Rice and UH were using Facebook to research KTRU’s station manager

“Who is Nick Schlossman?”

This one question is a nice little microcosm of the problems surrounding the KTRU sale. Schlossman filed the KTRU Open Record Request (disclosure: which I first drafted) with the University of Houston. UH forwarded this info to Rice University VP of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, to let her know that soon the UH-Rice communications concerning the KTRU sale would be opened to the public.

Her response: Who is Nicholas Schlossman?

UH Director of Media Relations provided what little info he could garnish from an unfriended Facebook page.

Perhaps if the Rice administrators had any connections with their students and campus, they would know who Schlossman was. They would know that he was a student at Jones College. They would know that he was a Rice Thresher copy editor. And most importantly, they would know that he was the KTRU Station Manager for two consecutive years. From Spring 2007 until Spring 2009, Schlossman was THE station manager for 91.7 FM KTRU Rice Radio.

Judging by Texas Watchdog and my own work, Rice initiated selling KTRU before Spring 2009. It is a testament to Rice’s failure of due diligence that it contemplated selling the station without even knowing who the station manager was. (pdf: Rice didnt know ktru station manager)

Rice VP of Public Relations did not know who the KTRU station manager was.

Certainly if Rice had spent some serious amount of time studying KTRU, they would have known who the station manager was. If Rice had actually determined whether the sale of the station would result in the positive outweighing the negative, then it would have at some point learned who Schlossman was.

After all, the station manager dictated how the station operated, what the station played, and overall station policy. If Rice thought that KTRU could be better used, then certainly it should have considered meeting with the station manager, if not talk to him directly. But instead, in the wake of the public outrage surrounding the KTRU sale, the man actually in control of the station was a complete mystery to Rice’s Vice President of Public Relations.

Maybe Rice simply didn’t care about station manger because it is a student position. Maybe Rice thought the station manager was irrelevant because the administrators honestly didn’t care about KTRU’s content. But in the end, Rice should have at least known the station manager as part of due diligence.

Until now, I assumed that Rice had files and communications explaining its justification of and rationality behind the KTRU sale. Unfortunately, I thought, these files would be hidden to records requests because Rice is a private university. However, this little revelation, this ignorance, this “Who is Nick Schlossman,” makes one doubt whether Rice properly researched and justified the KTRU sale.

If Rice is going to sell one of its most public and most well-known assets, it should know every little thing about it. But instead, Rice seems like one of those poor schmucks who sells an autographed baseball, thinking that Babe Ruth is a girl.

I assumed that Rice had some sort of plan that it didn’t want to release because it would reveal financial information, or demonstrate that Rice wanted to sell KTRU long before the public date, or show utter disregard for students. But in the end, maybe Rice just never did its research.

Rice University should hold itself to the same strict academic standards required of its students. If it cannot justify this sale, then the sale should not go through. And right now, Rice does not even know the base KTRU facts, so it resorts to the University of Houston doing Facebook research.

Rice didn't know its basic facts in the KTRU sale

9 responses to “Rice and UH were using Facebook to research KTRU’s station manager

  1. Is it possible that the content and thus the person incharge of it were not relevant to the sale of KTRU? Rice is selling the frequency and the transmitter, not the station itself.

    In a company acquisition, one must often scope out the personnel as they become an integral part of the new business/entity. Selling the frequency is more like selling an office building, where the tenants and operators are relevant as an entity at large, but not down to the individual level. Schlossman was in charge of the station, the organization and the programming, but not the tower. And this is probably why they did not know.

    A lot of conspiracy theories have been flying around of late, but it is hard to give them real merit. Rice has been operating for almost a century. The Leebron era has brought unprecedented levels of publicity for the university and a record level of applicants. Quality of life is once again number one in the country. This is not Enron. It is merely a business transaction like any other.

  2. Dhruv Venkatraman (aka Antarius),

    “Is it possible that the content and thus the person incharge of it were not relevant to the sale of KTRU?”

    The entry makes that comment as well. However, Rice should have done complete due diligence on the station, and that part of that would have inherently involved knowing who the manager was.
    The fact that they didn’t know the station manager demonstrates that perhaps there are many other key aspects of which Rice is ignorant. Indeed, if Rice wanted to ensure that KTRU could continue after a broadcast to online transition, the station manager would be the right person to talk to, or at least know to talk to. Instead, Rice did not do its basic research. This sale was poorly conceived and has yet to be justified. Maybe it is because Rice does not have a proper justification.

  3. Now that KUHF is laying off long-time employees (http://culturemap.com/newsdetail/11-19-10-kuhf-music-from-the-movies-no-longer-has-regina-scruggs/), one wonders if they thought this expensive acquisition through. I think both Rice and U.H. acted precipitously and arrogantly, and didn’t consider the implications of their moves. The various emails that have been discovered seem to indicate this.

  4. Such arrogance.
    Leebron should resign over this.
    jim radio
    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    • I don’t know about that. But the Rice community and KTRU supporters deserve something along the lines of the Athletics McKinsey Report to justify and explain the sale.

  5. Amen! Although we may never know, the Rice Board likely outsourced the fact-finding to whatever consultants they hired to find under-utilized assets. So McKinsey or Bain or Booz or whoever were hired to find the money in the couch cushions, not the facts about why that money was there. Too bad considering that Rice students (“they’re so creative!” we’re told in alumni emails) are generally smarter than those 25-year old consultants.

  6. Sheesh. All they would’ve had to do is ask me.

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