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FCC Grants Assignment of KCNL to USC for use as a KDFC classical radio outlet in San Jose

KCNL 104.9 to Be Sold to USC (Photo: J. Waits)

KCNL 104.9 to Be Sold to USC (Photo: J. Waits)

Yesterday the FCC granted the request by Principle Broadcasting Network to assign the license for San Jose-area radio station KCNL 104.9 FM to University of Southern California (USC) for use as an outlet for classical radio station KDFC.

Along with granting the license assignment (part of a $7.5 million deal), the FCC also granted the application to convert the license status for KCNL from commercial to non-commercial educational following consummation of the transaction between Principle and USC.

This is great news for KDFC’s owners, as they have been scrambling to expand the formerly commercial radio station’s coverage after the KDFC brand was transferred from Entercom to Classical Public Radio Network (90% owned by USC) in 2011.

When KDFC left its powerful commercial radio home last year, its programming moved to the former college radio station KUSF 90.3 FM through a lease agreement with KUSF’s owner, University of San Francisco. Student and community DJs at KUSF were removed from the station and a pending sale of the KUSF license to CPRN is still awaiting FCC approval following an FCC inquiry into the deal. Although KDFC morphed from commercial to non-commercial and changed owners, its classical music programming is similar to what it was a year ago.

Principle has been operating KCNL as primarily a brokered Spanish-language talk radio station. Although the station is licensed to Sunnyvale, California; the station has been broadcasting out of the historic KLOK studios in San Jose at the same location as sister stations KLOK and KSJO.

It’s unclear when USC will take control of KCNL, but the purchase agreement stipulates that the closing of the sale should occur within 10 business days following FCC approval. According to President of USC Radio Brenda Barnes, “We are working on setting a closing date and a date to begin broadcasting. I should know both this week.” The purchase agreement also calls for a waiver of the FCC’s main studio rule. According to the main studio waiver request filed in March:

“The University of Southern California (‘USC’), proposed assignee of the license for KCNL(FM), Sunnyvale, California…respectfully requests that, upon consummation of the assignment, the Commission waive the main studio rule, 47 C.F.R. §73.1125, to permit USC to operate KCNL as a ‘satellite’ of commonly-owned noncommercial educational station KDFC(FM), Angwin, California…USC expects that KCNL will retransmit one hundred percent of the programming that originates on KDFC, which is predominantly classical music.”

In addition to its 90% share of KDFC (formerly KNDL in Angwin, CA) and of a Los Gatos translator station at 90.3 FM, USC also owns radio stations throughout California, including KDSC (Thousand Oaks, CA), KESC (Morro Bay, CA), KPSC (Palm Springs, CA), KQSC (Santa Barbara, CA), and KUSC (Los Angeles, CA).

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