Winning defamation plaintiffs wind up with Montana AM


Todd and Davar Gardner are in the recreational vehicle business, but now they’ll be moonlighting in radio, at least for awhile, after a bankruptcy court proceeding resulting in their acquisition of KGEZ-AM Kalispell MT.

The station had been owned by John Patrick Stokes. He was found guilty of using the station to defame the Gardners, who won a judgement of $3.8M in the proceeding. The station is said to have been silent since September 2009.

The seller, under approval of the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana, was Richard J. Samson, Trustee. The Gardners are buying the station under the name Flathead Broadcasting LLC.

They will pay $875K for the station and associated real estate, $787.5K of which will go to Stokes creditors under an umbrella group called Boone Karlberg Profit Sharing Trust. The rest will go to cover court costs.
The Gardners, whose claim against Stokes had surpassed $4M with accrued interest, agreed to waive all interest and accept a reduction to $1.5M.

According to a local report in the Daily Inter Lake News, they feel they are overpaying for the station, but at the same time feel they are under the gun to get it back on the air before it hits 12 months of silence and has its license voided.

They are said to be looking at options for running it, once it is back on air. According to DILN, they are open to proposals to either buy or LMA the facility.

DILN says there was a long history of strife between Stokes and the Gardners going back to 2001, when ownership of the land where the KGEZ towers are located was in dispute.