Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?

Our buddy Joshua remembers it, because up until a couple days ago, he was a DJ on beloved local terrestrial radio station KUSF. Presumably he will someday be a DJ on beloved internet radio station, but c’mon, that’s nowhere near as romantic. Below, Joshua shares his thoughts on this week’s troubling events:

I woke up the day KUSF was pulled off the air to a frantic phone call
from a fellow KUSF DJ named Michelle. First thing I hear her say is
they knocked off Howard (DJ Schmeejay) while he was on the air & then
changed the locks on the doors to the station. I ask Michelle where
she was, to take a breath & go a little slower. She says that
transmitter is gone, sold by the school & none of the DJ’s are being
let back inside the building.

Looking back now it seems like a parody of itself, the last bastion of
rock n roll radio being turned into some nightmare dentist’s wet
dream, the fruition of our labors given way to a classical music
station. The phone call launched me out of bed into a mad rush in
search of answers. My e-mail had overflowed, emotions bursting through
each sentence, letters of anguish, disgust, confusion, condolence.
Sifting through the electronic ashes I discover that the deal had been
made behind closed doors, non-disclosure acts were signed to prevent a
public backlash, yet press releases were sent out ahead of time.
Before anyone I worked with even knew our radio station was being shut
down, the media was finalizing stories about it.

So what then? What could I do, there was still more e-mail to read
through, more calls to make & return. Already two of my fellow DJ’s
were on the case, stampeding through the campus, demanding
explanations and some sort of justification for abandoning the
community. Their questions were rebuffed and I can only speculate as
to what the true cause of any of this is. Money gets talked about a
lot and I don’t know where the truth ends and opinions begin. I do
know that the people who were the heart of the station will remain
active throughout the city’s social scene & that there will always be
room in this town for the dedicated and passionate.

I listened to DJ Schmeejay’s show on the KUSF archives, the last show
to be broadcast on 90.3 FM. A more than fitting though somber way to
put an end to the beast, taken by surprise at its finest hour. The
very moment when the music turns to static resonates oddly in my mind,
I ask myself if I had seen this coming. I don’t mean to say I question
why this happened, this is the story I’ve seen happen so many times
throughout music’s history, be assured those that must will continue

There is one thing that the other DJ’s keep saying to each other that
I’m intrigued by, that we’re all going to have to stick together.
Knowing how much time and effort goes into keeping strong one of the
pillars of the bay area’s music & cultural scene, I don’t know exactly
what the effects of the loss could be. It could be considered a shame
the way they pulled KUSF off the air but I think it could also maybe
get people’s attention about the current state of music in general.
There’s enough people out there that’d like to see something done –
figuring out how to do it in a way that best suits the needs of the
community will be the next step.

My attention’s got. What’s next?

SFist has all the details of the sale of KUSF right here.

Join Save KUSF if you like.

[Photo by Joshua too]

11 Responses to “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?”

  1. Andy says:

    Sadly, I think the station is finished. Non-students will not be allowed to participate in the online format, and from the Q&A session last night with USF Prez, there appears to be no commitment on how much funding would be provided to the new ‘online’ KUSF.

    “Don’t worry kids, we’ll put you on Internet radio! It sounded like the wave of the future ten years ago, but we figured out it’s the nicest way to shove you into a dark closet!”

  2. I don’t want to denigrate Joshua’s thoughts about KUSF, because the station clearly meant a lot to him and his community, so I’ll keep my first reaction to this thing brief: Now, more than ever, the only radio station that matters is WFMU, in New Jersey. It was also once owned by a religious college, but when the school went bankrupt, the people who were most dedicated to the radio station formed a non-profit organization and bought the station license. The station survives today with no school money, no business grants, and no corporate funding — it is entirely listener-sponsored (I’m one), with two broadcast signals and a huge internet archive of shows. It’s too late for KUSF to go that way, but there’s still a lot of potential in internet radio — WFMU is listened to all over the world.

    • Andy says:

      And WFMU nets a nearly $600,000 2-week annual fundraiser. That’s what you get, partially form being world-renowned, but also for being in a market like NYC.

      Coming from the background of KDVS, we raised nearly $70k during our best annual fundraiser…. this is a station that broadcasts in DAVIS, and half of Sacramento. KUSF, if the Uni had ever allowed them to raise their own funds, could have easily topped this, simple from the bay area market. So when Privett says the station wasn’t supporting itself, that could have been easily solved—- while giving students the education of running a fund drive, nothing to scoff at.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      I think it is making a huge, and unspportable, logical leap to go from “This is a station that matters.” to “This is the only station that matters.”

      • You’re right, of course. I was using the hyperbolic over-statement as an ironic cultural reference to the days when The Clash were referred to in advertising as “The Only Band That Matters”. The Clash were important, but you should “take only as directed”, which is to say, NOT LITERALLY.

  3. stereo steve says: is still up and running. check it for news reports, updates on ways to get involved, and streamable shows from the recent past

  4. David says:

    To say it’s an incredible longshot is probably an understatement, but this is about the only thing left to do. Inundate ‘em!

    Also, @ CrankyOldMissionGuy, USF’s prez was asked last night about why he didn’t give the community the chance to buy the station (and basically create another WFMU model), and at one point he said something to the effect of “nobody asked.”

    But at the same time he said he couldn’t tell anyone about the impending sale because of non-disclosure agreements. He was supremely slimy, and hid his obvious personal distaste for KUSF behind weak bureaucratic arguments. Banality of evil style shit.

  5. Susan says:

    I fully support any action that can be taken to keep KUSF alive, even in an online format. I have been an avid listener for the four years that I’ve lived in the Bay area and was devastated when the signal cut out on Tuesday. The station is an amazing resource local music and businesses, as well and just plain weird, wonderful music that you can not hear anywhere on the radio, whether along the dial or the world wide web. Thanks to the people who created the station long before I found it and have kept it going strong. None of us deserved to be dumped without explanation! The past few mornings at work without my punk rock and noise have been difficult- KUSF, I’ll miss you!

  6. Karen says:

    Agreed, WFMU is a good station. But it’s not something that’s local, that have DJ’s who work and live in the bay area and play and interview local artists. I’ve sent the emails, signed the petitions, done what I can from my laptop.

    Not to be crass, but money and an organized community effort is what is needed to get KUSF back on the dial. I’ll stay tuned through the FB page and Archives site and pitch in where I can and try and keep my cynical side in check.

  7. chalkman says:

    this leaves KFJC and KALX as the last bastions of college radio in the Bay Area