Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" summed up the KUSF FM situation
I always appreciate when people utilize relevant song lyrics to reinforce a point they are making. Hence I enjoyed, during Saturday's heated Saving College Stations panel discussion on the last day of the NFCB's (National Federation of Community Broadcasters) 36th Annual Community Radio Conference in the Fillmore suite of the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco, when panelist Dorothy Kidd, quoted and gave props to Joni Mithcell's 1970 song "Big Yellow Taxi." "You don't know what you got til its gone," said the Save KUSF advocate & University of San Francisco (USF) media studies professor quoting the song's famous lyrics in reference to how she, as a listener/fan of the beloved SF college radio station, felt in the weeks and months since January 18th when 90.3FM got the plug pulled on it by her bosses at USF.
"We don't need technocrats to come in and control our station," continued the articulate and ever vigilant Kidd, who as a panelist at last month's SF Music Tech Summit similarly spoke out against the actions of the USF administrators. At Saturday's panel however she was directing her comments at fellow panelist (and seeming target of the entire discussion) Marc Hand of PRC (Public Radio Capital) out of Denver, CO whose company was instrumental in brokering the deal that paved the way for KUSF FM's demise.
Another panelist was WFMU New Jersey station manager Ken Freedman, one of the Save KUSF organization's biggest allies, who point blankly asked Hand how he could broker such a deal which he knew in his heart was just plain wrong and detrimental to the community's needs. Freedman was referring to the demise of KUSF and such other stations as KTRU FM - the Rice University radio station in Houston, TX that two months ago similarly had the plug pulled on it following a PRC brokered deal. Panelist Duane Bradley, of Pacifica station KPFT, Houston, spoke on behalf of KTRU and noted that how Rice University's lame excuse for getting rid of the popular Houston college station after 40 years on the air was that they "needed the space to build a new cafeteria." Bradley also made the excellent point of how, when a volunteer run college or community radio station like KTRU or KUSF goes away for good, so too does the combined pool of irreplaceable resources of music programmers who are extremely knowledgeable of and passionate for the music they specialize in - so much so that they do it all for free.
With the panel continually gravitating towards the KTRU and KUSF situations panel moderator Elizabeth Robinson from KCSB, Santa Barbara, was kept busy throughout the morning discussion bringing the topic back to the broader bigger picture of saving college stations. She also posted the pertinent rhetorical question of what do you get from classical station music radio station vs. college or community radio station? She accurately answered her own question: "A wealthier demographic!" Another rhetorical question was posed by WFMU's Freedman. "Does the FCC [Federal Communications Commission who govern the nation's airwaves] support college radio? No!," said Freedman.
Then directing his comments at the several KFJC folks in the house (including music programmer Cousin Mary) Freedman warned that what happened to KTRU and KUSF could well happen to the South Bay station next. But Freedman offered solutions too, urging endangered college radio stations to be proactive. "You have to save yourself. Set up a legal entity, a not for profit," advised Freedman. The current "problems for KUSF" stressed Freedman arose because, "they had not had a legal entity" set up in advance.
The fight to Save KUSF is far from over and today, Tuesday June 7th at noon, there will be another protest at USF's Lone Mountain at 2800 Turk Blvd. Of today's protest Save KUSF member DJ Irwin said it's time to let the USF Board of Trustees know they can still do the right thing and step away from this bad deal for San Francisco. it's time to get 90.3FM back in the hands of the community where it belongs!" For more info on today's event and all Save KUSF activities visit the Save KUSF Facebook page and SaveKUSF.org And click following link to hear full audio archive of the Saving College Stations panel.