Battle Stations: Open KRFC continues the fight to address grievances with 88.9 FM

By Andra Coberly

There are some people who give up easily, others who cave in as the battle wears on their patience, and still others who fight until they realize the battle cannot be won.

And then there are the members of Open KRFC -- who seemingly have the patience and principles to continue their efforts as long as it takes.

As Northern Colorado's homegrown public radio station KRFC celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, an organized group of former KRFC founders, members and volunteers is about to celebrate its one-year birthday. Since it was founded last year, Open KRFC has acquired an "unincorporated nonprofit association" designation with the Secretary of State's office so it can accept donations. Members are also in talks with an attorney.

As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. And as KRFC continues to ignore their complaints, the members of Open KRFC are admittedly desperate.

"It's gotten ugly," says one member.

The breach between KRFC and its splinter group came more than a year ago, when some members began feeling that the station was heading in a direction different than its original purpose. When KRFC changed its mission statement, some members said that the message no longer captured the essence of the station, especially with the word "œdemocracy" omitted. Plus, they say, giving the board of directors the final vote on the mission statement change instead of the entire membership was worrisome. But Station Manager Beth Flowers has told Fort Collins Weekly that the document needed to change to make the station eligible for grants, which often put word limits on mission statements. Since the change, the station has received grants.

KRFC also revoked the memberships of three members -- citing reasons like acting "against the best interest of the station," according to one letter from the board.

Open KRFC has found fault with several incidents and practices at the station -- and it has an overriding feeling that the station is headed in the wrong direction. For about a year, they have asked for those wrongs to be righted and to remarry the two groups into one happy KRFC. They have even asked for outside mediation.

Flowers, as well as the board of directors, say that this divorce is final.

"And so KRFC faces divorce," reads a letter from the station's board of directors to its members. "We believe that KRFC cannot be healed and will not succeed if we do not separate and move on from this continuing conflict."

As the station revealed its new logo last week and with changes to programming planned for April, Open KRFC continues to oppose most of the progress that the station is making, from the collection of grants to the programming modifications.

Flowers says the station will increase its local public affairs content and sacrifice national and international affairs show Free Speech Radio News.

"We've heard over and over again that people in Northern Colorado are starving for news from their community," she says.

While Open KRFC disagrees about what the community wants for KRFC, the group's acquisition of an attorney has little to do with its qualms over radio shows. The members say they have sent a letter demanding a meeting with the KRFC board of directors to address their grievances. If they are ignored, as in the past, Open KRFC is ready to take legal action.

"Hopefully, the letter will bring them to the table," Bame says. "I think it will be better for everyone if we can work it out and not fight it out."

Flowers says she was aware the group was talking to an attorney but had not been notified of any legal action.

So, why does this group of estranged KRFC members and volunteers continue to fight despite the station's refusal to reunite?

It's the principle of the matter, they say.

"There's always hope. Greater conflicts have been worked out," says Open KRFC member Kristianne Gale.

(original published in the Fort Collins Weekly)