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Judge relaxes rules for rap station visitors

Limits on artists stopping by New York's Hot 97 after violent incidents
/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge has relaxed the rules a landlord established for visitors to the studios of Hot 97, a hip-hop radio station, after several shootings occurred outside the building.

The New York City District Council of Carpenters Pension Fund, which owns the Greenwich Village building that houses Hot 97 and two sister stations, said it imposed the visitation rules out of concern for the safety of other tenants.

Citing three shootings, two bomb threats and more than a dozen other incidents involving Hot 97 guests since March 2000, the fund has sued to evict the stations, all owned by Indianapolis-based Emmis Radio LLC. That lawsuit is pending.

In 2001, a gunfight outside Hot 97 between posses linked to rappers Lil’ Kim and Capone-N-Noreaga left one man wounded. Lil’ Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, is now serving a year and a day in prison for lying to a federal grand jury about the shootout.

Emmis, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit accusing the fund of breach of contract. It signed the lease in 1996, which has another six years to run.

On Tuesday, State Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried changed the rules for visitors to Hot 97, or WQHT-FM, and to the other stations, WRKS-FM, or 98.7 Kiss FM, which plays soul and R&B, and WQCD-FM, or CD 101.9, an easy-listening jazz station.

The judge, who basically ratified an agreement between lawyers for the parties, lifted all restrictions on guests, on-air or otherwise, for Kiss FM and CD 101.9.

He also said on-air guests — recording artists — for Hot 97 must enter alone. The station must give the fund four days’ notice for those guests and must hire an armed guard to patrol outside the station at least an hour before the guest shows up.

The station also agreed to install a telephone outside the building so the armed security guard can call police if there is a problem. The guard must be licensed to carry a gun, said Brian O’Dwyer, lawyer for the carpenters’ pension fund.

Emmis issued a statement saying the radio stations were “pleased” with the court ruling because the visiting restrictions had prevented them from doing business.

The statement also said Emmis was committed to working with the fund to ensure a safe and secure environment.

O’Dwyer said he was happy the judge recognized the pension fund’s legitimate concerns about safety. He said his clients agreed to the relaxed rules pending the outcome of the eviction lawsuit. He said a hearing is scheduled for May 19.

“Ultimately, the only way to deal with this will be to have Hot 97 removed from the building,” he said.