Ostrom Leaves KOFI, Citing Story Dispute

By Beacon Staff

Longtime Flathead Valley broadcaster George Ostrom has left KOFI-AM after he says he was told not to air a story about a former station employee who has been indicted for mail fraud.

Ostrom, 79, said this week that station manager and part-owner Dave Rae ordered him not to read a story on air Monday about a former office manager who has been accused of purchasing excessive supplies at the station’s expense to obtain vendor incentives, including a laptop and television.

“(Rae) came in and said if I ran that story, I was out of there,” Ostrom said in an interview Tuesday. “I walked out.”

Reached Wednesday, Rae declined comment.

Kent Etchison, the former office manager, pleaded not guilty last week in federal court. The indictment alleges Etchison ordered about $925,000 in office supplies between March 2003 and June 2006. Prosecutors said some of the supplies were incompatible with the radio station’s equipment, some were paid for but never received and some were returned but no refund received.

“Ignoring that story, in my opinion, would be making me compromise my journalistic integrity, my credibility,” Ostrom said, adding he has been associated with KOFI-AM for 53 years.

“I feel very bad because I spent most of my life helping build that station,” Ostrom said.

KOFI-AM is based in Kalispell.