On Tuesday, August 17th, Houston Press Music Editor Chris Gray asked for comments regarding the sale of KTRU to KUHF. You can read the full story here:
It’s filled with impassioned responses from Houston music aficionados and those who have in the past and continue to contribute to our patchwork quilt of an arts community.
I missed the deadline while still on vacation. But based on the temperature of responses I would like to offer my own comments regarding the sale.
No one will argue that this situation is an incredible tragedy for independent music in Houston, for college radio in the nation, for the creative community of Houston. Even more sad is that we have to acknowledge at this point that students and the community at large hold very little power in reversing the decision to sell KTRU. This was punctuated by Rice’s choice not to include any of the stakeholders in the sale of the station. This decision is being viewed by those both inside and out of the Rice community as a betrayal of trust from an institution that prides itself in taking into account student needs and input for the improvement of their education and the university itself. Viewed from the University’s standpoint though, this was a well thought-out business decision to finally capitalize on an underused resource, and to finalize the deal at a time when there were few people around to raise objections.
The history of KTRU is as a terrestrial station, something people listened to in their cars, at home, with friends; the future of KTRU as an online-only station is an ersatz one at best. The polarized public outcry, retelling of stories of how KTRU shaped lives and careers and passions is a celebration of those terrestrial memories and of the way KTRU has changed lives.
We are about to lose a valuable asset to the Houston creative community. But this outpouring of public support is something that should make people surrounding KTRU happy, knowing that they made a difference. Furthermore, instead of remaining reactionary we can quickly turn this situation into an opportunity to galvanize our musical community to build something better. Pirate radio stations, more avenues for the exposure of live music in Houston, more local music programming in non-traditional areas. The celebration of the things that KTRU gave us in our lives and our passions doesn’t need to end, merely re-focused towards something greater.