Tuesday, August 17, 2010

KTRU Rice Radio to become 91.7 KUHC Classical - this is a good thing

Well it looks like 91.7 KTRU Rice Radio is going away and 91.7 KUHC Classical is taking its place. I've actually been through this before. I was student program director of Baylor University's 107.1 KWBU Radio Free Waco. I graduated and a year later it became an NPR station. It angered me at the time.

That being said I can understand both Rice and the University of Houston's position on this. KTRU was an alternative voice in Houston. Ten years ago there would have been more outrage (as there was back then when they tried to get rid of it). UPDATE:  Readers are pointing to the outrage.  At the time of the original writing of the post, I did not know Rice was keeping this a secret.  I thought it had been an ongoing campus issue and just hit the rest of the city. The Internet lessens the need for this alternative now. In fact young people don't listen to the radio much anyway do they? We can thank the Internet and iPods for that too.

I'm not even sure that KTRU served the community that well anyway at times. A better alternative radio station for the community is 90.1 KPFT in my opinion. There probably would be more outrage to the KTRU sale if KPFT did not exist in Houston.

I am a fan of KUHF. A city the size of Houston deserves a 24 hour NPR station and a 24 hour classical station with a promised focus on the arts. This is a very good deal for us listeners. KUHF has done a good job with its HD2 NPR programming during classical music hours, but it would be nice to throw each format on its own real signal.

UPDATE:  Don't get me wrong. I grew up listening to KTRU.  It was my source for college rock music. Now I find new music online where I don't have to sit through wacky classical music or sitar playing mixed in. The Internet also lets me know what I am listening to so I can further explore it.

University of Houston System (UH) and Rice University officials today announced UH’s pending purchase of the broadcast tower, FM frequency and license used by Rice station KTRU for $9.5 million.

The UH System Board of Regents at its Aug. 17 meeting authorized Chancellor Renu Khator to negotiate and execute a purchase agreement and management agreement to acquire KTRU. The purchase will be financed 100 percent by enhanced underwriting and ongoing private gift fundraising by KUHF. The acquisition is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

KUHF, the National Public Radio (NPR) station owned and operated by UH, plans to broadcast 24-hour classical music and fine arts programming on 91.7 FM (KUHC Classical) and to convert 88.7 FM to a 24-hour NPR news and information format (KUHF News). KTRU will continue to provide free radio programming online at www.ktru.org.

"The acquisition of a second public radio station delivers on our promise to keep the University of Houston at the forefront of creating strong cultural, educational and artistic opportunities that benefit students and the city of Houston,” said Renu Khator, chancellor of the UH System and president of the University of Houston.

We now have the cultural assets to deliver NPR news, public affairs and classical programming to Houston 24 hours a day, placing the University of Houston in the company of an elite group of Tier One universities,” Khator said.

The select group of universities that offer two public radio stations includes Purdue University, Florida State University at Tallahassee, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Ohio State University at Columbus, Arizona State University at Tempe, University of South Florida, University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Iowa.

The University of Houston is the first Texas university to propose this configuration, said KUHF General Manager John Proffitt.

“This added capability will benefit the entire Houston community,” Proffitt said. “Houstonians can now enjoy 24-hour classical music and NPR news on the two public radio stations.”
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