University of San Francisco President Father Stephen Privett used a weekend op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle to explain the decision to sell KUSF-FM. Angry fans of the station are continuing protests and efforts to save the Alternative station, although the on-air signal made the switch to Classical at noon on Monday.
“USF had to sell radio frequency” was part of the headline of Privett’s commentary in the Chronicle. His basic argument was the USF’s core mission is to offer “the highest-quality Jesuit education” to students – and that the radio station had moved away from its role in that educational mission.
“Though KUSF started as a student-operated station, at the time of our decision to sell the frequency only about 10 percent of the station’s volunteers were USF students. Regrettably, our on-campus listening audience was very small. Only one academic course is offered in conjunction with the station, with just 12 students per semester. In an era of difficult economic choices, we simply could not afford to continue subsidizing, with tuition dollars, a radio station whose primary focus was not our own students. What began as a student enterprise evolved over the years into a near-entitlement for the community. It is important that KUSF remain a robust teaching and learning experience for USF students and faculty,” Privett wrote in the newspaper.
The priest apologized for not telling people involved with KUSF of the planned sale until it was finalized and announced, but said that was required by the legal agreement with the organization which is buying the frequency for its new Classical operation. He also noted that the call letters are not included in the sale and that KUSF will continue as an online-only. The four full-time employees of the station are being offer similar jobs at KUSF.org.
Last week’s protests against the station sale won’t be the last. The SaveKUSF website and Facebook page are urging supporters to turn out Tuesday (1/25) for a demonstration at City Hall in San Francisco ahead of the Board of Supervisors meeting. When RBR-TVBR checked on Monday, just shy of 6,000 people had subscribed to updates from the Facebook page.
Supporters are also being urged to send their objections to the FCC. Indeed, Father Privett is telling his critics they are free to take their case to the Commission. The formal application is expected to be filed this week, which will kick off a 30-day comment period.
RBR-TVBR observation: Why the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is being targeted isn’t clear, since the city government has no involvement with either the buyer or the seller. The objections to be filed with the FCC will no doubt delay approval of the license transfer, but they are unlikely to actually derail the deal.