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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 — Houston, TX

University of Houston selling old KTRU frequency

By Amber Tong     8/27/15 11:47am

Houston Public Media, a broadcasting service of the University of Houston, has made a decision to sell radio station Classical 91.7 KUHA Houston, according to Radio INSIGHT. The station belonged to KTRU Rice Radio prior to 2010.

KUHA station general manager Lisa Shumate, as quoted by KUHF, said the decision was based on the recognition that the popularity, broadcast quality and efficiency of digital broadcasting has enhanced significantly.

“Placing our focus on high-definition radio and digital streaming for our classical music programming enables us to make the best use of technology and resources to continue providing the music and arts and culture content that our listeners enjoy,” Shumate said.

According to the Radio INSIGHT report, finance may have played a part in the resale as well.

The report reads: “After a poor fundraising campaign in 2013 the station eliminated four on-air positions and replaced the local programming with American Public Media’s ‘Classical 24’ network.”

Three-year KTRU disc jockey Carrie Li said she sees 91.7’s resale as ironic, given the fact that KTRU’s old frequency is being resold while KTRU itself is going back onto FM. 

“I feel amused, but also a little bitter on behalf of the past DJs who mounted such a tireless campaign to keep KTRU on 91.7,” Li, a Martel College senior, said. “A lot of KTRUvians wanted to see classical 91.7 fail and openly celebrated whenever they encountered technical difficulties or something, but I’m not gloating. It just seems like a massive waste.”

Commenting on KTRU’s sale five years ago, Li said its impact on morale is still visible on campus.

“I joined KTRU my first semester freshman year and by then KTRU had been broadcasting exclusively online for, I believe, at least two years,” Li said. “KTRU was, and to a certain extent still is, I think, suffering from low morale as a result of the sale.”

While the move to online broadcasting is understandable considering people’s preference for streaming, it limits the station’s ability to catch new listeners by surprise, according to Li.

“The caveat to streaming online [is] that listeners usually have to know that the stream exists and how to get there,” Li said. “There isn’t that element of discovery when you find a cool new station with your car radio.”

KTRU station manager Emily Meigs said traditional analog broadcasting is still the predominant medium for radio stations.

“Although digital broadcasting is growing, it is not at a pace that it will overtake traditional analog broadcasting,” Meigs, a Martel College senior, said. “Plus, digital radios can receive analog signals.”

Meigs also said because of the unique advantage of broadcasting, KTRU is happy to be on FM again. 

“KTRU has been broadcasting on HD2 for the past four years, but is excited to make the switch back to the FM and think that it will provide our listeners with an easier way to tune in,” Meigs said.

Starting Oct. 2, KTRU Rice Radio will be broadcasting on a new frequency of 96.1, in addition to its online station (ktru.org).

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