Static from classical listeners in KTRU deal

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Indie rock college students aren’t the only Houston music lovers objecting to Rice University’s decision to sell KTRU, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The 50,000-watt underground music station on 91.7 FM, operated by Rice students for four decades, will adopt an all-classical format once the University of Houston’s KUHF completes the purchase, but the station’s signal fades in Houston’s southern and western suburbs. “It seems odd that they would degrade their (classical music) signal and alienate a lot of their listeners,” a KUHF listener tells the Chronicle.

Like many pubcasters undergoing signal expansion, KUHF also plans to simulcast its all-classical service as an HD Radio channel of its more powerful, legacy signal on 88.7 FM. Rice students are to continue programming as an Internet radio station.

But Rice students and alumni have mounted a vigorous protest of the deal, which was announced Aug. 17 but has not been finalized. “That Rice seems ready to pawn off KTRU’s transmitter and license in this manner is deeply disturbing to students, faculty and alumni, and raises serious questions about the judgment of Rice’s administration,” current and alumni deejays wrote in a Chronicle op-ed. KTRU won’t survive as Internet radio station, because music promoters won’t send new releases to online-only services, deejay and Rice student Austin Williams tells the Chronicle. “Even if our Internet station ends up a success, through some random miracle, it would still die.”

In a letter to KTRU’s defenders, Rice University President David Leebron cites the likelihood that “a radio broadcast license was most likely a declining asset over the long term as a result of changes in technology and consumer preferences for accessing music.”

Additional links: Houston Chronicle editorial Radio Waves and letters to the editor;

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