KTRU, the beloved Rice University student-radio station that was relegated to the Internet and one of KPFT's HD channels after its frequency at 91.7 FM was bought by the University of Houston in 2011, announced this morning it will return to the FM dial next Friday.
The new low-power frequency will be 96.1 FM, broadcasting from an antenna atop Rice Stadium under the official call letters KBLT-LP. According to a press release, the station's coverage area should stretch approximately from Loop 610 south to Buffalo Bayou, and the station will continue to refer to itself as KTRU. It will cease using KPFT's HD-2 frequency, which it had been using since going off air in April 2011; it is also available through a number of apps including I Heart Radio.
"Not only is this an important step in KTRU's story, but it's also extremely important for the Houston music community, since no station on the FM dial right now focuses on exposing local and emerging talent quite like KTRU does," said KTRU music librarian George Barrow. "It's amazing to be a part of this organization during one of its most important transitions."
"There were so many people who played crucial roles — Congress, who passed the legislation in 2010 (the Local Community Radio Act) that made our kind of station a possibility; the lawyers and engineers engaged to design and secure everything; four years of station managers and students to work on it," adds Ian Wells, longtime host of KTRU's The Local Show. "I would have to call out the successive station managers Emily Meigs, Sal Tijerina, Nick Ryder, Kevin Bush and Joey Yang, who led the station during the process, and general manager Will Robedee, who quietly made sure the entire thing happened, station engineer Ross Cooper for plugging it all in, and all the people who toiled away out of the spotlight."
KTRU will also celebrate its return to FM with a free concert at 8 p.m. Thursday night in the Grand Hall of Rice Memorial Center on campus featuring Robert Ellis, Buxton and Deep Cuts. Conveniently, Thursday is also National College Radio Day.
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Ironically, U of H recently announced that it plans to put 91.7 FM up for sale and move the programming there to an HD channel of its home frequency of 88.7 FM.