A few days ago, ABC News had a short piece in its “Campus Chatter” section talking about how schools are selling their radio stations. Titled, “College Radio Stations Beloved but Struggling,” the piece does a quick overview of various sales and the circumstances behind them. Admittedly, the reference to KTRU itself was short:
Rice University sold its station, but to another university. The University of Houston bought Rice’s broadcast tower, FM frequency and license for $9.5 million.
However, this description is misleading. KTRU isn’t going to become a station for another university, but rather a classical music station under the tag KUHC.
There are also a few other problems with the article. It claims that:
Schools have a hard time keeping up with Top 40 networks because they just don’t have the money to do it.
Keeping up with Top 40 networks is rarely the underlying purpose of these stations, many of which operate not for profit and with an educational license.
The article also claims that part of the problem is financial.
Without necessary funding, schools nationwide have to sell their airspace to commercial stations, and use the extra cash for other expenses.
As Rice demonstrated, many universities have the ability to raise funds for artistic endeavors, even ones that don’t actively engage students or give them leadership and broadcasting experience. Schools don’t have to sell their stations any more than they have to sell their other assets that don’t create regular cash flow.
Indeed, in many of these circumstances, schools are not willing to even let radio supporters try to raise the money to support the station. As KUSF supporter Irwin Swirnoff put it: