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USC expands its classical music reach to San Francisco

January 19, 2011 |  5:00 am

Uscprez USC said Tuesday that it has purchased two radio stations in the Bay Area and will use them to convert San Francisco’s advertiser-supported classical music station KDFC-FM into a noncommercial operation, similar to but independent from its L.A. classical music outlet, KUSC-FM (91.5).

KDFC’s staff will remain in place at the existing facilities, but its programming will move from 102.1 on the FM dial to a simulcast on 89.9 and 90.3, the stations that USC has acquired from Howell Mountain Broadcasting Company and the University of San Francisco, respectively. Entercom Communications, which owns KDFC but is turning over management to USC, will use the 102.1 spot for a classic rock station.

“These changes follow a long trend of classical stations moving from the commercial to the noncommercial model, which has proved more sustainable for classical music because of the passion of its listeners,” said Brenda Barnes, president of KUSC.

Her boss, USC president C.L. Max Nikias, said, “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.”

In a news release, David Gockley, general director of SF Opera, hailed the move, saying, “The shift to a public radio station will help prevent a precious civic legacy from going away altogether, which would be a tragedy."

Barnes said the arrangement would not affect what Southern California listeners hear on KUSC.  “A separate organization will operate the Bay Area stations,” she said.

— Lee Margulies

Photo: USC President C.L. Max Nikias. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times.