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KUSP Ceases Programming While Continuing To Find Buyer

88.9 KUSP Santa Cruz Pataphysical BroadcastingPataphysical Broadcasting Foundation AAA 88.9 KUSP Santa Cruz/Monterey CA ceased programming last night.

The station originally planned on signing off at the end of June should a new buyer not be found for the station after coming up $190,000 short of its fund-raising goal in May.

Local independent public radio station KUSP 88.9fm | kusp.org will sign off at midnight tonight, ending nearly 45 years of distinguished on-air public service in the greater Monterey Bay Area and more than 20 years online.

The move is in response to the station’s current financial situation: monthly expenses exceed monthly revenues and the Board has been unable to secure bridge funds necessary to support a new music discovery format as KUSP transitions away from being a National Public Radio (NPR) member station.

“This decision reflects the reality of the station’s financial situation; we simply cannot afford to broadcast any longer,” said Board President Matt Farrell. “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.”

KUSP’s Board of Directors voted last September to switch from a mix of news/information and music to an all-music format that introduced new, contemporary music during weekday hours with the largest listenership. The move was strategic with two objectives: to differentiate KUSP from KAZU, supported by California State University, Monterey Bay, which had achieved the dominant market position with NPR programming, and to attract a younger generation of listeners to noncommercial radio. The Board considers the move a success in terms of meeting those objectives, however the station’s legacy financial situation has proven more challenging to address, including a large debt burden that accumulated under past leadership.

The KUSP Board of Directors is elected by the ´Pataphysical Broadcasting Foundation, Inc., a membership-based nonprofit public benefit corporation established in 1971. In May, Foundation members authorized a sale of the station’s major assets in order to avoid bankruptcy and retire station debt. A willing and capable buyer has not materialized and the Board has been unable to secure the financial resources necessary to put the station firmly on a path to sustainability.

The Board will continue to search for a buyer and is evaluating remaining options in light of financial issues facing the station.

Original Report 5/5: Pataphysical Broadcasting Foundation will place AAA 88.9 KUSP Santa Cruz/Monterey CA and its four translators up for sale.

The station’s board voted 41-27 in favor of the sale following a monthlong “MayDay” fundraising campaign that came up $190,000 short of its $300,000 goal. In addition to KUSP, Pataphysical owns 89.1 K206BQ Hollister, 89.3 K207CN Santa Cruz, 91.3 K217EK Palo Colorado Canyon, and 95.3 K237EV Big Sur Valley CA.

KUSP flipped to AAA from Public News/Talk last fall after a sale to USC’s Classical Public Radio Network earlier in the year fell apart. KUSP and California State University Monterey Bay’s 90.3 KAZU Pacific Grove both aired similar programming until the flip to AAA. The fight for listeners and sponsors led the station to its current financial distress as it fell over $700,000 in debt according to Current.

KUSP will lay-off its entire staff at the end of this week and cease locally originating programming on Saturday night. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that jockless AAA music and reruns of old shows will continue on the station through the end of June while the board seeks a new operator for the station.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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