KTRU Departs FM Airwaves Defiant, Unique As Ever
"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."
Marc Brubaker Patricia Bacalao at the statue of Rice founder "Willy" Marsh Rice
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.
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.