CHICAGO – You may not know it from listening to DJs like Mancow, but there is a behavior rule for radio stations in America — a rule that may cost a convicted child molester ownership of his five radio stations.
According to the FCC, station owners must have 'good moral character'. So when it found out that station owner Mike Rice had been found guilty of child molestation and had served five years in prison for his crimes, the commission revoked his licenses.
"They are talking about wiping out my livelihood," Rice said. "Effectively taking me away from my profession and destroying the value of what I have worked for 30 years."
David Shepard, who owns KWIK — one of Rice's competitors — isn't sympathetic to his colleague's problems. If you want to work in the radio industry, he says, you have to play by the FCC's rules.
"[Rice] knew what the rules were," Shepard, president of Shepard Enterprises, said. "They are the guys that can let you live or they can kill you, and you have to be careful of the guy that is sitting there controlling your life."
The FCC will not talk about Rice or his stations, even though his licenses are soon going up for auction.
"[The licenses], had it not been for the revocation, would probably be worth $ 3 million dollars," Rice said.
The proceeds will go to the FCC, but that won't stop Rice from throwing in his own bid.
"They are available for anyone that wants to bid on them, and we believe that we are as qualified as anybody," he said.
The FCC 'moral character' rule only applies to the last 10 years. Because Rice committed his crime in 1990 — 11 years ago — the convicted child molester may soon be in the clear to get himself back on the air.
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.