Just two weeks after launching, a new radio network aimed at liberal audiences suffered a setback Wednesday when a dispute with a business partner resulted in the network's signal being pulled from stations in Chicago and Los Angeles.
The owners offiled a lawsuit in New York's Supreme Court against the New York-based MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting Inc. after the radio company dropped Air America Radio's signal from its stations WNTD in Chicago and KBLA in Los Angeles.
MultiCultural Radio did not return phone calls for comment, but the Chicago Tribune quoted the company's owner, Arthur Liu, as saying that Air America bounced a check to them on Wednesday. Air America claims in its lawsuit that its payments are up to date.
"MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting's conduct in this matter has been disgraceful," Evan Cohen, the chairman of Air America Radio, said in a statement. "To shut off a broadcast that listeners rely on without warning and in the middle of discussions is the height of irresponsibility and a slap in the face of the media industry."
Air America claims in its lawsuit that MultiCultural Radio removed the network's signal in Chicago without notice 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.