Getting a Good Look at KTRU without Tipping Off Students

GETTING A GOOD LOOK AT KTRU WITHOUT TIPPING OFF STUDENTS Or: Beware of those “inspectors” the owner brings through. Emails obtained by Texas Watchdog detail a sneaky technique agents acting on behalf of Rice University may have used to put together the sale of student-run radio station KTRU to the University of Houston — without having complete access to the facilities. In an email sent in May of this year to another broker representing the university in the still top-secret transaction, the director of acquisitions of Public Radio Capital suggested a way to put together a complete list of the station’s assets without “tipping off” the students in charge of the station that a sale was being negotiated: “We request that Rice provide a cover story for an independent 3rd party engineering consultant, to be chosen by UH, to perform an inspection of the transmitter building, transmitter equipment, transmission line, tower and antennae. Rice should actually hire the consultant we specify, so there will be no question as to the source of the inspection, which of course will have to be coordinated with the station engineer somehow. Rice can use any reason it chooses, some of which can include change of insurance, inventory needs, or any other plausible explanation.” Other emails indicate Rice officials had wanted to put KTRU up for sale 2 years ago; UH became interested in the station — now slated to broadcast in a classical-music format — early last year. [Texas Watchdog; previously on Swamplot] Late Update: Rice didn’t have to lie.

11 Comment

  • This whole transaction has stunk from the getgo. I am very disappointed in the Rice administration and won’t be donating back financially for a very long time.

  • Technically they didn’t do anything wrong, they knew the students would raise a stink about something that doesn’t belong to them and have no say in. I think Rice gave them a great lesson about real life… kinda mimics the whole HEB Montrose nonsense.

  • Would anyone charged with this project done it any differently? If you have to move your family to a new neighborhood, do you seek your kids’ permission first? Yeah, it affects them, but it’s not their decision.

  • This is fairly common in the private sales of rental properties. I was recently part of an unlisted multi-family property transaction and the seller ran me through the apartments twice with two different cover stories to the tenants that happened to be home during the day. I felt like lies were a bad way to start my relationship with those new tenants and I’m sure the seller was just concerned with keeping things stable until the deal closed.

  • I suspect that some of you are not aware of the history of KTRU’s assets. It was founded by students themselves over 40 years ago, and operated by students at little cost to the university. The 50,000 watt transmitter that was sold to UH was donated by an alum along with an endowment to maintain the transmitter. So a better analogy would be secretly selling your kids’ treehouse that they built themselves and lying to them about it.

  • Rice Grad – if there was a gift and an endowment created, then legally Rice would have been unable to sell the transmitter without the approval of the the alum who donated the transmitter/endowment.

  • “From commonsense:

    Technically they didn’t do anything wrong”

    But morally they did. Fortunately, I am an alum and am in a position to do something about it–withhold my annual donations to the school. Which is what I am doing.

  • No “if” about it, Sam. (Although I may have misspoken aboout the donor being an alum). The donor was John Stude, former owner of commercial classical radio station KRTS. He needed KTRU to have a 50,000 watt transmitter so that his new station would not interfere with KTRU’s reception in violation of the FCC. In other words, he did not donate the transmitter and endowment out of philanthropic motives. My point was that Rice did not invest in the 50,000 watt transmitter. KRTS went bust many years ago so I’m not sure if Rice needed to get Stude’s permission or not.

  • Mr. Stude’s name is Mike,(short for Micajah) not John. Otherwise Rice Grad’s post is correct.

    However, once something is donated to Rice or any other university, it becomes that university’s property and can be sold or disposed of as the university sees fit. That kind of thing happens fairly often, just not in such a high profile way.

  • KRTS also needed Rice’s transmitter to move far off campus so there wouldn’t be conflict on nearby frequencies. The move to Humble is actually what drove the big power increase.

  • I say we start it back up in the B&P under Hanszen new section where it belongs…