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Austin Radio Network shut down over the weekend, unable to run local programming due to financial dispute

A managing partner for the radio group said it is in a dispute with its landlord over money.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's Note: Following the weekend shutdown, The Horn announced on Twitter Monday evening that "live and local" programming would be back on the airwaves at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9. Both KOKE FM and The Bat were also back on air. 

For 20 years, Austinite John Baker has listened "religiously" to The Horn, or 104.9, the "flagship station" of the Longhorns. But over the weekend, he noticed something was off.

"I don't listen to music – I listen to sports radio. And when I couldn't even get the app to work, I went looking and found that The Bat wasn't on and KOKE FM wasn't on," Baker said.

Some of Austin's most recognizable radio hosts were abruptly dropped from the airwaves. Over the weekend, Austin Radio Network, which operates KOKE FM, The Horn and The Bat, couldn't run local programming. 

What happened? In a phone call with KVUE, Genuine Austin Radio Managing Partner Jason Nassour said the group was in a dispute over paying rent. Nassour said the previous landlord and the radio stations had an agreement where the radio group was supposed to be given tens of thousands of dollars to fix the place up in April of 2020. 

During the pandemic, a new owner, OakPoint Real Estate, purchased the property. Nassour claims the new landlord has been trying to collect the money back by increasing the rent. 

On Friday, Nassour claimed this dispute led to their landlord locking out radio show employees and shutting off the power. 

KVUE reached out to a representative of the building owner who said, "The landlord is actively working toward a solution with the tenant and is optimistic that the matter will be resolved amicably." 

The temporary shutdown reinforced why radio is so beloved to fans like Baker. 

"I mean, people get hooked on bands and artists and all that sort of stuff. But I [have] follow[ed] most of these guys' careers for quite a while, so it was like losing a bunch of friends," Baker said. 

Meanwhile, Nassour is facing charges in a separate case. Nassour and former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody face evidence tampering charges after the death of Javier Ambler in 2019. 

Isabella Basco on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram  

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