History of Community Radio and Takeovers

Community radio stations, often called grassroots radio, have an unfortunate history of struggle. The Grassroots Radio Movement in the U.S. explains what distinguishes grassroots radio from the better-known public radio, and alludes to struggles. One avenue of struggle came from the Blueprint Project (PDF) funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was later also funded by the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and renamed the Healthy Station Project. The aims of these programs was, and is, to increase "public service", which the FCC defines as increasing the number of listeners -- rather than any measure of whether the content is actually a service to the public.

HSP/Blueprint recommends wooing channel-surfing listeners with predictable, more mainstream programming, and avoiding anything which could offend them. Unfortunately these listeners are as likely to leave as to stay because neither the programming nor the outreach process are tailored to produce fiercely loyal members and future programmers who form the bedrock of grassroots radio.

Even the listener-supported national Pacifica Radio Network, carried by most community radio stations, suffered power and political struggles. The save pacifica campaign[1][2] was an effort to de-centralize decision making in the network and take it back from those who wanted to effectively commercialize and even sell it. This report from a 1999 teach in is surprisingly relevant to many local community radio struggles. Much of the Pacifica struggle revolved around the tension between status-quo profit-focused business practices applied to community radio versus Pacifica founder Lew Hill's community radio model and a grassroots radio decision making process (scroll down a bit on the linked page).

KRFC's Struggle

A unique overview of KRFC's struggle is told by many different voices in important letters. A simplified historical timeline may be found in mission-related history. The main flashpoint happened in early 2006 as station management approved a new station mission despite objections of members who presented a petition, subsequently kicking out three dedicated volunteers. One of the documents used when trying to combat the 2006 proposed mission statement change was the comparision of the missions.

A brief catalog of events since the the petition, and a radio show about KRFC from a year earlier round out the collection.

The Blueprint Project for commercialization, corporatization, and homogenization of community radio.101.23 KB
PRFR dba KRFC Articles of Incorporation200.08 KB
PRFR dba KRFC Articles of Incorporation amendment49.06 KB


More than audio outlets, volunteer-based community radio stations are cultural institutions in their communities, reflecting the unique concerns and passions of the people who live there. With a system based on openness and collaboration, and diverse programming produced by volunteers and funded by listeners, these stations are cornerstones of participatory democracy, offering ordinary citizens the chance to exercise First Amendment rights in a mass medium and audiences the opportunity to directly support the programming that is of interest to them. Our mission statement goes to the heart of what we are about. A global coalition of community broadcasters, producers, volunteers, activists, and community members, we are unified in our commitment to the "community" in community radio, encouraging openness and accountability in governance, as well as programming.

What is Grassroots Radio?

Grassroots Radio is an offshoot of public radio, characterized by community access and volunteer involvement in every aspect of station operations. Reflecting the varied interests of their communities, grassroots radio stations have diverse formats, including eclectic music and information from a variety of sources.

Some of the programming comes via satellite or Internet from independent producers around the country. By "independent," we mean that the producers, for the most part, are not affiliated with any large distribution or production house, like National Public Radio (NPR) or Public Radio International (PRI), and that the programs are not underwritten by corporate interests.

What sets grassroots radio apart is that local citizens are the programmers, producers, and hosts of the programming. The average grassroots community station will have anywhere from 40-100 citizens on the air each week, sharing their many interests, musical knowledge, passions, issues, concerns, ideas, and information with their communities. They have been trained, often free of charge, in the art and craft of radio production. Our grassroots radio stations are training grounds for radio broadcasters, journalists, audio artists, and activists. In the culture of the grassroots station, training should be a very conscious part of what a community radio station does. The broadcast licenses, issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), are "non-commercial and educational"- two important aspects to focus on when considering the diverging viewpoints in terms of what community radio's primary mission is.

As stated in the mission statement, grassroots radio stations are more than audio outlets; they actually help create community in their listening areas. Civic participation fosters community and identity. There is magic and power in the concept of community radio. In exercising their First Amendment rights, people are bringing issues to the airwaves that are often misrepresented, if represented at all. Listeners are educated, uplifted, activated, enlightened, frustrated, surprised, or empowered by grassroots radio programming. These grassroots stations become a lifeline in a community. They are interactive radio stations. With community members sharing their various interests over the airwaves of our stations, we create programming schedules that no Program Director could dream up. Our Program Directors work with volunteer programming committees (usually elected by volunteers) to create our broadcast schedules, with community input encouraged. Some stations have no program directors, only program committees.

You can recognize a grassroots community station anywhere in the country. There is a freshness you'll not hear elsewhere due largely to the variety of voices and connections the station has with its community. The non-commercial nature of these stations allow us independence uncommon in media controlled by commercial or corporate interests.

We strive for an engaging, professional air sound without sacrificing individual programmer's eccentricities. Sometimes the performances of inexperienced programmers are rough at first, but the beauty of the very idea of community radio comes across with each new voice you hear: people from the community, ordinary citizens, are on the radio. And those new voices become competent and creative broadcasters before our very ears.

Many of the mission statements of grassroots stations refer to "giving voice to the voiceless," "serving those not fully served by other broadcast media," "providing a place for community dialogue," being "the voice of many voices," "exploring alternative issues," "promoting freedom of speech," etc. Since its beginnings in the U.S. half a century ago, grassroots community radio stations have been a magnet for progressive causes and organizations, as well as political and artistic freedom.

While local programming is the backbone of community radio, another element that connects grassroots stations are the independendently produced national programs many of us broadcast, including Alternative Radio, New Dimensions, This Way Out, Counterspin, TUC (Time of Useful Consciousness) Radio, Loafer's Glory, Democracy Now!, WINGS (Women's International News Gathering Service), National Native News, and Making Contact. Along with local public affairs programming, these programs exemplify the alternative programming which provides voices and issues not fully heard on other broadcast media. These national programs connect the grassroots stations, while our local programs ground us in our own communities. While radio consultants find much to criticize about grassroots radio's often "patchwork" programming, we realize that diversity is a strength, not a weakness, and most people who support grassroots stations cite diversity of programming as one of the reasons they contribute financially.

The myth often promulgated by radio consultants relates to how people "use" radio. They tell us that people need to know what they'll find when they tune into our stations. We think it is insulting the intelligence of people to think that they can not accept or appreciate variety of programming, especially at a station owned by the community. We believe in expanding the audience for the variety, not reducing the variety to expand the audience.

We also broadcast long format discussions, interviews and lectures which counter the "soundbite" mentality of much of today's corporate media. Our stations engage communities in dialogue about issues, local and global, and encourage thought, debate, and action.

Grassroots radio stations foster community by sponsoring events on and off-air, events which bring community members and other non-profits together. Musical events, lectures, fairs, festivals, book & music sales, auctions, etc., are common fund-raisers for grassroots stations. WERU FM's annual Full Circle Summer Fair and WMNF's Tropical Heatwave bring together thousands of people in celebration of community as well as creating awareness of the stations and their diverse programming. KGNU's fund-raising lectures with speakers like Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman help reinforce the mission of the station while raising funds and awareness. Most grassroots stations host events like this which actually help create community. Grassroots stations often have "community rooms" at their facilities, which are used for meetings, events, and live on air concerts with studio audiences in attendance.

Important principles to maintaining a community involved grassroots station are: participatory governance, with active committees involved in decision-making, community and volunteer involvement in all major decisions, openness on the air (no gag orders!), elected volunteer representatives serving on the board of directors, open access to the airwaves, active recruitment and ongoing training of volunteers, commitment to diversity, consideration of those underserved by other broadcast media, and diverse programming.

Grassroots stations generally have 100-200 volunteers each, depending on the size of the communities they serve. These volunteers become ambassadors for community radio in their broadcast areas. The sense of ownership increases as the number of involved community members increases. That is the crux of an important issue for grassroots stations: the more people involved in your station, the better off you are. If grassroots stations are to truly be cornerstones of participatory democracy, we need to engage as many people as possible in our operations. Grassroots radio fosters democracy, both in its programming and its governance.
When we make major decisions, our governance structure provides plenty of time and forums for discussion which involve the community. We broadcast call-in programs about important community issues and decisions, as well as station issues and decisions. Our governance structure has checks and balances built into it, to avoid some of the pitfalls we have seen at our own stations and others.

Grassroots stations are media outlets which keep the public informed about bills and issues in national, state, and local government which directly effect them. Our stations encourage people to become more active citizens. The programming often fosters and stimulates activism.

Grassroots stations facilitate and activate culture in their communities. From live radio drama to high school jazz bands, the airwaves are open for the creative expression of all community members. Unhampered by commercial interests, art can take place on the radio in areas with community radio that is open and willing to be creative. Commercial interests do not dictate what music gets airplay. You'll hear a wide range of music from all parts of the world. You'll hear music produced by small labels and independent artists that you are not hearing on other radio stations. You'll hear live music and interviews with musicians regularly on grassroots radio. Many musicians who travel the country feel welcome and at home at grassroots stations. They appreciate the role our stations play in helping their music to be heard. Our stations will take chances with our programming that other types of radio stations would never take. We broadcast original comedy and satire. Our airwaves sing with poetry, drama, music, and dreams. People of all ages become involved and excited about the fact that a community has its own radio station. Grassroots stations are alive.

Our public affairs programs often awaken people to take action on issues, to get involved, sometimes to start new organizations to work on specific issues, all inspired by the programming on their local grassroots community radio station. Our stations are advocates for other non-profits, conduits for their missions and messages. Environmental organizations, social justice groups, students, labor organizations, schools, and many alternative entities find that grassroots stations will give them airtime when they want it, to get the message out about their actions, meetings, events, etc.

Grassroots stations broadcast call-in programs on important topics, giving the listener a chance to be heard, enabling community dialogue about topics that deserve full discussion. Some grassroots stations cover large areas and create cross pollination between counties.

Access is key in community radio, and there need to be many entry points for that access. When there is a climate of accessibility, you'll find that the community itself fosters access to the airwaves. People think of their grassroots stations when issues come up that they feel should be explored or aired, because they know that access is not only possible there, but necessary, since much of the programming comes from the community through letters, e-mail, phone calls, and visits to the stations.When people understand how grassroots radio is different from other media, that understanding is shared and more community involvement results. When people share their excitement about grassroots radio, they are usually excited about the concept itself, about access to the airwaves, access to training, access to information, access to free speech, and access to the governing of the station. The fact that grassroots stations can be competitive with radio stations with much larger budgets speaks well of what that access represents. There is a wealth of knowledge, creativity, and passion in every community. Grassroots radio helps a community share those gifts in many ways.

When you assess the vital role these stations play in their communities, you see that the impact is broad and deep, especially when you consider the number of people involved in the grassroots stations on the air and behind the scenes. Many times a person who calls in to a community radio program or is on the air as a guest will become a volunteer and before long a producer or programmer. In areas with grassroots radio, everyone knows someone on the radio, or has been on the radio themselves, or will be...

The flexibility of roles is an interesting and important aspect of grassroots radio. Individuals easily move in and out of the organization. A listener may become a volunteer and later a board or staff member. Volunteer programmers end up working on events or writing for our program guides, some maintain our buildings and grounds. The fact that these roles are so accessible and flexible demonstrates the organic nature of these organizations as well as their ability to grow, change, and flower in their communities. It also demonstrates how much choice volunteers have for involvement, depending on their own interests. Many of the volunteers are involved in other organizations, which they help connect to the stations. True ownership by the people engages community in a very real way.

Grassroots stations have their problems, and challenges are many, but if the structures and systems are in place to keep fostering open, collaborative governance, it can be heartening to watch the changes occur in these organizations. When volunteers get involved, they are not usually aware at first just how much they will participate in different levels of station operations, but time and time again, volunteers are drawn to help these stations thrive by giving more of their time and talents. Many people are drawn to the stations to learn broadcasting and find themselves willingly becoming involved in fundraising, governance, concert production, training, and many of the other important tasks involved in running a grassroots station. Volunteers serve on many different committees: programming, personnel, development, finance, engineering, public affairs, and others. This active participation of volunteers sets grassroots stations apart from other types of radio stations.

How Grassroots Radio Came About

The Grassroots Radio movement in the U.S. grew organically within community radio over the past ten years as it became evident that community radio was falling prey to the negative forces of commercialization, corporatization, and homogenization which have infiltrated so much of the media, including public broadcasting. Under pressure from Congress to prove that public media could compete in a commercial market, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) encouraged these trends by altering grant criteria and policies, rewarding the creation of new funding streams (more and longer underwriting announcements, entrepreneurial ventures and so forth), funding programming which would appeal to a greater segment of the American public (read "mainstreaming"), and encouraging consolidation to cut costs.

At the same time, CPB stopped giving the five percent credit for volunteer hours that used to count as income (which gave volunteer-based stations more CPB grant money), and began using Arbitron figures as one of the measures for whether stations would even qualify for CPB funding. Because they focus mostly on the bottom line, these policies threaten the very foundation upon which community radio was built: citizen access to the airwaves in a non-commercial, community owned and operated public radio station, with volunteer power, and funded by listeners.

By rewarding the creation of new funding sources, including "enhancing" and increasing underwriting and creating profit-making ventures, CPB shifted the burden of financial support away from listeners and federal funds and toward the commercial sector. By encouraging the use of focus groups, CPB fostered programming that focused on "non-offensive" topics and formats, rather than the educational programming that has been the cornerstone of public broadcasting. By encouraging consolidation, CPB rewarded conglomerates, bigger stations swallowing smaller, state networks competing with local community stations, and non-local programming.

Staff of community radio stations operating under a grassroots, volunteer-powered, consensus-oriented, community-involved model found themselves gravitating to each other at public radio gatherings such as conferences of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), in order to have discussions that were not happening in the workshops and panels. There were at least two distinct models of community radio evident: one which seemed to emulate the NPR model, and in fact some of those stations broadcast NPR programming, and the other model, the grassroots community model, committed to volunteers, access to the airwaves, and alternative programming.

The grassroots stations supported one another in the commitment to free speech radio. Two of those stations were KGNU FM of Boulder, Colorado, and WERU FM of East Orland, Maine. As managers of these two stations, we decided to host the first Grassroots Radio Conference together in Boulder in 1996 and co-founded the Grassroots Radio Coalition (GRC) at that conference. We recognized a need for grassroots staff, volunteers, producers, and community members who care about keeping the "community" in community radio to have forums for discussion beyond what already existed.

By sharing our concerns over trends in public broadcasting, the grassroots stations were able to articulate what some of the challenges were that we faced, as well as acknowledge a desire to work together to deal with some of those challenges.

Questions were arising about the direction of NFCB. One of the issues for some stations was The Healthy Station Project conducted by NFCB.

The Healthy Station Project

In the early nineties, NFCB began to push stations towards a model of community radio driven by audience share and homogenized programming, through a CPB funded initiative called The Healthy Station Project (HSP). A similar project, The Blueprint Project was a precursor to the HSP. WERU was one of the stations tapped for the Healthy Station Project in 1993-94. At that time, NFCB was under the direction of Lynn Chadwick, who later went on to be the Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation during its ongoing crisis. WERU withstood the attack of the HSP by doing what any truly healthy community station would do: opened up the dialogue for discussion and debate among the entire community, having open meetings and on-air call-in programs on the topic. WERU solicited listener input on the air by asking "What Does Community Radio Mean to You? Many eloquent letters were received elaborating exactly what the community valued about "their" radio station.

Radio consultants were brought in during the HSP. They criticized the eclectic programming and urged homogenization. The HSP tried to dismiss the importance of volunteers by excluding them from decision-making and discounting their importance as programmers.It's measurements for "health" were questionable if you took the public interest into consideration.

The listeners were kept informed of the HSP, even though the project itself urged WERU to separate the "internal" from the "external." The project also favored closed door meetings which excluded volunteers and some staff members.WERU went against the grain of the HSP, exposed its weaknesses and its skewed priorities, and ended up more committed to the diverse programming and collaborative governance which the project had ridiculed.

NFCB never finished the HSP at WERU. Along with listeners, WERU volunteers, staff, and board reiterated the commitment to measuring success in more than dollars and numbers. Any community station could garner more listeners by mainstreaming its programming, but it would then no longer be community radio. For example, the HSP favored carriage of "World Cafe," a daily music program produced at WXPN in Philadelphia. WERU resisted, because it had a fine local program of eclectic music called "On The Wing," hosted by five different volunteers each week. It had the ability to bring local information within the music program and to respond to listener input and community concerns. If all community stations carried the "World Cafe" every day, think about the number of community voices which would be displaced. Think about how that would change the nature of those stations.

As part of the HSP, David LePage of NFCB also pushed for community stations to hire "paid morning hosts" for "consistency." Again, grassroots stations rejected this message. Our diverse volunteer morning hosts strive for a consistent program format while sharing their own unique knowledge and experiences with the listeners. Uniqueness of programming has always been a hallmark of community radio.

The Grassroots Radio Conferences

By 1996, enhanced underwriting, focus groups, and Arbitron-based programming decisions had begun to alter the landscape of community radio. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed with little public discourse or debate and led the way to the corporate monopolization of the media we are now experiencing. There were tremendous external pressures on our stations, including technological changes, increased competition and shifting political winds. The push towards reducing the diversity of programming to increase listenership threatened to reduce eclectic, diverse programming in community radio. The trend towards more mainstream programming also threatened to water down the strong political messages and voices which were already being marginalized by the corporatization of community radio.

We hosted the first Grassroots Radio Conference in Boulder in 1996 to provide a forum for discussion of these pressures on our stations, and hopefully, to save some community stations from the rush to homogenize programming and disempower volunteers -something that had already happened at some community stations.

So much is lost when a community station restructures itself in response to consultants who favor mainstreaming. While that community connection cannot be measured, it is safe to say that it is not outweighed by profits of any size. The community has lost the airwaves. We jokingly called it "invasion of the body snatchers" but this was really no laughing matter.

We also wanted to provide support and information to new stations and stations in the planning stages so they would know that they could operate their stations with volunteer power, collaborative governance, and diverse programming. Perhaps the new grassroots stations being started will provide a counterbalance to those lost to homogenization and greed.

For some stations, the change from volunteer produced local programming to homogenized and satellite-fed programming increased listenership and revenue and was hailed as "success." Discussions at the Grassroots conferences have led us to clarify how community radio can measure success beyond the financial bottom line. We have explored the importance of being non-commercial, of community access, of functioning as a training ground, of creating community.

In addition to KGNU of Boulder, Colorado, and WERU of East Orland, Maine, some of the community stations working under the grassroots model which have been involved in GRC since 1996 include WORT of Madison, Wisconsin, KMUD of Garberville, California, WMNF of Tampa, Florida, KCSB of Santa Barbara, California, KZMU of Moab, Utah, KUNM of Albuquerque, New Mexico, KDUR of Durango, Colorado, and others. These stations, plus independent producers of alternative programming, former Pacifica staff and volunteers who had been embroiled in the early stages of the Pacifica crisis, as well as members of AMARC (World Association of Community Broadcasters), formed a core group of attendees at the annual Grassroots Radio Conferences. The first year there were 85 participants, the second year more than 100, the third year 130, including a tribal caucus of 20 Native American producers and managers, and the fourth year there were 160 participants.

The first three Grassroots Radio Conferences (1996-98) were held in Boulder, Colorado hosted by KGNU, and GRC4 took place in Bar Harbor, Maine in 1999 hosted by WERU. GRC5 is scheduled for July 20-23, 2000, in Madison, Wisconsin, hosted by WORT, a grassroots station celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

These conferences foster dialogue about grassroots issues that were often missing at NFCB conferences, issues like community involvement, access, activism, and accountability in both programming and governance. NFCB staff have also attended all grassroots radio conferences. We believe that GRC has also helped NFCB pay more attention to these issues. GRC4 in Bar Harbor, Maine also had many participants from Canadian Community Broadcasting, thanks to AMARC's involvement.

To give you an idea of the GRC dialogues, the following are some of the sessions and plenaries from previous Grassroots conferences: Advocacy on Community Radio, Programming as Outreach, Community Radio on the Internet and Beyond, The Pacification of Public Radio, Managing a Volunteer Based Station, The Musical Mission, Local News on a Shoestring, AMARC Update, Preserving Culture, What Happens When Everything Goes Wrong: The KOOP Lesson, Training Our Youth, Micropower Radio, Grassroots Underwriting, Collaborative Decision-making, Volunteer Committees, Communications as a Human Right, Media and Democracy, A-INFOS, The National Radio Project, Beyond Arbitron, Beyond Pacifica, Recruiting and Training Volunteers, Environmental Programming, Activism & Community Radio, Exploring Our Missions, Grassroots Fundraising, Independent Producers Panel, Walking the Talk, and much more.

The Grassroots Radio Coalition supports micro-broadcasters and have had their participation at our conferences since the beginning. We see potential for collaboration rather than competition, and believe that with the media monopoly and corporatization of everything else, the efforts to give a few more crumbs of the airwaves to the people would be a victory for all of us. As new community radio stations start up, they often find micro-broadcasting a useful first step towards creating their stations. Community stations could potentially be training grounds for micro-broadcasters. We think it is unfortunate (and inaccurate) to call micro-broadcasting "pirate radio" since they are not stealing anything, but simply attempting to take back some of what rightfully belongs to the public. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 might more accurately be called "piracy."

The grassroots stations have served as models for new community radio stations seeking input about what direction to take as their stations take shape. Stations like KGNU, WERU, WORT, WMNF, KMUD, and others demonstrate that a volunteer powered community radio station can thrive with eclectic programming and collaborative governance.

Grassroots Radio Conferences continue to explore these questions: What does "non-commercial" mean in this age of mega-mergers, enhanced underwriting, and increasing pressures on community stations to be "successful?" What does "success" mean in terms of grassroots broadcasting? What can we do to support each other, independent producers, micro-broadcasters, and other media alternatives as the pressures and fears of the corporate media bear down upon us? How can our Boards, Community Advisory Boards, staffs, volunteers, committees, communities, and systems function smoothly and fairly, with accountability encouraged through the systems? What does the future hold for the Grassroots Radio Coalition five years after its inception? These questions and others will be addressed at GRC5 in Madison, Wisconsin in July.

The GRC provides an important context for community stations to network and form alliances among stations, producers, staff, and colunteers to help work for integrity in governance and programming. For us, it's about taking back more of the airwaves for public discourse and the common good. It's about encouraging the community to be involved in the stations operations. It's about openness on air, fostering freedom of speech, discussion of important issues, inspiring creativity, and activating community on many levels. It is about seeking out voices that are unheard, underrepresented, oppressed, or suppressed. It is also about recognizing that art and culture are vital human needs which help stimulate activism and richness of experiences in a community.

Pacifica's Role in Grassroots Radio

Most of the stations involved in GRC are Pacifica Affiliates, carrying such programs as Pacifica Network News and Democracy Now! We have discussed the Pacifica situation in terms of how it was affecting our own stations and listeners, as well as its impact upon freedom of speech, worker's rights, volunteer power and diversity of programming. We have kept our listeners informed of events within the Pacifica Network, as well as requesting that Pacifica itself cover the crisis because it is news. As Pacifica Affiliates, we have seen managers dismiss volunteers at some of the five Pacifica stations, we've seen increasingly autocratic management, conflict with the union staff and the union itself. We watched with horror and disbelief the takeover of KPFA in Berkeley, which culminated in having armed guards in a pacifist community radio station celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.

When Pacifica switched to the Ku Band for satellite distribution in 1996, affiliates were offered a three year contract which included a "gag order," preventing the stations from broadcasting critical comments about Pacifica. Since KGNU and WERU do not have gag orders at our own stations, we refused to sign and negotiated a change in the contract to eliminate the gag order. At the second Grassroots Radio Conference in Boulder in 1997, Pacifica touted the potential of the Ku for enabling affiliates to distribute our own local productions as well as share productions with each other. With the total lack of communication from Pacifica to affiliates, even discussing the possiblity of uplinking our programs is impossible.

We also organized actions in response to the Pacifica crisis, such as "A Day Without Pacifica," a one day affiliate boycott of Pacifica programming in October of 1999, in which 16 Pacifica Affiliates nationwide participated. . With that action, we stressed the value of the programming provided by Pacifica, particularly Democracy Now!, yet highlighted our concerns over Pacifica management's many affronts to democracy, as well as Pacifica's lack of accountability, communication, and consideration of affiliates during the ongoing debacle. The events of last summer at KPFA in Berkeley were profoundly disturbing to grassroots stations and their listeners, who were kept informed of the events through our own local programming, as well as other media outlets. For us, the Pacifica crisis did not simply appear in 1999. We have been concerned and aware of problems at Pacifica for at least five years previous to the explosive summer of '99. We have also been informing our listeners of these issues for at least the past five years.

Many of us have come to question the value of Pacifica Network News since the removal of news director Dan Coughlin (apparently precipitated by a brief news report he aired about the October affiliates boycott) as well as Verna Avery Brown's departure in response to Dan's dismissal. Most of us support the Pacifica Stringer's Strike and many grassroots stations are broadcasting Free Speech Radio News (produced by the striking journalists) one day a week in place of PNN. Pacifica Affiliate KCSB has dropped PNN altogether, and WORT has been involved in a "rent strike" against PNN.

We believe that some of the problems at Pacifica stem from the same place as with the misguided "Healthy Station Project," namely the attempt to increase audience while sacrificing just what makes community radio so rare and valuable: access for the public, programming not heard elsewhere, and accountability in governance. Of course we all want to increase our audience, but not at the expense of the mission of our stations. We believe that is what Pacifica has done. We will continue to explore the future relationship of Grassroots Radio and the Pacifica Network in Madison this summer at GRC5. What happens at Pacifica affects all of us, and we need to pay attention and care about what is going on there. At GRC4, we began a Pacifica Affiliates Listserv to stay informed about developments at Pacifica and connected to the people working hard to democratize Pacifica.

What's Next for GRC?

GRC is helping to strengthen the roots of grassroots access to the airwaves. It is providing an opportunity for grassroots broadcasters to come together, discuss important issues, and act collectively on those issues. We have given a brief account of the Grassroots Radio movement from our perspectives within community stations. We feel great excitement about the convergence of alternative media, about micro-broadcasting, Independent Media Centers, and the Internet. We hope to encourage collaborations with new media. We feel that grassroots radio will remain vital and relevant in the places it hasn't already been lost.

We're heartened by the activism and articulate messages coming from the people in this country, as well as the formation of many new action networks. As people organize, grassroots community radio is a natural tool for spreading the messages of grassroots organizers, as it has always been. Grassroots community radio stations are in a position to share information in new ways thanks to new technology. No matter how many great new music and news streams become available to the public, grassroots radio has a niche all its own, set apart by the sheer number, variety, knowledge, and talents of the community volunteers who make it all happen. It is also unique because it is rooted in its community, it is radio with an open door, an open door that regularly draws people in. GRC is optimistic about its future and about the necessity of reclaiming more of the airwaves for the public.

Because of webcasting, we are able to listen to other grassroots stations from around the country, which has brought us to another level of kinship, rather than only hearing those stations when visiting in their signal areas. Hearing other grassroots stations helps us understand what the unifying factors are as well as how connection to our own communities give each station its own unique character, and why that matters.

What does the future hold for the Grassroots Radio Coalition? With the fifth Grassroots Radio Conference approaching, all of our stations are facing major issues, as always, but GRC has helped us strengthen our connections to each other and to our mutual mission of making access to the airwaves available to the public. GRC is an organizing tool for grassroots radio and we will continue to explore the potential of collective action in dealing with some of the challenges, as well as sharing creativity, information, and resources.

We are excited about new technologies and about the convergence of various media. As the importance of the work of GRC becomes clearer, we acknowledge that we must be aware of change in response to the many changes around us, and be open to new efforts which will come about in response to other needs and concerns which GRC is not addressing. GRC has provided a necessary compliment and challenge to NFCB. We are an alternative which evolved organically out of a need for an alternative to an alternative. We have consciously stayed a "loose coalition" for five years. At this juncture it is appropriate to fully discuss the future of GRC in light of the many developments within media since 1996, especially in reference to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its impact. We will once again have the collaborative discussion about whether to formalize the Grassroots Radio Coalition in Madison, Wisconsin at GRC5 in July, 2000.
We will address the issues of diversity among GRC participants and what we can do to ensure that people who are not seated at the table will be. How can we increase involvement by all underrepresented people at GRC, at our stations, and in our programming?

Grassroots community radio stations are natural allies to micro-broadcasters, the Internet is a natural source of information and connection for grassroots broadcasters, independent media journalists and centers are collaborating with grassroots stations and independent producers, and the Internet itself has enabled many grassroots stations to go global.

We'd like to see grassroots community radio flourish and thrive, creating more space for dialogue in the public's interest, not the corporation's interest. We'll continue to encourage grassroots radio stations to speak out about the self censorship permeating mainstream media, corporate control of media, and the need for increasing the number of community voices heard in all media. People deserve and need their own media, media that tells what is going on in the real world, not just what is being bought and sold. Grassroots radio will continue to work in collaboration with alternative press, cable access television, Internet media, micro-broadcasters, and other non-profits. We hope that the number of grassroots community stations will increase with LPFM and other media, and that the exponential potential of grassroots radio will be more fully realized.
We close with a quote from a promotional announcement in support of "grassroots" community radio: "I hope you'll support this community radio station and if you do, maybe the 21st Century will be the Century of the Democratization of Technology. This is Pete Seeger signing off and saying don't forget to make music yourselves."

The airwaves are a precious natural resource, much of which has been given away to commercialism, corporate control, and censorship. The Grassroots Radio Coalition hopes to continue to provide a forum for shining a light on this corruption, for not only preserving what has been saved thus far, but to hopefully help create more public space on the airwaves, to, as Pete Seeger says, "democratize technology" in small, but important ways.
Marty Durlin and Cathy Melio
May 2000

Marty Durlin has been Station Manager of KGNU in Boulder, CO for the past 13 years. She began her career in public radio in the early 1970s in Denver, and has also worked in commercial radio and as a newspaper journalist and editor. Ms Durlin served on the board of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for four years, and is co-founder of the Grassroots Radio Coalition. She has developed principles for effective management of volunteer-based radio stations which she has taught at numerous conferences and workshops around the country.

Cathy Melio is an artist, activist, radio producer, and educator. She was co-founder of the Grassroots Radio Coalition in 1996 with Marty Durlin, Station Manager of KGNU in Boulder, CO. She served on the staff of community radio WERU in East Orland, ME since its inception in 1988, first as Production Manager from 1988 -95 and then General Manager from 1995-1999 In addition to regular exhibitions of paintings, she hosts a weekly program of music and information called "Off the Cuff" on WERU, and is a professor of Communication at Unity College in Unity, Maine.

Original at

compare the missions

KRFC's board of directors voted March 16th, 2006 to adopt a new mission statement despite a petition from members, many of whom were convinced by comparing the original and proposed missions. You can also review the each step on the way to the board's selection.

Founding Mission Statement

KRFC Fort Collins is a locally owned, independent, community, noncommercial radio station that is listener supported and democratically managed. KRFC offers a channel for community building and cultural enrichment in Fort Collins and beyond. Volunteers and staff will provide creative programming and service by:
  • Focusing on our community. Through radio excellence we will create a unique community resource, one that promotes connections and fosters a sense of belonging. We will maintain a local focus for sharing music, arts, culture, news and opinions. We will serve the people of our community by providing outlets for their creative skills and energies.
  • Serving the interests of a diverse group of listeners. PRFR seeks to entertain, stimulate and challenge listeners with wide-ranging music programming, local news, issues and public affairs.
  • Striving to be a forum for many voices, by providing an outlet for the expression of a wide spectrum of ideas; targeting those typically lacking media access.
KRFC is committed to respect for personal dignity. While debate is a necessary and healthy part of the discourse in broadcasting and station management, bigotry and personal attacks will not be tolerated.

Selected by KRFC Board Feb 16, 2006

Mission: KRFC makes great radio that is local, noncommercial, and volunteer powered.

Vision: KRFC will be recognized as a respected voice of the community, creating a sense of place through excellent radio programming.

Values: COMMUNITY. Our primary value is community--the feeling that we all belong and matter to one another. We serve our community. We create a sense of community.

LOCAL FOCUS. We emphasize local affairs, events and people and make a special effort to include people and views typically lacking in the mainstream media.

INTEGRITY. We are accountable for our actions. We treat others with tolerance and respect. We go out of our way to be inclusive and to welcome participation.

EXCELLENCE. We strive for excellence in our programming, in our technical product and within our organization.

OPEN COMMUNICATION AND DECISION MAKING. We communicate and make decisions based on clear, open processes, the inclusion of many voices, and consensus building when possible.

ENTERTAINMENT AND EDUCATION. Our programming is a source of vital information and cultural enrichment.

FREEDOM AND CREATIVITY. We promote these attributes in our programming and among our staff and volunteers.

INDEPENDENCE. We are noncommercial. We are a forum for the varied viewpoints of our volunteers, staff and the broader community.

VOLUNTEERISM. We honor and are driven by the passion, energy and creativity of all of our volunteers.


important letters and articles

These letters and articles from various community members give a brief history of the developing struggle at KRFC.

Cast of characters:

2004-06/Jun Bethany Kohoutek's Growing Pains, Bullhorn Article

Published in the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn in June 2004:

Growing Pains
KRFC prepares for major changes to its broadcasting schedule.
By Bethany Kohoutek

Less than two months after KRFC FM underwent a shift in top-level management, some leaders at the one-and-a-half-year-old grassroots radio station are seeking to implement even more sweeping changes.

Although nothing is set in stone, says Interim Station Manager Beth Flowers, the adjustments stand to affect every level of KRFCs organization, from marketing to programming to scheduling.

Most noticeable to regular listeners will be the overhauled show schedule. The most recent schedule draft is designed to replace the syndicated news programs that currently inhabit the airwaves on weekday mornings with a music mix.

"Looking at national trends, we do know that morning drive-time is the number one radio time across the board", Flowers says.

The changes are mainly in response to a largely unsuccessful spring fundraising drive. Noncommercial radio outlets rely on such events to lure in new members and retain old ones, and with them, much-needed cash. However, nearly 70 percent of donating listeners failed to renew their memberships, and the station came nowhere near the amount of money it had hoped to raise in May.

"Under the working draft, local news programming will maintain the same total number of hours, while public-affairs broadcasting stands to lose an hour and a half of airtime per week", Flowers says.

Currently, KRFC blends about 85 percent music with 15 percent news and public affairs, which includes locally produced weekly specialty shows (including The Senior Show, The Long Hour sports show, The Bullhorn Talkshow, produced by the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn) syndicated news programs (Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News, Counterspin) and daily local news (News on the Range).

Although the process began less than six weeks ago, Flowers says a schedule will be approved and in place by August 1 in order to familiarize listeners with the new format in time for the September fund drive. A majority of those who work at the station are supportive, according to Flowers.

Yet a number of station volunteers are questioning the scope of and reasoning behind the widespread changes and breakneck speed at which they are being made. They believe one lagging fund drive does not justify "dropping a bomb on the schedule", as KRFC founding member and newscaster Paul Bame put it at a recent Public Affairs Committee meeting.

He and other members of that group say more listener feedback is necessary before making any conclusive decisions regarding what those listeners want to hear. Without that information, they say, the process itself is tainted. Indeed, no definitive or scientific survey of KRFCs membership (which totals 1,300) has been conducted, and KRFC enjoyed three successful fund drives last year under the current schedule, they pointed out.

"We don't have a respectable, responsible process in place to make changes", Bame added.

Along with several others who did not want their names printed in this story, Programming Committee member Kevin Foskin says he, too, is uncomfortable with the course discussions have been taking. "Recently, the decisions at the radio station have been made in a less democratic spirit than I am comfortable with. For some reason, it seems to be more a function of an urgency on the part of the management, and I am unsure as to what is actually motivating the urgency".

Kath Davis, a member of KRFCs news team, believes the changes will ultimately be healthy for the station but questions the impetus behind them. "The programming wasn't entirely the problem with the fund drive", she says. "It was just too soon [after the previous fundraiser]. There was not enough time for the audience to recover, and there was not enough time for the announcers to get excited about it -- we were still tired from last time."

Flowers agrees that a more accurate picture of what listeners wan't would be beneficial, but says its a luxury the station cant afford, time- or money-wise. "Given the bleeding membership base", she says, "we need to get the schedule changed as fast as we can in order to have some staying power".

Thats why the incredibly fast timing. Its not ideal, there's no question about that. The proposed schedule remains a work in progress, and has yet to be approved by the Programming Committee or the Board of Directors. A full staff and volunteer meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 10 at A Place for Peace, 1605 W. Mulberry, to discuss it and other plans.

2004-10/Oct Kristianne on Beth Flowers' conduct

To Don Flick and the KRFC Board of Directors,

The following are a few incidents that occurred at KRFC mainly between Station Manager, Beth Flowers and me, Kristianne Gale. It is my hope that this information will help to bring about positive change at KRFC, in particular, interpersonal relationships and conduct. I want to stress that the specific examples given are intended to depict what seems to me to be a daily office vibe and how this vibe has caused my own enthusiasm for continued service at KRFC to wane, and I hope it will cause you to consider how other volunteers could be effected by such an environment.

#1: Pre-schedule change Bullhorn Article
After an article was published in the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn regarding concerns about the rush to change the programming schedule, Beth Flowers called me into her office to discuss who was behind the conception of said article. She immediately accused Eddie Arthur of prompting Bullhorn Editor, Bethany Kehoutek to write a negatively slanted article quoting volunteers who disagreed with the plan to change programming. I replied by saying that such an accusation was absurd and if anyone was behind the decision to write the article it was most likely Publisher, Joseph Rouse and other Bullhorn staff, who I assume to be the only persons who decide what constitutes a valid journalistic topic for their paper. This discussion was not exactly private. Sarah Van Etton, Jack Armstrong, Greg Krush, as well as several volunteers were outside the office and involved in this conversation. Jack and Greg were clearly angry and seemed to take the article as both a personal attack on Beth as well as a blow to the image of KRFC. Beth also insinuated that Eddie and Joseph are cohorts in inappropriate personal and business dealings, and asked me "Joseph even pays for Eddie's cell phone, right?"

This mode of questioning made me very uncomfortable. I did not see how being on someone's cell phone plan could be turned into something criminal or should be any reason to mistrust Eddie. We are a community and all of our lives are intertwined. However, I often feel as if Beth tries to extract "inside information" from me, since I am Eddie's friend and house mate. I do not want to be put in the middle of whatever conflict exists between the two, or any other staff members or volunteers, for that matter. It is difficult to remain enthusiastic and feel that I am doing something good for my community if I am repeatedly being made a party to unethical behavior and sucked into squabbles that I do not understand.

I wish that the environment created by the paid staff, and by this I mean Beth and Sarah, was more positive, less accusatory, and an environment in which discourse is encouraged so that myself and other volunteers that I have received similar feedback from-- some long-time dedicated volunteers, some volunteers who have only been with us briefly and did not return because of the "negativity" they experienced--could feel appreciated and welcome. A lot of these volunteers are afraid to be critical of the staff, because they enjoy being a part of KRFC, which is true in my case, as well. I have enjoyed a good standing with everyone at KRFC and feel that Beth has been tremendously giving towards me, however, It does not make me feel good to be offered a position previously held by another volunteer who has decided to leave because they couldn't stand the politics anymore. Nor do I want to be offered a position or task that is currently the role of someone else, who does not know that their position is threatened. I have seen a lot of name-calling. I have watched Beth try to discredit the reputation and make fools out of the most dedicated volunteers, many of whom are people that I have admired for years as positive forces in this community. Even after all-station meetings where we were encouraged to express ourselves and voice our concerns, I have seen and been in ear-shot of the most demeaning and disrespectful commentary exchanged between Beth Flowers, John Steininger, and others. Witnessing this kind of behavior quickly diminishes any kind of warm fuzzy afterglow of a seemingly successful meeting that could potentially improve communication and help KRFC to function better.

#2: Letter from Kate Taresenko to the Board
The letter that Kate Taresenko sent to the board was also sent to me. I felt that the letter illuminated an issue that is not discussed readily enough at the station: that is, the process of hiring paid staff. In an organization with hundreds of volunteers and only three paid staff, I would hope that volunteers would have the right, without fear of condemnation, to question the hiring process and to demand that the board regularly review those staff, to ensure that we have the best leadership possible.

After the letter was sent, Beth approached me at KRFC. She was visibly angry. Beth called the letter "bullshit," and defended herself to me by informing me of her qualifications for the position of Station Manager.

At a later date, I saw residual anger and suspicion towards Kate manifest in Beth's behavior. The day Dean Arnold interviewed Micheal Franti, Eddie and I went down to the station separately. Eddie asked Michael Franti if he could sit-in on the interview and take a few photographs. From what I understand, Mr. Franti had no objections.

I went to KRFC to work on the computers and enjoyed a brief look at Micheal through the glass, while giving a thumb's-up to Dean for conducting a great interview.

While I was working in the main office, Kate Taresenko came into the station to bring Dean a birthday gift as well as to congratulate him on a terrific Live@Lunch.

Although Kate was not there long, Beth was furious about her visit. Tension was high, due to a few people off the street wandering into KRFC to see Micael Franti. It was obvious that some security measures would need to be taken in the future. However, Beth seemed most upset that Eddie and Kate had had a part in the event, and began talking about it at length in the main office to Brian Hughes and to me.

Beth said that she had asked Dave Disney to come down to take photos, and that Eddie did not ask for permission to be there, even from Mr. Franti. She said that because of Eddie's presence there was not enough room in the production studio for Dave Disney.

At this point Beth made a comment that "Dean and Eddie are really tight, aren't they," as if because of Dean and Eddie's great friendship, Dean would allow Eddie to behave inappropriately, and that they had jointly, knowingly broken station policy to spite her. Beth then said that the only volunteers who should be allowed to be at the station at times when we have a "celebrity" in the studio are those volunteers who give the most time to KRFC. In Beth's words, since "Eddie does not even do anything for KRFC any more, he never tables at events, or comes down here" he should not be allowed any privileges that volunteering affords. "And Kate, when was the last time she did anything for KRFC."

I do hope that I am not at some point spoken of and treated so disrespectfully since the amount of my time spent volunteering at KRFC has decreased. I hope that I can continue to enjoy the respect of Beth Flowers and everyone at KRFC after I have sent this letter to the Board. I wish that Eddie Arthur, Dean Arnold, Kate Taresenko, Chris Rozoff, Paul Bame, Chuck Ogg, all of the NewsRangers, on-air people, technicians, etc. would receive the respect and appreciation they deserve from KRFC staff for however long their service has been. Perhaps most, I hope that other current volunteers as well as volunteers to come will not have to be witness to such back-biting, unprofessional behavior by KRFC Station Manager.

Furthermore, I hope that the Democracy meetings will be resurrected, so that we can continue to discuss and ensure that KRFC is indeed what it claims to be to the community: A volunteer-powered, democratically-run radio station.

Thank you for your time in considering the statements made in this letter.

Kristianne Gale

2004-12/Dec James Thompson's Here We Go Again article

Published in the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn in Dec 2004:

Here we go again
By James Thompson

I thought it was too good to be true. An alternative radio station right here in Fort Collins, where I and others searching for real, independent media could hear and produce programs to counter the vast monolith that purports to inform the masses?

Yes, KRFC really was here to save the day, and when we went on the air in March 2003, there was a giddy sense of hope, of determination, of accomplishment. I know, because I read the headlines that bright Monday morning when the very first community news magazine, News on the Range, aired on 88.9 FM.

I felt like a part of something. Earlier that year, I'd only heard about the new station through friends, and I decided to attend a meeting of folks who were mapping out the public affairs programming. I happened to come on a night decisions were being finalized, and even though I hadn't met any of these people before, they allowed me to vote, right on the spot.

What we created we knew wasn't set in stone, but our mission statement was: To allow under-represented voices to be heard, to recognize and foster diversity, and to do so in a way that was open and fair, where everyone had an equal say in the direction of their station. It was idealistic, I know.

Reality, of course, always sets in, and when it did so this past summer, I was floored. By then I'd been host of the Bullhorn Talk Show for some time, and contributing to the news collective was no longer an option, given my schedule. The public affairs group had dissolved; we did our best to choose programs to fulfill the needs of our disenfranchised demographic, and we thought our job was, for the most part, done. Little did we know our work had only begun.

The shakeup at the top earlier this year, when the new station manager took over, was a harbinger, but not the root cause, of what was to come for public affairs -- namely its slow but sure demise to make way for more music. Don't get me wrong: I'm a music lover, but there's a time for both. I guess that's my point. I'm still asking why, and all the explanations provided don't quite seem to make sense.

Especially the one about KRFC's inability to compete with NPR on the Greeley station in the mornings, hence the necessity to counter-program with music shows instead. Music is what we do best, was the mantra. I thought we already were counter-programming, offering an alternative to stale, right-of-center don't let anyone tell you otherwise news programming sponsored by military contractors and pharmaceutical corporations. To this day, most people I talk to (unscientific, I know) went back to KUNC and Morning Edition precisely because KRFC went to music.

But bills had to be paid, and so based on what little member input we could gather in the allotted timeframe, KRFC revamped its entire schedule to try to attract a new, better (and richer?) listener. Of course we'd seen through the assurances that there would be a net gain of locally produced programming, and we knew talk radio was, in fact, on the chopping block.

Still, we would have been shunned by all the forward-looking folks if we'd stubbornly held on to all we had worked for. Resistance was futile. This was not the easygoing, consensus-based assemblage of the formative months; this was business.

We had no real bargaining power anyway, since our original committee had evaporated and the programming committee, which makes the changes, had no members looking out especially for the info-heads. Besides, we'd salvaged most of our programs, with only a few time changes to deal with -- though shows on gays, Latinos and women had been, interestingly enough, relegated to the back of the bus, i.e., weekend early mornings.

If we compromised, we could lick our wounds and rest assured that the fight was over. So we did. And again, we let our guard down.

Though it still didn't really surprise me when I attended the last programming meeting and found that, only three months later, the ax will be falling again.

This time its posited as minor schedule reshuffling, but applying simple math to the proposed schedule reveals about four more hours of public affairs pushed aside for music, and forgive my bluntness, most likely uninspiring music, at that. Though I'd like to believe in the overriding logic that was offered once more, I'm not always convinced that music is what we do best, and even if it were true, I'm not sold on the sacrifice. (Maybe all that independent media is teaching me to see through PR facades meant to make unpleasant things so easy to swallow.)

Nor should we be sending the message that people should just tune in to KGNU Boulder if they want to hear Alternative Radio. Because they just might.

But who am I to talk? My show gets a full hour weekly, while others get half an hour every other week. I shouldn't talk -- I guess thats my point -- but I shouldn't have to.

2005-01/Jan Programming Comittee chair Kevin Foskin on Eddie being fired

This is the initial e-mail sent to the programming committee and board by the acting facilitator in response to Beth Flower's announcement the Eddie Author was being dismissed from the radio station.

Beth and the Board of Directors, as current facilitator of the KRFC Programming Committee I'm confused.

I've just taken a look at a memo by Don Flick (3/13/2004) detailing our roles and responsibilities sent to the Programming Committee which states, "Each committee is an autonomous entity working independently from and in alliance with staff, other committees, and the board of directors."

I've also looked at our existing PC charter (endorsed by the board of directors), which lays out explicitly how a member can or cannot be removed from this committee.

For everyone's sake, let me clarify how a member is removed:

"Term of Service: voting members shall serve two-year terms. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms. Initial appointments shall be established so that approximately half of the members shall stand for renewal or rotate out every two years. Members may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the committee and the BOD must endorse removal."

Nowhere in either the bylaws of this station or in this committee's charter does it give either the station manager or the Board of Directors the exclusive right to remove a member of this committee without our being informed or consulted first.

As the facilitator of this committee operating as an 'autonomous entity' I formally request that a detail list of the exact incidents and violations Eddie is being charged with is presented to this committee so that we (as a committee) can decide properly whether he should or should not be removed from this committee.

Until this list is forthcoming, as current facilitator (e.g., nominal acting chairperson of this committee), I urge this committee to reject the Board's decision to remove Eddie from his position on this committee, in violation of the rules governing this committee endorsed by the Board of Directors.

And if this request is not granted, I formally resign my position as both member and facilitator of this committee, as programmer of this station, and as a paying member to this station.

I will not be associated with (nor give freely my creative time and effort to) a group of individuals who are turning this radio station into a Stalinist camp where no one has the right to voice his or her opinions as to how this station is run and operated.

I am sending this message to both the PC and all of our programming members because I feel an existing programmer is being treated unfairly and without a due process which is open to scrutiny to all members-especially given Eddie's contributions to KRFC in the past. Furthermore, this committee has been charged with the oversight of our programmers and to not have involved us is a gross disservice to the significant time and effort many of us have made in serving on this committee.

I was troubled at finding out this committee had not been advised or asked to participate in the decision to sell the Jazz vinyl collection. This committee is charged with oversight of the music library and to not include us makes me question whether this committee serves any actual purpose. Now, having not been consulted again with an issue that clearly should involve this committee, I can only surmise that both our station manager and the current board of directors sees this committee as little more than a means of legitimizing decisions made elsewhere.

Kevin Foskin
acting facilitator, KRFC programming committee


2005-02/Feb Jeff Rowan resigns from Program Committee and KRFC

Jeff Rowan writes:

Below is the letter I wrote explaining why I felt it necessary to resign from the Programming Committee at the end of February, 2005. I'm posting it here in the hope that it will contribute to awareness about issues at KRFC that should concern us all.

I came to volunteer at the station a couple months after it went on the air in 2003. I was thrilled to have a community radio station so close to where I lived, especially one with such a admirable Mission Statement. I was involved with the News Ranger collective from the first time I walked into KRFC, and later became an original member of the Programming Committee.

Although other commitments eventually caused me to end my participation with News on the Range, I continued to be part of the PC, and actively promoted and supported KRFC.

As time went on, I became increasingly frustrated with the Programming Committee because it began to ignore established practices and democratic processes. Jazzgate and Eddie's "remov(al) from his positions" were the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

I can admit that the letter may have been more persuasive if it had sounded less angry. But, actually the tone accurately reflects the outrage and disappointment I feel about a community radio station that seems to be straying from some parts of its mission.

If you have questions or comments and would prefer not to post them, feel free to email me at


I'm stunned. The workings of KRFC have truly become an nightmare for anyone interested in a community radio station run in a democratic manner, or to be precise, "a community radio station that is listener supported and democratically managed." That's from the KRFC Mission Statement. If it's been revised to read "autocratically" or "oligarchically," I hope someone will fill me in. Otherwise, the recent e-mails from the Station Manager and the President of the Board of Directors reveal, in my opinion, obvious violations of the KRFC Mission Statement.

I'm not writing this to impugn the integrity or character of anyone involved, but I think that on the face of it these last two proclamations from the top of the hierarchy cannot be allowed to stand without objection if KRFC expects to be a real community radio station.

I would like to draw attention to a few more quotations. Firstly, the Station Manager's e-mail contains the phrase "has been removed," to describe Eddie Arthur's fate, without attributing the decision to anyone in particular. I certainly know that the Programming Committee was not consulted in any way. We actually do have a process established for the removal of programmers if necessary, but apparently it was more expedient to bypass that process created by volunteers on the Programming Committee. One would like to think we might also have a say about who is on our own committee, but we did not. This hardly seems like democratic management. Frankly, I find it indefensible.

I assume the Board of Directors was consulted in "this decision," but it's really not clear from the announcement. The statement "it has become clear that Eddies needs and interests have diverged from the needs and greater good of the station," also in the Station Manager's announcement, begs the question, clear to whom? No to me, that's for damn sure. At this point, I don't even need to defend Eddie, because anyone who feels they have the authority to summarily dismiss a volunteer serving as both a programmer and a committee member is not someone who practices democratic management.

Secondly, the e-mail from the President of the Board of Directors with the subject line "jazzgate" portrays a disturbingly anti-democratic tone. The e-mail contains an apology "to all of our valuable volunteers who have received numerous inaccurate and miss-informative e-mails from various people." However, there is absolutely no attempt made by the President of the Board of Directors to correct the supposedly inaccurate information, let alone an apology to relevant volunteers that were completely left out of the decision to sell records.

The claim is made that "numerous programmers and others were consulted in the sale of the jazz vinyl," but again I'm quite sure the Programming Committee was not consulted, and apparently neither were some programmers with an interest in the jazz collection. So who exactly are these people who apparently gave the OK? Again, this does not sound like democratic management.

Finally, the President of the Board of Directors closes with an invitation to contact him if "anyone who wishes to be enlightened" with "accurate information." Why should the members of a community radio station have to call the President of the Board of Directors in order to understand the facts of a simple sale of records? Should a democratically managed station hold such information as some kind of state secret?

It's been apparent to me for some time that the Programming Committee tends to function as little more than a discussion group that often has little impact on a vision for the station, those decisions having already been made by a small group of people. These last two incidents only reinforce that notion, and I urge each member of the committee to examine whether or not there is any purpose to spending his or her time participating in such a farce.

Further developments will help me decide if I'll continue to support or be involved with KRFC as a whole, but please let this serve as my formal resignation from the Programming Committee.

Jeff Rowan

2005-02/Feb Programming Comittee chair Kevin Foskin resigns

Sent in 2005 to the KRFC Programming Committee shortly following the first "firing" of Eddie Arthur.

I was prepared to force an issue this evening over the manner of Eddie's removal from this committee. I stand by my previous e-mail, which spoke of such a plan. I think it sets a bad precedent and it robs this committee of the useful autonomy it needs to truly represent the needs of all our programmers and listening members. We already had one situation where a committee member was nearly forced to resign for openly expressing his disagreement with our previous station manager. I think there are good reasons why we shouldn't allow for the removal of Eddie from the PC without even a minimal objection by all of you: it damages this committee’s reputation (for fairness) and potentially it undermines our integrity in the minds of many in our ranks. It may or may not be so, but honestly I think it’s the exact wrong road to take at this juncture.

I do have exact reasons and I am willing to send to any of you these reasons via the e-mail, but I doubt if many of you will be interested. Time doesn't allow for that now and, for once in my life, I wish to be brief and not right. Anyway, I don't think it would make a damn bit of difference in the long run. Yes, I’ve become that pessimistic, sad to say. In speaking with several individuals today, I have decided to not force any issue tonight. To do so, will cause further disruption.

Forgive me, but I do believe that what has happen to Eddie is wrong. I know he’s not a saint. Clearly, none of us are. He's my friend. I think he’s a great DJ. I have tried to argue that we should try and save what I see as a valuable volunteer asset. Please find it in your hearts to find some way of doing so in a manner that brings greater unity to this station. Don't kid yourselves; KRFC needs it badly right now. I will attach Eddie's statement in another e-mail when I get it. Would somebody be gracious enough to read it to the committee this evening, as I had promised?

My reasons for why I remain here have been squandered. I blame myself, no one else. Folks, I'm flat broke in that category. I believe there are plans for my weekly time slot. I offered to give it up freely, if that might help us. I did this in good faith. What you decide to do with it, I firmly believe, is also done in good faith. I will, obviously, fill in until a permanent replacement is found. That may not even be necessary. Just let me know. Everyone has the agenda for this evening. If not, e-mail me and I'll attach to you another one. I believe I just may well hold the record for serving the shortest period of time as facilitator for the PC in the history of KRFC: zero minutes. I won't be attending tonight’s meeting.

I thank everyone for the pleasure and license of having my own show for a while on KRFC.

I'll end this with a short personal story: this afternoon, a comment someone wrote to me was what finally knocked the wind out of what shaky commitment-to-continue I might have had left in me. I openly advertised to every one of my intentions last Thursday evening in an e-mail I posted to you all. Not a single person on this committee responded. I put the Eddie issue on the agenda as an item of discussion that I sent out for approval. I then reminded several individuals of just this fact over the weekend. I did get back one response, finally: I was accused of being devious. I was accused of acting in bad faith. I was accused of willfully planning to force an issue on folks without warning them. You know what, it was a good kick in the ribs. I'm getting out of the fracas. I'm headed for the first comfortable couch I can find and curl up. As Bob T. might say, happy trails.
Please accept this as my formal resignation.

2005-04/Apr Programmer Kate Tarasenko on Democracy

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:21 pm
Post subject: Democracy means never having to say Shut up

Dear JoAnn, and Everyone --

I'm surprised that, given your background (with KRFC, teaching, activism, etc.) you would attempt to stifle dissent or mere discussion at KRFC, even when it calls into question the station's actions and decisions. Personally, I can't think of a MORE appropriate time to do it than when we're asking people to, once again, support it with their financial contributions.

The timing of the Soapbox is perhaps controversial -- if it was purposely timed to coincide with the fund drive, it was presumably done so to challenge listeners and donors to make more informed decisions about their donations, as well as to, hopefully, generate more debate -- not condemnation within the ranks for merely doing so. It's nothing short of a beautiful demonstration of democracy at work at KRFC -- cash in the bank, as far as I'm concerned. Fearlessness like that is right up my anti-Patriot Act alley.

Jeff and Kevin (thank god) makes the obvious point that producing and airing a rebuttal to a Soapbox is an even better way for listeners to consider the issues. This is actually a necessary component for a debate, in fact -- otherwise, it's just one hand clapping. Theirs is the default response for anyone disagreeing with something said in a democratic forum, which is the flag that KRFC flies. I'd much rather hear two opposing views (at least!) of an issue than not hear the debate at all! What are we so afraid of -- that people are too stupid to think for themselves, to educate themselves, and to weigh in with their own opinions?

Furthermore, if Rich's Soapbox actually has the effect of guiding people's dollars away from the station, which I read is your fear, is this not a message that KRFC should listen to (as well as the money that DOES come in)? Do we just care about the money that helps us stay on the air?

That's the particular balancing act for KRFC and other community radio stations (and not commercial radio, and not even public radio and especially "businesses" in any generic sense) -- we have to uphold our democratic ideals AND be good marketeers, but one should NEVER be sacrificed under the wheels of the other. How well we are doing it -- THIS is what drives much of the debate around the station (which is hardly limited to the 'rumbling little group' of newsies that you mentioned in your post). Far be it from me to lecture you about ANYthing, JoAnn, so please understand that I'm responding in the spirit of friendship and lively discourse, but I really don't understand where you're coming from. I don't see contrary viewpoints as a threat to us remaining on the air, and admonishing anyone to either not make them or not air them amounts to a very unfair accusation ("undermining KRFC") that encourages self-censorship. You want outrage? You got it.(That whirring sound you're hearing is Jefferson and Locke spinning in their graves!)

(But I love it that you've used the Forum here, along with others, to share your upset about it -- we need more discussion about these "general accolades and disturbances" at KRFC -- not less.)

But I'm with Jeff, et al, when he says that we should be honoring the Mission Statement by not only allowing -- but encouraging -- such discourse -- THIS is the bedrock of democracy. It just shouldn't matter if the criticisms are pointed directly at ourselves, or our Board, whose primary loyalty and responsibility are to the KRFC community (and not OURS to THEM, as Kevin points out). Ideas which are worthy will find their support and will flourish, while those unworthy will wither and go away. (And remember that we're talking about IDEAS, not PEOPLE, something that we are still struggling with as a large and sometimes unwieldy volunteer/community endeavor, with lots of folks and lots of conflicting personal and professional agendas not all of this being inevitable, and much of it, woefully, still unresolved.)

I didn't hear the Soapbox that you wanted to have pulled, so my argument here is strictly about the necessity of discourse --that implies dissent and disagreement. I certainly hope that the Soapbox's absence during the evening broadcast was not as a result of censorship -- what a tragedy that would be for KRFC, who so loudly and proudly touts the very idea of democracy when asking for listener and financial support.

The Mission Statement is an elegant and succinct document that both rallies and challenges everyone's vision, contribution and commitment. (And if you had a direct hand in its creation as one of the members of PRFR, JoAnn, I want to thank you. And I'd ask you what you meant then that doesn't apply now.) The Mission Statement outlines our philosophy as a community-run public trust (as Kevin reminds us). Democracy --- and all that the word implies -- is its heart. I became a Charter Member in the first place, a month before we even went on the air, because I was sold on the very idea of KRFC, as described by its Mission Statement. And that's why, whether I'm reading a newspaper, watching the news or listening to talk radio, I'm naturally more personally validated when I see someone speak up and voice my opinions for me, but I'll admit that I also get a strange thrill when I read and hear opposing views, too -- it means that my democracy is live and well. (So I guess that begs the question: Can anyone shed any light on why the Soapbox ran just once -- was it expected to run again?)

The Mission Statement, while it sold me two years ago on KRFC, is NOT a mere marketing tool. My outrage is reserved for when it is shamelessly shilled as such, and when democracy, as a verb, breaks down. JoAnn, based on your e-mail, I STILL have no idea what your specific objections to the Soapbox are -- only that you disagree with it and found its timing rather "unpatriotic"... I'm certainly not lecturing you or anyone else on "democracy" -- but, JoAnn, the purpose of your post is lost on me.

And for the record, although our Board of Directors "represents" KRFC, as its very definition implies, you, as a former Board member, should know that it is not strictly "duly elected" by the membership (although you may have been more correct with your Freudian slip when you said that it's "duely" elected!^) Since Kevin got this particular ball rolling, and it is a personal crusade of mine to see this process "evolve," I want to take the opportunity here to go over how the Board IS currently "elected," as I consider it a very complicated and strange process:

1) the Board itself chooses a "nominating committee" (which somehow gets chosen without any mass e-mails going out to volunteers being asked to sit on the committee);

2) paid staff get to sit on this nominating committee, which, it has been previously pointed out, is a conflict of interest, since paid staff receive their performance reviews (and salary raises and disciplinary action, etc.) by the Board;

3) a "slate" of three people run together, instead of separately (and, historically, many of these "nominees" have been personally approached and asked to run by current sitting Board members);

4) it takes a collective tally of fewer than 25% of total negative votes in order for this slate to be "elected." (Take a moment to read that previous sentence again.) A sidebar of the current method is that abstentions -- by definition, these are votes which are not cast at all (those eligible to vote simply decline to vote) -- are actually tallied and counted as affirmative votes.

And that's how the KRFC Board of Directors gets elected! Now, on to how they make hot dogs... When I ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Board a couple of years ago (on a platform of devotion to KRFC and genuine love and respect for the Mission Statement!), I asked then-president John Steininger why KRFC had adopted such a convoluted process. His enthusiastic response to me was: "We've never tried this before!" (Being from Chicago, it was a new one on me, too!)

In case I need to make this point clear: I am not disparaging any Board MEMBERS -- past or present -- but simply the Board election PROCESS. I see it as rife with real and potential problems, and designed (accidentally or on purpose) in direct counterpoint to our much-advertised and beloved democracy at KRFC. The problems with such a process can be rectified with some very straightforward antidotes:

1) Direct nominations should come from the membership and community at large, with ads run in local newspapers and on the air to solicit applications from nominees (the same way the Fort Collins Food Co-op does it, as well as the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County governments when they have vacancies on their various community-represented Boards). It would also be great to hold well-advertised meetings to allow these contenders to speak directly to the membership to discuss their backgrounds and vision for KRFC.

2) Nominees should run (and be voted for) separately as individuals.

3) The top AFFIRMATIVE vote-getters win for the available seats. "Negative" votes aren't cast, and "abstentions" aren't counted as anything.

This method, which I think I learned back in my 4th-grade school elections, dispenses with the need of a "nominating committee" (as well as the whole mystery which currently shrouds it); the appearance and reality of a conflict of interest between the Board and its paid staff; and a confused, lumbering, dinosaur of a voting process that is truly not worthy of a volunteer-run, community-based public trust. This simple proposal also assures KRFC of a REPRESENTATIVE Board that comes right from the KRFC community at large.

(It's worth mentioning that I've had discussions with Board members themselves who have said that Board elections actually do not generate much interest among the KRFC members. I'm positively embarrassed that this is the case, yet I understand it, with the current system's many built-in disincentives.)

That's my rant on Election Reform, and I hope THIS issue generates much respectful discussion in the near future.

Thank you, JoAnn, for using the Forum for weighing in with your dissatisfaction of the Soapbox -- but I really want to read more about the ISSUES it generated that you object to. Thank you, Jeff, Chris, Kevin, Nigel and JC for weighing in with your own opinions. And thank you to Rich for taking the time and energy to record the Soapbox Ive personally appreciated the lively and respectful debate on the ISSUES it raises.

Kate Tarasenko

2005-05/May 20 people ask board for independent review of Eddie's dismissal

Dear Members of the Board;

As was obvious at the last Board meeting, the "Eddie" issue is not going to go away. We have all read the letter Eddie received from Beth. The charges in it are so vague and ambiguous that they are useless to anyone who may want to fairly defend themselves or even discover what they have done wrong so they can apologize and stop those behaviors in the future. You have heard this repeatedly, from us as well as others - allowing one person the sole power to dismiss volunteers from the station, particularly for reasons as vague as the ones stated in Eddie's letter, is a dangerous concentration of power in one person. It is an egregious violation of the 'democracy' component of our Mission Statement. It sets a dangerous precedent, and as concerned members of this station, we cannot allow it to stand.

The 'Eddie' issue has polarized the volunteers and undermined the sense of community that KRFC is supposed to promote. In the interests of restoring some measure of trust and harmony at the station, we would like to request the Board's support in an independent review process. We feel that the process should include appointing an independent committee to review the evidence and render an independent decision. The committee should contain members and volunteers who can be unbiased in their assessment of the facts in the case.

This process can only be a win-win solution for everyone. The Board and GM can demonstrate leadership by their willingness to participate in an independent review. Everyone, including Eddie, will abide by the decision of the independent committee, and the whole matter can be laid to rest. Trust in the management of the station will be somewhat restored and we can all begin building bridges toward community together again.

We would appreciate your response to this suggestion as soon as possible.


Michael Parrott, Member listener
Dave Canter, Volunteer/Member
Meg Corwin, Member/Volunteer
Dean Arnold, Volunteer/Member/Programmer
Kristianne Gale, Member/Volunteer
Fernando Valerio-Holquin, Member/Volunteer
Chris Rozoff, Member listener
Javier Gonzalez, Member/Volunteer
Jennifer Balser, 'Streaming' Listener/Member/Volunteer
Kevin Foskin, Member listener
David Roy Former Volunteer/DJ
Rich Schafer, Member listener
Kathleen McCluskey, Community listener
Adam Brandon, Community listener
Carmen Reid, Member/Volunteer
Sandy Lemberg, Member listener
David Canter, Member/Volunteer
Jeff Rowan, Member listener
Jill Schaefer, Member listener

2005-06/Jun Board Refuses Independent Inquiry into Eddie Dismissal

Dear Concerned Members and Volunteers,

Thank you for your letter, received May 10, 2005, concerning a suggestion to create an independent committee to review Eddie Arthur's dismissal as a KRFC volunteer by our station manager. We understand your concern regarding the dismissal of a prominent volunteer, especially since confidentiality prevents the station manager and the board from releasing the details of Eddie Arthur's dismissal.

After some thoughtful discussion at our most recent Board of Directors' meeting we do not believe that the formation of a committee to review Eddie's dismissal is warranted. We do not believe that it would be in the best interests of KRFC as a whole.

However, the KRFC Board of Directors recognizes that policies concerning the privileges, responsibilities, and processes for dismissal of volunteers are important. The policy subcommittee is now taking steps to evaluate existing volunteer related polices and to discuss areas for clarification and expansion, especially as they relate to the dismissal of volunteers. We welcome your input.

If you would like to have input, please let me know by e-mail and we will contact you in the near future.


Jennifer Lowry Vice President, KRFC Board of Directors

2005-06/Jun Kevin writes Bullhorn about resigning

Posted June 8, 2005: Below is a letter I sent to the Bullhorn several months ago for publication; sadly, they choose not to print this. I offer this here as a greater explanation as to why I have resigned as a member of the programming committee and a DJ at KRFC. I felt it dishonest to continue my participation in an organization that clearly I could no longer believe in. -Kevin

Dear Bullhorn,

Imagine you are playing a game with exact rules of play. Now, also imagine that these rules can be momentarily ignored each time only certain players wish to score a goal. Would you still play the game? I wouldn't; so, last Tuesday I resigned in protest from the Programming Committee at KRFC. Others did too.

I did so not because any special interest of mine had been threaten (weeks ago I offered to give up my regular show to help derail a scheduling gridlock). I did so because I have become increasingly disillusioned with the role the programming committee serves in the decision-making process at KRFC.

What began, I believe, as a radio station founded on the principles of an open, democratic governance has, in reality, become an organization where fewer and fewer of us are being allowed a part in any of the key decisions being made (i.e., recent sale of our jazz vinyl collection).

When this committee got started (I am an original member), we were told that we (as a representative body) were to serve the de facto role of programming manager and that our oversight would entail all programming issues.

We spent a good deal of time at startup working out exact procedures of operation that we all hoped would ensure a fair and judicious arena for the discussion and implementation of key programming decisions. Some of us felt it fundamental that we create a committee operating-structure that would eliminate as much as was possible the threat of any one personality among us becoming so influential as to dominate our decisions.

Many also felt it essential that our committee function as an autonomous entity, independent of both the Board of Directors and the station manager. We had no gripes with either; we simply felt it wise that as the one body that would be representing diverse populations at KRFC (e.g., programmers, listening members, the general public) we needed this autonomy in order to be an effective (and fair) voice for those we represented. Some of us saw ourselves as a reasonable check and balance; one of several, we hoped, that would instill in our ranks the trust we felt vital for our success.

Sadly, that legacy is now in serious jeopardy. In fact, over the past year, I have witnessed the gradual emaciation of our committees right to exist autonomously as more and more of the real decisions are being made by only one person. As it now stands, I believe the committees actual function has become a dubious one: it serves to simply create the illusion as if programming decisions are being made in a participatory-democratic manner when in fact they are not.

Let me give just two recent examples that demonstrate why I believe the PC lacks the empowerment it needs. Several weeks ago, the committee voted in consensus to make a minor adjustment to our existing schedule. We took some pain to discuss the pros and cons. Our recommendation was an informed one that alleviated several scheduling pressures in a manner that was fair to all parties involved, one that did not undermine the intent behind our current programming schedule. Problem was, the station manager was not in attendance and has since vetoed the recommendation.

Last week a member of our committee was dismissed by the station manger. The dismissal came the day following the publication of a letter written by the person dismissed which voiced legitimate concerns over the loss of what many of us see as an invaluable, community-owned cultural asset. Given that no substantiated reasons were given, its difficult to see the dismissal as anything but a retaliatory responseone employed to silence what I see as justifiable democratic dissent.

To not have involved the programming committee first (it serves as oversight of the programmers) regarding the dismissal, is a further marginalization of our committees right to conduct its own business. We have exact rules of governance (sanctioned by the Board of Directors) that state clearly how a member of our committee can be removed (e.g., by a 3/4 committee vote) but these rules were ignored by the station manager.

As the current facilitator, I felt it only proper that I formally contest the dismissal. I requested that we be presented with a full accountability of the grounds for dismissal so that we (as a committee) could decide the issue. I made known (via e-mail) my intention of challenging what I saw as a violation of the committees own governance rules. In doing so I was accused of being devious, of acting in bad faith, of willfully conspiring against consensus by springing a trap.

Having had my full of such accusations, I resigned.

Increasingly of late, key language which underwrites the stations Mission Statement is regularly employed as a tactic to derail good faith efforts made by those of us who advocate what we believe is the better role for the PC (e.g., an autonomous existence).

I have already personally witnessed two members of this committee being charged with unsubstantiated crimes because they openly spoke their minds. The first time (Spring 2004), the committee stopped such an egregious attack on our autonomy. This time, weve not been allowed to do so.

Twice now (and what delightful irony!) the KRFC Mission Statement (written to protect and allow for democratic expression) has been used to censor (and in retaliation against) members of this committee who have dared to speak up.

Now, I don't seriously believe any of this is a conscious effort by any one person to supplant democratic governance with a Stalinist style of democracy, one replete with commissars and expulsions to gulags. I see it more like this: some are playing with matches inside the barn. In departing, some advice: Stop doing so or youre going to inadvertently burn everything to the ground!

2005-??? Kevin responds to Bullhorn KRFC article

Letter to the Bullhorn I wrote shortly after the article about KRFC was published. They chose not to publish this. -Kevin

Dear Bullhorn,

Joshua Zaffos recent KRFC article again proves what most of us suspect is the most daunting of journalist tasks: taking a vastly complicated situation and doing it justice. His article was an admirable start but much still needs to be uncovered & examined if we are to gain a productive sense as to what is happening right now at KRFC.

I was until recentlya DJ and an original member of the KRFC Programming Committee so I speak here with some knowledge of much which has evaded (for both conscious and unconscious reasons) the light of day. No, I am not speaking of an outright conspiracy here. I am speaking about individuals whofor a host of complicated reasonsbegin to act in ways that I believe are harmful & grossly unfair. And they often do so for the best intentions -- at least in their own minds -- but to resolutely then try and hide their doings by invoking questionable tactics such confidentiality (e.g., repeatedly refusing to give exact reason and evidence to support such reasons as to why theyve done something) is an affront to those of us who expect a minimal level of fairness in exchange for the valuable volunteer time weve given to KRFC. As such, such tactics need to be challenged in a public manner.

About a month ago I resigned in protest because I believe the direction KRFC is now taking is a misguided one. My reasons for severing my affiliation with the station are ones grounded in a firm belief (and expectation) that democratic processes should never be jettisoned or suspended on the one whims of one person (or a Board of Directors). Such processes, when adhered to faithfully, ensure everyones rights, while underwriting a decision making process thats open and fair, to all parties. I quit serving on the Programming Committee for a good number of exact reasons which prompted the following realization: had become a tiresome façade, one which simply maintained an illusion that key programming decisions are being made in a judicious and participatory manner.

However, the point of this letter is not to dwell on such experiences but, rather, to defend the rights of an individual, one who gave nearly 8 years of his time and effort, who was unfairly dismissed by the present station managerfor exact reasons he has yet to learn and in which the station manager has steadfastly refused to reveal. In Zaffos article this dismissal, when questioned as to the actual circumstances, the station manager has flatly refused to say anything more than to say its a private issue.

I do not believe it is a private issue. I believe that such resolve, given what I have seen and heard, is simply a tactic that further denies a member of our community the right to defend himself and seek a reasonable appeal to what is clearly a questionable action taken by the station manager of KRFC.

Imagine the following scenario? You are a member of a supposedly democratic organization whose Mission Statement guarantees you the right of free expression and democratic dissent. You disagree with a decision made by the elected management of this organization. Understanding this to be your right, you voice your concerns via both e-mails to a listserv (designed as a forum for open discussion) and a letter written to a local newspaper. Just one day following your letters appearance, you are summarily dismissed in a manner that blatantly ignored specific rules of procedure endorsed by the governing bodies (e.g., KRFC Board and the PC) established to guide such decisions and done so publicly in a manner that calls into question your very reputation.

But wait; it gets worse. Management then, in an attempt to project an image of fairness, broadcasts several e-mails, assuring everyone that there is in place a clearly-stated appeals process that governs dismissals. Imagine now that you officially request (within a week of your dismissal) that management provides to you their clearly-stated guidelines explaining the appeals processalong with a specific list of actual charges against you that necessitated your dismissal. Several weeks now go by; you have yet to receive such guidelines. Then, suddenly management convenes an emergency session where they vote to withhold from you the specific reasons for your dismissal, which, in effect, prevents you from adequately preparing your appeal.

How could anyone in good conscience claim that such a scenario is fair? How could anyone in good conscience not also take notice and object to such a blatant & willful disregard for the necessity of fairness? It puzzles me that a vast majority of KRFC volunteers (and programmers) now appear so meek (or unconcerned) as to allow this to happengiven that some day they too may be summarily dismissedeven after years of servicefor reasons never explained, for reasons, given no evidence to the contrary, that are obviously in this case retaliatory & spiteful in origin?

Who in good conscience would dare remain a member of such a group?

Kevin Foskin

2006-02/Feb Board Announces New Mission

This text is from a postal letter sent to KRFC members, received around Feb 24, 2006. On the reverse side of the single page was the text of the new mission statement (technically at that point in time, the proposed new mission statement).
February 20, 2006

Dear KRFC Member;

Happy winter from your favorite community radio station!

KRFC staff and volunteers have been hard at work on a strategic plan for the radio station. The first step in the planning process was to develop the Vision, Mission, and Core Values in order to give us a platform to map out the future. Enclosed you will find the newly adopted KRFC Vision, Mission, and Core Values approved unanimously by the Board of Directors on February 16, 2006.

The next step in this process is to develop the strategic plan -- the direction and goals we will work on for the next five years and beyond. If you would like your voice heard, join us at the next public input meeting on March 4th from 10 am till noon at Place for Peace, 1605 W. Mulberry in Fort Collins.

Thanks for your continued suppport of KRFC. Our member listeners are our most important asset and we value your needs and opinions. Please call the station at 221-5075 if you have any questions.

Thank you again for your support!

Greg (signature)

Greg Krush
KRFC Board President

2006-03/Mar An Open Letter to the KRFC Community from the Board

March 22, 2006

An Open Letter to the KRFC Community

Dear KRFC friends,

A lot has happened at the station since we went on air March 1, 2003. Much to our
delight and pride, we have grown faster and bigger than many of us expected. In this last
year alone, we installed brand new equipment in all our studios and more than 350 people
volunteered more than 40,000 hours of time ­ equivalent to nearly 20 full time staff.
We've moved from infancy to toddler to teenager as an organization in three short years.
With that growth has come struggle and pain.

We set out in 2005 to create a strategic plan for the KRFC so that we could help channel
and direct our future. Part of that exercise included rewriting our mission statement. We
developed a process that was inclusive, public and very well advertised. More than 250
people were involved in crafting the new language. The board synthesized everyone's
work and on February 16, 2006 unanimously adopted a new mission, vision and
statement of core values.

At the last minute, after three months of process, several people who participated in the
process chose to stop communication with the board and staff to pursue their right under
KRFC by-laws to circulate a petition that asked for a full vote of the membership for
adoption of the new mission statement. In fact, some of the petition organizers chose to
go outside the KRFC community to collect signatures by using language that was
misleading, personally disparaging to KRFC staff and board and detrimental to the well
being of KRFC. We received numerous complaints from KRFC volunteers that they
were harassed in public and at their places of work and electronically by organizers.

We attempted to communicate with some of the organizers to quell this behavior, but
they would not return phone calls or emails from staff. We even enlisted the help of
other volunteers to try to help solve this problem and resume communication to no avail.
The organizers began to use the KRFC forums to encourage people to sign the petition
and dismissed anyone who disagreed with their position. One of the signers of the
petition attempted to remove his name from the petition with a very heartfelt plea for a
return to dialog and a reminder that the organizers had not followed the process that had
been agreed upon. We thought this was a step in the right direction toward solving our
differences. Instead this volunteer's character was defamed and the board decided to shut
down the forums. They have been used too often by this same group of people for
behavior that is inconsistent with the culture we want to have at KRFC.

This is the fourth time in the past three years that this same group of people has hi-jacked
decisions and publicly polarized the community.

After years of attempting to dialog and compromise and bring this group along, the
KRFC board decided that there were irreconcilable differences between KRFC
management and this group.

We believe that this rift was inevitable because this group has a different vision for
KRFC. The Board and staff and the vast majority of the KRFC community want the
radio station to be a community radio station that is open to the diverse opinions that
make Northern Colorado so unique. We do not believe that KRFC should be a radical,
left-wing, political radio station as this vocal minority would like. We also, very
emphatically, believe that KRFC should not be a bland, commercial-like radio station and
that KRFC should never pander to the specific interests of any group by compromising
programming for dollars. Do not be fooled by the rhetoric of this group. The open,
consensus style of operation and commitment to democratic principles, human dignity,
exploration of new ideas, and diverse music are not at risk.

And so KRFC faces a divorce. We cannot run the station or the organization without
splitting from this group. Enormous staff and board time has been spent trying to bring
everyone together, but we do not believe that there is common ground.

To that end, the KRFC board has revoked the memberships of Eddie Arthur, Paul Bame
and Kathleen Brandon, three organizers of this group who we believe have acted time
and again against the best interests of the station.

This makes us very sad. We have worked with two of these people for many years and,
in some cases, considered them friends. All three have made considerable contributions
to the station and we value and have welcomed their time, effort and expertise. We wish
that things could be different.

But we believe that our actions are in the best interest of the station. We believe that
KRFC cannot be healed and will not succeed if we do not separate and move on from this
continuing conflict.

As for the petition itself. We are sorry that some people may feel like their signature was
squandered. We intend to contact many of you personally to explain what we believe
happened and why we chose to deem the petition invalid. As we grow, we find lots of
places where we need clearer policy that will make these decisions easier to understand
and predict.

89 signatures were delivered to a KRFC board member's home without any address or
phone number. There was no legitimate way to confirm that the signatures were real.
We consulted with a lawyer who confirmed this problem and raised others. The name of
the person who asked that his name be removed from the petition was still on the petition.
Given the complaints that we had received about the manner in which signatures were
collected we had clear reason to question the intent of some of the signers.

Contrary to the information that petition organizers were spreading, people involved in
the planning process felt heard. Less than half of the Strategic Planning Advisory
committee and only three members of the public who attended meetings or gave feedback
regarding the mission statement signed the petition. Clearly the vast majority of people
who were actually involved with the process did not have a problem with the board's
decision. Only one person besides board and staff cared enough about the mission
statement to attend the board meeting where we synthesized all the comments.

After complaints were made about using a technical reason for not accepting the petition,
we spent the time to try and match signatures with our database. Fewer than 50
signatures were current KRFC members.

We know that this experience has been difficult for some of you. It has been, and
continues to be difficult for us. We hope you will contact any one of us or Beth if you
want to express your opinions, feelings or get clarifications. As always, our board
meetings are open to the public. We wish that more of you would participate in our
decision making process. Only one person, who was not a petition signer, bothered to
show up to the board meeting last week when the petitions were delivered.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

KRFC Board

This is a copy of a letter from the KRFC web site.

2006-03/Mar Open KRFC "demands" letter

March 15/16, 2006
(note this was censored from most KRFC e-mail lists)
Subject: KRFC Denies Petition, Fires Volunteers

Dear KRFC Volunteers:

Congratulations to KRFC on a successful fund drive! Without all the volunteer time and hard work, KRFC would not be possible. We wanted everyone to be able to concentrate on the pledge drive so we waited until now to share our perspective.

We are a group of current and former KRFC volunteers, original founders, financial contributors, board members, programmers, and strategic planning committee members. We are working democratically and inclusively in an effort to make the founding KRFC mission a reality.

Many of us signed the petition, outlined in the bylaws, asking to send the proposed mission statement to a vote of the entire membership. The petition was signed by a group more than ten times larger than the board. Our petition was denied. The board also dismissed three volunteers using a loophole which denies the volunteers access to the KRFC grievance policy and a fair hearing. Marty Durlin, respected station manager of KGNU and trained mediator, offered mediation. We accepted but the KRFC board declined.

We are asking for the KRFC Board and Station Manager to:

1. engage in dialogue and accept mediation
2. offer fair hearings for the dismissed volunteers
3. promise that there will be no more dismissals without due process
4. contact petitioners whose signatures were considered invalid to notify them of the reason

The recent actions of the board and station manager are wrong and must be challenged. When the board and station manager decide to close off communication the options for resolution become very limited and very impersonal. This letter is also asking for your suggestions, wisdom and help as we move forward and insist upon basic accountability to members and volunteers, and fair practices when dealing with every person in the KRFC community.

Please take some time at our website so you can be aware of the actual details. Feel free to contact anyone on the website contact list.


Open KRFC (an outgrowth of the petitioners)
Andrew McMahan * BT Huntley * Carla Conrardy * Carmen Reid
Cheryl Distaso * Chester McQueary * Chris Rozoff * Cindy Reich
Daniel R. Leatherman * David Bartecci * David Lauer * Dean Arnold
Deborah Stucklen * Diedre Shaffer * Don Flick * Don Inglis-Widrick
Eddie Arthur * Emily Hornbach * Emily Yost * Eric Flashner
Eric Hamrick * Eric Levine * Kevin Cross * Jamie Folsom
Jane Kneller * Jeff Moe * Jeff Rowan * Jen Balser * Jerry Gerber
Joe Kissel * Joe Ramagli * Joe Stern * John Kefalas
John Montgomery * Karen Watt * Kate Jeracki * Kellie Falbo
Kevin Foskin * Kristianne Gale * Laurence Budd * Mareye Bullock
Mark Ottenberg * Meg Corwin * Michael Lazonsky * Nancy York * Nicolas Ferlay
Norberto Valdez * Paul Bame * Rich Shaffer
Saja Butler * Sandy Lemberg * Sally Miles * Sharon Gale * Stacey Koeckeritz
Stacy Buggle * Tanja Andreas * Todd Simmons * Troy Lepper

2006-04/Apr Board Corrects "Misconceptions"

This form letter was received by at least three people, on about April 29th, who wrote impassioned letters to the board about the situation at KRFC. At least one writer remarked that the formulaic reply doesn't address any of the points in the letter they sent, and another said: This is the canned response I got to a very direct and genuinely concerned letter I wrote to the Board at KRFC on April 21. Apparently my letter did not deserve an individual reply. As I read it, the response to me personally is 'We don't need to reply to your particular concerns and we don't need your support."
I am enclosing a document written by the Board. In it we answer some questions and correct some misconceptions which we believe are circulating. Hopefully this will be helpful.

Thank you for your interest in KRFC.

With respect,

Susan Sternlieb for the Board of Directors

Recently, weve received some thoughtful letters from concerned members and supporters who are encouraging us to make use of mediation in the matter of three volunteers who have had their memberships revoked. Some letter writers are also concerned about the Boards dismissal of a recently submitted petition calling for the rejection of our newly adopted Mission, Vision and Values Statements.

On the face of it, the news of 3 memberships being revoked and a petition being dismissed sounds somewhat alarming. We are especially aware of the fact that a number of members who signed the recent petition in good faith, truly believe it was the right thing to do and are disappointed with the Boards actions.

However, we strongly believe that the Boards decisions and actions were appropriate and in the best interests of KRFC. We believe that they will result in a stronger, more inclusive and ultimately more successful community radio station for all of us. The reasons for our actions were not only based on recent events, but on a long and complex history of personal conflicts and power struggles. Our decisions were made with care and were the result of many hours of discussion spanning several years.

While its not feasible to completely explain the reasons for the Boards recent actions, we wish to clarify some areas where we believe some of our members and supporters may have misconceptions. Listed below are some of the points that have been brought to our attention in the recent e-mails we ve received, along with responses that describe our understanding of the situation.

1) There is division at the radio station.
The fact is that there isnt significant division. Please come to the station and see for yourself! If you talk to people there (the volunteers, staff and programmers) youll see that the station is cohesive and thriving. Morale is good. These are exciting and positive times at KRFC.

2) The community spirit at KRFC is being eroded by the recent events.
Its true that a handful of KRFC volunteers were displeased with the Board s recent actions and some decided to discontinue their involvement. We also recognize that there is a group of people in the community who believe that KRFCs leadership is running roughshod over the will of its members. However, from the Boards point of view, community spirit at the station has improved significantly over the past few weeks. Previously, a few people were responsible for an atmosphere of mistrust, a twisting of the facts to suit their purposes and to undermine the best efforts of the stations staff and Board. It created an underlying feeling of constant low-grade tension. Now, there is less tension and more room for everyone to express their views without feeling uncomfortable. We dream of creating a community station that welcomes everyone, especially those under-represented elsewhere. While all are welcome, a sense of community spirit at KRFC is based on mutual trust and respect, good communication and willingness to compromise and work constructively with others. Those that behave destructively dont have a place in our community.

3) Long standing members have been removed in retaliation for circulating a petition.
Unfortunately, because of the timing, this perception may be unavoidable. The members who were removed and KRFCs Board have a long history of disagreement over many issues and decisions. The fact that weve disagreed and the specifics of those disagreements are not why the Board dismissed them. It was because of their tactics. Members of KRFCs Board and staff have been bullied, berated, called disparaging names and undermined whenever decisions differed from their wishes. While some constructive dialogue has taken place over the years, their repeated personal attacks destroyed all trust. The Board cannot function under a barrage of name-calling and attacks for decisions that are in tune with our mission and vision (both past and present). This pattern of behavior continued for too long. The petition was not the issue, but just one symptom. It was the recurring public voicing of derision, the bypassing of regular routes of communication and the demonizing of the Board that necessitated the removal of 3 members.

4) The petition was dismissed frivolously.
The decision to dismiss the petition was not taken lightly. There was no thought or action taken by the Board to fight the petition. We considered it part of the legitimate process. We know that some members signed it for good reasons - because they did not support the new Mission, Vision and Core Values document, because they were against changing the old mission statement or because they believed that the decision ought to be voted on by the membership. That was the purpose of the petition. However, during the petition signing process, we heard a variety of disturbing stories. Some people were given false information about the purpose of the petition, some were bullied to sign it with repeated calls at their work and at the station, nonmembers were urged to become members in order to sign it and so forth. One member had asked that his name be removed from the petition and it wasnt. A number of people who signed the petition told us that they realized later that the real issue seemed more about a struggle for power than the actual work of the Board of Directors.

Our legal council recommended that we reject the petition because it was incomplete. Without any identifiers but peoples names, validating the results would have been difficult and quite time consuming. For this reason, and our belief that the petition was not a legitimate expression of the voices of our membership, we elected to reject the petition as invalid. A later quick cross check of the 89 names on the petition with our membership rosters revealed that there were not the requisite 50 members needed to cause any action to be taken.

5) The Board rejected input in creating the new mission, vision and values statements.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Months before we started, we sought input from multiple sources, both within and outside of the station. This input helped us to see what was important to members, volunteers, listeners and non-listeners alike, and how our original mission statement could be improved to be a more functional, forward thinking document. The Board really felt it got a good education on what needed to be kept and what could be improved. All of the input was important in creating the end result, even if the specific words and phrases of some participants werent included. Writing these documents was challenging - to explain KRFC as clearly and concisely as possible. It was a process of thoughtful discussion and compromise. We think the end result is good, but not perfect. Reaction to the new documents has run the gamut from praise to criticism that they dont go far enough to imagine what KRFC can be. We expect these documents will be revised over the years as KRFC grows and changes.

Changing the mission statement was a threatening concept for some folks. Holding on to the original mission statement was seen as a way of preserving the original intent of KRFCs founders. In changing KRFCs guiding documents, the Board had absolutely no intention of changing the key values and factors that make KRFC what it is. In fact, the old and the new documents have quite similar content.

6) The decision to revoke three memberships was done in haste / The Board has not engaged in constructive dialogue.
The current and previous years Boards have made a concerted effort for more than two years to work with the group represented by these three people. We like some of their ideas. New policies have been created and policies have been changed to make KRFC more responsive and inclusive, where anyone who wishes to may have a say. We have multiple committees that are advisory to the Board and they have great influence in decision making. Board meetings are open and we are all accessible. But what we have repeatedly encountered is that every time the group disagrees with the Board, we are painted as unresponsive and authoritarian. The staff and Board experiences rounds of intimidation and accusatory language. It is unhealthy and paralyzing.

Another major factor in our long-standing difficulty with the group is that they do not use KRFCs established ways of communicating. KRFC encourages everyone to speak directly and openly with each other for problem solving. We believe that ongoing positive dialogs foster understanding and compromise. Unfortunately, the 3 members who were dismissed have never engaged the Board and staff in any ongoing, constructive dialog. They do not talk to us routinely about their concerns, and they dont attend our meetings. Instead, they sit back and watch, and then, when decisions are made that they dont agree with, they use public forums for airing their opinions and organizing opposition. Due to their dysfunctional style of communicating, our impression is that they want things to always go their way, and if they dont they raise hell. The multiple public attacks leveled on KRFCs leadership over the years have not been remotely constructive they harm morale and alienate other volunteers.

This time around, a decision was finally made that we are unable to function in this ongoing unhealthy environment. Past dialogs and temporary reconciliations didnt change their behavior. We need to be free to move forward and to focus on the real work of growing a community radio station. In accordance with our by-laws, we revoked the memberships of 3 people because we strongly believe they have worked repeatedly against the best interests of the station.

7) We are not operating under basic cooperative principals.
We dont function as a co-op or collective. Like almost all non-profit corporations, we have a Board of Directors and a Station Manager who manage the station and committees that are advisory to them. We have guiding documents that stress the importance of inclusiveness in our organization. The concept of inclusiveness in our volunteer driven radio station is important to all of us. We will continue to work towards the goal of maximizing inclusiveness at KRFC, within a positive, supportive environment.

8) The Board will not agree to mediation.
The pain felt on both sides concerning the dismissals of 3 members doesnt negate the appropriateness of the decision. Sometimes, people and groups need to give up and walk away from chronically negative situations. We felt and still feel that our decision was not only fitting, but overdue. We have a responsibility to the rest of the KRFC family to protect the environment at the station, to create a healthy place conducive to getting things accomplished, and to ensure that the Board and Station Manager can do their jobs. We dont believe that there is anything to mediate. We made a difficult decision and have moved on.

9) We glossed over this problem in our recent newsletter.
From the reaction and support we have received from our KRFC family it doesn t look to us as though this is a major problem to be addressed in a newsletter. It has been painful for some, but in fact the station is doing well. The strategic planning process has on the whole been very positive and exciting. Kate Tarasenkos excellent article reflects her take on how things went.

10) There is a change in the direction of the station and the Board is damaging KRFC.
We have expressed our sincere rebuttal of this fear in this document. The only way our sincerity can be proven will be over time. We hope that you will participate, enjoy and watch KRFCs progress.

2006-04/Apr David Lauer (R.I.P.) Expressing Concern to KRFC Board

April 21, 2006

Greg Krush, Jennifer Lowry, Jack Armstrong, Chris Kennison, Saul Hopper, Cat McClintock, Diane Miller, Susan Sternlieb,

This is in reply to Beth Flowers’ pre-Spring Membership Drive letter of April 12th. She claims my last pledge was $400, and asks that I increase this by $25 more to “help support the KRFC Save our Shack Fund which helps protect the KRFC transmitter.” The $400 was a lump sum contribution three years ago. I have been a sustaining member since then. You take $ out of my checking account every month. But I’m not so sure this will continue.

As the Board of Directors for KRFC you should be a bit more concerned with protecting the station’s good name than with protecting its transmitter. Kate Tarasenko’s lead article in “Watts Happening” is a well written but lame attempt to gloss over difficulties you have had lately with many volunteers, staff and listeners. Kate tries to bring closure to issues that are by no means closed. Ms Flowers is quoted as saying she wants “KRFC to be a place that lifts people up”. KRFC is not lifting me up right now, nor is it uplifting for at least 88 other listeners who signed a petition asking that you reconsider changing the mission and vision of the station, and your behavior toward volunteers that disagree with you. For many of us it is not only what you wish to change the mission and vision to; it’s how you handle dissent, how you chose a monolithic stance, much like Bush and his "unitary Executive", instead of managing change in a democratic and inclusive way.

Denise Clark is quoted as saying “the most critical components to the whole strategic planning process are “full group participation, cooperation and consensus”. None of these three have been achieved. Later in this long and detailed article is the claim that some 250 people were involved in the process. Some of those 250, including myself, feel the value of integrity (in the side bar on page 2 of “Watts Happening”) is a complete sham. It reads:

"We are accountable for our actions. We treat others with tolerance and respect. We go out of our way to be inclusive and to welcome participation."

This simply is not true. For those who have received notices that they can no longer volunteer at the station, it must seem especially ironic.

It appears that Ms Flowers’ focus on “a more diverse fundraising strategy” has clouded your collective vision. Which is more important: being accountable to your listeners & truly inclusive and welcoming, or being competitive in maximizing your ability to raise funds? I trust that you will take Denise Clark’s advice that “a regular review of the action plan at board, staff and volunteer meetings should be a top priority”. Invite your vanquished volunteers back into the fold, listen to them and make appropriate changes in your attitudes, mission statement and values.

It’s out of respect, appreciation and thanks to KRFC’s dedicated staff and volunteers that I continue as a sustaining member for now. If you do not invite your dissenters back and develop a more inclusive culture I will find more worthy places to send my contributions.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

David Lauer

2006-04/Apr Larry McCulloch asks board to reconsider their position on mediation

From: Larry McCulloch
Sent: Friday, April 21, 2006 2:34 PM
Cc: Larry McCulloch Subject: Open letter to the KRFC Board

Letter to the Board of KRFC,

I want to express to you my thanks for your hard work and dedication to home grown radio in Fort Collins. I am a multi-year member and contributor, but have not been a volunteer or participated in KRFC activities before. However, I was on your mailing list for input to the recent vision statement revision. I watched with interest and excitement and felt that the inputs I saw being made adequately covered my inputs, so I chose not to participate. However, I feel that there is a significant disconnect between the inputs and the resulting Board chosen outcome. Because of this I signed a petition to ensure another round of discussion, only to learn that discussion has been terminated and long serving and valued volunteers are being "terminated".

I remain gravely concerned for the viability and longevity of KRFC and your ability to openly and appropriately serve Fort Collins. I have 30 years of leadership experience, much of it at executive levels, in addition to many years of service, including Board experience, within non-profit organizations. I would like to offer the following insights to the Board. My intent is to offer the benefit of my experience to you.

First, your volunteers make ALL the difference in your long term viability. Recent actions not only have rejected long serving and dedicated volunteers in a spectacularly rude manner, but, even more importantly, will also stifle initiative and creativity among your remaining volunteers. I fear we will suffer long term deleterious effects due to the increased fear and uncertainty among all current and future volunteers. You are changing the culture of KRFC and I perceive the risks to be huge, and I am fearful your actions are damaging KRFC.

Secondly, when a leadership team like the Board rejects input, severs communication links, and works to exclude dedicated and committed individuals, it is NEVER the fault of those offering the input, time and talent to you. The issue lies with the leaders, because you retain the power to set the policy, model standards and determine the level of openness for the organization. It is a failure to lead with confidence and maturity, listening always to feedback and moving the organization in a direction consistent with its mission and vision. It is always easier in the short term and quite often disastrous in the long term to proceed as I perceive you are. One of the most common errors is to demonize the different perspectives and to come to believe that those with a different perspective are somehow sinister. To be effective leaders you must make just the opposite assumption; you must believe that volunteers are committed and dedicated to a common view with large congruence to your perspective and that they are motivated to do the best possible job they can do to further that common vision. Taking this perspective means you can engage in constructive dialog and will not be moved to expel what you perceive incorrectly to be sinister and threatening. Organizations have a collective "emotional intelligence" that reflects its leaders, and when the EQ is high, the leadership team is not threatened by differing points of view, and can move the organization to thrive and grow with the synergistic energy coming from open dialog and compromise. I remain highly concerned about the future of KRFC, and I can assure you that this disruption you are experiencing now will not go away unless you act constructively as leaders.

I would ask you to reconsider your position to close discussion. Please consider mediation or other facilitated conversation approaches. The viability and health of your ongoing volunteer base is at stake. Please accept these inputs from a previously uninvolved but experienced person that has the future vitality of KRFC as my primary objective. I believe you have the best interests of KRFC at the core, and would ask you to enact a mid-course correction from your recent path. If I can be of help in some way, please call me at 223-3418. I have chosen to withhold additional contributions requested by your recent letter until my membership comes up for renewal in September, at which time I hope I will be able to congratulate you on your enlightened leadership and continue to make substantial contributions.

Sincerely, and in peace,
Larry McCulloch

2006-06/Jun KRFC board replies to "demands"

Subject: [petition] response to June 1, 2006 meeting requests
From: "Susan Sternlieb"
Date: Thu, July 6, 2006 11:56

Dear OpenKRFC:

The KRFC Board of Directors has considered the issues that you presented to
us at the board meeting of June 1, 2006. Part of the discussion was in
regard to our new mission, vision, and core values document. Those concerns
include dissatisfaction with:

1. the speed of the process.
2. the inclusiveness of the process.
3. the differences between the old and new mission.

The board engaged a highly knowledgeable and experienced professional in the
field of nonprofit organizational management and strategic planning to
assist with the development of the new mission, vision and values
statements. We are confident that these new strategic planning tools
succinctly portray the values and wishes of the vast majority of the KRFC
community. We, therefore, do not feel it necessary to revisit the process or
engage in further dialogue.

Part of the beauty of a large diverse community such as ours is that
although individuals don't always get what they want, the majority will work
together for the greater good.

If some of you do not support the new mission, vision and core values of
KRFC, perhaps it is time to move on with your volunteerism. Many other
worthy nonprofits exist in our area and we wish you well in finding a
community service outlet that better matches your needs.

You have further asked the board to:

1. engage in dialogue and accept mediation.
2. offer fair hearings for the dismissed volunteers.
3. promise that there will be no more dismissals without due process.
4. contact petitioners whose signatures were considered invalid to notify
them of the reason.
5. allow an independent auditor to review the petition.

Mediation and dialogue:

Individual members of the board are very willing to speak with individual
members. If you want personal conversation please feel free to get in touch
with any member of the board or Beth. What we are NOT willing to do is
engage the board of directors as a group or subgroup in conversation with
groups organized by the same people who have spearheaded numerous
discordant, disingenuous controversies at KRFC.

As the board said in the meeting, this has proven frustrating and fruitless,
even when we have had ombudsmen and/or facilitators present, and even when
we reached agreements. Too often our agreements are misinterpreted or
ignored and we find ourselves at square one. We are not willing to use such
processes again with you.

Offer fair hearings / Membership revocations without due process:

We have acted as our bylaws permit and in the best interests of the station
and other volunteers. Many volunteers have found the atmosphere at the
station much more positive and constructive since the memberships of these
volunteers were revoked. Our bylaws and policies do not require any further
process, and we will not revisit the decision.

Contact petitioners / Audit of petition:

We wrote to the originators of the petition with our explanation. As we
don't have contact information for those who signed the petition, we believe
that those originators should take responsibility to pass along the
information. An audit would not change the reason for the decision to
dismiss the petition and therefore would not change the outcome.

2007-03/Mar Founding Board member and DJ Eddie Arthur comments

Eddie's Comments March 2007

KRFC was founded as a democratically run station. This was very clear. What was unclear is what exactly that meant. Everybody had an opinion, volunteers, members and board. Instead of discussing this in an open manner, the board instead hired a manager, Beth Flowers, who ended the
discussion for them and sealed the station into what could be called a shotgun consensus model. They bullied through a revision that removed the words "democratically managed" from the mission statement. Then they kicked out three people who tried to gather signatures for a by-laws-prescribed
remedy that would have allowed the KRFC members to vote for themselves about changing the mission statement.

Now the board and station manager will tell you all about how destructive we were and how we threatened people and are hotheads and anarchists and just don't know how to get along well with others and will never be happy, and don't have the best interests of the station in mind. The dirty little secret that makes them so uncomfortable when asked about the firings, of course, is that their only proof was the word of the station manager. Their action was so honorable in fact that they felt they could skip any due process that the KRFC disciplinary policy demanded and just save everyone some time. They revoked our memberships. They decided to use the gun. The sad thing is that all these ethical acrobatics and closed-door contortions occurred and continue to occur all because their station manager does not know how to calmly process earnest questions and differences of opinion - the hallmarks, by the way, of a healthy community.

What is the relationship of the volunteer and member to the station? Are they part owners, stakeholders? Will they be allowed to have a say in station decisions that affect themselves before they happen? Will they feel safe? Are they allowed to disagree, to speak up? If their disagreement isn't easily resolved will they be kicked out?

Maybe the board and manager believe that people feel free to speak their mind at KRFC. Maybe they will say that those people who got kicked out were special. We would never do that again. We are not like that. Of course, one of the side effects of kicking people out with no cause and intimidating others is the message it sends to all the volunteers. Maybe the board and the manager see this as a bonus. To everyone else of course it feels more like a chill.

So KRFC is a community station. What keeps McDonalds from saying "we are a community burger joint?" What real, in practice commitment to dignity, respect, tolerance, compassion, open debate does KRFC have? How is KRFC governed? How does that differ from McDonalds?

Another sad side effect to all the managerial violence at KRFC, one the board would never admit to, is how it affects creativity, inspiration, ambition and overall quality at the station. This kind of turmoil doesn't cause people to open up and be themselves, especially if they tend to be repulsed by bullies. When your show could be at risk for thinking unsanctioned thoughts, it limits your choices and behaviors. Instead, for many the tendency is to come in do your show, keep your mouth shut, say goodbye, leave.

For creativity to thrive and for programmers to take chances and think outside the box, it helps to feel safe, feel appreciated, and encouraged. It also helps to feel as though they are contributing to something unique that they can get behind philosophically. There needs to be an environment of positivity, excitement and unlimited possibilities. For me it is the weirdoes that are an integral part of this formula. Another critical element is safe, open and vigorous debate -- the exchange of ideas-- outlandish ones, immature ones, and even wrong ones. When a situation develops where people are afraid to speak their mind, then eventually they start to shut off that part of their mind when they walk in the station. That creative part that thinks of how to do things better, do things differently, try something risky, or think big, gets put to sleep. People internalize the path of least resistance and creativity wilts.

The station continues. Good programming still exists, but all the rough edges get smoothed out and people resign themselves to thoughts that exist only within the safe parameters. This change is occurring at KRFC because the open exchange of ideas does not exist when ideas that challenge the status quo are not met with simple counter-arguments, they are met with defensiveness, fear, and the use of power to win by any means necessary. A good leader can handle the expression of opposing ideas, because after all they are just ideas, and can be healthy for growth. If the ideas of the manager are sound then in the arena of ideas, eventually the good ones will be embraced by more people than the unsound ones. If the manager is afraid of open debate, then they are either afraid their ideas won't hold up under scrutiny, or they do not trust the stakeholders to be able to make an informed decisions on issues that affect them. If you fear open debate, you probably feel under the constant attack of ideas, and the only recourse available to you outside of discussion is to resort to violence with your institutional powers. If opposing ideas cannot be tolerated, and are even met with retribution, then pretty soon the new ideas stop coming. Then I fear it is not long before that chill starts to expand to editorial decisions on the news and in the choice of public affairs programming. KRFC is then in a position to become like so many community radio stations, ruled from the top by a few, just kind of soulless, half-ass, and also weirdo-free.

Eddie Arthur
Former Founding Board Member, DJ

krfc founding mission statement

KRFC Fort Collins is a locally owned, independent, community, noncommercial radio station that is listener supported and democratically managed. KRFC offers a channel for community building and cultural enrichment in Fort Collins and beyond. Volunteers and staff will provide creative programming and service by: KRFC is committed to respect for personal dignity. While debate is a necessary and healthy part of the discourse in broadcasting and station management, bigotry and personal attacks will not be tolerated.

mission-related history

These are some events prior to KRFC changing the mission statement which may help interpret that event

Summer 1997 - Paul attends his first Grassroots Radio Coalition conference, while other board members (Greg, Joann?, ?) attended first in 1996. PRFR(KRFC) board attendance, and later board+volunteer attendance, is fairly heavy each year, peaking in summer 2003.

July 18, 2001 - John signs the multi-party settlement document so PRFR would finally get a frequency.
November 8, 2001 (from board email) - PRFR board unanimously approved the mission statement. Work began on the mission statement in September 2001. Some of the missions used as examples are on this web page.
November 14, 2001 - Paul sends the following email to the board:
I'm forwarding this longish essay because it is well written and topically relevent to our bylaws discussion and our tensions between democracy and discipline, besides being an interesting glimpse into Pacifica's problems.
In part the essay proposes a definition of democracy:
It seems essential to first define what is meant by the terms "democracy" and "accountability " Here's what it means to me: (what does it mean to you?)

1) The people affected by a decision are the ones who make it
2) People who are doing work decide how they do that work.
3) People doing work on behalf of others must be accountable to those others, and work on behalf of the needs of others as well as their own.

October 21, 2002 - Paul writes to the board:
I am reluctant to raise this issue because most folks, including me, want to avoid it and assume we're all just nice folk who will do the right thing. But we have two gifts in front of us which make this examination timely. First let me put out an observation about how our board functions.

Often we use an abbreviated form of Robert's Rules when we vote on things, with the outcome decided by majority. When there are dissenters, we make some effort to hear them out and check that they are not terribly opposed to the resulting decision. I think this may be working pretty well (not having been in the minority yet I'm not sure everyone would agree).

But there is no _structural_ reason or incentive to listen to and try to accomodate dissent, as there is in consensus for example. At any time we could start ignoring our minority because what structure we have (Robert's + majority) allows that, but I believe that is at odds with our notion of democracy in our mission statement. I think we need a structural safeguard of some sort.

My neighbor Don Flick is offering his abilities regarding group democratic process. He is an experienced facilitator having several years of practical consensus experience both in co-housing and Quaker Friends meeting.

In my experience unspoken structures and decisionmaking methods never really "just work" for long, so the sooner we start the better.

October 22, 2002 - Board member Jo Ann says
I too would be very interested in some training in the true democratic process as alluded to in our mission.

November 15, 2002 - Greg sends the following email to the board regarding an intense discussion of PRFR's politics in the prior night's board meeting:
a few thoughts on lasts nite good discussion on politics and who we are??

1. this has and will be a continuing theme in many if not all community radio stations. it is the main focus of the past and continuing tribulations at pacifica. [do we serve more people or do we stay true to the founders mission]. these disagreements caused the founder of pacifica to commit suicide.

2. we can never serve all the people, so why even pretend that we can or will.

3. as a community/public radio station on the left side of the dial there will be and probably always will be the perceived notion that we are left of center if not very left. the board is also left of center and we created this thing so lets be left and proud of it. this does not exclude inteligent and thought provoking discussion of all points of view.

4. lets continue to have discussion on the subject.

November 22, 2002 - Board minutes include this:
plan for hiring general manager
a. need a people person
b. someone who understands the grassroots mission
January 7, 2005 (Board Minutes)
Everyone suggested that the mission statement needs to be shortened to 1 or 2 sentences
Clarify what democratcially managed means
Mission statement is evolving, a living document
Propose establishment of a planning committee with board members and community members to work on mission statement, define democratically managed, etc.
Tess Heffernan might be a good choice to work with this committee (professional facilitator)
Need to establish a planning committee to establish who we are!"

January 26, 2005 - At a meeting of the Public Affairs Committee (Paul, DavidC, Kristianne, Sandy, Chester, RichN, Carmen, Jim Volpa), board member Jim Volpa said the board is considering bringing in an outside facilitator to re-write the mission statement.

In a civil though heated discussion, most PA members advised taking other steps first (see the minutes) and most agreed with the statement that "implementing the Mission Statement, as it is, is of more concern to us than changing it." (from

March 3, 2005 (Board Minutes) - "-Mission Statement. Suzanne xxxx and Art xxxx are two possible facilitators to help with the mission statement. At this time, we are putting off having either one of them come and speak to the Board. Too many other things going on right now."

A letter from concerned members dated March 1 is included in the board's minutes. It says in part:

" We strongly promote the democratic ideals inherent in our mission statement, but they don't seem to be working for everyone. There may be a lack of consensus about what those practices look like, for example:
  • Major decisions have been made without consulting stakeholders.
  • Volunteers are afraid to openly express disagreement with decisions made by station staff for fear of reprisals.
  • The processes are unclear for hiring the new development director, and for Eddie's appeal.
The above represent only a few of the broad range of problems we have observed. We request a meeting with you, without staff, within the next two weeks, to present specific examples of problems we have observed, and suggestions for moving forward together. We are especially excited about the new policy committee and opportunities for broader input from volunteers, listeners, and members, to sculpt policies which promote a shared vision of democracy. "

Finally in the policy committee report to the board:
"2. We discussed the Mission Statement review process and many questions arose. Is this project just about the MS or is it about our whole strategic plan? This may be a long process - we may or may not have the project done by our next annual meeting. Saul agreed to talk with Tess xxxx (a possible facilitator) and see if she would agree to come speak to the BOD. Subsequently, (Saul's e-mail of Feb. 28), she recommended [another person]"

April 7, 2005 (Board Minutes) -
"6. Member questions and comments:
 a. Kathleen expressed concern about rumors about changes to the
    Mission Statement and thinks that during times of "crisis", the
    station needs to be guided by the MS. Gina and Greg explained
    that observers have told us that our MS is too long and not clear
    enough and that a process that involves volunteers from the whole
    station will be used in re-evaluating the MS. The core message of
    the MS is not in question.

April 24, 2005 (Board Minutes) - 9. Board Consultant Discussion
We agreed that it would be useful to have a neutral consultant meet with the BOD to discuss our challenging issues. We identified four potential consulting sources:
May 19, 2005 (Board Minutes) - "Board Consultant Discussion
Gina met with Art xxxx ( $100/hr) and with Suzanne xxxxx (charges $1,000 for 8 hr. session). Gina feels that Art may be more qualified for our needs. He suggested a meeting with a sub-set of the board to identify challenges and issues. Issues presented at this meeting included: challenges with volunteers and how we deal with them (we should get info from other stations); our mission statement ­ how to proceed and be inclusive (with neutral facilitator?); the growth as a board from working/policy development to governing; and group dynamics ­ how we work together.

[...] Dawn has said that it is the mission statement that defines everything ­ who we are / what is it that Dawn sells?

[...] After much discussion it was decided:

  • to work together as a board through the fall, with board training to happen after we have new board members.
  • to have a board sub-set meet with Art (or whoever) and look at options with a focus on the mission statement as our defining document. Gina, Susan, Greg & Beth (maybe Jim / Don?)

July 21, 2005 (Board Minutes) - "lucinda xxxx presented her strategic planning proposal. much discussion with lucinda and after her presentation about how to be inclusive and also timely in developing a strategic plan. lucinda will draft another plan after meeting input. greg will check with references. board members present will then make recommendation to full board.
Aug 25, 2005 (Board Minutes) - "General Manager Report
9) Strategic planning. Maureen xxxx has agreed to work with us in the spring. She is eager to help set the tone of inclusivity and consensus, and she will be introduced at the Annual Meeting. The planning itself will be open to all who wish to participate. Maureen suggests that Board members begin thinking about the four following questions:
-Who are KRFC's customers?
-What is KRFC in the business of doing?
-What makes KRFC different?
-What is KRFC's value ad? (If KRFC went away, so what?)
January 5, 2006 (Board Minutes) - " 9. Strategic Planning: Beth handed out a draft summary of the process and a projected timeline. She foresees having the final plan done and a public meeting on April 9. Preliminary research was started in November '05 and is continuing. A Planning Advisory Committee was also formed in November. The BOD will have its first meeting January 26.

recent history on the main page