Las Vegas television giant Jim Rogers confirmed Sunday he is fighting cancer again and recently told his employees “whatever happens, the station will not be put up for sale.”
A Las Vegas native, Rogers, 75, founded Valley Broadcasting Co. in 1971 and won FCC approval to operate NBC affiliate KVBC, Channel 3, in 1979.
He parlayed that into Sunbelt Communications, which grew into 14 TV stations in five Mountain States, including three in Nevada. Others were in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Arizona.
Rogers declined to comment on the type of cancer he has or his prognosis.
He battled bladder cancer about seven years ago.
“Just say this is my second go-round with cancer,” Rogers said Sunday night by telephone from his Las Vegas home.
“I assume I’ll come out of this all right. I did the last time,” he added.
He revealed the development to his employees at a town hall-like meeting in the Channel 3 newsroom about a month ago.
“I think you owe your employees an explanation,” he said. “They needed to know. They needed to know for several reasons — first of all, just as a matter of knowing, and secondly, with what’s going to happen with the station.
“So I went in to say this is what I got but I can assure you that whatever happens, the station will not be put up for sale. That’s never been part of the plan and so they are rest assured that their jobs are intact,” he said.
Several Channel 3 employees who attended the meeting said Rogers got emotional during the half-hour address.
“He got a little choked up talking about the future of Channel 3,” said Lisa Howfield, vice president and general manager.
“Primarily, he wanted to assure everybody at the station (No. 1), he wanted to tell people what was going on with his health, then assure everyone that the station is not going anywhere, that he’s putting his resources into expanding everything that we’re doing at the station. He was just wanting the employees to feel comfortable knowing the station isn’t going anywhere.
“He’s not stepping away, he’ll work until ... who knows,” she said.
Howfield clarified that it was not a case of his bladder cancer returning.
Rogers said, “It’s debilitating, the treatment is debilitating and it’s scary. All you can do is do this: thank God I have a place to go to work every day and thank God I’m active in my community. Because I really feel sorry for those who really have to sit around and think about it all the time because there’s no fun to that.”
Despite those treatments, he said he’s continued his long tradition of arriving at the station about 6:30 a.m.
He recently sold a station in Casper, Wyo., and is in the process of selling stations in Reno and Pocatello, Idaho. He still owns a station in Helena, Mont., where he has a summer home.
Sunbelt’s title was changed to Intermountain West Communications Co. about five years ago, he said, when he came out of a Montana restaurant and someone asked him “why I had the name ‘Sunbelt’ on my Lincoln when this ain’t a Sun Belt (state). I changed it.”
He has shared much of his fortune on bettering the Nevada education system.
“I’m far wealthier than I am competent,” he said, “and I have strong feelings about those who have wealth and owe that debt to the community and spending it here.”
A Channel 3 source who attended the meeting said Rogers made it clear that when he “goes, everything goes to (wife) Beverly, and when she goes, everything goes to the colleges.”
Brandon Flowers, frontman for The Killers, with friends at “Michael Jackson One” (Mandalay Bay) on Saturday. Commenting on the show, Flowers said the “Man in the Mirror” hologram of Jackson was a highlight and joked that he might look into getting one for himself to make his tour easier. Flowers and his friends dined at Yellowtail (Bellagio) before the show. ... Reigning Miss America Nina Davuluri, at the New Media Expo at the Rio on Saturday. ... Dot Marie Jones of “Glee,” celebrating her 50th birthday at Lavo (Palazzo) on Saturday with former “Glee” co-star Ashley Fink as well as her partner, whom Jones recently married, Bridgett Casteen.
THE PUNCH LINE
“People who owe her money for Tupperware suddenly start paying up.” — From David Letterman’s “Top 10 Signs That Your Wife is Seeing Frank Sinatra”
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more at normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter.