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Communication Breakdown 

Wednesday, Dec 13 2006
Unless you're one of those high-tech gizmo whores pulling in nine bazillion commercial-free stations with your satellite radio receiver, the wide-ranging sounds pumped out by pioneering college radio station KUSF stand like a 3,000-watt island in a sea of commercial crapulence. So when rumors began circulating a couple of months ago that higher-ups at the Jesuit-run private university had a deal in the works to sell the station's potentially lucrative citywide frequency, both staffers and devout listeners got understandably nervous.

The story was first reported back in October by Radio Alice personality Hooman, who claimed on the air that he had heard from a reliable source that University of San Francisco President Rev. Stephen Privett was angling to sell the station to a public radio interest. When reached by phone, Hooman was reluctant to go on record as to how he came across the information, but discussions with a KUSF staff member who wished to remain anonymous revealed concerns that the school's Board of Trustees might be more interested in a hefty payout than in preserving the cultural and community institution the station has become.

Though University spokesman Gary McDonald stated during a recent phone conversation that the school has no plans to sell the station and is not soliciting offers, the fact that such a rumor could even gain credence should be a red flag to adventurous Bay Area music fans.

The station has weathered challenges in the past, scraping by on shoestring budgets in its cramped campus space and even recovering from an expensive blown transmitter, suffered during a rolling blackout in 2001. Beyond the station's self-billed service as S.F.'s "cultural oasis," manager Steve Runyon also notes that its diverse weekday evening programming allows KUSF to be "the No. 1 community service and social justice outlet for the university," a concept a Jesuit school might back. Although rumors of the station's imminent demise may be just that, alumni, faithful listeners, and community activists might consider sending an e-mail to the Board of Trustees ( to remind them just how important KUSF is to this city.

About The Author

Dave Pehling


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