By Diana Zhu
DAVIS – UC Davis’ student-run community-driven radio station KDVS 90.3’s home, the historical Freeborn Hall, faces uncertainty in being demolished.
In a recent press release, KDVS General Manager Noel Fernandez, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pablo Reguerín announced that KDVS will be relocated on the first floor of the southeast corner of Memorial Union and will continue broadcasting for the 2021-22 academic year.
The new location will be forcing the station to downgrade from a space of 3000 sq. ft to about 1000 sq. ft., impairing the operational capacity of the station, which included three studios, a performance and recording space, offices, listening rooms and the coveted “stacks.”
These stacks refer to KDVS’ stacks of tens of thousands of records dating back to the 1960s.
Theirs is the largest record collection of any radio station in California, and it will be moved to a temporary location until somewhere more permanent is identified.
From 2013-2018, the university seemed set on turning Freeborn Hall into a conference and event center, renovating the building with complete seismic retrofit, an ADA accessibility upgrade and a facade restoration, but in 2018, Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Emily Galindo announced the university would not be seeing through the proposed renovations.
Galindo said the building would be demolished instead and fill in the Lower Freeborn – the basement KDVS had called home for decades.
For a little over two years now, KDVS has been on a tireless hunt to find funding for a location to properly house the station’s equipment.
Unfortunately, Freeborn Hall does not qualify to be a historical building of the California Office of Historic Preservation status, even though the location has been serving the Davis/Sacramento area since the 1960s.
The location has played a significant role in Bay Area music history for hosting performance artists and speakers such as Bob Marley & the Wailers, Muse, Eldridge Cleaver, Mel Blanc, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, The Motels, Tower of Power, Fleetwood Mac and many others.
The evaluation that determined the building not historically significant was, according to savekdvs.org, “self-assessed by the university,” and thus, did not include the significance that the location plays to the city of Davis, much less to the Bay Area or California.
As of now, there is not an identifiable permanent location for KDVS, except for Freeborn Hall, which is not required to have completed renovation for nine years – university buildings are required to have seismic upgrades completed by Dec. 31, 2030.
In turn, Freeborn Hall does not need full renovation and a phased renovation could be approached in accordance with funds.
Instead of demolition, the community-run project Save KDVS provides several suggestions for the radio station, such as diverting the demolition funding into seismic funding, selling naming rights to rename Freeborn Hall or repurposing the building to be “a student activities basement with student entertainment value.”
With those purposes, it can serve as a performance arts space or a student-run cinema.
KDVS and Freeborn Hall can still be saved.
Friends of KDVS, a group of KDVS supporters and affiliates, have launched the Save KDVS website to educate and update the public on the radio station’s status.
It is encouraged that the public express their support for saving Freeborn Hall and not downgrading KDVS’ facilities if they feel this venue is worth preserving. It is believed that UC Davis has the money to maintain KDVS and/or save Freeborn Hall, investing in student activities – it is just not a priority.
Individuals may also contact the UCD Chancellor’s office for more information or read here https://savekdvs.org/letter-writing-campaign/.
Diana Zhu is a fourth-year transfer student from Rancho Cucamonga, CA. She is majoring in Chinese and minoring in Professional Writing.
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