Radio sale riles Rice students
Sunday afternoon brought blazing temperatures and a heated protest on the Rice University campus.
Around 300 students, faculty and community members gathered in front of the William Marsh Rice statue in the university’s academic quadrangle to protest the sale of KTRU, the student-run radio station, to UH.
“The purpose of the rally was to raise awareness about the sale, and show administrators from both UH and Rice that KTRU’s listeners are real people who are passionate about the station,” said station manager Kasey Yule.
Students, alumni and faculty spoke out about their feelings on the sale and the importance of the station to the community.
KTRU General Manager Glen Bradley spoke to the protestors about the importance of media diversity.
Programming at KTRU includes a variety of independent music shows that many believe are important to the FM dial. UH intends to use the frequency for an all-classical station, but supporters believe KTRU’s programming is more in line with what students want to listen to.
Rice students are not the only ones upset about the loss of KTRU.
“KTRU was a student channel and now UH wants to turn it into a fully functional faculty station,” UH finance senior Derek Broussard said. “This leaves Houston without an indie outlet.”
KTRU will still be online but supporters of the station say the sale of their FM frequency will cost them listeners.
“FM frequency is incredibly important to our listenership,” said Yule. “We rely on listeners stumbling upon us on the dial.”
It is not just the sale of the frequency that has people heated; the Rice administration’s failure to notify the students who run the station or the community that listens to it of their intent to sell also has protesters riled up.
“Our administration has all these lofty policies about student input and open dialogue but covertly did this behind our backs,” Yule said. “I can think of no legitimate reason that people weren’t notified when Rice put KTRU on the market.”
A recent Texas Watchdog article stated that Rice officials might have led UH to believe that listenership at KTRU was low, and therefore resistance to the sale of the station would not be an issue. The Rice administration was proven wrong after the public outcry when the news of the sale was announced in an article in the Houston Press.
Yule says that although the station could be taken off the air as soon as the deal is signed, KTRU supporters fully intend to continue the fight until the FCC approves the sale, which could take up to 30 days.