KUSF is sold out from under its volunteers, and local communities are left reeling
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."
SILENCE, THEN LOUDER
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 www.savekusf.org, 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."
Addititional writing and reporting by Carly Nairn.