Radio signals may be fuzzy for the Cardinal in the North Bay, where new ownership of the University of San Francisco radio station, KUSF, will move the transmitter to a high altitude location in the North Bay and significantly limit Stanford’s range of radio listeners.
“Essentially what’s going to happen is that a lot of our coverage in the East Bay and what we get in San Francisco is going to be cut off,” said J.D. Haddon ‘13, KZSU’s sports director. “We are losing a community.”
According to KZSU (Stanford) publicity director Adam Pearson ‘11, the concession of the KUSF radio signal to the Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN) in January for $3.75 million occurred behind closed doors between board members at USF and CPRN. The deal was also made without the knowledge of those in charge of the radio station’s day-to-day operations, Pearson said.
“This is an outrage not only to students who can no longer have the access to a radio station on campus and learn about broadcasting or music, but it’s more importantly an assault on the San Francisco community, which has come to appreciate and depend on the public radio services that KUSF provides,” Pearson said, adding that the price paid for KUSF is a nominal amount for the benefits it provides to the San Francisco community on a year-to-year basis.
CPRN, a corporation owned by the University of Southern California (USC) and Colorado Public Radio, purchased KUSF’s radio signal in order to spread access to classical music. But KZSU business manager Abra Jeffers, a graduate student in management science and engineering, believes there is more to the story.
“USC recently bought up stations, from Mexico to Canada, all along the coast under the guise of saving classical music,” Jeffers said. “They have publicly said that they are going to use [their radio stations] for fundraising and publicity for USC recruitment.”
In response to the change in ownership, Stanford has expressed support for the Save KUSF movement in San Francisco.
“We’re asking for letters of public support talking about concerns over this disruption in our broadcast signal and we’re asking that these be sent to us so we can file an informal objection,” Jeffers said. “Basically we’re trying to help out Save KUSF; it’s in our self-interest and an important cause.”
Jeffers revealed that CPRN is no longer classified as a non-profit due to Save KUSF efforts, and is instead considered to be a limited liability corporation. As a result of this recent change in classification, CPRN can no longer be placed on the left side of the radio dial, which is intended to be for non-commercial, educational non-profit radio stations.
Although KZSU’s present concern is with the CPRN’s recent decision to move the transmitter, USF’s decision to sell KUSF to CPRN highlights another concern among the KZSU staff: the possibility that the Stanford radio station may also be sold some time in the future. In fact, Jeffers said USC has publicly stated its desire to acquire a South Bay station.
The non-disclosure agreement between USF and USC is of particular concern for KZSU. Members of KZSU are currently discussing this matter with an intermediary board between KZSU and Stanford’s Board of Trustees. Pearson revealed, however, that communication between the intermediary board and the radio station is limited.
“Right now we’re independent, but because of our independence we wouldn’t know if we were sold,” said Pearson.
KZSU is currently in contact with the chairman of the intermediary board and plans to meet with Stanford Legal in order to discuss how to best approach this growing concern. Suggestions have been made to simply shift KZSU’s focus to online broadcasting. In spite of this suggestion, Haddon stated that this method would not reach nearly as many listeners.
“This is a huge growing problem for college radio stations,” Haddon said. “This recent situation makes it a lot more real than most people realize and really breaks the Stanford bubble.”