At a lunch-time protest outside Entercom’s San Francisco offices yesterday, KUSF supporters reminded their foes that the fight regarding the future of college radio station KUSF is far from over. Around 50 protesters gathered outside Entercom’s Third Street studios, voicing concerns about the corporate radio conglomerate’s role in the complicated deal that led to the removal of University of San Francisco’s college radio station KUSF from 90.3 FM. Save KUSF spokesperson and former KUSF Music Director Irwin Swirnoff explained that, “the only winners in this deal are Entercom.”
Back in January, 2011, commercial radio group Entercom (owner of more than 100 commercial radio stations) off-loaded classical radio brand KDFC to Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN). Entercom quickly replaced KDFC’s classical music programming on 102.1 FM with a simulcast of its newly purchased (also in January 2011) rock station KUFX (K-FOX). It’s been understood that Entercom stood to make more money in advertising revenue from the rock station format than from KDFC, which may have been the reason why it handed over KDFC programming to CPRN.
At the same time, CPRN submitted paperwork to purchase not only KUSF 90.3 FM, but also religious station KNDL 89.9 FM. Soon after the KUSF shutdown on January 18, 2011, KDFC’s classical music broadcast switched from its commercial home at 102.1 FM to the two non-commercial stations at 90.3 FM and 89.9 FM. Although KDFC changed owners, its programming continues to originate from Entercom’s studios.
Ever since these signal changes, KDFC listeners have expressed displeasure because they are no longer able to hear KDFC south of San Francisco and KUSF listeners have protested because they have lost their station entirely. In part, yesterday’s protest was an attempt to raise awareness about Entercom’s role in the whole deal as many KDFC listeners might just think that all that changed was a place on the dial and a move from commercial to non-commercial. Representatives from Save KUSF handed out flyers that stated:
“Entercom, a national media conglomerate helped orchestrate the shady deal which took KUSF, a valuable public asset, off the air. Entercom pawned off their long running classical station KDFC to Classical Public Radio Network…and…Public Radio Capital. CPRN and PRC, in their quest to buy the KUSF license are trying to create a media monopoly on the left hand side of the dial.”
A number of speakers, including San Francisco Supervisor (and mayoral candidate) John Avalos addressed the assembled crowd and called for citizens to write to the FCC requesting formal hearings. Avalos, who was a co-sponsor of a San Francisco Board of Supervisors-penned resolution opposing the sale of KUSF, lamented the loss of KUSF. He praised the station for the variety of programming that it aired, calling it an “island” in the midst of an increasingly corporate radio landscape.
Friends of KUSF’s lawyer Alan Korn reminded everyone that University of San Francisco’s President, Father Stephen Privett deflected questions about the pending sale back in January when he encouraged protesters to take their concerns to the FCC. Korn pointed out that the series of ensuing FCC filings have worked to raise many issues concerning the deal to sell KUSF. In fact, Petitions to Deny filed by KUSF supporters may have prompted the FCC to investigate the deal further. Former KUSF DJ David Katznelson said that he’s encouraged by the FCC’s recent letter of inquiry into the station sale and argued that, “The FCC is hearing us…We’re winning.”
Former KUSF DJ Daniel Everett, who has filed legal actions against USF and has submitted complaints about the deal to the FCC, said that he was proud of the work being done to save KUSF. He said, “eventually we are going to…reap the rewards…when that deal goes bust…” KUSF supporter Damin Esper, stated that typically the FCC approves these types of deals quickly, but that in this case they haven’t because of the work of KUSF supporters. Esper pointed out that the loss of KUSF has left many listeners “disenfranchised,” especially those who tuned in to unique cultural shows like the locally produced Chinese Star Radio.
Save KUSF spokesperson (and former KUSF Music Director) Irwin Swirnoff said that he believes that it’s important to “stand up against the commercialization” of the non-commercial side of the radio dial. He added, “we’re not stopping our fight any time soon.”
Complete Radio Survivor coverage about the proposed sale of KUSF can be found here. I also wrote about my reaction to the KUSF shut down and to the Save KUSF Multi-Station Live Broadcast on Spinning Indie. My article chronicling my KUSF field trip 2 years ago is housed there too. For more on the bigger picture of college radio station sell-offs, see my December 2009 piece, Cash-strapped Schools Turn Their Backs on College Radio. And, for a quick overview of the situation at KUSF, see my article, The Story Behind the KUSF Shutdown on PopMatters.
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