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KTRU Inks HD Deal with KPFT, Still Hopes to Halt Sale of Rice University Radio Station

Save KTRU continues to fight sale of Rice University station

As we have been reporting over the past several months, KTRU, the student radio station at Rice University, has been fighting a proposed sale to University of Houston that was first announced in August.

Although University of Houston hopes to eventually use the KTRU frequency for a classical public radio station (similar to what has already happened at KUSF), volunteers at KTRU still have control over the college radio station until the deal is approved by the FCC.

The groups Save KTRU and Friends of KTRU has been fighting the sale on a number of fronts, ranging from letter-writing campaigns to officials at Rice and University of Houston, to a strongly-worded Petition to Deny sent to the FCC, to investigative journalism focused on the wheeling and dealing (and subterfuge) of University of Houston, Rice University, and Public Radio Capital.

At this point the decision on the sale rests in the hands of the FCC, but that doesn’t mean that KTRU has given up on its future. Over the weekend, KTRU announced (PDF) that it has signed a deal with Pacifica radio station KPFT in order to continue broadcasting its signal over the Houston airwaves via KPFT’s 90.1 HD2-FM signal for at least 7 years. Although KTRU is still broadcasting over its current frequency of 91.7 FM in Houston; those days may be numbered as it’s possible that the FCC could announce a decision on the station sale at any time.

KTRU’s broadcasts over KPFT’s HD channel are set to begin next Monday, February 14 at 9:01 AM. According to the press release, Rice University will be helping to fund this HD initiative using some of the funds garnered from the sale of KTRU’s broadcast license and tower. In order to get a bit more perspective on this new arrangement and on the status of KTRU, I spoke with KTRU Station Manager Joey Yang.

Jennifer Waits: Any idea when the FCC will rule on UH’s proposed purchase of KTRU?

Joey Yang:  No idea.  We were told 2-6 months from the date of  the case closing, which was in December.  So, it could be tomorrow, it could be in June — we just  don’t know.

Jennifer: How do you feel about the new HD  agreement? Who orchestrated that deal?

Joey: Kelsey Yule, former Station  Manager, Will Robedee, General Manager, and myself, as well as Duane Bradley at KPFT worked together to work out the HD agreement.  We’re excited — it’s  not an acceptable substitute for FM, but we’re excited about the technology and the growing-every day digital radio listener base.

Jennifer: What are the advantages and disadvantages of HD?

Joey: Well for one, KPFT  broadcasts at 100,000 Watts, which is double our FM wattage, so we’re happy about that.  Also, HD radio broadcasts in high-quality digital audio, which gives a much better sound than FM radio.  The obvious disadvantage is that HD radio is still an up-and-coming technology, but that’s changing.  We’re giving out HD radios to our listeners in response to this, and HD radios are shipping in many new car models.

Jennifer: I’m assuming that KTRU continues to operate normally during all of these negotiations/protests/etc. Do you feel that’s been an advantage for you guys?

Joey: Yeah, it’s lent some semblance of  normalcy.  It’s important to keep moving forward, and I’m lucky to have so many loyal and committed DJs to keep us going forward no matter what.

Jennifer: What’s the focus of SAVE KTRU’s efforts right now?

Joey: Save KTRU is still interested in blocking the sale of our NCE [non-commercial educational] FM  license to UH, but our record is currently “closed” at the FCC, meaning that the  FCC has taken in all the relevant information they need, such as our Petition to Deny and the replies to that, as well as the thousands of emails our listeners have sent to them, and they are currently deliberating our case.  So we’re anxiously awaiting their decision.

***

You can find Radio Survivor’s complete coverage of the situation at KTRU here, as well as an interview with former Station Manager Kelsey Yule over on Spinning Indie.


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4 Responses to KTRU Inks HD Deal with KPFT, Still Hopes to Halt Sale of Rice University Radio Station

  1. Greg February 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    “Joey: HD radio broadcasts in high-quality digital audio, which gives a much better sound than FM radio. The obvious disadvantage is that HD radio is still an up-and-coming technology, but that’s changing. We’re giving out HD radios to our listeners in response to this, and HD radios are shipping in many new car models.”

    Joey is quite the shill for HD Radio – sounds just like Struble. Better sound – really? There’s no other way to kill a crappy product than with great advertising, and giving away the product to unsuspecting listeners. Won’t listeners be pleased when they can’t pick up the HD Radio stations and/or which drops out frequently. I predict this move will backfire on the HD Radio hucksters. Does Joey know about the Keefe Bartels and Galax Wolf car HD Radio investigations?

  2. Paul Riismandel February 8, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    Unfortunately KTRU’s HD2 channel will not enjoy WPFT’s 100,000 watts. At best the HD channel broadcasts at 10,000 watts–I haven’t yet investigated if it will even reach that far. Therefore the KTRU HD2 likely will not reach the same size geographic area and audience as it does on its current analog FM channel.

    I do think that getting an HD2 channel is better than nothing, and I appreciate that Joey and the KTRU staff are trying to make the best of it. But as of yet HD radio penetration is pretty slim, meaning the station will lose the vast majority of its terrestrial broadcast audience.

  3. Greg February 9, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    I’ve noticed that you are no longer publishing my comments. It appears that you are starting to run a bit of an agenda for iBiquity, so your link has been removed from my blog.

  4. Paul Riismandel February 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Sometimes WordPress holds comments and we have to go shake them loose. Since we’re a volunteer operation someone doesn’t always notice on a daily basis that a legit comment is being held.

    Greg, you’re free to link to whomever you want, but I fail to see how we’re “running a bit of an agenda for iBiquity.” But, whatever floats your boat, dude….

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