KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, Calif. will hold three public meetings to discuss its future and the five proposed paths that might resolve its unsustainable financial situation.
“In the next few weeks KUSP will make important strategic decisions that will probably affect the fundamental nature of our public radio station,” the station’s board said on the KUSP website. “The range of possible outcomes includes selling the license to our main frequency at 88.9 FM, significantly changing programming, or beginning to wind down our operation.”
Each of the five proposed paths forward was given a tree name: Pine, Maple, Plum, Fig and Walnut. These plans could change as the board receives input, according to the statement, which adds that the options aren’t “an all-inclusive list of possibilities.”
Three of the five scenarios involve the sale of KUSP’s signal, program-format changes and job cuts that would reduce the full-time staff by half. The Plum plan calls for a music format that carries some news but little to no national programming. The station would have all volunteer hosts. The Fig plan would adopt a talk-and-information format focusing on peace and social justice issues. The third option turns KUSP into a news and information format that broadcasts mostly BBC World Service content.
The two other plans do offer some hope that KUSP could keep its transmitter and signal. Under the Pine plan, the station would offer similar programming as it does now, including NPR newsmagazines. But it would also air a music mix that would be more varied than shows that are dedicated to specific genres like classical and jazz. The Maple plan also calls for the station to keep its signal, but broadcast an eclectically programmed all-music format.
Under both of these plans the station would have to slightly increase its full-time-equivalent staff to around 10 (currently, the station is at eight full time equivalent staffers) and “revenue would need to be significantly more than operating expenses, so funds would be available to pay down KUSP’s debt,” according to the website.
Last week the station held the first of three public meetings to discuss the five scenarios: two more are scheduled for today and June 2. In addition, the station’s board of directors will hold two meetings June 1 and June 29, both of which are also open to the public.