Signal and Noise
Santa Cruz radio station KUSP-FM, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, got an anonymous $100,000 donation last week, allowing community members and the station’s board to work on other proposals for the struggling local station, and extending the “runway” before they have to take action.
Much to the chagrin of many community members who have supported the 1,250-watt signal at 88.9 FM for the past 43 years, the board has considered selling the signal to a Los Angeles classical music company for $1 million, which would cover its $750,000 in debts. The station was once the only provider of National Public Radio shows, but has been undercut by Monterey’s KAZU-FM, which began airing the same shows in 2000.
Some 35 people complained to the board last week at a packed public meeting. The next meeting will be Monday, June 29, at 6 p.m. at the Community Foundation building in Aptos. “Under the current management it has moved further and further from that vision and format,” said Steven Coulter. “Volunteer programmers have been axed, NPR has been increased, and local news has been cut back.”
Coulter also criticized the way that the board was handling the current situation, saying, “There appears to be a large gap between the community’s vision of public radio and the vision recommended by the management. The paths forward recommended by the management are essentially variations on the failing approach of the last 10 years.”
Others expressed frustration. “I’m a longtime listener, since 1979. I’m angry,” said Helen Garden. “You guys are not communicating with us, and this is our radio station.”
One man offered to donate $5,000 right then and there if the board promised not to sell the station. Board President Kelly O’Brien said because of their responsibilities to pay debts, they couldn’t do that.
Under the leadership of station manager Terry Green, the station laid off local hosts and filled its schedule with national programs.
“There’s more than enough talent in Santa Cruz to fill up two radio stations, let alone one,” said Dennis Morton, the host of the station’s long-running poetry show.
Board members were also not in favor of selling the station. They have posted a selection of possible futures on the kusp.org website. “I just want to be perfectly clear that we want an outcome for KUSP that makes it a local radio station and web outlet and allows us to retain this identity,” said treasurer John Morrison. MICAYELA KONVISER
Shakespeare in the Park?
Santa Cruz Shakespeare, which has been on the UCSC campus since 1981, is looking for a new home at DeLaveaga Park, and the City Council will discuss it in August.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department solicited proposals in May for the former Stroke Center site at the park, which also houses golf and disc golf courses—and the only proposal came from the popular Shakespeare troupe.
The city’s staff is preparing a report and negotiating with the group, which had been funded by UCSC until 2013, when the school said it couldn’t afford it. The group raised $1 million in crowdfunding and changed its name from Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
“Our recent strategic planning process has made clear that if SCS is to continue to grow and thrive as an independent and sustainable organization, we need to be situated in the city of Santa Cruz, not only artistically, but [also] geographically,” says artistic director Mike Ryan. “Our true home is in town.”
Making Plans for Watsonville
There’s a bold plan to make downtown Watsonville more like Paris or Santa Cruz—cutting lanes of traffic on Main Street and adding bigger sidewalks, a grassy median and more lighting.
It would cut the central thoroughfare from four lanes to two, using the space for people to walk and for a grassy space in the middle of the street. The stretch runs from Peck Street to First Street and includes the civic center.
There is a meeting to discuss the proposal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 1 on the top floor of the Civic Center building at 250 Main St., Watsonville. You can find artists’ renderings of the project at growinwatsonville.com or search city of Watsonville revitalization. ROSEANN HERNANDEZ
Shoe of Support
An Aptos blacksmith who drives hundreds of miles a week to shoe horses around the state is looking for votes in a Wells Fargo contest to build his business.
Charley Bunyea, who is a farrier (horseshoer), is looking for $25,000 to buy a better truck and build his business caring for some of the 600,000 horses around the state. Many of their owners are struggling to care for ailing horses and he works on a sliding scale to help them afford the care. Search Charley’s Farrier Service at Wells Fargo Works.com to vote for him. BRAD KAVA