Statement on the KUSF-FM Shutdown and Sale

Date: January 18, 2011
Contact: Christine McClintock, Executive Director, 415-738-4975

The $3.75 million sale of KUSF-FM by the University of San Francisco will have a chilling effect on the culture, community and civic life of San Francisco, the Bay Area, and beyond.

Independent Arts & Media is the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor of Friends of KUSF, a volunteer organization that advocates for KUSF-FM’s cultural, civic, community-development and First Amendment services. As such, we propose an alternative plan for the dispensation of the KUSF license and assets, and for the appropriate compensation of the University of San Francisco.

We respectfully request a moratorium on the sale and a grace period enabling the KUSF-FM volunteers, through the agency of Friends of KUSF, to develop and execute the following plans:

  • A financing strategy to raise $4 million for the purchase of the station and to seed startup operations for the station in an off-campus setting
  • An operations plan detailing station management, staffing, policies and oversight by the Friends of KUSF Executive Board

The sale of KUSF as proposed should not be permitted by the FCC, because it will actively undermine the public interest of the Bay Area and beyond in three distinct ways:

  • KUSF provides unique and irreplaceable First Amendment and civic services as a culturally diverse, community-run outlet for independent music, arts, ideas and news. Replacing KUSF’s broadcast signal with an online-only signal will also put KUSF out of reach of anyone without broadband Internet access due to financial, technological or educational barriers.
  • The sale as proposed will actively undermine the cultural vitality of the Bay Area by strengthening commercial “classic rock” broadcaster KUFX, which programs generic, non-contemporary music that already saturates the market via other commercial stations.
  • The sale will also promulgate the generic “wallpaper” classical-music format of the commercial-broadcast veterans of KDFC-FM that does nothing to strengthen or advance the Bay Area’s living, vital performing arts. Indeed, KUSF-FM already runs some of the region’s leading-edge classical music programming, greatly eclipsing KDFC’s depth, quality and commitment to local classical music.

Independent Arts & Media supports people and projects that build community and civic participation through commercial-free media, arts and culture. In 2010, as a nonprofit fiscal sponsor, Indy Arts received almost $200,000 in grants and individual donations on behalf of 22 independent media/culture projects. Indy Arts was founded in 2000 by KUSF and KFJC-FM volunteers; its board of directors includes current and former KUSF and KALX-FM staff.