Houstonians have been familiar with the drama of selling a college radio station since August — when news broke that Rice University had agreed to sell KTRU's signal and transmitter to the University of Houston for $9.5 million. But now the trend — which also includes Vanderbilt University's WRVU, Texas Tech's shut down of KTXT in 2008 and the sale of Augustana College's KAUR in 2009 — has gotten the attention of The New York Times:
But as colleges across the country look for ways to tighten budgets amid recession-induced shortfalls, some administrators — most recently in the South — have focused on college radio, leading even well-endowed universities to sell off their FM stations. That trend was felt this summer at Rice and Vanderbilt, among the most prominent of Southern universities, stirring debate about the viability of broadcast radio, the reach of online broadcasting and the value of student broadcast programming.
The Times notes the efforts in Houston and Nashville to keep student radio and mentions both savektru.org and a petition filed Friday with the FCC to prevent the completion of the KTRU sale in the interest of public good.
But for those who have been paying attention to the KTRU saga, it is most interesting to note that even officials selling the Vanderbilt station wanted to separate themselves from Rice officials' behavior.
Chris Carroll, director of student media at Vanderbilt Student Communications, draws a stark contrast between the situations at the two universities. At Vanderbilt, he said, “what’s happening, really, is a big public discussion about is this a good idea or not, and there’s no conclusion to that yet.” Rice, he said, made the decision to sell KTRU behind closed doors — without student input.