CPRN responds to radio sale concerns

April 14, 2011, 2:30 a.m.

The Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN), a radio station primarily owned by the University of Southern California, recently elicited concern among Stanford’s KZSU staff when it purchased KUSF from the University of San Francisco. The Cardinal station feared the possibility that Stanford’s radio station could be next on CPRN’s list—a worry that CPRN executive director Brenda Barnes said is unnecessary.

“We do want to buy a North Bay radio station, but we haven’t been looking at the Stanford station,” Barnes said. “I doubt Stanford wants to sell the station. We don’t want to take a station away from someone who doesn’t want to sell.”

Barnes revealed that although KUSF was owned by USF, most of the students at USF were unaware that the university even had a radio station. In fact, only 10 percent of those working at KUSF were students. The majority of employees were Bay Area volunteers, a significant difference between KUSF and KZSU, which is almost entirely student-run.

KZSU management discussed concerns about Stanford being sold without the knowledge of its employees in an interview with The Daily last week. These sentiments largely stemmed from the way in which negotiations took place between USF and CPRN. According to KZSU publicity director Adam Pearson, the exchange was secretive and was not made public until the decision to sell the radio station had been finalized; Barnes confirmed this statement.

“It’s true that no one knew about it until we made the announcement,” Barnes said. “When radio stations are sold, most of the time this is done under a non-disclosure agreement. The reason for that is that you don’t know that you have a deal until you have a written asset of the agreement.”

Barnes claimed that the decision to sell the radio station was made the Friday, Jan. 14, and was announced the following Tuesday.

Although KZSU told The Daily last week that CPRN’s acquisition of KUSF would be used as a guise for USC recruitment, Barnes insisted that CPRN’s purchase of KUSF was primarily motivated by a genuine desire to preserve classical music. Prior to CPRN’s purchase of KUSF, there was only one classical radio station in the Bay Area, Barnes said.

“The Bay Area is an important cultural center not only for California but for the country,” Barnes said. “In this case, the interests of KUSC and USC converge because USC has a lot of alumni and prospective students and parents and they wanted to have a bigger presence in the Bay Area, but I wanted to be certain that the Bay Area had a strong classical music station.”

Among the concerns related to CPRN’s recent acquisition of KUSF is the decision to move the transmitter to a different location, limiting KZSU’s range, including its access to the East Bay. But Barnes asserted that CPRN’s signal would not interfere with the signals or ranges of other stations in the area. She said CPRN would not have an impact on Stanford’s protected coverage area.

“We will be moving the transmitter to Marin County further away from the Stanford station,” Barnes said. “The furthest south people are going to be able to hear our station is the airport and at the airport it’s going to die off. You won’t be able to hear in San Mateo so there’s no way it’s going to get to Palo Alto, our signal will not get that far.”

CPRN responds to radio sale concerns
The Classic Public Radio Network argued that its purchase of KUSF aimed to preserve classical music in the airwaves. This claim contradicts previous concerns that the sale would undermine KZSU's coverage. (JIN ZHU/The Stanford Daily)

In spite of the controversy regarding CPRN’s recent purchase of KUSF, Barnes said she is a strong advocate for the importance of college radio.

“I actually am not only a fan but have helped found two different stations in my career,” she added. “I don’t want to see college stations be diminished. I think they serve an important function and are such a wonderful opportunity for students to become involved in the media.”


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