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A Judge to Determine if Rice Can Be a Licensee

Lack of candor is at issue in potential translator purchase

An FCC judge is going to decide if Michael Rice can once again own a radio station.

Rice lost his previous Indiana stations after being convicted on several counts of child molestation. He served just over five years in prison.

Now, Rice is out of prison and has been operating WRBZ(AM), Montgomery, Ala., under a local marketing agreement.

He wants to buy an FM translator licensed to Montgomery, Ala., from broker Patrick Sullivan.

In a decision signed by Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake, he states Rice also lost his licenses because of “misrepresentation to and lack of candor before the commission.”

Sullivan and Rice tell the agency that Rice has been rehabilitated, has been a productive citizen since his release from prison, and is now qualified to be a commission licensee. Rice also asserts he suffered from undiagnosed and untreated mental illness when he was arrested.

A group called Child Protect is protesting the sale of the translator to Rice, alleging his LMA of WRBZ is unlawful, which Rice and Sullivan deny. Lake says the question of Rice’s lack of candor about the LMA is serious.

Lake writes that the character exhibits submitted by Rice “fall short,” because they lack critical information and provide little context; the exhibits cast him in the best light and are “self-serving,” according to Lake.

Rice’s psychiatrist, Dr. Wayne Stillings, states that each of Rice’s psychiatric disorders has been in remission for 10 years, and that as long as he continues therapy and to take his medication, there’s “no reason to anticipate that any” of his disorders “will again become active.”

Radio is Rice’s “driving passion” and “the love of his life,” according to Stillings, and to ban his involvement in the business would be both “tragically misguided and exceedingly harmful.”

However, Lake still has questions about whether Rice has the basic character qualifications to hold a station license. That’s why he’s designated the case for a hearing before an FCC administrative law judge.

No hearing date has yet been set.