The UH Board of Regents approved purchasing Rice University’s student-run radio station, 91.7 FM KTRU, for $9.5 million with a 4-3 vote at its quarterly meeting Tuesday.
“Keep in mind that (the Regent’s) action authorized the chancellor to negotiate and execute a purchase agreement and management agreement to acquire KTRU,” UH Director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin said. “Those agreements have not been signed, so the transaction has not been completed.”
Upon the completion of the purchase, KTRU would be renamed KUHC and feature 24-hour classical music and arts programming on KTRU’s current frequency. The UH current radio station, KUHF, would become a 24-hour NPR news station and remain on its current frequency, 88.7 FM.
“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,” UH President Renu Khator said in a statement Tuesday.
Acquiring KTRU would make UH the first university in Texas to operate two public radio stations.
“We now have the cultural assets to deliver NPR news, public affairs and classical programming to Houston 24 hours a day, placing UH in the company of an elite group of Tier One universities,” Khator said.
Some UH students applauded the purchase and acknowledged it as a step forward for the University.
“The university needs to expand its influence in the life of our students and its presence in Houston,” communication junior Elize Najm said. “This is a fantastic step in that direction.”
Others, including Rice students involved with the station, are opposed to the purchase. KTRU began as a student experiment in 1970 and has been student-run for about 40 years.
Rice President David Leebron explained his decision in a campus community letter on Tuesday.
“Our goal has been to focus on our core missions of teaching and research and, to the extent possible, to avoid layoffs,” he wrote.
The money gained from the sale would be used on campus improvements such as scholarships, facilities and student-media programs. The deal also includes paid internships for Rice students provided by KUHF.
The purchase includes the broadcast tower, FM frequency and license used by KTRU and will be 100 percent financed by KUHF’s expanded underwriting program from business, industry, private donations and fundraising. No university funds will be used.
The deal requires further approval from the Federal Communications Commission.