KUSF DJs and Board of Supervisors Rally To Stop Radio Station Sale

Categories: Media

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Making music outside city hall

DJs and supporters wearing "Save KUSF" T-shirts joined Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi for a rally in front of City Hall this afternoon, chanting "Whose station? Our station!" and "Shame on USF!"

Afterward, Mirkarimi headed into the board chambers, where he introduced a resolution urging the university to reconsider the sale. (Just try to find another piece of city legislation that references the White Stripes and the B-52's.)

The nonbinding measure asks the University of San Francisco to give the city or the community the opportunity to buy the license to 90.3 FM and the KUSF name to continue to run the noncommercial indie station.

It was just one week ago that university officials busted into the campus station and pulled the plug. Security guards escorted DJs out of the station, which has been around since 1977. The university later announced the station would be sold to classical music channel KDFC, and KUSF would continue online. 

Volunteers have been doing everything to fight the sale short of broadcasting to their fans from a roving vehicle Christian Slater-style in Pump Up the Volume. They've held rallies, started online protests, and garnered support through their Facebook page.

Irwin Swirnoff has become the de facto leader of the movement after holding his own against the new station owners on KQED's Forum last week. He has continued that momentum at today's rally where he was, again, the undisputed leader.

"It doesn't end today," he said to cheers from the crowd. "We're fighting this all the way until the community has the station that ... is ours."

Mirkarimi, a USF alum, rolled up his sleeves, took the mic, and declared his outrage. "It's frustrating ... to see the Jesuit ethic to be botched and really bastardized in the way it was ... in their idea of selling the station in advance and not providing the right of first refusal" to the KUSF community, he said.

Swirnoff said that the university's plan to have KUSF continue as an Internet radio station will cut off the majority of its listeners. "Not everyone has the access to free Internet at home," he told the crowd. "And the access to community radio, despite your socioeconomic status, is not only important, but it's all of our right."

The resolution, cosponsored by Supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos, expresses "extreme displeasure" with the sale of one of the only remaining local, noncommercial radio stations in the city.

For more than thirty years, KUSF has been one of the main outlets for
and promoters San Francisco musicians who are ignored by the Bay Areas
commercial radio stations; and,
Many now-famous musical acts first gained radio exposure on KUSF,
including Depeche Mode, Metallica, The B-52's, U2, R.E.M., the White
Stripes, and Kronos Quartet, in fact, KUSF has received one double
platinum and seven gold record awards from the recording industry--one of
the very few college stations in the country ever to be so recognized;

WHEREAS, Replacing KUSF's diverse, community-serving
format with an all-music format would have a detrimental impact on San
Francisco and would constitute a violation of the FCC requirement that
licensees must serve the "public interest, convenience and necessity;"

Mirkarimi introduced the resolution today, but a vote won't come until next week's meeting. At that point, it will either be adopted or sent to committee, though the supervisor isn't expecting any obstacles.

"It's a no-brainer thing, and we're not asking for punitive action," said Rick Galbreath, a Mirkarimi staffer. "We're just urging folks to reconsider what they're doing. It's pretty noncontroversial."

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I am sad to see KUSF go off the air however this is America and this is a business country. Anything that can be bought or sold in America will be bought and sold unfortunately.

Cary Tennis
Cary Tennis

KUSF changed my life. Maybe not for the better, but it changed my life, and knowing it was always there was like knowing the Pacific breezes will always blow in to freshen the spirit. I swear I'm moving to Kansas. One can't live on artisanal bread alone. KDFC my ass.


In case you've forgotten, USF owns the station, not the students or the volunteers, and they can do whatever they damn please. And considering that KFDC is the ninth most-listened to station in San Francisco, while KUSF does not get any listeners at all, I think they made the right choice.

And why is punk rock "art" and classical music not art?

joe r
joe r

i urge the kusf community to look at what happened ten years ago when kpfa was almost lost. direct action gets the goods! dont let yourselves get co-opted by the process. the only way to save your community voice is to make that voice so loud it drowns out the sound of the money!


Stoked to see the community coming together like this from afar. Keep up the good work, KUSF

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