Kevin Slaten's Head Is About to Explode: The exiled sports-talk radio ranter needs to get some things off his chest

It sounds like Kevin Slaten's head is about to explode.

"If the story goes like that, there'll be a lawsuit against you and the RFT, and when I get back on the air I'm going to destroy you," the exiled sports-talk radio host's voice seethes from the telephone. "I'm telling you right now, I'm coming after you with guns blazing.

(Listen to Slaten's voice mail response to this story.)

Rick Sealock

"I'm telling you. I'm not threatening you. I'm promising you. You go ahead and write bullshit about me, and you better not have one skeleton in your closet. I'll go back and find every guy in your life you've ever dated and I'll destroy you with it," he says. "I'm promising you that. I'm not telling you that. I'm promising you.

"I can't stop you, but I can make it hell to pay.

"Do not ever stub your toe. And I hope you've never stubbed it in the past. I'll hire private investigators to find everything on you. I'm going to show you how it feels coming back the other way. You're a public figure: You're a newspaper writer. You think that means anything in someone's life is fair game. That's bullshit. People's personal lives are not fair game.

"Go ahead and write. But I am promising you: There'll be consequences for the newspaper. Unless you've lived a perfect life, you better watch out. I'm gonna find things on your editor. I'm going to make them as public as I can. I'll find every single thing you and your editor have done. And I'll hire a private investigator, and believe me, I've got good ones. I am going to expose everything. Everything you've ever done in your personal life."

This is not the same Kevin Slaten we'd come to know over the past several weeks. That Kevin Slaten had been affable, clever, charming even. The person on the other end of the line now sounds like someone else entirely.

"I'll do everything I can to run your ass out of this town."

For a St. Louis sports-talk radio veteran who hosts a call-in show, 54-year-old Kevin Slaten, a.k.a. "The King," could stand to brush up on his telephone etiquette.

Or maybe he was just having a bad day.

Only hours before venting his spleen to Riverfront Times, Slaten had lost his first court battle against KFNS (590 AM "The Fan"), his former employer.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the KFNS controversy can be traced back to a telephone call.

On March 27, four days before the St. Louis Cardinals opened their 2008 season, Slaten was broadcasting his afternoon drive-time show, The Bottom Line, from Ozzie's at Westport Plaza. His producer and board operator were back at the KFNS studio in Webster Groves. Shortly after the program began, talk turned to then-Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes and pitching coach Dave Duncan made a brief on-air appearance, allegedly without his knowledge or consent — a violation of Federal Communications Commission rules.

The transcript in the court file appears to indicate that Duncan may well not have been aware his words were going out over the airwaves:

Slaten: [...]Could we grab you for a couple of minutes to talk a little bit about the Reyes decision.

Duncan: Kevin, I'm not going to go on your show.

Slaten: Why not?

Duncan: Because you're a nasty man and I don't like you.

And minutes later:

Slaten: [...]What you're doing right now is slandering me based on other people telling you lies.

Duncan: I'm not doing it publicly like you do other people.

Slaten: You're not? You're on the radio.

Duncan: No.

Slaten: You're on the radio.

Duncan: Well I hope not.

Slaten: Well sure you are. I told you we were on the radio.

Duncan: No you did not.

Slaten: Of course I did.

Duncan: And if I find out we are, you're going to be in big problems with me.

(For the complete transcript, see accompanying sidebar.)

On April 2, KFNS fired Slaten's producer, Evan Makovsky, and suspended Slaten without pay for two days.

Makovsky and Slaten each blamed the other for the mistake. Subsequent court testimony would show that Makovsky changed his story several times and that Slaten told station managers the mishap "wasn't intentional."

Testimony would also show that KFNS management made little effort to discern who was to blame for the violation, which can incur a fine of several thousand dollars from the FCC. (No complaint has been filed with the federal agency.)

In considering whether to keep Slaten, however, the station did apparently take into account its own bottom line.

On April 3, the first day of Slaten's suspension, D'Ree Harris, the station's Atlanta-based comptroller and human resources director, sent the following e-mail to three station owners and managers:

Guys, we need to have a big picture conversation this afternoon. Here's the thing-we are projecting to be down another $50K for 2nd quarter. That is down from what we JUST gave the bank! Slaten has handed us an opportunity on a silver platter. We just have to weigh the pros and cons and decide what we want to do. We intentionally left it open-ended with him yesterday. He is suspended without pay and we will let him know tomorrow what our next step will be.

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