The Belly of the Beast

The Save KUSF Facebook page (link now on right) has blossomed overnight, with more than 3,500 fans in one day. At this point it’s past 4,300, perhaps soon to challenge the vehemence of the folks on the Save WRVU site (link on right). Meanwhile, the story has gone viral on the blogosphere, including this post on Arts&Media.net, which proposes an alternate plan:

The $3.75 million sale of KUSF-FM by the University of San Francisco will have a chilling effect on the culture, community and civic life of San Francisco, the Bay Area, and beyond.

Independent Arts & Media is the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor of Friends of KUSF, a volunteer organization that advocates for KUSF-FM’s cultural, civic, community-development and First Amendment services. As such, we propose an alternative plan for the dispensation of the KUSF license and assets, and for the appropriate compensation of the University of San Francisco.

The author, Christine McClintock, executive director of the nonprofit, makes excellent points about the sale strengthening commercial “classic rock” broadcaster KUFX, which programs generic music already saturating the market commercially, and a “generic ‘wallpaper’ classical-music format of the commercial-broadcast veterans of KDFC-FM that does nothing to strengthen or advance the Bay Area’s living, vital performing arts. Indeed, KUSF-FM already runs some of the region’s leading-edge classical music programming, greatly eclipsing KDFC’s depth, quality and commitment to local classical music.”

Unfortunately, she’s preaching to a tone-deaf choir in the FCC when she implores them to block the sale because it “will actively undermine the public interest” — something which the agency has shown a great disdain for (witness its response to the legal efforts at Rice University, chronicled here). If you’re talking about a mega-consolidator wanting to suck up another mega-corporation, then the FCC is all ears. Or a power play by the über lords of radio — “public” as well as commercial — to foist a junk science like HD radio off on unwitting consumers to benefit a monopoly company and its eager minions . . . Now you’re talkin’.

Understandably, the fans on the Facebook page take to task the “brothers” of the Jesuit-run USF for their behind-the-back dealings and mealy-mouthed mumblings self-righteously justifying their actions. Best face the facts, folks: They’re not your brothers. They just sealed a deal with the corporate borg absorbing local radio stations. A camel will sooner pass through the eye of a needle than they will actually take what you care about to heart. A bit of optimism might be more supportive, but it’s the cynic who usually avoids disappointment. A quote from the last KUSF post here bears repeating:

Henry A. Giroux | Beyond the Swindle of the Corporate University: Higher Education in the Service of Democracy
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: “Memories of the university as a citadel of democratic learning have been replaced by a university eager to define itself largely in economic terms. As the center of gravity shifts away from the humanities and the notion of the university as a public good, university presidents ignore public values while refusing to address major social issues and problems. Instead, such administrators now display corporate affiliations like a badge of honor, sit on corporate boards and pull in huge salaries.”

Jennifer Waits, long a supporter of college radio, now finds herself battling to save a station in her own backyard. Her posts, found on Spinning Indie and Radio Survivor (links or right), speak to the joy of free-form college radio, the salvation of discovery, and revelation of the next coming. Her most recent post contained some impassioned entreaties from students in an overflowing meeting with the USF president Privett:

Chad Heimann, a KUSF DJ and a junior Media Studies major at USF, said that “yesterday when I was at KUSF and thrown out… I didn’t feel like a student, I felt like a criminal.” He explained to Privett that he was also a campus tour guide and that he refused to give a tour the day after the shut-down because he didn’t “want to have to say anything bad about the university.” He also expressed how important the non-student volunteers and the San Francisco community are to KUSF, arguing, “I know for a fact… we can’t do this without the community… I can’t run a radio station without the community… I love them and I learn from them.” He also told Privett that right now he feels “ashamed” to attend USF and said, “I feel so betrayed by the school that I love so much.”

An excellent, heartfelt piece by Jennifer, counterpoint to an odd discordance: The president who opened the meeting with a prayer is the “brother” who could countenance locking the students out of the radio station and giving them the bum’s rush out the door. For their own good, of course.

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