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With KFOG tanking, can KUSP-FM revive Bay Area rock radio?

kfogtwittThere’s all kinds of pain across Twitter-land over the latest rock radio deejay massacre. SFGate reports that legendary San Francisco free form commercial outlet KFOG-FM, owned by Cumulus Radio, has laid off four of its six full time deejays; that plus Rosalie of the beloved Acoustic Sunrise and Acoustic Sunset Sunday shows.

“There were a couple of centuries’ worth of musical knowledge and Bay Area history that went down in a matter of minutes,” SFGate quotes Rosalie Howarth as saying, plus as always some good analysis from Ben Fong-Torres about why the numbers “weren’t there.” This slate cleaning is all preface to a “new format to be introduced April 20.”

I can’t wait. No, actually, I can. Here at Radio Survivor we’ve been following KFOG agony off and on, but I gave up on the station a long time ago. I know, M. Dung, Dave Morey, My Three Songs, 10@10, all kinds of cool history, but when I look at the online playlist now and see mostly warhorses from the 1980s and 1990s, I mean, what’s the point? And what’s coming next, a Cumulus cheapo version of what’s the point?

kusplogoHere’s my perspective, Fogheads: if I want an FM/online radio station that plays a diverse mix of new and older rock/pop with live deejays and some real connections to the local landscape, I’m going to have to pay for it. And that’s why I’ve been donating to KUSP-FM, 75 miles south of San Francisco in Santa Cruz. Last year the station dumped its NPR heavy format for an Adult Album Alternative mix, and I feel like I’ve finally got a rock signal that gets what I want, some classic stuff but also a whole lot of great new content that I’ve never heard of. Plus it’s non-commercial. Plus cool local deejays. That’s why I’m listening, loving it, and sending them money.

Mind you, I think that KUSP could do better. I feel like the deejays are really talented people, but they’re under utilized. I’m surprised that I don’t hear more local guests sitting in on the sessions, sharing their perspectives on music and local issues. That kind of connectivity needs to come from the deejays, not from an array of dropped in shows or modules; the deejays need to function as the window to the community, not just as curators and announcers.

But at this point, it’s really up to the listeners to make sure that KUSP has a chance to explore those possibilities. Basically, the signal has to raise $300k this month or it’s toast. If it doesn’t raise the cash, the station could go off the air. Then I’m dreading that somebody will meet with somebody and they’ll sit there with a smug smile and open their desk drawer and write a check for the license and that will be the end of that. And I’ll go out and grab a garbage bin lid and bang it on my head for a half an hour.

So let’s face it everybody: after decades of commercial music radio bullshit, sudden format changes, Christmas layoffs, mindless morning zoo gossip, Clear Channel, payola scandals, Cumulus, no local anything, and just plain crap crap crap and crap with some special crap topping on top, do we really expect that we’re going to get real quality community based music radio without paying for it?

C’mon music radio lover – if you live in the Santa Cruz/Monterey/San Francisco area and you know what I’m talking about, it’s decision time.


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