An Administrative Law Judge has not yet ruled whether Entertainment Media Trust (EMT) should have its licenses revoked. But Judge Jane Halprin is keeping the company on a short leash until a hearing into its behavior is set to begin in July 2020. Starting next month EMT and the Enforcement Bureau will be required to file monthly status reports as they build their respective cases ahead of that hearing date.
As Inside Radio reported last month, the Media Bureau said, after a multi-year investigation, it turned up evidence of “serious violations” of the Commission’s rules. The Bureau said EMT bought talk KFTK (1490), currently silent WQQW (1510), “Cool Oldies” KZQZ (1430) and classic country/talk KQQZ (1190) between 2006 and 2010 and filed renewal applications for each in 2012. After receiving a petition to deny, the Media Bureau launched an inquiry into allegations that the stations were actually controlled by Robert Romanik, who has been convicted of felony offenses for obstruction of justice and bank fraud. The investigation found what the Bureau said was “significant evidence” that Romanik exercised “de facto control” over the stations. The Media Bureau confirmed that Romanik established EMT and provided all of its funds for buying the stations, but wasn’t listed as a party in any of EMT’s applications.
Romanik, meanwhile, was identifying himself as a radio station owner on forms disclosing his political contributions, the investigation found. He also allegedly tried to assign EMT’s interest in the stations to his longtime girlfriend, Katrina Sanders, and participated in negotiations involving a Local Marketing Agreement with Emmis for KFTK in 2016.
But EMT claims that Romanik, a convicted felon, established EMT in 2006 to buy radio stations for his son, Stephen Romanik, who wanted to enter the radio business.
In the Hearing Designation Order adopted last month, Media Bureau Chief Michelle Carey concluded there are “substantial and material questions of fact” about whether there was an undisclosed de facto transfer of control of the stations to Romanik and whether EMT “engaged in misrepresentation” in its license renewal applications and other communications with the Commission.
In an order issued from Judge Halprin on Thursday, lawyers representing EMT and the Enforcement Bureau will have until next February to complete their discovery of evidence in the case.