I’m free at last to “take the stand” in Jennifer Royle (ex-MASN employee & current CBS Radio employee) v. WNST.net

August 29, 2011 | Nestor Aparicio

Tick tock, tick tock…as time slips through the hourglass so goes Jennifer Royle’s 15 minutes of fame in Baltimore.

She’s now been here about 18 months and today figures to be the last time she gets a headline in the Charm City. Her lawsuit against me, WNST and my employees Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark, was completely without merit.

This costly and damaging witch hunt and blatant attempt to injure my company and a reputation that I’ve spent 27 years of my life erecting here in my hometown of Baltimore as a “tell it like it is” journalist in the style of my heroes John Steadman and Howard Cosell – is now complete.

Time and facts have proven that WNST never did anything inappropriate.

Ms. Royle dropped the case after our lawyers filed a motion asking a judge to order her to answer a series of questions that she didn’t want to answer.

Instead of responding to our motions, she took her marbles and went home.

As we stated all along, we did nothing wrong at WNST.net. Her allegations were a public affront to me, and an attack on my personal integrity and the value of everything we’ve built this 21st century local media company to stand for publicly over the past two decades.

My company and my personal reputation have been greatly damaged over the last six months with this black cloud of nonsense, gossip and bogus lawsuit, and I’m glad to publicly tell you today that we prevailed, but what we’ve received lacks justice for me, my employees, and our families.

Despite all of the havoc she’s wreaked inside of my company and the damage to my reputation in the community with her allegations, in the end Jennifer Royle got nothing, zero, zilch – not one penny of WNST money, which was her motivation from the outset. So, I suppose she “lost” this battle although I’m not sure it cost her any money at all to create this media firestorm so perhaps she’s a winner.  Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

Many of you had never heard of her before her face graced the front pages of local periodicals as a “rising star,” while suing the one local media company that has the audacity to tell it like it is regarding bad journalism, media competition and the “hush hush” politics surrounding the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos.

And as much as my company can claim some sort of public “victory” today, I know I’m not a “winner,” that’s for sure. This was a game of legal chess and a complete waste of time and energy that no one in my company ever signed on to play.

Outside the hundreds of wasted hours of nonsense, grief, rumors and lies, it’s certainly been a life-altering, educational experience.

And, really, quite personally disheartening for a kid from Dundalk who grew up with next-to-nothing and has worked diligently, legally, ethically and with great passion and energy to make a great, authentic local company like WNST.net that lives and breathes to serve this community and make the internet, mobile devices and radio work against all odds and against the biggest giants of the media industry in the marketplace.

The garbage we’ve endured in this case was unimaginable until I realized how the incredible red tape of these lawsuits work.

But even after voluntarily offering to drop all of her charges last week via her attorney, she gave me her “concession speech” while wearing a press pass in the Ravens media lounge.

Two weeks ago before the Chiefs game, just hours after it became official that Royle was giving up her case, she approached me at a table with other reporters standing nearby and gave me her “post-litigation” quote while wearing a Ravens credential:

“What the f**k are you looking at? I did you a f**king favor. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT! ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT!”

By the way, these were the first uninitiated words she’s ever spoken to me, and the first time she’s ever engaged me in any conversation.

You want the truth about Royle v. WNST?

You might not be able to handle the truth…but it’s a click away right HERE.

I’m told that I’m finally free at last to speak my mind and tell my side of the story. So, while I was anxiously awaiting the trial next June and taking my seat in the courtroom and having the facts told in great detail because we have nothing to hide, instead I’ll take the stand here at WNST.net and tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As usual…

That, by the way, is all that I’ve done for the past 27 years.  I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of writing, editing, reporting, critiquing, praising and evaluating the Baltimore sports scene in the media. I wrote 1,500 stories for The News American and The Baltimore Sun before I was 23 and began my radio career on Dec. 13, 1991. I’m three months short of 20 years as a radio host and local entrepreneur whose been traveling the world and living in and loving this city and its sports scene.

I report facts. I opine and analyze on Baltimore sports and just about anything else that I feel compelled and authentically interested in espousing my feelings about regarding topics I feel I’m qualified to opine. We live in America. I have First Amendment rights and free speech.

But today I’m here to tell you that “free” speech isn’t free.

Jennifer Royle is a competitor in sports media who we think is inferior as a journalist, and we really don’t care who knows it. She’s a public figure. She goes on the radio and the internet and her Twitter page and opines on all sorts of things that we believe she’s unqualified to evaluate as a professional Baltimore sports expert. Here’s my opinion: her opinion on Baltimore sports is so insignificant as to not be ever mentioned again by me or anyone at WNST.net.

And other than a few occasions in the past when we pointed out how off base she was in some commentary or a blog, we really gave Miss Royle very little attention in her first year in Baltimore. Honestly, other than as an occasional punch line -– which is all she is as a “source” or “insider” in our sports universe of legitimate experts — it wasn’t worth the effort.

And after this blog her name will never roll off my lips again. I have no interest in Jennifer Royle, nor have I ever had any interest in any aspect of her life before getting sued by her and being subjected to reading the daily drama of her existence on Twitter and all over social media. The biggest “favor” she did me was dropping the lawsuit so I no longer had to monitor her mindless web ramblings, which most certainly robbed me of my time as much as the lawsuit robbed me of sponsors and some dignity that I’ll never recover in some segments of the community who convict those in the court of public opinion and on the 5 o’clock news.

Now, let’s address this crazy lawsuit, which countless numbers of you have asked me about since it led the evening news back in March, and then we’re done with it.

And here’s another link. It’s almost 300 pages long. As you can imagine, it’s an arduous read but it contains everything you need to know about what Jennifer Royle alleged in Royle v. WNST (Aparicio, Forrester & Clark).

All I need to say will be said here: WNST will not be taking phone calls or posting any “he said/she said” commentary after we speak our peace (or is it piece?) this week. We are through with this chapter of sick, pointless litigation. And we are most certainly through with Miss Royle and her drama.

Enough, already.

We have families to feed, sports news and commentary to get to in football season and a community to serve in Baltimore.

For those of you coming here to read because you:

A) Love me
B) Hate me
C) Know me
D) Care about me
E) or you’re just a curiosity news-seeker

I will say this: I appreciate that you care enough to read on and care to know my side of the story. And I have a feeling the company she works for won’t be featuring this on the evening news the way they did when their employee was the plaintiff — but only time will tell. And I have a feeling that The Baltimore Sun won’t make the dismissal of this case a front page story the way they did when I was the defendant. And even though the story leaked last week during the awful tragedy regarding Mike Flanagan’s suicide, no one has reached to me to get my side of the story the way they all called me unprovoked before I had even been served papers back in March.

So, here’s how I really feel: This was the most despicable act purported on me in my lifetime by anyone I’ve never even met.

The amount of hours, explanations and mind space I’ve had to spend on a woman who I’ve never even had a conversation with or have given a nanosecond of my time or energy to since her self-aggrandized arrival 18 months ago and someone I’m not remotely interested in knowing anything personal about is mind-boggling.

What a country we live in! That’s all I can say.

This country and our legal system and tort law is very, very, very f**ked up – that much I’ve learned in the last six months since her threats began with a letter from her lawyer Brian Goodman of the law firm of Hodes, Pessin & Katz advising that they intended to sue my company, which would clearly harm my company and help Royle’s company, CBS Radio, have a competitive advantage over WNST.

But there was no way WNST was ever going to admit guilt where none existed. Sure, it would’ve been easier, but anyone in my life who even thought of recommending that cowardly behavior was dismissed and you can only imagine my anger at the notion of doing anything that impugns my integrity as an honest journalist.

I’d rather die.

And anyone who knows me will tell you that.

And Miss Royle wound up getting exactly what she deserved in the end: nothing.

As I wrote four months ago when this fiasco began, I have nothing to hide. There is no smoking gun. We’re by far the most read, commented, followed, text-based, Tweeting, blogging, content machines at WNST.net and all of it is purposely designed to be public.

My company immediately and eagerly produced droves -– if not tomes — of unedited, unaltered information and contents of all kinds for Goodman, Hodes and Royle. We have tweeted over 50,000 times. We have Facebooked vigorously for three years – tens of thousands of threads, comments, entries and pictures. We do 12 hours of very visible, downloaded audio and radio every day. I have personally sent and received more than 100,000 emails in the last year.

Not a speck of actionable material about Jennifer Royle was anywhere in our evidence.

Same with Drew Forrester.

Same with Glenn Clark.

We have hundreds of Tweets, posts, replies and evidence that would say that Jennifer Royle has had a rocky road with Baltimore sports fans and their public (and warranted in our opinion) criticism of her work and credentials as a local sports expert. She burst into Baltimore on the tail end of the Anita Marks era at 105.7 and CBS Radio and was quickly put into the Orioles clubhouse with a MASN/CBS credential.

And aside from any tangible evidence regarding this case, to publicly allege as she did in her lawsuit that we gossiped about her personal life or her sex life, based on blogs and tweets in which we said absolutely no such thing, is just preposterous and an affront to everything we stand for at WNST.net in reporting the facts about sports in Baltimore.

The shocker to me was that a respected firm like Hodes, Pessin & Katz — a group of people I considered long-time friends and who were involved in ownership and housing WLG-AM 1360 when I wrote more than $250,000 in checks to their company back in the 1990’s brokering airtime for my afternoon “Sports Forum” radio show — would take a case like this against me and think they’d win.

The original charging documents tried to plead that Royle is NOT a public figure, which I don’t think I needed to enter the Peter G. Angelos Law Center at my old University of Baltimore alma mater to research.

And I can’t imagine that anyone on her side of the fence ever realized that large portions of her personal life and relationships are an absolute open book on her Twitter page where she loudly and proudly interacts with the many famous friends she has in sports and openly denigrates fans and co-workers every day quite publicly. She openly Tweets with athletes, celebrities and media people on a daily basis about her physical attributes, her dog, her nephew, etc.

But the amount of absolute gibberish in their charging documents would’ve been laughable had it not been a blatant attempt to wreak havoc on my life and company and shake me down for money.

They actually spelled my name wrong when they sent the court papers and did so many times throughout the documentation.

They were demanding $800,000 and they didn’t know how to spell my name?

They served me papers three different times, so much so that I felt like I knew the poor retired police officer (and WNST fan) that chased me around town for two weeks in March. They even sued the wrong company at the wrong address in the beginning.

Quite frankly, I don’t need to opine too much about the specifics in the case.

They’re all RIGHT HERE for you to peruse.

But, in general, it seems Miss Royle can take anything we say on the radio or the web and somehow believe it has some link to her.

She somehow managed to complain in the lawsuit about a Tweet I sent regarding a half-price discount for one of our sponsors and think it was about her.

Go through pages 156 through 181 of her allegations in the lawsuit and see for yourself some of her charges.

She also complained that we nominated her for “Orioles Apologist Of The Month.” She and her legal team thought they could sue us for this? And win?

Her legal papers also allege that a caller made a reference to “Jen Midol” on WNST. It might not be too polite but it’s certainly not grounds for a lawsuit against me.

She even reached to Orioles poohbah Greg Bader, hardly a fan of mine or WNST, and attempted to involve him on Page 178.

But, thankfully, this circus is over.

And let’s make no mistake about it — WNST is NOT a winner. We lost. We lost big time. But Jennifer Royle didn’t get a penny from WNST.net.

I suppose that’s my “victory.”

But I’ve been victimized. When someone calls me or my team rumormongers and even whispers that anyone at WNST made comments that they never actually made is personally bothersome to me.

All told, I think this whole experience was despicable.

Not that this does me any good or helps me recoup damages to my name that might last the rest of my life in the public forum.

I have sponsors who dropped us. I have others who declined to do business with us or take an appointment with us. I heard whispers around every corner about WNST and me and perceived guilt. I had jealous rivals and unappreciative ex-employees cackle and desperately hope that WNST.net was guilty and going belly up.

Can you imagine my lack of humor when someone who identifies themselves as a WNST fan comes up at an Orioles game and asks if my station is going to be renamed W-Jen-ST once she wins the lawsuit.

This was no joke to anyone at WNST and isn’t a good conversation starter for me or Forrester or Clark.

The worst part has been being around the Ravens organization and having media members and members of the organization look at Drew, Glenn and me as pariahs or seeing us “guilty before judgment.” And the gender-based claims in this suit clearly imply that we’re somehow misogynists, when our wives, girlfriends and mothers are aghast that their loved ones could be accused of this kind of “social crime.”

But, in the end, this was exactly what my local attorney Steve Miles called it four months ago: a shakedown.

And my legal team was world class. If you have people making outrageous claims on you in the media space, you want Chuck Tobin and Drew Shenkman of Holland & Knight on your team. Those guys are the REAL heroes in this case. They’re two of the smartest, best dudes I’ve met anywhere in my travels. Rock stars and First Amendment Americans!

I owe a debt of gratitude to every one of you who said a kind word or dropped me a line with support and love. Thank you, Baltimore!

I run a company full of good people who are all honorable, work hard and want to be great. We love Baltimore sports as much as you love Baltimore sports and that’s why we’re here. And at this point, if you doubt those words you’re just a hater.

But, if you are a WNST hater who has read this missive this far, I’ll just assume you’re a hater who cares.

And I wouldn’t wish this sort of character assassination on even my most hated competitor.

This affected my 55-year old general manager Paul Kopelke and his family. This affected parents and wives and small children in the case of Drew Forrester. My wife, my mother and son all went through this with me and Drew and Glenn and our families and loved ones as well as all of my employees and supporters.

For me, it’s about integrity.  It’s about right and wrong.

I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was the most evil, heinous act ever performed upon me so Miss Royle should at the very least take a bow for scraping the bottom of the barrel in my 43 years on the planet.

When my 92-year old mother in Dundalk saw my face on the evening news looking like a criminal getting sued by a female journalist with hurt feelings and I look guilty on TV and in the newspapers when we’re perfectly innocent — well, that’s a little hard for me to take without both anger and sadness.

We were the No. 1 most viewed news story at The Baltimore Sun for almost two days when the lawsuit was filed, so I know the local media paparazzi and my competitors were waiting outside of the courthouse door for a “guilty” verdict on WNST that was never coming.

We’re moving on, but I’ll never forget this or forgive the people at corporate monoliths and competitors CBS Radio and MASN for bringing this out-of-town troublemaker into Baltimore to wage war on loyal local sports fans and on my company in the press, on the internet, and with contacts in local organizations via a baseless lawsuit that lacked any merit at all but landed her above the fold in newspapers all over town.

Where is she today to answer questions? She was the one throwing around dozens of crazy accusations?

Where’s her credibility now?

And what did she ever do or say to earn anyone’s trust in this community as a legitimate voice of Baltimore sports expertise?

I’ll leave that up to you to decide now and in the future.

Who do you trust for your news? And what is their agenda?

Our agenda at WNST.net has always been crystal clear:

To fully realize the potential of the vast audience our brand has acquired in Maryland over the past 17 years, WNST.net will be the dominant, honest voice in Maryland media by providing the “real” content of what’s happening in sports in our area.

We will deal with all of our listeners and sponsors with charity, benevolence, dignity and in the effort to educate and help sports fans in Baltimore better understand the big picture of sports so they can enjoy it even more.

We will be an advocate of all things Baltimore and Baltimore sports while keeping a keen “21stCentury-oriented” approach to build a bridge between sports and its fans through our website, broadcasts and community activism.
Integrity and accuracy will be our calling card.

And I want to stress again: we never did anything wrong, unethical or nefarious. Through all of these dramatic accusations, Miss Royle forgot to bring the one thing into the legal arena with her – a real case with any evidence to back up her heinous allegations.

And just as I wrote four months ago when this fiasco began, none of this will change how little she knows about Baltimore sports or how much Baltimore will “embrace” her greatness now that this sham and attack on my life and the lives of everyone connected to me and WNST is apparently complete.

Justice will never be served on my side of the ledger but WNST will forge ahead and not look back.

We will always be the real place you turn for Baltimore sports news and information that you can trust.

And Jennifer Royle will always be remembered as the female sports reporter who sued WNST on the front page of the newspaper and didn’t win. Period.

It’s football season. The Ravens are on the field and we’ll now go back to doing what we do best – bringing you the best sourced information, the most reliable news and analysis in Baltimore sports media.

We hope you enjoy what we do at WNST.net. And if there’s something we can do to get better, please drop me a note: nasty@wnst.net.

And it goes without saying, we’re always looking for local businesses to partner with and market to Baltimore sports fans just like you and me.

Thanks for supporting WNST.net and all of our families and friends. We appreciate you and look forward to continuing our growth and greatness with our new lineup in the fall.

FOR OBVIOUS LEGAL REASONS WE ARE NOT POSTING COMMENTS TO THIS BLOG OR REGARDING THIS SUBJECT MATTER. WE CONSIDER THE CASE OF ROYLE v. WNST CLOSED. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING…

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