by Rachel Swan
After a year and a half of wrangling , the FCC has finally upheld the license transfer of 90.3 FM from the University of San Francisco to Classical Public Radio Network. The decision was a final coup de grace to fans of KUSF, the college radio station that used to broadcast from 90.3 but was relegated to an internet stream following the sale. Fans launched a long and passionate crusade to keep the popular station from going moribund, ultimately enlisting help from a wide swath of Bay Area terrestrial radio listeners, and from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Their fight was symbolic of the movement to preserve college radio at large, even though it ended in disenchantment.
In a press release issued moments ago, University of San Francisco administrators applauded the FCC decision, indicating that the $3.75 million generated from the license transfer will boost school coffers and ultimately benefit students. Supporters added that the sale will allow a classical radio station to continue broadcasting in the Bay Area, at a time when classical stations, like their college radio analogues, have become an endangered. CPRN used to air at 102.1 FM, which is now home to classic rock station K-FOX, which is owned by Entercom.
But the consent decree was a Pyrrhic victory for both parties, as Bay Citizen culture editor Reyhan Harmanci indicated when she broke the news on Twitter this morning. According to a Media Bureau investigation, both parties violated Section 1.17 of the commission's rules, which stipulates that all documents be filed with the commission upon receipt. University of San Francisco also violated Section 73.503(c), which permits outside entities to produce and/or fund programming at a noncommercial, educational FM station. (KUSF was widely regarded as a "community" station rather than mere college radio.) Both parties were enjoined to make a "voluntary" contribution of $50,000 collectively to the US Treasury to atone for their trespasses. But the sale stands, and at this point, the case is closed.