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CitySan Francisco, California
Broadcast areaSan Francisco Bay Area
BrandingClassical KDFC
SloganClassical. And then some.
Frequency90.3 MHz
First air date1948 (as KDFC at 102.1)
April 25, 1977 (license, as KUSF)
FormatClassical music
ERP1,000 watts
HAAT301 meters (988 ft)
Facility ID69143
Callsign meaningThe founders of the radio station: Davis, Florence, and Crocker[1]
(promotion campaign claimed callsign meant "D"ial "F"or "C"lassics)
Former callsignsKUSF (1977–2012)
KOSC (2012–2017)
Former frequencies102.1 MHz (1948–2011)
89.9 MHz (2011–2017)
OwnerUniversity of Southern California
WebcastListen Live Options

KDFC (90.3 FM) is a non-commercial radio station in San Francisco, California, that broadcasts classical music 24 hours daily. It is owned by the University of Southern California. KDFC is the radio home of the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera. The station's live stream is available on the Internet and through the station's mobile app.

KUSF history[edit]

From 1963 until 2011, KUSF was a student-run broadcast station owned by the University of San Francisco.[2] The station was located in the basement of Phelan Hall on the University of San Francisco campus, and was funded by the University of San Francisco, local and merchant underwriting, individual donations, and foundation grants.

KUSF began in 1963 as a campus-only AM station managed by the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF). In 1973, USF was offered an FM radio station by a small local Bible college that wished to discontinue its radio operations. USF accepted the offer and on April 25, 1977, KUSF became an FM station broadcasting on the 90.3 frequency.[2] The old AM station later became the student-managed KDNZ.

Originally broadcasting six hours a day, KUSF began broadcasting 24 hours a day in 1981. In its early days KUSF was a conventional college station, broadcasting programs of interest to the university and greater San Francisco community. However, KUSF soon garnered attention by playing new underground music: it was one of the first radio stations to play punk rock. Many now-famous acts also first gained exposure on KUSF, most notably The B-52's and Metallica.

KDFC history[edit]

KDFC was founded in 1948.[3] Bill Crocker founded the station and was its first general manager. Sales were handled by Ed Davis, who later became the station's long-running general manager. Engineering was handled by Herbert Florance. The initials of their last names gave the radio station its call sign.[1] It has programmed classical music for most of its history, though at one point during the 1950s, it featured a beautiful music format.[citation needed]

For many years the programming, which was largely automated after 1976, was simulcast on KIBE 1220 AM, a daytime-only 5 kW AM station in Palo Alto, California that began broadcasting in 1949 from a transmitter near the western approach to the Dumbarton Bridge.[citation needed]

Ed Davis' company Sundial Broadcasting sold the AM and FM to Brown Broadcasting in 1993 for US$15.5 million. In 1996, Brown Broadcasting sold the FM station and AM simulcast sister station (KDFC 1220 AM) to Evergreen Media, who in turn sold the FM to Bonneville Broadcasting and the AM to Douglas Broadcasting in 1997. New station management transitioned KDFC's programming to a more mass-appeal approach, which boosted ratings significantly, though was occasionally criticized for their new "top 40 of classical music" approach.

Bill Leuth, who had done mornings on rival classical station KKHI, moved to mornings at KDFC in 1997 and also contributed to the station's rise and shift from automation to live hosts.[citation needed] In 2003 KDFC became the first station in the Bay Area to broadcast using HD Radio.[citation needed]

On January 18, 2007, Bonneville signed an agreement with Entercom Communications Corporation to trade three San Francisco stations — KOIT, KMAX-FM, and KDFC — for three Entercom stations in Seattle, Washington and four in Cincinnati, Ohio. Entercom officially took ownership of KDFC in March 2008.[citation needed]

On January 18, 2011, the University of Southern California announced the purchase of KUSF (90.3 MHz) from the University of San Francisco (USF) and KNDL (89.9 MHz) in Angwin, California. It also announced the purchase of the intellectual property and call letters of KDFC from Entercom, moving its programming to those two stations and making it a listener-supported non-commercial outlet. KUSF was renamed KOSC, and KNDL was renamed KDFC. In turn, Entercom flipped the 102.1 MHz frequency to a simulcast of San Jose station KUFX, which Entercom had acquired earlier in the month, on January 24.[4][5] KUSF turned into an online-only radio station.[2] The Federal Communications Commission officially transferred the 90.3 MHz license to the University of Southern California on June 7, 2012.[citation needed]

On May 1, 2017, the KDFC call sign moved to 90.3 FM in San Francisco, swapping call signs with 89.9 FM in Angwin, which became KOSC.[6][7]


KDFC broadcasts classical music 24 hours a day. Programming features include: Mozart In the Morning, the Island of Sanity, and San Francisco Symphony broadcasts. KDFC also airs recordings of San Francisco Opera productions.

In addition to FM and SHOUTcast MP3 streaming, KDFC was the first radio station in the country to broadcast in digital HD Radio, offering a secondary HD Radio channel, KDFC-2, featuring longer classical pieces and vocal works, without commercials on their former 102.1 FM frequency.

A multiple winner of the award for public service, KDFC is an active partner to arts groups and an active advocate for music education. Proceeds from the station's annual CD sampler, and the annual 'Music Educator of the Year' support and celebrate public school music programs.

Additional frequencies[edit]

The programming of KDFC is also transmitted by these stations and translators to widen its broadcast area.[8]

On-air personalities[edit]

  • Mark Edwards
  • Blake Lawrence
  • Rik Malone
  • Dianne Nicolini
  • Robin Pressman
  • Hoyt Smith
  • Dale Starkey
  • Ray White


In January 2005, a national controversy erupted when KDFC refused to sell advertising to the gay dating service "8 Guys Out," while taking advertisements for the heterosexual dating service "Table for Six". Speculation was that since KDFC's then-owner, Bonneville International Corporation, was a Mormon-controlled company, the church connection led to the advertising ban.[9] In this light, the policy of then-owner Bonneville did not allow advertising for liquor, lotteries, or casinos.

In March 2007, KDFC pulled a commercial for Chris Hedges' book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. The ad was tailored to play only in the Bay Area, to promote local appearances by the author. Bill Lueth, KDFC's operations and program director insisted that pulling the ad was not a free-speech issue. "We don't have any issue with their right to advertise this book. It simply doesn't fit the expectation of our listeners on this particular radio station," Lueth said.[10]


  1. ^ a b "The Story of Classical KDFC". KDFC. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "About". KUSF College Radio. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "New Sausalito FM Station KDFC On Air". Sausalito News. September 2, 1948. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (January 19, 2011). "KDFC moves up the dial as a nonprofit, KUSF dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "Entercom Brings KFOX Into S.F., USC Takes On KDFC". Radio Ink. January 18, 2011. Archived from the original on November 12, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "KOSC (FM)". FCCInfo.com. Cavell, Mertz & Associates, Inc. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  7. ^ "KDFC (FM)". FCCInfo.com. Cavell, Mertz & Associates, Inc. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "KDFC Coverage Maps". KDFC. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  9. ^ Baume, Matt (August 19, 2005). "Rock Out with Eight Guys Out". SFist. Archived from the original on March 23, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  10. ^ Benson, Heidi (March 16, 2007). "KDFC pulls ad for book attacking Christian right". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 28, 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°51′04″N 122°29′54″W / 37.8510°N 122.4983°W / 37.8510; -122.4983