Former members, others sue KRFC

BY CARI MERRILL (original at Coloradoan web site)

Five years after local grassroots radio station KRFC 88.9 FM went on the air, a group that includes station founders and former members is suing the station for straying from its initial mission.

Current station board members, however, said they had to change the mission to garner more grant funding.

Save Grassroots Radio filed the lawsuit a few months ago after KRFC board members changed the original mission statement, saying a better mission statement would help secure more grant funding.

Save Grassroots Radio is upset with not only the changes - which omitted words such as "democratic management," "diversity" and "personal dignity" - but also claim the board ducked a checks-and-balances system by not taking input from volunteers and members, said former member Eddie Arthur, who helped file the lawsuit.

The ultimate worry was that the new KRFC mission statement would take a more "corporate" approach, Arthur said.

"They're afraid that people who disagree with them want to take the station over," Arthur said. "There was no takeover going on. We just wanted some checks and balances."

Although she declined to talk much about the issue because of the pending litigation, current KRFC board member Cat McClintock said that's not the case.

Changing the mission statement would help get more grant funding and create a more effective statement, she said.

Arthur and others collected 88 signatures, more than the 50 required, to oppose the new statement, but the signatures were thrown out because they didn't meet bylaw requirements.

Board members discussed the issue at many meetings, including March 16, 2006, when the station's attorney pointed to legal issues with the petition, including that addresses weren't paired with signatures to provide verification. The petition also was delivered to a board member's home rather than the station.

The argument over the petition escalated, and a few Save Grassroots Radio members harassed the board, leading to an unprofessional environment that was difficult to work in, according to board minutes.

At the same March 16, 2006, meeting, Arthur's membership, along with that of two other members, was revoked after the board said "political persuasion" is not included in the station's Core Values Statement, according to the minutes.

"The group of people in question would like us to affiliate with an extreme left-wing view. After having tried to work with these people through several issues and having received the same treatment continually, the board has come extremely reluctantly to the decision that they bring a tyranny to the station that cannot be tolerated for our culture and well-being," according to meeting minutes.

Arthur maintains he did nothing wrong and that the board revoked his membership based on loopholes in the bylaws.

No matter how the issue is resolved, Arthur said the station is damaged.

"It's too bad that both sides have had to spend the money (on lawyers)," Arthur said.

Comments by: bame Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:52 pm
Hey I'm one of the people who you're told wanted leftist-only programming and it is not true.
I put out the first solicitation for quality non-lefty programming even before we were on the air.
I put John Birch points of views on the news. I invited volunteers from a conservative
mindset to record commentaries -- even offering to read and produce them if that was
not comfortable for them. I was also there when the mission statement was written as
was Eddie, and I think everybody in the room valued a diversity of programming so we
could have the democratic community dialog that ChrisK mentioned.

And there are supporters in Save Grassroots Radio who would not even identify
as liberal or progressive, so painting us all with this brush is disconcerting.

It's true that my personal views include the progressive value of questioning
power and I'm sure that was obvious, but I wanted a thoughtful and
engaging diversity of viewpoints both for myself, and to satisfy the
mission/charter I had pledged to uphold.

-Paul Bame

Comments by: Sandy Lemberg Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:21 pm
Chris K. wrote:

"Democracy is not about what ONE person or ONE group aspires to; it is about what we as a collective strive to achieve as consensus -- there will be some who are not happy with a consensus pov, but it is the nature of "democracy" to achieve consensus from a cross-section of the community, representing many different and diverse points of view."

This is exactly correct. That is why it was unacceptable for that one person, former Station Manager Beth Flowers, and that one group, those who agreed with her, to impose THEIR particular views on the station, its members, and its volunteers.

KRFC was founded as a Grassroots Radio station. It was NOT founded on an autocratic top-down model. It was founded with a mission statement that read in part:

“KRFC Fort Collins is a locally owned, independent, community, noncommercial radio station that is listener supported and democratically managed....Volunteers and staff will provide creative programming and service by: ...

*Serving the interests of a diverse group of listeners. KRFC 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."

It is exactly these parts of the Grassroots Radio mission that Beth Flowers and her followers worked to reverse. They have removed all the langauge quoted above from the Mission Statement. Public affairs programming reflecting a wide spectrum of ideas has been drastically cut. Unpopular and contoversial viewpoints are now rarely heard.

The mission statement also read

"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."

Beth Flowers and her followers on the KRFC Board routinely attacked and intimidated those who opposed her programming policies and authoritarian style, stripping those opponents of their personal dignity and often reducing them to tears. As noted in the article, they went so far as to expel 3 longtime members (key station supporters) who disagreed with them. And they have violated both station bylaws and Colorado State law in changing the mission statement and concealing the membership list.

SaveGrassrootsRadio is working in a respectful way to restore the original Grassroots Radio mission and vision to KRFC. We have resorted to legal action only after the KFRC Board repeatedly refused mediation and the statutory deadlines left us no other choice. Please visit our website, to learn more about the situation.
Comments by: George Well Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:15 pm
Shareholder rights in a for-profit corporation are very similar to member rights in a nonprofit like KRFC and both are part of the covenant demanded of corporate executives put there by wise legislators who know executives are wont to veer away from shared agreements and need correction from time to time. Isn't unchecked corporatism part of what got us in hot water with Britian in the 1700s?

If a corporation can step on some members then it can step on any others too.

Who is blindly obedient, or ingratiated enough to expect their shareholder rights would always be safe? By calling this lawsuit "spurious" does that reduce the chances anyone would stand up for you? Sometimes to make sure your rights are protected you have to stand with others, even when you disagree with what they did, and in this case it's damn unclear what anyone did -- where's the evidence anyway?

Didn't Eddie have Libertarians on his show?

Comments by: favaunt Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:15 pm
I don't know which station harryr is listening to, but it sure doesn't sound like KRFC. Right-wing takeover? Are you kidding me? Do you actually listen to the station? This whole issue just seems like a small group of people who worked to help create the station, expecting it would be for their own personal use--like a little club. Instead--through experience, trial and error, some mistakes--it has become a true community station, reflecting the different views of the whole community. I'll keep giving them money, but I'm really sad it will be wasted on this ridiculous lawsuit.

To E. Arthur: You really need to just move on.

Comments by: Chris K. Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:47 pm
What is community, if not the collective spirit we all live in?

Community does not mean spearing or smearing the "right" or the "left," or you wind up spearing and smearing some others in the community. Community is about respecting and celebrating the differences all of us have -- differences in our tastes towards political philosophies, religious philosophies, our differences in our taste in music, art, literature etc.

Community is not about supporting the anti-war movement at the distain of those who agree with our troops efforts in the war. Community is about treating one another with personal respect, as a member of our collective, even when we don't agree with someone elses pov.

The PRFR was about PUBLIC RADIO for the FRONT RANGE -- not "progressive" / public radio for the (read: Liberal / left wing) .. and not "conservative" / public radio for the (read: Christian evangelical neo-conservatism).

KRFC is in fact set up as a corporation. It may be set up as a non-profit (which does not mean the station cannot or should not strive to be "profitable"). Radio is, afterall, a business which requires a tremendous amount of financial resources to maintain.

Democracy is not about what ONE person or ONE group aspires to; it is about what we as a collective strive to achieve as consensus -- there will be some who are not happy with a consensus pov, but it is the nature of "democracy" to achieve consensus from a cross-section of the community, representing many different and diverse points of view.

Democracy is not about each and every single person working in an anarchistic / autonomous and egocentric (as opposed to egotistical) space --- but rather working to achieve harmony between all of us, collectively.

If you can't get along in the community, is it the community's fault or the individual's?

I feel genuinally sad over this spurious lawsuit. It is further sign of the litigious nature of our culture -- and one which sadly drains resources desperately needed to maintain a community radio station, that is there in essence for all of US to enjoy.

I guess that's all I have to say about this sad event.

Comments by IheartFC Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:15 pm

In my opinion, KRFC is better than ever, and I've been living in FC for over a decade. Before, KRFC was unheard of and too far left.

Since then, KRFC has managed to get noticed as a legitimate and respected radio station and I commend them on their ability to become recognized while enticing listeners who would otherwise listen to corporate radio.

For those of you stuck in the past, get over it. Times change and so should you. Stop getting in the way and let these folks continue to grow.

Comments by harryr Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:09 am

This has been a long time, well, really, much too long in coming.

Thought the article doesn't say what really happened, say "right wing takeover." Say, "betray the community trust." Say, "hop on the bandwagon of the major media who got us into an Iraq invasion."

A good grassroots station that has been castrated, except for some decent alternative music, on mainly when people are sleeping or can't listen to it.

Too bad this has now gone on so long that those who wrecked community radio (at least so far) are not around to stand in the light. People such as former manager Beth Flowers has really done a disservice -- stand up Beth and take a few thousand boos.

Also the former Board deserves recognition as well. Nice job guys -- you showed yourselves unfit to make good ethical judgements, you proved the peter principle was alive and well in FC grassroots radio...