Media Reports

CPRN responds to radio sale concerns

Thursday, April 14th, 2011 | By Marianne LeVine

The Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN), a radio station primarily owned by the University of Southern California, recently elicited concern among Stanford’s KZSU staff when it purchased KUSF from the University of San Francisco. The Cardinal station feared the possibility that Stanford’s radio station could be next on CPRN’s list—a worry that CPRN executive director Brenda Barnes said is unnecessary.
“We do want to buy a North Bay radio station, but we haven’t been looking at the Stanford station,” Barnes said. “I doubt Stanford wants to sell the station. We don’t want to take a station away from someone who doesn’t want to sell.”
Barnes revealed that although KUSF was owned by USF, most of the students at USF were unaware that the university even had a radio station. In fact, only 10 percent of those working at KUSF were students. The majority of employees were Bay Area volunteers, a significant difference between KUSF and KZSU, which is almost entirely student-run.
KZSU management discussed concerns about Stanford being sold without the knowledge of its employees in an interview with The Daily last week. These sentiments largely stemmed from the way in which negotiations took place between USF and CPRN. According to KZSU publicity director Adam Pearson, the exchange was secretive and was not made public until the decision to sell the radio station had been finalized; Barnes confirmed this statement.
“It’s true that no one knew about it until we made the announcement,” Barnes said. “When radio stations are sold, most of the time this is done under a non-disclosure agreement. The reason for that is that you don’t know that you have a deal until you have a written asset of the agreement.”
Barnes claimed that the decision to sell the radio station was made the Friday, Jan. 14, and was announced the following Tuesday.
Although KZSU told The Daily last week that CPRN’s acquisition of KUSF would be used as a guise for USC recruitment, Barnes insisted that CPRN’s purchase of KUSF was primarily motivated by a genuine desire to preserve classical music. Prior to CPRN’s purchase of KUSF, there was only one classical radio station in the Bay Area, Barnes said.
“The Bay Area is an important cultural center not only for California but for the country,” Barnes said. “In this case, the interests of KUSC and USC converge because USC has a lot of alumni and prospective students and parents and they wanted to have a bigger presence in the Bay Area, but I wanted to be certain that the Bay Area had a strong classical music station.”
Among the concerns related to CPRN’s recent acquisition of KUSF is the decision to move the transmitter to a different location, limiting KZSU’s range, including its access to the East Bay. But Barnes asserted that CPRN’s signal would not interfere with the signals or ranges of other stations in the area. She said CPRN would not have an impact on Stanford’s protected coverage area.
“We will be moving the transmitter to Marin County further away from the Stanford station,” Barnes said. “The furthest south people are going to be able to hear our station is the airport and at the airport it’s going to die off. You won’t be able to hear in San Mateo so there’s no way it’s going to get to Palo Alto, our signal will not get that far.”

The Classic Public Radio Network argued that its purchase of KUSF aimed to preserve classical music in the airwaves. This claim contradicts previous concerns that the sale would undermine KZSU's coverage. (JIN ZHU/The Stanford Daily)
In spite of the controversy regarding CPRN’s recent purchase of KUSF, Barnes said she is a strong advocate for the importance of college radio.
“I actually am not only a fan but have helped found two different stations in my career,” she added. “I don’t want to see college stations be diminished. I think they serve an important function and are such a wonderful opportunity for students to become involved in the media.”

KUSF sale may undermine KZSU
Thursday, April 7th, 2011 | By Marianne LeVine

Radio signals may be fuzzy for the Cardinal in the North Bay, where new ownership of the University of San Francisco radio station, KUSF, will move the transmitter to a high altitude location in the North Bay and significantly limit Stanford’s range of radio listeners.

KZSU programming may no longer be able to reach listeners in the North Bay communities as new owners of KUSF plan to relocate a transmitter serving that area. USC bought KUSF for $3.75 million in January. (JIN ZHU/The Stanford Daily)
“Essentially what’s going to happen is that a lot of our coverage in the East Bay and what we get in San Francisco is going to be cut off,” said J.D. Haddon ‘13, KZSU’s sports director. “We are losing a community.”
According to KZSU (Stanford) publicity director Adam Pearson ‘11, the concession of the KUSF radio signal to the Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN) in January for $3.75 million occurred behind closed doors between board members at USF and CPRN. The deal was also made without the knowledge of those in charge of the radio station’s day-to-day operations, Pearson said.
“This is an outrage not only to students who can no longer have the access to a radio station on campus and learn about broadcasting or music, but it’s more importantly an assault on the San Francisco community, which has come to appreciate and depend on the public radio services that KUSF provides,” Pearson said, adding that the price paid for KUSF is a nominal amount for the benefits it provides to the San Francisco community on a year-to-year basis.
CPRN, a corporation owned by the University of Southern California (USC) and Colorado Public Radio, purchased KUSF’s radio signal in order to spread access to classical music. But KZSU business manager Abra Jeffers, a graduate student in management science and engineering, believes there is more to the story.
“USC recently bought up stations, from Mexico to Canada, all along the coast under the guise of saving classical music,” Jeffers said. “They have publicly said that they are going to use [their radio stations] for fundraising and publicity for USC recruitment.”
In response to the change in ownership, Stanford has expressed support for the Save KUSF movement in San Francisco.

“We’re asking for letters of public support talking about concerns over this disruption in our broadcast signal and we’re asking that these be sent to us so we can file an informal objection,” Jeffers said. “Basically we’re trying to help out Save KUSF; it’s in our self-interest and an important cause.”
Jeffers revealed that CPRN is no longer classified as a non-profit due to Save KUSF efforts, and is instead considered to be a limited liability corporation. As a result of this recent change in classification, CPRN can no longer be placed on the left side of the radio dial, which is intended to be for non-commercial, educational non-profit radio stations.
Although KZSU’s present concern is with the CPRN’s recent decision to move the transmitter, USF’s decision to sell KUSF to CPRN highlights another concern among the KZSU staff: the possibility that the Stanford radio station may also be sold some time in the future. In fact, Jeffers said USC has publicly stated its desire to acquire a South Bay station.
The non-disclosure agreement between USF and USC is of particular concern for KZSU. Members of KZSU are currently discussing this matter with an intermediary board between KZSU and Stanford’s Board of Trustees. Pearson revealed, however, that communication between the intermediary board and the radio station is limited.
“Right now we’re independent, but because of our independence we wouldn’t know if we were sold,” said Pearson.
KZSU is currently in contact with the chairman of the intermediary board and plans to meet with Stanford Legal in order to discuss how to best approach this growing concern. Suggestions have been made to simply shift KZSU’s focus to online broadcasting. In spite of this suggestion, Haddon stated that this method would not reach nearly as many listeners.
“This is a huge growing problem for college radio stations,” Haddon said. “This recent situation makes it a lot more real than most people realize and really breaks the Stanford bubble.”

Show To Know
KUSF Still Isn't Saved; Help Support it by Seeing Economen This Friday
By Ian S. Port, Tue., Apr. 5 2011 @ 2:11PM

​Raise your hand if you still miss KUSF 90.3 FM. Raise your hand if you still pine for the good ol' days of earlier this year, when you could turn on a radio in San Francisco and hear a DJ who was also in San Francisco playing music by people from San Francisco.

Okay, is that everyone? Right. We thought so.

So KUSF still isn't saved, but there are things you can do to help. Save KUSF, the group of DJs and volunteers that worked at the station when it was still a real station, has been putting on near-weekly benefit events to help the cause. They're something to gather funds and keep hope alive while we all wait to hear whether the FCC will approve the sale of the station's transmitter.

The next of those events is an unusual Friday night show at Bender's Bar, entrance to which can be yours for the meager price of $5. Entertainment for the evening will be provided by the songs of the Minutemen and a former member of the Stooges. Really!

Headlining Friday's show is Economen, a well-named local tribute to the force of jazz-punk nature that was Minutemen. And although Economen are no D. Boon, Mike Watt, and George Hurley, they're still capable of slamming out the band's tightly-wound songs with gusto.

Also on the bill is Third Thursday, a local psych-rock outfit that features Steve Mackay on vocals and sax. By way credentialing, Mackay played with the Stooges and the Violent Femmes, and collaborated with J. Mascis and Mike Watt. All of which makes for a rather compelling reason to help save KUSF this Friday, doesn't it?

Tombstone at KUSF Wake on March 25. Photo: J. Waits

Friends of KUSF Respond to CPRN and USF in Latest Phase of FCC Battle
March 28th, 2011 by Jennifer Waits in classical radio, college radio, FCC, public radio

Lawyers and wordsmiths on both sides of the fight over KUSF 90.3 FM have put pen to paper, filing lengthy documents supporting their positions to either defend the purchase of KUSF by Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN), or to cast doubt on the propriety of a formerly commercial service being broadcast over a non-commercial educational station.

As those following this saga know, back on January 18 University of San Francisco (USF) shut down the transmitter for its college radio station KUSF 90.3FM. Later that day, they began piping in a simulcast of programming from commercial classical station KDFC (which at that time was airing on 102.1FM) over KUSF’s airwaves and announced that the station had been sold to Classical Public Radio Network (which is 90% owned by University of Southern California and 10% owned by Public Radio Capital).

Opposition to the proposed sale has been led largely by the group Save KUSF and has taken a number of forms including rallies, protests, letters to the FCC, and resolutions crafted by numerous politicians and by the USF Faculty Association. The most formal objections were two Petitions to Deny, which were submitted to the FCC opposing the station sale to CPRN. The group Friends of KUSF filed their Petition to Deny (PTD) on February 28 and an individual, Ted Hudacko, submitted his own Petition to Deny around the same time.

Friends of KUSF’s Petition to Deny covered a lot of ground, but several of its main claims were:

1. It’s unclear if CPRN is actually a qualified educational entity

2. Proposed program service of CPRN does not serve an educational purpose

3. University of San Francisco prematurely relinquished control of its station

4. When inspected by the public, KUSF Public File did not include required documents

5. Station Identification was not properly announced following the KUSF takeover

Following the filings of these Petitions to Deny, both USF and CPRN sent letters of opposition, citing their critiques of the PTDs and affirming their confidence in the validity of their application for the station transfer. Replies to these oppositions were submitted to the FCC by both Friends of KUSF (on Friday, March 25) and by Ted Hudacko. Both replies ask the FCC to halt the station sale, calling for a hearing in order to more thoroughly investigate the proposed sale and the parties to that sale.

Attorney Peter Franck, who is representing Friends of KUSF, stated that, “the documents filed originally, as well as the self-serving declarations of a USF administrator and a co-director of CPRN simply reveal a bootstrap attempt cover the essentially commercial nature of this transaction and of CPRN’s plans to continue the broadcast of elite oriented classical music, with no educational purpose or content.” Similarly, Ted Hudacko told me that, “The changes to KUSF-FM fundamentally eliminate all educational aspects for USF and students of all ages and destroy thoughtful and irreplaceable community and informational services for the people of San Francisco, including the under-served and disadvantaged.”

In order to put these replies into context, it’s important to take a look at the oppositions filed by both USF and CPRN. USF’s strongly worded opposition to Friends of KUSF’s Petition to Deny states,
“Petitioner’s objection to the assignment of KUSF to CPRN amounts to ‘much ado about nothing.’ The complaints are, in large part, unsubstantiated, false or entirely misplaced, and conclusively fail to raise a material and substantial question of fact.”

It goes on to argue that Friends of KUSF is not qualified to submit a Petition to Deny, stating that they don’t have standing to file a claim as they have not demonstrated an “injury in fact.” USF also states that “CPRN is fully qualified to be a non-commercial licensee.” Most notably the opposition suggests that Friends of KUSF’s concerns about localism, diversity and public interest are actually a “guise.” In the opposition USF argues,

“Petitioner disingenuously disguised its objection to the format change as matters of localism and diversity. Petitioner’s claim that the assignment of KUSF is contrary to the public interest on diversity and localism grounds is merely another red-herring; it is a ruse for a differing opinion on programming decisions and must be denied.”

USF’s opposition states that USF has maintained control of KUSF since January 18th and admits that there have been a “couple of glitches” related to transmission and on-air station identification. As far as station identification goes, USF’s opposition argues that the usage of the station name KDFC is simply branding and that “KDFC is not currently in use as a call sign by any broadcast licensee, but instead is a brand of classical music known in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be used like any other format brand.”

This point was interesting to me in that in on January 18, the day of the KUSF shut-down (and for nearly a week after), KDFC was still the call sign tied to the broadcast license of the commercial station broadcasting over 102.1 FM.

The conclusion to USF’s opposition asks for the Petition to Deny to be dismissed, stating that, “Petitioner’s allegations amount to little more than a kettle of red herring heaped upon themselves in the hopes than [sic] one of them might stink.”

Similarly, CPRN’s opposition to the Petition to Deny states that, “The Petition is riddled with false, unsupported and misleading factual contentions, straw-man arguments and half-truths, and inapposite legal citations, none of which even if on point would justify denial of the application. This assignment accords with FCC law, rule and policy; the Petition should be summarily rejected.”

While arguing that USF has maintained control of its studio for KUSF, CPRN’s opposition also admits that it still has ties with the commercial radio group, Entercom, that previously controlled KDFC. The opposition states,

“USC reached an agreement with Entercom, which was in the process of changing the classical format of its station KDFC, to acquire the KDFC call letters and its classical record library. USC paid Entercom. CPRN is leasing a studio in Entercom’s San Francisco facility from which, pursuant to its January 12, 2011 Public Service Operating Agreement with USF, CPRN provides classical programming under USF’s supervision and control. CPRN also pays Entercom technical staff for equipment maintenance at the CPRN studio. Entercom has no involvement whatsoever with CPRN’s acquisition strategy or with KUSF’s operations or management, and has never paid anything to USC or CPRN.”

They also assert that there is no evidence to support Friends of KUSF’s claim that the loss of the station “will have a devastating impact on the Bay Area’s local music and arts community,” calling this statement a “gross hyperbole,” suggesting that “CPRN, whose programming will be originated in and for San Francisco and the Bay Area, will have a dynamic and positive impact on the local arts community and complies with all FCC localism policies for NCE-FM licensees.” An included declaration by Classical Public Radio Network’s Brenda Barnes addresses this as well. She states, “…the claim that grant of the application will cause a ‘fundamental decrease in localism and diversity on Bay Area airwaves’ is erroneous —CPRN will provide the only classical-cultural radio format in the area…” The opposition also points out that the FCC recently approved the transfer of KNDL to Classical Public Radio Network, suggesting that this proves that they are a qualified non-commercial educational licensee.

CPRN’s opposition also brings up for the first time a promise of internships for USF students at Classical Public Radio Network beginning with the 2011-2012 academic year. It also mentions plans for a community advisory board and a local on-air arts magazine.

In response to these two oppositions to the Petition to Deny, Friends of KUSF filed a reply with the FCC on Friday, March 25. In the reply, Friends of KUSF argues that the oppositions by USF and CPRN show

“that the initial application was seriously deficient, by supplying (1) a wholly new legal description of the applicant; (2) a wholly new program service proposal; and (3) several wholly new window-dressing palliatives, such as the pledge to create a local advisory board. In effect the Assignee has recognized the essential truth of Petitioner’s core contention—that the applicant failed to demonstrate it was legally qualified to become a noncommercial, educational licensee. A proposal that is so fundamentally revised to attempt compliance, post-petition, requires the specification of issues and a hearing.”

It further argues that the oppositions still do not prove that “CPRN is qualified to become a noncommercial licensee, or that it will provide a noncommercial, educational broadcast service.” It points out that “no attempt is made to explain how the broadcast of classical music, by itself, satisfies any educational objective.” Additionally, it speaks to CPRN’s recent promises regarding localism, stating, “CPRN’s belated promise to address local issues in the future must be viewed alongside its lack of such programming now.”

Ted Hudacko’s reply points out that his Petition to Deny was met with no response by USF or CPRN (largely because their oppositions to Friends of KUSF argue that Hudacko’s filing had no standing). He argues that as both a KUSF listener and musician who has benefited from KUSF airplay he is qualified to formally oppose the station sale. He also cites other injured parties, including students (who lost an educational resource) and the San Francisco arts community. He states,

“This Petitioner, unacknowledged as such by USF, has suffered specific injury and damages by the elimination of the former KUSF-FM Entertainment Calendar in which performances by the Petitioner’s band, the Economen, were announced on-air and promotional tickets were given away. Friends of KUSF includes numerous artists, filmmakers and musicians whose careers have suffered harm as the direct consequence of no longer having KUSF-FM broadcast their musical compositions and recordings or announce their live appearances and screenings at local venues.”

Included in Hudacko’s reply are statements from other musicians, as well as from representatives from numerous music venues, all arguing that the loss of KUSF has impacted their work and business due to the loss of not only airplay of certain artists, but also because of the severing of underwriting announcements, the end of the on-air Entertainment Calendar, and the demise of ticket giveaways to local shows.

In an attached exhibit to the reply, Anthony Bedard, the Talent Buyer for Hemlock Tavern states:

“Just the promotional tickets alone accounted for a minimum of 2,400 people per year (200 per month) in increased attendance at our shows. The loss of clientele due to the lack of local radio play of artists performing at the Hemlock combined with the loss of vital free public concert calendar listings is demonstrably hurting our business. We have experienced a 10-20% drop-off in show attendance in the two months since KUSF-FM 90.3 went off the air.”

Hudacko also suggests that USF has ceded control of the station to CPRN, stating that KUSF General Manager Steve Runyon “has reported that he is currently locked out of the transmitter room” and pointing out that there are questions as to whether or not newly appointed KUSF Chief Operator Michael Bloch “is qualified, knowledgeable or empowered enough to be considered the station’s Chief Operator beyond his holding the title and administering the Public File.”

Hudacko also brings up USF/CPRN’s claims that the Petitions to Deny were concerned with simply a format change, arguing that this is untrue, especially in light of the large amount of classical music programming played on KUSF (15-20 hours a week) prior to the “format change” on January 18. He argues that, “…in fact what has been done has been the termination of an actual noncommercial educational broadcast service and replacement of it with a crypto-commercial station with no direct educational function run by the same individuals who only one day earlier were running commercial classical KDFC 102.1.”

Now it’s up to the FCC to navigate through the various arguments posed by Friends of KUSF, USF, and CPRN. If the proposed sale of KTRU at Rice University is any indication, it could still be a long fight. KTRU’s sale to University of Houston is still pending FCC approval following several Petitions to Deny, oppositions, and replies. Paperwork for that sale was originally submitted to the FCC back in November 2010.

KUSF in Exile Now Streaming Thanks to WFMU

Denise Sullivan published on March 25, 2011

From the streets of Dogpatch to the beaches of the Sunset and the Richmond, over in West Portal where the L Taraval rolls, and way out in the Ingleside and Excelsior districts, the people of San Francisco have been missing their daily dose of KUSF. The City’s KUSF-dedicated citizens know that Rice-A-Roni is no San Francisco treat; they would sooner survive on a diet of Folk Law, Ragtime Machine and In The Soul Kitchen with Harry D. Now mercifully, for the KUSF-starved, good news came this week in the form of KUSF in Exile, now streaming thanks to the the folks at WFMU who donated some of their bandwidth to the imperiled station. In conjunction with the work of a coalition of Save KUSF DJs, community support, a California State Senator and an impressive list of musicians including members of Yo La Tengo, Neutral Milk Hotel and the Stooges, KUSF in Exile is now broadcasting online from a makeshift studio in the Bayview District. As the station’s volunteer staff awaits the FCC’s decision on the sale and the transfer of KUSF’s FM broadcast license to media conglomerate Entercom, the University of Southern California and its classical music-programmed, KDFC, the Save KUSF contingent contend that the sale doesn’t serve community interests. Not only do these entities not know the difference between Alice Coltrane and Alice Cooper (which isn’t exactly the point), but more precisely, they don’t speak the language of the diverse community and listenership KUSF represents. However, since our last report on the KUSF imbroglio, there have been some positive developments in the effort to increase awareness of the plight of the station which is by no means exclusive to KUSF and the SF Bay Area; station closures and defunding are the issue of the day in public broadcasting and college radio. Both WRVU at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and KTRU at Rice University in Houston are running similar campaigns to save their stations from sales. Ultimately, the DJs of KUSF would like the opportunity to match the funds and take possession of the station themselves so that they may continue to fulfill the station’s original broadcast mandate as a community service outlet. And it’s in this matter of turning a college station into listener-supported radio where WFMU fits in: formerly associated with Upsala College in East Orange, NJ and serving Western New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and New York City, FMU as it’s known, has been listener-supported since the ’80s (and currently in the midst of their own annual fundraiser).

Last month the WFMU crew arranged a 25 college station in solidarity simulcast of the first KUSF in Exile event at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. KUSF DJS Schmeejay, Irwin, Carolyn and Harry D, among others, returned to the airwaves with their unique personalities and eclectic sides. Simulcast for three hours from coast to coast, it’s archived here, along with all the KUSF podcasts since. You can also watch it. And now daily there’s the equally delicious jams emanating from KUSF in Exile online, alongside an expanding list of fresh programming. The broadcasts also help continue to spread the word about the ongoing efforts to save the award-winning community resource.

In addition to Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum and Iggy and the Stooges saxman Steve MacKay, groups diverse as the classically inclined Kronos Quartet, Krautrock’s Faust and freak folks Vetiver, have all come out publicly in support of KUSF retaining its established frequency and studio space. The coalition to Save KUSF received another boost last month when California State Senator Leland Yee (D–SF) threw his support their way in a letter to University of San Francisco President, the Reverend Stephen Privett, urging the University to do the right thing in the final days preceding the station’s review by the FCC. Last week the federal agency blocked a request toward the repositioning of the station’s transmitter from USF to Marin. Though it’s a separate issue from the sale and transfer, the Save KUSF group perceive it as a win, as it keeps the mothership intact.

So for now, and until a final verdict is reached, the heartbeat of SF has returned to its cafes, hair salons, cubicles and Victorian flats, from Cow Hollow to Mission Rock. There’s hardly another spot on the dial where you’ll find such a broad spectrum of programming, from legal advice, a Scott Joplin rag and a Willie Mitchell production all in one day—except maybe WFMU to whom KUSF fans say, thank you. To download the KUSF stream and for more information, visit KUSF in Exile, and tune in as college radio bands together to turn this thing around.

Students Hold Wake for KUSF
USF Student at the KUSF Wake

March 25th, 2011 by Jennifer Waits in college radio, consolidation, public radio

As the battle over the future of college radio station KUSF continues, students at University of San Francisco (USF) expressed their displeasure over the proposed station sale by holding a wake on the lawn outside of a USF Board of Trustees meeting at noon today.

Mourning students dressed in black held forth in front of tomb stones emblazoned with the words KUSF and KUSF 90.3 FM scrawled in red paint.

The quiet, peaceful protest took place as an adjunct to a recently held teach-in. Students pointed out that they had not been given a meeting with USF President Stephen Privett, so it was important for them to express their sentiments about the station sale to the Board of Trustees in a “silent and dramatic” manner, according to sophomore Elizabeth Schweizer. It was hoped that board members would see the tombstones and protesters as they entered or left their meeting. Additionally, some students attempted to deliver materials related to the KUSF shut-down to the Board and were turned away by campus security.

The future of KUSF is in the hands of both the administration of USF and the FCC. Following the station shut-down on January 18, Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN) filed paperwork with the FCC in order to gain approval to purchase the station. That application to purchase KUSF has been with the FCC for about two months and was met with opposition by Friends of KUSF, who filed a Petition to Deny the transfer of ownership application on February 28th. In the meantime, USF/CPRN requested permission from the FCC to move the KUSF transmitter off-campus to a site north of San Francisco. That request was denied by the FCC and it looks like USF/CPRN will refile with different parameters. Save KUSF continues to work diligently to spread the word about the plight of the station. They’ve held numerous events, DJ nights, and co-presents and are also actively fundraising in order to pay for legal bills.

The students at the protest today have strong ties with KUSF as many of them were DJs prior to the shutdown and a few are continuing to do shows at or at the recently launched KUSF in Exile (link opens a live stream). Elizabeth told me that for her KUSF has been a “family tradition,” since not only was she a DJ, but her father has been on KUSF’s engineering staff for more than 33 years.

March 20,2011
When it announced plans to sell off 34 year old KUSF back in January the University of San Fransisco set off a series of events, perhaps, it was not expecting. Station volunteers have been rallying and protesting and raising money every since to try to keep the community station on the air. The plan was to change the delivery method of KUSF to online only and sell the station. It's become a bit of a headache, to say the least, for the University.
The save KUSF Facebook page is now up to 8,600 people. And now The New York Times has penned a piece entitled "Battle Rages Over a College Radio Station’s Sale" this past weekend giving a little more credence to the effort to stop the sale. The paper writes "with a dedicated core group of around 30 volunteers, Save KUSF has mounted a spirited campaign against the station’s $3.75 million sale to the Classical Public Radio Network, a nonprofit largely owned by the University of Southern California.

With 14 Radio Stations Simulcasting, KUSF in Exile Amoeba SF Instore Was Historic Event

Last Friday afternoon's Save KUSF themed KUSF In Exile Amoeba Music San Francisco instore featured half-hour sets by six popular DJs from the recently ousted, much beloved San Francisco radio station. It was a history making event in which fourteen non-commercial radio stations across the nation all simulcast the WFMU New Jersey remote broadcast live. The event was also streamed on with a live video stream on As DJs Schmeejay, Irwin, Harry D, Jantine B, Carolyn, and Stereo Steve spun vinyl sets, dropping in classic KUSF IDs in between songs, with myself and WFMU co-host Gaylord Fields MC'ing the event, California radio stations in the Bay Area, Davis, and LA, in tandem with radio stations in seven other states across the US simultaneously carried the broadcast both terrestrially and via their respective online streams. These stations included many left of the dial college stations fearful of a
similar fate in this current economic climate in which universities have been selling off their FM stations for a quick cash fix with no regard to the importance of the role that their stations play in their respective communities.

Exactly one month earlier, on Jan 18th, KUSF radio, as everyone knew and loved it, was quietly put to sleep when the plug was pulled midway during DJ Schmeejay's Tuesday morning show. On that date the FM terrestrial signal's owners (the University of San Francisco) ceded control of the 90.3FM frequency to CPRN (Classical Public Radio Network), who have since been broadcasting classical station KDFC on the FM frequency once synonymous with eclectic freeform programming. In the past month there have been countless events organized to protest this deal, which still needs to be approved by the FCC.

In addition to the six DJs spinning sets at Amoeba last week, many other celebrated KUSF DJs were also in the house, including Tomas, David Bassin, The Germ, and Steve The Creep. Starting at noon (local Pacific time) New Jersey's WFMU broadcast the Haight Street Amoeba event; in turn, 13 other radio stations picked up that feed and re-broadcast it, putting their normal programming on hold for three hours in an unprecedented show of solidarity for KUSF. Stations included KZSU Stanford, KFJC Los Altos Hills, KALX Berkeley, and KSCU Santa Clara, as well as KDVS Davis and two Los Angeles stations, KXLU and KXSC. Across the country radio stations broadcasting the event included WREK Atlanta, GA, WXYC Chapel Hill, NC, WCBN Ann Arbor, Michigan, KVRX Austin, TX, KRFP Moscow, Idaho, and WITC Cazenovia, NY.

The name for the broadcast, KUSF In Exile, is also the name that the KUSF DJs plan for their soon to launch online version of KUSF that the displaced KUSF DJs will stream 24/7 via WFMU's website. Basically the plan is to set up KUSF in new studios somewhere in SF and start broadcasting shows online first, until the protest with the FCC over the signal transfer is won and KUSF is back on the FM dial. As the
Save KUSF organizers pointed out recently on a Facebook update, "We can't buy back our radio station without fierce legal representation. We are bolstering our army of pro bono lawyers with a few key paid FCC specialists to deliver the terminal blow to this rotten USF/USC/Entercom deal." The update went on to direct people to where they can make tax-deductible donations in this fight.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors already voiced their feelings on the USF deal when they recently voted 8 to 3 in disapproval of the transfer of the station's FM signal. Now the Save KUSF organization is appealing to the FCC. They have also been busy mobilizing former listeners & supporters of KUSF to submit their own letters of disapproval to the FCC. The cutoff date for Save KUSF supporters to write a letter to the FCC is this tomorrow, Friday. Here's a link to an outline of what to submit to the FCC. You may also forward your letter to Michael Bloch, who will be submitting an entire public folder to the FCC by Friday, Feb 25th so that it arrives by Saturday, Feb 26th.

Back in the nineties WFMU radio went through its own battle when it fought and won its independence from New Jersey's Upscala College. WFMU station manager Ken Freedman was the orchestrator of that deal that resulted in WFMU becoming its own independent entity, one that is 100% listener supported and
completely non-commercial. Last week Freedman flew out to San Francisco to meet with the Save KUSF organizers and their lawyers to offer his advice, plus allowing the KUSF DJs in exile a place on the WFMU website stream to do their shows in the meantime.

With the overwhelming show of support Save KUSF has already witnessed, a victory in this battle seems quite likely. As so many are quick to point out, the $3.75 million sale price placed by the university as the station's value is by no means an unobtainable figure for supporters of such a beloved radio station to raise if they work hard enough and reach out to the right people (ones with deep pockets). That love for 90.3FM was quite evident last Friday at Amoeba SF as the KUSF DJs did their thing, playing amazing music sets. As co-host Gaylord Fields, who called the long list of radio stations showing support for KUSF "an honor roll," noted, "What could have easily and quickly turned into a bitter spitefest was instead a display of fantastic radio that shows, not tells, the wicked folly of the university's shutdown and sale."
For general info on the battle to restore KUSF to the FM airwaves visit and the Save KUSF Facebook page. And to listen back to the KUSF in Exile Amoeba SF instore, go to the WFMU archives.


As you may have already heard, on January 18th, the doors of KUSF were closed without warning. For those who don’t know, KUSF was/is a free form and influential non-commercial radio station operating out of San Francisco since 1963. It came as a complete and total surprise to all staff and DJs that the station was sold—they were literally locked out with all of their belongings and music inside. The University of San Francisco axed the broadcast of KUSF that day and sold the license and frequency to a classical music broadcast originating in Southern California.

This was a total tragedy for everyone involved, but there’s still a chance to lend your support. KUSF has submitted a resolution to the San Francisco board of supervisors, they’ve petitioned the FCC to halt the sale of the station, and they are raising money for legal defense in the proceedings. They will also need to buy back their music library, and if all else fails, they will make efforts to find a new transmitter, frequency, and licensing.

You can help KUSF, and support a station that has long championed and helped cultivate independent music in the bay area. The deadline to petition the FCC is 2.25.11, so you still have time. Visit SaveKUSF online for a petition outline.

KUSF “DJs In Exile” spin in simulcast radio show at Amoeba Records

by DJ Rubble
Sunday Feb 20th, 2011 3:38 PM

Several of the KUSF DJs - “DJs in Exile” since being shut and locked out of their station 90.3FM San Francisco a month ago in a big money corporate sale - spun live last Friday, February 18 at Amoeba Records in the Upper Haight. The show was simulcast on popular New Jersey FM music radio station WFMU and also picked live by up by about 10-15 other stations locally and nationally. KUSF is fighting at the community and FCC level to reverse this sale and maintain its dial space. Hear several excerpts from the spirited show. DJs I heard include Irwin, Carolyn, Stereo Steve, and Harry D. The entire three hour show can be found with high quality audio on Less than a week remains to write letters to USF administrators and the FCC opposing the sale, instructions are on (28 minutes)

No station has been able to overturn a deal like this, a national trend of big-money conglomerates buying small budget, small dial space stations for bloated prices and corporatizing even the non-commercial section of the FM dial. The FCC needs to be inundated with letters - about a million letters in opposition stopped a further media deregulation that had been proposed as a “done deal” in 2003 - to set the stage for a formal review and hearing to oppose the sale and license transfer. After the FCC comment period ends, KUSF will file a request to deny the sale. This will require the formal FCC review instead of rubber stamping it as passed on arrival as they typically do.

KUSF is looking to raise something with $25-50,000 for a team of lawyers to represent the station. They've raised over $10,000 alread and will push for a formal hearing. They and two of the SF Board of Supervisors continue to work to dialogue with the University President and other top administrators, but there has been no cooperation and a clampdown of information on campus. Only canned lines put forth by the school's press bureaucrat are allowed.

The issue has caught on in the mainstream press and through independent radio stations nationwide. KUSF has an incredibly extensive and diverse music library, which drives the diverse music programming. The University owns it. If this is lost to the station and community, it can’t readily be replaced. The way this Father Privett is operating, I could see them selling it to a used record store of something, or just destroying it. The KUSF community is continuing small community events around the city and working towards a rally on campus while the school is in full session.

KUSF Volunteers Call in the Troops

New Jersey's freeform station WFMU in town for simulcast at Amoeba, as lawyers ready petition to block the station's sale
By REYHAN HARMANCI on February 18, 2011 - 10:38 a.m. PST

What a difference a month makes. On January 18th, the University of San Francisco unceremoniously unplugged its 34-year old radio station, KUSF, promising that there would be a smooth format change from broadcasting at 90.3 FM to streaming online only.

Instead, volunteers alongside some USF students have mounted a fierce campaign to galvanize political support, raise money for legal fees and call in favors from KUSF fans all over the country.

Well-known musicians such as Kronos Quartet and Yo La Tengo have chimed in, as have national publications like Pitchfork and the LA Times.

Starting at noon, freeform powerhouse WFMU from New Jersey will be hosting a three-hour simulcast at Amoeba Records on Haight Street. This show, anchored by WFMU DJ Billy Jam will feature half-hour sets from KUSF folks like Irwin Swirnoff, one of the leaders of the Save KUSF effort and DJ Schmeejay, aka Howard Ryan, whose show was interrupted when KUSF cut the transmitter.

Locally, KALX of Berkeley and KZSU from Stanford will be broadcasting the programming as well as WXYC in New York, WCBN in Michigan, WITC in Wisconsin and many more. (Full list here.)

This is only one of the ways the acclaimed WFMU has been helping KUSF. WFMU program director Ken Freedman spent the bulk of the week in San Francisco, meeting with KUSF volunteers to strategize about its future. The SF station's situation is somewhat analagous to what happened to WFMU: when the college that founded WFMU, Upsala, went bankrupt, it appealed to the community for support. WFMU was able to buy back its signal and discovered how to integrate online programming into its work much sooner than other stations. (It was the first radio station to offer live streaming to iPhones, for example.)

But as Freedman said, WFMU had some advantages that KUSF doesn't. "Our situation was very, very different. When we became independent of the college that owned us, I spent six years preparing for that. I saw it coming from a long way away," he said.

"We were not taken by surprise, as KUSF was, although, perhaps in retrospect, KUSF should have seen it coming."

Although WFMU has worked hard to establish its presence online, Freedman said that he thought it was important for a radio station to broadcast over the airwaves. Right now, much of KUSF's effort is focused on stopping the sale of its signal: they have raised about $15,000 (not counting money from benefit shows or t-shirt sales) for pay for lawyers to write a petition with the FCC to block the sale of the station, which it will file next week. Another $10,000 is needed for that effort.

And political support keeps rolling in. In addition to the SF Board of Supervisor's resolution and a statement passed by the SF Democratic Party, possible mayoral candidate and State Senator Leland Yee wrote a letter this week, highlighting the contribution of community-based programs like Chinese Star Radio, to the public.

It's hard to say what the future holds for KUSF. Volunteer Kenya Lewis said that there 100 or so core volunteers working on efforts to save the station, and that number is joined by around 7,400 Facebook fans, who have generated 1.4 million hits on the page. While efforts now are focused on the FCC decision to approve or deny the sale, she said that there are already plans "in the background" for other directions for the community radio station to go in. Of all the local noncommercial stations, Lewis said that "KUSF is only one that makes local progamming its main focus." People want, she continued, "SF to sound like SF."

Radio Dazed-Give the Mic Back To KUSF DJs Forced Off The Air
Jennifer Maerz

The university sold its license for the radio frequency 90.3 FM to a classical station  owned by the University of Southern California, sent armed guards to the station, locked the DJs out of a collection of records they’d spent decades building, and wiped its hands of the situation. Supposedly there’s a plan for KUSF to hobble along online, but at this point those efforts are laughable. 
KUSF has an impressive 34-year-old history of volunteer-run programming. Through its regular shows and Sunday spotlights, the DJs seamlessly connected San Francisco to a larger, international music spectrum. Testimonials to the station’s importance as a curatorial force have been posted to the Save KUSF Facebook page over the last month.
I’ve been addicted to KUSF since first moving here in ’96. I’m one of those nerds who listened online at work all day during the week and to the radio at nights and on weekends. I feel strongly that USF can’t just wipe out this amazing cultural resource.  
So although the press has been far from quiet on KUSF’s struggles, I want to put the faces of the DJs fighting for the station’s survival before music lovers once again. Support the station at whatever level works for you: Check out the Do It Yourself section for details.

KUSF Shows: 

DJ Harry D
In The Soul Kitchen (2000–present); Treasures Untold (1984–2000)

Styles of music you play:
All styles of soul/funk, blues, New Orleans R&B/funk/Mardi Gras/Indian music; jazz from hard bop to the future; ska/roots reggae, Latin, African, and select world music

Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years:
Almost 5,000 hours (2 hours minimum of prep time per show x 2 hours on the air x 45 shows minimum per year x 27 years = 4,860)

What you love most about KUSF:
The diversity of the music plus the passion and knowledge both DJs and other program producers/hosts bring to their shows.

DJ Irwin 
Sleeves on Hearts 

Styles of music you play: Connecting the dots throughout the musical map 
Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: Countless!   
What you love most 
about KUSF:  
The diversity of programming, the community it fosters, the spirit and soul it’s filled with.  

DJ Jantine B
Hot Wax Wednesday  

Styles of music you play: 
Tender drones, far-out soul, disco heat, Stereolab, and Neil Young 
Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: 2,333 
What you love most 
about KUSF: That it can transmit in my beautiful hometown of San Francisco; its 34-year history of commitment to audio anarchy and free-form freedom; its wild bunch of dedicated and talented DJs.    

DJ Andre
The Mixed Bag 

Styles of music you play:  
Funk, punk, rock, and soul 
Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: 10–15 hours a week 
What you love most about KUSF: Being on air, working with like-minded people, learning about local music, rediscovering old music, going to shows for free, networking, and just working with the local music community copresenting shows and working at those shows.    

DJ Stereo Steve
The Stereo Steve Show/KUSF Guest DJ Hour 

Styles of music you play:  
Free-form mix of rock, jazz, electronic, indie, punk, metal, new wave, psychedelic, funk 
Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: Over 9,000!!! 
What you love most about KUSF: The opportunity to foist my odd vision of how different types of music fit together upon an enthusiastic and open-minded audience, and being part of a local community that was bigger than the sum of its parts, that's what made KUSF special for me.

DJ Fari
Classical Salon (a show playing mostly classical music that is not aired on commercial radio stations). 
Francofun (new music from France, Quebec, Belgium, Switzerland, and other francophone countries plus cultural news). 
Guitar Journeys (instrumental guitar show of all styles of classical, jazz, blues, finger style). 
Havaye Tazeh, a cultural Persian show (new music from Iran). 

Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: I have produced and hosted close to 800 shows. I would say I put at least one hour per each hour of the show, so at least 800 hours; 1,200 would probably be more like it. 
What you love most 
about KUSF: To just list a few things, what I loved most was that it had content that you couldn't easily hear on any other station; that it was more a community radio station than a college station; that it was casual and none of the hosts sounded like commercial stations, and you could make mistakes and it didn't bother anybody; that it represented our diverse community with a great diverse programming; and that it promoted all the bands and musicians that nobody aired; and many other things... 

Tuesdays, noon to 3 p.m.

Styles of music you play:
Garage, punk, and trash
Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: 5,000+
What you love most
about KUSF: The spontaneity. Being independent, free-form, and noncommercial allows for the most interesting segues, combinations, and mistakes. KUSF always sounds more real than commercial radio.

KUSF show(s): 
Tuesdays, noon to 3 p.m.   
Styles of music you play: 
Garage, punk, and trash    
Number of hours you estimate you've put into your shows over the years: 5,000+  
What you love most 
about KUSF: The spontaneity. Being independent, free-form, and noncommercial allows for the most interesting segues,  combinations, and mistakes. KUSF always sounds more real than commercial radio. 

There are a number of ways you can step up and support KUSF. Like its   Save KUSF Facebook page; post video and photo testimonials there.   Donate to KUSF to help retain lawyers to fight the sale of 90.3 FM all the way to the FCC. Send a complaint  about the sale of KUSF to USF Assistant Dean of Social Sciences Michael Bloch. Attend Save KUSF events, which are happening on a regular basis at this point.

Jersey City radio station WFMU to help save shut-down station KUSF
By Summer Dawn Hortillosa/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City-based WFMU 91.1 FM will be one of several stations around the country broadcasting from Amoeba Records on 1855 Haight Street in San Francisco today in the fight to save shut-down station KUSF.
DJs from KUSF 90.3 FM will broadcast live on WFMU, KZSU (Stanford, 90.1 FM), KFJC (Foothill College, 89.7 FM) and more.
Former KUSF DJ Billy Jam, now at WFMU, organized the event and will host it along with WFMU's Gaylord Fields.
KUSF was shut down on Jan. 18 when the University of San Francisco announced it was selling the broadcast license for the station and abruptly turned the signal at 90.3 FM
over to the University of Southern California's Classical Public Radio Network.
KUSF is hoping to file a petition to deny the pending license transfer with the FCC.

Listen to the KUSF Simulcast From Amoeba Music

February 18, 2011, 6:02 pm • Posted by Jon Brooks

Update 6:02 p.m. An archive of today's show is now up at the KUSF Archives. DJ Schmeejay opened up the show by calling it "KUSF in Exile."
Earlier post
Could today be The Last Waltz for KUSF?
College stations around the country today hosted a solidarity simulcast for their erstwhile San Francisco radio cohorts, the DJs who were unceremoniously dropped from the airwaves when KUSF was sold by the University of San Francisco as part of a complicated series of local radio transactions. The station then went online-only, a switchover that has been a less than overwhelming success. Meanwhile, the SF Public Press reports that Classical Public Radio Network, which bought the university's broadcasting license, has filed a request with the FCC to relocate the school's transmitter to Sausalito.
But today it was all about DJs Irwin (from the Sleeves on Hearts show), Carolyn, Stereo Steve, Jantine B., Harry D. (In The Soul Kitchen), and DJ Schmeejay (Radiodrome). They were heard spinning records online at the WFMU Jersey City and other station web sites. The DJs spun live from Amoeba Records in San Francisco.
If you want to get a taste of the free-form radio practiced by KUSF since 1977, check out the KUSF archives page. Past shows are archived in the right-hand column near the middle of the page.

WFMU/Amoeba Records Producing Special KUSF Show

In honor of the greatness that was (and hopefully will soon again be) San Francisco's KUSF 90.3FM, New Jersey's WFMU radio will turn over its airwaves to some of KUSF's finest DJs for a special live 3-hour remote radio broadcast from Amoeba Music San Francisco on February 18th. Former KUSF DJ and current WFMU DJ Billy Jam will engineer while music sets are spun by KUSF DJs Irwin, Carolyn, Stereo Steve, Jantine, and DJ Schmeejay who was in the middle of his show last month when the plug (literally) was pulled on the 90.3FM transmitter.

Additionally these DJs, all active in the fight to Save KUSF, will talk about the latest in the ongoing battle to return the Bay Area institution that is KUSF to its rightful place on the FM dial. There will also be a KUSF information table set up by the Amoeba stage area where the live broadcast will take place. Amoeba Music is located at 1855 Haight St., San Francisco, CA 94117. The broadcast will take place on Friday, February 18th noon to 3pm local San Francisco time.

It will be broadcast live back in Jersey City's WFMU studios on 91.1FM in the NY & NJ areas as well as streamed online at wfmu dot org

Editor's Note...This is also Stereo Steve's birthday.

University of San Francisco aims to move transmitter quickly following KUSF sale

By Mineko Brand
SF Public Press
Feb 16 2011 - 6:43pm

Even as supporters the University of San Francisco’s radio station race to file a petition with the federal regulators to block the sale of its frequency, the school and a nonprofit group called Classical Public Radio Network are moving quickly relocate the station’s transmitter off campus.

Dismissing critics of the recent dismantling of the student- and community-run radio station, USF and the radio network filed their own petition this week to move the transmitter to Sausalito, requesting speedy approval.

Those opposed to the sale include community activists, the university’s Faculty Association and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, especially District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Both groups have passed resolutions opposing the sale.

Under the $3.75 million deal, the new station would change formats from KUSF’s unrepentant eclectic assemblage of world music and public affairs to classical music.

The university’s request to the Federal Communications Commission asks permission to move its radio transmitter so that “the license will be transferred to an entity not controlled by the university.”

The application acknowledges the controversy around the sale, and proposes physically separating the broadcast equipment from the campus as soon as possible. “Due to the sensitive nature of the license transfer, the proposed assignee wishes to maintain better control of access to the transmitter and antenna which now must be handled through USF security personnel.”

Gary McDonald, associate vice president for public affairs and media relations for the university, said the school made the right decision, and rejects the various resolutions against the sale.

McDonald said the supervisors’ vote “is a nonbinding resolution, which means it has no bearing whatsoever.”

“We legally can’t reverse the deal,” he said. “If we were to walk away from this, we could be sued for millions.”

Organizers with a group calling itself Save KUSF met with Ken Freedman of Jersey City’s WFMU on Tuesday night to discuss how to handle FCC paperwork opposing the pending sale. They have fewer than 10 days left to file their petition to deny the transfer of the license for 90.3 FM to the University of Southern California-owned Classical Public Radio Network.

Freedman was part of WFMU at Upsala College in East Orange, N.J., when the school went bankrupt in 1995. Along with other staff and volunteers who had been running the station, Freedman created a nonprofit that bid on the frequency in competition with 15 other organizations.

“It’s a process that can get really long and drawn out,” Freedman warned KUSF supporters, among them former volunteers. He said that in addition to the petition to deny the transfer of license, they can also petition to deny the transmitter relocation. Their opponents, however, can also appeal any denials.

After five years of bidders filing back and forth against each other before the FCC, Freedman and his group ultimately emerged with their frequency, 91.1 FM.

The University of San Francisco’s application also includes a “consolidated engineering statement” acknowledging that the transmitter move could create interference problems with two other college radio stations, Berkeley’s KALX 90.7 FM and KZSU, Stanford’s 90.1 FM.

“In some parts of the Bay, KALX is going to get more interference from KUSF,” said Todd Urick, program and technical director of Common Frequency, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting college and community radio stations. “The interference that’s meaningful in this is maybe KALX listeners in Marin County.”

But Urick said he was also concerned about the Stanford station, even though the application said it is unlikely to affect many households, because “any overlap between the protected and interfering contours of KUSF and KZSU is over the San Francisco Bay.”

“It’s important to understand what the term ‘interference’ means in relation to FCC rules, or in relation to what a listener experience is,” Urick said. He explained that college stations have many “fringe” listeners, which means that they listen to the station outside of the protected signal area, defined by what engineers call “signal contours.”

“According to FCC rules, they wouldn’t be interfering with KZSU’s protected contour, but they would be infringing on the fringe listeners who might be listening to KZSU outside of the protected contours,” Urick said.

Keeping The Fight Alive For KUSF

USF Alumni Ty Segall playing at a Save KUSF rally. Photo from Save KUSF.

Jennifer Maerz Feb 16, 2011, 10:02am

It's almost been a month since USF forced my favorite station, KUSF, off the air, and man, I miss it! It's not the same, trying to download Stereo Steve's podcasts, or streaming random DJ archives online. I feel pretty lost without this eclectic bunch of awesome music nerds bringing me daily doses of garage, disco, indie, psych, vintage reggae, blues, jazz, and tons of other stuff.

There is hope for the future of the station, though. Interest in the plight of KUSF has grown beyond local press and community activists. Pitchfork and the LA Times have weighed in on the importance of the station, and Sen. Leland Yee wrote a letter in support of KUSF this week, saying there is "deep concern with the way the proposed sale of the station has been handled."

On Friday, The Bold Italic will be adding our voice to the growing Save KUSF collective with a featured photo essay on some of the DJs fighting to keep this community resource alive. I'm excited to highlight some of the faces who've been bringing creative music programming to San Francisco for a couple decades.

The end of the week also brings good news for people who want a little glimpse of KUSF online. Jersey City's esteemed WFMU has been talking up the harsh silencing of its sister station, and on Friday they'll turn over their airwaves to our DJs from 12-3 p.m. This special broadcast, live from Amoeba Music on Haight Street, will feature DJs Irwin, Carolyn, Stereo Steve, Jantine B, and DJ Schmeejay. So this week you can put a face to a name in more ways than one.

Thanks to all the KUSF DJs working to keep this killer resource around. And remember to help Save KUSF.

College Radio: You Will Be Assimilated

Tracy Rosenberg

Like the B-52's? Metallica? The White Stripes?

You might have never heard of them if not for KUSF, the venerable San Francisco college radio station that first played their music.

College radio is part of the diverse package of community media voices around the country that with spit-and-glue budgets, volunteer energy and a handful of overworked staff, keep bits of the television and radio waves open to the public, while training millions of young people in technology and how to use it.

These do-it-yourself outlets, which have survived for decades with an open door policy, often feature unique and eclectic formats inspired by the passions and talents of the surrounding community. At the University of San Francisco for the past thirty years, that has often meant the city's flourishing and influential music scene, one of the most vital in the country.

KUSF hasn't gone unnoticed. Besides a lofty alumni list of musical talent that later became household names, KUSF also broadcast public affairs programming in 9 different languages, weekly broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera and other random niches rarely served by larger broadcasters, and received commendations from a hit parade of local and national institutions including the United States Senate, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, American Women in Radio and Television, The National Association of College Broadcasters, The United Way, the San Francisco Weekly, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and SF mayors Willie Brown, Jr. and Dianne Feinstein,

Sounds like a community media success story.

But KUSF broadcast for the last time on January 18, 2011. Howard Ryan, a former DJ, describes the events of that day:

"I turned around to see Trista Bernasconi, KUSF Program Director, standing in the doorway of the studio. She asked me to step outside, and looked upset. I went over and she told me: This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. The station has been sold, and I have to turn the transmitter off. I looked behind me into Studio A and the signal was already gone as my record continued to play silently on Turntable One."
I could end this story in the most conventional of ways: large corporation buys scrappy but financially challenged community institution and adds it to growing pile of investments. We've all seen that play out. Corporate media consolidation is not an untold tale.

But what happened to KUSF and Rice University station KTRU and about two dozen other college radio stations in the last decade wasn't a corporate takeover. Their licenses were absorbed into public media or NPR, assisted by the public media financial leveraging firm Public Radio Capital.

Public Radio Capital has been around for about a decade, an initiative arising from the Station Resource Group. A planning document left up on the net drew my attention with a sentence it contained:

"With virtually all FM channels in well-populated areas already assigned, the only option is to obtain outlets from those who already have them, including commercial, religious, and educational broadcasters outside the public radio system."
Educational broadcasters outside the public radio system include a large variety of college-based and community-based stations that criss-cross the country, including the 5-station and 150-affiliate Pacifica Radio Network.

Every year, the public and community media family sing kumbaya at annual conferences like the National Federation for Community Broadcasters or the bi-annual National Conference on Media Reform, where independent, alternative, community-based and public interest media are saluted for their roles as antidotes to the lack of credibility of the commercial and corporately-owned networks, the cable giants and the radio empires of Clear Channel, Infinity and Entercom.

Seemingly united around shared values of localism and diversity, one hates to think that behind the solidarity is a plan for the long-term absorption of all licenses outside the master ship.

At this time, when public media financing is facing serious challenges in Washington, and all hands on deck are needed to help preserve what little public interest media we have, perhaps we need to redefine the private financing needs as Community Radio Capital and the challenge as leveraging the financial resources to keep educational and community-based broadcasters, NPR-affiliated or not, right where they are, servicing their unique neighborhoods and developing formats and programming priorities that are as varied and diverse as the local places they inhabit.

After all, if there's a million channels and they're all playing the same thing all day, what have we gained?

Somebody's got to take a chance with the B-52's.

San Francisco Indie Scene Fights to Save KUSF

Posted by Tom Breihan on February 14, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.

Last month, the University of San Francisco shut down KUSF, the community radio station that had been broadcasting from the University since 1963, as The Los Angeles Times reports. The University had sold the station's frequency to the Classical Public Radio Network, owned by the University of Southern California, for $3.75 million. As the the Save KUSF website points out, the sale took place behind closed doors, without any warning.

The station held an important place in the hearts of San Francisco underground music fans for decades, playing music that rarely made it to mainstream airwaves. According to Save KUSF, it was one of the first stations to play punk rock, as well as local bands such as Metallica and Primus.

KUSF's fans have reacted angrily to the sale. There have been protests on the USF campus and at City Hall, and the Save KUSF website has been urging the University to cancel the station's sale and the FCC to block the frequency's transfer. The East Bay Express reports that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted last week to protest the sale. In the meantime, the station has moved online. Thanks to Ezra Feinberg of Citay for the tip.

Last week, the great rock critic Ann Powers wrote a long and moving elegy for KUSF in The Los Angeles Times; check that out here. And below, check out a video of Bay Area garage rock fixture and former KUSF DJ Ty Segall performing at a pro-KUSF demonstration at San Francisco's City Hall last week.

The USFFA Policy Board has adopted the following resolution opposing the sale of KUSF FM

Dear Colleagues,
The USFFA Policy Board has adopted the following resolution. Please
respond to me directly at or to any PB rep if you have
any further questions or wish to take any further action,


Elliot Neaman
President, USFFA


WHEREAS, Radio station KUSF 90.3 FM is a non-commercial community
broadcaster located on the University of San Francisco (USF) campus that,
since April 25, 1977, broadcast around the clock on the 90.3 frequency,
until 10 a.m. on January 18, 2011 when USF staff, without notice,
terminated the broadcast and ejected KUSF staff and volunteers from the
station and then revealed plans to sell KUSF's license to broadcast on
90.3 FM to a Los Angeles classical music station; and,
Whereas KUSF has served as a location for teaching, mentoring,
internships, and workshop experiences for thousands of USF students and
alumnae over the years, as well as a resource for faculty seeking a wider
audience, and

WHEREAS, KUSF routinely provides a wide range of invaluable community
based programming giving a voice to a unique range of cultures and
communities such as: Senior News; Disability Report, which has been
broadcast for over 25 years; Chinese Star Radio, which has broadcast
community news, health, and cultural information in Cantonese for over 15
years; Armenian Hour, which has broadcast for over 25 years; the Turkish
Cultural Program, which has broadcast for over 10 years; Radio Goethe,
which has broadcast in German for over 10 years; and So Da Brasil, which
has broadcast for over 10 years; and KUSF has a significant direct effect
on our local economy by supporting local musicians, artists, record
labels, and live music venues and promoting the work of our rich
non-profit community through its coverage of myriad museums, independent
film houses, internationally attended film, arts, and music festivals in
San Francisco; and,

WHEREAS, KUSF 90.3 FM is a public trust and community asset that serves
as an extraordinary educational tool, provides access to vital
information to those who otherwise won't have it, promotes local and
independent music, and is immensely valuable to the people of San
Francisco and integral to the fabric of our city, and the loss of KUSF
would have a very negative impact on San Francisco's eclectic and
prolific local music, arts, and social justice communities; and

WHEREAS, the sudden closing of KUSF fits into a historical pattern of the
administration failing to consult with the USFFA and broader community
prior to taking significant action that affects the entire University;

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved that the University of San Francisco Faculty
Association requests USF to cancel the sale of KUSF 90.3 FM and offer
members of the San Francisco community the opportunity to obtain the 90.3
FM license and KUSF name to keep it a San Francisco run non-commercial
educational and community station; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the USFFA urges the Federal Communications
Commission to reject the transfer of the broadcast license of KUSF 90.3 FM
to a Los Angeles company until the community is first given a chance to
keep KUSF on the air in San Francisco.

SF Supervisors Majority Vote to Help Save KUSF

Denise Sullivan published on February 9, 2011

The students and community volunteers of KUSF-FM won a small victory on Tuesday in the fight to save the University of San Francisco’s (USF) radio station from an untimely, unannounced sale and change of format at 90.3. In a three to eight majority vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolved to oppose the sale of KUSF’s FCC license to classical station KDFC, whose license would in turn be sold to classic rock station KUFX. Initiated by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the Board’s resolution is an important document in the station’s favor as it moves toward review by the FCC, the government agency that can ultimately stop the pending sale. Citing KUSF’s service to its community, its 6 p.m. till midnight nightly broadcasts, all day Saturday and Sunday cultural programming, and its award-winning music format, the resolution also commends KUSF for its support of the arts, foreign language, disabled, and senior communities. The board further resolved to urge Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to contact the FCC asap to express their opposition to the transfer of the license. Well done, SF Supes!

Last month, USF suddenly closed the KUSF broadcast facility without prior notice, locking out DJS and staff from the studios. Ever since January 18, students, community volunteers, and the listenership have been united in an online campaign to win back the airwaves. Facebook, blogs, letters and a petition all made the rounds; a rally was held at City Hall. This animated short lays down the implications of the sales and transfer of commercial versus non-commercial FCC licenses quite clearly. Sitting Music Director Irwin Swirnoff has largely played the role of tireless station spokesperson, while university officials who addressed public concerns immediately following the closure have maintained their position that the deal is done. However on Monday, the University of San Francisco Faculty Association got in on the act to save the station: The union organization representing over 300 teachers and librarians signed off on a request to USF and the FCC to cancel the sale proceedings.

One alternative proposed by staff and its supporters suggests the station be allowed to fund itself. However, at this stage of the process, it is not up to USF to withdraw the move to sell; rather it is up to the FCC to undo it. The case comes up for review with the federal commission later in the month.

In the meantime, the station is broadcasting online with a skeleton crew. Most of the students and community volunteers have resigned; they are the ones who need your continued support in the fight to Save KUSF. This weekend’s KUSF Rock ‘n’ Swap, a semi-annual vinyl, rarities collector’s meet that has been going strong for over 20 years will be held as usual on the USF campus Sunday morning. Doors open at 6 a.m. for earlybird swapppers. Shopping the swap for vinyl has traditionally been a way to show support to KUSF DJS and staff; money raised from the event contributes to the station’s operating costs. However as fate of the station’s broadcast future is yet to be determined, it’s hard to say what role this season’s Swap plays. Learn more about KUSF and donate, not only because you support college and community bandwidth, but because you love music and free-format programming. And if not for that, do it in memory of the Ramones: In the early ’80s, KUSF was the only station to play their music within SF city limits. Joey expressed his appreciation by posing for the above classic photo taken a by punk photographer, Bobby Castro, at the KUSF studios.

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on in Bay Area radio
Ben Fong-Torres
Friday, February 4, 2011

Why did all this happen? It begins with the state of classical music on the radio. KDFC was the last major commercial classical station standing; the others have gone noncommercial. Despite solid overall ratings, it has suffered in the world of Arbitron's Portable People Meter audience measurement methodology, which appears to favor rock stations. In the target age range of 25-54, KDFC was barely in the top 30.

And, as radio engineer Fred Krock notes, the Bay Area has "too many radio stations chasing after too few advertising dollars," due to geography. "No broadcast channels are located west of San Francisco. Therefore, all those frequencies are available for use in the Bay Area."

Entercom saved classical music radio by giving it to a caretaker. As for KUSF, its president, the Rev. Stephen Privett, who had entertained previous offers for the station, knew that it was a community treasure. But, he said, "Our primary mission is to our students. It is not to the community at large."

The university said that while "all KUSF staff will be offered similar positions at," the online station would "focus on the station's primary purpose - as a teaching laboratory for students." KUSF had been limited to 100 online listeners at a time; capacity will be increased to accommodate thousands. Some protesters argued that many KUSF listeners did not have online access.

At any rate, plans for KUSF online are in limbo. Some community programs may return, but, for now, most DJs "are not willing to support or do anything for the university," said Steve Runyon, KUSF faculty adviser and general manager. He told me that he and PD Trista Bernasconi were informed of the shutdown only an hour before the switch was pulled.

Jennifer Waits, a DJ who blogs about college radio (radio, decried USF's "greed," saying she wished the school had explored selling its station to its volunteers, most of them nonstudents. "I also think the FCC needs to re-examine policies that are helping to facilitate the kill-off of independently owned radio stations," she said. "I wish 'Save KUSF' luck in fighting this."

R.I.P. Carter B. Smith, longtime radio personality (KRE, KSFO, KNBR, "Magic 61" and KABL) died Jan. 24 from brain cancer. He was 74. We will remember him in the next Radio Waves, and long after that.

Random notes: Morris Knight of KISQ (Kiss at 98.1) has been tapped to host the new version of "Dance Party" on KOFY (TV 20). The oldies "Bandstand"-type show ran in the '80s on TV 20, hosted by then-station owner James Gabbert. The show airs Sundays on KOFY (Cable 13) at 8 p.m. ... KMVQ, Movin' at 99.7 FM, is no longer Movin.' CBS Radio has rebranded it Now, reflecting its contemporary hits format. I'm just waiting for an oldies station to be called Then. {sbox}

E-mail Ben Fong-Torres at

Ann Powers on KUSF: One personal memory speaks to terrestrial radio's power

A cultural earthquake hit San Francisco on Jan. 18. It was a targeted tremor, though hugely felt by a diverse community that includes indie music fans, drivers twisting the dial in search of local voices on the radio, and others seeking the sounds of their communities.

On that day KUSF, the eclectic community radio station that had broadcast at 90.3 FM since the 1970s, was shut down by the University of San Francisco, who'd sold the frequency to the University of Southern California-owned Classical Public Radio Network. The deal between USF and USC was conducted without involvement from the students and community members who have run the station since it first became a major force in the indie music scene more than three decades ago.

KUSF supporters have reacted in outrage to the change. Protests on the USF campus and at City Hall have attracted hundreds of participants. USF President Father Stephen Privett has repeatedly said that the decision to sell the frequency for $3.75 million was motivated by the fact that it was not primarily serving the university, because its staff was a mix of community members and students, and that the money would enhance the university's ability to serve its attendees. KUSF supporters have decried the loss of a vital force in the community, expressed skepticism about the university's response that the old KUSF can thrive as an online-only concern and noted that what's happened is part of a larger trend of universities selling off their stations to chains.

I'm not here to offer a hard-hitting analysis of terrestrial radio consolidation, the shift toward the Internet and the relative value of indie-pop formats versus classical music. I'd just like to offer one memory of listening to KUSF as a testimony to the power of terrestrial radio and a means of meditating upon what might change as new forms of reaching listeners take over.

It was 1987. I lay in my bed in the flat I shared with a bunch of other weirdo kids on the corner of Baker and Fulton streets in the Western Addition. The time was getting toward 11 a.m.; I had to get to work, but my body wasn't moving so fast, probably because I'd pounded it with mixed drinks the night before at a house party in the Haight.

I'd lived in San Francisco for a few years by then, having fled my native Seattle in pursuit of a career as a poet (my youthful brain was very good at nurturing likely impossibilities back then) and, equally important, a community of music-mad outsider kids like myself. Pursuing the life's work idea at San Francisco State University by day, I connected with my new chosen family by night, at local punk palaces like Nightbreak and the Kennel Club. I bought my clothes used at Buffalo Exchange and ordered my burritos big at Pancho Villa. KUSF was my station.

As that particular morning inched toward noon, I reached over groggily, flipped on my clock radio and went back to dozing. Suddenly, a voice grabbed my ear with the force of a stern drill sergeant -- my Catholic brain instantly registered it as a clarion call, the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. It was Sinead O'Connor, singing "Troy," the first single from her debut album "The Lion and the Cobra."

The small room shrank, it seemed. I was pinned. That voice! The words were a threat, an explosion. Who was this person? Was she singing to me? She was singing for me. The wet crystal clarity of O'Connor's singing rushed over me; I was soaked. My reaction to this one song -- this long unfolding jeremiad, the likes of which are heard less and less on terrestrial radio today -- marked me as O'Connor's eternal fan. More than that, it further defined me as a woman who understood herself and the world through the voices of other women struggling, resisting, pushing through the same stereotypes and expectations I experienced, through song.

One chance selection by a DJ could do all that. I'll never forget hearing "Troy" on KUSF, and I know that one reason the moment's impact was so strong was that it was both completely unexpected and firmly located in a particular place and time. That rectangular room in the Western Addition, with its window looking out on nothing but the wall across the way. Me, at 23, probably extra vulnerable because some crush had recently blown me off, and so open, in love with the place where I lived and the people who were changing me every day, including the ones I knew only as DJs, talking to me across that frequency.

Could the same cataclysm occur for someone stumbling upon a live Internet radio stream? I'm not saying it couldn't. I've talked with friends helming shows at hybrid stations like KEXP or Web-only ventures like Birmingham Mountain Radio about the thrill of reaching people across continents or just the satisfaction of finding a way to keep playing music that means something to them in the face of massive terrestrial radio consolidation. Just this morning, I spent time checking out a new artist I'd previously overlooked by making my way through videos on YouTube and becoming a convert.

Yet the revelation of that moment when O'Connor's voice rattled every one of my bones -- the first moment I'd ever heard that voice -- was deeply connected to the time and place when it happened. It was a gift given to me by a neighbor, someone just down the road in another room, choosing to play that song when I most needed to hear it. The accidental nature of my waking up just then, tuning in just there, made me uniquely open to being moved by what I heard. And the fact that the music emanated from the 90.3 frequency -- a source I trusted enough to let it wake me up every morning, no matter how bad my hangover or fresh my heartbreak -- made a difference too.

I'm a steely optimist when it comes to the changes technology brings to pop. That's how pop was born, after all, the player piano and the Edison wax cylinder, and how it grew, from 78s to singles and albums, from border radio to FM freeform to MTV, and now through podcasts and live streams. Change is hard, though it often takes us somewhere unimaginably exciting.

Yet I deeply empathize with the Bay Area listeners in furious mourning for the loss of KUSF, their sonic home base. A specific and powerful means of cultural discovery is lost when a local radio station goes under. It is a social death. I understand why KUSF lovers are reacting by staging political funerals.

For more on the fight to save KUSF, see this website. For the new Internet station, go here. For previous reporting on what KUSF will become, see this Culture Monster piece.

-- Ann Powers

Photo: Sinead O'Connor, photographed in 1990. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Protestors, supervisor voice concerns about KUSF sale at rally
Protesters gathered in front of City Hall Tuesday afternoon against the sale of the University of San Francisco's bandwidth for radio station KUSF to the University of Southern California.

"They forced everyone out of the building Jan. 18 at 10 a.m. after they sold KUSF to the classical station without telling anyone," said former KUSF disc jockey Steve Abbate, also known as 'Stereo Steve'.

The biggest concern around the sale was that the community would lose its diversity, according to several speakers, including host and producer Farinaz Agharabi. "How many stations do you know that play 13 other languages? We are a diverse community, and this station represents that," Agharabi said. "It has to stay!"
KUSF music director Irwin Swirnoff was also concerned for the community.

"It is not about a format change or classical music, it's about robbing a community of its voice," Swirnoff said. "USC does not serve us. This is our station! Whose station? Our station!" Swirnoff chanted to the crowd of around 100 protesters wearing various "Save KUSF" paraphernalia.

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi made an appearance at the protest around 1:30 p.m. before attending the Board of Supervisors meeting. "I consider it reprehensible that the USF Administration did not provide some logical conversation or explanation," Mirkarimi said.

He told the crowd that if the article opposing the sale of KUSF's FCC license to broadcast on 90.3 FM did not go through in City Hall, the fight would not be over.

"If we go down, we go down as warriors of public access," Mirkarimi said.
Former USF student and volunteer disc jockey Edna Barron also said the efforts against commercialism taking over community radio was not going to soon falter.

"This doesn't end today, tomorrow, or at the FCC," Barron said. "We aren't dead. We are like a ghost with unfinished business."
Protesters spoke during the supervisors' weekly meeting. A volunteer disc jockey of more than 20 years who goes by Jet began by saying to the board: "Thank you for letting me use your microphone today. Please help us get our microphone back to help serve the community."

The online station for KUSF,, has only 15 online listeners as opposed to the 50,000 listeners that the radio broadcast circulated, said Jet. "We have been forsaken. Our radio voices have been silenced," Jet said.
The Board of Supervisors agreed to extend the vote on the article that opposes the radio sale until next Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Questions Raised About Future of KUSF Archives

By JEANNE CARSTENSEN| January 28, 2011 5:33 p.m. In MUSIC

Supporters of KUSF, the community radio station owned by the University of San Francisco that ceased broadcasting recently when it was abruptly sold, want to make sure the station’s extensive archives will be preserved.

Founded in 1963, the station’s archives contain a “massive number of CDs and vinyl,” according to Irwin Swirnoff, the former music director. “It has cultural value that is priceless in terms of diversity and obscurity,” he said, with deep collections in jazz, rock, punk, electronic music and other genres.

Archivists Meagan and Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Library in San Francisco are advising Swirnoff and other KUSF supporters on preserving the collection. “The music library has to be kept intact as a physical memory of everything that KUSF has been, and as a starting point for future,” said Meagan Prelinger, who is a longtime fan of the station. “It’s like the sound track of my life has been turned off.”

The dimensions of the vast archive containing 34 years of Bay Area broadcasting history are difficult to determine precisely. Much of it sits in Phelan Hall on the University of San Francisco campus and will be moved to a yet-undetermined location in coming months.

Reached on Friday afternoon, university spokesman Gary McDonald said he didn’t know immediately how many items it contained. “We talk about it in terms of space,” he said. “It’s large.”

Swirnoff said the collection consists of an active CD library and vinyl library. Items like 78 rpm records are packed away in storage areas.

In the long term, the university plans to digitize the archive, according to McDonald, “so that it will be available to anyone working in,” the online-only version of the station that will replace KUSF.

McDonald said he didn’t know how much it would cost to convert the collection to digital or what would become of the original materials afterwards.

A Failure of Our Duty to Nation's Airwaves

Ted Dively
Saturday, January 29, 2011

Without warning at 10 a.m. on Jan. 18, the 3,000-watt KUSF (90.3 FM) transmitter was shut off, and armed campus security personnel removed its staff of students and volunteers from the station, including a DJ and a band gearing up for a live interview. Acting in secret, University of San Francisco President Stephen A. Privett entered into a complex three-party arrangement with the University of Southern California and for-profit broadcasting giant Entercom. He sold the KUSF license without public hearing or notice, not even to USF students or faculty.

This is a complete failure of stewardship of the public airwaves and a bad business decision. For the sum of $3.75 million, the equivalent of a few four-year student tuitions, Privett sacrificed unique educational and career opportunities for his students as well as a thriving communications hub for San Francisco's diverse cultural and ethnic communities.

This is not about a format change. Privett squandered a precious public resource, and his decision caused irreparable harm to the local community.

Some facts:

-- KUSF has been a learning laboratory for USF students for 34 years. Many chose to attend USF because of the unique media-education and career opportunities that KUSF provided.

-- KUSF served as a free communications nexus for a wide variety of small businesses, civic groups, arts organizations and venues for independent film, authors, educators and musicians from the Bay Area and beyond. This loss will cause lasting harm to the local economy as well as the culture and civic life of San Francisco.

-- KUSF broadcast programs in 13 languages, having served many local ethnic communities that had no other voice on the broadcast spectrum. The programs included 90 minutes of Cantonese programming every weeknight. Census data shows that San Francisco has 157,000 residents who are Chinese by birth or descent.

-- KUSF student and community volunteers raised approximately $50,000 in one week to repair the transmitter when it failed a number of years ago. USF did nothing and has now sold that transmitter, leaving those who donated for the purpose of keeping KUSF on the air with nothing. By accepting the first offer to drop on his desk and signing a nondisclosure agreement, Privett acted in bad faith with his faculty, students and all San Franciscans.

He failed in his stewardship of a public trust and ill served his university's educational mission, besmirching USF's good name at home and abroad. The Federal Communications Commission should reject this transfer of license because the transfer does not serve the community.

Ted Dively is a co-organizer of Save KUSF and an 18-year broadcaster with KUSF New Music. Go tot to learn more.


We are understandably receiving many calls and emails about our transition to 90.3 and 89.9 FM and our transition to nonprofit status. We know this is a difficult transition and we wish we had more control and an opportunity to make a longer, smoother transition. Here are some answers to common questions and comments we’re receiving.

Why did this happen?
KDFC’s previous owner decided to make a format change on the 102.1 frequency they owned. KDFC’s staff and station name are now rebuilding KDFC as a listener-supported station on new frequencies. KDFC was the last commercial classical station in a major US city still being operated by a commercial radio company. In New York City, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Washington D.C., Seattle, and Los Angeles, commercial radio stations have all disappeared, in most cases taking their excellent frequencies with them, and leaving nonprofits to rebuild noncommercial classical stations on lesser frequencies. That is exactly what is happening here.

Why couldn’t you wait to make the transition until you could cover the whole Bay Area?
The Bay Area is an extremely expensive and crowded radio market. Stations are not easy to come by. Furthermore, once you purchase a station, the FCC requires you to operate it, making it impossible to buy a station and hold onto it while you wait to purchase others. Therefore when we found 90.3 and 89.9 were for sale, and we wanted to buy them before someone else could, we had to operate them.

If I cannot receive your on 90.3 and 89.9 what do I do?
The response to this varies by region so look for your region below. Later in this message we will provide technology options to help you receive KDFC in the interim:

South Bay and Peninsula: It is heartbreaking to us that we will not immediately have a signal that serves the Peninsula and the South Bay. We are already looking to buy a station in this region and the great news is that the University of Southern California has offered to buy a station if we can find one. We have hired two brokers to contact stations and ask if the owners are willing to sell. We wish we could give you a timeline but we are not in control of when a station will come on the market. We have reports from some listeners in the South bay who have been able to pick up 89.9, but the coverage there is spotty.

East Bay: Some listeners in the East Bay are receiving our 89.9 FM signal (and/or our 90.3 signal,) but others are not. We have a plan to upgrade 89.9 soon and that should help, but we have to wait for the FCC to approve our purchase of the station to start the upgrade. Until then we do not officially own the stations. As soon as they give us the word, we will upgrade 89.9 and that should help. We are also looking for stations we could potentially acquire in the East Bay to round out our coverage in the region.

San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley: We can ultimately get you a good signal on 90.3; however, we have to wait a couple of months for the FCC to approve our purchase of the stations. Once they do, we can upgrade 90.3 FM and move the transmitter and antenna (it is currently on top of a building at USF), and solve your signal problems. Many listeners in your area are able to hear 89.9.

Daly City, San Bruno, South San Francisco, Pacifica: We can ultimately get you a good signal on 90.3; however, we have to wait a couple of months for the FCC to approve our purchase of the stations. Once they do, we can upgrade 90.3 FM and move the transmitter and antenna (it is currently on top of a building at USF), and solve your signal problems.

How will I know when you have upgraded the signal in my area?
The best way is to join Club KDFC on our website. We will provide regular email updates to our Club members. You can also check our website regularly because we will post updates there as well. And when we make progress we will do our best to get the word out to the media.

How can I hang in there with you while you are improving your signals and expanding your coverage?

There are a number of ways that you can access KDFC even if you are not receiving a good signal right now:

Comcast Digital Cable Television: Comcast carries KDFC on channel 981 in most of the Bay Area.

Internet streaming: You can listen to KDFC on your computer by going to and click on “Listen Live” at the top right corner of the screen.

iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad App: Stream KDFC via our app, available at the iTunes app store.

Internet radio: Listeners in the South Bay and elsewhere are reporting great success with the Squeezebox, a device that works like a radio but picks up the KDFC web stream. It is available at Fry’s, Best Buy or any other electronics retailer.

How can I support the nonprofit KDFC?

We have formed a new nonprofit that is operating KDFC. The entire KDFC staff is now employed by the nonprofit. To contribute write a check payable to:

The Classical Public Radio Network
201 Third Street
12th Floor
San Francisco CA 94103

Or if you prefer, click here to make a contribution online with your credit card.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Together we’ll make the best Classical KDFC ever.


Bill Lueth
Classical KDFC

KUSF Now Has Only 15 Listeners

By Erin Sherbert
published: Thu., Jan. 27 2011 @ 5:13PM

Surely, she owns a computer
​When University of San Francisco officials pulled the plug on KUSF radio last week, they promised the new online format would be able to accommodate not hundreds but thousands more listeners.

But just because it can doesn't mean it will.

Since the station was sold and tuned into an online only format, listeners have dropped off the dial. Currently, only 15 souls are tuning into KUSF -- a pitiful total when compared to the 50,000 listeners it had when it was located at 90.3 on your FM dial.

This apocalyptic dropoff is just what former KUSF DJs predicted -- online radio is nice if you are sitting around at home, but it's not convenient -- you can't listen to it while you drive.

Right now, the station has the streaming capacity to allow for as many as 213 listeners, said Trista Bernasconi, program manager for KUSF. She said they are working hard to put together programs and get volunteers to help out again.

"Until we get our audience back -- if we get our audience back -- there is no point to pay for additional streams," Bernasconi said. That's reasonable, considering it costs between $500 and $900 for additional streaming.

Program managers say they are scrambling to put together an ad campaign to lure listeners back to KUSF. But it's been hard. Attention is focused on the volunteers who have left and launched a fight to block to sale of 90.3 FM to the University of Southern California, which will broadcast classical music.

Earlier this week, KUSF volunteers held a rally outside City Hall with Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who introduced a resolution supporting the college station. Volunteers say because the Federal Communications Commission has not yet approved the sale, they have some time to block the transaction.

"We are hoping to remind everyone that this is our station," said Irwin Swirnoff, a volunteer for KUSF, told SF Weekly this week.

But what's more likely is that they will continue the search for a 16th listener.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

What Station(s) Does KDFC Pave in the South Bay?

Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 06:46 AM EST

So now KDFC is on 90.3 and 88.9, while KUSF is off the air. (Though it does have a Live365 stream.) Radio Valencia, a pirate radiating out of the Mission district on 87.9, has expressed sympathy with KUSF's exiled volunteers, and has provided some airtime as well. The University of San Francisco, which sold the 90.3 license to the University of Southern California, currently has re-directing to this 9-day-old press release.

In my last post I suggested that KUSF's volunteers apply for 87.7 as a licensed low power TV station. (As fate has it, the audio for Channel 6 TV is roughly on 87.7). I had forgotten about Radio Valencia when I wrote that. Perhaps the two groups can get together and go after 87.7, if that window is actually open.

The KUSF community (at remains committed to getting their frequency back. The likelihood of this rounds to zero, but I wish them luck. (They're having some with SF supervisors.) I still think the future of radio is over the Net in any case. Going forward in that direction, a big question for KUSF's community is how it can keep dealing with USF, which will provide the streaming, the studio, the record library and other essentials, such as the KUSF brand, which is the university's intellectual property. I'll be interested in hearing how that non-divorce works out.

Meanwhile there is the matter of expanding KDFC. On KQED's Forum last week, Brenda Barnes, president of USC radio (which bought KUSF's license is moving KDFC there) and managing director of the Classical Public Radio Network (which will operate KDFC locally), said many times that her organizations are looking to buy a signal, or signals, in the South Bay, where KDFC can't be heard from either of its new facilities (the old KUSF on 90.3 and the old KNDL in Anguin on 89.9).

It could be that the USC people are also already thinking about 87.7 (the Channel 6 TV hack) in the South Bay. If that radiates from one of the mountains down there, it would do a good job. (The signal would be weak, but reach far, kind of like KFJC does now). That would be the best solution, I think; but it would also foreclose the 87.7 option for KUSF-in-exile, essentially screwing them over a second time. (So, there's an assignment for both KUSF and Radio Valencia. Hurry up and see what can be done.)

The more likely option for KDFC is finding a college or university that would rather have money than continue operating a radio station, especially when a buyer comes calling. That's the option USF took, and it's a certain bet that Brenda Barnes and friends are already hard at work selling the same options to one or more of these FMs in the South Bay:

89.1 KCEA Atherton, owned by Menlo-Atherton High School. Broadcasts with 100 watts from a ridge San Carlos. Small signal.
89.3 KOHL Fremot, owned by Ohlone Community College. Covers the eastern part of the South Bay with 145 watts from the college campus in the foothills.
89.7 KFJC Los Altos, owned by Foothill Junior College. Covers the South Bay well, from Black Mountain, with just 108 watts. This is the KUSF of the South Bay, and the station/community with the most to worry about.
90.1 KZSU Stanford, owned by Stanford University. Covers Palo Alto and the central Peninsula with 500 watts from a hill on The Farm. KDFC's 90.3 signal in San Franciso protects KZSU with a null in the direction of Stanford. The option here for the KDFC folks would be to buy KZSU and turn it into a KDFC repeater, or to take it dark and crank up the San Francisco signal. But then, there's also...
90.5 KSJS San Jose, owned by San Jose State University. This too has a commuity. And it covers the San Jose end of the South Bay well with 1500 watts on a high hill on the south side of town. 90.3 in The City also protects KSJS, so the same options for KDFC apply here as with KZSU.
91.1 KCSM San Mateo, owned by the College of San Mateo. This is the Bay Area's much-loved jazz station, and covers the Peninsula and Mid-South Bay pretty well, plus Oakland-Berkeley. Wattage-wise, it's the most powerful of the options (11,000 watts), though the transmitter is not on a high site.
91.5 KKUP Cupertino, owned by the Assurance Science Foundation. With 200 watts on Loma Prieta Mountain, KKUP reaches a large area, including all of Monterey Bay (Santa Cruz, Salinas, etc.) as well as the south part of the South Bay.
Another possibility for KDFC is buying a commercial station in the South Bay. There are many of those to choose from, if any is willing to sell. None will be cheap, but most would be better than the options above, with the conditional exceptions of KCSM and KFJC. For example, KCNL on 104.9, which Clear Channel unloaded last year for $5 million, would have been a good deal for the USC people. It serves the South Bay quite well with a 6,000 watt signal from the foothills near San Jose. KRTY from Los Gatos on 95.3 is another one with a similar-sized signal.

In any case, we know who is on the hunt and why. If they succeed, KDFC listeners should be happy. Listeners to the replaced station, or stations, will not be. Looking at the ratings, I am betting that there are more of the former than the latter. In the most recent rating period, KDFC was Number 7 overall (out of many dozens of signals), with a 3.9% share of Average Quater Hour listening, which is great for any station and huge for a classical one. It also had a cumulative audience of 632,000 people, none of which can get the station today on the signal they listened to during that ratings period.

USC And Entercom’s Gambit: The Dark Side Of ‘Preserving Classical Music’ In San Francisco

Russell Newman, Andrew Schrock, and Kevin Driscoll | January 26, 2011

In today’s highly consolidated media environment, independent content and community involvement are rare on radio. (Photo by Alex Yorke, Creative Commons)The University of Southern California has announced that it will ‘preserve classical music in San Francisco’ via the purchase of the rights to broadcast there at 90.3 FM and 89.9 FM. The deal, however, is a travesty.
For decades, 90.3 has been the home of the award-winning, University of San Francisco-operated community station KUSF-FM. In an arrangement negotiated behind closed doors between USC, the University of San Francisco, and Entercom - one of the five largest radio station owners in the country - the station was torn from the airwaves last week. Volunteers arrived to find the station behind lock and key; others reported being treated like criminals as they were ushered out in a state of surprise. Preserving classical music from afar should not come at the expense of the cultural and musical communities that are now losing a key hub.

The details are even shadier. In 2008, Entercom purchased San Francisco’s 102.1 FM KDFC-FM, one of the last commercial classical stations in the US. Having recently acquired San Jose’s classic-rock KUFX (relaunched as KFOX this month), they likely sought a way to change from classical to a more profitable format with minimal public relations damage. Via an apparent ‘content swap,’ USC Radio provided a way to do so.

USC would take control of KDFC, change the commercial station into a nonprofit entity, and retain its name and staff. Entercom does not budge: it now uses its valuable slot at 102.1 FM to rebroadcast its San Jose-based classic rock programming to San Francisco, becoming, in their words, a “nine county rock dominator.” Rebroadcasting one’s own content is a great way to cut costs, here coupled with the higher ad revenues the new format would bring. USC Radio would need to find a different home on the dial for its new enterprise, hence the purchase of 90.3. (USC also purchased 89.9 FM from Christian broadcaster Howell Mountain Broadcasting.) USC is reported to have spent $3.75 million to complete the transaction.

Why do this? USC Radio president Brenda Barnes told the Daily Trojan, “USC wanted to have a more tangible presence in an area that is so important for alumni and perspective students.” This effort carries heavy collateral damage. The first opportunity for KUSF’s audience to respond – which they did in droves, emphatically opposing the sale of their station – was at a public meeting January 19, 2011, after the station’s closing.

In today’s highly consolidated media environment, independent content and community involvement are rare on radio. KUSF-FM provided both. Educational stations licensed by the FCC decades ago, now increasingly and shortsightedly sold by their home institutions for a quick windfall, are one of the few ways marginalized voices and content can reach the broadest audience. They are not mere “teaching laboratories” for students considering broadcast careers: they have become vitally important institutions in themselves, taking chances on perspectives and content not otherwise carried by commercial media and NPR.

While the University of San Francisco plans to move KUSF to an online-only format, it’s difficult to imagine that a web-only presence will offer the same experience or the same positive benefit. It will be incapable of reaching less affluent residents. Broadcast radio is still the most powerful medium going today: the high price tag paid by USC makes this very clear.

Surely it is possible for USC Radio to achieve its goals without assisting one of the largest broadcasters in the country to fatten its bottom line, all at the expense of a valuable, cherished and genuinely local San Francisco voice. With such voices coming under threat across the country, our role should be to support them, not bury them. The Federal Communications Commission must still approve this transaction. There is still time to change course.

A growing number of members of the USC community are registering their concerns about this transaction; you can too at here.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi Addresses KUSF Supporters (Photo: J. Waits)

Paperwork Filed with FCC for Proposed Sale of KUSF

January 26th, 2011 by Jennifer Waits in FCC, classical radio, college radio, public radio

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi Addresses KUSF Supporters (Photo: J. Waits)

Yesterday a large crowd assembled at City Hall in San Francisco for a loud, but peaceful rally in support of saving University of San Francisco’s college radio station KUSF from a proposed sell-off to a public radio group.

At the rally San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi spoke out against the sale and later introduced a resolution (video) during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting criticizing the station sale and calling for University of San Francisco to reconsider. In the resolution he also urges “San Francisco’s Federal representatives to express their opposition to KUSF’s sale to the Federal Communications Commission.”

Although USF President Father Stephen Privett has repeatedly stated that the station has become dominated by community members and that USF is not interested in running a community radio station, the proposed resolution argues that KUSF has played a vital role in the community of San Francisco. The resolution argues that, “…the loss of KUSF would…have a devastating impact on San Francisco’s eclectic and prolific local music, arts and social justice communities…” The resolution also “requests USF to respect the requirement of localism by offering the City and County of San Francisco or members of the public the opportunity to obtain the 90.3 FM license and the KUSF name to keep it a San Francisco run non-commercial educational community station…”

Mirkarimi’s resolution will come up for vote at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ Meeting. Two other supervisors, John Avalos and Eric Mar (a former college radio DJ at KDVS at UC Davis) have already signed on as co-sponsors. During the public comment portion of yesterday’s Board of Supervisors’ Meeting there were many passionate statements made in favor of maintaining KUSF as a terrestrial radio station. Numerous DJs, fans, and members of the San Francisco artistic community lined up to voice their concerns about the sale.

In the meantime, today the application (PDF) for the proposed sale of University of San Francisco’s radio station KUSF to Classical Public Radio Network was approved for filing by the FCC. This means that the clock now begins ticking as far as the required 30-day window for public comments.

Even though the comment window with the FCC has begun, the group of supporters at Save KUSF are asking that people hold off on writing to the FCC for the moment. Right now they are encouraging people to send in letters protesting the sale to KUSF for inclusion in its public file. Letters should be send with the header, “For inclusion in KUSF Public File” and emailed to USF Assistant Dean of Social Sciences Michael Bloch.

With the paperwork being filed, it also means that we now get a glimpse into the details behind the deal between USF and Classical Public Radio Network. As expected, based on paperwork filed in Classical Public Radio Network’s application to purchase KNDL, the deal includes a “Public Service Operating Agreement” dated January 12, 2011. In that agreement, Classical Public Radio Network agrees to continue airing the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts “pursuant to the existing contract between the Station and The Metropolitan Opera, and will fulfill any underwriting agreements relating to the Station in existence on the Effective Date until the commitments under such agreements have been satisfied.”

There’s also a provision to pay USF a monthly fee for the right to play classical music over KUSF’s frequency of 90.3 FM while the application is under consideration with the FCC. As we reported, classical music programming from formerly commercial station KDFC has been broadcasting over KUSF’s frequency since the afternoon of Tuesday, January 18th. Surprisingly, that monthly fee (which begins at $5,000 a month for the first 4 months and increases to $7,000 a month thereafter for the remainder of the first year of the “Term” of the contract) is quite a bit less than Classical Public Radio Network is paying KNDL.

The paperwork, including the Public Service Operating Agreement and Purchase Agreement (both dated January 12, 2011), was signed by USF Vice President and Provost Jennifer Turpin and USF Vice President of Business and Finance Charles Cross, the man who infamously refused to talk to KUSF volunteers on the day of the station shut-down last week, claiming he had no information about the sale.

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.


By: Joshua Sabatini 01/25/11 4:12 PM

Members of the Board of Supervisors blasted the University of San Francisco’s decision to sell its radio channel KUSF 90.3 FM to a Los Angeles-based broadcaster.

“What a grave error it was for the University of San Francisco to sell the license of KUSF 90.3 on the dial,” said Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, who introduced a resolution Tuesday urging the university to rescind the sale. “It’s a travesty that the University of San Francisco did not reach out.”

The resolution could be voted on by the board as early as next week. While it is non-binding, resolutions are used to send a message that can have an impact.

The board “decries the loss of the cultural and community asset,” the resolution says. “[The radio channel] is a public trust and community asset that serves as an extraordinary educational tool, provides access to vital information to those who otherwise won’t have it, and is immensely valuable to the people of San Francisco and integral to the fabric of our city.”

Harrison Chastang, KPOO News Director, KPOO

The sudden sale of KUSF last week in a complicated three way deal that will replace the award winning cutting edge music and community affairs programming of KUSF with classical music angered many longtime KUSF listeners and staffers. The reasons given by USF President Rev. Stephen Privett for the sale reminds one of the movie Major League, in which the mythical owner of the Cleveland Indians fails to invest in the team in hopes that few people come to see an awful team, providing justification for Major League Baseball to move the team to an more upscale zip code.

In Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle's Op-Ed piece, Rev. Privette said that USF had no choice but to sell the station, but it seems that Rev. Privett, as USF president could have implemented policies to keep the award winning KUSF on the air if Rev. Privett, and the University of San Francisco trustees were really committed to serving the community, much in the way other colleges and universities are proud to hold FCC broadcast licenses that they use to reach out beyond the campus walls.

Rev. Privett justifies shutting down the station by saying that few students listened to KUSF and that most KUSF DJs were non students. Privett has to ask himself why more students weren’t involved with KUSF. If Rev. Privett wanted to insure that students were involved with the station, he could have required that communication students take at least a semester course in radio station operation that included on-air production and mandate that a certain segment of KUSF's programming be reserved for students. USF has many professors who are considered experts in their fields who could be hosts or guests on student produced radio programs on business, law, public health or international relations where students could have received academic credit for producing those programs.

Privett's contention that colleges and universities derive no benefit from operating a radio station not only conflicts with what other institutions are doing with their radio stations, but even with the deal Rev. Privett made with USC. Here in the Bay Area KCSM, which is owned by the College of San Mateo and KALW, owned by the San Francisco Unified School District, are fighting proposed state education budget cuts to keep their respective Jazz and News formats on the air. Like KUSF, few if any students are involved with the operation of either KCSM or KALW, but administrators and board members at San Mateo College and the SFUSD are committed to owning and operating radio stations. Outside the Bay Area, some of nation's top non-commercial radio stations are owned by universities and colleges, including WAMU, which is owned by American University in Washington DC; KKJZ jazz radio owned by Cal State Long Beach; KCRW, the crown jewel of the NPR network, which is owned by Santa Monica College and KUSC, the new owners of the former 90.3 frequency of KUSF.

In addition to providing a critical public service by broadcasting news and information not heard on commercial stations, college owned radio stations also use their frequencies to keep their brand in the public eye. Every time KUSF’s name was mentioned in a station identification, listeners associated the station with the Fulton Street campus. At a time when colleges and universities are spending millions on marketing and promoting to the general public, could USF have better utilized KUSF to promote USF’s academic programs?

Rev. Privett also mentioned finances as a key factor to shut down the station. KUSF staffers at Wednesday’s town hall meeting said that Rev. Privett rejected requests by on-air staffers to hold on air pledge drives that most non-commercial radio station listeners have grown to know and love to raise revenue for KUSF.

KUSF DJ’s complained that USF had committed few resources toward maintaining or upgrading either the station’s broadcast signal or its internet streaming audio. DJs mentioned that the station had been off the air recently because of transmitter problems and that only a limited number of people could listen to KUSF’s internet stream. Rev. Privett promises that KUSF is not going away, but is just moving to an internet only format. Internet only is great for people who can afford a smartphone bill or can get access to broadband internet, but for the night watchman, the taxi driver or low income person who can’t listen on the internet, they won’t be able to hear the “new” KUSF.

Rev. Privett said that he had no alternative but to conduct negotiations to sell the station in secret. Is this providing a good example to USF students who are being taught the Catholic values of truth, transparency and good faith in business dealings? Does the sale of KUSF in the dead of night represent the selling off of valuable public resources to the highest bidder? What's next? Will USF auction off its NCAA Championship trophies won by the Bill Russell led Dons of 1955-56?

Charles Mingus has a song called “Don’t Let It Happen Here.” Should staffers at KCSM and other college owned stations at Stanford, financially troubled UC Berkley and Foothill College be looking over their shoulders for the radio version of the grim reaper to kill off what’s left of independent, non-commercial, college owned broadcasting in the Bay Area?

La productrice et animatrice Farinaz Agharabi avec DJ Zoe, qui intervient une fois par mois sur Francofun.

Johanna Safar
24 janvier 2011
KUSF, une radio communautaire de l’University of San Francisco (USF), n’émet plus depuis mardi dernier. Le rachat de sa fréquence a entraîné la suppression sans préavis de ses programmes, dont Francofun, une émission animée en français. La mobilisation s’organise pour sauver la station alors que Francofun a trouvé refuge sur internet.

C’est le cœur un peu lourd que Farinaz Agharabi, la productrice et animatrice de Francofun depuis 2008, a enregistré de chez elle, l’émission du samedi 22 janvier pour la diffuser en ligne sur le site d’archives. « On fait ce qu’on peut pour l’instant… Je voulais signaler qu’on était toujours là », explique-t-elle.

L’arrêt du jour au lendemain, le 18 janvier, de KUSF a été vécu comme un choc non seulement pour la jeune femme mais également pour tous les bénévoles qui animent les programmes de la station de l’University of San Francisco. « Nous n’avons été tenus au courant, s’insurge Farinaz Agharabi, qui outre Francofun, propose des émissions de musique classique sur KUSF depuis dix ans. La direction de USF nous avait parlé d’un déménagement mais pas de perdre notre fréquence. Mardi, le DJ qui était à l’antenne a été escorté hors de l’immeuble par des gardes de sécurité et la radio a cessé ses transmissions… »

KSUF, diffusé sur 90.3 depuis 1977, programmait des émissions en 13 langues différentes. Cette fréquence a été rachetée par University of Southern California pour la somme de 3,5 millions de dollars. Elle a réattribué à une station de musique classique, KDFC. Le président de l’USF Stephen Privett a annoncé que KUSF continuerait sous la forme d’une webradio. Dans une lettre, il explique notamment le manque de transparence autour de la transaction par une close de confidentialité signée avec les nouveaux propriétaires.
« Nous n’avons même pas pu organiser la transition », se lamente Farinaz Agharabi. Cette dernière précise que si elle peut continuer à enregistrer les émissions et les poster sur le site Internet de Francofun c’est parce qu’il est n’est pas hébergé par

La mobilisation s’organise

Ce n’est pas le cas de Samedi Culture, une émission d’une demi-heure parrainée par la French American Culture Society et proposée en partenariat avec les services culturels du consulat général de France à San Francisco. « Nous n’avions pas été averti de l’interruption des programmes, confirme Denis Bisson, attaché culturel. Nous attendons de voir sous quelle forme nous pouvons continuer puisque pour l’instant la webradio n’existe pas encore. » L’émission proposait des interviews hebdomadaires de personnalités françaises installées dans la région ou de passage.

La mobilisation contre la disparition des ondes de KSUF s’organise avec la circulation d’une pétition et la tenue de réunions. La première s’est déroulé le 19 janvier, à guichet fermé. « L’université ne se rend pas compte que cette radio est devenue celle de la communauté toute entière, souligne Farinaz Agharabi qui enjoint les autres animateurs à trouver un moyen de ne pas interrompre leurs émissions pour ne pas casser le lien avec les auditeurs. « Où est-ce que vous trouvez, ailleurs aux Etats-Unis, deux émissions à suivre avec du contenu français et surtout animées en francais ? » interroge l’animatrice.

​Since USF officials shuttered KUSF college radio last week, volunteers and students have come up with an organized campaign to wrestle back their beloved indie station, 90.3 FM.

They've garnered attention and support throughout the community with online petitions and a "Save KUSF" Facebook page with more than 6,000 members. They've even gone on local radio stations, blasting university officials for selling off the community radio station to a classical music network in a $3.75 million deal.

And the momentum is only increasing.

Tomorrow, students, alumni, and volunteers will hold a rally outside City Hall at 1 p.m., an hour before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meets in session. Here, volunteers say they will have the chance to talk to people about how they are losing a local radio station, which started in 1977 and is known for its diverse programs in nine different languages.

Like everyone else, city supervisors have been getting emails and phone calls from KUSF advocates, asking for their help to block the sale. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the district where University of San Francisco is located, last week attended the meeting where volunteers talked about ways to save the station. The supervisor was appalled at what was happening, and pledged his support to help KUSF.

Mirkarimi has crafted a resolution in support of the volunteers who are trying to keep 90.3 FM a community radio station. He will introduce the resolution at tomorrow's board hearing.

"I wish we could do more," Mirkarimi said. "This is another corporate slam against public access radio. It's a tragedy for USF to not consult the community and give it a chance to save the station before they sold it off."

Ultimately, what they want is to have a chance for the community to purchase the radio station, which has now been moved to an online format, said Irwin Swirnoff, a KUSF volunteer. Swirnoff pointed out that the Federal Communications Commission has not yet approved the sale, which gives volunteers more time to build their case to try and block the transaction.

"We are hoping to remind everyone that this is our station," Swirnoff said. "We deserve the right to have an open sale to the community so we can still own the transmitter."

USF abruptly closed the radio station last week and escorted student DJs out of the building. University officials then announced they would shift KUSF to an online format.

Student DJ Chad Heimann was initially ready to fight back, but now he's lost hope that KUSF will revert back to its FM dial.

So instead of attending Tuesday's rally, Heimann said he and many other student DJs will be preparing to for their shows at the new online station.

"It sucks, but we need to learn to accept it," Heimann said. "There is really nothing that can be done."
January 24, 2011:

All the elements for an epic battle are in place, and Tuesday at 2 p.m., it all comes together in the Golden Gate City. We have the citizens' right to assemble, a student uprising, big government and big university painted as the bad guys, and a massive and expert use of today's social media products to rally a cause.
Students, volunteers, and radio alumni at the University of San Francisco are trying to save the radio station that was turned off and sold to the University of Southern California for $3.75 million. College president Stephen Privett in the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The station was dominated by outside volunteers and of minimal benefit to students." KUSF, started in 1977. It will be turned back on as an online product only.
Thirty-three-year old Irwin Swirnoff started at KUSF back in 2002. He was one of the station's music directors and had a weekly show. He's now part of the effort to save the station, and he told Radio Ink he believes his group "has a fighting chance for sure." The group created a "Save KUSF" Facebook page with nearly 6,000 members and 1,300 Twitter followers, and an online petition with over 1,000 signatures.
And Swirnoff says President Privett is distorting the student numbers. "The president continues to misrepresent the actual involvement of students at KUSF," he says. "The numbers and percentages he's been using are not based on any actual data, and show how out of touch he is with his students and with what the reality of KUSF is all about.
Student involvement and excitement at the station is the strongest it has been in years. Countless former department heads in our music, promotions, community affairs, and publicity departments have been students. KUSF community volunteers were not only helping run this station, but also teaching and partnering with the students of USF. Giving them hands-on, real-life experience in running the day-to-day operations of an active broadcast radio station, how to interface with the public at large, how to work as part of a nonprofit, how to get along with people from a wide range of ages, cultures, and perspectives."
Swirnoff says his group is dedicated to fighting as hard and as long as they have to to get the station back. "The community has rallied with is in such amazing ways, and the press is all over this story, so we really feel like we have the momentum and support to save the station."
Swirnoff says the group has allies on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who want to make sure the community has a voice. That board is meeting tomorrow at 2, and the students and station supporters are rallying outside City Hall at 1 o'clock.
It's one thing to friend the group on Facebook, it's a little tougher to get people to a rally in the middle of their workday. How many does Swirnoff think will show? "We've had so many people say they will skip their lunch break so they can join us, and many who have changed around their busy schedules all together so they can be at City Hall to show their support," he says. "I'm excited for our community to finally have a chance to really have their voices heard, and let the Board of Supervisors know what an important asset KUSF is to the diverse community of San Francisco."

KUSF Music Director Irwin Swirnoff in Record Library in Jan. 2009 (Photo by J. Waits)

January 23rd, 2011 by Jennifer Waits in classical radio, college radio, public radio

KUSF fans are still reeling after the sudden shut-down of University of San Francisco (USF)’s college radio station on Tuesday, January 18th at 10am. USF announced that it plans to sell KUSF to Classical Public Radio Network. The non-profit Classical Public Radio Network has already begun airing programming from the formerly commercial classical station KDFC on KUSF’s frequency of 90.3 FM and on another soon-to-be-acquired station, KNDL 89.9.

Tomorrow at 12 noon KDFC permanently leaves its commercial home of 102.1 FM, yielding that frequency to a simulcast of commercial rock station KUFX (aka K-FOX 98.5 FM, which is in the process of being purchased by Entercom from Clear Channel spin-off Aloha Station Trust according to an FCC filing dated January 11, 2011). Are you still with me?

Although its website provides little information beyond the 2008 shut-down of its national broadcast network and optimism about its growth online, FCC filings last week indicate that Classical Public Radio Network is 90% owned by University of Southern California (USC) and 10% owned by Classical SF LLC. Public Radio Capital is the sole member of Classical SF LLC (PDF).

So, with this proposed deal, KUSF would become part of a larger public radio conglomerate connected with both KUSC and Public Radio Capital, as USC holds the license for non-commercial radio stations KUSC, KDSC, KPSC, KQSC, and KESC. Public Radio Capital is the parent company and majority owner of PRC TACOMA-I LLC, which holds the license for KXOT and is the parent company and sole owner of PRC TULSA-I LLC which holds the license for KOSN.

As we reported, over 500 people attended a protest and meeting regarding the sale last Wednesday. At the meeting, USF President Father Stephen Privett remained resolute in his decision to sell the station, arguing that it was not serving the students of USF. Ironically, since students had not yet returned to campus, they didn’t have too much opportunity to counter his claims. After hearing criticism about that at the meeting, he agreed to host a similar session with students.

In the meantime, KUSF volunteers have been feverishly working to spread the word about the plight of the station and remain optimistic that something can be done to prevent the sale from happening. The KUSF Facebook page already has more than 5700 fans and media coverage has been extensive. Other independent radio stations from all over the country (including KALX, KZSU, KALW, KPOO, Radio Valencia, WFMU, KDVS, KSSU and KFJC) have been helping out by hosting KUSF DJs and staff members on their airwaves.

Although everyone is still expressing sadness, shock, and anger over the proposed sale, right now the focus is on organizing and action. The Save KUSF website includes specific guidelines on what can be done immediately: from writing letters to the USF Board of Trustees (in order to stop the sale), to signing an online petition, to attending upcoming KUSF events.

On Tuesday, a peaceful rally is planned in front of San Francisco City Hall at 1pm. Following that, people are encouraged to attend the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Meeting, in which a resolution is being presented in support of saving KUSF.

In the meantime, USF President Father Privett continues to direct people to send their protests and comments to the FCC, even though there is still no evidence that paperwork for the sale has been officially filed with the FCC.

At last check, paperwork had been submitted for the related proposed sale of KNDL to Classical Public Radio Network. A Public Notice (PDF) on the FCC Media Bureau’s website dated January 21, 2011 provides information that the Application for Assignment of License (PDF) dated January 18, 2011 was accepted for filing regarding the proposed transfer of KNDL 89.9 FM in Angwin and its two translator stations (89.7 FM in Eureka and 92.5 FM in Ukiah-Lakeport) from Howell Mountain Broadcasting Company to Classical Public Radio Network LLC.

KNDL reportedly alerted listeners in advance (as early as January 15) by mail that KNDL would be sold and going dark on Monday, January 17. An Asset Purchase Agreement (PDF) dated January 12 can be found in the FCC database for the $2,725,000 deal. A Public Service Operating Agreement (PDF) related to KNDL dated January 12 states that, “CPRN [Classical Public Radio Network] wishes to broadcast on the Station, prior to the closing of the Purchase Agreement, classical music programming to be provided by CPRN.” Additionally, that agreement states that KNDL will initially be compensated during the term of the agreement $15,700 a month for airing classical programming. If the agreement extends beyond 12 months, they will be paid $20,000 a month for airing classical programming.

Although we have yet to see the purchase agreement for KUSF, one can assume that a similar public service operating agreement was included, which is probably why listeners caught classical music programming from KDFC over the airwaves of KUSF 90.3 as early as last Tuesday.

So, the 30-day comment window regarding the pending sale of KNDL is now officially open for disappointed fans of the religious station, but KUSF may still need to wait a little longer.

Father Privett seems unaware of this, as in an email to me today he stated, “The papers are complete and ownership was transferred on Tuesday at 10 AM. I believe the period for comments has begun. We posted contact information for FCC on line.”

I’m still awaiting a response from Brenda Barnes, Managing Director of Classical Public Radio Network to confirm or deny this statement about the filing.

In the meantime, there’s much that can be learned by combing through the paperwork for the KNDL sale, as presumably similar agreements are in place for the pending KUSF sale.

Ever meet a college radio nerd? Their dangerous fashion sense, challenging interpersonal skills and propensity for cigarette breaks notwithstanding, they're not exactly threatening people, unless a deleted Smiths single or Throbbing Gristle first pressing is at risk.

Nevertheless, the powers-that-be at the University of San Francisco took no chances Wednesday, when the school hosted an on-campus meeting to discuss the fate of its college radio station, KUSF 90.3 FM. (The much-loved local radio station's abrupt demise was much reported-on elsewhere, seemingly the biggest story in the Bay Area for a day or two).

On top of the aforementioned record geeks, also on hand for the meeting -- in which university officials explained to an angry public why their radio station doesn't matter -- was a sizable police presence: no less than six San Francisco Police Department cruisers, an arrest van (or paddy wagon if you're not Irish) and twenty uniformed officers. This contingent stayed off-campus across Turk Street during the two hour-long meeting and preceding march/demonstration (The Appeal arrived for the 7 p.m. public meeting at a fashionably-late 7:30 p.m., and was barred from entering the meeting hall by on-campus police).

SFPD made no arrests, according to Lt. Troy Dangerfield, a department spokesman. As to why SFPD made such a show of force, Dangerfield could not say, and directed the Appeal to ask university officials. "They requested it," he said.

Lt. Kevin Dillon of the campus security detail told the Appeal that the decision to bring in "two squads of officers" was made by the on-site SFPD officer-in-charge, based on the size of the crowd marching towards the auditorium which hosted the meeting.

"The numbers [of the crowd] reached a certain point, and at that time the decision was made to call in a certain number of officers," he said. "It's not an excessive amount of officers for a demonstration."

In situations such as this -- or if, say, Chevron or Bechtel called the police to respond to protesters -- the city is not reimbursed by USF for the use of its police force. It would be if, say, the university hired police for commencement ceremonies.

It's possible the university was sensitive to peoples' feelings. After all, it was only Tuesday when a university official was forced to call on-campus security to remove a band of imposing radio nerds from his office, as you can see in the video above.

Whatever the motivation for the show of force, it worked: nobody broke anything, hit anyone or did anything else untoward. That is, unless you're a radio nerd, in which case someone drank your milkshake, kicked you in the junk, and then laughed about it for good measure.

Date: January 18, 2011
Contact: Christine McClintock, Executive Director, 415-738-4975

The $3.75 million sale of KUSF-FM by the University of San Francisco will have a chilling effect on the culture, community and civic life of San Francisco, the Bay Area, and beyond.

Independent Arts & Media is the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor of Friends of KUSF, a volunteer organization that advocates for KUSF-FM’s cultural, civic, community-development and First Amendment services. As such, we propose an alternative plan for the dispensation of the KUSF license and assets, and for the appropriate compensation of the University of San Francisco.

We respectfully request a moratorium on the sale and a grace period enabling the KUSF-FM volunteers, through the agency of Friends of KUSF, to develop and execute the following plans:

A financing strategy to raise $4 million for the purchase of the station and to seed startup operations for the station in an off-campus setting
An operations plan detailing station management, staffing, policies and oversight by the Friends of KUSF Executive Board
The sale of KUSF as proposed should not be permitted by the FCC, because it will actively undermine the public interest of the Bay Area and beyond in three distinct ways:

KUSF provides unique and irreplaceable First Amendment and civic services as a culturally diverse, community-run outlet for independent music, arts, ideas and news.
The sale as proposed will actively undermine the cultural vitality of the Bay Area by strengthening commercial “classic rock” broadcaster KUFX, which programs generic, non-contemporary music that already saturates the market via other commercial stations
The sale will also promulgate the generic “wallpaper” classical-music format of the commercial-broadcast veterans of KDFC-FM that does nothing to strengthen or advance the Bay Area’s living, vital performing arts. Indeed, KUSF-FM already runs some of the region’s leading-edge classical music programming, greatly eclipsing KDFC’s depth, quality and commitment to local classical music.
Independent Arts & Media supports people and projects that build community and civic participation through commercial-free media, arts and culture. In 2010, as a nonprofit fiscal sponsor, Indy Arts received almost $200,000 in grants and individual donations on behalf of 22 independent media/culture projects. Indy Arts was founded in 2000 by KUSF and KFJC-FM volunteers; its board of directors includes current and former KUSF and KALX-FM staff.

Father Privett's article today in the San Francisco Chronicle why he had to sell KUSF:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I met with KUSF volunteers, community members, university faculty, students and staff this week at a forum to discuss the University of San Francisco's decision to move KUSF to an online format and to sell the FM 90.3 radio frequency ("Sale shakes up Bay Area radio," Jan. 19).

I welcomed the opportunity to meet face-to-face, especially with KUSF's volunteers and staff members. I appreciate their dedication and passion and thanked them for their contributions to KUSF over the years.

The university's decision came after careful consideration of many factors.

The first among these is our core mission to offer the highest-quality Jesuit education to our students and provide them with important opportunities to learn and to serve.

Though KUSF started as a student-operated station, at the time of our decision to sell the frequency only about 10 percent of the station's volunteers were USF students. Regrettably, our on-campus listening audience was very small. Only one academic course is offered in conjunction with the station, with just 12 students per semester. In an era of difficult economic choices, we simply could not afford to continue subsidizing, with tuition dollars, a radio station whose primary focus was not our own students. What began as a student enterprise evolved over the years into a near-entitlement for the community. It is important that KUSF remain a robust teaching and learning experience for USF students and faculty.

I believe the decision we made balances the university's needs with community considerations, and I'd like to dispel a few myths.

KUSF is not going away, nor will the FM 90.3 frequency go silent. As, the station, in an online streaming format, will have the ability to reach a truly worldwide audience without the weather or geographical impediments that a small radio station has. USF did not sell the call letters KUSF, the station logo or the music library. These represent important learning resources going forward.

The station's four full-time employees will be offered similar positions at FM 90.3 will be the new home of KDFC FM, San Francisco's only full-time classical station. KDFC will continue to broadcast Metropolitan Opera programming previously hosted by KUSF.

It is true that USF was unable to give prior notice of the sale. This was part of our legal agreement with the new owners. We did not intend to cause hard feelings with those who believe they had a right to be informed beforehand, but we were obliged to follow this part of the contract.

On Tuesday, we closed the station for engineering and other changes necessary to make the transition. In doing so, we took a number of reasonable and timely security measures. We believe these were appropriate and regret if any individuals were inconvenienced in that process.

USF is proud and remains committed to continuing its 155-year tradition of service to San Francisco that includes almost 400,000 annual hours of community service to vulnerable populations in the city and across the world.

The Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., is president of the University of San Francisco.

January 20th, 2011 by Jennifer Waits in classical radio, college radio, localism, public radio

Last night KUSF DJs, staff members, alumni and listeners (including students, University of San Francisco faculty, and DJs from other local college radio stations) came out to University of San Francisco in an attempt to get some answers from USF about the sudden shut-down of the college radio station on Tuesday at 10am during DJ Schmeejay’s show. The 478 seat Presentation Theater was filled to capacity with supporters eager to pose questions to USF President Rev. Stephen A. Privett.

Prior to the scheduled 7pm meeting, people gathered in front of Phelan Hall (where KUSF is housed) with home made signs and caps and shirts emblazoned with “Save KUSF.” The bell tower overlooking campus ominously chimed, while people swapped stories about the surprise announcement of the station sale to University of Southern California for its new Classical Public Radio Network.

In the background, campus security turned people away from Phelan Hall and also watched over the growing crowd from atop a neighboring building’s roof. As it got closer to 7pm, the large group walked over to Presentation Theater, while chanting against the station sale. At one point a motorcycle escort even helped to block off Turk Street, while the group crossed over from the main campus. Upon arriving in front of Presentation Theater, one of KUSF’s Music Directors, Irwin Swirnoff, led the crowd in a vocal protest before the assembled entered the theater. As people arrived, they were handed slips of paper, which could be filled out with a name and relationship to KUSF if one wanted to ask a question during the meeting.

Before the floor was opened to questions, USF President Privett invited those in the room to “pray with him,” as is the tradition at USF at meetings such as these. It turned out to be a telling way to begin the discussion, as many questions later would focus on how the handling of the KUSF sale was in keeping with Jesuit values.

After thanking the volunteers and staff of KUSF for their service, he said, “It’s very clear to me that there is justifiable anger and disappointment with the decision that I made…” He added, “I don’t expect or anticipate that you are going to agree with me…,” but asked that people listen to his perspective. Privett emphasized that his “primary responsibility” is to students and to ensure that “all of the university’s resources are directed…to a quality education…to our students….”

With that, Privett opened the floor to questions. Names were called from the slips of paper that were turned in, so it felt fairly random as far as who was given an opportunity to share a comment or ask a question. Although the range of questions and comments were impressive, emotional, and intelligent; for the most part the answers stuck to the party-line that was communicated in Privett’s opening statement and in USF’s official press release from Tuesday. Despite that, there were some surprising revelations and incisive questions that no doubt left Privett thinking in a different way about how he’s handled KUSF.

San Francisco listeners talked about how KUSF has been an important resource for the community and said that they will miss being able to hear the station over the FM airwaves.

Current KUSF DJs talked about their dismay over how the plans to sell the station were kept secret and argued that they were made to feel like “criminals” by the administration when they were simply trying to get answers after the station was abruptly shut down.

One KUSF volunteer, who is also a junior Media Studies major at USF, said that “yesterday when I was at KUSF and thrown out…I didn’t feel like a student, I felt like a criminal.” He explained to Privett that he was also a campus tour guide and that he refused to give a tour the day after the shut-down because he didn’t “want to have to say anything bad about the university.” He also expressed how important the non-student volunteers and the San Francisco community are to KUSF, arguing, “I know for a fact…we can’t do this without the community…I can’t run a radio station without the community…I love them and I learn from them.” He also told Privett that right now he feels “ashamed” to attend USF and said, “I feel so betrayed by the school that I love so much.”

Despite comments like these, Privett downplayed the current role of students at KUSF, at one point saying that only 10 students worked at the station. He quickly recanted that after people questioned him and then seemed to state that perhaps KUSF had a staff of 10 percent students (a point that someone later referred to as the “myth of the 10 per cent”).

Although Previtt stated that, “KUSF will continue with online programming,” he also said that “KUSF will go back to its roots” as a “student enterprise” and a “learning laboratory.” No mention was made as to whether or not the station would be open to community members as it is now. He was vague about the details on how the “new” KUSF would be programmed, stating that those questions will be decided later by the Dean and faculty members who will be charged with designing a curriculum for the station. On that note, a Media Studies professor from USF chimed in, saying that she was upset that faculty members in her department were also left in the dark about the sale, saying that if the new direction of the station is as a “teaching facility,” then, “Why is the first time that I learned about this decision, last night? I am a teacher…” She added that, “a lot of faculty members are very upset with this decision.”

I was lucky to have my name called, so asked Privett a few questions about both the sale and the future of the station. I questioned him about how the offer arrived at USF and whether or not the station was officially for sale. He said that they had not put themselves up for sale and that an offer to buy the station came to them through a broker 3 to 4 months ago. After signing a non-disclosure agreement, he learned who the suitor was (University of Southern California). To me this was intriguing news, as earlier in the day Brenda Barnes from KUSC stated that her priority was to expand the reach of Classical Public Radio Network by seeking out available frequencies in the Bay Area. She emphasized that they were only approaching stations that are already for sale; so it left me wondering if that was the case with KUSF. Many have pointed out that KUSF has received purchase offers in the past, including one from USC that was rejected a few years ago. So, perhaps that indicates that KUSF has been on the market all this time, even though Previtt denied it tonight.

I also asked about the future of Cultural programming on KUSF (for more details on the program schedule at the old KUSF, see my “station field trip” article) and about the rumored plans that the station will be moving. Earlier in the day, a KUSF Music Director, Howard Ryan (aka “DJ Schmeejay“) was interviewed on Radio Valencia. He said that the school’s communication about KUSF moving to a streaming station seemed to be giving people the false impression that KUSF as it is today would simply be transitioned to an online-only station. He said that there was talk that the station would move to a new building and that there would be no space for the music library, arguing that, “The cultural programming is probably not going to stay” and “It’s really not at all going to be” like the old KUSF. He guessed that the new station would consist of students playing primarily digital music.

So, after hearing Howard’s words earlier, I asked Privett about the plans for the music library and if it would be retained. He said that it was the property of KUSF and indicated that there would be space for a library in the new location. Later on in the evening he said that the station is moving out of Phelan Hall because the building is being renovated and the campus “needed more beds.” Prior to KUSF’s occupancy, its space in Phelan Hall was used as dorm rooms and the plan is to revert the space back to that purpose. He didn’t indicate where KUSF would be moving.

Howard was also one of the many people to question Privett about morality and the community-oriented ideals of Jesuits, asking, “”How do you feel this business transaction reflects Jesuit ideals?” Privett said that the station was not part of the university’s “core mission,” adding they the school “cannot afford this community service.” Howard then asked why the community wasn’t given the opportunity to make an offer to buy the station and asked Privett to reconsider his decision to sell the station to USC. Despite that plea, Privett remained resolute that his decision will stand.

Although many in the crowd probed Privett about business ethics, the secrecy with which the deal went down and how the sale of the station is in keeping with the stated vision, mission, and values of USF, he said, “This was not a crass business decision about dollars…This was about ensuring that our programs involve students…our primary mission is to our students.”

As the evening wore on he also mentioned that the school wanted to “recoup” both space and monetary resources that went into KUSF. Others countered his statements about the school’s funding of the station, pointing out that KUSF brought in underwriting dollars, donations, and also survived based on the volunteer hours put in by students and community members. People also questioned Privett on why KUSF wasn’t allowed to do fundraisers and why it wasn’t encouraged to become financially self-sufficient.

After about 2 hours of questions, Privett left the stage and Irwin Swirnoff addressed the crowd from the audience, saying, “We asked that a KUSF representative be on stage,” but were denied. So, the meeting ended with many lingering questions on the lips of DJs and listeners. Privett did state that if people had more questions, they were welcome to email him at

In the meantime, the Save KUSF Facebook page had around 3300 fans at last count, an online petition is circulating, and news and updates are being posted on the website Save KUSF. Behind the scenes DJs and staff are planning their next moves to work to formerly protest the sale with the FCC. Stay tuned…

(01-19) 21:35 PST San Francisco -- To many, Tuesday was the day the music died.

On Wednesday, almost 500 backers of college radio station KUSF poured into the University of San Francisco's Presentation Theater to tell university President Stephen A. Privett they objected to his decision to sell the station's frequency to a classical music station and shift to an online-only format. The move apparently will preclude dozens of volunteer DJs, producers and others who are not students from involvement in the new KUSF.

Angered supporters chanted, "Shame on USF!" and carried signs reading "Sell Out" and "Mozart my ass." Some heckled Privett, a Jesuit priest who warned that his time was limited because he had to prepare for a funeral.

"This is a funeral right now, pal!" someone in the audience yelled. There were parents with toddlers in their arms, students wearing green "Save KUSF" hats, and station DJs from two decades ago.

"I just feel so betrayed by the school I love so much," said Chad Heimann, 20, a junior who is the chief student recruiter for the station. "We can't do this without the community. I can't run a radio station without the volunteers. ... I learn from these people."

The university abruptly pulled the plug on the station at 10 a.m. Tuesday under a $3.75 million deal that transfers KUSF's 90.3 FM frequency to classical music station KDFC, just purchased by a University of Southern California-controlled nonprofit. KDFC's old frequency, 102.1, is being taken over by rock station KUFX.

The move, part of a larger deal that still requires Federal Communications Commission approval, bumped KUSF off the FM dial for the first time since 1977. The station remains closed as the university prepares to go online-only.

Privett said he made the decision because the station, dominated by outside volunteers, "was of minimal benefit to my students."

"This was not a crass business decision about dollars," Privett said. "This was about ensuring our programs involve our students. ... Our primary mission is to our students, it is not to the community at large."

Privett said some of the $3.75 million would be used to fund the student-led online station, with the rest going to other unspecified educational projects.

Bobby Lee, a 2007 USF graduate and an alumni donor, said he and at least 10 other donors think "this is a terrible deal" and that they "will not continue contributing to the university."

E-mail John Coté at

KUSF volunteers Ethan Jenkins and Claudia Mueller and paid employee Miranda Morris are in disbelief after their popular public radio station on the University of San Francisco's campus was abruptly shut down Tuesday.

Staffers Angry Over Radio Station Changes

Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle Pop Culture Critic
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It was business as usual on Tuesday morning for KUSF music director Howard Ryan, who played an eclectic mix of music while promoting a 10 a.m. in-studio appearance from local band The Pickpocket Ensemble.

When that hour arrived, his show abruptly went off the air - part of a complicated deal that gives classical music station KDFC the college station's 90.3 frequency - and leaves KUSF off the FM dial for the first time since 1977.

University of San Francisco officials said the station's blend of music and community programming will still be available by webcast. At the station late Tuesday morning, the somber group of DJs and staff felt angry and betrayed, saying that they didn't learn about the deal until minutes before the signal went dead.

"We weren't told anything that was happening," said Irwin Swirnoff, another music director at the station. "We were never able to mobilize our listeners, or do those things that would at least get us the opportunity to meet the bid."

USF spokesman Gary McDonald said the decision was a tough one, but the move won't jeopardize the station's primary goal as a teaching lab for students.

"Through the years, as fewer students were involved, we were subsidizing a community radio station," McDonald said. "The bottom line is, we're here to teach students. We can still do that."

McDonald said as part of the $3.75 million deal, KUSF retains its call letters and logo. Engineers are working to improve KUSF's online capabilities, and the station will return as a webcast in the near future.

The station has about 200 volunteers, most of whom are not students. Staffers said they will demand more answers at a Wednesday night meeting with school officials, and mobilize more when students return to campus for classes on Monday.

Ryan, who had to turn the band away, said the station's dedicated staff deserves better.

"It's heartbreaking," Ryan said. "We didn't even get a chance to thank the listeners or tell them goodbye."

The Jesuit Father that made the decisions to shut down KUSF 90.3 FM

Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., the 27th President of University of San Francisco, has led the University since 2000 and recently accepted an offer from the Board of Trustees for a third, five-year term.
An accomplished Catholic scholar and theologian and a gifted public speaker, Father Privett is active in local and national organizations such as the San Francisco-based Commonwealth Club of California and the Washington-based American Council on Education and Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

KUSF Off the Air; Details Emerging

In an online press release, USF details its move. "The university has reached an agreement to assign the FCC license for radio frequency 90.3 FM to Classical Public Radio Network, which is launching a non-commercial classical music station in the Bay Area," said the statement, noting CPRN is owned by University of Southern California.

Effective immediately, as the now-blank KUSF website shows, the station is moving to an online-only format. USF's statement said that the station will go dark briefly for "engineering work."

The news seem to come as a total surprise to station workers. On Twitter, DJ Carolyn Keddy said, "Just showed up @kusf to my show and the doors are locked. USF has sold the station. Management was in on it. They're keeping all our records."

USF also said in its statement that all workers would be offered their jobs in the online-only era. We'll update with more info as we get it, but the SF music community is already reacting with sadness about the loss of the long-running staple of the scene. As musician Chuck Prophet noted on Twitter, "The apocalypse is here. Still reeling over KUSF being sold off." The station says an impromptu demonstration is planned for 7 p.m. tomorrow.

At 10 a.m. this morning, Irwin Swirnoff, a DJ and music director at KUSF, was doing some volunteer work in the station when he heard an alarming thing: silence. Or rather, the sound of static as USF, per an agreement with USC-owned Classical Public Radio Network, cut the transmitter.

To those present at the station, including the on-air DJ, Howard Ryan, it seemed that no one had been given warning of the sale.

"The hallways filled with people in suits, and others started to change the locks," said Swirnoff of the scene immediately after the transmitter stopped working. He, along with other station workers, didn't mince words about their feelings towards USF. "The university had been keeping this from us, hadn't involved us at all," said Swirnoff, speaking from the work room of KUSF, where he and other volunteers have been frantically pulling records of past ticket winners and music press, trying to get the word out that KUSF had been unfairly brought down.

University spokesman Gary McDonald affirmed that USF had kept information about the station's sale — which was a $3.75 million dollar deal — quiet, but said that two of the four full-time workers did know about it. Discussions, he said, had been taking place for the past few months.

"The papers were signed on Friday," McDonald said. He cited confidential legal reasons as the cause of USF's silence to the station's volunteers.

While the format change, from radio broadcast to online-only, is obviously the largest change, McDonald also pointed to other transformations in the works. "We are going to refocus the station on its primary purpose as a teaching lab for students," he said. "We are looking at ways to enhance curriculum in digital media."

Swirnoff and others, meanwhile, are trying to rally the public behind the station. The FCC filing allows for 30 days of public comment before the sale goes through. Why, he asked, was the station not given a chance to buy itself if the university was so desperate to sell?

"We never had the opportunity to do outreach," he said, amid the hubbub of a noisy room. "For a school that prides itself on Jesuit values, it is acting in the interests of greed and dishonesty."

McDonald said that, right now, the full context of this move hasn't been made public, but there will be an announcement this afternoon that will place these events "in a larger story."

UPDATE: More details about recent KUSF goings-on are coming out. Last week, it seems that station managers informed volunteer staff that the station would be moving into a new, smaller studio on campus.

This was not wholly unexpected, as a KUSF volunteer who wished to remain anonymous said that station founder and manager Steve Runyon had dropped a hint this summer that KUSF would be moving — although, then, the thought was that it would move off-campus, to Fort Mason.

USF spokesman McDonald acknowledged the inopportune timing of the announced move, but said it was unrelated to the change in format — the building needed rewiring and had plumbing problems.

And the SF Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub said that the KUSF move was part of a larger deal. It seems that classical music is set to make a comeback in the Bay Area — USC is purchasing classical music station KDFC so that it will now broadcast on 89.9 FM and KUSF's now-former 90.3 FM. This deal means that KNDL, a North Bay Christian station, will also be losing its signal.

In a press release, Entercom Communications and USC used quotes from SF Symphony director Michael Tilson Thomas and SF Opera touting the move as a positive step for Bay Area classical listeners. Also as part of this deal, Entercom will be broadcasting classic rock on both 98.5 KFOX (from San Jose) and 102.1 in SF.

USF spokesman McDonald said that the deal was kept confidential on the wishes of the buyer, USC, although that was a common practice in a situation such as this. He said that the station could reopen as soon as Thursday, and the website would go back up as well. In response to those who protested the move, McDonald emphasized that KUSF isn't ending — it's merely streaming.

Bay Guardian on KUSF 01.25.11

A protestor at the Jan. 19 public meeting regarding the sale of KUSF
Photo By Bryan Chandler

Enter the void,0

KUSF is sold out from under its volunteers, and local communities are left reeling

NEWS/MUSIC/CULTURE Anyone who entered University of San Francisco's Presentation Hall the night of Jan.19 was confronted by the signs — literal and figurative — of a participatory approach to media. A sizable number of the almost 500 people packed into the site for a public meeting to discuss the abrupt sale of KUSF were carrying cameras. Other brandished signs, with slogans running the gamut from pointedly angry ("KUSF is Our Radio"; "Shame on USF") to comic ("Suck It").
The scene was a public meeting to discuss KUSF. In a matter of hours the previous morning, the station had gone from a left-of-the-dial college station of 34 years with deep and numerous local community connections, to an online-only operation, its frequency now owned by the USC-affiliated Classical Public Radio Network.
The atmosphere itself was contemporary political — and perhaps religious — theater brought to life, a loud embodiment of scripted and spontaneous dissent regarding education, the changing face and nature of radio and media, and cultural shifts in San Francisco. Before the event got underway, chants of "Community" broke out, and KUSF music director Irwin Swirnoff addressed the crowd in an attempt to ensure the venue's balcony was opened up to people still left outside. As USF faculty arranged a pair of podiums on stage, a call-of-response of "What do we want? Noise rock! When do we want it? Now!" briefly went up from the back of the hall.
Father Stephen A. Privett, the president of the Jesuit university,soon stepped into view, taking a place behind a stage-right podium at some distance from the audience. "Thank you for being here with me this evening," Privett began, before leading those assembled (or some of them) in prayer. "It's very clear to me that there is justifiable anger with the decision I made. I don't anticipate or expect you to agree with me."
The decision Privett referred to and sometimes took full responsibility for was the choice to sell KUSF to CPRN, a move that, brokered by Greg Guy of Patrick Communications, came cloaked in a nondisclosure agreement. He was correct to not expect approval. Privett's initial statement contextualized the $3.8 million sale of the station within his responsibility to provide a "quality education" for USF's students, only a small percentage of which he felt were engaged with the station. "We teach broadcasting, we aren't fundamentally a radio station," Privett said of USF, in one of many assertions that drew jeers from some of the crowd.
The floor was then opened to questions from those assembled, as a school representative kept hold of the microphone. Linda Champagne, a KUSF DJ, was first to speak, holding back emotion as she told Privett that the sale of the station "should have been handled better." Dorothy Kidd, a media studies professor, wanted to know why the decision took place while USF was on break, and the school's faculty and students weren't notified. "If the station is to be a teaching facility, why is the first time I learned about this decision last night?," she asked Privett to roaring applause. "I am a teacher, [and] there are a lot of faculty members who are angry you made that agreement."


KUSF's sudden disappearance from the airwaves has left a void in its wake, and a wide variety of questions and contradictions swirl within it. It's clear that Classical Public Radio Network is "flipping" KUSF's former frequency, 90.3, to the classical music station KDFC (formerly on 102.1 FM), shifting KDFC to noncommercial status. But while USF's Privett claimed that he accepted "the first offer that came across [his] desk" and had not actively put KUSF on the market, on the Jan. 19 installment of KQED's Forum, CPRN Managing Director Brenda Barnes asserted that the company only solicited radio stations that were for sale.
One avenue for those protesting the sale of KUSF is to take their case to the FCC, while another is to increase scrutiny of USC's role. Nikk Fell, a DJ on KUSF's "Liquid Konspiracy," sees hope in the fact that the FCC has not yet approved KUSF's sale. "The FCC has not received the contract yet," he says. "We think we have a chance to change the decision, and that's one of our plans right now."
"I was on a street law program the other day and there was talk about pursuing an injunction," says attorney and former Supervisor Matt Gonzalez. "Jello Biafra also had an interesting idea — he thought the pressure should be put on USC."
USC's involvement in the purchase of KUSF is one of a number of recent acquisition moves by USC within the radio marketplace. It left KUSF a casualty of a growing related trend, in which commercial classical musical stations are being shifted to nonprofit public radio status — thanks in part to USC, a college station that broadcast many languages and musical genres (including classical) and foregrounded local music was booted off the dial and replaced by KDFC's uniformly classical programming. "Every major city has at least one college station," observes Krystal Hardwick, who co-DJed "Liquid Konspiracy" with Fell. "Cleveland has four college stations and L.A. has three. For San Francisco to have no station is a travesty. We felt the voice of San Francisco was sold to a Southern California conglomerate. They have four other stations — why do they need us?"
The sudden erasure of KUSF — which had strong ties to the local music scene and related venues and businesses, as well as sponsored events such as Rock 'n' Swap — has cultural repercussions on a local and broader scale. "It's going to have a huge impact," Carolyn Keddy, who DJed at KUSF and volunteered for the station for 20 years, says. "So many voices were silenced. It isn't just about the change of format and the loss of programming." According to Keddy, who managed KUSF's website until she was suddenly denied access to it on the morning of Jan. 18, the university's abrupt sale and closure of the on-campus station was akin to saying, "Thanks for making us look good and doing all that work for us. Now get the hell out of here."


Of course, KUSF's former staff and volunteers are not going away quietly. Initially, Privett had not planned on attending the Jan. 19 meeting regarding KUSF's sale, but the immediate media response and subsequent public outcry changed at least that decision on his part. The sale of KUSF cuts to the heart of disputes about outside corporate influences on the local media landscape, and more directly about San Francisco itself: what the city represents, and its changing — more generic and corporate? — public identity. Three of its call letters may have been shared with the university, but KUSF didn't have that name for nothing. It was a musical nexus for the city, and in the musician community, a bridge to and from San Francisco and the rest of the world.
"Takeovers like this seem all too common in our greedy little country, but I can't accept the fact that they're trying to do this in San Francisco," says Howard Ryan, a.k.a. DJ Schmeejay, who was kicked off the air without an opportunity to sign off when the station was locked down by campus police on Jan. 18. "This city sets the example. This city doesn't take shit lying down. I'm trusting that the citizens, the Board of Supervisors, and support from the international community will stop the sale from going through and we can return [the station] to the airwaves where it belongs."
Ryan, Keddy, Hardwick, Edna Barron, and others who had volunteered at KUSF agree that the online-only version of KUSF will bear little resemblance to the station that had been on the radio. "I want to clear up the myth about the online fate of the station," says Barron, a.k.a dj nobody. "It will not include any aspect of the community. Father Privett made it abundantly clear during the [Jan. 19] meeting that the online station will only be open to training students."


A week after KUSF went off the airwaves, it's fair to say that the covert way in which the change went down has resulted in an overt and spreading reaction. Besides local and national media coverage in mainstream and independent outlets, as of Jan. 24, close to 6,000 people had joined a "Save KUSF" page on Facebook. Other sites, including [2], have also been started in response to the sale.
One of the more interesting and in-depth responses is an open letter to Privett published by the veteran East Coast-based music magazine and website The Big Takeover. The author of the letter, local musician Chris Stroffolino, begins by praising Privett's and USF's rescue efforts during the Salvadorean war, before delving into questions regarding USF possible redistribution of funds from the sale. "Even in 2010," Stroffolino writes, "the medium of radio has a power that cannot be denied, a power in bringing people together even when apart."
It's one irony of recent times that the actual sale of KUSF made this power physically tangible, in events such as the Jan. 19 meeting. Stroffolino's letter looks to a 1932 essay by Bertolt Brecht to illustrate what distinguished KUSF's public, participatory nature from that of ordinary radio stations, and the dilemma those involved in the station face today. "Radio is one-sided when it should be two," Brecht wrote. "It is purely an apparatus for distribution, for mere sharing out. [Radio should] step out of the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers. Any attempt by radio to give a truly public character to public occasions is a step in the right direction."
In talking with some of KUSF's DJs for this piece, it seemed worthwhile to ask what song they would have signed off with to comment on the sale, had they been given the opportunity. Barron chose "The Boiler" by the Specials, while Hardwick and Fell mentioned "Generika," a song by their space rock band Galaxy Chamber. "I would play Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum"," Keddy said, going on to recite a lyric: "And all of this time, with just our minds, we soon will find, what's left behind."
Ryan, who was in the studio when KUSF was taken off the air, had another perspective. "My last two songs were Bobby Goldsboro's "Danny is a Mirror to Me" — he turned 70 that day — and Vangelis Papathanissiou's "Apocalypse des Animaux," he said. "Maybe two of the saddest songs I've ever played on [the program] Radiodrome. I've thought a lot about what I would have played had I known what was happening. I don't think I'd want to change a thing."