A community-based radio group is looking to bring a beloved local station back from exile and put it back on the dial.
San Francisco Community Radio, a group of former volunteers at KUSF (90.3 FM), has filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for a low-power FM radio station, spokesman Irwin Swirnoff said in a statement.
KUSF used to broadcast locally on 90.3 FM and was unceremoniously shut down in January 2011 when the University of San Francisco sold its broadcasting license to the Classical Public Radio Network for $3.75 million.
Officials at the school at the time did not tell the volunteers who worked at the station that it had been sold until after they pulled the plug and KUSF’s broadcast was abruptly cut off.
KUSF broadcast a variety of programming for 33 years in San Francisco until its abrupt shutdown and has been available since then streaming online as KUSF-in-Exile.
The shutdown was derided by the station’s volunteers and listeners as a secretive, backroom deal followed by several protests and legal actions.
A group called Friends of KUSF filed a petition to deny the transfer of the broadcast license from USF to CPRN, and has separately appealed the FCC’s decision to sign off on the sale in June 2011. Those appeals are still before the agency.
The shutdown was seen by many as part of a broader trend across the country as several colleges and universities, whose budgets are continually under tight scrutiny, have put their broadcasting licenses up for sale.
Since the shutdown, Swirnoff said, many volunteers have been fighting to return KUSF back to the airwaves, and applying for the low-power FM license is just one of several efforts to do so. LPFM stations are small, with transmitters of 100 watts or less, and are “designed to serve very localized communities,” Swirnoff said. The FCC will begin announcing new licenses early next year.
“This is a very exciting step forward and an act of resilience and dedication to the mission of getting community radio back on the terrestrial dial,” Swirnoff said.