KTRU: U Of H Regents Approve Purchase Of Rice Station

UPDATE (12:15 p.m.): Rocks Off will have more on the pending change of ownership at KTRU and its fallout this afternoon, with further comments from members of the Houston music scene including several current and former KTRU staffers.

Moments ago, the University of Houston Board of Regents approved the purchase of Rice University student station KTRU (91.7) FM, reports Rocks Off's Matthew Keever, who is at the board's quarterly meeting at the Hilton University of Houston.

The motion carried by a margin of 4 to 3. Several people showed up in support of KTRU, but no one spoke in the open-forum portion of the meeting.

"I don't think that the purchase of this radio station is a judicious use of the funds, and I think it would leave a bad taste in a lot of listeners' mouths," UH music graduate student Andrew Fortson said as he was being escorted out. "It will turn this community off and not on."

"I thought about this long and hard," said Nandita Berry, Vice Chair of the Audit and Compliance Committee, who voted against acquiring KTRU. "I stand opposed to the purchase of this radio station. We currently have a standalone radio station that bears the University's name and uses the University's resources, over which we have very little oversight and which has not had as its top priority the promotion of the University of Houston, its students or faculty.

"I'm told that the new station will be different, but I have trouble believing it."

Speaking in support of the board's decision, Chairman Welcome Wilson Sr. said, ""When television came around, everyone said that radio was dead; it would never recover. They turned out to be wrong. And I have no doubt that we'll get our money's worth out of this."

As the board took a break for lunch, the rest of the members declined further comment on the issue.

Earlier, "How does the University of Houston need two radio stations and Rice doesn't need any?" asked Vice Chair of Facilities, Construction & Master Planning Committee Tilman J. Fertitta, one of several questions he asked before voting yes.

According to Greg Starks, a volunteer DJ for KTRU, Rice has been "trying to get rid of us for a long time."

"Honestly, this is a travesty," Starks said. "KTRU is 40-year-old, student-built institution in Houston, and we have some of the longest running programs on Texas radio. We play music that you wouldn't hear on any other Texas radio station."

"The student management of the station was legally informed last night at 9 p.m.," Starks added. "By contract, they weren't even allowed to know what was going on. It's literally a blindside."

Voting for the motion were regents Fertitta, Wilson, Nelda Luce Blair and Carroll Ray. Besides Berry, Mica Mosbacher and Jacob Monty voted against.

Earlier today, "Save KTRU" Web sites appeared, both on Facebook at at www.savektru.org. The station will continue broadcasting on 91.7 FM for at least 30 days after paperwork is filed with the FCC, during which time the public is welcome to comment.

Current KTRU station manager Kelsey Yule encouraged as much in a letter she sent to the staff Monday night and authorized Rocks Off to quote.

"This will be an important way for us all to channel our arguments," Yule said. "For now , operation will continue as usual. Please keep us legal (and extra awesome on the music side) for the time that we have left."

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