Wednesday night the “other shoe” dropped at KUSP. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports [link] that the station’s foundation voted 41-27 to sell the FCC license. Also KUSP announced that the staff is being laid off as of today Friday 5/6/16.
Replacing the staff will be temporary reruns of shows or an automated music mix playing 24/7 while the station’s board searches for a new owner according to GM Bonnie Primbsch.
In our Wednesday 5/4 post [link], we raised the possibility of an immediate sale. USC Radio, owners of Classical KDFC in San Francisco are likely to pursue the license as they did in early 2015. We also raised the possibility that NPR News station KAZU, Pacific Grove, could try to purchase KUSP and operate both stations preserving local ownership and the Triple A format. But it appears KUSP needs to sell quickly so a buyer with cash will probably scoop up the license.
MEANWHILE KCLU GETS AN IMPRESSIVE GIFT
Thousand Oaks, California, sits just west of Los Angeles in a place of beautiful hills and valleys. Radio reception can be dicey and LA stations have a lot of listeners. These factors make it tough for an exurban station to get a foothold. Not KCLU. The NPR News station is the top noncommercial station in two markets: Oxnard/Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Now KCLU can invest more in news programming. The station recently announced a $1 million gift from station members Linda and Dennis Fenton to establish The Linda and Dennis Fenton KCLU Radio News Endowment. Funds will be used to hire personnel and enhance equipment, programming and production.
|Linda and Dennis Fenton|
Linda and Dennis Fenton are among the founders of Amgen, a biotechnology startup that is now a leader in biotech research. The Fenton’s have actively supported the station since it debuted in 1994.
KCLU’S IMPRESSIVE PUBLIC SERVICE RECORD
As we reported in January [link] KCLU is one of the fastest growing NPR News stations in the nation. According to Nielsen Audio’s Fall 2015 estimates, KCLU had an estimated 109,000 weekly listeners, an increase of 24% from the previous year. KCLU also has significant listening in the San Luis Obispo market. At right is a map of KCLU’s coverage areas.
KCLU’s news gets national attention and often beats LA stations in award competitions. Expect more recognition in the future.
LUTHERAN SCHOOLS HAVE HAD MIXED SUCCESS WITH PUBLIC RADIO STATIONS
Not all that long ago, KCLU at California Lutheran was one of five significant noncom stations licensed to Lutheran Universities. Now it is one of only two that survive.
• In 2004 St. Olaf College sold Classical WCAL, Northfield, to American Public Media (APM) for $10.5 million. Today it is 89.3 The Current.
• In 2009 APM took over College Rocker KAUR at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. It is now a fulltime repeater of MPR News.
• Last year Pacifica Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, announced its intention to sell KPLU to rival KUOW for $8 million. KPLU listeners are now trying to raise enough money to sell the license to a community group that is determined to save KPLU’s jazz programming.
Besides KCLU, the only other Lutheran licensee is WVIK [link] which serves the Quad Cities market from Augustana College (no relation to Augustana University) in Rock Island, Illinois.