Pacifica Campaign Solidarity Action
Reclaim KKFI: The Struggle for Community Radio hits Kansas
In a crisis strikingly similar to that at Pacifica, Kansas City,
Missouri's only community radio station, KKFI 90.1 FM, a Pacifica
affiliate, has been taken over and a is in imminent danger. A
tyrannical station manager has gotten hold of the station, new
by-laws were adopted illegally, and the Board of Directors was
stacked with the GM's cronies, all with the expected corporate
affiliations and lack of involvement in the local progressive
community or social justice struggles.
In response to this, and in consultation with the Pacifica
Campaign, community activists, fired and banned KKFI programmers,
and listeners have banded together and formed Friends of Community
Radio, a Missouri not-for-profit. The group formally launched
yesterday with a press conference and demonstration in front of
KKFI. Tonight, Weds. Dec. 19, 2001, KKFI's illegally-constituted
Board will meet, with no stated agenda.
As Juan Gonzalez wrote in his recent analysis of the Pacifica
lawsuits settlement (http://www.pacificacampaign.org/juan1213.asp).
The movement for democracy in the American mass media won a historic
victory yesterday, one that is sure to inspire new struggles for
media accountability. Just such a struggle is underway over KKFI in
Kansas City. We encourage the people who have worked so hard to
bring Pacifica to the brink of restoration to lend the activists in
Kansas City their attention and assistance.
Friends of Community Radio has put forth four demands that they
will bring to the KKFI Board:
1. Removal of General Manager and Active Member chair.
2. Restitution of correct by-laws and reinstatement of
former Board to conduct new elections as soon as possible for all
seats that were elected at the last election (including Active
3. Reinstatement of all Members purged just before and
since the last election with full voting rights.
4. Reinstatement of programs cancelled without due
PLEASE CALL, email and/or fax these members of the KKFI Board and
voice your support for Friends of Community Radio. Encourage them to
immediately meet these four demands. (Sample letter below).
Mike Rosales, KKFI Board Treasurer
Commercial loan officer,
Commerce Bank, Kansas City
Marcellus Hughes, KKFI Board member
Director of Membership \
Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater
800-767-7700 (hit 2, hit 2 again, ask for Marcellus
Here is a list of email addresses to send your letter. Copy these
and paste them into the To: line of your email composition page:
(The two addresses following the KKFI Board member addresses are
addresses of managers of their respective departments.)
Dear Michael Rosales and Marcellus Hughes:
I am writing to you both as members of the KKFI Board of
Directors. KKFI is an affiliate of the national Pacifica Radio
Network, and as such, is part of a vital family of community radio
stations from Maine to Hawaii. The Pacifica network is just now
emerging from its worst crisis in its more than 50 years of
broadcasting, a crisis that was driven by an illegally-seated Board
of Directors. It took four lawsuits, a financial boycott, and the
participation of tens of thousands of citizen activists to force
this Board to resign but resign they did.
I am pleased to note the formation of Friends of Community Radio
in Kansas City, a group that intends to follow on the success of the
Pacifica struggle and to restore KKFI to its mission of service to
the people of greater Kansas City. Please listen to their reasonable
demands and act speedily, to avoid provoking a struggle that will
focus on your performance on the Board and which will enjoy
sustained, nationwide support.
KKFI was formed 25 years ago, and has been broadcasting for over
13 years (it took eleven years of work to get the funding, the
license, and the infrastructure together). Since that time, the
station has been a vital component of and reflection of Kansas
City's diverse population. With 100,000 watts, the station served
the rural communities of western Missouri and eastern Kansas as
well, including Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, where Leonard
Peltier is imprisoned. Leonard was a daily listener of Democracy
Now! until it was yanked off the air last August.
The station, inspired by the work of Pacifica radio, followed in
that tradition, favoring a rich mix of music and public affairs
programming that refused to conform to the growing homogenization of
public radio. It became an affiliate of Pacifica, carrying Democracy
Now! and the news.
In early 2000, the Board hired Robert Barrientos as general
manager. Barrientos had worked at Kansas City?s NPR station, KCUR,
and left under a cloud, suing the station for racial and sexual
discrimination (he had been replaced by a woman). While promising to
solidify the finances while preserving KKFI's mission, "He has done
neither," says station co-founder Tom Crane.
Barrientos instead embarked upon a campaign of purges at the
station and a takeover of the Board. He successfully delayed the
KKFI Board election, to work with the people who had hired him, he
claimed. It seems as if stacking the Board was his agenda, which he
achieved by packing the Board election meeting with handpicked
voting members and ramming through a slate of his cronies onto the
Board. The Board rushed through a by-laws change that, among other
things, gives Barrientos himself a vote on the very Board that
When former Pacifica National Programming Director Steve Yasko
put out a call nationally for complaints against Amy Goodman from
affiliate station managers, only one manager responded: Robert
Barrientos. Barrientos, incidentally, refers to himself as the "CEO"
of KKFI. He has also forbidden use of the phrase "community radio"
on air; "public radio" only is to be used.
In a lesson that Pacifica reformers should heed, the election of
the KKFI Board is done by "Active Members," who must meet
volunteer-hour criteria. By stacking that active membership roster
with cronies, Barrientos stole the election. The Active Member Chair
then put in place now summarily denies active membership status
arbitrarily, thus eliminating opposition to the Barrientos regime.
As well, volunteer opportunities have been limited to Tuesday
evenings. Yet five of the ten recent volunteer nights have been
cancelled, either for holiday conflicts or for unstated reasons,
severely limiting earnest supporters? opportunity to meet the new,
An Active Member meeting has been called for December 29th,
again, by design, to exclude many who will be unavailable to meet.
Management hasn't said what is on the agenda for that meeting,
When the Friends of Community Radio entered the station yesterday
to view the FCC-mandated Public File, Barrientos called the police.
His contract is up for renewal by January 30th, 2002.
For an excellent feature article on the situation at KKFI as of
last May, see http://www.pitch.com/issues/2001-05-31/feature.html/1/index.html
Friends of Community Radio - A Missouri not-for-profit, can be
reached at 816-292-2875 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Donations, which are not yet tax-deductible, can be made out to
Friends of Community Radio and mailed to PO BOX 410264, Kansas City,