Exactly one month earlier, on Jan 18th, KUSF radio, as everyone knew and loved it, was quietly put to sleep when the plug was pulled midway during DJ Schmeejay's Tuesday morning show. On that date the FM terrestrial signal's owners (the University of San Francisco) ceded control of the 90.3FM frequency to CPRN (Classical Public Radio Network), who have since been broadcasting classical station KDFC on the FM frequency once synonymous with eclectic freeform programming. In the past month there have been countless events organized to protest this deal, which still needs to be approved by the FCC.
In addition to the six DJs spinning sets at Amoeba last week, many other celebrated KUSF DJs were also in the house, including Tomas, David Bassin, The Germ, and Steve The Creep. Starting at noon (local Pacific time) New Jersey's WFMU broadcast the Haight Street Amoeba event; in turn, 13 other radio stations picked up that feed and re-broadcast it, putting their normal programming on hold for three hours in an unprecedented show of solidarity for KUSF. Stations included KZSU Stanford, KFJC Los Altos Hills, KALX Berkeley, and KSCU Santa Clara, as well as KDVS Davis and two Los Angeles stations, KXLU and KXSC. Across the country radio stations broadcasting the event included WREK Atlanta, GA, WXYC Chapel Hill, NC, WCBN Ann Arbor, Michigan, KVRX Austin, TX, KRFP Moscow, Idaho, and WITC Cazenovia, NY.
The name for the broadcast, KUSF In Exile, is also the name that the KUSF DJs plan for their soon to launch online version of KUSF that the displaced KUSF DJs will stream 24/7 via WFMU's website. Basically the plan is to set up KUSF in new studios somewhere in SF and start broadcasting shows online first, until the protest with the FCC over the signal transfer is won and KUSF is back on the FM dial. As the Save KUSF organizers pointed out recently on a Facebook update, "We can't buy back our radio station without fierce legal representation. We are bolstering our army of pro bono lawyers with a few key paid FCC specialists to deliver the terminal blow to this rotten USF/USC/Entercom deal." The update went on to direct people to where they can make tax-deductible donations in this fight.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors already voiced their feelings on the USF deal when they recently voted 8 to 3 in disapproval of the transfer of the station's FM signal. Now the Save KUSF organization is appealing to the FCC. They have also been busy mobilizing former listeners & supporters of KUSF to submit their own letters of disapproval to the FCC. The cutoff date for Save KUSF supporters to write a letter to the FCC is this tomorrow, Friday. Here's a link to an outline of what to submit to the FCC. You may also forward your letter to Michael Bloch, who will be submitting an entire public folder to the FCC by Friday, Feb 25th so that it arrives by Saturday, Feb 26th.
Back in the nineties WFMU radio went through its own battle when it fought and won its independence from New Jersey's Upscala College. WFMU station manager Ken Freedman was the orchestrator of that deal that resulted in WFMU becoming its own independent entity, one that is 100% listener supported and completely non-commercial. Last week Freedman flew out to San Francisco to meet with the Save KUSF organizers and their lawyers to offer his advice, plus allowing the KUSF DJs in exile a place on the WFMU website stream to do their shows in the meantime.
With the overwhelming show of support Save KUSF has already witnessed, a victory in this battle seems quite likely. As so many are quick to point out, the $3.75 million sale price placed by the university as the station's value is by no means an unobtainable figure for supporters of such a beloved radio station to raise if they work hard enough and reach out to the right people (ones with deep pockets). That love for 90.3FM was quite evident last Friday at Amoeba SF as the KUSF DJs did their thing, playing amazing music sets. As co-host Gaylord Fields, who called the long list of radio stations showing support for KUSF "an honor roll," noted, "What could have easily and quickly turned into a bitter spitefest was instead a display of fantastic radio that shows, not tells, the wicked folly of the university's shutdown and sale."
For general info on the battle to restore KUSF to the FM airwaves visit SaveKUSF.org and the Save KUSF Facebook page. To make donations to Save KUSF's legal costs click here. And to listen back to the KUSF in Exile Amoeba SF instore, go to the WFMU archives.