Metro-East News

Trust that owns radio station where Bob Romanik broadcasts files for bankruptcy

A Belleville-based trust that owns four radio stations, including the one where shock jock Bob Romanik hosts his “Grim Reaper” show, has filed for federal bankruptcy.

On Sept. 11, Entertainment Media Trust filed a Chapter 7 voluntary petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The radio stations owned by EMT are KFTK, KZQZ, WQQW and KQQZ, the latter of which broadcasts Romanik’s controversial program that is often laden with racist language.

According to the petition, EMT has assets of over $2 million and liabilities of just $121,495. On Sept. 12, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laura K. Grandy ordered that EMT has 14 days after Sept. 11 to file the required statements, schedules, lists and plan with the court.

Romanik has denied that he controls the radio stations. As a convicted felon, the Federal Communications Commission would have to examine the nature of Romanik’s past crimes and determine whether he had been sufficiently rehabilitated before allowing him to become a commission licensee.

Romanik hung up several times on a BND reporter who attempted to call him for comment.

According to the petition, Belleville attorney Dennis J. Watkins is the “authorized representative of the debtor” and a trustee. The phone number for his firm was disconnected and the office at 100 W. Main St. was closed on Wednesday afternoon.

EMT bought the four stations between 2006 and 2010 and has filed renewal applications for each since 2012. They appear on the verge of losing their broadcast licenses, pending investigation by the FCC.

The FCC investigation into the four radio stations, which was launched at the request of St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, focus on “serious violations” by EMT not disclosing Romanik as a party to license applications.

The Media Bureau ordered a hearing in front of an administrative law judge in Washington D.C. based on the claims of these violations. If found guilty, EMT could lose its licenses.

On July 23, the Office of Administrative Law Judges granted EMT more time before the hearing, which is scheduled for July 13, 2020.

The FCC 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,” a June 5 news release from the FCC stated.

The FCC also stated it found Romanik identified himself as the owner of the radio station on various forms when disclosing political contributions and assigning EMT’s beneficial interest in radio stations to his girlfriend, Katrina Sanders.

The FCC stated Romanik also participated in negotiations of a local programming and marketing agreement.

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Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.