KRFC Station Manager Beth Flowers Resigns

Beth Flowers cites health issues as reason for her departure

Beth Flowers, station manager at KRFC-FM for three of the station’s first four years, has resigned for health reasons.

Flowers notified the KRFC board Thursday and the staff and volunteers Friday. She will continue to volunteer at the station, she said.

KRFC, 619 S. College Ave., is heard on 88.9 FM. It’s a grass-roots community radio station, meaning it is funded by financial support from listeners and grants.

Flowers, who plans to stay through the spring membership drive in April, said she inherited a fledgling station that was nearing financial disaster.

“We had significant debt and troubling, very troubling, membership statistics,” she said.

“The possibility that the radio station could be defunct was extremely real.”

The station failed to meet its membership goals in its first two membership drives its first year.

“I chose to take on the difficult task of changing the culture of a place that was relatively new but already had some bad habits,” she said.

To make the station viable, Flowers said she had to stabilize it financially and create programming that members wanted.

The changes appear to have worked. KRFC’s budget tripled from $100,000 to $300,000 under Flowers’ leadership; membership rose 15 percent last year and the station now has a “clear mission and vision,” she said.

“We stabilized the station (financially) and that allowed everything else to fall into place,” she said.

She counts among her greatest accomplishments taking an organization that had “350 ideas about where the station should go” and getting its mission focused and clarified.

Her three years has not been without controversy among members and former members who have questioned the station’s direction.

OpenKRFC, a group critical of the station’s management and board, formed a year ago to bring attention to the issues.

Paul Bame, a founding member of KRFC, whose membership was revoked after ongoing disputes with management, said it’s too early to tell what Flowers’ departure might mean for the station’s direction.

He praised Flowers for her “unstoppable energy” and passion but said KRFC had veered away from its original mission as a “true grass-roots radio station” that served as an alternative to commercial programming.

He said management was heavy-handed in stifling discourse from those with differing opinions and was making the station more mainstream.

“Over the years, there was steady pressure to not speak out when we thought the decisions were not serving the best interests of the station and its mission,” he said.

“People who needed to ask questions and weren’t getting satisfaction were having trouble.”

He accused the station of selling out its principles in favor of fundraising.

“You can go the wrong direction if you try to get money at the expense of principles,” Bame said.

Flowers said OpenKRFC and ongoing criticism did not play into her decision to leave the station. But she admits it has been one of her most difficult challenges.

“When you come to the station and experience the incredible positive energy that we have created, I find it hard to understand how people can be so negative,” she said.

“We made a decision that we wanted to be a community radio station that was diverse and open to as many people as there are opinions.”

Some people wanted KRFC to be a radio station with a leftwing political agenda, she said.

“The people who are grumbling and who have grumbled want programming that there’s no audience for, or little audience for,” she said. “They want syndicated leftwing talk radio, 24/7.”

Bame called Flowers’ characterization “crap” and said he had worked hard to get diverse points of view on the air.

“You don’t serve the mission by doing one or the other,” he said.

Flowers is unclear what’s next except to get healthy and continue volunteering at KRFC.

KRFC board president Chad Morris and former board president Greg Krush were not available for comment.