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.”


  1. Mike McGuff, here is more video on KTRK's newscast archives:

    1989 news update with the sports music theme:


    1986 newscast montage with Shara Fryer doing the 10pm news on Oct. 8, 1986.


  2. this way of going about getting two stations is not good for houston, imo. this wipes a unique voice off the dial. if you don't care about that and just want more npr/talk and classical, i guess it's awesome-sauce. no blame on uofh though.

  3. That's true. Rice handled this poorly like most other universities in the same situation.

    I'm just trying to look on the bright side. Most of this comes from the fact that young people don't consume radio like they used to. I listened to KTRU growing up, I doubt most kids listen to any radio now.

  4. My first thought was... "UH needs a second radio station?" Their justification of doing one news and one classical transmission makes sense, but it still seems too much of a sacrifice just to have a traditional broadcast of a station already available online and on HD radio.

  5. Mike is right, I know from someone at Rice that the radio station is not what it used to be. Back in the day that was where local groups could get coverage. Not so much anymore.

    I see this as KUHF filling a void with their promise of local coverage. Most local radio doesn't really cover local stuff, and if they do it's with a spin.

    This is very good news for those of us who have missed the old KTRH.

  6. Tax Payers dollars on NPR bullshit! No a good idea?????

  7. I have to say I don't think it's a good idea, but Rice University is to blame. They let a station that reflected the school to deteriorate into a meaningless signal. I feel for the students at Rice, but then they need to take responsibility.

    My favorite moment listening to KTRU was when a DJ announced he had a final test to take and his replacement did not show up so he was turning the station off. After listening to the carrier signal for around 10 minutes, the DJ came back and said the station manager told him to play a tape.

    Yes, it was a unique station.


  8. Are there KTRU protest websites yet?

  9. All I can say is that, as a Rice Alum and former DJ, I have regularly donated money to KTRU and KUHF. No more for KUHF, ever again.

  10. Former Rice alum too. Why the anger toward KUHF? From what I understand, KUHF was approached by Rice. It wasn't like KUHF went after KTRU. It was offered. I understand people being sad about the change, but it's not KUHF's fault.

  11. I am sad to see KTRU go. It was my favorite station in the city to listen to music on when driving.

    As for KPFT, it is not a good alternative for good music. In fact it sucks. 10 years ago, I would agree, it was great. However, at some point, maybe when pacifica took over, it went way over the top on the revolutionary politics. Not that this is inherently bad, it's just really boring and mostly irrelevant.

    I also listen to KUHF often and will really enjoy the 24 hour NPR broadcast.

  12. "I know from someone at Rice that the radio station is not what it used to be."

    You realize, right, that undergrads turn over every 4 years? You could have the next freaking Ira Glass showing up as a freshman this week, but once the station's sold, there's no going back to that.

    It seems very naive to think that it's the lack of a second outlet that keeps KUHF from better local coverage. Try that they don't have the money or the inclination.

  13. There was a writeup about the outrage at Rice today in the Daily Cougar.


  14. Gil, you are absolutely right. At the time of the original post, I didn't know that Rice kept this a secret. I thought it was an ongoing campus issue and had just bubbled through to the city level. Just updated the post to reflect this.

  15. @michilines: As a listener for over 10 years, I think KTRU is as good as ever. Though some shows are more to some listeners' taste than others. Also, KTRU and local music's relationship is super tight — check out the local show, an institution for Monday nights for over a decade. KTRU regularly works with local acts on show in Houston.

    It's true that KTRU's not slick, but it is a foil to the saccharine, polished shtick of most radio. It's medium is like its message, much of it lo-fi. This isn't for everyone, but it's certainly unique in Houston (and the country, for that matter).

    Some commenters speak like KTRU's already off the air. It's still alive and kicking, folks, and protest is mounting: http://savektru.org

    As for KUHF listeners, I think KTRU's fans are upset with their school, not with KUHF. Rather, I think KUHF and KTRU should have a common cause — KUHF listeners are also getting a raw deal. If KUHF moves some of its programming to KTRU's signal, since KTRU's transmitter is weaker, many current listeners will be out of range of those programs.

  16. KUHF_jazz_refugee9/01/2010 04:32:00 PM

    No surprise, really.
    Proffitt has a history of deleting musical genres from Houston radio and making up flaky reasons to justify the decision.

  17. As a classical music buff who has followed the journey of classical music broadcast in Houston for almost 40 years (KLEF, KRTS, and KUHF), I can say that a 24 hour classical music station is a boon for the city and the arts. Unfortunately, it is at the expense of Rice's radio station. Seems that a university as prestigious as Rice should have a station that tells the world that it is here with something to say. Wish another frequency slot could have been found, but KUHF's mixed news/music format was a bust.


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