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KTRU rally

For those who are into that sort of thing.

Join us in a peaceful, non-violent protest to Save KTRU this Sunday, 2:00 pm at Rice University, in the Academic quad in front of the statue of William Marsh Rice. The rally will feature speeches from station manager Kelsey Yule, community DJ Greg Starks, specialty show DJ Lindsey Simard, Rice University/KTRU alumnus Heather Nodler, Rice student DJ Kevin Bush, and more! Wear your KTRU t-shirt, make a clever picket sign, bring your friends, and be prepared to make some noise for college radio.

There will be an informal pre-protest gathering before the rally starting at 11am, Sunday, August 22nd, at Valhalla in Rice University where you can help us make signs, write chants, and print t-shirts before we walk over to Willy’s statue at 1:30pm.

I have no idea how effective any of this will be – the protests, the Facebook page, the petition, the Twitter feed, and of course the SaveKTRU.org webpage – but I have a pretty good idea of where it’s coming from. Rice students and alumni, at least the ones with whom I am acquainted (I was a grad student at Rice and have been a member of the MOB since 1988; I have many Rice alumni friends and I root for Rice sports teams), take a lot of pride in the fact that the place is a bit different, a bit weird, a bit offbeat, and very much not for everyone. It’s a critical aspect of the Rice identity, that it is Not Like Anyplace Else. KTRU, along with things like the colleges, Beer Bike, the MOB, the honor system, is a cornerstone of that. Take KTRU away, especially in this unilateral, out of the blue fashion, and big piece of that identity crumbles. Now Rice is that much more like everybody else, and I don’t know a single Owl who wants it that way. It doesn’t matter if you ever worked at KTRU or even if you ever listened to it – I’d bet a chunk of money a lot of my alumni friends spent very little time with their radios tuned to 91.7 – it’s that KTRU was there and it was unique and it made Rice stand apart. And now it’s going away, and people feel betrayed. I really don’t have a dog in this fight – I’ve never listened to KTRU, and none of this is part of my identity – but I sure do understand where the protesters are coming from, and I have a lot of sympathy for them.

And there’s the secrecy of the deal, too.

“I am shocked, betrayed and disgusted by how the Rice administration handled the sale,” says Rose Cahalan, Rice and KTRU alumnus. “They did it swiftly and secretly, without consulting faculty, staff or students, or even informing us until the day it happened. This secrecy was clearly designed to prevent any protests from being effective–there just wasn’t time to act. A ‘Call to Conversation’ was a major component of President Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century, and this utter lack of dialogue clearly violates that supposed value.”

“Hopefully, if nothing else, Rice is going to get a black eye over their handling of this — it’s just so underhanded,” [former DJ Matt] Brownlie says. “It baffles me that a university with the prestige and seemingly progressive leanings would pull something like this on their own students … it’s so disrespectful, like they are saying, ‘Go on and do whatever campus and community work that interests you — until we decide to make money off of it.'”

“Gotta love that they decided this when no students were around,” commented alum Stephanie Taylor. “Reminds me of when they decided to charge hundreds for parking during finals. The only difference is that then Rice at least had the courtesy to tell the students what was happening instead of letting them read about it in the news.”

Alum Teresa Monkkonen agrees, “It’s not just about the radio station, it’s about not involving any talking to students before making this decision and killing a student club at the expense of the bottom line.”

I don’t think there’s any way the administration could have presented this that would have been widely accepted – again, selling off a piece of your identity is a big deal – but for the community to hear about it in the newspaper is a slap in the face. People would have been sad and upset, and would have pushed back no matter what, but not to get the courtesy of being informed directly by the administration, that’s got to be driving a lot of the anger.

So, while I like the idea of having a real news radio station in Houston again, I hope the groundswell against this action by the Rice administration leaves its mark. Show up for the protest, threaten to never donate another dime, pursue the potential Open Meetings Act violation, write impassioned open letters, I wish you luck. One hopes that at the very least, the administration will learn a little respect.

UPDATE: You can also say good-bye to Rice University Press, though I doubt anyone will get too worked up about it.

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3 Comments

  1. racymind says:

    “The other side” is filled with factual assertions about the value of KTRU and the process by which it is getting dumped for cash. Much of what he says is extremely debatable and more was owed to the community affected than this sloppy, dishonest disaster.

    I hope the protesters give them hell they won’t forget soon. And I also think the “news station” is going to be of dubious extra value. We are going to get mostly more NPR or other purchased content. There will probably be test balloons about local shows now that a ruckus might occur.

    If I were advising the KTRU protest group, I would tell them to go after KUHF also. Threaten the purchaser with a boycott.

  2. […] Houston Press, which has largely owned this story, reports from today’s rally to save KTRU. Early this afternoon, protesters met at Valhalla, Rice’s on-campus pub, to make signs and […]