Statement on the shutdown and sale of KUSF-FM

For Immediate Release: Download as a PDF

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.

8 Responses to “Statement on the shutdown and sale of KUSF-FM”

  1. Julia Mazawa says:

    Stephen A. Privett, President of USF, is not interested in serving the greater community. He states that “our students’ (sic) do not pay their rather high tuition to subsidize providing alternate music for the outside community.” Despite making it impossible for KUSF to raise its own funds in a realistic and efficient manner, Privett criticizes the station’s staff and listeners for having “never covered the cost of delivering the service they enjoy at the expense of USF students and their families.” And despite his lack of respect for “alternate” music and culture, he is the boss and is likely completely within his rights as head of an institution of higher learning to further the university’s pursuit of mediocrity as he sees fit.

  2. Elizabeth Stergiou says:

    Thank you for trying to keep the station, and all it represents, alive. I am a former student and volenteer and have listened for most of the past 30 years. KUSF has provided the alternative to corporate radio that we still so desparately need and brought to the SF community valuable music and ideas that would not have otherwise been presented. I support your efforts.

  3. joslin pollard says:

    please contact me if fiscal support looks possible to bring back KUSF, i’d be happy to donate.


  4. mart says:

    how can 34 years community-building be eclipsed,
    written off, like an asteroid drilled down on kusf?
    thanks for your statement.

  5. Dan Steele says:

    My recommendation (as a community radio director) is to find ways to focus on the way the sale was transacted. The FCC is going to brush off any format related concerns or issues relating to programming. And considering how they’ve allowed non-local NPOs to create large networks, they’re not likely to be too concerned about either USC’s purchase of KUSF or the expansion of KUFX (they’ve been allowing the disaster of over-consolidation for years now.)

    But if you can find an issue with the way the station appears to have never been put on the market, just sold to USC, or some other legal or transactional issue, that could go somewhere.

    KUSF (and the other Bay Area college stations) are some of the greatest, most locally in touch freeform radio in the nation. Keep up the fight.

  6. [...] WRVU site (link on right). Meanwhile, the story has gone viral on the blogosphere, including this post on Arts&, which proposes an alternate plan: The $3.75 million sale of KUSF-FM by the [...]

  7. Jai Jai says:

    It cannot be overestimated how important KUSF has been in the history of SF Bay Area music (of many genres) and in defining “college radio” as a force to which commercial stations had to stand up and pay attention. For decades, KUSF has introduced new music, new sounds and new voices to the airwaves. My band received airplay, as did many others, who were unsigned to labels and were not being played anywhere but KUSF and some other like-minded “college stations.” There is no way to replace KUSF. It must be saved and must continue to be a non-commercial voice on the airwaves.

  8. Vince Piantanida says:

    How about some information on who and how to contact at the FCC and what might be pertinent information to include in a comment.

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