Our Story

We are a group of people who care about KRFC and who believe the station is losing its way. Our group is made up of people who are or have been financial contributors, board members, volunteers, original founders, SPA committee members, and programmers.

We could be considered an expansion of an earlier group called Concerned Volunteers. The Concerned Volunteers came into existence as a response to the issue of volunteers being dismissed with no due process, or opportunity to defend themselves; as well as station schedule changes in 2004 that many of us experienced as abrupt, capricious, and heavy-handed. We feel there are no checks and balances.

We hold strongly to the original ideal that KRFC should be a community radio station that offers alternative music and news. We believe that the spirit and the culture of the radio station is, and should continue to be, to offer material different from the mainstream. We cherish KRFC for its uniqueness and creative programming with diverse music, news, and talk shows. Because we want a healthy station with open communication and debate, and because volunteers are the life-blood of this KRFC community, there must be a guarantee for everyone of safety from intimidation and retribution.

The KRFC bylaws make it very difficult to change the station's mission statement, requiring large majorities of either the board or membership or both. The original mission statement was meant to serve as a charter, establishing the very essence of the station. When there was talk of changing that mission statement a mere two years into our existence on the air, many people objected. People objected vocally to both the manager and the board whenever the subject of a mission statement change was raised. But we were told that marketing experts overwhelmingly insisted the mission statement had to change in order for the station to successfully achieve "branding".

When the strategic planning process was announced, promises were made that it would be 100% participatory and inclusive. A key feature of the process would be the Strategic Plan Advisory (SPA) committee. At the first SPA meeting, there was great resistance by SPA members to changing the original mission statement. The facilitator promised us that language need not be removed, just reorganized into separate mission, vision, and values statements. We agreed to proceed based on that promise, and our drafts reflected that sentiment. However, at its next meeting, the board-approved final language for the three documents, did not include any of our suggestions, or any of the original mission statement language. We had been invited to that board meeting - it was announced as a working session where we could listen. Both the process and the outcome of the new mission statement left many feeling disempowered and angry.

The entire process for gathering input for the mission statement change felt rushed to the point of being manipulative. We had only 15 minutes on one day in one small SPA group to offer rewording and restructuring of the existing mission statement, and no feedback possible before formal adoption by the board. It felt like an exercise designed more to give cover to the final decision than to actually listen to what came out of it.

In spite of all the problems, the board mailed a letter to all KRFC members announcing the new mission, vision, and values statements as if they were a done deal. The letter was so final it left no option other than to use the bylaws provision for a petition - 50 or more members requesting a membership vote. We were forced in a direction nobody enjoyed. We started gathering signatures.

Meanwhile, the strategic planning process continued. At a public meeting, board members, volunteers, and KRFC members talked about round table discussions in the near future that would hopefully achieve some common understanding about the events surrounding the mission statement change. The four board members present seemed supportive of such an approach. Six days later, the station manager and board sent an email saying they were "stepping away from the dialogue and moving on". Some of us continued communicating with the board and the station manager; however, most communication was terminated with that email.

The petition (asking for a membership vote on the mission statement change) was presented to the board on time and in the fashion suggested by them. All 89 signatures were summarily dismissed on legal grounds (no address or phone number), with the board saying they could not verify our status as members. Later, the board shifted to other arguments regarding the signatures. This left us feeling upset and less than trusting of their approach. To date, no independent third party we know of has reviewed the signatures.

Regarding the signatures, the board made a number of allegations. They said that people were intimidated into signing, that people were misinformed, that remarks disparaging of the station were made. We do not believe that these allegations are widely true (if at all), and question what constitutes a disparaging remark.

Among us there are people who decided to sign the petition:

  • as a request to slow the process down and examine why so many people were feeling so unhappy about it, especially since we never heard why we needed to complete this in such an all-fired hurry.
  • because they determined that the old statement is vastly superior to the new bland mouse of a statement.
  • by approaching the situation independently, keeping clear of the debate at a personal level, and dealing only with the facts.
  • because they did not think people committed to the station would trade a mission statement that says many great things for one that says nothing.
  • because the petition was brought to them in an objective manner by someone they know.
  • by simply comparing the two missions statements, both of which were presented - the new vs. the old.
  • because we are adults and can decide for ourselves what is intimidation and what is misinformation.

Soon after rejecting the signatures, the board also sent registered letters to three volunteers, revoking their KRFC membership and, in the process, the programmer status of two of the three (the two were doing regularly scheduled shows for the station). The registered letters gave no warning, no specifics, no due process, no recourse. Relying on a vague reference in the bylaws to "activity that is detrimental to the welfare of the Corporation", the board sidestepped a discipline policy that it adopted last year - a policy that includes safeguards such as review committees, and that was clearly intended for situations like this.

The board went on to post an open letter to the KRFC website in which they call us "left-wing radicals". Some of us embrace that description, others do not. Some signers wondered why they would make a statement like that unless they are planning to change the programming? Some of us have received intrusive phone calls from board members and feel hounded. We experience concern for still-active volunteers and programmers who may feel at risk of being dismissed without cause or warning. We feel pain for those who were dismissed. We are angry about the board's recent actions.

Our group is strong and diverse. We know how to embrace and celebrate diversity. We are learning how to reach out to a wide variety of people. We are the new grass of KRFC's grassroots heritage. We are excited about being a long-term sustainable presence for the better. Just by existing, we believe we change the terrain of KRFC in subtle and important ways. The station is at a crossroad with new opportunity for democracy - we are hopeful about that.

Looking to the future, there are many challenges.

Some of us believe that the only way things will change is through changing the ways we communicate. We need to abandon labels, diffuse fear, create communication on common ground, changing incorrect perceptions and open our minds toward new consensus.

People of our background often think that everything can be solved by dialogue. Some in our group believe that's not always the case, and that management will not hear us. Sometimes it comes down to a question of who can mobilize more effectively. We need to be prepared to fight for what we feel is important in our community.

Some of us plan to stop contributing.

Some believe the organizational structure is broken and needs to be fixed. For example, bring the bylaws into harmony with the (original) mission statement, or incorporate some balance of power as is found in the bylaws of other organizations. Perhaps a document (like a constitution) that defines members' rights and the community's relationship to the board, could be adopted, as well as working towards a board structure that serves KRFC primarily as it legal face while being more directly accountable to the community.