Yesterday it was announced that college radio station KUSF’s frequency and transmitter was being sold to a new public radio group, Classical Public Radio Network, owned by University of Southern California (USC). As part of the deal the commercial classical radio station KDFC will now convert to a non-commercial station and broadcast of KUSF’s frequency of 90.3 FM.
One of the first official letters of protest was released today by the non-profit group Independent Arts and Media. As a financial supporter of KUSF, Independent Arts and Media is calling for a re-examination of the proposed station sale is offering up an alternate plan. In a press release this morning they state:
“The $3.75 million sale of KUSF-FM by the University of San Francisco will have a chilling effect on the culture, community and civic life of San Francisco, the Bay Area, and beyond…We respectfully request a moratorium on the sale and a grace period enabling the KUSF-FM volunteers, through the agency of Friends of KUSF, to develop and execute the following plans:
* A financing strategy to raise $4 million for the purchase of the station and to seed startup operations for the station in an off-campus setting
* An operations plan detailing station management, staffing, policies and oversight by the Friends of KUSF Executive Board.”
The letter goes on to state that the station sale would not be in the public interest of San Francisco residents because it will eliminate “a culturally diverse, community-run outlet for independent music, arts, ideas and news. Replacing KUSF’s broadcast signal with an online-only signal will also put KUSF out of reach of anyone without broadband Internet access due to financial, technological or educational barriers.”
In other news today, KUSF Music Director Irwin Swirnoff and President of KUSC Radio Brenda Barnes appeared on the KQED talk show Forum to discuss the radio station “shake up” in the Bay Area yesterday. Irwin eloquently articulated KUSF’s role for the San Francisco community as a “cultural oasis..with shows in 9 different languages… and a range of eclectic music programming.” He also revealed that the shut down of KUSF happened while students and faculty at University of San Francisco were still on winter break, hampering their abilities to organize effectively. He said, “Yesterday was extremely shocking, sad, and disturbing” and added that the timing during a school break meant that, “It didn’t allow us to mobilize the community, mobilize the media…”
While Brenda Barnes of KUSC said that the current discussions about the purchase of KUSF begin last Spring, but that they had actually been having conversations about a potential purchase with University of San Francisco for “several years.” She said that she was sympathetic to the feelings of KUSF staffers, but spent more time in the interview discussing plans for the future non-commercial KDFC. She also indicated that the station will be expanding its playlist and also hopes to extend its reach into the South Bay, calling it a “top priority” since the current coverage area will not reach as far south as they would like. In a statement sure to frighten any of us involved with non-commercial radio in the South Bay, she said, “…we’ll be looking for stations that are for sale,” adding that, they are not courting stations who have not been put up for sale, saying,”we haven’t gone to anyone and said, ‘would you sell us your station.’”
Last night I wrapped up the day’s events on Spinning Indie, after following the news throughout the day on Radio Survivor. Tonight there will be a meeting at Phelan Hall at 6:00pm, followed by a protest at 7pm at Fromm Hall. Organizers have set up a Save KUSF website and Facebook page in order to help spread the word.