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Antique radio on retro backgroundA local effort to save longtime public radio station KUSP as a community resource apparently has fallen short, with the off-the-air station apparently destined to become another outlet of the K-LOVE Christian broadcasting network.

With a $605,000 offer, Roseville-based K-LOVE outbid a Santa Cruz and Monterey based non-profit known as Central Coast Community Radio and headed by Santa Cruz activist and public radio stalwart Rachel Goodman.

KUSP, 88.9 on the FM dial, went off the air earlier this year after attempting to settle its sizable debt by converting from public affairs programming to an alternative music format. The auction for its license and equipment was overseen by a bankruptcy trustee. Also coming short in the bidding was a Santa Maria radio operation, KCRW.

Goodman indicated Wednesday that the organization she helped form to pursue the station will turn its attention to other possible arrangements in an effort to create a local public service station that would complement KAZU, the existing NPR outlet.

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idea concept with light bulbs on a blue backgroundGood news for those of you who think knowledge is a good thing. A group of civic-minded folks headed by longtime community broadcaster Rachel Goodman is taking a run at buying and reviving radio station KUSP.

If you, like me,  get a bit confused about which station is which, that’s the one that was at 88.9 on your FM dial, the one that used to be a model of local public radio with news and talk shows and some music, etc., etc. Unfortunately, it’s also the one that tried to save itself financially by converting to a full-time music purveyor, principally adult alternative.

As Goodman tried to warn the good folks on the board, that didn’t work out so well. It was entertaining as heck but not enough so to generate enough contributions at pledge break time. It went off the air a couple of weeks ago and its future is now in the hands of a bankruptcy trustee. (Rumor has it that company that specializes in religious broadcasting is interested.)

Goodman and company plan to launch a video and kickstarter campaign in coming days and at the moment are soliciting solid pledges from Central Coast folks, or others, who want to see (hear) more news and information on the airwaves. While KUSP is based in Santa Cruz, it transmits into Big Sur and it provides a remarkably strong and clear signal throughout much of the region.

There is lots of history to the public radio story on the Central Coast, with a long period of overlapping stations offering much of the same NPR lineup and talks of mergers and the like. I don’t see much point to getting into all that at this point, but I am confident that Goodman and those around her can create a format that complements rather than competes with the other public-spirited stations down there in the low numbers on the radio dial.

Stay tuned for additional info here, but if you want to help out in the meantime, you can get hold of Goodman at Rachel@well.com.

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An effort to save KUSP radio by returning to its roots

If you listen to pubic radio station KUSP out of Santa Cruz, 88.9 on your FM dial, you likely have heard the emergency pitches for $300,000 in contributions to keep the station going past the end of the month. At the end of last year, the station dropped much of its public service programming and became a full-time purveyor of music that might be described as adult alternative. Below is a letter that went out today from Rachel Goodman, a veteran of the public radio battles in Santa Cruz and an advocate for turning KUSP back into a community resource featuring news, opinion and other public-service programming.

Retro old radio receiver on table front mint green backgroundDear Friends of KUSP,

On Sunday, KUSP’s board is planning to go off the air. That is the word behind the scenes from hosts who are planning their last shows. I have been invited to play a farewell concert on Cindy Odom’s last Celtic show Saturday.  This is a sad moment for our community, but also frustrating because is avoidable! What’s at stake here is retaining a locally owned media and our ability to debate and discuss what matters to us.

Exactly a year ago, KUSP’s board was on the verge of selling the station to Classical Music Public Radio. Sadly, after so much advocacy, letters and meetings, and even a statement that they would not sell, they are once again back where they started. (see attached statement that they are asking the foundation to vote on).

At their May 4th yearly meeting of the “Pataphysical Broadcasting Foundation, the entity that owns the license will take a vote to ascertain the will of the members toward selling. If approved, the board will enter into negotiations to sell and their criteria of who they want to sell to is so narrow it precludes any local entity from bidding!

KUSP FORWARD organized to prevent this sale, and strongly advocated for a station that was scaled to a sustainable size and operational plan that would serve the community’s needs.  Unfortunately this option was dismissed as untenable.We submitted numerous plans and budgets showing that a financially sustainable model was possible. You can tell this is too important to our community for us to give up easily.

While we appreciate the amount of hard work & good will that has gone into the survival of KUSP so far, the time has come for those who want to sell the license to step outside the corporate mind set of “CPB Qualified” and allow a volunteer run community station to rise from this wreckage. There are efforts underway to form a new entity and organize to do just that. Why not let the community decide what it wants?

We are calling on those who want to keep KUSP a local station that serves the community to come to the meeting May 4th  at 6pm at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County in Aptos and express your wishes about what will happen to this valuable community resource. Request transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the mission of community service that our donations built over all these years.  If you can’t be there, call or write the board.

Sincerely,
Rachel Anne Goodman

The following statement was sent from the KUSP Board to the Foundation, outlining its recommendation to sell.

Authorizing Ballot Measure Statement

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