U. Houston approves KTRU buy; Rice students protest


Board members for the University of Houston approved the plan to acquire Rice University’s KTRU-FM by a 5-3 plurality, giving UH an FM duopoly if the transaction clears routine regulatory hurdles. But students at Rice aren’t taking the sale lying down.

The station, going to UH for a reported $9.5M, will allow the buyer to take the current mix of NPR/news and classical music being aired on its KUHF-FM and split the programming two ways – essentially giving each of the two formats on its current station a full-time platform.

It will cost Houston an outlet for a wide variety of music mainly selected by the students of Rice U.

The students have created a website, savektru.org. They said in a statement, “KTRU is actively opposed to Rice University’s attempt to sell its broadcasting license and transmitter to the University of Houston. The organization, which operates through the will of the student body, does not endorse any plan that changes KTRU’s operating abilities. Rice University has made an attempt to sell KTRU’s broadcasting license and transmitter in secrecy without consent or consultation with KTRU or the Rice student body. This puts the city of Houston and Rice University in danger of losing a vital media outlet.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We feel for the students and the fans of eclectic music, but the sad fact is that hard times breed hard financial decisions, and protests like the one being mounted in Houston rarely succeed.

We would add this: Perhaps the reaction of Rice students should inspire a moment of soul searching from anyone and everyone operating a radio station.

And here’s the question you need to ask. If you blew up your station’s format and went in a completely different direction, would anybody care?