Only in America!
America might just be the only place in the world where a person can quit their job, sue their employer for countless acts of criminal activity, make accusations and drag their employer’s name through the mud in every media outlet across Houston, label the incident a ‘misunderstanding’ and then get their job back as if nothing ever happened.
That exact scenario is the latest on a story the Houston Forward Times (HFT) has been following for some time, involving veteran Houston radio talk show host Michael Harris and his, then-former and now-current boss, Jesse Dunn of KCOH Radio 1230 AM.
The entire incident had become an extremely contentious and embarrassing situation for both Harris and KCOH 1230 AM, and equally as confusing to many in the community has been the recent revelation that Harris has since dropped his lawsuit and returned to the airwaves.
After having left KCOH 1230 AM almost eight months ago, after accusing the station owner of financial mismanagement and attempted fraud on the community, Harris is back and has dropped all charges against Dunn. Harris started back on the air at KCOH 1230 AM this past Monday.
It was in September that Harris held a major press conference in front of the famous KCOH glass studio window, which he called home for 38 years, and announced that he had filed a lawsuit against Dunn and had called on him to resign.
In describing Dunn’s actions, Harris said that Dunn "cheated" and "connived" and "stole."
Harris filed a criminal complaint with the Houston Police Department (HPD), accusing Dunn of taking a business debit card that was addressed to him and using the card to spend money on gambling and other personal expenses. Harris claimed that Dunn spent money on gambling and other personal expenses and Harris provided members of the media copies of bank statements and legal documentation that indeed showed a number of gambling transactions from trips to Louisiana and Las Vegas casinos.
Dunn admitted to going gambling but claimed that the money belonged to him because he owned the company and could do what he wanted with the money.
In the civil lawsuit that was filed, Harris claimed that he signed to be a guarantor to secure two personal lines of credit totaling $130,000 for the station and to back a $38,000 financing agreement for radio equipment; all with three different institutions. Harris also leveled allegations against Dunn, stating that he used another company’s legal documentation to secure one of the loans that Harris claims to have signed for.
Because of these serious allegations and the lawsuit, KCOH 1230 AM retained long-time attorney and current State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) as their legal counsel and at the time Dutton admitted to the HFT that Dunn indeed used the card to go gambling, but said that he was well within his right to perform the transactions because he owns the company and is authorized to do so and that Dunn was simply paying himself back from the initial investment of over $200k that he made into KCOH Radio.
As the case progressed, the case was abruptly dismissed in February, four months after being filed. Court records show that Harris County District Court Judge Larry Weiman signed an order closing the case because of a final summary judgment. The case was eventually reinstated after Harris’ lawyer filed a motion to reconsider and argued for reopening the case during a hearing.
During that entire ordeal, Harris moved on to start a Houston-based Internet radio station called KYSH (Your Source Houston), along with Robert Moore, owner of the Computer Superstore that was located on the corner of St. Joseph’s Parkway and Louisiana, near downtown Houston. The KYSH radio station, which featured a looking glass window just like KCOH 1230 AM, hit the ground running in late March, but only had a six-week run and shut down unexpectedly.
When talking about this entire ordeal, Harris made bold declaration about Dunn when he said, "He (Dunn) has ruined KCOH radio’s future."
What a difference a day makes, when a failed business venture and a need for employment causes the same individual who walked away from KCOH 1230 AM eight months prior, to come to work for the very man that Harris says would ruin KCOH 1230 AM.
In speaking with KCOH 1230 AM attorney Harold Dutton, he tells the HFT that his client, Jesse Dunn and KCOH 1230 AM, has instructed him to file a motion to dismiss all charges against Michael Harris. Dutton also confirms that Harris had already filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Jesse Dunn and KCOH 1230 AM.
So as it appears, all is well again at KCOH 1230 AM and Harris has returned to conduct his long-running "Person to Person" radio talk show, although at a different time.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Harris said that he had come to terms with Dunn and that it was "a hard world out there." He went on to say he and Dunn "just had a big misunderstanding."
KCOH Radio has been a crown jewel within the community since 1953 and has been a source of information and inspiration to its listeners for over 60 years. The significance of KCOH Radio goes beyond its years of existence and the loss of it would be devastating to the African-American community.
KCOH, whose call letters have been said to stand for "City of Houston," was acquired by businessman Robert C. Meeker in 1953, defining it as the first Black-owned radio station in Texas, third in the nation and second oldest Houston AM station to keep its original call letters.
In late 2012, the station’s former owners sold the 1430 AM signal and the new KCOH switched from 1430 AM to 1230 AM in March 2013. The station continues to broadcast from its original location at 5011 Almeda.
While the news of Harris to KCOH has been exciting for many in the community, many others remain cautiously optimistic and curious as to how this reinstated employer/employee reunion will play out. The HFT will continue to keep you posted on any new developments.