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KUSF One Year Later

Update: On August 15th, in a tribute of sorts, the fabled call letters of KUSF, which will be remembered forever by music fans, were transferred to a yet-to-be-constructed station at 91.3 in Glendale, Oregon owned by community radio facilitators Common Frequency.

Update: On June 21st, Save KUSF issued a press release declaring their intent to appeal FCC approval of the transfer of 90.3 to the University of Southern California's classical music network with a $50,000 fine for operating irregularities.



June 21, 2012

Contact: Irwin Swirnoff, Save Kusf 

Phone: 415.424.5904  Email: savekusf@yahoo.com

Save KUSF to Appeal FCC Ruling on Sale of Community Radio License

San Francisco-On June 7th, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission  (FCC) made a startling announcement regarding the sale of KUSF, 90.3 FM, the much-loved non-commercial educational radio station. On one hand, the FCC media bureau fined the University of San Francisco (USF) & the Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN) $50,000 for violations and misconduct in regards to the operation of the station. On the other hand, although CPRN and USF admitted wrong-doing, the FCC approved the sale. But this has not ended the fight, as an appeal is in the process.
This decision has serious local and national repercussions. First, the negotiations behind closed doors eerily echoes the actions of USF and CPRN last January 2011, when they announced their deal amidst police evictions of students and programmers from the studios. Second, the FCC obviously recognized that there were serious problems in the way USF and CPRN were operating the non- commercial educational (NCE) license. However, rather than deal with these, and CPRNís obligation to the San Francisco public to broadcast programming that meets local needs, the FCC just let the sale go ahead with a fine.  
This sends a very bad signal: it allows two wealthy universities to treat the public good as their own private property. More so, it removes a vital space on the radio dial for local and diverse programming. The FCC had a choice; they could have acted to support the public interest, denied the sale or called for a public hearing.  Instead, they have sanctioned CPRN using the left hand side of the dial as a playground for the rich: they will be allowed to operate KOSC (the new call letters) as part of a fund drive machine for the University of Southern California.

CPRNís managing director, Brenda Barnes, has been explicit about this. Her motivation to buy KUSF was to use the station as a means to reach donors, recruit students, and attract donations from USC alumni, and the classical music community. CPRN may talk like they support the non-commercial and educational values set aside by the FCC for the left hand side of the dial. But their walk looks much more like that of Clear Channel and Entercom, who have already paved over the commercial side of the dial. So far, CRPN has made no serious attempt to bring educational value, nor provide listeners with any of the music, arts, public affairs and cultural programming, that KUSF broadcast for 33 years, and that addresses the particular make-up of San Francisco.

Nevertheless, the KUSF story is not just about one private Southern Caifornia university radio network cannibalizing a smaller station. Itís part of a national trend; as Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director of Media Alliance, and a numberof eminent music and cultural producers, wrote last year in a letter to the FCC, more than a dozen college and community stations have been treated as private property and sold to operators whose goals are neither educational, nor the values of localism and diversity established in FCC guidelines. [See letter at http://www.media-alliance.org/article.php?id=2037 ].

In a public outcry across the country, college and community broadcasters, musicians, recording labels, cultural organizations, and media reform organizations have rallied to support KUSF, and bring attention to this national crisis. They have petitioned the FCC, held on and off-line educational forums, and live concerts.Locally, the former djís and programmers from KUSF, along with new voices from the community, set up an online station, hosted by WFMU, to maintain the spirit & mandate of what KUSF was all about while fighting to get back on to the terrestrial dial.

The city of San Francisco has made it clear that this is a battle worth fighting.  The San Francisco Board Of Supervisors passed a resolution last year in fierce opposition to this sale, and Supervisor John Avalos is working on creating a city mandate that would create a voluntary fund to support true local, community radio.

SAVE KUSF spokesperson, Irwin Swirnoff, believes itís important to continue to make a stand and be heard about this corrupt deal. "We have an obligation to continue to fight against this disservice & disrespect to the community.  CPRN and USF need to be held accountable for their disregard of the public's interest, and we need to make sure that this does not continue to happen to the non- commercial side of the dial.Ē
We cannot let this disservice & disrespect to the city & non-commercial media go unchecked.  Along with appealing this ruling to the full commission of the FCC, there must be a larger dialog on the national level about the crisis of the privatization of the left side of the dial.


Update: On June 7th, the FCC approved the transfer of 90.3 FM to the the Classical Public Radio Network with a $50,0000 fine for operating irregularities. Goodbye KUSF. You fought a very good fight.

On Jan 18th, SF marks one year since the shutdown of alt music and culture station KUSF, headquartered at USF for more than 30 years. Where better to mark the occasion than at Entercom? Celebrate the valiant effort to Save KUSF and decry the SF simulcast of KFOX by the media moguls that started all the trouble.

As the FCC takes an unprecedented look at the sale of the license of the venerable SF community radio station, the NY Times weighs in, KUSF'ers demonstrate noisily at the former KDFC licensee, Entercom Radio, and local and national organizations sign on to an open letter. 

August 28th NY Times article

On August 25th, Supervisor John Avalos joined KUSF workers and volunteers in a noisy, energetic protest i front of Entercom Radio, the gigantic radio station chain who swapped the money-losing classical format at KDFC for a more lucrative (if monotonous) classic rock formula when they imported KUFX from San Jose and installed it at 102.1FM. The ejected KDFC is trying to purchase KUSF's license, leaving the seminal 30-year old community station with no home at all.

Audio/Video coming soon.

In mid-August, this open letter went to the Federal Communications Commissions with sign-ons from some of the most eminent names in the local music industry, asking the Commission to take a serious look at the epidemic of college station sales.