One year ago, on Oct. 4, 2018, I published a column in The NorthSider entitled “Bob Romanik is a Racist and It’s Time to Shut Him Down.” One year later, Romanik is on the ropes and filing for bankruptcy with the FCC close to stripping him of his license.
Last year, I detailed how this man has, for years, been allowed to spew the most racist, vile, hateful garbage on St. Louis airwaves from his KQQZ radio station across the river (a station that goes by the tag line “Kool Killer Kountry”). But what prompted that particular column was his most recent (at that time) attack on me, the north side, and black St. Louis.
In response to my Sept. 20, 2018, column, “Democrats and McCaskill Owe Blacks More,” Romanik said on his radio show: “It’s amazing, people, that a nigger like Antonio French is going to say that the Democrats owe the black voters more.”
“I don’t know what the hell we can do for the niggers,” said Romanik. “They don’t want to help themselves. They just want to complain. And that’s what they’re doing. But for an asswipe bastard like Antonio French to come out and say that north St. Louis … we need to bring jobs, private economic investment. ’There ain’t nobody in the private industry, nobody in the private sector that’s going to come into north St. Louis because of you niggers! Get the niggers out of there and everybody will come!”
Romanik’s language was so vile that I had to confirm to our readers: Yes, that was an exact quote. It was said on the radio. And it didn’t end there.
“Does anybody know, seriously, what we can give the niggers?” said Romanik. “What can we do for the niggers?”
“[French says] black Democrats must demand more. … What the hell more can you demand? You got what you want. You got a blunt. You got a bottle of muscatel. You got some weed.”
And in response to my call for black leaders to demand real and specific action that results in economic growth in our communities, racist Romanik totally lost it.
“Fifty million dollars, [French] says, to provide no-interest loans covering 80 percent of the cost to purchase, rehab and convert two-family homes. Fifty million dollars, plus jobs, for private economic investment? Are you nuts? Yes you are, Antonio French,” said Romanik. “See, he’s playing the nigger card. He’s playing the nigger card.”
Romanik, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, also took exception to my calling Trump a racist and saying his agenda is harmful to blacks and poor people.
“The U.S. economy grew by a robust 4.2 percent rate in the second quarter,” he said back then. “Do you know what that does for our economy? We make more money and then we can funnel more money to the niggers!”
In that Oct 4, 2018, column, I said there was no place for this kind of racism on St. Louis airwaves. Period.
“And frankly, it is an affront to the African-American communities on both sides of the river that Romanik has been allowed to spew his hateful attacks for as long as he has.”
“But you know what? Time’s up, Bob,” I wrote.
I said that starting that day, The NorthSider would be leading a year-long campaign to pull the plug on Bob Romanik. We called for citizens to submit complaints to the FCC to have his station’s license pulled. And the complaints came in by the dozens.
But as had been the case for years, the complaints were filed, but little action was taken by the FCC. So we turned up the heat.
We began looking at other ways to attack the problem. We looked into his radio station. You see, Bob Romanik isn’t just a racist shock jock radio host, he owns the station he broadcasts on. That is why he hasn’t been fired, which is usually how racist hosts get pulled from the airwaves.
And as far as FCC complaints about his racist and offensive language, well, as the FCC’s website advises, federal law prohibits obscene, indecent and profane content from being broadcast on the radio or TV, “but determining what obscene, indecent and profane mean can be difficult.”
In the Supreme Court’s 1964 landmark case on obscenity and pornography, Justice Potter Stewart famously wrote: “I know it when I see it.” It’s subjective, and this FCC has been slow to rule on whether they deem Romanik’s words as obscene, indecent or profane.
But as my grandmother used to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” (No idea of the origin of this saying, but its meaning is solid.)
One FCC rule is far less subjective. The rule that states very clearly that convicted felons can’t own radio stations.
You see, before Bob Romanik was a racist radio show host, he was a racist and corrupt police chief in Washington Park, Ill.
In 1999, he was convicted of bank fraud. He also pleaded guilty to defrauding the United States and obstructing justice for facilitating an illegal gambling operation in 1998.
St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern filed a complaint in 2012 for the FCC to investigate the ownership of Romanik’s licenses due to these convictions. Kern followed up again in 2016, but nothing happened.
Early this year, we put our team on it. We made call after call to the FCC demanding to know why nothing had been done. In May, we told officials that we would be sending a reporter and a camera to the next open FCC meeting in Washington to question commissioners directly.
Two weeks later, the FCC announced it was scheduling a hearing to determine whether Romanik had “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 canceled.”
Romanik is now desperately filing for bankruptcy in a scheme to cash in on his stations before the FCC strips him of his licenses at his July 2020 hearing. But we will not relent.
I said it last year. I meant it then and I mean it now: Time is up, Bob.