The USC Borg

Jennifer Waits posted on Radio Survivor about the latest move by CPRN to absorb more of California into the borg, a ploy that has the folks at KZSU plenty worried:

On Tuesday, April 12 the FCC approved University of San Francisco’s revised request to move the transmitter for KUSF out of San Francisco to Sausalito and issued a Construction Permit (PDF).

This “minor change in licensed facilities” request, made on behalf of Classical Public Radio Network (which is awaiting FCC approval on its application to purchase KUSF 90.3 FM), is part of CPRN’s attempt to increase coverage for their classical music broadcast of KDFC.

The Stanford University station has mobilized forces (Facebook link on right) and is trying to fight the move:

As we reported last week, Stanford University’s college radio station KZSU is worried that moving KUSF’s transmitter will have a negative impact on their broadcasts over 90.1 FM. Despite the recent FCC approval of this move, KZSU is still working hard to prevent it from happening. KZSU Business Manager Abra Jeffers told me  that KZSU is still consulting with engineers and analyzing the application in order to ensure that their signal won’t face interference from KUSF. She added that beyond the issue of potential interference, she is also troubled by the potential sale of KUSF as it represents a  “loss of educational community programming.”

KZSU encouraged its listeners to write letters to both KZSU and the FCC expressing concern about the KUSF transmitter move. KZSU was expected to submit a letter to the FCC on Monday. They also are working on a Petition for Reconsideration that they will send to the FCC in the days to come regarding the transmitter move.

On Saturday, Abra hit the streets for Record Store Day and along the way she collected letters from KZSU listeners. She told me, “People were literally thanking me for giving them the opportunity to do something. I was just surprised at how easy and positive the response was.”

Although KZSU stopped collecting letters over the weekend, they are still encouraging listeners to write directly to the FCC and to members of Congress.

This post on the Stanford Daily website adds this:

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.”

An interesting development from the Save KUSF movement:

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.”

Comments there ran hot and cold, but with one perhaps prescient exception:

What happened last year to KTRU’s 40,000 watts at Rice will happen to you. It is only a matter of months now. It will be all of the same bs lies spun as justifications (particularly the notion that you should go Internet only), and the underlying motive ($$$ and more control over what should been protected as its own separate non-university entity like the Daily a long time ago) will be the same. The reaction and resulting “outrage” and “protest” and lawsuit will be the same. The result will be the same.

The sycophants for your demise are already out on this board. Saying things like “It does disappoint me that KZSU sounds so exactly like all the college radio stations airing from the various community and tech schools in my area.” Yeah, maybe that’s because it’s a college radio station, and the people who have by and large VOLUNTEERED to run it want it to sound that way. Maybe it’s the part that the radio station is a student activity that requires PARTICIPATION by STUDENTS that is hard to grasp. Or that each PARTICIPANT brings their own ideas as to what they want to contribute, rather than having them spoon fed by some purported authority. Or that collectively those ideas can even CHANGE given enough like minded individuals who get together and take some form of action like PARTICIPATING or something other than posting junior high level “KZSU is the mean girls, they don’t like me, they don’t want to be my friend, I’m not going to listen to them anymore” whiny little b!tch comments on the Internet.

And then there’s “you guys need to do some serious branding to get your name out.” Go home and do exactly what Bill Hicks commanded of people in marketing: Kill yourself. It’s a student activity, not a cost center. Learn the difference.

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