By MIKE CHAIKEN
Bristol Beat, the city’s internet radio station, is no more.
The announcement was made on the station’s Facebook page by its owner Steve Gagne last Tuesday.
The closure of the internet radio station, which was probably best known for its program, “The State of the City with Mike Anthony” that invited local politicians on air to talk about the issues, found itself all over news these past few months rather than just reporting it.
Gagne found himself in at the center of a feud with former mayor Ken Cockayne, which became very public when Gagne posted an article detailing the nature of the “war” between him and the mayor on the station’s website.
Additionally, Gagne, Bristol Beat, and Gagne’s wife, Attorney, and former city councilor, Jodi Zils Gagne ended up in the news when a former client of Zils-Gagne’s filed a court action accusing them of taking money from the client’s estate and using it toward the internet station.
Once the announcement was made about the closure of Bristol Beat, a request for a temporary injunction preventing any sale of equipment or the station itself was filed by the plaintiff on Nov. 21.
The case Stephen L. Mangan, on behalf of the estate of Emil Jabs, vs. Jodi Zils Gagne, et. al. is making its way through the court system
On Bristol Beat’s Facebook page on Nov. 21, Gagne posted, “It comes with a heavy heart that today… The Beat… Bristol’s Rock Mix, will sign off the air permanently…. (We) wished that we would have been a more permanent fixture.”
The web-based radio station was launched in 2016.
In a reply to queries from listeners, Gagne said on the Facebook page, “There were business decisions that were made that I take full responsibility for that prevents us from continuing. Among other factors involved, we have no other choice. This is heartbreaking, but we’ve accepted it and need to move forward.”
“I’m selling everything (at the station),” said Gagne on the Facebook page, “Taking everything apart that I put together and letting it all go for a fraction of the cost.”
The Nov. 21 request for a temporary injunction preventing the sale noted Gagne’s posts about the shuttering of the station and the sale of equipment.
“There is probable cause that judgment will be recovered in the above action and that said judgment will go unsatisfied if the Defendants, Steven D. Gagne and Bristol Beat Radio LLC, are permitted to dispose of assets and equipment which could be used to satisfy Plaintiff’s judgment,” said the request for the temporary injunction filed by the plaintiffs.
Documents filed with the request for the injunction showed that Gagne was selling the station for $38,500 or the best offer.
As of Nov. 22, the injunction had not been signed off by the court.
In his post about shuttering the station, Gagne praised his staff. “I will definitely miss The State of the City with Mike Anthony.”
“The State of the City…” was the source of Gagne’s ongoing feud with former mayor Cockayne. In an article on the website of Bristol Beat (since removed), Gagne detailed a conflict between the mayor, himself, and his wife over a decision to invite Ellen Zoppo-Sassu—Cockayne’s now Democratic opponent— as a guest on Bristol Beat’s Sunday morning talk show. Steve Gagne also posted screenshots of the texts between himself and Cockayne (also removed), in which the mayor fired off expletive after expletive regarding Gagne’s decision.”
The feud over “The State of the City…” also arose in the reams of evidence filed along with a report by Attorney Michael Rose, which led to the eventual censure by the city council of Cockayne. Cockayne was censured for “sexual harassment” because he showed compromising photographs of Zils-Gagne to Councilor David Preleski. In the evidence collected by Rose, there were pages of text transcripts between Gagne and Cockayne, many of them centered around Cockayne’s possible appearance on “The State of the City…” as well as texts about Bristol Beat livestreaming the city council meetings.
“The purpose of The Beat has always been to be a community radio station for Bristol,” said Gagne in the Facebook note. “It was created to get people involved in communicating with each other and provide a place for anyone who wanted to be heard.”
“It’s been a fun ride,” wrote Gagne.
As noted, Zils-Gagne is currently being sued by a former client. Gagne and Bristol Beat are part of that suit. According to the suit filed by the estate of Emil Jabs, Zils Gagne provided her husband and Bristol Beat with $113,000 from the Jabs estate without obtaining probate court approval. Also, the court documents says Zils Gagne “caused her husband… to execute an unsecured ‘promissory note’ in favor of the estate of Emil Jabs in the face amount of $110,0000 on behalf of… Bristol Beat Radio, LLC, containing no late charge, no default rate of interest, no payments for more than one year and to be repaid to 91 year old Emil Jabs’ estate over a 10-year period.”
The legal papers said Zils Gagne subsequently was removed as the conservator of the Jabs estate by the probate court on June 19, 2017.
A hearing on the civil court case is scheduled for Dec. 1 at 9:30 a.m. in the Connecticut Superior Court in New Britain.