KUSF Volunteers Create Plan to Halt Sale of Radio Station

Categories: Politics
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KUSF Students Try to Block Sale
Soon after the University of San Francisco announced Tuesday it would sell radio station KUSF to a classical music network, volunteers gathered to plot a strategy to block the sale. 

By morning, they had come up with a tentative plan to rally support to retain 90.3 FM as a community radio station with multilanguage programming and a group of DJs known for playing underground music. 

The group discussed proposals Tuesday night, which included organizing San Francisco political opposition to the sale, rallying donors in support of a counterproposal to buy the license, and setting up an independent organization to run the station as it had been previously. 

As of Tuesday morning, Irwin Swirnoff, KUSF's director for new music, had planned to appear on KQED's Forum show at 9 a.m. to discuss the group's plans.

The university closed the station abruptly Tuesday, issuing a press release that said KUSF would become online only. The Federal Communications Commission must approve the sale of KUSF's license. The sale involves a three-way transaction in which The University of Southern California will purchase KDFC, turn it into a nonprofit, and plant the classical station at KUSF's old spot on the dial. Meanwhile, KUFX moves from San Jose to San Francisco by taking over KDFC's old frequency at 102.1 FM. University of San Francisco officials will get $3.75 million from the sale.

FCC approval could take months, and volunteers hope that will buy them some time to build a political groundswell, a donor base, and a business organization.

By Wednesday morning, volunteers had created a Facebook page, and fired off an internal e-mail asking supporters to help block the sale:

Friends, There was a meeting to SAVE KUSF 

1. Spread the word. Ask people to show their support. "Like" Save KUSF on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SaveKUSF 

 2. Listen. KUSF music director Irwin Swirnoff is slated to be on-air Wednesday 1/19 9am 

3. Make noise. If you know alumni, bands, or folks the news media would consider influential supporters of SAVE KUSF, please ask them to write ASAP: savekusf@gmail.com 

 4. Show up. Wednesday 1/19 6pm: Phelan Hall (outside KUSF's building) | protest 7pm Fromm Hall (near the church) for the meeting | public meeting

5. Say no. Contact USF Dean Camperi. Ask him to stop the sale. Ask him to let us give the public a voice. This is especially important for USF and USC students and alumni. Dean Camperi, Harney Science Center 244 University of San Francisco,   2130 Fulton Street San Francisco, CA 94117 camperi@usfca.edu (415) 422-5939.   Hold tight. There will be a petition and more updates soon.

Meanwhile at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Kenya Lewis, who's working with KUSF volunteers, sent SF Weekly an early draft of the group's manifesto:

Objective: to save KUSF 
Who's involved: students, volunteers, listeners and local residents who recognize KUSF's singular role in the limited public radio landscape. Advocates: KUSF has loyal fans worldwide. USF students, musicians, politicians, music fans, alumni -- an amazing array of supporters have responded immediately to protect KUSF. We hope to compile a list within the following week. 

Why is it a concern to the public: Operated in the tradition of college radio, KUSF is a well-respected national voice and unique cultural attribute to the community.
The public, whom it has benefited for over the past 30 years, deserves to evaluate its removal. 
KUSF's not-for-profit, community-based programing is valued by the student body, and by San Francisco's diverse community at large, as host to popular shows like "Chinese Star Radio." 
Despite all statements indicating otherwise, online streaming does not serve the same educational or public purposes as radio broadcast. KUSF's ability to broadcast is what connects its large audience in and outside the Bay Area. Without the FM frequency, bands wouldn't visit the station to play in the studio. Record companies wouldn't send their new releases. If KUSF were confined to the Internet, only people who already know about the station would listen. An Internet-only station, meanwhile, can't reach an audience as diverse as an on-air station.


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16 comments
Suzanne Roberge
Suzanne Roberge

Dear Readers and those who love KUSF,I was a DJ on KUSF in the 80's with thestations first new age music show, then the stations first Jazz Show. I was also a part of the San Francisco Scene Entertainment Info show as well as a reggae show. I not only learned about music, history and culture but met many incredible people whom I am still dear friends with.Being on KUSF led me to go to college and get a degree in communications from Emerson College in Boston. From there I have worked at several record companies, public relations firms and music festivals along with several radio stations. KUSF has always been a big part of my life and one that is very sad for the whole community live on-air and online as well as for the dedicated DJ's who spend their time, money and heart producing and performing shows of meaning, information and depth.KUSF was the first station to play many indie bands that then became well-known including U2.I was proud to have been a part of KUSF and will carry it in my heart.It is great sadness that I hear this news and can only hope that the powers that be see the errors of their ways for destroying this outlet of creativity for the sake of money.I look forward to the next incarnationto keep the music and message alive.Thank you,Suzanne Roberge

oleolo
oleolo

OCCUPY the station already, for chrissakes. Its yours.

Rubiconski
Rubiconski

They got a free ride for thirty years and were stupid not to acquire the license years ago.

Why should the school keep supporting something that students weren't even involved in?

DJ
DJ

@ Rubiconski: 1. No one's ever gotten a free ride at KUSF. All volunteers -- students and community folks -- gave money, time and energy to make it go.2. The community volunteers would have loved to have had the opportunity to buy license for the frequency, along with the transmitter, but we were never made aware that it was on the block. In fact, station management made it very clear that we weren't allowed to fund-raise or speak with the administration about anything. If USF had simply informed us that they wanted to get out of the radio business, we'd have happily found a way to pony up the money to buy it from them.3. Other than in-kind use of facilities, and one salaried position, USF put no money into the radio station. In fact, when the transmitter died a few years ago, the volunteers and students raised the funds on our own to fix it, while USF did absolutely nothing -- at least of which I'm aware.4. About one third of the volunteer staff is students. Please check your facts before you speak. Meanwhile, please visit http://www.savekusf.org for more details about this situation.

Teabags2255
Teabags2255

Go in like Nazi storm troopers and shut a radio station down. Idiots who don't study radio history are doomed to repeat it. The Hollander Brothers pulled that stunt at WCBS-FM in NYC in 2005. They changed the format from oldies to Jack without warning. The broadside angered NY State's senior senator, NYC's mayor, and many others. Eventually, the Hollander Brothers were cashiered out and oldies returned to WCBS-FM. Earlier, the WNCN Listeners Guild in NYC successfully sued to return the classical format to a station that was sold, and flipped to a rock format. The KUSF people could tie up USF officials for years with legal challenges.

emily savage
emily savage

NOTE: There's been a venue change for tonight's meeting. They will no longer be meeting at Fromm Hall. The new location is the USF Presentation Theater at 2350 Turk Street at 7 p.m.

Mike Conway
Mike Conway

I started working at KUSF in 1991 as a student. I am forever indebted to my fellow students, professors and the community volunteers that put so much hard work, and love into making the station what it has become. My heart is broken over this.

marlin
marlin

I started listing to KUSF in about 1981 and DJ'd college radio in the late 80's at my university (not USF)/ Until Tuesday I still tuned in to KUSF several times a week, even early Tuesday morning. But I gotta say, over the years KUSF became a sort of inbred type of organization. Rather than a continuous turnover of DJs as would be expected at a university station they had many of the same voices continously. Of the handful of USF students I know, none were actually aware that KUSF existed... But that's somewhat common for the way college stations operate.

JJ Hollingsworth
JJ Hollingsworth

I'd like to point out that the secretive "gestapo" technique that the University chose to inform both the station and the public of their unilateral decision implies a guilty conscience. They are not amoral, they knew it was wrong from the beginning. That the President of the University has gone into hiding is also revealing of cowardice.

I applaud the efforts to save the station through public appeal.

JJ Hollingsworthcomposer and sometimes broadcast guest

Daniel
Daniel

Actually, KDFC was at 102.1 FM, not 89.9. That was the frequency of a North Bay Christian station (whose call letters I don't know), which was also part of this radio reshuffle, and where KDFC is now broadcasting. San Jose's KUFX "The Fox" moves in to S.F. by taking over KDFC's old frequency at 102.1 FM.

Douglas
Douglas

Three big issues here: 1) The Rug Out From Under You style of PR USF has employed, USF is a private school. But the airwaves are public. And the students are watching. And listening, and working at the station. Why give them another reason to lose faith? 2) The fact that there exists no comparable station to the creative and eclectic KUSF music and staff, and 3) Our challenge to deal with this coherently and quickly as a civilized and connected community. At least to voice our position.

Mark Jeffries
Mark Jeffries

I guess it doesn't bother you that when the Bay CItizen did a poll of USF students, most of them had never even heard of KUSF, let alone listened to the station. If you don't even have the students listening to your station, why bother? Or are you just going to be an elitist Rock Snob and call them a bunch of morons?

Dude
Dude

no not them, just you

Dan Rowan
Dan Rowan

Public stations serve the community, not the students of their parent universities. As a KXLU dj in Los Angeles, it's widely accepted that the students at Loyola Marymount have little awareness that they are home to one of the great stations of LA.

To suggest that KUSF has no value outside of the listenership and awareness of USF students is to be ignorant of the reality of public radio. Those airwaves go everywhere and they reach the most random groups of people, something that would never happen with an online-only station.

What's happening here is an outrage.

Guest
Guest

Not to mention the secretive way the sale took place. There's a reason why it was done in private. If they honestly thought no one would object, they would have let the public have a voice in the matter, instead of literally yanking the station off the air and locking the DJ's out before anyone knew what was happening.

I myself have never gone to USF, but I love the station, and see it's irreplaceable value to the community.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Since when were education and art democratic?

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