Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Memorium: KUSF 90.3 FM

On Tuesday January 18 San Francisco non-commerical college radio station KUSF 90.3 FM's broadcast license was sold and forceably taken off air. This came as a shock to its more than 200 volunteer staff and students who were not consulted about the sale beforehand. University officials announced the move yesterday and said that the station would revert to an online-only format.

ForwardEver was a 15-year volunteer at KUSF on programs including The Friday Night Session and Saturday Nite Rockers. This is a major blow to independent artists, musicians and labels who rely on the station for exposure and promotion. In addition to independent and alternative rock, the station featured programming in eight different languages including Mandarin, Portugese, Armenian and Farsi.

The university's unilateral move saw  KUSF's license and transmitter (but not the call lettters "KUSF") sold to University of Southern Califiornia's KUSC, a classical radio station, who will use the frequency to broadcast KDFC-FM, a former commerical classical station that was not able to compete in the for-profit market. Read more about the deal in the Bay Citizen's article.

The FM radio band cannot afford to lose another independent music voice. College radio licenses have been under threat for some time as universityies look for ways to close budget gaps and struggling commerical stations fight for remaining bandwidth. This is mostly due to corporate radio consolidation and the rise of internet broadcasting over the past decade. The SF Weekly is reporting that DJs are organizing actions to restore the station, but that the FCC was likely to still approve the sale.

The sale of KUSF is especially distressing to fans of 20-year broadcaster Brixton Hitman, whose programs Saturday Nite Rockers and English Pound Radio were the only programs West of the Mississippi to regularly feature British lovers rock music on a regular basis. Likewise, I will miss broadcasting with the Friday Night Session crew to a live FM radio audience; the show's four hosts connected regularly with local listeners via the show's happy hour events and weekly broadcasts.

If you care about the station's future or wish to support it in it's new format, visit regularly for upates or search Facebook for the Save KUSF fan page.