Although the shutdown of beloved college radio station KUSF has been devastating for radio and independent media fans in the San Francisco Bay Area; the outpouring of support for the station has been amazing to watch.
This Friday, February 18th from 12noon to 3pm Pacific time, KUSF DJs will be on the stage at Amoeba Music in San Francisco playing sets of music like they did in the days before their station was shut down on January 18th.
New Jersey-based free form community radio station WFMU is leading the charge on an ambitious multi-radio station live remote broadcast. The live event at Amoeba on Haight Street will be broadcast both online and terrestrially on WFMU (91.1 FM in New Jersey), Stanford University station KZSU (90.1 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area), Loyola Marymount station KXLU (88.9 FM in Los Angeles), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill station WXYC (89.3 FM in Chapel Hill, North Carolina), and Foothill College station KFJC (89.7 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area). More stations are expected to be announced in the coming days.
WFMU DJ Billy Jam, who organized this event (and will MC it along with fellow WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields) is a long-time college and community radio DJ, having spent time on the airwaves of KUSF, KALX, and KPFA prior to his current stint at WFMU. He told me that he’s regularly back in the San Francisco Bay Area doing live remote broadcasts. A few weeks ago he and WFMU General Manager Ken Freedman came up with the idea to “do a third WFMU Bay Area remote broadcast with all KUSF DJs.” After approaching Amoeba music to host the event, Billy Jam proceeded to recruit other radio stations to participate in a multi-station live remote broadcast.
According to Billy Jam, the goal of the event is “To celebrate the greatness that was (and hopefully soon again will be) KUSF on the FM dial where it deserves to be. There are six KUSF DJs going to do half hour sets each… and I have asked them all to include as many KUSF 90.3FM celebrity IDs and ‘drops’ as possible so it sounds like the good ole KUSF pre Jan 18th 2011. But mostly the goal is to further raise awareness and help fight the good fight to SAVE KUSF…”
Billy Jam said that it’s important to spread the word about the situation at KUSF for a few key reasons:
“First KUSF is an integral part of the cultural fabric of San Francisco and the notion that it being only online is the same thing in this digital age is just bull—-. And perhaps more importantly it is part of an ugly trend of US college radio stations getting sold off, and hence is a direct attack on independent media (an endangered species already) everywhere.”
Neal Hartmann Stokes, a DJ at one of the participating stations, WXYC (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s college radio station), told me that he heard about the simulcast on Facebook. He explained,
“I used to live in San Francisco, and I have friends who were DJs at KUSF. I’ve been hearing lots from them about the campaign to save the station and I’ve been eager to help. When I saw that other stations were going to simulcast, I wrote the WXYC listserv asking if it was something we should do as well. The answer was a resounding yes–folks at WXYC were excited at the idea of using our platform to spread the word about KUSF. We were disheartened by the backhanded sale of KUSF’s FM license. This seemed like a constructive way to both show support for another community radio station, while informing our listening community about what’s happening to KUSF.”
Speaking to the broader trend of college radio station shut-downs, Neal added,
“The student or volunteer-run community radio station might seem anachronistic these days, but there’s still a number of thriving stations like ours around the country. Like many such stations, KUSF wasn’t just an underground radio station–it was a valued part of, and reflection of, a diverse and richly nuanced local culture. Communities lose something vital when voices like this are shut out. It’s important for people to realize that this is part of an ongoing trend in media–and we’ll see more stations shuttered if we don’t take a stand and support community media.”
Billy Jam is optimistic that several more radio stations will join up with the expanding list of stations airing the live remote all over the country. Interested stations can email billyjam AT WFMU dot ORG.
UPDATE ON FRIDAY, FEB. 18, 2011 at 10:30AM: The list of stations participating has grown to 12 stations from all over the U.S. In addition to the previously announced WFMU, KXLU, KZSU, WXYC and KFJC; WREK 91.1 FM (Georgia Tech, Atlanta), WITC 88.9 FM (Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY), KDVS 90.3 FM (University of California, Davis), KVRX 91.7 FM (University of Texas, Austin), KALX 90.7 FM (University of California, Berkeley), WCBN 88.3FM (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), and KRFP 92.5FM (Radio Free Moscow, Moscow, Idaho) will also be broadcasting the event.
Complete Radio Survivor coverage about the proposed sale of KUSF can be found here. I also wrote about my reaction to the KUSF shut down on Spinning Indie. My article chronicling my KUSF field trip 2 years ago is housed there too. For more on the bigger picture of college radio station sell-offs, see my December 2009 piece “Cash-strapped Schools Turn Their Backs on College Radio.