Lacking a buyer and short on funds, KUSP goes off the air

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KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, Calif., ended on-air and online broadcasting at midnight Sunday, struggling under a massive debt load and unable to find a buyer.

“This decision reflects the reality of the station’s financial situation; we simply cannot afford to broadcast any longer,” said Matt Farrell, president of the station’s board, in a press release. “The decision does not reflect what KUSP might have become given different financial circumstances, nor is it a reflection of the excellent work General Manager Alex Burke has done as the station’s sole employee in recent months.”

The station has broadcast for nearly 45 years on air, and online for more than 20. Last fall, it adopted a Triple A format to differentiate its programming from that of KAZU in nearby Pacific Grove and to save money by dropping NPR programming.

But in May, with about $700,000 in debt, the station decided to cut its staff and hire a station manager to keep the station running and meet FCC requirements. The board of the Pataphysical Broadcasting Foundation, which owns KUSP’s license, approved a sale of the station.

But KUSP hasn’t found a buyer. Last year the station pursued a sale to California’s Classical Public Radio Network but abandoned the possible deal after receiving a donation that allowed it to experiment with the Triple A format. In 2014 it explored a partnership with an undisclosed public broadcaster, but the deal fell through. A potential merger with KAZU in 2008 also fizzled.

“The Board will continue to search for a buyer and is evaluating remaining options in light of financial issues facing the station,” the press release said.

KUSP’s license to broadcast will expire if it remains off air for 12 consecutive months.