Wednesday, August 18, 2010

KTRU is Dead Long Live KTRU

It appears now that all is lost. It's the second time the University President has tried to sell off KTRU.  This time it seems he has succeeded. The board of regents at the University of Houston has approved the purchase of the station from Rice University leaving essentially no obstacles to the transfer of the license. At this time the final sale price is unknown, but the price could be up to 10 million dollars. U of Houston already operates the Classical outlet KUFH. More here.

.The news was not communicated to the student of Rice University whatsoever. A blog leaked it on the 16th. The sale closed on the 17th. More here. I can't tell you much about who KTRU is handling it.  Student DJs were still on air even early this morning.  The schedule on their website says that overnights are automated but this was certainly a live DJ. He cut on at 1:55 AM and gave a legal ID then at about 2:05 gave a brief news announcement about the take over. Audio Below. I spliced together the two segments editing out the pesky hour of copyrighted music content that lay between. I'm not sure if we'll hear another student voice on 91.7 ever.
My bet is that The University of Houston intends to re-launch it with 24/7 NPR, leaving KUFH as all Classical. The Tumor is that the new calls KUHC have already been requested.  It could have been worse, it could have gone to the Educational Media Foundation.


I thought about this more and have become yet more opinionated. I now see it more as an administrative failure at Rice. Rice is having money problems. (more here) Regardless of the root cause, be it the economy or mismanagement, or  a raw deal of unknown origin, the party of ultimate responsibility is the Rice administration. Their solution, rather than to make sustainable changes, is to sell an asset: KTRU. But you can only sell KTRU once. They're covering an array of rolling operational losses with a one-time only cash cow. It reads like desperate Harvard MBA flailing. In the mean time a valuable property of Rice University is gone forever.

Rice university president David W. Leebron paid himself $911,741 last year. (More here) This deal sounds all the more criminally self-serving when you realize how cash-hungry this administration is to sustain the opulence of it's executive staff. Clearly Leebron is running the board of trustees like a CEO gone amok, and with no shareholders to rise up, the situation has degenerated beyond hope.