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Air America back on the air in L.A., Chicago

New York judge ordered the network back on the air despite the station owners claims that Air America 'bounced a check.'
/ Source: Reuters

A New York judge ordered the owner of two radio stations Thursday to put the 2-week-old, liberal radio network known as Air America back on the air.

MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting Inc, which owns radio stations in Chicago and Los Angeles, pulled the plug on Air America Wednesday. MultiCultural’s owner, Arthur Liu, told the Chicago Tribune the radio network “bounced a check” and was in default.

Air America, which leases radio stations in 16 cities, filed a complaint in New York State Supreme Court demanding it be restored to the air and compensated.

Judge Marilyn Diamond issued a temporary restraining order on the condition that Air America post a $156,000 bond. The judge will hold a hearing on the dispute Monday.

“We won the first round. We’ll be back on the air sometime before the end of the day on Friday,” Air America Chairman Evan Cohen said.

Liu did not return calls seeking comment.

“Arthur Liu received a clear message in court,” Cohen said. ”Temper tantrums are not the way to conduct business.”

Cohen said he purchased two months of airtime on KBLA in Santa Monica, California, before Air America’s March 31 launch, but the station owner resold the time to a Spanish-language programmer.

Cohen said the two sides had been in discussions until Tuesday, when talks broke down and the station owner locked out Air America employees from KBLA and Chicago’s WNTD.

Air America, which features a program hosted by comedian Al Franken, was launched to counter right-wing hosts who dominate daytime talk radio. Los Angeles and Chicago were two of Air America’s largest markets.