EMF’s Natural Bridge To A NoCal Exit


For the past year, a California non-profit corporation has been raising funds on a crowdfunding site to give it the necessary cash needed to bring a new listener-supported community radio station to a coastal city within an hour of San Francisco.

The effort began in the wake of the August 2016 demise of a long-time community noncomm.

Guess what? Thanks to more than 350 donors, a deal was consummated April 26 and filed Monday (5/7) with the FCC. The seller? Educational Media Foundation.

It’s an interesting twist of fate for community radio in the city of Santa Cruz, Calif., a short drive from the San Francisco Bay Area via Highway 17.

In July 2016, Class B KUSP-FM 88.9 in Santa Cruz ceased broadcasting amid severe financial troubles and 50% turnover of its board of directors.

By late December 2016 KUSP had been sold, along with its four associated translator stations — K206BQ, in Hollister, Calif.; K207CN, in Santa Cruz; K217EK, in Pala Colorado Canyon, Calif., and K237EV, in Big Sur Valley, Calif. – through a U.S. bankruptcy court authorization order for a total purchase price of $605,000.

The buyer was EMF, led by Mike Novak.

With a big signal focused on Monterey and Salinas, KUSP became KLVM, a KLOVE network affiliate. Meanwhile, Class A KSRI-FM 90.7 served Santa Cruz as EMF’s Air1 Christian Top 40 network member station.

Then, something interesting happened. In April 2017, K217EK, K237EV, and K207CN were sold by EMF to University Corporation at Monterey Bay — owner of dominant NPR member station KAZU in Monterey-Salinas.

Now, EMF is selling again in the market — and saying farewell to KSRI-FM 90.7. It has agreed to sell the Class A hugging Santa Cruz (it does not reach Watsonville or points south) to the newly formed Natural Bridges Media for $265,000.

That’s the exact amount raised on its YouCaring crowdfunding page.

“As we await final approval by the FCC, we are raising funds to buy equipment, build the studios and pay our tower rent for the first year,” the team of what will become “K-SQUID” writes. “We figure it will take between $80,000 to run for a year as we build other forms of revenue such as underwriting and pledges.”

A change in call letters from KSRI to KSQD-FM is in the works.

“Some said we’d never do it, but we did!” the K-SQUID team said. “Our station will broadcast news and interviews based on the journalistic ethics and standards; truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability. We will celebrate that colorful, exciting, beautiful, innovative and quirky place we call home. Programs will be engaging, high-quality and original, focusing on telling the stories of life here on the central coast.”

KSQD will also air the nationally distributed Democracy Now! 

The website www.centralcoastcommunityradio.org is already up and running for the soon-to-be KSQD. The station’s logo (at right) was designed by donor Russell Brutsche. The K-SQUID name and calls beat out KSCF (Santa Cruz’s Favorite) and KFPB (Free Speech Broadcasting) in a local online poll conducted by Natural Bridges.

A 10% escrow deposit has been made to EMF.

Natural Bridges’ assets include $5,000 in radio studio equipment. Board Chair is Rachel Goodman of Bonny Doon, Calif.

Natural Bridges Media is also lead by vice-chair Edward Hearn, a local attorney who served as the legal counsel for the buyer. The legal counsel for EMF, as has been seen in recent deals, is Paige Fronabarger of Wilkinson Barker Knauer.