KTRU Departs FM Airwaves Defiant, Unique As Ever

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Marc Brubaker
Patricia Bacalao at the statue of Rice founder "Willy" Marsh Rice
"I'm so nervous," declared former KTRU station manager Joey Yang as he took over the helm for the final hour of programming that would be broadcast on the FM band. "Since 1971 we've been on FM, and it's all coming down to this. It's a lot of responsibility."

Rocks Off had arrived at the station at approximately 4:30 a.m. to sit in on the final moments of its storied FM history. It was a bittersweet atmosphere, part revelry and part funeral; in part the introspective reflection of a wake and part triumphant march to the finish. The station was abuzz with several DJs, frantically trying to play everything they could.

After 40 years of student-run broadcasting, KTRU's FM signal was cut off promptly at 6 a.m. this morning, leaving a sizable hole in Houston's FM band. The triumphant speech of Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic convention faded into the wall of sound of The Flying Luttenbachers "The Pointed Stick Variations," reaching an almost unbearable harshness before everything ceased.

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All that is left at 91.7 FM is the buzz of static until KUHC programming begins on May 16. KTRU is dead, long live K-TRUE. While the station will continue to broadcast online and via 90.1 KPFT's HD-2 stream, even the call letters are gone due to the sale.

"We're going to have to be even more careful, because we're broadcasting on [KPFT's] license," Patricia Bacalao stated, following our inquiry about the FCC rules still applying to the stream.

The final hour-plus of broadcast we were fortunate enough to attend was packed full of gems, from Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix performing "I've Been Loving You Too Long" to Townes Van Zandt; from The 13th Floor Elevators "You're Gonna Miss Me" to The Replacements "Fuck School."

Rocks Off was even allowed to slip in a track, "Where Ya Goin Man?" by Something Fierce.


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19 comments
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dj Nobody
dj Nobody

 This is so depressing. I really hope HD is the future. Sounds like a wonderful end to your FM dial though. At least you had an opportunity to say goodbye. Respect, dj Nobody (KUSF)

Geewhizzikers
Geewhizzikers

 It's so hard to find the words that will properly define what it feels like to lose your radio station.  Innovative stations, commercial and non-commercial, have bitten the dust here in the SF Bay Area over the years.  You feel like a part of you is being ripped away by an evil force in the world that you can't see or reason with.  Online is okay if the alternative is nothing, but on-air radio is there when you're driving, or at the beach, or simply in the back yard.  It may be 'the future' but for me it's not the same... it's not as accessible. Our beloved KUSF comes to mind.  I am feeling really sad for you guys and I do wish you all the best.

Curlydan1
Curlydan1

beautiful way to sign off, and great way to sign on to the HD only broadcast. As Dylan instructed the Band in the intro to the live version of Like a Rolling Stone, "PLAY F-ING LOUD!!"

Daniel Holiday
Daniel Holiday

Ode to KTRUYou could take it or leave it. Its always been there.You could take it or leave it.But its always on the air.So dont change the stationThe truth is not there. The truth is on the airwaves....

They fake us and decieve usI don't believe they played it fairThey want to be prestigiousin the end they bleed us The truth is not thereThe truth is not there The truth is not there

Eric
Eric

Great. I hope ingenious Rice students can figure out a way to broadcast Ktru to people who cant afford an iPhone, an hd radio, or a high bandwidth Internet connection. Rice has just made art more just a bit more elitist than it used to be. Bastards. Commerce wins again.

Jim Radio
Jim Radio

Austin Airwaves was just one of hundreds of groups and individuals who fought to save Rice Radio. Never forget that that moron David Lebron GAVE AWAY the 91.5FM frequency.Rice Radio RIP You will be missed.jim radioAustin Airwaves

Ziggy
Ziggy

Got in the car to go to work this morning and couldn't find anything good to listen to on the radio. I miss you already, KTRU.

Slogan Jones
Slogan Jones

Bittersweet. From this point forward I will be forsaking the FM dial and focusing my listening exclusively to HD and internet radio. I remember as a kid, my father bought me a short wave radio and I was astounded that I could listen to broadcasts from other countries, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Now I carry the most profound piece of communication technology around with me 24/7. It is my intention to put it to good use now. Onward into the future.

RamonLP4
RamonLP4

Nice article. Kudos to the Press for leading the coverage on this. You guys did a great job that left everyone else in the dust. Kudos also to Yang and the KTRU staff, volunteers and supporters for their hard and tireless work.

Houston's analog FM band is now pretty much worthless. The Man won the fight after years and years of trying. They won by playing dirty - with lies, obfuscation, and a general contempt for the community they are there to serve - so beware KTRU; I'm sure Leebron and his similarly small-minded, short-sighted, and arrogant cronies will eventually look to defund what is left of the station. Don't ever let your guard down again.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

SO Glad you got audio of the final moments. I am surprised by how moved I was last night. Clint, whose show has been on the air for 13 years, also sounded particularly emotional.

Anyway, I've got the iPhone app and the stream in my iTunes. I'll still be listening.

Marc Brubaker
Marc Brubaker

Thanks. I think the back-to-back of Clint's Blues In Hi-Fi and Joey & Michael's Treasures Of The Sixties is the best block of airtime in the city, hands down.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to apply for a summer DJ set.

AuntA1rius
AuntA1rius

This is a new beginning. Now that KTRU is free of the cumberson old technology, they will be able to pour more effort into the future of radio. Frankly, I am surprised that they have not done much to beef up their Web presence, or their streaming capabilities. Now is the time to embrace the future and do what Rice students do best... innovate. Often, people fail to see opportunity in change. Rice IS innovation and will continue to. All I can say, is watch closely. We are about to whitness just what Rice students are capable of. I for one, and excited to see it happen.

wsanders
wsanders

The internet feed is 128k, far more than the measly 32k feed KUT in Austin can manage.

Ms. Rosa
Ms. Rosa

"free of the cumberson old technology..."

First cut is the deepest!

"We are about to whitness..." You can say that again, brudder.

-Rosa Maria Guerrero, DJ, Mutant Hardcore Flower Hour

Marc Brubaker
Marc Brubaker

They are/have been beefing up their web presence, actually. The station's site got a full overhaul recently, and there's been discussion about getting sessions online, particularly sets from the Local Show.

I think KTRU (or K-TRUE) will be fine. To be frank, it just sucks that I can't pull the FM signal anymore and will have to resort to something else, particularly while driving.

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