A Kansas City area radio station has agreed to broadcast Russian state-owned media programming, the same outlet that U.S. intelligence called a “propaganda machine,” for six hours a day through a lease agreement struck by a local radio operator, reports The Kansas City Star.
RM Broadcasting LLC, a Florida-based company, reached a deal on Jan. 1 to broadcast programming from the Russian state media program Radio Sputnik.
The lease agreement lets RM Broadcasting air its programming from 6 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. seven days a week, according to the Star.
KCXL’s website, which touts itself as the radio station that will “tell you the things that the liberal media wont (sic) tell you,” currently lists Radio Sputnik in its morning programming.
A 2017 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that evaluated Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election described Sputnik as “another government-funded outlet producing pro-Kremlin radio and online content in a variety of languages for international audiences.”
The DNI intelligence assessment concluded that Sputnik, along with Russian television outlet RT — formerly Russia Today — “contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”
“Those descriptions were part of a larger set of findings by the Director of National Intelligence that said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign during the 2016 elections that sought to undermine public faith in the U.S. election process, denigrate Hillary Clinton and promote Donald Trump,” the Star notes.
RM Broadcasting, whose owner Arnold Ferolito disputed the government’s assessment of Radio Sputnik, was ordered by a federal judge last year to register as a foreign agent under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires political agents in the U.S. acting on a foreign government’s behalf to disclose their relationships, finances and activities.
The order was issued after the Justice Department in 2018 said RM Broadcasting was acting as a “publicity agent” for Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian government-owned news agency, by broadcasting its radio programs.
According to The Kansas City Star:
At the time, RM Broadcasting was airing Rossiya Segodnya programs on an AM frequency in Washington, D.C. RM Broadcasting had argued that it merely bought and re-sold air time on radio stations, some of which happened to include Russian state media programs. A federal judge found that argument unpersuasive.
When RM Broadcasting first registered as a foreign agent, it disclosed that it had received $1.43 million in payments from Rossiya Segodnya to buy air time for Radio Sputnik from 2017 to 2019.
“I just sell air time that’s all I do,” Ferolito told the Star about having to register as a foreign agent. “The government put a gun to my head and forced me to sign.”
“They don’t pay me for anything other than the air time,” said Ferolito, describing his work as more of a hobby after selling his other businesses in 2009.
“It’s costing me more money than I’m making, that’s the sad part about it. The American dream is dead in a lot of ways. There’s people hell bent on Russia, Russia, Russia. One of these days it’s going to be China.”
RM Broadcasting buys air time for Radio Sputnik only in Washington D.C. and Kansas City. RM Broadcasting’s filing regarding KCXL indicates RM Broadcasting is being paid a $324,000 service fee from Rossiya Segodnya to transmit shows in Kansas City.
KCXL’s website describes itself as an outlet that “will bring you the truth.”
“America is a very different country than it used to be,” KCXL’s website says. “We used to be a country of freedom, job, opportunity, and equality. Now, we are a country that looks down upon traditional values. We are a country that puts its citizens second to citizens of other countries.”