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KTRU honors late manager with dedication of studio

By Brooke Bullock     10/24/12 7:00pm


Rice University radio station KTRU dedicated its broadcasting station to alumnus Ben Horne (Wiess '02) over Centennial Weekend in memorial of his passing this summer. A plaque honoring Horne will be placed next to the broadcasting station. The plaque will also feature the phrase "Maintain the Light," which is the name of Horne's memorial webpage (maintainthelight.org) created by his family. 

Horne and fellow climber Gil Weiss died in a mountain climbing accident in Peru. A memorial was held in Horne's honor on Oct. 13 during Centennial weekend. The event was coordinated by KTRU alumni with aid from the administration, KTRU station manager Nick Ryder said. 

"There was huge support to remember him as he should be remembered: for his adventurous spirit and [for] how he really had the spirit of KTRU at heart," Ryder, a Duncan College junior, said. 

The dedication is a special memorial because KTRU has never dedicated anything to an individual, Ryder said. 

"KTRU has never been about the individual, so we've never dedicated anything to an individual before," Ryder said. "But after all that he's [Horne] done for KTRU, it seemed appropriate. It would seem inappropriate if we didn't."

The idea to dedicate the broadcasting studio to Horne came from Johnny So (Will Rice '01). So worked with Horne for three years at KTRU and was Horne's immediate predecessor as station manager, he said. Horne began working for KTRU as a DJ his freshman year and worked up to DJ manager before succeeding So in spring of 2001. 

So said he first approached KTRU general manager and Rice Broadcast Television advisor Will Robedee with the dedication idea, then took it to the KTRU alumni. With the support of Robedee and the alumni, the current KTRU management, the administration and Horne's parents, So - with the help of Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson - began plans to have the plaque made, So said. Architecture students created the temporary wooden plaque currently in place until the etched metal plaque can be made and installed.

So said he proposed the idea of dedicating the broadcasting station in Horne's name because Horne spent a large part of his time and efforts at Rice working with KTRU.

"On a selfish level, Ben was a friend of mine, and I was pretty upset when I heard he passed away," So said. "[But] I remembered how much work and effort he put in to KTRU, not just as a manager, but as a [disc jockey] director and DJ. He put four years into KTRU and was instrumental in getting it back on air [after a shutdown in 2000]." 

Baker College junior Tori Laxalt said she felt the dedication was fitting after stories she heard about Horne. 

"I had known a little about Ben before the dedication but not much," Laxalt said. "After hearing all the stories about him, not only in relation to his involvement with KTRU but also about how much he affected every person he touched, I felt that it only made sense to dedicate the station to him."

Hutchinson was Wiess College master when Horne was at Rice and said he and Horne had frequent discussions about KTRU. 

"Ben and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the issue when KTRU was briefly shut down in 2000, but we maintained close communication through our differences," Hutchinson said. 

Hutchinson said that Horne knew how to reach out to the greater student body at Rice. 

"Ben understood how to recruit more students into KTRU from a wider swath of campus, and he understood how to use KTRU to build a community," Hutchinson said. 

So said he felt the dedication of the broadcasting studio was a good way to commemorate Horne's outstanding contributions to KTRU.

"A lot of times station managers are just in charge of administrative duties at the station, but Ben went above and beyond that," So said. "He went on to reshape KTRU. He went above and beyond what they normally do."

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