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College Radio Watch: University of Houston to Sell Former KTRU Frequency + More News

Houston Public Media announced yesterday that it plans to sell off its KUHA 91.7 FM license (aka Classical 91.7) and will move its classical music programming to HD radio (via 88.7 FM HD2). Radio Survivor readers may recall that the license for 91.7 FM was previously held by Rice University and was the former home to college radio station KTRU-FM. Back in 2010 it was announced that the license would be sold to University of Houston (which runs Houston Public Media), which planned to use 91.7 FM in order to divide its talk and classical public radio programming across two frequencies.

Despite high profile protests, legal filings, and petitions to the FCC, the $9.5 million deal went through in April, 2011, allowing Houston Public Media to have a dedicated classical station.

Rice’s student radio station KTRU has continued as an online/ 90.1 FM HD2 station. Earlier this year, Rice University was also awarded a construction permit in order to build a new low power FM (LPFM) radio station, which KTRU hopes to get on the air by the end of the year on 96.1 FM. According to an announcement on the KTRU website in February, 2015, “KTRU, Rice University’s student-run radio station, will use this permit to broadcast a signal from atop Rice Stadium, at 96.1 MHz. The construction of the transmitter is being funded from the proceeds of the 91.7 sale in 2010.”

In recent years there were rumblings that University of Houston’s classical station KUHA was struggling. We reported back in 2013 that local hosts were eliminated and replaced with syndicated programming.

According to a post by Houston Public Media,

General Manager Lisa Shumate told University of Houston officials she wants to sell the frequency and transmitter for the station. No layoffs are planned. Since the classical music station is licensed to the University of Houston, the UH Board of Regents has final say over any changes. Full-time classical programming will be available on 88.7 HD 2, online streaming at, free applications like iHeartRadio and TuneIn, and via television at TV 8.5.

‘We are making this change in recognition of the growing popularity, superior broadcast quality and greater efficiency of digital broadcasting,’ Shumate said in a statement. ‘Placing our focus on HD radio and digital streaming for our classical music programming enables us to make the best use of technology and resources to continue providing the music and arts and culture content that our listeners enjoy.’

The University of Houston Administrative and Finance Committee made the recommendation to the full board of regents, which is expected to approve the plan during its meeting on Thursday.

KUHA 91.7 FM was purchased from Rice University for $9.5 million in 2010. Most of the classical music and arts programming produced by Houston Public Media moved to the new station, along with live broadcasts with the Houston Symphony, the Houston Grand Opera and local performing artists and groups. KUHF then adopted a 24-hour all news and information format.”

This has to be bittersweet news for KTRU fans and supporters who fought so hard to try to keep the license only to see it up for sale 5 years later. There’s no word yet on if there are any interested buyers for the 50,000 watt license.

Other College Radio Headlines

U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects IBS’ Challenges to Copyright Royalty Board Webcasting Rates (Radio Survivor)

The skinny on the recent decision over royalty rates for student stations that webcast

Radio Survivor Podcast #11: National Radio Day, Princeton Review Rankings, and More (Radio Survivor)

In this week’s podcast I go into further detail about the U.S. Court of Appeals decision regarding copyright royalty rates for student webcasters. I also fully dissect the recent Princeton Review list of the “best” (really “most popular”) college radio stations, walking listeners through the survey methodology, explaining what the list really means.

Radio Punks: The Student Radio Story Documentary Covers History of Student Radio in New Zealand

I would love to see this documentary. Stuff describes it as a “fascinating chunk of New Zealand social history,” which shows how vital pre-Internet student media was, saying, “It’s hard to realise now – in these electronically-connected days – that student newspapers and student radio were the only links available to the young.” View some highlights from the documentary here and read another review here. Also take a look at another New Zealand station’s website, where there is a 40 part audio documentary about bFM’s station history!

New Documentary Looks at Influential College Radio Hip Hop Show (The Chicago Defender)

According to the Chicago Defender, the new film Stretch & Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives “looks at the eight years the two DJs spent on the airwaves at WKCR 89.9 FM, or 89 Tec 9 as some fans may remember. The show came to earn a special place in hip-hop history…”

Radio Host will Talk about Her Student Days (Sunderland Echo)

Former student radio DJ (and recent graduate) in the UK spoke about her transition to commercial radio

CBI Begins to Announce Finalists for its Student Production Awards

Check back on the CBI website for updates. Winners will be announced at CBI’s convention in October.

Remembering Pump up the Volume: Pirate radio as Inspiration for Future College Radio DJs and Podcasters (A.V. Club)

A.V. Club’s loving ode to the classic pirate radio flick Pump up the Volume is full of great college radio anecdotes as well as reflections on how a teen pirate radio DJ is akin to today’s podcaster.

Big Band Radio Show Moves to College Radio Station (Tulsa World)

Interestingly, the Tulsa Community College station, The Grid, had to make some adjustments as its DJs don’t use records or CDs.

Behind the Scenes at Rat and Roach-Infested WBAR

This short video from earlier this year really gets at the sad conditions at some college radio stations, with anecdotes about vermin and roaches in WBAR‘s basement digs. I visited the station in 2009 and remember hearing similar stories even back then! It’s unfortunate, as WBAR is an extremely popular student activity at Barnard College.

We cover the culture of college radio every Friday in our College Radio Watch feature. If you have college radio news to share, please drop us a note at EDITORS at RADIOSURVIVOR dot COM.

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2 Responses to College Radio Watch: University of Houston to Sell Former KTRU Frequency + More News

  1. Sean Norling August 21, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

    Radio Punks: The Student Radio Story (full documentary) is available on demand at – no Sky account required, just registration with the site.

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