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Liberal Radio Wins Chicago Fight

A new radio network aimed at liberal audiences was back on the air in Chicago on Friday, but its signal problems in Los Angeles — and a business dispute with a partner — have yet to be resolved.

Air America Radio's signal was pulled Wednesday from two stations in both cities by MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting Inc. following a disagreement over payments.

Air America said Thursday it had obtained a temporary restraining order against Multicultural "forcing them to put us back on the air." The order, which was filed in New York where Multicultural is based, does not apply to its Los Angeles station, however.

New York state Supreme Court Judge Marylin G. Diamond found Thursday that Air America had fully paid for airtime in Chicago and ordered Multicultural to begin broadcasting Air America's programming again.

Air America chairman Evan Cohen said the company had not asked the court to act in Los Angeles, and was pursuing other options there, including finding a new "more responsible and mature" business partner.

"We've just won Round 1," Cohen told the Chicago Tribune. "[Multicultural owner] Arthur Liu received a clear message: Temper tantrums are not the way to conduct business."

Efforts to contact MultiCultural for comment were not successful. Earlier this week, The Chicago Tribune quoted Liu as saying that Air America bounced a check to them on Wednesday.

In its lawsuit, Air America said its payments were up to date and claimed that MultiCultural removed the network's signal in Chicago without notice, kicked Air America employees out of its stations, and changed the locks on the station's offices.

Air America Radio launched March 31 in five cities around the country and on XM Satellite Radio with a slate of left-leaning talk radio and political satire, headlined by comedians Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo.

The network is still broadcasting in New York, Portland, Ore., and on a different station in Los Angeles, KCAA. It plans to add the Chapel Hill, N.C. market beginning Monday.

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