AUSTIN, Texas – A volunteer at a community radio station set fire to the station because he was upset that his song selections for an overnight Internet broadcast were changed, police said.
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.
"He had a dream of a career in radio and was very disappointed about where it had led him," Nye said.
An attorney for Feinstein could not be reached for comment.
Station president Andrew Dickens said Feinstein had been in a dispute with another volunteer about what kind of music should be put into a digital library for the Internet program.
Feinstein was a jazz fan and his Internet program was called "Mellow Down Easy," Dickens said.
"We knew there was a disagreement, but I would characterize it as a little clash of personalities over types of music to be played and not a big blowout," Dickens said.
Feinstein, who had volunteered at the station for about a year, quit a week before the fire, saying he was going to do other things, Dickens said.
"He seemed like somebody who was young, enthusiastic, had a life, was a professional and was educated," Dickens said.
Nye said Feinstein acknowledged making a copy of the station key and then waiting for the station to clear out on the night of Jan. 5. Feinstein poured gasoline on the control panels in two studios to start the fire, Nye said.
The fire department's trained dog smelled gasoline at the scene, tipping investigators to the arson, Nye said.
Nye said Feinstein had no previous criminal record.
The fire was the third the station has dealt with in the past two years. The first was ruled accidental. The second was caused by a malfunction in a heating and air-conditioning unit of a nearby business and forced the station to move.
This month's fire knocked the station off the air for 19 days. It resumed broadcasting last week in donated space.
"We are kind of worried that people will look at us like a bunch of idiots," Dickens said. "This is really just one of those out-of-the-blue situations. Who the hell would have thought somebody would have snapped?"