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Listeners Picket Outside KKFI 90.1 FM

On Feb. 23, demonstrators spoke out to protest KKFI management's treatment of volunteer programmers and its apparent mission to destroy democracy and do away with the station's community mission.
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Braving frigid temperatures, and heavy falling snow, over 50 people picketed outside KKFI 90.1 FM studios at 900 1/2 Westport Road, Sunday afternoon, February 23rd. Stretching across the block from Southwest Trafficway to Sonic Drive-In on Roanoke, Friends of Community Radio and supporters from the community held signs saying "KKFI Board Gags Free Speech" and "Save Community Radio." Steve Peters, a longtime active member and former programmer explained that the demonstration was to protest KKFI management's current policy that prohibits volunteer programmers from talking about any problems at KKFI to "any other media." Concerned listeners are wondering, what KKFI is trying to hide?

The demonstration captured the spirit of KKFI's original (and hopefully soon to be restored) vision of creativity, liveliness, and diversity. The crowd of women, men and children, African American, Hispanic and White, Gay and Straight joined together as Peter Stauffager led chants of "What do we want? Free Speech! When do we want it? Now!" and "KKFI is a community trust, Restoring democracy is a must." Tom Crane, a founder of KKFI and long-time volunteer who was banned from the station by current management, outlined KKFI's history and recent changes made by current management to do away with the community mission and destroy democracy at the station. Women played drums and a former programmer displayed a clothesline of every T-Shirt from KKFI's 15-year history.

Demonstrators spoke of their concern that current KKFI management are treating volunteers unfairly. Former volunteers spoke of examples where "friends of management" receive volunteer credit while others do not. Demonstrators wonder why KKFI is not open with their financial records and where funds have gone from recent drives and from bank accounts. Some demonstrators held up a clothesline of KKFI's "dirty laundry" symbolizing the rule, which prohibits airing of so-called dirty laundry to the outside media. Other demonstrators wore masks for fear of retaliation from station management, and many wore duct tape over their mouths to symbolize KKFI's "gag rule." Several protestors reported seeing station management "agents" video taping the event for future retaliation. Despite the weather and fear of retaliation, organizers called the event a success.
 
 

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Re: Listeners Picket Outside KKFI 90.1 FM

i would like to get this to station staff. please e-mail it to "robertkkfi (at) aol.com" and "chuckkkfi (at) aol.com." also to "tammeus (at) kcstar.com" and ldiuguid (at) kcstar.com." i think they will forward it to "hearne (at) kcstar.com."

also, check with "freeradiokc (at) aol.com" regarding the advisability of doing so before you send anything to the station, KKFI.

BTW, i am a former volunteer at the station whom became fed up with the unethical and illegal practices of station management and the board.

dave davis
 

Re: Listeners Picket Outside KKFI 90.1 FM

I got this email with unattributed comments from the gag order protest:

WHY WE ARE HERE
Remarks from the 2/23/03 protest at KKFI


Many of you are gathered here today because you believe in the dream of community radio, a medium that allows ordinary people access to the airwaves.
We want to save KKFI.

It was ordinary people who founded our nation and wrote its Constitution not "professionals" just as it was people who founded KKFI as a reaction to control of the media by Arbitron-driven professionals.

We are here today to let the world know that KKFI which was an idealistic vision what of a radio station could be, has been Shanghaied by the worst sort of opportunists. People who now run the station have more in common with the crassest profit motivated media barons than with the people KKFI was founded to serve.

We are here to let you know that the dream has not died and that we intend to expose the current management and board of KKFI for what they are.
In 1975, a founder of many community stations around the US, Lorenzo Milam, wrote words that sound eerie in Kansas City today.

He wrote, "Broadcasting as it exists now in the United States is a pitiful, unmitigated whore. At some stage in its history, there was a chance to turn it into a creative, artful, caring medium; but then all the toads came along, realizing the power of radio and television to hawk their awful wares. The saga of broadcasting in America is littered with the bodies of those who wanted to do something significant - and who were driven out by the pimps and thieves who now run the media."

Community stations are rare, fragile, and precious. They counterbalance the sales-oriented broadcasting world and are among the few media allowing alternative points of view. These stations open windows into cultures denied access by mainstream media.

It is almost impossible to start a community station in a major market today. Some of us know this, having spent up to 25 years to start and keep KKFI going.

Community radio became a mission for many of us who put in thousands of unpaid hours as volunteers. Our inspiration came from those who had already been there like Pacifica Radio who dared to question the quality and content of broadcasting in America.
We believe that the airwaves belong to all of and are too valuable a resource to leave in the hands of "professionals" whose only goal is to enrich themselves by selling advertising or advertising disguised as underwriting, to push products down our throats that we don't need.

We are here today to let you know that we will not let a community radio station hundreds of people worked hard to create and keep going, be looted for personal profit, ego aggrandizement, or power!

Today, we as members of Friends of Community Radio protest the increasingly narrow focus of KKFI, the purging of many of the most creative and community-oriented programmers at the station, and the increasingly questionable financial practices of the station. People who in good faith have financially supported the station in the past need transparent accounting of where money has gone.

Unfortunately, KKFI's general manager (previously fired from KCUR), gets a direct percentage of funds raised for himself. This is considered an unethical practice by the leading association of US fundraising executives.

This man tried to erase KKFI's history by not letting programmers call it a community station any more. He also gets rid of people who question poor management, and apparently has no clue on how to foster a volunteer group.

KKFI now has as chairman of the members who elect the board of directors, a person who ratted out the station in the early 90's, getting the station fined thousands of dollars seemingly to satisfy his own personal vendetta.

With no proof, KKFI's board president falsely accuses Friends of Community Radio of making anonymous phone calls. His name-calling does not have to be disproved.

KKFI now has a board that instead of debating which important issues to women should be aired, spends its time discussing underwriting by Bazookas, a stripper club. This is the same board that allowed promotion of lap-dances at the same club as premiums for the Christmas fund drive.

Voices and music of minority cultures, African Americans, Middle Easterners, and Native Americans, as well as women, and working people are disappearing.
Increasingly, KKFI is adopting a commercialized format and those who want to select programming by the money it brings in are in control.

In the past, hundreds of everyday people from the community were on the air as programmers and as guests on KKFI. It has been every person at the microphone, not those who sound like appliance salesmen. Political and cultural ideas that would never find airplay on other stations have had a place at KKFI.

Now using Associated Press for KKFI's news radio show is considered instead of progressive alternatives.

Friends of Community Radio was formed out of a sincere worry about the future of community radio.

A recent article called "National Private Radio" on Salon.com states our fears. It said, "But then, somehow, while we weren't looking, they privatized it -- gave it to those who have far more say-so than you or I, turned it over to people who have a distaste for controversy and challenge and complicated issues."

We with Friends of Community Radio carry on the long tradition of community radio in Kansas City by saying enough is enough! Give KKFI back to the people!
 

Re: Listeners Picket Outside KKFI 90.1 FM

Just FYI for everyone.....I talked to Sharon Lockhart Sunday evening and she advised me that she was let go from the station and lost her show last Thursday morning. They told her it was due to her "poor and bad attitude."

Lisa
 

Re: Listeners Picket Outside KKFI 90.1 FM

When I left kkfi, it appeared that certain blocks of programming were trying to take over the station.After reviewing programming,it seems that Am. Indians have been pushed out the door, while a non-Indian seems to have seated herself in our(Am.Ind.) place. I wish I was surprised! I'm in Germany at present, so my assistance will be limited. I expect to be back in KC by Oct. I would like to be kept up on action. Our losses seem to be great as to truth, culture, and "disinfranchisment". I hope Cliff,Debra, & Sherry are well. Chuck, I think of you often. Please eMail me .... Rick Evans
 

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