WHAT HAPPENED to KUSF 90.3 FM ? In a secret three-way deal with media conglomerate Entercom and the University of Southern California (USC), the University of San Francisco (USF) entered into a contract to sell the KUSF 90.3 FM license to the detriment of our local community. The sale was announced on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, when the station was abruptly shut down.

This action does not serve the public interest, and does not contribute to diversity and localism on the airwaves. We are fighting to stop the sale of KUSF 90.3 FM to USC.

For 34 years, KUSF San Francisco defined free-form local radio that reflected the city’s unique heart and soul. Famous for featuring diverse cultural programs as well as new underground music, KUSF was one of the first radio stations in the U.S. to play punk rock, and also served a dozen different language groups. An irreplaceable source for community news, information, music and culture, KUSF reflected San Francisco’s diversity, earning the moniker “Your Cultural Oasis.” You can help us fight this travesty by generously donating to Friends of KUSF, while our lawyers petition the FCC to block the sale. Help restore an essential voice of the San Francisco Bay Area to the air. Any amount will benefit. Please donate now. Thank you for your support!

KUSF Studio KUSF DJ Irwin KUSF DJ Cathy Cohn

Help us save KUSF 90.3 FM – San Francisco’s Cultural Oasis

KUSF has been a learning laboratory for USF students and a thriving communications hub for San Francisco’s diverse cultural and ethnic communities for 34 years.
The station served as a free communications nexus for a wide variety of small businesses, civic groups, and arts organizations, and regularly featured independent film, authors, educators and musicians from the Bay Area and beyond.
Broadcasting programs in 13 languages, KUSF served local ethnic communities that had no other voice on the broadcast spectrum, including 90 minutes of Cantonese news programming every weeknight.

From 1963 until 2011, KUSF 90.3 FM was a community- and student-run broadcast FM station owned by the University of San Francisco (USF). On the morning of Tuesday, January 18, 2011, USF officials informed the on-air DJ that the station was shutting down, and that he was to immediately cease programing and leave the broadcast studio. That DJ and the other community and student volunteers on site were then escorted off the premises by campus police.

Having secretly decided to sell the station, USF President Stephen A. Privett entered into a complex three-party arrangement with USC and corporate broadcasting giant Entercom. The KUSF license was sold without public hearing or notice, even to USF students or faculty.

Our Mission Statement & Community

Our object is to support the preservation of the KUSF FCC license as a local, diverse, Non-Commercial Educational (NCE) station serving its San Francisco Community of License. Our group includes KUSF DJs, USF faculty, and diverse community members, all working together to stop the sale of KUSF and return community radio to San Francisco.

Further Information

  • Friends of KUSF legal filings
  • Press releases
  • Supporters
  • To volunteer
  • A Field Trip to KUSF – Spinning Indie

What You Can Do

Donate to Save KUSF
Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley want you to volunteer to Save KUSF
Listen to KUSF streaming online
Help save San Francisco noncommercial educational radio. Your donation will go to our lawyers to fight the sale of KUSF to USC. Friends of KUSF is a  nonprofit association of individuals with the goal of saving KUSF. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Join us  in our fight to return free-form FM radio to San Francisco. We can use music PR people with good media lists, graphic designers, admin support, benefit hosts, office space, and food for volunteers. Contact us at volunteer (at) savekusf (dot) org.

(photo: Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo)
WFMU in New Jersey is kindly sharing part of their online stream  with us while we wait for the FCC to rule on our petitions to deny the license transfer. KUSF is still here!

(photo credit: Iggy Pop by Bobby Castro)

A Brief History of KUSF

From 1963 until 2011, KUSF was a student-run broadcast station owned by USF. Following the frequency’s sale, KUSF announced plans to become an online-only station. In May 2011, USF demolished the station offices and studios in Phelan Hall on the university campus, as part of a renovation, leaving only the transmitter in place while the sale is pending FCC approval.

Until the abrupt January shutdown, KUSF had been funded by USF, local and merchant underwriting, individual donations, and foundation grants.

KUSF began in 1963 as a campus-only AM station-managed by the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF). In 1973, USF was offered an FM radio station by a small local Bible college that wished to discontinue its radio operations. USF accepted the offer and on April 25, 1977, KUSF launched as a noncommercial educational (“NCE”) FM station broadcasting on the 90.3 frequency. The campus-only AM station was later repurposed as student-managed KDNZ.

Originally broadcasting only six hours a day, in 1981 KUSF grew its programming into a 24-hour service. In its early days, KUSF was a conventional college station, broadcasting programs of interest to the university and greater San Francisco community. However, KUSF soon garnered attention by playing new underground music: it was one of the first radio stations to play punk rock. Many now-famous acts also first gained exposure on KUSF, such as The B-52s and Metallica.

KUSF was nominated for “College/Non-Commercial Radio Station Of The Year” in the 2008 PLUG Independent Music Awards. In July 2000, KUSF was named one of twenty recommended radio stations in the United States by US Airways’ “ATTACHE” magazine. KUSF possesses Gold Records from groups including R.E.M., The Bangles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cowboy Junkies, Midnight Oil, the B-52s, and Love and Rockets. KUSF has received numerous commendations for a long-running community service series that was broadcast weekly. A Certificate of Merit was awarded to KUSF by the American Heart Association for outstanding service in stimulating public support in the fight against heart disease.

On June 7, 1998, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown held “Fighting Back Day in San Francisco” in honor of KUSF’s community service series for senior and disabled citizens. The mayor also held “KUSF 90.3 FM Stereo Day In San Francisco” on April 25, 1998, KUSF’s birthday. KUSF was the recipient of the National Association of College Broadcasters’ National College Radio Award for “Best Community Service Programming” in 1993-94. KUSF was named Best Radio Station by SF Weekly in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and in 2011. Numerous KUSF DJs have been honored by SF Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

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