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KTRU deal signed

Just in time for Rice’s homecoming weekend.

[Wednesday] afternoon, Friends of KTRU announced they had been informed that Rice and UH have signed an agreement to transfer the station’s ownership, and have retained the law firm of Paul Hastings in an attempt to thwart the sale.

B.J. Almond, Rice Senior Director of News and Media Relations, confirmed to our sister blog Rocks Off by phone that the agreement has been signed.

The announcement came in a letter from Rice President David Leebron to Rice students, faculty and alumni, he said.

In the letter, President Leebron said the sale will now go before the FCC for approval, a process that may take several months.

“We will consult with KTRU’s student managers about the timing for turning the tower over to KUHF, but we expect that to occur by the end of the semester or calendar year,” Leebron said in an excerpt from the letter posted on Rice’s Web site. “In the meantime, KTRU will continue to deliver its programming on 91.7 and online through www.ktru.org.”

Not surprisingly, KTRU supporters saw it a little differently.

“It is shameful that the Rice University administration has not heeded the thousands of voices asking to stop the sale of KTRU,” KTRU station manager Joey Yang said in the Friends of KTRU statement. “Instead, Rice has chosen to throw away more than 40 years of student-run tradition in favor of a new cafeteria for the campus. For this reason, we must pursue legal avenues for stopping the sale.”

I can’t say I expected anything to come from the valiant efforts to save KTRU, but for those who were invested in it this is the end of that chapter. I have a feeling there’s going to be some unrest among the alumni this weekend. Leebron’s letter is reproduced beneath the fold.

Oct. 13, 2010

To: The Rice community

From: President David Leebron

Subject: KTRU update

I am writing to update you on the status of the sale of the KTRU radio tower, frequency and license to the University of Houston. An agreement has been signed with UH and the matter now goes to the Federal Communications Commission for approval, which may take several months. As you know, the tower will be used by public radio station KUHF as a second station serving the greater Houston community, with one broadcasting 24-hour news and information and the second station, with call letters KUHC, broadcasting 24-hour classical music and entertainment.

We will consult with KTRU’s student managers about the timing for turning the tower over to KUHF, but we expect that to occur by the end of the semester or calendar year. In the meantime, KTRU will continue to deliver its programming on 91.7 and online through www.ktru.org. In my conversations with the student managers, although we have disagreed about the sale of the tower and broadcasting rights, I have been encouraged by their commitment to explore ways to make KTRU of even greater value to the Rice community. We are also working with KTRU leadership to explore some alternatives in addition to the online station. We will dedicate some proceeds from the sale to KTRU for improvements now and ongoing support in the future. KTRU has played an important role at Rice, and we expect it will continue to play an important role in campus life in the future.

We are also working with leaders of the Student Association and Graduate Student Association to formulate a process for gaining student input on how to best use proceeds from the sale. Some will go toward the new east servery and to KTRU, but we will not make any other decisions until we have heard from students about their priorities. Funds from the sale will be available when FCC approval is obtained.

I know the decision to sell the tower was controversial, as was the need to conduct those negotiations confidentially. This was clearly an exception to our usual process for undertaking major decisions at Rice, and we have emphasized that this was a result of unique aspects of this sale and not a precedent for future decisions. As a whole, members of our community expressed their opinions with great civility and thoughtfulness, and the KTRU leadership and staff were appropriately strong advocates for their viewpoint. We look forward to working with them and others in putting the sale proceeds to work for the benefit of our students and university.

Sincerely,

President David W. Leebron

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4 Comments

  1. Robert Boyd says:

    It’s good that Rice is getting that $9.5 million dollars, because it is getting none from me henceforth. Clearly Rice doesn’t need my meager annual donation. Likewise, I find it comforting that KUHF is able to raise 100% of the money it needs to buy KTRU from listeners and underwriters, because this is one listener who will no longer be responding to membership drives with a check. Those donations from me to Rice and KUHF, which amounted to several hundred dollars a year, will find new homes–at KPFT, possibly.

  2. Bob F says:

    @Robert Boyd I’m guessing your donations will, indeed, not be missed. Donations totaling less than a couple thousand a year rarely cover the administrative expenses schools have managing alumni programs…

  3. Robert Boyd says:

    Bob F: No doubt you are right. But withholding my money is the most significant thing I can do to express my displeasure.

    However, the administrative expenses for managing alumni programs will be spent no matter whether I give money or not–I still get my Sallyport and Class Notes after all. Therefore, the several hundred dollars they won’t get next year represents a loss in terms of cashflow. More important, Rice should be worrying about my lifetime value to them. What is the NPV of my donations assuming I continue to give? I assume they have this figured out–I took a class at Jones from Seethu Seetharaman there where we learned the statistical methods for modeling lifetime customer value. After all, if an alumnus gives money once, there is a really good chance he or she will keep giving money, up to and including a bequest. So what Rice is losing is not $500 or so next year, but the present value of all my future contributions.

    That number is still far short of the $9.5 million they will get from U.H. But the question has to be, how many alumni like me are there? Alumni who currently are giving but have decided to stop because of their anger over KTRU.

  4. G Metzsching says:

    Idea, buy a low power FM transmiter and broadcast on campus and around town. You have quarter mile range and find a open spot on FM. On watt should give Rice good range. Now input your internet radio on the FM transmiter, your are back on the air on FM!