KUSP's Story

KUSP is an independent, community-based, non-profit, interactive multimedia voice serving the greater Monterey Bay Area. We inform, engage, and entertain our community by providing a thoughtful mix of news, public affairs, arts, and music programming. ~KUSP Mission Statement

Community participation sets KUSP apart from most public broadcasters. Since our founding in 1972, our doors have been open to creative people of all kinds. Their work combines with the best of public radio’s national programming to create a wide-ranging program line-up that attracts tens of thousands of dedicated listeners every week.

Forty years ago, what we now recognize as public radio was starting up in cities and towns across America. Pioneering non-commercial stations such as KALW and KPFA had been broadcasting to the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1940’s – but people living by Monterey Bay and in the Salinas Valley were only served by mainstream commercial radio stations.

KUSP’s origins spring from the community radio movement instigated by Lorenzo Milam and Jeremy Lansman, among others. Milam and Lansman worked to start stations in communities all over the country during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, a time when FM frequencies were comparatively easy to obtain. Santa Cruz was fertile ground for grassroots radio. With a six hundred dollar budget to get on the air, KUSP was born.

Among the people recruited to the community radio cause in Santa Cruz was Don Mussell. Don became the station’s engineer, responsible for finding, installing, and patching up KUSP’s broadcasting equipment. His on-line personal history of KUSP’s early days is as authoritative as anything likely to ever be published – you’ll find a link to it on the right side of this page.

KUSP’s programming evolved through the years, reflecting changes in the communities we broadcast to, changes in the creative community of programmers who work at the station, and changes in the media landscape of which we are a part. We joined National Public Radio in 1984, the Pacifica Radio Affiliates’ Alliance (home of Democracy Now!) in 2003, and became distribution partners with the BBC and Marketplace in 2008.

KUSP moved on-line in 1995, becoming one of the first public radio stations to offer a live broadcast stream to Internet listeners. Our digital services have expanded steadily in the years since we first ventured onto the World Wide Web. KUSP-produced programs such as GeekSpeak and Ask Dr. Dawn reach global audiences on-line comparable to the amount of listening over the air, and The KUSP Music Show Player was among the first web services in public radio to put music choice into listener’s hands – any program, any time, anywhere.

KUSP has always been an independent, community-run non-profit – unlike most public radio stations, which are controlled by government entities or colleges and universities. Financial support from our contributing listeners, local businesses, and local non-profits represents almost 90% of our budget. The other ten percent comes to KUSP in the form of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

By visiting kusp.org, you become part of our station community. Check out our programs, add your comments to our stories, and share what you discover here with your friends. Thank you for being part of KUSP!


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