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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rod Rice stepping down from 88.7 KUHF

Rod Rice: "It’s been a pleasure playing a small role in the daily life of this wonderful city"

After 40 years behind a radio microphone, 12 total at Houston's NPR station, 88.7 KUHF Morning Edition news anchor Rod Rice is hanging up his headphones for the last time this Friday morning.

"When I first arrived at KUHF we were a newsroom of five people in a room smaller than our current KUHF main studio," Rice told "Today we have more than twice the number of reporters and anchors, and a number of positions that didn't even exist or could have been imagined in 1997."

Rice started his broadcasting career in 1970 as a disc jockey at WPAM in Pottsvile, PA. It was news anchoring that led Rice to Houston at 740 KTRH in April of 1991 where he worked nights. In 1998, he moved to KUHF as a reporter. Rice returned to KTRH in 2000 to anchor the midday/afternoon shift. However, the call of public broadcasting brought him back to KUHF in 2003 where he has been ever since. He first started as the Houston host of All Things Considered, later moving to the news anchor role for Morning Edition where he has remained till this day.

According to his bio, Rice has been honored by several organizations for excellence in journalism, including a regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio and Television News Director’s Association.

As the years have gone by, Rice says he has seen thousands of radio jobs disappear after the industry's dance with deregulation and conglomeration.

"Many newsrooms have disappeared completely as the large broadcasting companies, that even do newscasts, use people from one station to do the newscast at another station," Rice lamented. "These stations don’t even have to be in same state, so the quality of the news that’s reported cannot be as good as it was when a local reporter cultivated sources and relationships and wrote with a community knowledge that a stranger, no matter how good, can have."

So what's next for Rice? Well one thing for sure, not an early wake up call in the foreseeable future.

"Do you know how many movies and TV shows are on Netflix and Hulu," Rice asked. "Seriously, I have no firm plans except I won’t be getting up at 3am! Might I end-up on another payroll? I won’t say never, but not right away for sure."

“Rod has been one of the most respected news radio anchors in Houston for more than 20 years and we've been lucky to have him at KUHF,"  88.7 news director Jack Williams told me. "He’ll be missed, but we’re excited for him as he begins what will be a very active retirement.”

You'll be able to hear Rice's last broadcast this Friday from 5 to 9am on 88.7 KUHF. The station says it's still searching for Rice's replacement.

"It’s been a pleasure playing a small role in the daily life of this wonderful city," Rice said.

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