Radio — January 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

San Francisco’s KUSF, college radio station that helped break Depeche Mode, off air

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.


  1. not cool at all! but that pic is totally cool. wow!

  2. I still have a frisbee with the KUSF sticker proudly displayed on top. My brother and I attended USF (1984-1987) and one of our “reader’s club” members was a regular DJ.

  3. I’m a college radio dj. I do a show called “The Moment of Clarity” where I play Classic Alternative / Vintage New Wave on Friday nights. WFCF is just as much for the community as it is for the students. I play Depeche Mode every week and my request line never stops ringing!

  4. Michael O'Riley

    Terry Grauwiler was a DJ in the 80’s. Now that he’s been living in New Jersey for the past quarter century, he’ll never know that his favorite hang has been yanked.

  5. Wow. This sort of thing is going around. There seems to be some sort of coordinated attack on US college radio stations:

    There is a web site on the issue:

    “There’s something quite ironic and a tad dishonest in there somewhere — colleges cutting secret deals to unload student radio stations while at the same time seeking to attract students into moribund fields of study…”

    KUSF gets yanked with KTRL (Rice University) and WRVU (Vanderbilt University) in the process.

  6. Terry Pirate Grauwiler has actually been living in New York City since his days at KUSF…currently employed at the coolest bar in the City… The Kettle of Fish…59 Christopher St…stop by and say hi…

  7. Hey peep my video.. maybe we can put some new music on one of the local shows you guys do :) Just thought I’d throw my card in the hat!

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