Thursday, 20 January 2011
Another Light Goes Out
For 30 years KUSF was San Francisco's only college radio station. Last night (at the time I'm writing this) the Jesuit run university disclosed that the frequency was sold for 3.75 million. They shut it down and locked out the staff with no warning and say that KUSF will be internet only. Out of sight - out of mind. The new tenants of 90.3 FM are a station that plays the greatest hits of classical music. They used to be KDFC. I think I may have been the only one in SF that ever listened to them. Now some classic rock station takes over their frequency - and KDFC takes over KUSF and their much weaker signal. What is going on here?
Tonight the USF president spoke at a meeting open to the public. It was incredibly emotional for the people who attended. I was surprised that the University President stood there for so long to repeat the same empty reasons for the death of KUSF in the face of such disdain. I've never heard a priest called a douche-bag before (but it seemed right). There were cops just in case things got out of hand.
I guess they took the first offer that crossed their desk. They signed it without discussion or trying to bargain for more money. The community was completely shut out. They were never given the chance to save the station. I think USF were overjoyed that KUSF was finally gone.
They did the wrong thing.
It was obvious to me as the priest (the president of the school) had been waiting to get rid of the station for years. He (and all those that pretend their lifestyle is a divine avocation) hated KUSF. Instead of trying to alter or tweak the format to suit their medieval beliefs - they just killed it off.
He wanted to manage public opinion by not announcing it because he knew there would be an outcry. He must have known that no one in SF would have advocated the loss of another free form community radio station. He just wanted it gone.
Conservative ideas darken the horizon. Perhaps the priests that run USF have realized that their myth is irrelevant and want to close the door to the world. The trouble is all the outlets that speak to a community are disappearing - and they are all owned by people who are irrelevant except for their money. Everything we see and experience in the public sphere is managed. They talk of freedom of choice but that is only true now if you are rich. (I loved the kid who spoke at this meeting. He was a DJ and is locked into paying 50,000 a year tuition at USF and felt SO betrayed) Of course there is freedom on the internet - but that’s not broadcast to the community for all to hear. It is not a shared experience.
KUSF had its problems but essentially it was a collection of good people volunteering to bring new things to the world. No matter How much the DJ's annoyed me - or how the music made me want to crash my car (yes it almost happened) I loved KUSF and the opportunity it gave musicians like me. I loved it for giving The City a chance to hear new music and media that is not managed. This is the death of something great.
That this happened at a Catholic university is more proof that religion is not a cure - it is a symptom of a greater disease.