The ongoing broadcasts of Classical KDFC in the San Francisco Bay Area have been made possible by a complicated series of transactions involving both commercial and non-commercial radio entities.
Today the KDFC brand is owned by Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN), although its broadcasts also appear on stations that are owned by University of Southern California (USC).
In a recent FCC filing, more details about the relationship between CPRN and USC are revealed. On June 18, 2012, paperwork was submitted to the FCC in order to transfer CPRN’s 90.3 FM Los Gatos translator to USC. In that filing, a “Bay Area Stations Operations” agreement spells out the role of each entity.
The document explains that CPRN will own and operate KDFC (Angwin, CA) and KUSF (San Francisco, CA) and that USC will own and operate KCNL (Sunnyvale, CA) and the Los Gatos translator. It states, “The parties acknowledge that this translator is currently licensed to CPRN, but was paid for and will be transferred to USC (subject to FCC approval).”
CPRN purchased the Los Gatos translator from Pataphysical Broadcasting Foundation (owner of Santa Cruz community radio station KUSP) earlier this year and the transfer of that Los Gatos translator was approved in March, 2012. CPRN is now hoping to transfer ownership of the translator to USC. Paperwork filed with the FCC indicates that no “financial consideration” will be provided to CPRN for the transfer of the license for the translator.
Additionally, the agreement explains that CPRN and USC-owned stations in the San Francisco Bay area may “simulcast the same programming,” “conduct joint fundraising campaigns,” and “share operating expenses.”
Here’s a quick recap of who’s who in the KDFC/KUSF landscape:
University of Southern California (USC): USC is the owner of public radio classical stations all over California, including flagship station KUSC. USC is also 90% owner of Classical Public Radio Network.
Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN): CPRN is a non-profit that was formerly focused on syndicated classical music services. Today it is 90% owned by USC and 10% owned by SF Classical LLC (which is 100% owned by Public Radio Capital). CPRN purchased KUSF (renamed KOSC) and KNDL (renamed KDFC), as well as branding for KDFC.
KDFC 102.1 FM (now KUZX): From 1946 until January, 2011, the KDFC call letters referred to the frequency 102.1 FM in San Francisco. Entercom took ownership of the station in 2008 and ran it as a commercial classical music station. In January 2011, the KDFC branding was transferred to Classical Public Radio Network and Entercom retained the frequency. The call letters for 102.1 FM were changed to KUZX and 102.1 now airs a simulcast of Entercom’s rock station KUFX.
KUSF 90.3 FM (now KOSC): College radio station owned by University of San Francisco and leased to Classical Public Radio Network for use in simulcasting KDFC’s classical music programming beginning in January 2011. Renamed KOSC after license transfer to CPRN was approved in June 2012. The sale has been contentious and due to formal complaints filed by KUSF supporters, an FCC investigation was launched. Although the FCC approved the license transfer, a consent decree ordered that CPRN and USF pay a collective fine of $50,000 for misdeeds related to the license transfer.
KNDL 89.9 FM (now KDFC): Religious broadcaster in Angwin, California known as “The Candle.” Howell Mountain Broadcasting sold KNDL along with two translator stations (89.7 FM in Eureka and 92.5 FM in Ukiah-Lakeport) to Classical Public Radio Network in January, 2011 for $2,725,000. When the FCC approved the license transfer, the call letters were changed to KDFC and the station now airs a classical music format.
KCNL 104.9 FM (now KXSC): Commercial radio station licensed in Sunnyvale, California. Principle Broadcasting, which had owned the license after purchasing it from Clear Channel in 2010, aired brokered Spanish language programming. KCNL’s license was sold to University of Southern California in May, 2012 and the call letters were changed to KXSC. The station was converted to non-commercial status after it was sold and now airs classical music programming from KDFC.
KUSF.org: The online-only radio station at University of San Francisco. Shortly after KUSF 90.3 FM was handed over to KDFC programmers in January 2011, KUSF.org resumed broadcasts with fewer DJs. In May 2011, the studio was dismantled and since that time, KUSF.org has been running a regularly updated, yet DJ-less, automated playlist of music. A new studio is being built and live DJs should resume broadcasts by the fall semester.
KUSF in Exile: An online-only radio station broadcasting from Lightrail Studios in San Francisco. KUSF in Exile‘s stream is being hosted by New Jersey community radio station WFMU. Many former KUSF DJs volunteer at KUSF in Exile.
Friends Of KUSF: Established in 2001 in order to help KUSF with fundraising, this is one of the entities that filed a Petition to Deny with the FCC following the transfer of the KUSF license to CPRN.
San Francisco Community Radio, Inc. (SFCR): A non-profit formed in 2011 and focused on the future of KUSF. Its main goal is to “establish and operate an FCC-licensed broadcast radio station providing cultural, informational and news programming that represents and serves the diverse communities of San Francisco, CA, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area,” according to SFCR Secretary Carolyn Keddy.
Save KUSF: On the day that KUSF 90.3 was shut down (January 18, 2011), the public volunteer group Save KUSF was formed. SaveKUSF.org, the Save KUSF Facebook page, and listserv have been used to build awareness about the details of the pending KUSF sale and legal fight. Supporters have organized fundraising events, collaborated with WFMU to establish KUSF in Exile, and have publicized details of the KUSF transaction and its connection to broader trends in college radio. According to SFCR’s Carolyn Keddy, Save KUSF is an overarching group that can be viewed as a “rallying cry.” She added, “It is a goal, not an organization.”