Whither college radio? Not without a fight

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Add Vanderbilt University’s WRVU to the list of student-operated radio stations that may be offered for sale to the highest bidder. Vanderbilt Student Communications, license holder of the 10,000-watt underground music station broadcasting on 91.1 FM, is exploring whether to sell WRVU and use the proceeds to establish an endowment supporting “innovative student media experiences . . . in perpetuity.”

Unlike the pending license transfer of Houston’s KTRU, the Rice University station that’s to be converted into classical music pubradio outlet by aspiring owner KUHF, the proposal for WRVU is a trial balloon, according to the New York Times. The Times reports that as financially strained universities increasingly question the viability and value of their campus radio stations, advocates for student-operated outlets such as KTRU and WRVU have organized and mounted vigorous protests.

Friends of KTRU, for example, retained the Paul Hastings law firm and petitioned the FCC to reject the sale of their 50,000-watt station. “Rice University and [KUHF licensee] the University of Houston System used underhanded techniques in this attempt to sell KTRU’s FM license, which was student-created and has been maintained by four decades of hard-working student volunteers,” said Joey Yang, KTRU station manager, in a Dec. 3 news release. “With this Petition to Deny, we hope to stop them and return KTRU-FM to its rightful owners: the students.”

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