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Browser automation. Houston, we have a problem: ‘App dev stole our radio station’

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A Texas radio station claims the software developer hired to build its mobile app has “gone rogue” – and is attempting to take control of the station.

KCOH, a talk radio station in Houston, has filed a lawsuit [PDF] in the Harris County Court seeking a restraining order against Johnny Taylor and his company, Mobile Encryption Technologies, to restore control of its phone system, smartphone app and online streaming accounts.

It is alleged Taylor has been intercepting calls and emails to the station from listeners and advertisers while claiming to be the general manager. He has also been accused of trying to wrest ownership of the KCOH brand, and hijacking and then shutting down the internet-streaming app he built for the station.

Mobile Encryption Technologies did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

According to the court filing submitted this week, KCOH recruited Taylor to build a mobile application to stream its talk radio broadcasts online. In exchange for the work, Taylor was given a regular weekly time slot at the station to host his own tech show – and for the past three years, he has hosted that program. Now, it is claimed, Taylor has tried to take over the whole outlet.

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“Unknown to plaintiffs, the defendants used the opportunity to design the app as a way to steal and misappropriate the plaintiffs’ customer/client lists and intercept phone calls to the radio station,” the filing alleges.

“The extent of their computer mischief at the station is just being uncovered.”

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Describing Taylor and his company as a “computer vendor run amuck”, the station claims he not only seized control of the radio app – by refusing to turn over the passwords – but also installed malware in the phone systems at the station to redirect incoming calls.

Since then, KCOH – which bills itself as “the oldest black talk radio station in Texas” and has over six decades interviewed celebs from Stevie Wonder to Barack Obama – claims Taylor has answered calls from fans and potential advertisers while claiming to be the boss. It says he also withheld administrative access to their online streaming accounts, effectively freezing it out on the internet.

Citing what KCOH calls “openly hostile actions and demonstrated intent to damage and take over vital radio station operations”, the filing seeks to force Taylor’s company to turn over all the login credentials for the app and its live-streaming services – the station plans to transfer the streams to a new mobile app – and bar him from accessing listener and advertiser account information and intercepting any phone calls.

The station also wants a jury trial to decide whether or not Taylor should cough up damages for his alleged behavior. ®

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