By Sam Levin
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By Sam Levin
By Sam Levin
By Sam Levin
Asked if there's any significance to the bracelet emblazoned with "WWJD" ("What Would Jesus Do?") that he wears on his left wrist, Slaten replies, "It reminds me before I do something stupid to think about it. And trust me," he says self-deprecatingly, "I'm not even close to Jesus. That's why he's Jesus and I'm Kevin."
An interview with Ray Prosperi, who describes himself as Slaten's "spiritual advisor," fills in some blanks regarding the radio veteran's religious conversion.
"To do Kevin's life justice," Prosperi asserts, "you've got to take everything together: his good and his bad."
Prosperi, retired from the sales team at Mallinckrodt, says he and Slaten became friends in 1995 while on a sporting trip to Chicago with a mutual friend. The two connected instantly, adds the 68-year-old Prosperi, who was widowed at the time. "For some reason he just opened up his vault and shared everything that was going on with him," he recalls.
At the time Slaten was reeling from a "traumatic" divorce. Over the next half-dozen years, the men lunched together several times a week and talked constantly, increasingly about religion.
"One day we were in the parking lot at Krieger's, his favorite hangout, on Clarkson Road, and I said, 'Kevin, there's one thing left for you: You have to turn your life over to Jesus Christ.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah, that would be good.' Because we'd been talking about it for several years. We got into the car and prayed for him to receive what Christ had given him, which was forgiveness for his sins," Prosperi recounts, "and he was born again right there."
Slaten bought a Bible and began attending church. He would call Prosperi often with questions. At last came his baptism, in 2002. "I explained to him how John the Baptist was laid in the River Jordan and talked about how when I was 40, a friend had a pool, and a few of us guys wanted to be baptized again, we wanted to be immersed, to bury our old selves, and to rise anew, and he said: 'I want that.'"
Prosperi says Slaten phoned him out of the blue one morning soon afterward, saying he was ready to be baptized and asking his friend to meet him at the Jewish Community Center. "We had a little corner of the pool," Prosperi says. "I buried him there, and raised him back up.
"I believe we buried the old Kevin, and a new one was risen.
"Now, he's not perfect," Prosperi adds.
"Read the newspaper articles," he replies.
St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Larry Kendrick had promised to rule on the non-compete issue in Slaten's case on Monday, August 11. That same day Slaten learns the details of Prosperi's interview for this story and claims Riverfront Times misled him about the paper's intentions for a profile.
"To try to dig into what I perceive as dirt — I didn't agree to that, and in fact I never would've agreed to that," Slaten exclaims. "I'm not about rehashing the past!"
Later Slaten adds, "I've made mistakes in my life, but nothing of any consequence that some people have tried to make."
Slaten says that unless Riverfront Times limits the scope of its profile to 2004 (the year he began working at KFNS), he'll stop speaking to the newspaper.
The next morning Judge Kendrick's ruling is made public. Kendrick finds that Slaten knowingly placed Dave Duncan on the air without the pitching coach's knowledge, in violation of his employment contract. KFNS, Kendrick ruled, was justified in enforcing its non-compete agreement, meaning that Slaten is prohibited from broadcasting about sports over St. Louis airwaves until October 5.
The radio station had won. (A trial date of next summer is anticipated for Slaten's wrongful-termination suit. The judge has set a settlement conference for March 26 and is expected to set a trial date at that time.)
Later that day an increasingly bellicose Slaten tells RFT he's convinced the paper is set on doing "a hatchet job." Over and over again, he returns to the infamous fight of 1992. He sees no reason for it to be mentioned in a story about him. "Readers are sick and tired of it!" he insists. "I said to [Post-Dispatch sports media columnist] Dan Caesar, 'If you ever mention anything that happened ten years ago again, I'm never talking to you again!' He got smart! He quit it! Therefore we have a good working relationship. He gets a lot of shit from me that he wouldn't get from anybody else."
When Riverfront Times declines to drop the idea of profiling him, Slaten becomes enraged.
"I'm going to do everything I can to run your ass out of this town," he promises before hanging up.
It's technically correct, then, to note that when it comes to certain aspects of his career and background, the vociferous Kevin Slaten has no comment.
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