KUSP still considering options, but sale no longer among them

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KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, Calif., has backed away from selling its broadcast license as one way out of deep debt.

Staff and board members, along with community input, have been working on a plan for the stations’ future. Last month, KUSP publicly announced 10 options. Now the list has narrowed to three, none of which involves a signal sale.

In a comment on the blog Radio Survivor, Rachel Goodman, a local journalism teacher who has argued against a sale of KUSP, said that the station received a $100,000 donation that bought it time to assess options.

Of the three choices under consideration, the first would call for the station, now all-news, to transition to a mixed format airing both music and news. The new line-up of shows would be designed to lower expenses and reduce KUSP’s duplication of programming on KAZU, a competing station in Seaside.

“This strategy aims to provide programming that costs less to air, while potentially increasing loyal audience and fundraising capacity,” KUSP said. “Operations such as local news and production and events might at first have few if any staff.”

The second option would involve converting to airing mainly music shows hosted by volunteers, keeping some volunteer-produced shows currently on the air. The lineup could also include newscasts and breaking news from NPR, but no other national shows.

“The objective would be to continue the diverse programming described in KUSP’s mission while bringing costs very low to reach fiscal balance even if the size of the audience (and resulting membership support) were smaller than it is now,” the station said.

Under the third option, KUSP would become a “conventional public radio music station,” possibly similar to KCRW or WXPN and with a mix of paid staff and volunteers.

“This strategy aims to seek a larger and more loyal audience than KUSP has been able to develop with a mixed [music and news] format, thus providing more opportunity for individual and business support,” KUSP said. “Operating costs might be higher.”

The station’s board of directors will meet June 29 to discuss the options.

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