Rice University officials pull the plug on student radio station

TEXAS — Rice University administrators shut down thestudent-controlled radio station Nov. 30 after two student discjockeys protested a new policy requiring the station to broadcastmore athletic events by playing music over the second half ofa women’s basketball game.

Programming for KTRU 91.7 FM was replaced by satellite contentfrom the World Radio Network two days after student DJs Viki Keenerand Patrick Glauthier simultaneously aired music and the secondhalf of the school’s women’s basketball game to protest continuedpressure from the athletic department and the administration toair more athletic events.

Terry Shepard, the university’s vice president for public affairs,said the disruption of the broadcast was the cause of the shutdown,but it was not aimed at punishing the students. He said the stepwas taken because administrators did not feel there was properleadership in place after the student station manager took noaction against the DJs for their protest.

Dennis Lee, KTRU’s operations manager and hip-hop director,said the school’s administration was strong-arming the stationinto playing more athletic events and that station staff memberswould fight for control over programming.

"Athletics programming is essentially being mandated bythe administration of Rice University, with little to no regardfor the traditions or opinions of KTRU," Lee said in a pressrelease. "As one of the last bastions of free radio, we willcontinue to fight for what we believe."

Shepard said this was not a First Amendment issue. He saidstudents are allowed to say whatever they want on Rice University’scampus, but cannot necessarily do it on a radio station ownedby the university.

"The issue here isn’t about free speech," Shepardsaid. It is "about using someone else’s radio transmitter."

Students and administrators came to an agreement Thursday,and the station resumed broadcasting the following afternoon.

The agreement calls for the radio station to be accountableto the student body and administration. The undergraduate studentbody will elect the student station manager, and a new committee,made up of the station manager, three students, three facultymembers and an alumnus, will be created to approve changes inthe station’s programming.