Ex-volunteer torched KOOP in music spat, authorities say
Staffers and volunteers at Austin’s KOOP are still trying to comprehend why a former colleague would try to burn down the station over a trivial squabble about music choices.
That’s the reason Paul Feinstein, a 24-year-old former volunteer at the community radio station, gave Austin fire investigators when he confessed to starting the Jan. 5  blaze, which caused roughly $300,000 in damages and knocked the station off the air until the end of January. Entercom Austin, which owns three of the city’s commercial stations, donated studio space to KOOP until the station’s studio is repaired.
“It’s really hard to comprehend why someone would try to undo what his friends had worked so hard to put together,” says Kim McCarson, station manager.
The station plans to resume operations at its own studios in around three months, she says.
Feinstein was arrested Jan. 28 and charged with second-degree felony arson, which carries a possible prison sentence of two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Until he quit the station about a week before the fire, Feinstein produced a jazz show with the now-ironic title “Mellow Down Easy.” He told fire officials that he torched KOOP over a clash he had with another volunteer who changed his selections for the overnight program, McCarson says.
KOOP moved to its current location in 2006 after two fires at its previous home caused combined damages exceeding $4 million, with the latter blaze destroying the building entirely. Neither of the earlier fires was ruled to be arson.
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