‘Wild’ Bill let go over disagreementA journey that started almost a year ago when “Wild” Bill Palanuk came across a construction permit for a radio station in South Heart, has come to an end for the local radio personality.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
A journey that started almost a year ago when “Wild” Bill Palanuk came across a construction permit for a radio station in South Heart, has come to an end for the local radio personality.
Western Edge Media, LLC terminated the employment of Palanuk as general manager during an ownership meeting Tuesday. Palanuk has been replaced by Blake Messer.
The majority owners of Western Edge Media proposed Palanuk give up his ownership rights in exchange for the funding required to make the station operational. Palanuk refused the proposal, which led to his termination.
“It’s like a rancher giving up rights to his land for somebody to put cows on it,” Palanuk said. “It just didn’t make any sense.”
Calls to majority shareholders of Western Edge, Rob Skinner of Ketchikan, Alaska, and Blake Messer, formerly of Dickinson, now residing in Ketchikan, were not returned by press time.
Palanuk retains ownership of 26 percent of the company and other shareholders include, his mother Agnes of Dickinson and Doug and Barb Hendrickson of Fairfield.
Western Edge Media owns a construction permit for KDXN FM licensed in South Heart, which Palanuk hoped to get off the ground last winter, but financial support came in slower than expected.
According to Palanuk, the proposal, which led to his termination, stemmed from a conversation with the shareholders regarding money that would be required to get the station on the air and the money would have been provided had he agreed.
Eighteen local businesses have pre-paid an advertising schedule with the new station. They were told the station would be on the air in February, then late March.
“Basically I was backed up against a wall,” Palanuk said. “These advertisers were told they were going to be on the air in February and we didn’t have the money to get on the air, so I was in somewhat of a desperate situation and that’s what prompted the proposal for me to give up my ownership rights.”
Palanuk said the proposal asked him to give up too much, including his intellectual property, like Talk Rodeo, which he owns with Rick Thompson.
After speaking with some trusted friends, Palanuk determined he couldn’t do it.
Agnes said she is disappointed with the way things have turned out.
“All of our lives we’ve dealt with good, honest people,” Agnes said. “I didn’t know how to deal with this duo.”
Palanuk said the station could be on the air in about three to four weeks if plans go forward.
“Looking back on the last year there are a lot of what ifs,” Palanuk said.
“Boy, I’ll tell you what, I’ve had a learning experience over the past 12 months that you can’t buy,” Palanuk said. “It’s been a costly learning experience, but I know how to do this now. I know what works and what doesn’t.”
According to Palaunk, no formal offer was extended, but the possibility of employment with KDXN when it gets on the air was mentioned by Messer.
Palanuk said he hopes to make lemonade out of lemons and is looking for employment elsewhere.
“It just saddens me because there’s so many good things going on in our community,” Palanuk said. “Not an hour goes by that something doesn’t come up where, ‘Gee, I wish I was on the air right now so I could talk about this.’”
Agnes said it’s difficult to see something like this happen, but they’ve been through tougher times than this, like when her daughter and Bill’s sister, Beverly died on Mother’s Day 2005.
Palanuk said his mom helped him put that into perspective with a note earlier in the week, now posted on his Facebook profile.
“Pull yourself together and go on. Nothing could be worse than losing Beverly. Talk ... yell ... cuss. I will always love you. Mom,” the note read.
Palanuk said the few people that have heard the news so far have been very supportive, adding that the entire area has been supportive of the venture since it all started a year ago, Monday.
“It’s humbling,” Palanuk said. “I can’t begin to tell you what it’s like.”