Q: What can you tell us about the nature of the FCC inquiry with respect to the sale of KUSF?
A: USF’s side of this is being handled by our general council. Our general council is working closely with USC [University of Southern California] and a communications attorney. I am not monitoring this on a daily basis. I do know that this is taking longer than we had anticipated and that we want to be prepared for whatever decision the FCC makes. That’s about as much as I know.
Q: Has the university complied with the inquiry?
A: I do know that we produced, I believe, over 2,000 pages at their request, so I can’t imagine that there’s more that they want. Although if they want more, we’ll give them more.
Q: You said that you are not monitoring the situation personally. But has there been any dialogue between the university and the FCC since the inquiry was made?
A: With me? I’ve had conversations with our general council. Not about strategy but more of just saying ‘when are we going to get this thing resolved?’ because this is taking far longer than I had anticipated when I made the decision to sell KUSF. So it might have been more of a reflection of impatience than any great desire to get involved. The strategic thinking, how we’re going to proceed, what we deliver, is all being handled by our general council, USC, and an outside attorney.
Q: Do you have any idea as to when this will be resolved?
A: We originally had anticipated a decision in November, I was told. Before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving? If we don’t get it before Thanksgiving, the likelihood of getting it after Thanksgiving-Christmas diminishes. It could be as late as January. They [the FCC] have a number of options as I understand it. They can ‘ok’ the sale, they can call for a hearing. Those are at least two of the options that I know of. I think there are two other, but I’m not quite sure what they are.
Q: Is there anything that you think the USF community should know regarding the inquiry?
A: Well, I think there’s a fundamental conflict here. The Friends of KUSF [organization trying to reverse the sale] are not the friends of USF. My responsibility is to ensure that the university pursues its mission and the mission is not vague. It’s in black and white. Our mission is to promote learning in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. That’s our mission.
So, my job is to ensure that our resources advance the mission. The sale of KUSF is to take this asset and translate it into a liquid cash asset and invest that cash asset to more effectively promote the mission.
I just did a little back-of-the-envelope calculation. $3.75 million could be used to hire 25 full-time faculty, it could be 100 full scholarships for students, it could be the renovation of the bookstore, lounge space, or crossroads twice over. I have to look at what’s going to serve the greater good of the university mission. I think the so-called Friends-of-KUSF are interested in keeping their access to a community radio station, which doesn’t do much for our mission.
I don’t expect them [Friends of KUSF] to understand. I would expect that the university community sees what it is we are trying to do here. I was thinking of an analogy: would you want the Foghorn to be run by 10 percent students and the other 90 percent by the community who come in and take over our newspaper? I don’t think so. I understand that the community would like to have this station at their disposal, but that’s not my responsibility.
I think that the providing of commercial free, classical radio to the entire Bay Area community is a terrific public service and I think to contrast this as public service versus corporate greed is completely inaccurate.
I believe the whole debate is skewed and having spent an hour listening to these folks, I think they don’t really understand what it is we are trying to do. But I would say the university could see what’s really important.