People Are Stoked About KTRU's FM Return

A Rice Radio sticker was pasted over the mouth of the statue of Rice University founder William Marsh Rice during the protests against the student-run station's sale to the University of Houston system in August 2010.
A Rice Radio sticker was pasted over the mouth of the statue of Rice University founder William Marsh Rice during the protests against the student-run station's sale to the University of Houston system in August 2010.
Photo by Brittanie Shey

"KTRU lives on."

In a message posted on the station's Web site Monday evening, KTRU station manager Sal Tijerina announced that the Federal Communications Commission had granted permission for the station to return to the FM dial after a nearly four-year absence on the low-power 96.1 frequency. His letter said the station intends to build a transmitter on top of Rice Stadium and will be able to broadcast to an area approximately ten miles in diameter.

The station should be on the air by the end of 2015, the letter added.

"The KTRU community is incredibly excited to re-enter the FM format as a pillar of the Houston local music scene and continue to provide its eclectic, broad range of music through the accessible means of FM radio," Tijerina's letter said.

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Founded in 1967 and licensed in 1971, KTRU, or Rice Radio, became a Houston institution thanks to its irreverent attitude and hyper-eclectic programming, which embraced a myriad of noncommercial styles from avant-garde jazz to experimental noise and extreme metal, but perhaps most of all because it was one of the few stations in town with an open-door policy towards Houston's local musicians.

The announcement that Rice planned to sell KTRU's frequency and transmitter to the University of Houston system, which planned to convert its existing KUHF to a National Public Radio affiliate and transfer KUHF's classical programming to the new station, licensed by the FCC as KUHA, was met with intense criticism by both KTRU staff and the local music scene. Despite a number of passionate student-led protests, though, the U of H Board of Regents approved the sale in August 2010. Calling itself Classical 91.7, KUHA took over the frequency in April 2011.

Since going off-air, KTRU has continued broadcasting on one of KPFT's HD frequencies at 90.1-2 FM. It was also one of the first dozen or so college-radio stations added to IHeartRadio, the streaming digital service owned by once-mighty broadcasting behemoth Clear Channel Media. Today it is also available digitally through TuneIn and will be added to the NextRadio service, according to the station.

In yet another twist to an already strange saga, Tijerina's letter added that the call letters for the new low-power station have yet to be determined. The letters KTRU are currently licensed to a noncommercial station in La Harpe, Kan.

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