For a few days, you might have heard a hip-hop station called Streetz 102.9, which disappeared on April 8 as mysteriously as it arrived. (The Web site is gone, too.)
Here’s a possible reason why: litigation and accusations of employee misconduct, breach of contract and stealing of proprietary computer data.
Radio One, which owns Hot 107.9, sued the purported operators of Streetz, first on March 20, but amended last week on April 16 to include more details. Kevin Ross over at radiofacts.com broke the news of the lawsuit, which is also on his site.
The defendants include two former Radio One execs Steve Hegwood and Wayne Brown. (Except for his quick comment to me April 8 denying his involvement with Streetz, neither he nor Brown have returned calls to me or anybody else I know of in the press. I’ve also left messages with the respective attorneys on both sides.)
The lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court alleges that Hegwood, while employed with Radio One as operations manager of the Atlanta market, stole the music library, including special mixes created by Radio One of particular songs (two in particular: “Pop Champagne” by Ron Brown and “Stoopid” by Gucci Mane.) He also allegedly signed on as a Radio One employee a month after he left and accessed Hot 107.9’s confidential radio research and database.
“Hegwood is believed to be the principal and driving force behind Streetz 102.9,” the lawsuit said. “Hegwood has actively concealed his participation in Streetz 102.9.”
Hegwood resigned from Radio One on Feb. 17, saying he would focus on his Albany radio station and a consulting firm. After he left Radio One, the company in the lawsuit said it learned that Hegwood’s Extreme Media Group acquired two FM translators. One, W250BC, was picked up from Clark Atlanta on September 2007 for $100,000. More recently, the signal was licensed to Cumulus Broadcasting to start 99X at 97.9 in exchange for a Georgia radio station outside of metro Atlanta.
The lawsuit said Radio One discovered that Extreme Media received the 102.9 translator in December 2008 while Hegwood was still employed with Radio One. But the name on the documentation was Hegwood’s nephew Keenan Heard. Heard’s address matched that of Hegwood. Heard, the lawsuit said, was there to “obfuscate [Hegwood's] participation.”
Extreme Media acquired the rights to W275BK at 102.9 for $235,000, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said his boss Brown was aware of his activities but did nothing to stop them and alleged that he was involved in the whole situation.
Here’s Kevin Ross of Radiofacts.com’s take:
Many in the industry are left scratching their heads and wondering why [Hegwood] would leave the Atlanta station and start his own company IN HIS OWN NAME and use Radio One property to get the station off the ground remains to be seen. At this point, few if any people have heard from Steve or have been able to reach him for any quotes. Alfred [Liggins of Radio One] is not giving up and this is not a pretty situation.
-The lineup for the August 8th Kiss 104.1 Flashback Festival at Lakewood Amphitheatre includes the Bar-Kays, Con Funk Shin, Sugarfoot (of the Ohio Players and the Dazz Band) and Slave. Tix are $10 to $55.