KRFC chief fuses fun, work

KRFC chief fuses fun, work (original at

Music and technology have always been part of Chris Kennison's world.

Whether playing in Hawaiian swing band "Book 'em Danno," running his own music studio, Seldom Fed Productions, working as an IT manager at Hewlett-Packard or introducing a radio audience to the expressive tones of a steel guitar, Kennison never strays far from the beat.

Kennison, 56, took early retirement from HP three years ago and in January took the reins of KRFC-FM, the noncommercial radio station in Fort Collins.
KRFC pulled together his skill and passion in one job, Kennison said in an interview from KRFC's offices at 619 S. College Ave.

"It's a big place to play sometimes," he said. "In the corporate world, people are there because they're getting a paycheck," said Kennison, one of a handful of paid staffers at KRFC.

"The others don't have to be here ... We try to honor their commitment by supporting them and giving them a good volunteer experience because we value what they do," said Kennison, who was on the KRFC board for two years and an early member of the group that got the station on the air five years ago.

Of the 400 volunteers at KRFC, 110 are on the air during the week, with an eclectic mix of music from bluegrass to reggae and hip-hop as well as public affairs programming.
"It is a really cool job because I get to work with people and see them at their best," Kennison said. "They are really passionate about being here."
The other cool part of his job is being on the ground floor of figuring out how to make radio continually viable in a world where teenagers listen to their iPods more than the radio.

"How are we going to survive into the next decade and be viable" when more kids would rather get into MySpace or hang out on You Tube or Facebook?
"We are really at a crossroads," he said. "The social networking aspect of the Web and wireless Internet is rapidly growing. The mobile media poses a huge challenge to what we call terrestrial radio (traditional broadcasting)."

And as always with noncommercial radio, fundraising is a challenge.

With a potential audience of about 300,000 in Northern Colorado, KRFC plans to increase its marketing efforts in the future to let people "know we're here and how they can take advantage of it."

Kennison is the station's fourth manager in five years, a turnover forced, in part, by unrest among some early volunteers.

"In any organization there's a life cycle from its birth through infancy to maturing, and what we're trying to do is manage through it the best we can ... by staying on the air with good music and negotiating the best we can with those folks who don't appreciate what we're doing."

KRFC changed its mission statement two years ago to reflect a more local focus including local public affairs.

"Local was a good strategy and I think it still is," Kennison said.

"There are not too many news outlets where you can turn them on and hear about the uranium mine or Glade Reservoir."

Comments by: Benny Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 5:43 pm
I agree with Kennison. Through all the technological change, it's local voices and content that our communities should protect above all else. That will be meaningful and important whether you get your radio or whatever in your car or via microdust floating in the ether.

KRFC has taken some hard hits from sour progressives for nurturing local music and talk instead of national political programming, but I think what KRFC is doing is far more noble and important.

Comments by: Sandy Lemberg Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:22 pm
"Local was a good strategy and I think it still is," Kennison said.

Local is fine. What is a problem is that the current management of KRFC has cut other public affairs programming which was an equally important component of KRFC programming and in so doing has deliberately marginalized a substantial sector of the KRFC constituency.

Kennison blames the difficult situation faced by KRFC on “unrest among some early volunteers”. In fact, the current management came to the station with an exclusionary agenda and worked to marginalize and expel those “early volunteers”. As part of this, the current management also has eliminated much of the programming of greatest interest to those “early volunteers” and many other members. The trend continues. Unrest among those “early volunteers” is a natural consequence.

Recently, KGNU held two major fundraising events featuring Jim Hightower and Amy Goodman respectively. KRFC could have been part of this or could have held similar events featuring these radio personalities, raising many thousands of dollars. However, the policy of KRFC has been to marginalize these and similar media figures. Instead, the current management prefers to emphasize corporate underwriting over promotion by Leftist and Populist radio personalities who are popular with KRFC’s constituency.

Comments by: Benny Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 8:02 pm
And so today, KRFC is rolling in that corporate dough! I think the Coloradoan ran an article about that last week.

C'mon. All the evidence is that KRFC chose Local over Leftist and Populist programming--programming that's mostly available on the Internet, other radio stations, and TV already.

I don't understand why you guys are so bent on silencing the voices of regular local people so we can have more of what's already out there.