On 18 January 2011, the University of San Francisco sold its FM broadcasting license to the Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN), a nonprofit entity owned by the University of Southern California (USC). CPRN, in turn, adopted the staff and music of the Bay Area's last commercial classical-music station, KDFC, turning KDFC's programming noncommercial and airing it on KUSF's former frequency, 90.3 FM. This might seem a net boon for classical-music lovers, except that the range of the 90.3 FM signal is significantly less than that of KDFC's former frequency (102.1 FM). In the end, what the sale did was to reduce the availability of classical music on the air and to eliminate KUSF's programming altogether -- programming that served a far more diverse and far less well-represented set of communities.
I've discussed the issue at greater length in several entries:
- "No more radio for KUSF" (18 January)
- "Thoughts on the KUSF meeting" (20 January)
- "Father Privett responds" (22 January)
- "KUSF in Exile" (18 February)
- "S.F. tidbit: 102.1 ad and the KUSF deal" (27 February)
What I haven't done, however, is to point you explicitly to the Web page for the SaveKUSF campaign. SaveKUSF is dedicated to stopping the still-pending sale of USF's license to CPRN.
SaveKUSF might at first glance seem to be a quixotic campaign: the FCC, to my knowledge, has never denied a license sale. However, two Petitions to Deny have been filed; the one filed by Friends of KUSF can be found online courtesy of Media Alliance. Friends of KUSF's petition details the shady way in which the transaction was carried out and the ulterior motives of CPRN's president, Brenda Barnes, who appears to be using CPRN to develop (and ultimately, one assumes, to promote) an online music service. At the very least, the fight for the license may shed some much-needed light on the backroom dealings that involved not just USC and USF, but the media conglomerate Entercom as well.
However, carrying out the legal fight against the sale of the license requires money -- a lot of it. SaveKUSF is asking everyone with an interest in preserving local, community-oriented radio to help with this fight by donating. Visit SaveKUSF to find out how to donate via PayPal or by check.
I've said before and I'll say again that KUSF's programming was worth preserving because it went beyond music: the station served a dozen or more foreign-language communities who can find such programming nowhere else on the radio dial. In addition, there were shows addressing the needs of the disabled, the theatrical community, and other groups. The capper is that KUSF also played classical music, the kind of classical music that KDFC, with its emphasis on "popular" pieces and composers, would never touch.
You can get a flavor of what KUSF was, and more importantly still is, by checking out the "KUSF in Exile" Internet stream featuring many of the programs and hosts left out in the cold on 18 January. Some of the programming is new and live; the rest is from the KUSF Archives. Go to the KUSF Archives for the link to the stream. (Many thanks to WFMU for hosting the stream, and for generally providing terrific advice and moral support to the SaveKUSF campaign.)