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KTRU Departs FM Airwaves Defiant, Unique As Ever
April 29, 2011 3:46 AM   Subscribe

KTRU Departs FM Airwaves Defiant, Unique As Ever: 2 weeks ago The FCC Approved controversial sale of Rice University's radio station, KTRU, to the University of Houston and after 40 years of student-run broadcasting, KTRU's FM signal was cut off promptly at 6 a.m. yesterday, leaving a sizable hole in Houston's FM band. The triumphant speech of Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic convention faded into the wall of sound of The Flying Luttenbachers "The Pointed Stick Variations," reaching an almost unbearable harshness before everything ceased. [Previously]
posted by Blake (50 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Right now they still have an Internet stream and an HD radio signal. That's better than most college stations over the years. All they had was carrier current reaching the dorms and that's it.

Besides, nobody listens to college radio. Nobody. College radio is to radio what college baseball is to baseball.
posted by Yakuman at 4:02 AM on April 29, 2011


According to a friend who was a DJ a KUSF (University of San Francisco) for nearly a decade, college radio stations across the country are being sold to various local versions of the same corporate conglomerate that plays nothing but the most lukewarm and overplayed classical hits. What was formerly KUSF is now in internet-only exile (internet bandwidth generously donated by WFMU).

RIP, KTRU. You were a firm link to what mattered when I lived in Houston for several years.
posted by treepour at 4:10 AM on April 29, 2011


Besides, nobody listens to college radio. Nobody.

Hi, nice to meet you, I'm nobody.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:23 AM on April 29, 2011 [20 favorites]


College radio is to radio what college baseball is to baseball.

College/Community Radio is to radio what a decent used bookstore is to the book department of your local Walmart. Listen more.
posted by Kinbote at 4:24 AM on April 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


I felt a great disturbance in the FM, as if hundreds of Owls suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
posted by PapaLobo at 4:35 AM on April 29, 2011


Hi, nice to meet you, I'm nobody.

How can you be nobody if I'm nobody?
posted by 3.2.3 at 4:53 AM on April 29, 2011


Besides, nobody listens to college radio. Nobody. College radio is to radio what college baseball is to baseball.

You are, at best, describing an "is" not an "ought".
posted by DU at 4:53 AM on April 29, 2011


Besides, nobody listens to college radio. Nobody. College radio is to radio what college baseball is to baseball.

I think you are extrapolating information from a dataset of N=You.

From the same methodology, I can confidently predict that no one eats Brussels sprouts. Why the fuck are we wasting so much productive farmland growing them?
posted by absalom at 4:57 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hiya. I am both nobody and no one.
posted by likeso at 4:59 AM on April 29, 2011


Wow. I didn't think it was possible for Houston to suck even more, but there you go.

(Born and raised there btw)
posted by fungible at 5:02 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


My alma mater Rochester Institute of Technology's WITR, despite some setbacks, continues to play music that no other station in the area, college or commercial, ever plays.
posted by tommasz at 5:04 AM on April 29, 2011


I loved KTRU and was sad as it's last hours winded down. It's been like an old friend for the last 20 years who was with me as I got through high school, college, my 20's, my 30's. It's introduced me to so much wonderful music and spoken word. My husband won a KTRU contest years ago and that story still amuses me to this day. I'll get an HD radio just so I can continue to hear it. Houston can be a big bland place, but there are little jewels all around - culturally rich little things that make living here worth it. KTRU was one of those.

Some of the songs I heard for the first time there:
Lee Morgan Sidewinder
Black Flag TV party tonight
Flipper Brainwash
Anne Sexton The Truth the Dead Know
Laurie Anderson O Superman
So much King Missle
Pinback B
Clara Nunes A Flor da Pele

And thats just what I can remember off the top of my head. I could go on and on about all the times I sat in my car waiting for the song to end or the times as a teen trying to save songs on cassette tape in my room into the wee hours. The deadpan announcements of the deejays is the best. I wish all deejays were like them.

I'm still trying to find an online version of Girls with Glasses by the Dishes. I love you KTRU.
posted by dog food sugar at 5:26 AM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Besides, nobody listens to college radio. Nobody.

Actually, there's a college radio station in St. Louis, The Wood, that was voted one of the best in town in recent years.
posted by limeonaire at 5:29 AM on April 29, 2011


Another nobody here in Boston - WZBC, WHRB, WMBR, WBUR, these are the voices I listen to.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:33 AM on April 29, 2011


.
posted by erniepan at 5:36 AM on April 29, 2011


Yesterday a bunch of college radio stations broadcast 1 minute of silence at the same time to protest these sales.
posted by wheelieman at 5:42 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


A Boston area nobody who would be absolutely lost without WBUR or WERS, checking in.
posted by rollbiz at 5:44 AM on April 29, 2011


Here in Raleigh, there'd literally be no indie rock on the radio without WKNC. It'd be talk radio, shitty rock, shitty country, and shitty hip-hop all the way around the dial. Thank god for college radio.
posted by EarBucket at 5:54 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'm nobody!"

"I'm nobody!"

[Chorus] "I'm nobody!"
posted by itstheclamsname at 6:08 AM on April 29, 2011


College radio is to radio what college baseball is to baseball.

Not only do I occasionally listen to college radio (though more often to NPR and/or KXT/KGSR), I also follow college baseball!

I'm totally nobodyer than thou.
posted by kmz at 6:10 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, there's a college radio station in St. Louis, The Wood

I really hope someone's produced tshirts to advertise St Louis' Wood.

(WUOG and WSBF made my own adolescence in '80s South Carolina so much more tolerable. Fun fact: Once, when Leonard Nimoy spoke at the University, he cut an ID for the station. For several years after that the voice of Nimoy always identified the station with "This is Leonard Nimoy and you're listening to WSBF, Clemson.")
posted by octobersurprise at 6:22 AM on April 29, 2011


*outnobodied by kmz*

But I'm still no one (only one to admit to eating Brussels sprouts). So... yay?
posted by likeso at 6:22 AM on April 29, 2011


Sorry guys, this was part of the package deal I requested when I moved back to Houston. I said, "Okay look, Houston, if I'm going to be back in you, you're going to need to bring back a 24 hour classical music station. Sorry. That's non-negotiable." and they were like, "Hmm... you drive a hard, snooty bargain, but okay."

But don't despair, y'all. I also demanded light rail.
posted by jph at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, yep, an ATL nobody here. Georgia State and Tech both have wonderful stations.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 6:29 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Album 88 from GSU in Atlanta was the only station I ever had my car radio set on (sometimes the one from Tech, too). I still listen to it on whatever car I'm in when I go home and visit.
posted by Kitteh at 6:42 AM on April 29, 2011


*Looks around for nobody*

*Waves KRME flag*

*Fondly remembers Lorenzo Milam and the KRAB nebula.*

*Lasciviously thumbs copy of Sex and Broadcasting*
posted by warbaby at 7:01 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


College radio stations are awesome cut in half and fried up with big chunks of pancetta and garlic. Just don't overcook them or the obscure garage rock gets all mushy and tasteless. You can substitute chorizo for the pancetta, but only if you teach the midnight-to-3am shift DJ to stop mumbling and breathing into the mic.
posted by ook at 7:16 AM on April 29, 2011


KNTU 88.1 out of University of North Texas plays amazing jazz. Jazz, on the radio, in Texas. My other choices are tejano, country, classic rock, country, pop, and country. I love college radio.
posted by shmurley at 7:27 AM on April 29, 2011


Here in Raleigh/Durham NC, my radio settings look like:

WKNC 88.1 (NC state) for lots of great rock and cool world music shows.
WSHA 88.9 (Shaw Univ.) for jazz, reggage, blues, and a killer Friday funk show
WXYC 89.3 (UNC) for even more great (indie) rock
WUNC 91.5 (UNC) for NPR/BBC news and awesome talk shows where I actually learn stuff.
WRDU 106.1 (commercial Rush Radio) - for when I want a master class on logical fallacies and get my lulz on, or work myself into a lather.

If none of those are playing anything good, it's CDs or iPod.

I'm aware that most people aren't listening to these stations, but at 41 years old I have no patience for Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, or some crappy faux patriotic country crap. And I certainly cannot deal with morning zoos. And I never hear any commercials.

I count myself really lucky to have so many good choices and it makes me sad that they are slowly disappearing in some places.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:36 AM on April 29, 2011


nobody listens to college radio.

No, I'm Spartacus.
posted by Twang at 7:41 AM on April 29, 2011


More on CBI's moment of silence yesterday: “Those who have benefited from college radio, including alumni, commercial broadcasters, and the music industry must step up and call on the Federal Communications Commission to reassess what it means by localism in content. These stations are invaluable and when the frequency is gone, it will not be returned,” added Walton.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:45 AM on April 29, 2011


Houston native and Rice alumna here. I and most all my alumni friends are so upset by the administration basically stealing the station from student control and selling it. I have a friend who took off his Rice ring when he heard they were going to do it and still hasn't put it back on.

We're your Gen X slackers whose musical taste was formed by KTRU, who blew off football games (and more importantly, MOB halftime shows) to staff it, who had it on in our cars and homes, whose lives it was the soundtrack to. One of my friends here in Austin courted his wife by playing songs for her on his KTRU shift.

Houston radio was so full of commercial pap and crap for all the years I lived there, until 2004, and presumably still is. It's a Clear Channel wasteland. I didn't like everything I heard on KTRU, but it exposed me to a lot of new music that I would not otherwise have heard. I'll miss it terribly when I go to Houston and that 91.7 spot is taken by something else.

Congratulations, Leebron, you've taken one more step toward making Rice less Rice-like. I hope you're happy, because the alumni aren't.
posted by immlass at 7:45 AM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm more no one than nobody nowadays, but that's mainly because I don't really listen to any radio.

That said -- apparently the University of Maryland radio station just had their funding cut bigtime, and their future is shaky.

Why College Radio Is Worth Saving
posted by inigo2 at 8:14 AM on April 29, 2011


this happened to me about 20 years ago when Towson State Univ. took over their student run radio station and replaced it with some unholy mess playing light and easy new age jams... this battle was lost years ago.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:17 AM on April 29, 2011


i say the battle is lost, because the root issue is the defunding of public higher education and concurrent push to monetize, that is privatize, the assets of the public system. a student run radio station with an FCC license is an asset. The only to stop these takeovers is to show them the money... which in the end defeats the purpose of having non-commercial radio.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:24 AM on April 29, 2011


Rice Radio expanded my little musical universe in a way I don't think it would have been expanded otherwise. I remember staying up on schoolnights to tape off the radio as if it were transmissions from some other planet -- which, as a high school kid in Clear Lake, it might as well have been.

.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:30 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Re: student radio.

My local station is Radio K, and I would listen to them more but it seems like fully 3/4 of their airtime is used by DJs talking. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Shut up and play music!

Luckily, the twin cities also have the Current, so unless I get really unlucky and the current is playing something I hate while two feckless idiots are giggling at each other on radio k ("haha so this one time I said pants" "SERIOUSLY? HAHAHAAHA PANTS! PAAAAAAAAAANTS!"), I generally have something to listen to.
posted by kavasa at 8:49 AM on April 29, 2011


But don't despair, y'all. I also demanded light rail.

And we all know how well that turned out.
posted by PapaLobo at 9:10 AM on April 29, 2011


I like to stream WSGE.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:10 AM on April 29, 2011


nobody listens to college radio. . .

I am (well) over 50 and I still listen to student-run college radio. From where I sit I have no fewer than five stations to choose from. Each one is a glorious mess, and I appreciate having them.

Ironically, it's because of their lack of irony. They can and do play all kinds of music and other content unironically, without prejudgement -- because it's all new to them. For the most part, the on-air talent is committed and discerning if not professional. I see them as carrying forward a way of appreciating music and popular culture set by the progressive FM (not the same as prog rock) stations I enjoyed in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Rice Radio expanded my little musical universe in a way I don't think it would have been expanded otherwise. . .

I think it's easier, and maybe more natural to discover -- or discover that you have a taste for -- long-tail and niche arts and entertainments via a communication model that broadcasts varied, short, specialised, segments over a single channel, rather than googling the entire world to find the right presenters, filters, and interpreters for genres you already like.

It's the difference between research and exploration. One way is about looking for something. The other is about putting yourself in the way of things and letting them find you.

Also:

. . . reassess what it means by localism in content. These stations are invaluable and when the frequency is gone, it will not be returned.

Rat own.
posted by Herodios at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2011


It's the difference between research and exploration. One way is about looking for something. The other is about putting yourself in the way of things and letting them find you.
Exactly why I love looking at public access TV. Any sort of bizarre thing might be on there at any given moment.
posted by zoinks at 12:01 PM on April 29, 2011


WRVU in Nashville is in similar straits with a sale being considered, the difference may be that WRVU is owned, not by Vanderbilt, but by "Vanderbilt Student Communications Inc", an independent, non-profit corporation set up by the university in the late 60's to oversee student media (and take some of the liability off the university for what students might say). They promise that WRVU will stay live online, but it's not the same. The late 80's in Nashville were either hair bands, country, or bubblegum (like most places I'm sure). WRVU was an outlet to hear things other people wanted to pretend didn't exist, the local bands that didn't have anywhere else to go, and just the plain old weird shit someone wanted someone else to hear. My own college radio barely broadcast past the edges of campus, but it was hearing WRVU that made me a little more aware of the world around me I think. I say we hold on to all the college radio we can, just so the weirdos among us have a place to go...

http://savewrvuradio.wordpress.com/
posted by pupdog at 12:07 PM on April 29, 2011


nobody listens to college radio. . .
Tell that to everyone extolling the virtues of WFMU. (Ok, they outlived the college that spawned them, but still...)
posted by Karmakaze at 12:57 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you are concerned about the quiet/steady disappearance of student and community stations, it's worth keeping an eye on Public Radio Capital, the non-profit firm who brokered the sales of KTRU, KUSF, WDUQ, and many others (relevant post from Ernesto Aguilar, article from Texas Watchdog).
posted by unknowncommand at 1:11 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


nobody listens to college radio. Nobody.

Before the sale, KUSF supposedly had 50,000 listeners (Nielsen, I assume).

When I listen to FM radio, I almost exclusively listen to KALX 90.7, KZSU 90.1, or KCSM 91.1. KUSF was always in the mix.

I could go on and on about all the times I sat in my car waiting for the song to end or the times as a teen trying to save songs on cassette tape in my room into the wee hours...

I can't tell you how many times I've sat in the car listening to song after song saying "come on, come on, COME ON!" waiting for a DJ to come on to identify the AWESOME song that played five tracks back.

Unrelated, but I'm always boggled by the "Modern Rock" stations that play music that is 20-25 years old. When I was growing up, "Classic Rock" stations played music that was 1-5 years old. /seinfeld
posted by mrgrimm at 2:08 PM on April 29, 2011


Used to be a DJ at KTRU myself not too long ago at all, and it's been real sad to see this whole thing transpire.
posted by threeants at 2:41 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assume Ill get a lot of hate for being the devil's advocate here, but boy, there really isn't a trace of elitism in complaining about the death of college radio when ktru is only being sold from one university to another right?. I guess a lot of alumni are "torn up" by this but only a tiny fraction of the people I knew at rice every actually listened to ktru, only appreciating it for its novelty value. I guess maybe back the day it was more popular. I should have been the target market for the station, but given the choice between nickelback on the big stations and the willfully esoteric ktru, I usually just chose my ipod. An internet feed might just be a better place for it in the end and I wish them luck with that.

I'm sorry ktru, your bumper stickers were cool, but in the end you were riddled with Alzheimers: lucid for a few brief moments every day before sinking back into irrelevant noise.
posted by tmthyrss at 9:28 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


College radio is to radio what college baseball is to baseball.

This is especially funny, because at Rice University, baseball is a pretty big deal.

I can't comment on KTRU 'cause I'm still processing my grief (and rage), but I thought Doug Dillaman gave a nice
eulogy.
posted by abirae at 9:38 PM on April 29, 2011


KUSF in exile
posted by treepour at 10:21 PM on April 29, 2011


I assume I'll get a lot fo hate... but... isn't (there) a trace of elitism in complaining about....ktru... being sold from one university to another...?

No hate here, I'm just sort of tired and frustrated with this argument because it seems you're saying you just simply do not care about anything that you're not directly interested in. The cultural value someone else places on it is meaningless to you because you personally don't get into it.

And first of all you're mistaken: there's no elitism here. It's not a radio being sold between 2 universities. It's a student run radio being sold without the students participation in the sale to another university where it will not be a student station.

It will be a 24hr NPR station. Which I'll like that too, but why can't 24hr NPR replace one of those country stations that play the same Nashville formula over and over again and think Hank Williams is some sort of retro gimmick music? Oh because that's a corporate radio station owned by some corporation in another state. And it's a bigger corporation than NPR.

I don't know what to tell you about why you should value things around you that are unique, small, creative and/or run by locals or students and not corporations that have no local connection regardless of if you're into the material or not. There's plenty of places in the world that support this point of view. Someone else maybe has the energy to argue this, because this sort of proud and short-sighted apathy is just tiresome to me now.

KTRU certainly played noise. But it was hardly irrelevant.

I really don't mean this to sound fighty or hateful. But it always seems when people talk about something going away that they liked someone always has to come in and say that they don't care about it and it's really just a thread poop dressed up as a devil's advocate.
posted by dog food sugar at 6:16 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


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