Carrie Rengers

Lawsuit, FCC complaint follow six Wichita radio stations going off the air

Six former Rocking M Media radio stations have been off the air since last month. Now, there’s a lawsuit related to the stations and an FCC complaint as well.
Six former Rocking M Media radio stations have been off the air since last month. Now, there’s a lawsuit related to the stations and an FCC complaint as well. File photo

Last month, when six Wichita-area Rocking M Media stations went off the air, both Rocking M and Allied Media Partners — which was supposed to buy the stations — said lawsuits likely would result.

That’s what has happened, but it is a third party doing the filing: Envision Broadcast Network.

Envision filed suit Oct. 11 in Harvey County District Court against Rocking M Media, Rocking M Media Wichita, Christopher Miller, Kristin Miller, Merle Miller, Doris Miller and Belate LLC.

Envision is involved because of its previous ownership of KKGQ, 92.3-FM, and its status as the licensee. And it is Envision that posted a note and locked the door to the stations at its downtown Wichita headquarters at 610 N. Main St.

Rocking M Media has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Envision Broadcast Network and Envision Inc., a nonprofit that serves the blind and visually impaired, related to that lockout.

The complaint alleges Envision didn’t have the proper licensing to do what it did related to the stations.

The lawsuit alleges the Miller family and related businesses owe Envision money.

The suit says in 2017, Envision agreed to sell KKGQ and its assets to Rocking M but that Rocking M then failed to meet a payment schedule. Envision is seeking $1.25 million plus interest, costs and attorneys’ fees. It also wants a sheriff’s sale of property related to the station and demands that Rocking M and the Millers deliver all collateral to Envision.

The complaint Rocking M filed requests that the FCC find that Envision’s acts “were wrongful and violated the referenced statutory and regulatory obligations that Envision had and has” and that the FCC “assess a meaningful monetary forfeiture against Envision for each and every day that these violations occurred, as a deterrent to future similar unlawful behavior by Envision.”

Rocking M also asks that the FCC refer the matter to the Justice Department.

In March, Have You Heard? reported that Rocking M planned to sell KKGQ, which is known as Kansas Country, to Allied along with Wichita stations KIBB, 97.1-FM, which is known as Bob; KVWF, 100.5-FM, which is known as Flight; and KWME, 92.7-FM, which is known as the Blast.

Also included in the deal was to be Wellington’s KLEY, 100.3-FM and 1130-AM, which is known as the Wave; and Winfield’s KKLE, 1550-AM, a news and talk station.

While the purchase was pending, Allied had an operating agreement with Rocking M to run the stations.

Rocking M said the agreement ended without Allied coming up with $6.2 million to buy the stations.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Allied CEO Matt Baty at the time.

He said Rocking M wouldn’t clear the liens on its assets in order to close the deal.

Rocking M said it was standard to take care of those issues after a sale.

With pending legal issues, neither Rocking M nor Envision would comment on Wednesday.

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Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.
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