In reading Brenda Barnes’ statements on the Stanford Daily on April 14 (“CPRN responds to radio sale concerns”), I realized something very important to keep in mind and that is: in this messy fight between the entertainment community, its corporate rivals and the FCC, it is easy for misinformed statements to be made.
Unfortunately, it is even easier for readers to believe that misinformation.
Representatives of large entities should know better than anyone the facts they state publicly — which is why their words, true or not — are generally consumed by the public as informed, competent and accurate.
I think it is appropriate to clear up this grand misconception through one detail that has been incorrectly stated twice. That detail is the “10 percent of those working at KUSF were students” falsity stated by Brenda Barnes. This gross underestimation was used as an excuse to sell our beloved radio station. When Fr. Privett first stated that number at the community meeting the day after the sale, the community and volunteers knew it was a wrong estimate, but beyond booing, the crowd at the time, had no counter-argument.
The only people with the numerical knowledge of student volunteers were the personnel directors/recruiters and the program coordinators making the schedules. Neither Fr. Privett, Brenda Barnes nor any of their constituents, ever asked anyone at KUSF for these numbers. How they derived that information is unknown, but it can be insinuated, that the number was guessed out of convenience and assumption that in their power, their statements would not be debated.
I would like to debate them now with more correct numbers to set the record straight. KUSF’s Program Coordinator the last few years, Brian Springer, has stated, “From the last schedule written for KUSF 90.3fm, 33 percent of the staff were from the USF student body.” This is the number of students who had radio shows and does not include the students who were still volunteering, working their way up to having radio shows.
In addition, I was a Personnel Director for two years at KUSF. At the start of each semester, when we recruited the most (because USF was not helping promote our station), there were on average 15 new student volunteers. I looked through our Personnel records and found that from Aug. 2007 through Jan. 2010, the Personnel Directors (myself, Toby Suckow and Danielle Serna) recruited 171 new volunteers, of which approximately 95 were students. On average per year, there were 30 students introduced to volunteering at KUSF. Out of approximately 200 total volunteers announced in our program guides, including cultural producers/community members, 30 per year add another 15 percent of student involvement. Total, that’s 48 percent, not 10.
One other detail I’d like to point out is Brenda Barnes’ quote, “I doubt Stanford wants to sell the station. We don’t want to take a station away from someone who doesn’t want to sell.”
When Fr. Privett was questioned in January about announcing KUSF for sale, he contradicted Barnes’ statement by saying, “We took no initiative to dispose of the radio station. We were approached, and we responded positively.”
It is this lack of precise information that is leading to a demise of the media format this new generation is looking to for knowledge. Unfortunately, we’re not debating over loose celebrity gossip. These ‘facts’ have aided in bringing down a 34-year-old radio station. In numbers, Stanford has nothing to worry about in regards to KZSU. However, I’d like to call on Stanford students to make sure they’re not being lied to about their station not being solicited, or about anything else.
KUSF Volunteer/USF Alumna
I have four letters for you: KDFC.
These four letters were not mentioned once in either of your recent articles on KZSU’s recent fit of paranoia.
KDFC is a San Francisco-based classical music station. Until recently, it served the entire Bay Area. It was started in 1946 and eventually became one of the most popular classical stations in the country (and in the Bay Area, one of the most popular stations, period). It has worked closely with the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera, providing live broadcasts of concerts. It was the last commercial classical station in a major U.S. city.
In January, its owners, Entercom Communications, decided to get rid of KDFC and replace it with a classic rock station. This was not for a lack of listeners — according to Arbitron, KDFC had more than 600,000, more than any other local Entercom station — but because it was more difficult to find advertisers for a classical station.
Rather than shut down the station, the staff of KDFC decided to move it to a non-profit, listener-supported format like other classical stations have done around the country. For whatever reason, presumably because of their experience in the field, they chose USC as a partner for the financial support needed to make this possible.
As their corporate owners retained the station’s frequency and broadcasting equipment, KDFC was forced to quickly acquire new signals in order to keep broadcasting. This included both KUSF and KNDL, a Christian station. KDFC now has a hodgepodge of weak signals with spotty coverage. It currently cannot serve the South Bay or much of the East Bay, because the power of its broadcasts has been greatly diminished. Their recent transmitter move was an attempt to improve their coverage in the East Bay and on the peninsula. They are looking for a location to serve the South Bay but need to wait until someone is willing to sell.
Contrary to Haddon’s claim, the Stanford bubble is stronger than ever. This story is not about USC trying to send pro-Trojan messages through our airwaves or disrupt KZSU’s signal. This is about the preservation of a San Francisco institution that has served the Stanford community, among many others, for decades.
Alex Landau ’10, M.S. ‘11