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910 Superstation owner bans Kilpatrick's name after offer sours: 'No one's going to breathe your name'

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Kevin Adell, owner of WFDF-AM (910), has banned radio personalities and guests from mentioning Kwame Kilpatrick after the former Detroit mayor spurned a potentially lucrative job offer.

Adell describes a brief, unrequited and, eventually, bitter courtship launched after Kilpatrick left prison last month when President Donald Trump commuted the politician's 28-year federal prison sentence. Adell said he offered Kilpatrick, 50, the option of a morning or afternoon drive-time radio show on 910 Superstation and a half-hour show on his Word Network, the world's largest African American religious network that reaches more than 200 countries. 

Kwame Kilpatrick outside federal court in 2012.

But Kilpatrick never responded, Adell says, rebuffing an offer that could help the politician satisfy probation conditions that include securing a job, and paying more than $1.7 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. 

"He blew it," Adell told The Detroit News on Tuesday. "I don’t want him on. We don't want drama here."

Kilpatrick, who did not respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday, is the latest corrupt public official and figure to be courted by Adell. In recent years, his radio station roster has included former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, political consultant Sam Riddle, Kilpatrick chief of staff Christine Beatty and Monica Morgan Holiefield, widow of United Auto Workers Vice President General Holiefield. 

Detroit News columnists Henry Payne and Bankole Thompson host shows on 910 AM Superstation.

The courtship described by Adell started early last week.

Kevin Adell

He heard through intermediaries that Kilpatrick was interested in hosting a radio show on 910 AM as part of a broader plan that includes starting a ministry. Adell drafted a proposal for Kilpatrick to host a two-hour radio show, an unpaid gig that would provide a platform and potential income through paid advertising.

“Selling ads is like climbing Mt. Everest with flip-flops,” Adell said. “Everyone here at 910 doesn’t get paid. But it gives you an opportunity for a platform you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The station owner gave his cellphone number to the Kilpatrick intermediaries, whom he declined to identify.

"I figured it would be perfect for him," Adell said. "He could do it remotely from home in his pajamas. I figured he would fit our audience and could weigh in on politics with the upcoming mayoral race."

He also offered a free half-hour for Kilpatrick on the Word.

“It’s in 200 countries, it’s on in prisons and airlines," Adell said. "If he came on the Word, if you’re a pastor, a lot make a lot of money."

Kilpatrick needs money.

A lifetime of missteps, crimes and scandals have saddled the former mayor with $11.5 million in debt and barred him from holding state or local office in Michigan until 2033.

Kilpatrick is believed to be living with his mother near Atlanta, Georgia. She bought a new $336,848 home 39 miles south of Atlanta in June 2019 and lives 28 miles away from his father, Bernard Kilpatrick. 

Found in a secluded Georgian suburb: A gathering with Kwame Kilpatrick

After making the job offer, intermediaries gave Adell updates throughout last week.

"Every day," Adell said, "I'm getting weather reports: 'He's going to call you tomorrow; he's going to call today.'"

Adell said Kilpatrick never called.

"That just pissed me off," he said.

Adell responded by issuing a Kilpatrick gag order at a time when the former mayor's commutation was drawing national attention and talk-show fodder.

"For wasting my time, now no one's going to breathe your name," Adell said. "And any guests you have on, if they talk about him, you're off.

"Is that mean-spirited? he added. "Sure. But it shows he is not going to jerk me around."

Later, Adell said he received an explanation for Kilpatrick's behavior.

"The reason was the feds told him not to get on the media and told him not to be a bully," Adell said. 

The media owner doesn't believe the explanation. There is no condition of Kilpatrick's supervised release barring him from working in the media.

"He's afraid of coming on," Adell said.

The Detroit U.S. Attorney's Office did not block Kilpatrick from working for the station, Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a Tuesday statement.

“Our office was not aware of the job offer made to Mr. Kilpatrick, nor did we place any restrictions on any employment opportunities," Moshin said. "It is always our hope that returning citizens seek and maintain employment once they are released. Joblessness is one of the biggest barriers to success for these individuals and we certainly would not discourage anyone from obtaining employment.”

Kilpatrick's apparent return to Detroit last weekend — he was photographed at a barbershop — fueled speculation of a meeting with Adell.

The station owner, however, was not in town.

"He had a short window of opportunity," Adell said. "I don't care if he comes hat in hand. It was a week too long of drama and, for that, he is going to be paying a price. No one is going to talk about you.

"Two weeks from now, nobody is going to care about Kwame Kilpatrick."

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews