Friends of Community Radio was founded in 2001 as a response to the takeover of KKFI FM 90.1 by new management.
The group that was now running the station, allegedly illegally in power, tried to change the community radio station into an amorphous “public radio” station aligned with mainstream media. A new general-manager hired in 2000 did not follow the original goals of Mid-Coast radio which was founded in 1977 as a cooperative community effort to put a non-commercial radio station on the air.
Hired in 2000, after tenure with the American Heartland Theater and previous employment with KCUR FM (leaving that radio station under questionable circumstances) Robert Barrientos was hired by the KKFI board after a recommendation from the personnel committee with some dissent.
During early 2001, it became apparent that KKFI was under threat of radical change as the new general manager purged the voting membership (active members) of the station, with his associates put forth a slate of board candidates to his liking, who were installed to the Mid-Coast board of directors.
The active members who are volunteers who after having proved they have done work for the station are then voted in as voting members, elect the entity that legally owns and governs the station – the board of directors.
A new set of bylaws approved by the reduced voting membership, also made the general manager a voting member of the board which increased his dominance of the station.
Throughout the year the KKFI program schedule became radically changed as programmers of long-standing were pushed out (some representing minority communities), and others resigned their radio shows in protest.
In the May 31st issue of the Pitch, Kansas City’s alternative news weekly, a scathing article was published on the goings on at KKFI.
Two people who who had long-standing shows on KKFI wrote letters to the editor in June in response to the Pitch article in May. Fortuitously. These letters were read by Denis Moynahan, who happened to be working with an activist group in Lawrence, Kansas. Denis is an associate of Amy Goodman who produces the “Democracy Now” news show on KKFI. Denis would be instrumental in arranging for the visit of Amy in 2002 to help raise funds to fight the station takeover and he offered to help with the KKFI struggle.
Coincidentally, the Pacifica Radio Network was undergoing its own take-over which forced out Amy Goodman and installed a questionable board of its own. Denis, helped link the struggles of KKFI and Pacifica together over the Internet and people around the country also started contributing also to FCR.
Some of those who had founded KKFI and who had worked for years to make community radio in Kansas City sustainable, became increasingly alarmed. They decided to meet on a regular basis to counter the threat.
Ultimately, with no hope of modifying the take-over of the station, the informal group became an underground organization which proposed strategies to remove the current management. This resistance group decided to call itself the Friends of Community Radio (FCR). Some demonstrated in front of the KKFI studio.
Because of threats of retaliation by management, the identities of some FCR activists were forced to remained hidden at first. One person even wore a cardboard mask at a demonstration outside the station, with the face of Robert Barrientos so s/he would not be identified and lose a radio show.
Friends of Community Radio members soon realized that the only way to solve the problem of what was going on and to save the station was through legal remedies and the court system.
To start the process of getting rid of the current management, Friends of Community Radio in December, 2001 after preparing extensive paperwork, became incorporated in Missouri as a 501(c)3 non-profit group. This meant that FCR as a tax-exempt organization could now cover the costs of hiring attorneys to legally challenge those who were running the station.
As a part of becoming a non-profit organization, Friends of Community Radio passed its own set of by-laws in December, 2001
On December 29th while some were on vacation. the management cronies passed a resolution at the shrunken active members meeting designation those associated with FCR as enemies which should be expelled from KKFI.