And Then There Were Three?

At the rate of consolidation of the big three — corporate radio, NPR, and religious radio — independent radio may go the way of the eight-track tape. Of what concern is that of ours? Well, do you want to listen to only what music the bean counters deem fit or that “counts” well? News filtered through an organization running scared from right-wing boogie men? Only radio content that’s divined to be “appropriate”? That’s where we’re headed, aided and abetted by our guardians in the FCC (who seem to be willing to go along with whatever the big guys want) and, shudder, what appears more and more to be some sort of agenda of the puppet masters.

The following is a letter posted on Facebook by the hard-working folks in the Save KUSF movement, touching on the loss oa college radio in San Francisco:

My name is Bobby Lee, I’m a graduate of USF, class of 2007. Although my major was Finance, I spent four years volunteering in the Production Department because the idea of radio, audio production and voice-over work absolutely fascinated me. KUSF is important to me not only because of the great experience and training I received, but also because of how it is indicative of the university’s continued effort to terminate programs on-campus that are not in line with Father Privett’s agenda.

KUSF has been one of Fr. Privett’s largest victims thus far and we’re just one organization in a long line of victims that have suffered at the hands of a tone-deaf and insensitive university administration.

Not in a million years could I have imagined that my own Alma Matter could bring upon itself an immense amount of negative publicity by selling KUSF and lead the local prime-time television newscast on three separate days within a one week period. As an alumnus, my role is to take an active interest in helping to develop the university into a world-class educational institution, and more importantly, to ensure that the decisions that are being made on a day-to-day basis by administrators positively influence and shape USF for years to come. I would have expected USF to perform proper due diligence for this sale. Someone in this administration said “there’s a need to sell KUSF, the deal on the table is fair, and it’s in the best interest of the university.”

Whoever that may have been, lied through their teeth. There was absolutely no reason to sell this radio station, contrary to what the administration has said. On top of that, they did not make the best deal financially either. Over the past 10 years, only a handful of radio stations have changed hands in the Bay Area. Every one of those stations fetched $10 million to $40 million. USF accepted a low-ball offer from the University of Southern California for a paltry $3.75 million. But Fr. Privett had the gall to stand up and say to the community that his hand was forced and that it was the best offer. Not only was this not the best offer, it was the only offer. USF wanted to slice-off KUSF from the university’s budget so fast, it didn’t even have time to clean up the blood. And frankly, as we’ve been shouting from the mountain tops for the past month or so, this sale was not in the best interest of USF.

Bottom line, we need to save KUSF not only because it serves as an essential link for the USF and local communities, but also because we need to send Fr. Privett a message that the buck stops here. Not one more organization, not one more group will be ousted because of his failed agenda. Because if we don’t, every single student organization and educational program on campus that’s not in favor with Fr. Privett, is at risk of being shut down.

Bobby Lee

Also posted on the Facebook page is a link to a New York discussion group’s view of the Moment of Silence protest in college radio:

Bill Scheffler: It didn’t get much attention elsewhere, but many college and other non-commercial community radio stations observed a minute of silence at 1-PM EDT today with the hope of increasing public awareness of the value of college radio stations to their local communities.

The demonstration was the result of the recent sale of Rice University’s KTRU, the pending sale of the University of San Francisco’s KUSF-FM and the potential sale of Vanderbilt University’s WRVU.

I just happened to catch the moment of silence on WFMU in East Orange, NJ, which used to belong to Upsala College and was purchased and rescued by its mostly volunteer staff when the well respected liberal arts college closed in the 1990s.

WFMU has continued as a community supported non-commercial station with a free form format since.

In leading into today’s intentional minute of dead air, both the program host and station GM mentioned how free form and traditional student run college format stations are being bought by wealthy religious broadcasters, or being added to NPR affiliate networks essentially as relay stations.

In the New York City area, college and other independent non-commercial stations provide lots of variety on the FM dial that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

WBGO with Jazz, WFUV with AAA, WSOU with Heavy Metal, WFDU, WKCR, WFMU with a variety of musical program types including Jazz, Country, New Age, Asian music and more.

Unfortunately, as you travel around the US you will find areas where the entire non-commercial end of the FM dial has the same one or two programs, either NPR or a local religious network on every available frequency. There is nothing live and local even run by volunteers or college students.

The “Crawdaddy Magazine” link below provides more details on what some college broadcasters are calling a crisis.

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