The fight to save KTRU reaches the bedroom
I woke up this morning to the endangered KTRU 91.7 FM. I usually have my dial loyally set to KUHF 88.7 FM, but a phantom ghost of an angry KTRU DJ must have rolled my stereo's silver tuner knob towards the east last night.
“Maybe NPR is having a sick day,” I thought in half-awoken state.
It was only after I had finished brushing my teeth (this is about the time Engines of Our Ingenuity ripples into my restroom), I realized the fight to keep KTRU on air had crept into my bedroom.
Since my fledging days in the swampy community of Atascocita, KTRU has always been there to save me from my iPod playlist when I get tired of hearing Bjork’s “Hyperballad” or singing Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” from the top of my lungs. Our fakelationship even followed me into my college years when my student-run university radio station KCOU wasn’t eccentric enough for my eclectic-Houston-KTRU-bred taste.
Upon returning to Houston after four years at the University of Missouri, I discovered KTRU was to be no more.
I personally, like classical music, but it was definitely something I had to grow into (like eating vegetables). There’s also nothing quite like two years of reporting and producing for an NPR-affiliate with a strict classical music programming schedule, to shove you right into the eager arms of Felix Mendelssohn.
The fight KTRU station manager Joey Yang and other KTRU DJs are putting up is pretty admirable. Rice University and University of Houston officials seem content with their underhanded decision-making and aren’t showing signs of offering the kids a place at the dinner table.
1. The Houston community, the music world, and Rice students would all lose out with this deal. Houston radio listeners would have less choice, less diversity, and less commitment to local and diverse artists. Artists, record labels, and clubs would no longer have an avenue to promote their work in the U.S.’s fourth largest city. Rice students — setting aside the “internships” KUHC will offer — will no longer have the opportunity to learn leadership, management and communications skills in a hands-on environment.
2. The decision to sell KTRU was made covertly, specifically aimed to exclude input from KTRU, Rice students, and Rice alumni. Rice students built KTRU out of nothing, supporting its growth for over 40 years. Rice’s attempt to sell it out from under the students is a betrayal of trust — if not for the students’ hard work, there would be nothing to sell.
3. Internet streaming is not a viable alternative — it is precisely KTRU’s ability to broadcast on the radio that reaches people in their cars, allows the Houston community to discover KTRU on the dial, and brings new music into the station.
The radio war wages on Saturday night at Mango's at KTRU’s second free benefit concert headlining the Free Radicals, The Live Lights, and Ellypseas. Going to this concert might make you feel like you’re fighting the good fight, or could just serve as a great excuse to get laid by some fiery, revolutionary radio DJ (who is hopefully not a ghost).