Negotiations may keep KTRU on the air on KPFT HD

October 21, 2010

Media & Culture

It seems that an offer from the management of community radio station KPFT to the staff of Rice University’s beleaguered student-run KTRU is bearing fruit.

In August, after news broke that the Rice administration was planning to sell the license and transmitter for the 40-year-old station to the University of Houston, KPFT general manager Duane Bradley and program director Ernesto Aguilar posted an open letter to KTRU’s DJs and supporters offering to create a new home for KTRU”s eclectic programming on the Pacifica station’s new HD2 alternative channel.

Earlier this month, Rice and UH announced they had completed the sale of KTRU’s license and transmitter for approximately $10 million. After a required public comment period and the expected approval of the Federal Communications Commission, UH plans to use the frequency to launch a new 24-hour classical music station called KUHC, while transforming the current KUHF into a 24-hour NPR news and current affairs format.

During Wednesday’s local board meeting of the Pacifica station, a board member asked Bradley for an update on the station’s plans regarding KTRU. Bradley somewhat cagily said that he was “not in a position to talk publicly” about the matter, but said there have been “negotiations” between the station and Rice.

Bradley said the station has already spent some funds for equipment upgrades that would expand the station’s high-definition capabilities so that it could offer an HD3 alternate channel as well. He didn’t go into further detail.

Meanwhile, the Save KTRU movement announced last week that it has retained a law firm to explore options to prevent the finalization of the sale to UH.

UPDATE: On Feb. 5, KPFT and Rice University announced that they had reached an agreement allowing the Pacifica station to broacast KTRU programming on its HD2 channel, beginning Feb. 14. But the “Friends of KTRU” movement said in a press release that it would continue to oppose the sale of KTRU’s license and transmitter at the FCC. On April 19, the FCC approved the sale of KTRU to UH, The Daily Cougar reported. The Rice Thresher also later reported the decision. Read the FCC decision here.

In February 2015, more than four years after the sale of KTRU’s license and transmitter, RIce University announced that it was purchasing a low-power transmitter that would begin broadcasting KTRU near the end of the year.

In August 2015, Houston Public Media, the parent organization for both news station KUHF and classical music station KUHA (which uses the frequency formerly used by KTRU) announced that it would be selling the KUHA license and analog transmitter and switching to an all-digital format.

NOTE: While a staff member of The Daily Cougar at the University of Houston, I wrote about Rice University’s 2000 shutdown of KTRU and the ensuing protests here.

RELATED: So long, KTRU and “Blues in Hi Fi” and Welcome to the new Houston talk radio scene

Copyright © 2010 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.

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About Ken Fountain

I'm a journalist and writer in Houston, Texas. My areas of specialty include law and courts, local government and energy and environmental issues. You can follow me on Twitter at and email me at kenfountain1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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3 Comments on “Negotiations may keep KTRU on the air on KPFT HD”

  1. Jay Says:

    I wonder if the legal actions taken by KTRU supporters will ultimately kill any chance for a deal with KPFT? If Rice is spending money on defense lawyers, I doubt they would put any more money into an HD deal. KTRU has been it’s own worst enemy since day one, alienating the masses. Student support is so low, that they couldn’t even pass a small “studen blanket tax” to help support the station.


    • JohnDowl Says:

      A) According to Leebron, the money Rice makes from the sale will, after ~$4 million is taken out to pay for the new servery, be appropriated based (at least somewhat) on the wishes of the student body. If the student body wanted a large portion of that to go paying for an upgrade to KPFT, then he would have to go back on his word, erasing any credibility he has and damaging his career at Rice and very possibly in the future.

      B) The blanket tax of which you speak did not pass, true. However, it had a ~55% majority, it needed a 75% majority. So if more than half of the student body supporting the organization is “low”, then I guess you might be right. And, if you wanna get nitpicky, that only means that less than half of the student population didn’t think it needs more money, that it was doing well enough with the money it was already receiving. True, some part of that population could dislike the radio station, but until you go and do the polling, the only conclusion that can actually be drawn from that election is that more than half of the students think it needed more funding, less than half thought it had enough funding.



  1. Tweets that mention Negotiations may keep KTRU on the air on KPFT HD « Fountain's Pen -- - October 22, 2010

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