Frequent Fire

A lawsuit is the latest salvo in the continuing battle over a donated AM radio station

Quoting a "reliable source," Wilson alleged that Kasen and Horton's talk format was axed after ancontinued on page 10KZJZ-AMcontinued from page 9unsuccessful meeting set up by Berkowitz to garner the hosts' support for Democratic candidate and Missouri Attorney General Jeremiah "Jay" Nixon. Wilson further alleged that Platke and Berkowitz were in line to be among the lawyers involved in the Blue Cross/Missouri settlement, a position that -- according to Wilson -- "would bring huge fees to Berkowitz."

In a Monday interview, Jacobson -- Kasen and Horton's lawyer -- mentioned the American piece, but when he was asked why those same allegations weren't made in the suit, Jacobson said that he didn't need them to make his case. A question about the veracity of the American story was also one of the specific questions that Noce declined to answer.

If nothing else, the suit does fully delineate (from at least one side) the complicated architecture of the deal that got Kasen and Horton back on St. Louis airwaves, albeit briefly. It also points out how few rules the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) places upon the transfer of radio stations in this era of massive media deregulation.

Quizzed by the RFT about donated frequencies and lease-purchase agreements like the one involving 1380 AM, Taft Snowdon of the FCC's Audio Services Division's legal-inquiries department noted that the FCC doesn't look at what the groups that have stations donated to them will do with the frequencies once they possess them. The agency focuses, says Snowdon, on whether the broadcast licensee donating the station maintains a "confiscatory" interest in the station (i.e., "continued control of the station").

Rice, then, was completely free to receive the station under Kasen's scheme and to then sell it to Kasen's group for less than market value. Says Snowdon of the subsequent plans of those who receive stations: "We don't look at that."

The filing of the suit by Kasen and Horton, however, almost ensures that the circuit court will look at the deal in detail.

For his part, Emmis' Beck is also looking back at the deal with mixed feelings, particularly because of the station's switch to a low-key jazz format on an AM signal. "I'd feel a lot better," he says, "if it was being used by a minority organization to make them money or to create another minority business, or to help black people in this town to move ahead.

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