Depeche Mode, courtesy of KUSF's Facebook page

The University of San Francisco’s pioneering college radio station — KUSF, one of the first outlets to play punk rock and whose DJs are credited with helping break bands like Depeche Mode in the U.S. — was pulled off the air abruptly this week after the school sold the frequency to a classical-music station.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, USF yanked the station without warning at 10 a.m. Tuesday as part of a $3.75 million deal to transfer KUSF’s 90.3 FM frequency — which it has broadcast on since 1977 — to a classical music station owned by the University of Southern California. The deal still needs FCC approval.

The university plans to keep KUSF alive as an online-only station, but will limit involvement to students, not the outside volunteers that, until this week, had run most operations. USF President Stephen Privett told the Chronicle that, “Our primary mission is to our students, it is not to the community at large.”

In a blog post lamenting the loss of KUSF’s spot on the FM dial, former station DJ Howie Klein — who would later work at Sire Records and served as president of Warner Bros./Reprise Records from 1989 to 2001 — writes:

“Last week I had been talking with British writer Simon Spence, who’s working on a book about Depeche Mode, about KUSF’s role — though only a low-power, noncommercial college station — in breaking the band in America. We could have just as easily been talking about R.E.M. or U2 or a dozen other bands that went on to achieve multiplatinum status whose first records had no natural radio homes other than a small handful of adventurous college stations like KUSF.”

Efforts are underway to try and save the station, with a Save KUSF! page set up, plus a corresponding Facebook page. There’s also a petition making the rounds, as well as plans to rally at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

 

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