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Rice’s College Radio Station KTRU to Return to FM with Launch of New LPFM Station

I’m thrilled to report that Rice University’s student-run radio station KTRU will be returning to the terrestrial airwaves this week, with the launch of its new low power FM (LPFM) channel at 96.1 FM in Houston, Texas.

KTRU has been streaming online and broadcasting over KPFT’s HD-2 channel after Rice University sold its FM license to University of Houston back in 2011. Upon the launch of the new LPFM, KTRU will discontinue its HD broadcasts.

Rice’s LPFM station will have the official (and might I add, amazing!) call letters KBLT-LP, although it will still be referred to as KTRU. I’d totally forgotten that there was a famed pirate radio station in Los Angeles in the 1990s called KBLT (a follow-up to KPBJ in San Francisco), whose story was documented by its founder Sue Carpenter in her fascinating book 40 Watts from Nowhere: A Journey into Pirate Radio.

Officially launching on College Radio Day this Friday, October, 2, Rice University’s inaugural LPFM broadcast will feature, “an eclectic mix of music interspersed with live appearances from special guests,” according to a statement issued by KTRU.

Additionally, KTRU will celebrate its launch with a free “Back to FM” concert this Thursday night on the Rice University campus, featuring local artists Robert Ellis, Buxton and Deep Cuts.

KTRU concert flyer

George Barrow, one of KTRU’s music librarians spoke about the return to FM, saying, “We’re returning to our roots with the on-campus, low-power transmitter. 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. It’s amazing to be part of this organization during one of its most important transitions.”

In an interesting twist, as we reported a few weeks ago, University of Houston plans to sell the old KTRU 91.7 FM channel, which is now a classical music station using the call letters KUHA. A former KTRU Station Manager wrote an editorial calling for Rice University to buy back the frequency.


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