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.