After over 40 years, USF’s first radio station, KDNZ, is signing off for good this semester. General manager of the student-run station, senior Renae Santa Cruz, cited a lack of student involvement, in terms of production and audience, as the main cause for the station’s closure.
Santa Cruz began her involvement with the station her sophomore year. By the end of the school year, she was one of the only volunteers consistently working there. The students who were running the station at the time were graduating, and they offered her the highest leadership position of general manager.
But managing a station proved to be a difficult task with little support. By the end of the year, there were few volunteers left, and even fewer listeners. She felt the only logical solution was to discontinue the station. “It is kind of sad,” she said. “It’s like the end of an era.”
Founded in 1963 by then-undergraduate Steven Runyon, the station aired on an AM signal for many years. Meanwhile, USF’s other radio station, KUSF, began airing on an FM signal in 1973. The two stations quickly took on their own identities, KDNZ serving as the student voice of USF and KUSF taking on the greater San Francisco community as its audience, with many members of the outside community also coming in to volunteer.
KDNZ continued to run original programming by and for USF students, while KUSF became renowned through the city and eventually the world due to its innovative programming. KUSF has won numerous awards as a college and community radio station and is recognized for having introduced musical artists who are now world famous.
“KDNZ has been kind of left on the back-burner. Concurrently, KUSF has been building upon themselves quite well for the past 30-40 years,” said Rebecca Chan, former music director for KDNZ. “Most students who really want a foot into the radio industry, for experience and extracurricular interest, find KUSF the place to do so.”
In the 1990’s, KDNZ relinquished its AM frequency and began broadcasting online-only. During this time the popularity of the station waned. KDNZ continued providing programming for students, but fewer students were tuning in online. Santa Cruz said, “No one listened to us. We would have a show on and the only people listening would be the hosts’ friends.”
In addition to online radio shows, KDNZ has long served as the primary provider for DJ services for the campus community. They are often the ones spinning records in Harney Plaza, providing the soundtrack to many USF events. Santa Cruz said she hopes for this service to live on, even if KDNZ does not. “We’re trying to figure out what to do,” she said. “We still want to provide DJ services.” One idea she has is to make this service a branch of KUSF, a possibility she will soon be discussing with them; another is to start a generic Music Club on campus, where musicians and DJs could come together and figure out ways to perform and distribute their music.
Santa Cruz also regrets that it will now be more difficult for students interested in radio to start their own show at USF. “With KDNZ, students could come in with no experience. We would train them on the equipment and they’d be on the air,” Santa Cruz said. With KUSF, on the other hand, students often need to volunteer at the station for months before having the opportunity to get their own show.
KDNZ, formerly a funded account by the Associated Students of USF, will no longer receive funding. They continue to hold on to their office space, but only until another use for it is identified. Chan said, “Overall, our fate is uncertain.”