Austin Radio Network folded over the weekend, unable to carry local programming due to financial disputes

A managing partner of the radio group says he is in a dispute with the owner over money.

AUSTIN, Texas — For 20 years, the John Baker autism “religiously” listened to The Horn, or 104.9, the “flagship station” of the Longhorns. But over the weekend, he noticed something was wrong.

“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 The Bat wasn’t on and KOKE FM wasn’t on,” Baker said.

Some of Austin’s most recognizable radio hosts were suddenly blasted off the airwaves. Currently, the Austin Radio Network, which operates KOKE FM, The Horn and The Bat, cannot carry local programming.

What happened? In a call with KVUE News, Genuine Austin Radio managing partner Jason Nassour said the group is in a dispute over rent payments. Nassour said the previous owner and the radio stations had an agreement in which the radio group would receive tens of thousands of dollars to fix the place in April 2020.

During the pandemic, a new owner, OakPoint Real Estate, has purchased the property. Nassour says the new landlord is trying to collect the money by raising the rent. On Friday, Nassour said this dispute led the landlord to lock out employees of the radio show and cut the power.

KVUE News contacted a representative of the building owner who said, “The owner is actively working towards a resolution with the tenant and is optimistic that the matter will be resolved amicably.”

The temporary shutdown is reinforcing why radio is so beloved by fans like Baker.

“I mean, people are into bands and artists and all that kind of stuff, but I’ve been following most of these guys’ careers for a while, so it was like losing a bunch of friends,” Baker said.

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

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