Rice finalizes sale of radio station; Students hire legal counsel

TEXAS — Rice University on Wednesday finalized the sale of itsstudent radio station, KTRU, to the University of Houston.

The sale will have to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission,a process that could take several months.

According to Rice News and Media Relations, Rice President David Leebronwrote in an email to students, faculty and staff that he will be consulting withstudent managers about the exact date of the changeover, but expected thetransfer will occur “by the end of the semester or calendaryear.”

Joey Yang, station manager for KTRU, said the station’s student staffhas retained legal counsel to pursue options to combat the sale. Yang said heintends to file a petition with the FCC to block the sale.

“[The deal] is disappointing because of all the voices both sideshave heard against the sale,” he said.

Once the station’s application to the FCC has been made available forpublic comment, petitions can be submitted for 30 days. Peter Doyle, head of theFCC’s Audio Division wrote in an email to the Student Press Law Center inSeptember that unopposed applications can be approved in less than 60 days.

“Contested applications take between 4 and 8 months, depending oncomplexity and available resources,” he wrote.

Yang said a “Save KTRU” petition opposing the sale hascollected more than 5,000 signatures and communicated the group’sconcerns. He said the administration conceded they had not originally consideredsome of these concerns.

“In my conversations with the student managers, although we have disagreedabout the sale of the tower and broadcasting rights, I have been encouraged bytheir commitment to explore ways to make KTRU of even greater value to the Ricecommunity,” Leebron wrote.

In August, the university announced its plans to sell KTRU to theUniversity of Houston. The announcement was met with backlash, and prompted thepetition, as well as the website savektru.org.

“They announced the deal in mid-August…without consultation withany students involved with KTRU,” Yang said.

Yang called it a “shame” the two universities ignored theopposition to the sale.

“Perhaps money is just money,” he said.

Leebron also wrote the university will be gathering input on how to use themoney from the sale, valued at $9.5 million. Some of the proceeds will gotowards KTRU, which would continue to broadcast online.

Although the loss of the FM frequency will be “a huge blow,”Yang said he is confident in his staff’s ability to turn out qualityprogramming online.

“We’ll still be around,” he said.