More than seven months after federal investigators announced the results of a years-long dig into the ownership of radio stations connected to n-word-spewing shock jock Bob Romanik, the daily talk show on KQQZ (1190 AM) remains on-air — and as despicable as ever.
But in an order issued on Friday
, an administrative law judge for the Federal Communications Commission wrote that she's reached the end of her patience with Entertainment Media Trust, the holding company that, on paper, owns KQQZ and three other metro-area radio stations.
"The time has come to question whether additional government time and resources should be devoted to this matter," wrote Judge Jane Halprin, who is charged with presiding over a challenge to the applications to renew licenses for the stations ostensibly held by Entertainment Media Trust, or EMT.
In the ruling, Halprin set a February 10 deadline for EMT's legal representative, Belleville attorney Dennis Watkins, to explain why she shouldn't throw the license renewal applications out due to "EMT’ s continuous efforts at obfuscation." The judge is also asking Watkins to explain why EMT hasn't furnished documents purporting to show the stations are not, in fact, operated through a shell organization that functionally allows Romanik run them. (Messages left by RFT
to a number listed for Watkins on Friday were not returned.)
To be clear, however, the issue isn't that Romanik is using these stations as a platform for his tirades defending "proud whites" from the various evils of modern society. It's not really about what Romanik is saying
that's breaking federal regulations. Rather, it's what he's done.
As we reported in July
, Romanik's previous felony convictions — which involved an illegal video gambling operation and a 1999 guilty plea for federal bank fraud — would make it not impossible, but really hard for him to legitimately own a radio station under his own name. And Romanik has claimed he doesn't own any stations. However, the FCC investigation into four stations ostensibly purchased by EMT between 2006 and 2010 concluded that there are "substantial and material questions of fact" about whether Romanik is actually in control of the group.
It was those questions that the FCC hearing aimed to resolve, particularly since the investigation, released as a 24-page report
, had found Romanik bankrolling the six-figure purchases of the four stations and allegedly identifying himself as a radio station owner on his disclosure forms for political contributions.
But instead of clarity, what followed was a wave of delays. Through its attorney, EMT requested multiple extensions to respond to records requests. Then, in September, EMT filed for bankruptcy, which triggered an automatic halt to the FCC proceedings while the station licenses were transferred to a bankruptcy trustee. In November, EMT filed to dismiss its bankruptcy action.
In Friday's ruling, the FCC's Halprin detailed the chronology of investigators' efforts to get EMT to comply with its responsibilities leading up to the hearing, and she specifically called out Watkins for missing multiple appearances.
Halprin wrote: "It is difficult not to view EMT’s behavior — seeking repeated extensions of time, advocating for a stay due to bankruptcy, withdrawing that bankruptcy when the stay was not granted, firing its longtime counsel, ignoring the Presiding Judge’s order to appear, and finally filing a problematic notice of appearance — as intended to delay."
Back in July 2019, Halprin gave the parties a year to work through the discovery process, setting a hearing date for July 2020 in which she could weigh the submitted evidence and hear EMT's argument that it deserves to have its license renewed. However, with that date less six months away, the judge is growing impatient with EMT's progress.
After writing that "EMT’s intention to frustrate this hearing proceeding abound," the judge added that she'd finally come "to question whether EMT is able and willing to satisfy its burden of proof, which includes the obligation to prosecute its applications diligently and in good faith."
Meanwhile, Romanik himself has hinted on-air that he may take the show elsewhere — though it's worth noting that reports of his demise have, in the past, been proven to be premature
. Romanik, like a smell in an old couch, just has a way of hanging around.
And the shock jock known as the "Grim Reaper of Radio" hasn't lost a step in his daily diarrhetic diatribe. Only hours before Judge Halprin filed her order on Friday, Romanik was telling his audience, "The FCC doesn't want me running or owning stations, which I don't," and insisting "they're not going to keep me off the air."
"I could back off an say I'm not going to fight them," he added. "But I'm not going to fight them, I'm just going to stand up for what I believe in."
Romanik then transitioned back to his previous topic, about how "There's more n——-s that hate the white community than crackers and honkeys that hate the black community."
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
- Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram