January 18, 2012 is one year since the shutdown of San Francisco’s college & community radio station KUSF. At 10 am that morning KUSF’s program director, representatives from the University of San Francisco and armed campus police interrupted DJ Schmeejay while on the air, asked him to leave the studio and turned off the transmitter. It is a horrible silence.
Without knowing what transpired at KUSF, I showed up to do my show at 11:15am (show starts at noon). As I am locking up my bicycle, I am met by fellow DJ and USF student Michelle who can’t even get the words out. USF has sold the station and everyone is getting kicked out. She is followed by Janet and Tresa of the show Love Letters Live who confirm it. Campus police gather in the foyer of USF’s Phelan Hall and I will never enter the station again.
Over the next days, more than a few people would point out to me that no one listens to radio these days. Who cares? Fortunately these naysayers are a minority. I am reminded of when I was just getting in to punk in 1979, the older kids would tell me that no one listens to that shit any more, punk is dead and all that. I just blew them off because I liked what I was hearing and whether it was dead or not would be determined by me. A similar thing happened in the late ’80s when CDs started to take over. I still buy vinyl to this day. Why should my attitude toward radio’s importance or lack of it be any different? Plus the fact that a corporation would pay $3.75 million dollars for a low-power college radio station makes the situation a bit more intriguing.
As the details of the deal emerge it becomes clearer that a very shady exchange is going on. Media conglomerate Entercom is at the center. As the owner’s of KDFC San Francisco’s classical radio station, they sell that station to a University of Southern California non-profit Classical Public Radio Network. Entercom begins to simulcast KUFX a San Jose classic rock station in San Francisco at KDFC’s 102.1fm. KDFC begins broadcasting on KUSF’s 90.3fm. However KDFC’s programming continues to originate from Entercom’s studios. KUSF’s eclectic programming is silenced. The very thin line between public and corporate interests becomes almost invisible.
The former DJs and radio producers under the group Friends of KUSF have petitioned the FCC to deny the sale of 90.3fm. The FCC has begun some unprecedented inquiries into the deal. A year later the sale of KUSF still has not been approved by the FCC. As a comparison it took the FCC almost two years to approve the sale of NBC Universal to Comcast which strangely was approved the day after KUSF was shut down. More importantly USF still has not set up the on-line radio station they promised would be replacing terrestrial KUSF. While waiting for the FCC’s decision, the outed volunteers with the help of New Jersey radio station WFMU have set up KUSF In Exile to continue broadcasting the station’s unique music and cultural programs which include shows in twelve different languages.
To mark the anniversary there is a KUSF Protest at Entercom, 201 3rd St at Howard in SF on Wednesday, January 18 at 10am – the hour the station was shut down.