With Clear Channel leading the way, like pigs eating from a feed trough, radio broadcasters all across the nation found themselves selling to anyone of three giant companies. Deregulation ushered in a time of “over reaching” by a very few. What was thirty or forty radio groups suddenly became three or four.
“Their is no f-ucking FCC, there is no DOJ, get over it Rook” as I was threatened to either sell my stations or “we’ll take them from you” by one group head.
Unlike most broadcasters I choose not to sell. I explained, I was living a dream, building my own “Key Chain” of radio stations. Through competitive hearings at the FCC, outright purchases or building a new station from the ground up, my financing came from Las Vegas sources. With a great deal of determination the Key Chain grew to have stations in Las Vegas, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and the Tri-Cities, Washington, seven fm’s and one am.
I began tape recording all conversations, one especially interesting featured a group owner warning me that if any word of what he was about to say “leaked out,” “you’re days are numbered Rook.” He explained his Spokane radio’s were about to become part of a 12 station sales package with two other owners who would then sell out to one of the new mega groups forming, Clear Channel, Jacor, Citadel etc. “They’ve got a pile of money for us,” I was told.
Another group head I refer to as “the jerk” showed up at my radio station, without any hesitation immediately gave himself a tour of the facility and offered, I’m here to take you out of your misery.”
Again I explained I was living a dream and had no desire to sell. He replied, “well your damn dream is about to become a nightmare” as he rushed out of my office with a final taunt, “you know where to reach me, but don’t waste my time, I got more important things to do.” He later referred to “Rooks shitty little stations.” and enlisted the aid of a lawyer friend who would approach me with an offer not knowing he merely would turn the station over immediately to “the jerk.” I began to communicate with the DOJ in Washington, D.C., sharing my tape recordings brought two agents to see me. Upon hearing my story they suggested I file an anti-trust suit, “we’ll be right behind you.”
Realizing I was not interested in selling, the vulchers contacted my Las Vegas financial source, who soon would be encouraging me to sell. I was disapointed to learn a long time friend of mine representing Jacor made my partners an offer they could not refuse, but I could as I filed at the FCC to block any sale by my partners to Jacor. My Las Vegas partners were livid, it was then I learned they had a long history of “mob influence” with articles in Penthouse and Vanity Fair exposing them.
It was about this time my good friend Sheriff Clegg of Kootenai county telephoned me at home to alert me, “John we’ve had disturbing information out of Las Vegas a contract has been placed on you.” He insisted on issuing me a weapon permit and notified his officers to be on the lookout for me, “they’ll know your car, be careful.”
As a radio programmer, I met many of “the guys” over the years. Most were enjoyable being around as they promoted the records and never did more than take me to lunch. Given the news from Sheriff Clegg, I decided to fly to Los Angeles to have lunch with a good friend of mine, with his own “connections.” Explaining my situation my friend advised me to return home and he would see what he could do. Three days later he telephoned saying, “that situation in Las Vegas has been taken care of, just relax.”
Good news from the anti-trust judge, we had proven enough damages that a trial date would be set. My attorney would need at least another $500,000 with expert witness testimony not included and he had been approched by the opposing attorneys wanting to settle. It would be just enough to pay my attorney for the job he did. My financing was done and I had no further option though the DOJ did insist the 12 stations combo for Spokane had to be ended. In the end it was simply a case of being out litigated by a bank of attorneys against my limited representation as the Key Chain ended and so did my dream.