Fried: Help Save KRFC From Itself

By Eric Fried (original at Fort Collins NOW)
1:05 a.m. MT Mar 26, 2008

I see where Fort Collins' community radio station KRFC is collecting testimonials for its spring membership drive. I wonder if they will ask Paul Bame for one.

Paul is one of the founders of KRFC, someone who labored for a decade to birth a democratically-run, grassroots, non-commercial radio station that Fort Collins could be proud of. Too bad current KRFC management threw him under the bus, along with other station stalwarts who naively believed in KRFC's stated mission. Bame, Eddie Arthur and other former programmers, founders and volunteers have banded together in a group called “Save Grassroots Radio” ( that is trying politely but firmly to bring the current station board to its senses. A county judge has given KRFC until April 25 to complete mediation with the group.

When KRFC began in 2003, I eagerly supported it. There was a mix of news and music, tons of enthusiasm, and some rough edges as radio newbies figured out how to drive their brand new car. Like any public radio station, funding was sparse as listener-supporters had to be recruited, but the station's support base grew and volunteers got better.

But something began to eat away at KRFC. The balance began to tilt more and more towards music. The public affairs lineup shifted, with some programs axed and others pushed back. A new station manager clearly found the whole “democratically-run” thing annoying, and began making decisions without consulting the people involved. The board insisted the mission statement was too wordy and needed to be changed. When people like Bame and Arthur refused to knuckle under, they were summarily dismissed, in violation of the station's own policies. Some programmers quit. Others stayed on, but they had clearly received the message: Step out of line, keep whining about democracy, and we'll make you disappear too.

Apparently current station management finds honesty as problematic as democracy. On their Web site, they claim no one presented a “valid petition” to appeal the new mission statement. In fact, the bylaws stated 50 members had to sign such a petition, and 89 names were turned in (including mine). So management made up a new rule on the spot: the names had to be accompanied by addresses. They also claimed people had been tricked or bullied into signing. Nope. They just told me what the petition was and I gladly signed it. The board illegally refused to share the membership list with the people trying to save the station from itself, claiming they could not “prove” they would not use it for nefarious purposes. Of course not: you can't prove a negative. And by the way, the new “stripped-down” mission statement, including the “vision” and “values” statements, is longer than the old one. There’s just no mention of “democracy.”

I would offer my own testimonial to KRFC, but the sad fact is I hardly listen anymore. I generally turn on the radio while driving around as part of my job, between about 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. I like to listen to news, public affairs, and talk radio. KRFC management has systematically stripped all such programming out of the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. time slot. Jim Hightower's hilarious, pointed and informative three-minute daily commentaries? Banished. Democracy Now? Exiled to 5 a.m. Free Speech Radio News? Alternative Radio? Counterspin? Gone, gone, gone. In trying to be non-offensive to anyone, especially to corporate grant-makers, KRFC has forgotten that conservative programming is all over the airwaves, while outlets for liberal and controversial viewpoints are few and far between. In short, if you want populist progressive programming, tune in to KGNU (88.5 FM). Which works quite well, actually, except that you can't pick up KGNU all over town.

KRFC is inviting people to meet the new board members and tell them how you feel on Thursday, March 27 at 6 p.m. at their studios behind Canino's. Please go. Tell them Paul and Eddie sent you.

Eric Fried is hoping he can support a renewed KRFC at