USC Helps Preserve Classical Music in Bay Area

In an effort to ensure the long-term availability of high quality classical music in the Bay Area, USC announced it has entered into an agreement with Entercom Communications to convert KDFC into a noncommercial classical music station based in San Francisco.

The move to the new signal is intended to preserve the long-term availability of KDFC classical programming for the Bay Area. KDFC has been a leading classical station in the country for many years, having received the National Award for America’s best classical station twice. Entercom plans to convert KDFC’s current signal to a classic rock format.

“USC recognizes classical radio’s value to the community and is committed to its preservation in the Bay Area, where many of our students and alumni live,” said President C. L. Max Nikias. “California, with two great symphony orchestras, is at the forefront of classical music today, and we are happy to play a role in the stewardship of an important resource for 700,000 classical music lovers in the Bay Area.”

KDFC is the last of the major market classical stations in the country to go nonprofit and the sole radio station devoted to classical music in the Bay Area.

“This change follows a long trend of classical stations moving from the commercial to the non-commercial model, which has proved more sustainable for classical music because of the passion of its listeners,” said Brenda Barnes, president of Classical KUSC, the Los Angeles-based classical station that has been run by USC for more than 60 years. “Because classical music has been transitioning, we contacted Entercom to ask if it was willing to work with us on a managed transition.”

The new station will use the call letters KDFC, the area’s former commercial classical outlet since 1947, the result of a series of transactions involving several radio owners in the region. The new KDFC will broadcast over 90.3 and 89.9, the two noncommercial signals. KDFC will cover the city of San Francisco, reach north to Napa and Sonoma counties and extend to the Northern East Bay. KDFC programming also will be available on the Internet via its Web site and iTunes.

USC has purchased the rights to 90.3 KUSF from the University of San Francisco and 89.9 KNDL from Howell Mountain Broadcasting Co. KUSF will continue online as a Webcast station.

In addition to its call letters, the new station also will retain KDFC’s award-winning staff and facilities, leaving in place the personalities familiar and beloved by Bay Area classical listeners. As “The Voice” of the Bay Area Arts community for more than 60 years, KDFC reflects the Bay Area’s strong identity and reputation for the cultural arts.

“As one of the country’s most dynamic musical cities, San Francisco deserves a classical music station that continues to provide excellent arts and cultural programming,” said San Francisco Symphony Music director Michael Tilson Thomas. “KUSC has a long and distinguished history, and I have had the opportunity to work with it on many projects over the years. I am delighted that KUSC will be preserving KDFC as the home of the San Francisco Symphony.”

“KDFC is not just a radio station, it’s an integral part of the Bay Area music ecology,” said David Gockley, SF Opera general director. “The shift to a public radio station will help prevent a precious civic legacy from going away altogether, which would be a tragedy. The [SF] Opera looks forward to working with the new KDFC to build a powerful and vibrant classical music experience for our friends on the radio.”

Dwight Walker, vice president and market manager at Entercom San Francisco, said: “Entercom is both pleased and honored to entrust the outstanding listeners, employees and iconic heritage of KDFC to the esteemed organization of KUSC. At the same time, we are excited about creating the Bay Area’s first full-metro mainstream classic rock station by building on the 20-year heritage and success of KFOX from San Jose. Bay Area listeners will now be able to rock [and listen to the San Jose Sharks] from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz on 98.5 and 102.1.”