Static at KUSF – station sold, public meeting planned



Today the University of San Francisco (USF) announced that its radio station, KUSF, is moving to an online-only classical music format.

Before its transmission unceremoniously went to dead air and static, KUSF had been on air for 34 years. An important independent media source, it's been one of the Bay Area's chief sites for new and innovative music, with DJ-informed playlists devoted to local, experimental, international, “loud,” and “other” music, in addition to genres such as rock/pop and hip-hop.

Some volunteers and staff members discovered the change in-person. “When I came in [this morning] they'd just shut things off,” said Miranda Morris, the station's Marketing and Advertising Coordinator. “They proceeded to have facility management change the locks, and I was asked to go home for the day.”

According to a statement from the university, the FCC license for 90.3 FM has been assigned to the USC-owned Classical Public Radio Network, which plans to launch a Bay Area non-commercial classical musical station. “The move to online-only distribution gives KUSF a powerful opportunity to grow its worldwide audience,” the statement declares.

USF's President, Rev. Stephen A. Privett, would not comment on the sale. His office directed calls to Gary McDonald, USF's Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs, who did not respond by press time.

Before the sale, “there'd been rumblings in terms of a possible move [of the office],” said Irwin Swirnoff, the KUSF DJ behind "Sleeves on Hearts," a weekly music show that frequently includes guest spots and interviews with local and touring musicians. “Our monthly staff meeting [in January] was eagerly anticipated because the move would be discussed. But on Monday we got an email that the meeting was canceled.

“We as volunteers decided we would meet anyway, even if it was outside. Right before the meeting, we got an email from the station manager that said staff were forbidden to meet because [the University] wasn't ready to present details about the move, that we were moving within campus, and it would be business as usual. We took that statement at face value.”

At the moment, the amount that KUSF was sold for is unverified, as is the impetus behind the sale. “Steve Runyon, the station's general manager, thinks the station and its transmitter were sold for about 5 million dollars,” said Andre Torrez, a KUSF volunteer. “The call letters were not sold.”

A meeting at which questions regarding the sale will be addressed is planned for 7 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 19, at Fromm Hall in the USF Campus at 2130 Fulton St., SF.

“We want to show the university the cultural and community importance of KUSF, and we want listeners to show their support of KUSF and independent media,” said Swirnoff.

“First of all this a school that prides itself on its Jesuit beliefs and values. Right now the values they are acting on are greed and dishonesty.”


Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

USF COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT'S GOIN ON HERE??????????

Posted by Peter G on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

Wow. I'm pissed, but a bunch of sludge-doom-metal-indie-folk-garage-hyphy-psych-rock loving kids seem like not much of a match for $5million in instant revenue in this day n' age. BIG bummer :( Hopefully a thousand pirate radio stations arise from this and cause endless nightmares for the FCC and, somehow, for USF.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

KUSF provided much more than that... Don't forget about the Chinese-Russian-Jewish-German-Polish-Classical Guitar-Classical-Reggae-Country-Ragtime-Blues-etc for listeners of all ages who are not a match for $5million in instant revenue in this day n' age. This is a huge cultural loss to our city.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 10:47 am

Seems that the USF Administration had visions of rebelling students protesting the shutdown of their University radio station without consultation....

Were it only true...

Posted by Charley_sf on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

It's too bad about KUSF getting crunched for the sake of USC. But hey, it's a Catholic Jesuit school and 34 years underground above ground with university support is a great, long run. But it's too bad because it was a good station - it was good enough to broadcast Cantonese news, discussions of important issues and living tips each weeknight at 6 p.m. That segment also played good melodic Chinese music, not the commercial junk on Chinese radio on AM. Commercial junk rules the air around here. Radio that espouses freedom is a precious thing. KUSF was a shining exponent of that, a beacon of hope and fun out here in the western reaches of SF. Freedom of the air is gone out of the SF market. KALX of Berkeley and KZSU of Stanford and maybe a couple others are the last over the air college stations left standing around here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

Makes me sick to my stomach,
Kusf has been a huge part of my sf life, actually got the signal
better since I moved to the east bay.
Just another nail in the coffin of the sf underground scene.
Goodbye KUSF, you will be missed.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 8:55 am

Cant they use the Sutro Tower or something? I heard some bandwidth was open after the digital TV switch. The call letters are still alive, there HAS to be a place KUSF!!!!! Ill be at the meeting tonight.

Posted by sean on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

We aren't gonna give in. Keep us posted and how we can help. Maggie Dee and Patrick Connally,
Lookin' forward to new paths shared

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 11:27 pm


Posted by Guest on Feb. 05, 2011 @ 9:18 am

oh gosh not another death of a radio station.

Posted by Jonathan Valdez on Feb. 05, 2011 @ 9:20 am

KUSF is temp. going "black"-not streaming shows...but WILL BE BACK in late July! Stay interested as we want to bring you updated information on issue important to the disability community! KUSF studio is being moved to a small studio--old equipment is going and new equipment arriving. All of the producers, will I do not speak for them are saddened that we are stuck in this place...many contributors have raised money...and still need money to fight this sale before the FCC. STILL waiting to hear the FCC results. We must keep KUSF alive while this process is moving forward. Stay with us as we ride this horrible wave of uncertainity."Disability and Senior News Report" Maggie Dee, producer

Posted by Guest Maggie Dee, Producer on May. 16, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

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