The Battle Over the List
fight that could determine KXCI's future goes to the courts.
By Chris Limberis
Among KXCI'S growing list
of disenchanted and dissident members is
William J. Risner, a low-key Tucson lawyer who has worked, with
to right wrongs.
A member of KXCI's original board of directors and a member of the
community radio station for
the last 10 years, Risner is battling to
reverse KXCI 91.3 FM's increasingly insular board that has served as
buffer for the controversial general manager Tony Ford
and his administration's policies.
Ford and KXCI management
angered station DJs and volunteers last fall
with the introduction of volunteer agreements that severely chopped
limited rights of those who put on shows or work at the station.
Those who didn't sign got bounced. Some who did sign got
under provisions that allowed Ford's team to take such action without
providing a reason.
shows, including Celtic Crosscurrents, Jim's Joke
Joint and Beat Street, were yanked. That touched off protests,
from Tucson's Irish Republicans, which call for board reform.
Electoral reform would force KCXI to return to a system
members of the board were elected rather than appointed. Fourteen
members are now appointed by the board while
only six are elected by
Ford, board members and the station's lawyer are blocking Risner's
to get the names of members in preparation for a showdown
between angry members and underwriters scheduled for Thursday,
After more than a month of what he calls "stonewalling," Risner said
he waited to "celebrate Abraham
Lincoln's birthday" and then
instructed his lawyer, Edward Moomjian II, to file a suit in Superior
Court to win release
of the list.
Valentine's Day seemed appropriate, Risner thought.
Bylaws for KXCI's nonprofit parent, The Foundation
Broadcasting, Inc., allow for members to vote to recall board
Risner sought the list on
Jan. 13 via registered mail which, he says,
Ford "intentionally" failed to accept. Risner switched to the fax
on Jan. 30, and although his machine confirmed delivery, Ford
and KXCI again did not respond.
KXCI turned to Bradley
Miller, its lawyer with the pricey firm
Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally. Miller erected two
including a Feb. 6 letter in which he strayed off
Risner's request. Miller misconstrued Risner's request as one seeking
list of KXCI donors.
It sparked a memorable response.
"I received your bizarre letter ... " Risner told Miller
in a return
fax, "only moments ago ... the word 'donor' or 'donors' does not
appear in my requests."
didn't realize is that he also was about to get
unsolicited Continuing Legal Education credit.
"As you may also
be aware," Miller lectured, "federal law governing
stations involved with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, like
does not permit the station to make donor names or identifying
In court papers, Moomjian
reiterated what Risner attempted to explain
to Miller: Federal law does not prohibit the release of names of
of KXCI and the Foundation for Creative Broadcasting.
Moreover, Risner is not a third party, an outsider seeking to
members, but a member of KXCI and its parent.
A judge will now decide whether Risner gets the list. If he
he also is likely to score the cost of having to "go retail" for a
lawyer of his own.
It is a point that
Risner has tried to make with the KXCI team that,
despite a reportedly successful winter fund drive, is in constant
Risner said KXCI leaders are "irresponsibly" handling KXCI assets by
forcing him to go to court and equally
"irresponsible" for the
station to use hard-earned contributions "to protect the political
position of Anthony Ford."
"tried several options," Ford said, to satisfy Risner's desires
to communicate with members.
No solution could be
found to meet both Risner's needs and what Ford
said was the need to protect the members' privacy.
"All of our members
are donors," Ford said.
The face-off on Feb. 20 will take place at 7 p.m. at Amory Park
Senior Center, 220 S. Fifth