Save KTRU made it to the New York Times

Check out your Monday New York Times Business Day section, there is an article about Rice University selling KTRU! Looks like the Save KTRU movement finally made it to the big time. Maybe the story will make it to the opinion page as well!

Bob Herbert would write about how selling KTRU, and shows like Africana, demonstrates that large universities do not care about important local and minority interests, and people who cannot afford portable online access. He would reference boomboxes.

Tom Friedman would write about how everything will be online anyways, and complain about how students want to remain on FM radios. He would note how much bandwidth it would take, and money it would cost, to listen to KTRU over an iPhone. However, Friedman would argue that the situation will improve in 6 months, and if it doesn’t then Rice should buy back KTRU.

Paul Krugman would talk about how the FCC no longer considers public welfare when regulating the public good that is the airwaves, and will extrapolate these facts to government as a whole.

Nicholas Kristof would write about some poor girl from India who made it big by having her music played on KTRU.

Charles Blow would look at the statistical correlation between the decline of college radio and the rise of college tuition.

Gail Collins would write some cutesy thing about her experiences in college and about how they really knew how to protest in the ’60s

Ross Douthat would equivocate.

Maureen Dowd would write a fictional dialogue where the board is Lady MacBeth and Leebron is MacBeth.


While the article is just a general, cursory look at the issues surrounding Rice University and Vanderbilt selling their student radio stations, it does recognize one of the distinct issues of the KTRU sale, notably that Rice did it in secret:

Despite obvious parallels between KTRU and WRVU, Chris Carroll, director of student media at Vanderbilt Student Communications, draws a stark contrast between the situations at the two universities. At Vanderbilt, he said, “what’s happening, really, is a big public discussion about is this a good idea or not, and there’s no conclusion to that yet.” Rice, he said, made the decision to sell KTRU behind closed doors — without student input.

At least Vanderbilt had the dignity to tell students that they were planning on selling the resource. As has been documented, Rice University tried everything possible to conceal the truth.

If Rice really needed to sell KTRU, then they could have made the arguments to the students. But Rice has yet to demonstrate in a factual study that selling KTRU will result in a greater benefit than the loss of all the benefits and value that KTRU had.

While KTRU supporters should be glad to see the story make it to the New York Times, the article does not mention another major point not only of supporters’ arguments, but legal arguments as well: KTRU was a gift and meant for education, not an asset to be sold for cash.

KTRU was created by Rice students. From its very beginning it was a student creation with little other input, financial or otherwise, from the university. Even the upgrade to 50,000 watts did not come at the expense of the university but was paid for by the late KRTS station as part of a FCC-mandated deal.

Rice has put little into KTRU, and seeks to bleed it for everything it is worth. Rice seeks to benefit not from its own labor, but from the labor of its students. If Rice students had not made KTRU so popular, it would not have been strong enough to mandate the 50,000 watts transmitter in the KRTS deal. This send a message to Rice students to not contribute to the university — after all, if you become too successful, they’ll just sell it for cash. But furthermore, it raises legal questions as well.

The KTRU radio station has an educational license. By selling KTRU, Rice is undermining this license, essentially turning the educational purpose into one of profit. Friends of KTRU raised this legal problem in its Petition to Deny:

It has long been Commission policy that the bedrock goal of any NCE license is to promote an educational program. Now, Rice and UHS propose to entirely undermine the educational purpose for which the license was originally granted in favor ofa cash-grab. Rice is effectively treating the KTRU License like any other university asset, and completely ignoring the Commission’s mandate that the license serve an educational purpose. Instead, Rice is seeking to profit from the sale of a license that was founded and operated by students, in order to pad the university budget.

Taking advantage of student efforts merely to line a pocketbook is not just slimy, it may be illegal as well. KTRU is supposed to exist for educational purposes. Rice tried to steal that education away without letting Rice students, or Houston, know.

Well here is to hoping that they get schooled before the FCC.


One response to “Save KTRU made it to the New York Times

  1. Pingback: A David Brooks column about the Rice KTRU Sale | Burn Down Blog

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