After a two-month struggle with the recent sale of their station, KUSF members have managed to acquire a little more time to hopefully regain control over their cultural, musical and social outlet to the San Francisco Bay area.
On Feb. 11, classical music station KDFC issued a request on the University’s behalf to move the radio transmitter to the city of Sausalito.
Until the FCC approves the KUSF’s license transferal to KDFC, university affiliates continue to have control over the transmitter that broadcasts the 90.3 airwaves throughout the Bay area. The transmitter is currently located in the KUSF offices on the USF campus.
Miranda Morris said that one of the “concrete reasons” for the request is KDFC’s desire to be in complete control of the function and access to the transmitter.
According to Jennifer Waits of radiosurvivor.com, a news site that “attempts to shed light on the ongoing importance of radio”, the transmitter move was requested on the grounds that “upon approval of the FCC, the [station] license will be transferred to an entity not controlled by the university…it is necessary to relocate the station’s transmitter site”, as stated in the request filing. The move would also allow much easier access to the transmitter and antenna, both which are currently monitored by USF security staff.
Morris said the move would provide KDFC, a listener-supported radio station, with a clearer signal to “broaden their classical [music] listening base” in the Marin County area who would contribute the most monetary support to the station. Moving to the 90.3 channel transformed commercial KDFC to a noncommercial station.
The FCC denied USF’s request to move the transmitter due to the signal disruption it would create for stations broadcasting in the same area. In the FCC’s letter to KUSF, they state, “KUSF has provided insufficient justification in support of its request for waiver…the request for waver IS DENIED.”
Though the denial has prolonged the final steps of KDFC’s move to 90.3, Morris believes the station is getting a little too cozy. Until the FCC approves the license transferal, KUSF remains in charge of the transmitter and anything broadcasted on 90.3, she said. “KDFC is acting like they own the station”. Morris pointed out KDFC’s “arrogance for not telling listeners that [the station] is still KUSF/KDFC” as one of several technicality issues KUSF is having with the station.
Though KDFC still has a chance to reapply a second request for the move of the transmitter, there is a bit of optimism in resurrecting the Bay Area’s only noncommercial radio station. KUSF is able to buy more time to stall the impending sale of their license to KDFC, owned by the University of Southern California. More petitions to deny the license transfer can continue to be filed for a short period.
“We are in an uphill battle to get the license back. Little things like the denial to move the transmitter have been God sent to us”, said Morris.
Morris reports there are only 2,000 noncommercial radio stations out of the 13,000 stations that operate in the United States, calling the vast difference in numbers a “national crisis”.
“With community radio, you have a direct audience. There is direct communication between the producers, hosts and programmers. If you’re listening to NPR’s Breath of Fresh Air, for example, that’s national. You’re not going to call into that [show]”, Morris said.
KUSF student volunteer Chad Heimann advocates the community’s opportunity to have an “alternative voice” through noncommercial radio. He added, “It breaks down the floodgate and gives the public access to mediums that they wouldn’t usually have access to.
Radio, television and magazines are all a one-voice media. It’s really hard for the public to have access to these mediums because it’s something people build their careers around.”
According to Heimann, KUSF currently streams two online stations, one station that serves as a training tool for student DJs and is completely run by students, and a temporary station called KUSF in Exile.
KUSF in Exile combines “disenfranchised volunteers and students” with staff at their noncommercial sister station, WFMU, based in New Jersey. With donations, KUSF in Exile was able to set up a studio space in the Bay Area. This station “attempts to recreate what the station was like prior to the shutdown with former community and student volunteers”, said Heimann. “It’s pretty close to what it was before…it’s pretty much the original 90.3, but online.”
The station will run until KUSF finds an FM station to do their broadcasting. Heimann said, “Our dream is to get back on the air…but for now we’re still doing shows and being present in the community”.
To stream KUSF in Exile, go to
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