Volunteers, staff hurt by KUSF sale

January 19, 2011 5:17:57 PM PST
The University of San Francisco announced the sale of part of its long-running radio station on Tuesday, and some locals are upset over the transaction to the University of Southern California.

KUSF, a community radio station that has been in operation since 1963, has sold its bandwidth 90.3 FM to the university for $3.75 million, according to officials.

USC plans to operate KDFC, a local for-profit classical station in operation since 1946 on 102.1 FM. It will transition to 90.3 in a nonprofit format.

The KUSF sale was part of an effort to reinvest assets into USF, university spokesman Gary McDonald said.

But hundreds of station volunteers are angered by the sale.

"They are in shock and in a state of extraordinary immobilization," said Josh Wilson, a board member on Independent Arts and Media, a local nonprofit that supports 22 arts projects.

More than 200 volunteers run KUSF, McDonald said, including about 20 USF students.

"When the station began, it was completely student-run. Now it's almost completely community-run," McDonald said. "Our role is not to run a radio station. Our role is to teach students."

McDonald said the university currently only offers one for-credit course in conjunction with the station, and only 12 students can take the class each semester.

Students will still be able to take the class because although the station bandwidth was sold, the university plans to continue broadcasting its programs online, McDonald said.

"We didn't sell music inventory. We didn't sell the logo," he said. "Our audience can still listen to us at kusf.org."

But Wilson thinks an online offering isn't enough.

"There is such a thing as a digital divide," he said. "There are people that are too poor and can't afford the technology or a digital hookup."

Paid employees at KUSF are also upset by the sale, and they are planning a protest alongside volunteers at 7 p.m. today at the university, Wilson said.

The protest is an effort to block the sale, which Wilson said still has to go through 30 days of public comment before it can be approved and finalized by the FCC.

Protesters hope to raise $4 million to present as a counter-offer to university officials and then take over the station.

The protest will be at Fromm Hall at USF at 2130 Fulton St.


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