Buzzard Bait

The final installment of this set of releases from Jim Radio’s Austin Airwaves chronicles some of the arguments wasted on the bean counters of Rice University. The first, from Heidi Bullinga, runs three pages long, covering many of the most cogent lines of reasoning.

Christopher Spadone, host of the “Africana Show” on KTRU, touches on the theme of NPR as a corporate raider. The succinct response from one Katie Butler: “Not a member.” This is a recurring theme among bean counters.

Under the theme “Maybe Somebody Else Will Do Something to Make Us Look Better” comes this release from J. C. Patrick, the director of corporate support at KUHF:

Then there are the classical listeners who will also get shorted in the deal:

Georgeann Smith, the director of broadcast finance and business operations at KUHF (they do have some titles, don’t they?) found this post on the site particularly droll:

Several KUHF supporters were not as amused. Apparently something in the exchange was not amusing to the pencil pushers, who took issue with a black felt marker:

The hurricane or student radio dead zone:

The license to steal:

Jennifer Waits, writing in the Radio Survivor blog, here, covers college radio as well on the Spinning Indie blog:

The group Friends of KTRU has hired a law firm in order to work on a formal objection to the sale and Save KTRU will be providing details about the best way to protest this sale in the coming days. They’ve set up a new email list in order to keep KTRU supporters informed throughout this process.

In the meantime, the 30 day public comment period has begun; so interested parties are invited to submit their written objections to the sale to the FCC.

An item on Radio Business Report states that the sale price has gone up in order to include some student internships at the new station. It also mentions that the station could perhaps have been saved if students had voted to increase a “blanket tax.”  Radio Business Report writes:

“Rice President David Leebron said that the students themselves declined to accept an increase in their ‘blanket tax’ from $5.50 to $7.50 which would have allowed the station to meet increasing operating costs. He also said that it was important to cut a deal while the station had value.

“In the end, the reported price tag of $9.5M has been increased with a $432K sweetener for Rice in the form of student internships. UH will provide six paid intern positions for Rice students at the station over the course of three years, an investment which will total the aforementioned $432K in compensation for the students getting the position.”

David Leebron goes into more detail about the “blanket tax,”  in a piece in the Rice Thresher from August 27th, in which he explains that the lack of student support for the tax (which would have benefitted KTRU) helped confirm beliefs held by those investigating the station sale. Critics have pointed out, though, that 55% of students who voted supported the tax (a 2/3 majority was needed to win), so student support of the station can still be considered strong.

A couple of the comments that follow take issue with Davey:

The idea that somehow if the students had passed a blanket tax increase again, as they had in the past, Leebron wouldn’t have pawned off KTRU’s FM license, is a load of nonsense. Furthermore, operating costs were not increasing in any significant way. I don’t know if his typically odious statements have been misread or if he really did imply these things, but in any case, they are untrue.


The blanket tax…? Really…? This is Rice president Leebron trying to generate the appearance that the decision to sell off KTRU in secrecy without any student input was somehow a “democratic” decision that the students voted for. The vote for the blanket tax did not include any language on the ballot explaining that Rice would try to sell off KTRU in the event the blanket tax failed. If Leebron really believes that this is some kind of decision supported by the students, then why not have a real vote on whether or not the students support the sale of KTRU to UH…? But that would require a measure of intellectual honesty that Leebron doesn’t apparently possess.

Once again the solons of the Harvard of the South come off looking like two-bit carny shills trying to gull a junior-high dropout. They really should give their students some credit for more snap than they themselves are showing . . .


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