Disclosure: The author of this piece volunteers for KTRU.
On Wednesday afternoon, Rice University president David Leebron pulled up a chair inside of the KTRU Rice Radio studio and played some of those rooty-tooty, groovin' oldies.
In other words, music that KTRU has made a point not to play since its 1967 inception.
Leebron remains a scapegoat in the controversial gutting of Rice's radio station that sent Rice's broadcast tower, 91.7 FM 50,000-watt frequency and Federal Communication Commission license to the University of Houston.
After Leebron spearheaded the $9.5 million sale of (in Leebron's words) the "vastly underutilized resource," folks wanting to hear KTRU's free-form programming must do so via a high-definition radio or an Internet connection.
While hurt feelings remain, Leebron's set on Wednesday -- a bizarre "event" to begin with -- illustrated that the Rice prez doesn't own a lot of Jandek, Arthur Doyle or Black Leather Jesus records.
From Bob Marley's "Buffalo Solider" and Tom Lehrer's "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" to Roy Orbison's "Love Hurts" and Don McLean's "Vincent," the 58-year-old Leebron is more in tune with post-dad-rock. (Or would it be pre-dad rock, like grandpa-rock?)
Leebron provided commentary after each number, coaxing crickets out of the corners after saying things like Port Arthur-born Janis Joplin "qualifies under the Texas provision" and Meat Loaf has an "incredible array of very interesting songs."
On a deeper and darker level, the conspiracy theory-minded of listeners probably screamed at their HD radios and smartphones when Leebron played two versions of "Money (That's What I Want)" and Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," which Leebron said translates to "No, I Don't Regret Anything."
KTRU diehards certainly went berserk when -- in what one may call the biggest middle-fingered irony ever -- the online connection went into "REBUFFERING STREAM" mode for a solid three minutes. (On the Facebook event page, somebody affiliated with the station posted, "You crashed our streams! We'll be back in a minute!")
Rocks Off doubts that Leebron was giving KTRU the business via a backhanded beatdown that included the Houston Press' winner of the 2010 "Educational Turkey of the Year" reading a promo for KTRU's Web site, which is still one of the only ways someone can listen to the station.
Instead, KTRU fans can all take a deep breath, put away their tinfoil hats and ask themselves, "Do I even know a 58-year-old dude who has cookin' tastes in tuneage?"
You can ponder that question while listening to KTRU, which, at the time of writing, was once again rebuffering its stream.
DJ Leebron's Playsheet, Courtesy of the KTRU Web site:
04:31 PM- chris de burgh / the lady in red [into the light] on the n/a label. 04:27 PM- wobushi huang rong / wang rong [wang rong] on the n/a label. 04:22 PM- francis cabrel / gardiens de nuit [l'essentiel 1977-2007] on the n/a label. 04:18 PM- tom lehrer / poisoning pigeons in the park [the remains of tom lehrer] on the n/a label. 04:13 PM- bob marley & the wailers / buffalo soldier [legend] on the n/a label. 04:08 PM- don mclean / vincent [american pie] on the n/a label. 04:06 PM- norwegian arms / wolf like a stray dog [wolf like a stray dog] on the big school records label. 04:02 PM- flying lizards / money (edit) [money - ep] on the n/a label. 03:59 PM- barrett strong / money (that's what i want) [20th century masters] on the n/a label. 03:56 PM- ray charles / busted [greatest hits] on the n/a label. 03:53 PM- roy orbison / love hurts [boudleax bryant] on the n/a label. 03:49 PM- edith piaf / non, je ne regrette rien [the very best of edith piaf] on the n/a label. 03:45 PM- nena / kino [99 luftballoons] on the n/a label. 03:41 PM- meat loaf / hot patootie - bless my soul [rocky horror picture show soundtrack] on the n/a label. 03:37 PM- blondie / call me [best of blondie] on the n/a label. 03:35 PM- djano reinhoof and stehpanie grapelli / minor swing [chocolat] on the n/a label. 03:31 PM- cat stevens / another saturday night [greatest hits] on the n/a label. 03:27 PM- harry nilsson / everybody's talkin' [forrest gump soundtrack] on the n/a label. 03:22 PM- janis joplin / me and bobby mcgee [leading ladies] on the n/a label.
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