It was business as usual on Tuesday morning for KUSF music director Howard Ryan, who played an eclectic mix of music while promoting a 10 a.m. in-studio appearance from local band the Pickpocket Ensemble.
When that hour arrived, his show abruptly went off the air - part of a complicated deal that gives classical music station KDFC the college station's 90.3 frequency - and leaves KUSF off the FM dial for the first time since 1977.
University Of San Francisco officials said the station's blend of music and community programming will still be available by webcast. At the station late Tuesday morning, the somber group of DJs and staff felt angry and betrayed, saying that they didn't learn about the deal until minutes before the signal went dead.
"We weren't told anything that was happening," said Irwin Swirnoff, another music director at the station. "We were never able to mobilize our listeners or do those things that would at least get us the opportunity to meet the bid."
USF spokesman Gary McDonald said the decision was a tough one, but the move won't jeopardize the station's primary goal as a teaching lab for students.
"Through the years, as fewer students were involved, we were subsidizing a community radio station," McDonald said. "The bottom line is, we're here to teach students. We can still do that."
McDonald said that as part of the $3.75 million deal, KUSF retains its call letters and logo. Engineers are working to improve KUSF's online capabilities, and the station will return as a webcast in the near future.
The station has about 200 volunteers, most of whom are not students. Staffers said they will demand more answers at a meeting Wednesday night with school officials and plan further action when students return to campus for classes on Monday.
Ryan, who had to turn the band away, said the station's dedicated staff deserves better.
"It's heartbreaking," Ryan said. "We didn't even get a chance to thank the listeners or tell them goodbye."
E-mail Peter Hartlaub at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUNK GLOBE was the first Magazine to ever do a feature on KUSF RADIO