Rice University has negotiated a secret deal to sell its campus radio station, KTRU, for nearly ten million dollars. The sale was not disclosed to the campus community or to the radio station staff until it was complete.
KTRU was founded in 1971, and has been operating as a student-run station ever since, but its broadcast license and transmitter are owned by the university, not the students. The announcement of the pending sale was made in mid-August, while most students were away from campus.
The station’s buyer, the University of Houston, already operates a radio station — an NPR affiliate. That station is not managed or programmed by UH students. The new station, with a classical music format, wouldn’t be either.
Some two hundred Rice students and alumni staged a campus protest after word of the sale got out, and opposition to the sale is continuing to be expressed on campus.
The proposed sale has divided the University of Houston community as well. The campus’s governing board split 5-3 on the decision, with many on campus questioning the wisdom of spending $10 million on a radio station in a time of fiscal crisis. UH’s student body also includes a number of KTRU listeners, who oppose the shuttering of the free-form station.
See the website SaveKTRU.org for more on this dispute.