KUSF's axe-man, Father Privett, stepping down

Father Privett at a meeting about the closure and sale of KUSF
Photo courtesy of the City College Guardsman

The University of San Francisco president who sold off beloved community radio station KUSF in 2011 is stepping down in August, the university recently announced. Father Stephen Privett is known by elected officials and higher-education folks as a strong, stalwart 14-year leader of San Francisco's oldest university. But to local artists and music lovers, Privett was and will always be the axe-man of KUSF.

And no, we don't mean he shredded on the guitar.

KUSF continues to rock on as San Francisco Community Radio, but in 2011 its spot on the terrestial dial was sold and closed.

The day it went down, KUSF radio's employees and volunteers were unexpectedly tossed out of their studio, the locks were changed, and they learned then and there that the station was sold. The signal went dark, radios went silent. The USF-hosted radio station long broadcasted renegade tunes on 90.3 FM, with programming in a variety of languages few other stations replicated.

Privett brought the hatchet down on the beloved radio station, silently. The backroom deal to sell KUSF's spot on the dial to a Southern California classic music radio station was brewed largely in the dark, with only two KUSF employees told before the day the station was shuttered. Both were silenced under non-disclosure agreements, according to news reports at the time. 

In his farewell interview with USF's campus magazine, Privett touched on his controversial decision. 

"KUSF was originally student run and operated, and a valuable learning laboratory. It morphed over time into a community enterprise where only 10 percent of the workers were USF students, while USF remained 100 percent responsible for its operation and costs.

Our mission is to educate in the Jesuit Catholic tradition, not to provide opportunities largely for non-students. I am obligated to spend tuition dollars to support student learning, and that’s how the proceeds were used: to fund scholarships and academic programs.

USF continues to offer students solid learning opportunities at KUSF.org, which is entirely student-staffed and streamed live on the Internet."

It's safe to say former KUSF DJs and volunteers aren't sad to see him go. 

"Sadly, a black cloud continues to linger over Father Privett's legacy, due to his shady and dishonest actions in killing one of the largest and most vital community radio stations in San Francisco," former KUSF Music Director (and DJ) Irwin Swirnoff told the Guardian. "With all the drastic changes the city has gone through since the sale of the station, the loss of KUSF is extra devastating as the need for a spot on the terrestrial dial for artists, activists, musicians, and underrepresented communities."

Privett has led San Francisco's oldest university for 14 years, and this will be his last semester presiding over the Jesuit institution. This weekend, May 16-17, Privett will send off a graduating USF class for the last time. Meanwhile, the fate of the former KUSF-in-Exile, now SFCR, is still in limbo.

The staff and volunteers of KUSF filed an appeal of the sale of the station with the Federal Communications Commission back in 2012, former KUSF DJ Damin Esper told the Guardian. The appeal has neither been ruled on nor dismissed.

SFCR also filed with the FCC for a new spot on the dial, 102.5 FM. The frequency is known as Low Power FM, which has a variable broadcast strength. On its blog, SFCR says the broadcast range of 102.5 FM is as of yet unclear. 

But what is clear is that no matter what his accomplishments at USF, Privett will long be remembered in San Francisco as the man who shut down KUSF. 

"The station was gutted and demolished; dorms now stand in its place," former DJ Andre Torrez told the Guardian. "He did what he felt he had to do in order to make his instant millions. Our vast vinyl library was handed over to the Prometheus archive, with no option for the Save KUSF volunteer/ activist group, which still broadcasts online only, to purchase or access the collection." 

"We were major. We had Nirvana, The Ramones, Metallica, Iggy, Green Day, and more recently Ty Segall all as live in-studio guests when they were emerging artists or on the brink of breaking through. Father Privett probably wasn't fully aware of how important KUSF was, but we certainly would have let him know how we felt had he cared or asked."

"He has been instrumental in killing community terrestrial radio in San Francisco," Torrez said, "and for that, he should be ashamed."


radio station. I'd settle for them selling a good education and being better than CCSf, which admittedly is not setting the bar very high.

USF is a good place, especially given that SF doesn't have a world-class university, save for law and medicine.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 4:27 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 2:00 am

It's better than USF law school so is the best in SF itself.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 6:13 am

Attending Hastings is a life-destroying mistake for most students. Cost of attendance over three years is around $250k and few graduates make enough to service their debt.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 10:59 am
Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

Are you on drugs?

Posted by marcos on May. 17, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

A debt of a little over a year's salary isn't such a big deal

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

A few lawyers.

Posted by marcos on May. 17, 2014 @ 8:04 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:49 am

28.5 % unemployed

Roughly 75% making less than $100k

Nearly 90% making less than $150k


Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

All lawyers are rich!

Everyone knows that!

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

probability of making 150K while young, along with medical school.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:50 am
Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:56 am


Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 7:41 am

He's not even 35 yet.

Stanford, though, not Hastings.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 7:56 am

"Stanford, though, not Hastings."

A minor difference.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:14 am

The student body at Hastings is comprised of students who applied to Stanford, but couldn't get in.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:29 am

And the much higher % of Stanford students that make $160k or get other jobs that they want. Hastings students fight over Stanford's leftovers

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:59 am

is way better than the worst Stanford grad.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 11:30 am

For the faculty, money and locations, nothing - I mean NOTHING - beats City College of San Francisco! We are fortunate for the history and presence of USF, but let's not compare what CCSF does for San Franciscans and the future of the City and County with USF or even SF State (the growing SoCal exclave).
Furthermore, for most sports and for variety in all strata, CCSF is by far more interesting than the four-year USF. With so many UC and CSU transferable courses at City College - save some of that money for two years before your young adult transfers to USF or somewhere else by sending him or her to City!

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2014 @ 2:32 am

For the faculty, money and locations, nothing - I mean NOTHING - beats City College of San Francisco! We are fortunate for the history and presence of USF, but let's not insult what CCSF does with San Franciscans and for the future of the City and County with USF or even SF State (the growing SoCal exclave).
Furthermore, for most sports and for variety in all strata, CCSF is by far more interesting than the four-year USF. With so many UC and CSU transferable courses at City College - save some of that money for two years before your young adult transfers to USF or somewhere else by sending him or her to City!

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2014 @ 2:37 am

For the faculty, money and locations, nothing - I mean NOTHING - beats City College of San Francisco! We are fortunate for the history and presence of USF, but let's not insult what CCSF does with San Franciscans and for the future of the City and County with USF or even SF State (the growing SoCal exclave).
Furthermore, for most sports and for variety in all strata, CCSF is by far more interesting than the four-year USF. With so many UC and CSU transferable courses at City College - save some of that money for two years before your young adult transfers to USF or somewhere else by sending him or her to City!

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2014 @ 2:38 am

College radio stations have given students managerial abilities that go far beyond communications (though many have gone into TV and radio). Many corporate leaders cut their chops running and programming shows on college radio. Many of the engineers in Silicon Valley got their first experience on transistorized electronics, digital technology, and computer interfaces at their college radio stations. Running a business that has to meet a budget, fundraise, and manage a group of students and staff from wide ethnic, age, and majors that run from Art to Physics…is something that students don't experience in a classroom.

Posted by Radio Guy on May. 24, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

Privett also gutted the theology department. Read this piece for some backstory:


Posted by Guest Chris Stroffolino on May. 25, 2014 @ 12:19 am

Fr. Privett has served USF for over 14 years with distinction. He has been voted one of the Bay Areas top executives, he's regarded in humanitarian circles as a bold, outspoken leader for social justice, the poor and marginalized. When he arrived at USF, it had a 5 million $ deficit - he's leaving it much healthier, increased it's endowment so that more students in need can afford an education. Yes, the station was beloved but why should USF pay it's bills at the expense of student programs? Yes it was difficult to cut the program but how long did folks really believe USF was going to support this at the expense of it's core programs? Steve Privett is admired around the world for his values based leadership, his broad vision and his ability to cut to the chase, what is important and what is not. USF needed to cut KUSF from it's budget - the Board of Trustees, the folks who financially give to the University, would no longer accept supporting a radio station, in this economy, that was draining money from other programs. Let's be grateful for the day's USF did support it. Yes, it's beloved but sometimes things come to an end. Like KUSF, Fr. Privett is coming to an end at USF - we can be grateful for both and look to the future for great things to come for all.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

2011 Open Letter To Father Stephen A. Privett, SJ

Dear Father Privett, S.J:

When you first became President of University of San Francisco a little more than a decade ago, many of us admired your long-standing commitment to community service, and your passionate investment in making social justice, and the experiences of the oppressed and poor, central to the university’s educational mission. Your impassioned speeches about the need for a “whole person” education that goes beyond the classroom, and your heroic front-line rescue efforts during the Salvadorian Civil War (that saw the CIA-supported militia assassinate 6 Jesuit priests) were very welcome to those who felt that the church, especially in America, had lost touch with the original Jesuit vision and mission.

In El Salvador, the democratic movements the Jesuits engaged in understood the importance of de-centered education, arts and culture. Many believed your tenure would help find ways to translate the “liberation theology” approaches you learned in Latin America to your tenure as President of the Jesuit University in your native San Francisco, and we applauded when you said on taking the job:

“…The best education is one that includes the realities of the world. Without that, it would be knowledge without any of the consequences. It would be knowledge that comes from textbooks and very limited experience. We are not just preparing kids to go out there and make money. They will learn what they need to be successful, but success for us is what they give back to society.”

As recently as 2009, your advocacy of policies to help alleviate global poverty have helped restore some of the original vision to the Catholic church and Jesuit society. Many are grateful for your deep understanding of how the realities of the world justify South African Bishop Downing’s decision to educate people on AIDS/HIV prevention through the distribution of condoms, despite his being censured by the Vatican. Certainly your decision was more in line with the teachings of Jesus, St. Ignatius and John Courtney Murray than the Vatican’s censure is.

Closer to home, your primary success as President of University of San Francisco has been in sustaining the high-ranking of the University’s award winning business and entrepreneurship programs. According to US News & World Report, USF’s McLaren College of Business in the School of Business and Management is ranked in the top 50 business schools. The USF MBA program is consistently ranked in the top ten in the nation for business schools with the greatest opportunities for minority students, and is currently ranked 6th according to the Princeton Review. In 2005, the MBA Entrepreneurship Program was ranked 25th in the nation. In 2009, USNWR ranked USF’s School of Nursing 54th in the country.

Aside from the School of Nursing, 3 out of 4 of these programs are much more about preparing kids to go out there and make money than they are about giving back to society. This may be the most important factor for a successful President of a private university, especially during these times of economic crisis, unemployment, and runaway tuition prices that make it hard to lure quality students.

The success of the Business and Entrepreneurship programs under your tenure, Father Privett, is something to be proud of, but the way you’ve handled the recent sale of the 90.3 FM frequency on which KUSF broadcast(s) does very little to convince an aspiring business major that she should attend the University of San Francisco, as this decision clearly chose short-term economic profits over a model of more sustainable long-term economic growth. At the very least you missed an opportunity here for your business school to help your graduates in the field of job placement that would also more truly live-up to the Jesuit notion of community service, immersion programs and the university’s professed mission to “provide programs and services that support students leadership development.”

I understand that your intentions in selling KUSF were not entirely economic, but rather a result in a change of priority toward science and away from traditional Jesuit staples such as the Theology program and community service. Perhaps your biggest legacy, on which you’ve staked your reputation as President, will be the John Lo Schiavo, S.J. Center For Science and Innovation (for which construction began on December 10, 2010, 40 days and 40 nights before the sale of KUSF).

Since the primary aim of the Schiavo Center is to “push the growing links between sciences and other disciplines, from nursing and health promotion to business and entrepreneurship,” it’s clear you want to broaden the University’s reputation so that its science programs may join the nursing and business programs in the top 50 ranking of the nation’s universities. Such a plan could be a great thing Pro Urbe Et Univesitate (for the city and university, and beyond) did it not, in your hands, come at the cost of both the Masters in Theology Program and KUSF.

The Masters in Theology program has been the most notable casualty of your “take no prisoners” approach toward achieving the Schiavo Center, and serves as the major precedent for your decision to sell KUSF. The economic downturn meant looking at programs that were losing money as primary targets for elimination. In the process you alienated many both within the university, the church and community as a whole, who felt you had done significant damage to USF’s identity as a Catholic institution.

Sure, this decision has its defenders. Many undergraduate students were relieved that theology courses would no longer be a requirement (while ignoring the fact that a Master’s program is not an undergraduate requirement), and surely the companies you’re contracting to build the Schiavo center (as well as the donors you lined up to make this a reality) are glad of your re-allocation of funds and energies. For many, however, you never provided adequate justification for farming this program off to Santa Clara University, which by most accounts does not provide the tools for community service the USF program did.

You argued that “the needs of the church were being met by Santa Clara,” but for a society founded on missionary zeal, reflection retreats, and taking a vow of poverty, your understanding of the “needs of the church” was spoken in a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. Your response to criticisms was an awkward silence, absolutely lacking in the “New Fervor and Dynamism,” with which the Society of Jesus responded to the call of The Pope in 2006. What about the needs of community which the church should serve?

Since you place such a high value on innovation, could not an innovative plan been developed to allow this Theology program to turn a profit without any loss to the service it provided the community? It didn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. No wonder some skeptics have even begun to ask if your intention in cutting the Theology program was to erase the history of your own church, whose mission was too demanding to live up to?

If the sale of KUSF, in addition to freeing up more money for the Schiavo center or the losing basketball team, was intended to appease, or make amends, with those in the university, the community, and the church hierarchy who were alienated by your cutting of the Theology Program, this sale was a colossal failure on both fronts: on a business level, and in faithfulness to Jesuit principles such as education, community service and spiritual growth. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Just as you farmed out the Theology Program to Santa Clara University so did you farm out KUSF to a Los Angeles-based media conglomerate, thus effecting both San Francisco culture as well as small, locally owned businesses. If your decision is not reversed, the negative economic and cultural impact to the Bay Area will be felt for years to come.

Do you really think you can have it both ways, and tell the theologians, on one hand, that you need to keep up with the times and be more responsive to the secular, humanist education your 71% non-Catholic students demand, while at the same time, with no consideration of the needs of the students, pull the plug on the more secular-oriented community-based radio station that, perhaps more than anything else, best represents the University’s motto, Pro Urbe Et Univesitate?

Theology and KUSF may seem like strange bedfellows, but only if you accept the “sacred/secular” split that the church has always struggled with in a society that claims to believe in “separation of church and state” as America does. The Jesuit vision at its highest, most liberating, democratic and empowering has always been about seeing beyond, or seeing through, this reductive “sacred/secular” split, especially when it is used by imperial or corporate powers to keep local communities weak and segregated.

It was in a private methodist college where I, as a working class first-generation college student, learned that what’s called “High Culture” and what was once called “counter-culture” (independent, alternative, underground, folk art, amateur, people’s culture) have more in common with each other than either do with the junk-food of official commercial mass-media culture, which has become increasingly syndicated and monopolistic since the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Both KUSF and the Masters in Theology program afforded students, and community members, the possibility of dreaming a utopian alternative to the brutal onslaught of monopoly capitalism, and both university and KUSF benefited by the relationship in deep and profound ways for over 30 years.

When St. Ignatius lived, reading and writing were relatively new technologies, and only beginning to become democratized. He didn’t have the radio or the internet through which to evangelize, educate and entertain. Yet, when he began to set up schools for previously uneducated populations, these schools were met by opposition by the church elite who wanted to keep most of the population illiterate. In 20th century America, Radio has have served an educational, or propaganda, function—-whether blatantly (as in Roosevelt’s fireside chats, contemporary AM-Talk Radio, or some of the community broadcasting KUSF had) or more subtly, less heavy-handed or intrusively (like the music programming that characterized KUSF). Even in 2010, the medium of radio has a power that cannot be denied, a power in bringing people together even when apart. I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve had many experiences that approached the vision of the Jesuit “reflection retreats” while lying in bed with the lights off listening to (and sometimes even hearing myself on) KUSF.

Despite the trickle down economics of the post-Clinton IT Technocracy utilizing its best focus-group research to manufacture needs for new technologies and render the radio obsolete once and for all, radio has tenaciously persevered as a powerful tool. Whether or not one wants to blame certain radio personalities (none of whom were associated with KUSF) for igniting recent shootings in Arizona for instance, there’s clearly a reason why the big corporate conglomerates are aggressively vying for ownership of radio stations. It’s the same reason they are trying to do away with net neutrality and control the flow of content.

I don’t know if your decision to sell KUSF came from Rome, but it’s clear that Pope Benedict’s appointed Press Secretary, Federico Lombardi, S.J, understands the power of the radio more than you, in his decision not to sell Vatican Radio, but rather merge it with the Vatican Press Office. Given this fact, at the very least, you could have waited and struck a more lucrative deal for the university, and opened up discussions publicly rather than hiding behind the cloak and dagger of the Non-Disclosure Act in defiance of the public trust. It’s hard to escape the feeling that you had something to hide. As I like to believe you are a man of good intentions, I prefer to believe that, unbeknownst to yourself, you were played for a pawn by larger forcers of monopoly capitalism in selling away one of your strongest assets.

You were sitting on a gold mine with KUSF, one that you could have done so much more with for the benefit of the university and community. In your cost-analysis, you could have, and should have, considered alternative economic models that would’ve maintained the station’s relatively autonomous diverse award-winning community-oriented, working-class programming while working more closely, in truly innovative ways, with the McLaren College of Business, for instance, to their mutual benefit. I am sure the staff and management of KUSF, many of whom have taken their own vow of poverty and work as volunteers to spread their message of social justice, would have been willing to negotiate a new business model that would have helped KUSF turn a greater profit for the University as well.

Beyond being a bad business decision, in itself a problem for a school known primarily for its business school, the University’s reputation as an upholder of the Jesuit tradition of “humanitarian activities, notably in the field of higher education and human rights” has taken a severe beating with the sale of KUSF. KUSF had a broad, but focused, tent, that was dedicated, like St. Ignatius, to the “life of the mind and the encounter with the world.” KUSF, starting from scratch in 1977, long before you became President, was able to build and galvanize a local community that had been fractured from the social and economic unrest of the previous decade. It facilitated a dialogue between a diverse range of cultures which otherwise would have no outlet, supported local businesses, such as The Community Thrift Store and Arizmandi Bakery, to name but two (who were locked out of advertising on the increasingly prohibitive corporate radio stations), and ultimately did more, in a cost effective way, to raise USF’s visibility and stature in the local community. If SF is still on the top 15 list of best college towns, it’s in large part due to KUSF.

Although not heavy-handed or polemical, and sometimes playfully flaunting their autonomy from the university, many of the local volunteers at KUSF passionately championed human rights and social justice as well as educating the populace in ways that don’t require tuition. Despite its relatively cheap low-wattage transmitter, KUSF’s hill-top location ensured its broadcast range reached beyond San Francisco to the East Bay and environs. The free and publicly accessible medium, like neighboring community-based radio station KPOO 89.5, made it especially crucial for the poorest of us, whose needs are not served by the larger commercial syndicates (or the USC-station you’ve sold it to) who act as if the object of radio is simply to prettify public life. This was great publicity for the school, especially in a post-John Courtney Murray era; at the very least a loss-leader (“you don’t need a ticket, just get on board,” as Curtis Mayfield sang in his classic soul/gospel radio hit, “People Get Ready”).

In 1932, during the infancy of radio, Bertolt Brecht wrote, “radio is one-sided when it should be two. It is purely an apparatus for distribution, for mere sharing out,” and called for radio to “step out of the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers. Any attempt by the radio to give a truly public character to public occasions is a step in the right direction.” I don’t know whether program director, and Media Studies Professor, Steve Runyon, read this seminal essay, but Runyon was clearly a visionary in making KUSF one of the few stations (after the decline of locally-based commercial AM Top 40 Music Radio during the 70s) to take Brecht’s suggestions to heart, relentlessly using the request line to make two-way contact with Bay Area citizens, as well as co-sponsoring events and shows with local musicians, artists, DJS, activists, and businesses. In an era of increasingly censorious corporate media consolidation, many of the best artists relied on KUSF for much needed exposure, and when we succeeded, we often gave back to the radio station that nourished us.

In the last ten years, during your tenure, the initial developments of internet “radio” as a supplement to the airwaves helped KUSF’s international audience grow, without sacrificing its connection and grounding in the Bay Area arts, entertainment (Chinese, etc) communities. In fact, KUSF’s international reputation grew because it was still grounded in the local community based low-watt radio station. This gave the station an exemplary public, responsive, character that became the envy of many program directors nation-wide.

This positive reputation reflects highly on the Jesuit institution, especially among people otherwise not disposed or receptive to the traditional trappings within which the Jesuit mission is couched. The medium was indeed the message, as well as material force for a local working class and working poor. With the loss of the transmitter, the “internet only” radio station will have lost the main thing that distinguished it, even for its international internet audience; especially with the recent FCC decision to do away with “net neutrality.” Everything new is not better than everything old, and bigger is not always better; often it leads to a quick short-term bubble and a steep decline.

When Martin Luther King wrote Letter From Birmingham Jail on toliet paper to the white religious establishment of Birmingham in 1963, he was not speaking directly to The Society of Jesus. In fact, many more Jesuits heroically broke ranks against the church orthodoxy and marched and worked alongside of Rev. King. Yet, when he writes of how the church, which was once a “thermostat that transformed the mores of society” for the better, has now become a mere “thermometer” that records the “ideas and principles of popular opinion,” I think it’s important to reflect on what that means for your role as President of a Jesuit University. Your decision to sell KUSF is not even a thermometer, in that it doesn’t reflect public opinion, let alone transform the mores of society. The sale of KUSF is neither popular nor moral, but rather another cave-in to the trickle-down supply-side economics that crassly support an anti-humanist and anti-religious notion of “science and innovation” at the expense of the liberal arts. Ultimately, it’s not even a sound economic decision for you or the University.

I apologize for this lengthy letter, but I needed to go into some depth, as I am sure that you can’t “rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.” In closing, Father Privett, I am not here calling for your resignation, but rather imploring you to cancel the deal you made with The University of Southern California and buy the station back. If this is impossible, at least consider purchasing 87.7 FM or retool the AM Station you currently own so that KUSF can resume broadcasting as soon as possible. It is your moral imperative to be true to the highest the Jesuit tradition has to offer, and truly live up to the university’s motto, Pro Urbe Et Univesitate.


Chris Stroffolino, Ph.D

P.S. In my experience as an English, music & popular culture teacher at St. Mary’s College of California (Moraga), Mills, SFAI, Laney College, UC-Berkeley and CCA, I often get requests for recommendations and advice about what local colleges and universities my students should attend or transfer to. The University of San Francisco has usually been at the top of my list. In addition to my long-standing admiration for USF because of its support of KUSF, I have great admiration for the work of Thom Gunn, Aaron Shurin, and others who have contributed much to the arts and cultural life of The Bay Area (and beyond). In fact, I always thought USF would be a good place to teach if a position opened up. But, unless you revoke the sale of KUSF or buy it back, I will no longer be recommending the University of San Francisco as an institution worthy of the best and brightest minds that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching or otherwise collaborating with.

Posted by Gopal on May. 17, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

Thank you Gopal for posting my letter. I just noticed it after I was posting it myself!

Posted by Guest Chris Stroffolino on May. 25, 2014 @ 12:17 am

Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you're using?
I'm planning to start my own blog soon but I'm
having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs
and I'm looking for something unique. P.S Apologies
for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

Posted by protein shake on Jun. 24, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

"...why should USF pay it's [sic] bills at the expense of student programs?"

Because the station was a student program. It was also a community service broadcasting in a multitude of languages, and a prized oracle of music and the arts. A university is not an island unto itself; is part of its community and as such, should give something of cultural worth back.

"Privett is admired around the world for his ability to cut to the chase, what is important and what is not"? Please don't project your neoliberal fantasies onto the peoples of the world. In fact, KUSF's programming was admired around the world as evidenced by its thousands of online listeners from every corner of the globe.

Universities have a long heritage of open inquiry and free expression, something that is anathema to petty free-marketeers like you and Father Privettization. Shame on you and him.

I have a living-room view of USF's St. Ignatius church, and every time I gaze upon its twin towers, I am reminded of the black stain this frocked philestine has left on the culture of the Bay Area.

Good riddance, Padre.

Posted by Ragazzu on May. 20, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

The idea that USF sold KUSF because of money is disingenuous. The volunteer staff of the station had long begged the administration to let us raise funds for the station through pledge drives and events. However, the USF administration intentionally and systematically blocked the station from supporting itself.

We were able to do some things. For example, we erased a $30k "debt" KUSF owed the University in 2007 when we held a 30th Anniversary Benefit concert at Bimbo's featuring Yo La Tengo. As far as the staff knew, we were in the black.

Yet the University consistently undermined any way for the staff to raise additional funds. First of all, they had a list of the all the major corporations in the area - from Gap to Genentech - that we weren't allowed to contact. They didn't want competition from KUSF distracting from their primary fundraising priorities like the athletics dept. Ask yourself this: how long would KQED operate if they weren't allowed corporate underwriting?

Even more galling, they repeatedly refused to let us take any donations from individuals online - or even via credit card in person! Can you imagine a non-commercial station in the world's tech capital not being able to use these everyday methods?

In latter years, members of the station organized a non-profit group to help raise money for the station (this group would be the foundation of SFCR). Of course, the catch was we couldn't use KUSF's airwaves to raise money since we were technically an outside entity.

The long-term goal of this non-profit group was to be able to purchase the station if USF ever wanted to sell it. While it's true that the group was nowhere near able to compete with eventual the $3.75 million price tag, we didn't even get that chance based on the secrecy of the deal. We couldn't have organized a counter-offer without knowing it was for sale. We will never know if the community would have rallied around the station.

The truth is that USF systematically prevented KUSF from supporting itself. It was a devious Catch-22: blame the station for losing money while creating arbitrary rules that block it from actually raising donations.

It's not a leap to guess why the administration did this. They wanted to be able to use the financial conditions as a cover to sell the station at their whim. And when they did so, secretly behind the backs of people who had devoted countless hours and dollars supporting the station, the FCC ruled their actions illegal and fined the University.

Father Privett may have many admirable qualities, but his dishonesty and illegal actions around the sale of KUSF remain a stain on his legacy.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2014 @ 11:28 am

In the 70's, Georgetown "sold" its radio station's broadcasting signal for one dollar. The same signal was later sold to c-span for 25 million. Now THAT was an axe job (and simply a horrible financial move).

Rule: If college radio is important to you, don't go to a Jesuit university (otoh - college hoops is right in the wheelhouse of the Catholics).

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 7:31 am

KXLU in Los Angeles runs out of a Jesuit university. For at least two decades its neighbor station KCRW has grown in prominence and listeners, but has also become closer to aural milk toast. Will KXLU be next?

Posted by Garb Wernbarn on May. 17, 2014 @ 8:11 am

People still listen to terrestrial radio?

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 7:33 am

This was a very sad moment in the history of the University and for the community at large.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2014 @ 8:11 am

New SFCR volunteer here.

I had heard it reported in the past that the sale was illegal, and that fines had to be paid as a result.

Posted by Gopal on May. 17, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

What is this "ray-dee-oh"? Is it like the internet?

Posted by Chromefields on May. 19, 2014 @ 8:37 am

circulatory system, Marke suppresses the urge to run to the bathroom and vomit and then slowly settles in for a fitful after-lunch nap while Nigerian spellcasters stealthily infiltrate his comment section...

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

The cost of internet streaming is going up, meanwhile the cost of broadcasting is going down.

Selling off the spectrum was a horrible idea. It is like selling your house at the low point in the market. Radio will continue to exist - the best stations simply add more outlets- internet, video, etc. Trying to start something *just* on the internet, or *just* on youtube, is very difficult:


Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

Yes, people listen to radio. Yes, corporations pay a lot of money to keep control of it. The 4 main ones who own the majority of the stations. They fill AM with talk; they even take losses on these stations just so some community organization doesn't step up and want these coveted spots. If the programming were better on any of these big flamethrowers, believe me people would abandon the internet "radio" in droves....

Posted by Guest Chris Stroffolino on May. 25, 2014 @ 12:27 am

anonymous; same as with print.

Are modern-day media users being herded into trackable media "for their own convenience and benefit"?

Does "cloud computing" represent just another way that people can their Constitutional expectation of privacy? Ah, the wonders of the "tech revolution"!

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 25, 2014 @ 8:26 am

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