Radio volunteer sets station on fire over playlist dispute

A decidedly non-mellow fellow who worked on an online jazz music show called "Mellow Down Easy" (*snort*) set fire to the radio station where he volunteered, because he was pissed that his song selections for the show were changed without his permission:
Paul Webster Feinstein, 24, has been charged with second-degree felony arson for the Jan. 5 fire that caused $300,000 damage to the studios of 91.7 FM KOOP. He faces from two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Feinstein told investigators that he was "very unhappy" about the changes to his playlist, said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Nye. The songs were intended for an Internet broadcast that occurs when the station is off the air.

Link. I love that the guy's shows and playlists are still available online. (via Wayne's list)


  1. You know…. somehow this reminds me of Jack Thompson and the kids that do crazy shit and he blames it on video games.

    Look, if they have a predisposition for erratic or irrational behavior they’re going to crazy shit, regardless of the cause. Video games, music, books, comics books, pornography, etc. Don’t blame the media, blame the psyche.

  2. Excuse me, I believe you have my playlist… Can I have my playlist back? He took my playlist and he never brought it back.

    It’s not okay because if they take my playlist then I’ll set the building on fire…

    I could set the building on fire.

  3. “He seemed like somebody who was young, enthusiastic, had a life, was a professional and was educated,” Dickens said.

    That describes half the crazies in Austin. God I miss that town.

  4. “Mellow Down Easy” is an old Willie Dixon jump blues tune, recorded most famously by Little Walter but also (less-famously) by Iggy & the Stooges. Kenny G got nuthin’ to do with it.

    I also don’t get how the original reporter could look at the linked playlists and get “jazz DJ” out of that–there is a Les McCann track but it appears to be the exception rather than the rule.

    Not trying to bust up the entertaining “smoove-jazz-lover-does-something-decidedly-unmellow” narrative…

  5. OK, there’s more to this story, and I’m going to leave it to you to google it all yourself. You’ll believe it better that way.

    I live in Austin. I asked people that worked at KOOP. I knew people who were put out in the FIRST fire. When was the first time that KOOP radio was destroyed by a mysterious fire?

    January 6, 2006. When was the second?

    February 4th, 2006.

    What happened that weekend?

    The landlord, Harry Whittington, was shot in the face by Vice President Dick Cheney.

    The third fire happened on Janary 6, 2008.

    This is absolutely true. This is common knowledge in Austin. Please research this yourself and you will see that these facts are not in dispute.

    I think it’s all a wild, wild coincidence, myself.

  6. Scary and weird. I worked for the pre-KOOP station back when it was KTSB, oh-so-long ago.

    The worst anyone did (that I can recall through the haze) was deliberately scratch Rattle and Hum (I think) when it came out so no one could play it.

    What an A**hat to take out his petty grievances over a freaking playlist on the other people who are there because they love music.

    Bigger question, what where the changes to his playlist/ That looks an awful lot like I would have played back in the day. Nina Simon next to Tom Waits next to Taj Mahal? Tasty.

    -Scotty Anderson

  7. I’d have to say, pretty big mistake in calling this a jazz show when the majority is blues. I can’t believe any informed individual would look at his playlists and call it jazz.

    But then, things like this are very important to me, as a volunteer DJ… please fix this, or I’m gonna get a can of gas…

  8. mercermachine – I’m right there with you, I miss Austin, too. Been gone for over 4 years now…odd as it sounds, it’s stories like this that make me want to go back!

    On another topic, this radio station shares an FM frequency (91.7) with KVRX, the UT student station…when I was an adoptive Austinite, it disappointed me that two of the three stations worth listening to (the other being KUT, the NPR station) had to split time on the same freq. You would think in a town like Austin they’d both be able to get their own signal…

  9. Teresa, I just think Geoff is pointing out that KOOP has been connected to a number of weird stories over the past couple of years. I was about to comment similarly myself. The Whittington connection was particularly weird.

  10. “He had a dream of a career in radio and was very disappointed about where it had led him,”

    Yeah, well, I’m sure we can all relate in one way or another. Most of us just choose “fire water” instead of fire.

  11. he sounds about as stable and well adjusted as most volunteer local radio DJs i’ve known. no-one ever burned down the station though, which in retrospect is probably a shame.

    but if your own playlist is that important to you, well, that’s why god invented podcasting.

  12. …There’s a bit more to the story now. Living in Austin, you hear the stories amongst the DJs and radio people, and having been a former DJ for KNOW-AM, I still keep in touch with some of those still in the business locally. The scuttlebutt now is that this kid was rather difficult to get along with, and was one of those “control freaks” who wanted AbZero interference with his program from higher-ups. Apparently someone at KOOP noted the same thing someone else here did – he was playing far more blues than the as-advertised jazz – and the blues that were being played were actually getting to be more depressing in tone. The station had actually been getting complaint calls, something they’d rarely gotten before. The kid had been called in on the carpet a few times over this, and the week before he set the fire there’d been a “you can’t fire me, I quit” confrontation, and he’d stormed out. The mistake KOOP made at that point was to not at least change the locks.

    Ah well, when they stick him in the slammer, maybe the warden’ll let him emcee the prison’s PA system for the morning announcements…:P

  13. @GuruScott- KTSB was the pre-KVRX station (UT students), KOOP has always just been KOOP and has always been FM.

  14. Community stations like this always seem to have at least one or two folks like this guy. At the station I volunteered at, there was this one DJ who would criticize the other volunteers, threaten to “cancel their shows”, and generally try to manage the place. When he later got voted down for a program director job, he flew into a fit of rage, passed out, and then threatened to kill himself/us. He was eventually asked to stay away from the station, but unfortunately, we didn’t change the locks immediately, and a number of CDs disappeared shortly after his dismissal. Some of the gear got messed with as well.

  15. Om, the series of events you listed is complete fiction. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Feinstein was fairly well liked and had a number of friends within the station. As far as I and others were concerned, he appeared to be a friendly and well adjusted individual. This was a pretty big shock for almost everyone at KOOP. I don’t think anyone saw this coming; it’s just another tragic example of workplace violence.

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