As they await word on the proposed sale of University of San Francisco’s college radio station KUSF to Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN), the folks at USF and CPRN have been working to gain approval from the FCC in order to move the KUSF transmitter off-campus and out of San Francisco to Mt. Beacon in Sausalito. With this move CPRN hopes to both maintain greater control over the transmitter and expand the broadcast range of KUSF.
As we reported a few weeks ago, USF filed an initial request with the FCC back in February, requesting that the transmitter for KUSF 90.3 FM be moved to Sausalito. University of California at Berkeley’s radio station KALX 90.7 FM expressed concern about this proposal and on their behalf the Regents of the University of California filed an informal objection with the FCC. That objection was dismissed as moot on the same day (March 15) that the FCC denied USF’s request to move the transmitter.
As expected, USF revised their proposal and resubmitted it to the FCC within a week of the denial of their first application. The included engineering study in the new request to move the transmitter appears to address the concerns expressed by KALX in their informal objection. According to that filing, KALX objected to the proposed move on “contour overlap grounds,” arguing that “the proposed relocation would create new overlap of signal strength contours with second adjacent channel KALX (FM), in violation of Section 73.509(a) of the Commission’s Rules.” KALX’s objection points out that USF’s transmitter move application:
“claims to comply with the contour overlap requirements…However, the accompanying engineering statement goes on to specifically acknowledge the prohibited overlap and suggest a waiver, without any justification, support or analysis. Downplaying the issue, the application states that KUSF will create only a ‘slight amount of predicted interference’ with KALX (FM) and requests a waiver to ‘accept’ the contour overlap. KUSF’s casual statement disguises the significant negative effect of this prohibited overlap on both KALX (FM) and its listeners.”
In USF’s new application, they state that, “The proposed operation will utilize a directional antenna and will meet all contour protection requirements toward other stations. The allocation study attached as Exhibit 18.1 indicates that eight facilities are close enough to warrant close examination, KWMR, KALX, KDVS (CP and LIC), KZSU, K265DI, KVHS, KAZU,and KSJS.”
When I spoke with KALX General Manager Sandra Wasson about this new application, she told me that she was still evaluating it to determine if it addresses KALX’s concerns.
Todd Urick, Program Director of Common Frequency, said that the revision seemed to be in compliance with “all current FCC regulations” from a technical perspective. He acknowledged that the proposed transmitter location would increase coverage for KUSF down into the San Francisco peninsula.
The station expressing the most concern about this latest request is KZSU 90.1 FM at Stanford University in Palo Alto. According to KZSU Business Manager Abra Jeffers, “The transmitter is going to be significantly elevated and as such will potentially be interfering with our signal.” Abra said that coverage in Oakland, Alameda, and San Francisco would most likely be effected.
Currently KZSU is mounting a publicity campaign to get the word out about the impact of the KUSF transmitter move on KZSU. According to a statement on their website, “KZSU’s signal is being threatened, and we need your help…CPRN has submitted an application to the FCC to move KUSF’s transmitter to Marin County. If this application is approved, we (KZSU) will lose our signal in the East Bay, North Bay, and San Francisco, and will likely experience interference in parts of San Bruno and Daly City.”
KZSU is encouraging listeners to write letters to both KZSU and the FCC by Friday, April 15 opposing the attempt by KUSF to move their transmitter. Additionally, they are looking into filing their own informal objection with the FCC.
Abra told me that not only is KZSU concerned about their own station’s coverage, but that they are also saddened by the loss of KUSF. She said, “I just think it’s an outrage that our local community-based programming is under attack by some corporate network.” She added, “CPRN has specifically stated that they are looking to expand their coverage… [and] we think it’s important to let everybody know that this could happen to us.” To that end, Abra said that she is hoping that KZSU can work with other local college radio stations like KFJC and KSCU in order to build an alliance of stations who are devoted to preserving college radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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 and to the Save KUSF Multi-Station Live Broadcast 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.” And, for a quick overview of the situation at KUSF, see my article, “The Story Behind the KUSF Shutdown” on PopMatters.