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HomeNewsArchivesGolf Promoter Points Finger of Blame at Richards

Golf Promoter Points Finger of Blame at Richards

March 3, 2005 – Rennie Roker, producer of the Teens On The Green, has charged that a personal vendetta by Tourism Commissioner Pam Richards is harming not only his efforts to focus a world-wide TV audience on St. Croix, but has cost him a job as the host of Mornings with Rennie Roker on the radio station Sunny 95FM.
In a four-page press release Wednesday titled Tourism vs. Teens On The Green, Roker said, "The owner of the radio station, Mr. Jonathon Cohen received several complaints regarding Roker, stating that Roker had slandered Commissioner Richards on the radio program. The Attorney General then threatened to sue the radio station if Mr. Cohen did not stop Roker from communicating anything regarding TOG, Hands Across the Virgin Islands, or the Tourism Commission."
Cohen in a phone interview Thursday said that he had received a phone call from a lawyer at the Attorney General's office, but that had "nothing to do" with the discontinuance of Roker's show. He said Roker was not an employee of his, Cohen also owns The Mongoose, but was a subcontractor.
He did not give a reason why Roker's show was discontinued.
Roker said the show, which ended three weeks ago, was doing pretty well and had been on the air for about six months.
In an interview Monday, Roker said Richards had told him that if he did not let her on his radio show, "You won't have a contract with Tourism."
He said he did not want her on the show to air "dirty laundry," that his show was a "positive" radio program, and now the Tourism Department is not fulfilling its contract with him.
The complaints Roker has with Richards appear to be on two points – a contract he signed last year with Tourism to produce the Teens on the Greens finale and earn publicity for St. Croix, and the Tourism's refusal to pay CBS $250,000 to broadcast Teens on the Green this spring.
The Tourism Department said Richards was out of the territory on Thursday, but would not disclose where. She also did not respond to e-mail questions sent to her by the Source on Wednesday. Previously, Richards has referred questions about Roker's contract with Tourism to produce the Teens on the Green finale, an event that attracts young golfers who have participated in qualifiers around the world and has been held at the Carambola Golf Course for the last three years, to the Attorney General's office.
As far as the $250,000, it appears the Tourism Department never agreed to make such a payment.
However, Roker says his frustration is the result of Tourism refusing to do what he calls a "no-brainer" giving St. Croix a world-wide TV audience, that would normally cost millions of dollars for only $250,000.
Roker said Richards told him there was no money in the Tourism Department but added that he believed the Tourism Department has returned $400,000 in unused funds to the General Fund.
Roker, in his release, cited the experience of some youths who participated in Teens on the Green and then able to earn college scholarships.
Roker said all the trouble began when, just prior to the Teens event last fall, he brought "a producer of note from a BET program called Tropical Beat to the office of Commissioner Richards. The producer, who fell in love with St. Croix, had decided to produce a one-hour special on BET and his Comcast Cable network (largest in the U.S.) syndicated program, with no cost to the Virgin Islands. The producer wanted to meet the Tourism Commissioner to tell her of how much he loved St. Croix and of his plans for St. Croix. The Commissioner refused to meet the gentlemen having her assistant tell her visitor that she was too busy."
Roker has indicated that if the broadcast of the last years finale at Carambola is not supported by the Virgin Islands, he will be looking to hold the finale elsewhere this fall. He said several cities in different countries had already expressed an interest in doing it.
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