Good news for Rice University’s student run radio station, KTRU-FM (91.7) Houston, which sold its license and tower to the University of Houston amid a bit of controversy in November last year. The sale is still pending before the FCC for approval, but UH plans to use it for a second NPR-branded station, with its current KUHF-FM (88.7) converting to an all-news format (KUHF News) and the 91.7 frequency would offer Classical and fine arts programming with the calls KUHC. No date has yet been set for turning the 91.7 frequency over to UH.
Beginning at 9:01 a.m. 2/14, KTRU will be heard on Pacifica Foundation KPFT-FM’s (90.1) HD2 FM channel in that city (no new FCC license required). The agreement allows KTRU to use the HD channel for seven years. KTRU will also continue to stream online at www.ktru.org.
KTRU staff will promote the HD2 channel on both 91.7 and 90.1 HD2 and will give away HD Radio receivers to listeners. In a statement Rice University President David Leebron said an undisclosed portion of the $9.5 million sale will go to support the new launch.
“We are pleased that we have reached an agreement with KPFT and Rice for the use of the KPFT HD2 channel that will allow us to bring our unique and locally focused programming to the greater Houston community,” said KTRU station manager Joey Yang, who added the station is adding new and exciting music they haven’t traditionally played before, with a renewed emphasis on the local music scene.
RBR-TVBR observation: KPFT offered to allow KTRU DJs to go to KPFT and broadcast on HD from their studios back in August. The full lease deal now may accelerate FCC approval of the KTRU sale, but no guarantees. We are a bit surprised that UH hadn’t offered up an HD carrier right off the bat in the deal. Pacifica instead stepped up to the plate. While at first it might seem the station is being altruistic here to allow format competition on its signal (yes, there is some overlap), but it may actually in bring more listeners—KTRU fans will have to find KPFT HD-1 first before tuning to its HD-2 signal.