A new low-power FM radio station with a focus on live and local is launching in San Francisco. Its mission is to rekindle the free-form spirit of the late KUSF, which abruptly left the airwaves in 2011. KXSF 102.5 comes as the result of seven years of negotiations and ardent fundraising.
The station is being launched by a handful of former DJs and staff members who founded San Francisco Community Radio in the wake of KUSF’s demise, according to SF Gate. Damin Esper, part of the group that led the effort, says, “It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. And it almost killed me.”
Alongside KUSF veterans Irwin Swirnoff and Henry Wimmer, the station’s youngest hosts are brothers Lucas “DJ Panda” Cecil, 8, and Colin “DJ Flying Japan” Cecil, 11, who produce back-to-back alternative rock shows Saturday mornings. Their mother, Fari Aghaorabi, will present three programs each week, one featuring new music from France, another dedicated to instrumental guitar music and the third showcasing classical works.
“With everything that’s happening in San Francisco, I think our community needs this kind of diverse programming,” she said in the SF Gate story. “We’re part of that identity that should not be erased.”
While the station was scheduled to flip the switch July 10, it has now been delayed because of technical problems. An insurance policy also remains in waiting, as does the lease for a transmitter on Sutro Tower. KXSF is based at Light Rail Studio in San Francisco’s Bayview district.
Despite the delays, Esper says, “We’re not like iHeartRadio or Clear Channel, where everything is planned to the second and things are tested and ready to go.” He admits, “We’re flying by the seat of our pants.”
While it will offer community programming and aims to micro-serve San Francisco, Esper tells the newspaper, “This isn’t the San Francisco that existed seven years ago, let alone 10 or 20 years ago. It’s not the same music scene. The underserved communities are different. It should only sound the same in how different it sounds.”
Of the initial fundraising goal of $80,000, the San Francisco Community Radio crew managed to raise $60,000 to get back on the air with the help of underwriters, local businesses and private donors. The plan is to launch an on-air drive to help raise enough money to carry the station through the first three years of operation while exploring options for more long-term financial support.
“It won’t be worth it just getting on the air,” Esper tells SF Gate. “It will only be worth it if a couple years down the road it’s thriving, and we build it into something people think is the coolest thing in San Francisco, which is what KUSF was.”