Ownership by shock-jock felon violates rules, agency says
ST. LOUIS – The Federal Communications Commission has ordered a hearing in front of an administrative law judge for St. Louis area-based Entertainment Media Trust to determine whether it committed serious violations of the Communications Act and the commission’s rules. If EMT is found to have committed those violations, its radio licenses may be canceled.
EMT owns four St. Louis-area radio stations: KFTK-AM (formerly WQQX-AM), WQQW-AM, KZQZ-AM and KQQZ-AM. In 2012, when the company applied for license renewals for each station, area resident and listener Mark Kern filed a petition for the denial of those applications.
The FCCs’s Media Bureau then conducted a multiyear inquiry into 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.
“Bob Romanik is a convicted felon, having pleaded guilty in 1997 to obstruction of justice for lying to a federal grand jury and in 1999 to bank fraud,” the FCC said in a 2018 letter to the stations’ attorney. “Persons convicted of felonies involving dishonesty are generally disqualified from holding attributable interests in broadcast licenses.”
Romanik is a shock-jock known for expressing racist, homophobic and misogynistic views on the air. He is the host of “Kool Killer Kountry Radio” on KQQZ-AM and bills himself as the “Grim Reaper of Radio.”
The Bureau found that although Romanik isn’t listed as a party in any of EMT’s applications, he established EMT and provided all the funds to buy the stations.
Romanik has identified himself as a radio station owner on various forms disclosing his political contributions. He assigned EMT’s beneficial interest in the radio stations to his longtime girlfriend, Katrina M. Sanders. And he participated in negotiations involving a programming and marketing deal with Emmis Radio for KFTK in 2016.
EMT’s 2012 trust instrument was executed after EMT acquired the stations and includes no provisions insulating Romanik from ownership of the stations as commission rules require.
The commission’s administrative law judge will schedule and conduct the hearing.
Read the full Hearing Designation Order here: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-19-506A1.pdf