Secret Intern Hero of the KTRU-KUHF sale, and lucky students

As the battle to block the KTRU sale continues (or at least make it so miserable for Rice that the university gives KTRU $3 million to set up a proper online station and ground music presence just to get everyone to shut up), there will inevitably be unsung heroes.

As in all battles, some brave soul will recognize the higher cause and throw herself upon the sword of justice, sacrificing for the greater good and the RZA.

KTRU ain't nuthin' ta fuck wit

In this new batch of e-mails from the KTRU open records request, we learn the tale of the The Bravest Intern. (pdf: KTRU KUHF intern hero)

“she withdrew (we hope only temporarily) in part because of her loyalty to the opposition to the sale.”

Those are some good words to see. The sale masterminds think that KTRU supporters and Rice students will just roll over and capitulate. They think KTRU will not put up a fight. But we are fighting on the blogs, and we are fighting in the courts, and we are even fighting on their own turf. This one student laughed at KUHF and the Rice administration, and demonstrated that loyalty cannot be bought. There is no price high enough for student dignity.

Rice Vice President for Public Affairs Linda Thrane seems to think, again in that Dolores Umbridge tone, that Rice “constituencies” are merely ignorant about the matters at hand and need to be reminded that some “lucky students” will “really benefit” from the sale, because it will result in a few internships.

Perhaps Rice needs to be reminded that with KTRU, students are not the interns, they are the managers. KTRU was made by Rice students and run by Rice students. KTRU and its student leadership competes on the FM band with every other station, and often wins. But now, these students are being fired or demoted to internships.

KTRU offered leadership opportunities, radio experience, and personal expression for dozens of Rice students. Now there will be six Rice interns fetching coffee for the University of Houston.

Lucky them.

Lucky, to have a student-run station sold without notice or discussion. Lucky, to have unique and local music replaced by nationally syndicated wire. Lucky, to have students’ own shows replaced by internships for a few.

This isn’t lucky. This is shit. And it is about time Rice recognized it.

If Rice needs to sell KTRU, fine. KTRU supporters will stand in opposition and do whatever it takes to block the sale — that is a given. But at least Rice could see that this is not lucky for them. It is an awful, heart-wrenching experience in which the alma mater we knew and loved has stabbed us in the back. And the least that Rice can do is say, “Yes, we know it sucks, but we had to.” But they haven’t

Rice has not recognized that this sale is an attack on its own students. Instead, they think we should feel “lucky.” Lucky that dozens may suffer, and tens of thousands of radios go silent, so that half a dozen can get internships. Lucky.

And they haven’t even explained why. Does Rice really need the money? Was KTRU below some objective standard of student popularity or Arbitron rating? Did the board not like that many DJs were not students? Did the university fear on-air FCC violations?

Where is the financial study justifying this sale? Where is the hard evidence? There is none. The Board decided that KTRU wasn’t worth it, and so they threw out the students with the transmitter.

And the “constituencies” are supposed to feel lucky.

I feel lucky that I attended a university with people brave enough to withdraw from an internship in solidarity with KTRU.

So keep writing letters. With every records request, we see that University of Houston and Rice administrations receive and read letters in opposition. Show them that this one brave student is not the only one willing to stand up for KTRU.

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4 responses to “Secret Intern Hero of the KTRU-KUHF sale, and lucky students

  1. See second to last ‘graph. jim radio
    Federal Communications Commission
    Honorable Commissioners:
    I hereby file a Formal Objection to the proposed license transfer of NCE station KTRU 91.7 FM, Houston, TX, and its 91.5 FM translator from Rice University (“Rice”) to the University of Houston System (“UHS”).
    File No. BALED-20101029ACX and BALFT-20101029ACY.
    The manner in which the administration of Rice President David Leebron undertook this sale is contrary to both the Universities’ and the public’s interest in providing openness and responsiveness to the listening community. It is contrary in spirit and action to the Commission’s stated goal of serving the public interest.
    UHS already owns and operates a 100,000 watt NCE station in Houston, KUHF 88.7 FM. The station broadcasts both classical music and news programs, largely from its affiliation with National Public Radio (NPR). UHS has stated that KUHF would become a 24-hour NPR station and KTRU’s programming on 91.7 FM would be replaced by another UHS station, KUHC, with a proposed 24-hour classical music format.
    Initially UHS claimed that this would provide “additional and improved service” to its classical music listeners. It has now been well documented that the opposite is true. Large portions of the Houston listening area that currently receive classical music on the 100,000 station will loose reception entirely under the 50,000 watt station, UHS has already received scores of complaints and membership cancelations because of this deliberate misinformation campaign. UHS has given no indication that this programming will originate in Houston. It is believed that the vast majority of classical music programming will originate from NPR sources in Washington, DC or elsewhere. Locally produced programming for Houston will be dramatically reduced.
    KTRU was created by the students of Rice University, and has been staffed and programmed entirely by student and community volunteers for over forty years. It adheres to an educational programming philosophy, and accomplishes its mission by showcasing musical artists and genres that other Houston radio stations neglect to broadcast. No other radio station in Houston will provide the kind of programming currently available on KTRU.
    KTRU, widely known as “Rice Radio,” is the last student operated educational station in the fourth largest city in the United States. Newly released documents obtained by KTRU supporters and Houston and Texas media outlets now show that the administration of Rice University has shown not only lack of support, but open hostility, towards providing its own students with a broadcast outlet.
    100% of KTRU’s programming is locally produced. It provides local artists and community groups exposure with live in-studio performances and interviews dedicated to musicians and performers within the Houston community who otherwise would have little or no access to mass media. KTRU plays an important, irreplaceable role by increasing awareness of, as well as directly participating in, the Houston music and arts scene through organizing concerts, producing and distributing compilations of live recordings.

    >> It has now been documented in the local media, that Rice and UHS proposed and implemented this transfer hidden away from the public’s view. Documents released show that President David Leebron, Mr. B.J. Almond, Senior Director of News and Media Relations and Ms. Linda Thrane, Vice-President for Public Affairs, worked covertly, with arrogance and impunity, not to inform their own students, faculty, alumni or community members, or even the station staff itself…but to keep such information entirely secret. <<

    I wish to go on record as stating that the actions of President Leebron and his ilk were underhanded, self-serving, and completely contrary to the stated policies of openness and responsiveness to the University communities, and completely at odds with the public service requirement of the Commission.
    I respectfully ask the Commission to DENY this proposed transfer of license. I ask for a written response to this inquiry in a timely manner.

  2. “these students are being fired or demoted to internships”

    great point! KTRU was/is more challenging than any internship at a sleepy NPR or classical station.

    At any time, Leebron could have challenged the students, saying, “we’ve done a study indicating KTRU is an under-utilized asset that might be sold. We need KTRU to reach 100K listeners per week. You’ve got two years to do it, or the tower goes on the market.” That would have been a true educational experience–figure out how to utilize this resource to its fullest. Instead, Leebron and the Board insult the students and do not challenge them. They need to stop the happy talk of “wonderfully creative students” that we get in alumni mailings! Apparently, the students are idiots who would be unable to rise to any challenge. Give us your money and high SAT scores, go to the rec center, and be happy!

  3. Internships at KUHF are, I’m sure, great. It’s a great station that puts together some wonderful programming. But only someone totally delusional would think that interning at KUHF would be an acceptable substitute for working at KTRU. Amazing.

  4. Pingback: Rice University Sells Willy’s Statue to MFAH | Burn Down Blog

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