The Rice Thresher, Vol. 98, No. 1, Ed. 1 Friday, August 20, 2010 Page: 8 of 24
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asset," Leebron said.
Senior Director of News and Media
Relations B.J. Almond said that Le-
ebron will be meeting with KTRU stu-
dent leadership within the next week.
Since 1991, KTRU has been trans-
mitted by a 50,000 watt tower in
Humble, which is in north Houston.
Between 1980 and 1991, it was trans-
mitted from the top of Sid Richardson
College at 650 watts.
"The issue [of selling KTRU] has
come up over the years, in part with
the recognition that this is an asset
that might decline in value and that
KTRU was not making use of 50,000
watts," Leebron said. "We have a re-
sponsibility to the university for mak-
ing the best use of our resources."
Leebron said that the endowment
has performed well so far this year
and that the decision to sell the sta-
tion came due to the implications of
the recent economic downturn and
the underemployment of the power
of the transmission tower.
"All universities are finding them-
selves in a position where expecta-
tions for future [endowment] perfor-
mance are lower," Leebron said.
This means that the university will
have to be more considerate when it
comes to determining how best to use
and invest its assets, he said.
KTRU Program Director Joey Yang
said that he thinks the university act-
ed against the interests of its students.
"We trusted the university to hold
our license - and they're selling it,"
Yang, a Lovett College junior, said.
"That's a betrayal of trust and that's
something every student should be
Leebron said that the university
has full ownership of the broadcast-
Yang organized a press conference
Tuesday night at which he stated that
despite the deal reached by the admin-
istration, he believed that Rice would
have to preserve KTRU on campus.
"KTRU does not anticipate to be
sold to UH for any sum of money,"
KPFT 90.1 FM Host Ray Hill, who
attended the meeting Tuesday night,
said that KTRU's transmission tower
could be raised and made more pow-
erful, and that it is as such not being
sold for its full potential.
"This asset is being liquidated at
a loss to Rice University, not a gain,"
Vice President for Administration
Kevin Kirby said the assets being
sold to KUHF were valued in the $10
million range by both Rice and the
University of Houston. A value of $12
million was stated at the UH Board of
Regents meeting Tuesday.
$4 million of the proceeds of the
sale will go toward the construction of
the new East Servery, which was put
on hold due to the economic down-
turn until the possibility of using the
radio proceeds arose, Almond said. He
said the total cost of the new servery
is projected to be $12 million, the rest
of which will be covered by gifts, debt
and operational reserves. Leebron said
in an e-mail to the university Tuesday
morning that the remainder of the pro-
the Rick Thresher
ceeds will be used according to the rec-
ommendations of a committee which
will include students.
Yule said that changing to a web-
only format will limit KTRU in terms
of reaching new listeners in Houston
as well as meaning that KTRU will
no longer be on distribution lists for
the labels and distributors on whom
KTRU has historically relied for mu-
"The administration put us up on
the market without even notifying us
about it a year ago - now we're going to
be strictly online which is really a trage-
dy for many of our listeners," Yule said.
"To be solely web-based, I worry that it
takes away a lot of our relevance."
KTRU was selected by the Houston
Press as Houston's best radio station
in 2000 and 2006.
Yule said it is unknown exact-
ly how many listeners KTRU has,
though she said that Arbitron's mini-
mum reporting standard of 24,000-
25,000 weekly listeners on average
over a given month was most recent-
ly met in December of 2009, and that
it was met for 2009 as a whole. Yule
said that Lhe amount by which the
minimum reporting standard was
exceeded is unknown to the station,
and that she does not know how
many Internet listeners the station
has. According to the KUHF website,
KUHF has over 350,000 listeners
"It's hard to drum up much en-
thusiasm about Internet radio," Yule
said. "For a lot of DJs there's some-
thing really special and unique about
knowing that your voice is going out
over the airwaves."
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Postdoctoral Research Associate Jeff
Smith (Brown '97) said that part of
the importance of radio is in the prev-
alence of a driving culture, especially
"Radio has persisted as long as it
has precisely because when people
drive, their ears are free," Smith, who
was a KTRU DJ and music director
during his time at Rice as an under-
KTRU DJ and board member Joelle
Zigman, who is in charge of Shepherd
concert broadcasts through KTRU,
said that she is concerned that this
sets a precedent for taking away from
the arts at Rice.
"Are we going to support fine arts
or are we going to let the University of
Houston steal our thunder?" Zigman,
a Brown College junior, asked.
Leebron said that part of the at-
tractiveness of the deal was that it
will benefit the Houston arts commu-
nity at large.
"KUHF had an opportunity to ex-
pand, and although our primary obli-
gation is to Rice and its students, and
though we are dedicated to KTRU,
this is going to make new opportuni-
ties," Leebron said.
Baseball and women's basketball,
which have been broadcast on KTRU
since 2000, will continue to be broad-
cast on KTRU online, Leebron said.
"50,000 watts was an asset that
came to the university as part of a
transaction 20 years ago, [and] a
signal of that power did not realize
its value to KTRU or the university"
Leebron said. "KTRU will assuredly
continue to provide an important and
A brief history of KTRU
1967: KHCR is first broadcast at a
strength of two watts from Hanszen
1968: KHCR moves to the RMC
basement, changes its call sign to
KDWL, and broadcasts throughout
campus on 580 AM.
1969: HOWL renamed KTRU, for
The Rice University.
1970: FM license application sub-
mitted to the FCC.
1971: License granted for 91.7 FM,
station is broadcast from the top of
Sid Richardson College. Broadcasts
include underexposed music and
campus news and events.
1974: KTRU upgrades to 250 watts.
1980: KTRU upgrades to 650 watts.
1991: KTRU acquires its current
transmission tower in Humble, which
broadcasts at 50,000 watts, through
an arrangement with neighbor sta-
tion KRTS 92.1 owner Mike Stude so
that 92.1 could up its power as well.
Interference results in poor recep-
2000: A translator is installed to
improve the station's quality on cam-
pus at 91.5 FM. The station is shut
down for about 200 hours when two
DJs protest a new arrangement with
die university which required KTRU
to broadcast more athletics by broad-
casting music over part of a women's
2009: Rice has KTRU's tower, li-
cense, and broadcasting frequency
2010: KTRU is sold to KUHF for
Information courtesy of Woodson
Research Center Archives
Lovett College junior Joey Yang talks to fellow KTRU DJs In Sammy's following their press
conference Tuesday night to prepare them for their protests against the KTRU's sale. The
sale was announced to the DJs Monday night, afterthe deal with UH had already been made.
valuable experience for our students,
but we hope that when the students
have a chance to be more involved in
how to use the proceeds, many more
opportunities will come out of it."
Not all students are opposed to
KTRU's sale. One student, who spoke
to the Thresher on condition of ano-
nymity, said that although she was
concerned by the lack of communi-
cation about the sale because of the
precedent it could set for other clubs
and academic departments, she is
glad that the money will be benefit-
ing more students at Rice.
"I didn't have a problem with
the sale of KTRU itself - I'm glad
that we're getting money directed to
something that will benefit a major-
ity of the students," she said. "1 think
it's evident that most students don't
place a value on KTRU."
KTRU's proposal to raise its blanket
tax from $5.50 to $7.50 last semester re-
ceived 55 perent approval, short of the
two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Student Association President Se-
lim Sheikh declined to comment on
the situation on behalf of the SA, as
the organization has yet to meet this
John Bins (Baker '83) said he be-
lieves there will be an alumni back-
lash to the sale, and that Board of
Trustee members who fail to represent
the student body should be replaced.
"1 find it kind of insulting for
something as important to Rice as
KTRU to be sold for petty change,"
KTRU Music Director Kevin Bush
said that he discovered KTRU while
skimming through radio stations in
"KTRU was an extremely impor-
tant factor in my decision to apply
to Rice," Bush said. "Were 1 a high
school senior looking to apply [to Rice
now], in light of this recent develop-
ment I would rescind my application."
Faculty Senate state-
ment on KTRU sale
I served on the KTRU Friendly
Committee created by President
Gillis in 2001 and had a chance to
see firsthand how deeply KTRU's
student staff felt about the station.
It's no surprise that the announce-
ment of the impending sale has
been met with dismay and oppo-
sition among KTRU loyalists, and
I understand their strong reac-
tion. For those of us who regularly
stream radio over the Internet,
one question is how having only
a web-based KTRU would change
the character and operation of the
station. None of us wants to lose
the eclectic mix of music that is
KTRU's great tradition.
— Susan Mcintosh
Speaker of Faculty Senate
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Wilde, Anna. The Rice Thresher, Vol. 98, No. 1, Ed. 1 Friday, August 20, 2010, newspaper, August 20, 2010; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth398476/m1/8/: accessed March 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.