Up until a year ago, all the static emanating from community radio station 90.1's board meetings threatened to signal the demise of community radio in Kansas City. The station is known for broadcasting progressive talk shows, Grateful Dead music hours, entire afternoons of blues, Spanish-language programming and other non-Clear Channel fare. But by mid-2002, the station was in an upheaval over its new general manager, Robert Barrientos ("Fly in the Soup," May 31, 2001). A group called Friends of Community Radio convened to battle Barrientos and the board members he'd appointed; after a dramatic and litigious period that got worse before it got better, Barrientos got the boot last September, and the station slowly came back under the control of Friends of Community Radio members. Longtime 90.1 volunteers say that the station is back to the normal level of precariousness shared by all radio stations that depend on listener fund drives. As a sign of the change, Amy Goodman's nationally syndicated Democracy Now
has been returned to its 9 a.m., pre-Barrientos airtime. "The entire atmosphere has changed," says Judy Ancel, a coordinator and producer of the Heartland Labor Forum
show. "There's a new spirit of cooperation and tolerance at the station." Ancel is also chairwoman of the station's new grievance committee; volunteers' complaints can now be handled expeditiously rather than, ahem, broadcast all over town.