Burnt Rice

Reading this post, “The Road Goes on Forever” — about how galled classical-music fans in Tampa were over the botched switch of their main-squeeze station to talk-talk (with their music supposedly “repurposed” elsewhere) — got Jim Radio to thinking about the similarities to the situation in Houston, where UH desperately needed another public-radio station and surreptitiously absconded with KTRU, the student station at Rice University.

Read the post about how screwed over and cheesed off Tampa Bay, FL, classical music fans are at WUSF-FM’s botching of the move of their beloved sounds to WSMR. Substitute “KUHC-FM, formerly Rice Student Radio station KTRU-FM” for “WUSF.” Substitute “Tampa Bay” for “Houston.” While not a perfect match, it is pretty damn close. Houston classical music fans, aka “Old Houston Money,” currently listen to the high-brow stuff on KUHF-FM, 88.7 FM, at a nifty 100,000 watts. (A handful, reportedly, might even listen to one of three HD channels, broadcasting at 6,000 watts.)

If they’ve located themselves correctly, they will soon be listening to to their northern European dead-white-guy music on the newly christened KUHC-FM — at a reduced 50,000 watts from a tower in far north Houston. As documented in dozens of letters to the University of Houston and Rice U, reviewed under an Open Records Request filed by Austin Airwaves, many listeners and longtime supporters will, however, be out of luck and out of range. The Rice Radio signal doesn’t reach the southern-most parts of what is arguably the nation’s sprawlingist city.

Austin Airwaves, like scores of other folks who filed comments with the FCC commish, received a boilerplate response so vague it had people calling and emailing us, “Is this a response from my letter about saving Rice Radio?”

Fudging the Numbers
This, of course, was one of the points made in the Austin Airwaves’ FCC filing (as well as in many others’): UH’s claim to provide better and more complete blanketing of the Houston area with classical music is bogus, not even backed up by their own coverage maps.

Many of us from outside the leafy world of Rice U have been very impressed by the volume of noise raised by the students, Rice Radio fans, to the extent of flying a plane with a big banner trailing saying, “Keep Rice on 91.7 FM” over the Rice Homecoming Game.

The last dust-up will come from not wildly enthusiastic fans of pre-WWII Russian jazz segueing into Lao traditional harvest chants, segueing into . . . um, noise . . . but the refined fans of classical music.

Austin Airwaves Prediction Update/Correction:
We previously predicted that the administration of Rice/UH would flip the switch, just a panel in a closet, and make the programming change in September, then predicted they would shut the station down over the Christmas holiday break (in keeping with the Scrooge-like stylings of Rice President David Leebron). Neither of these predictions came true, thank goodness. How much longer will Rice Radio be available over FM in Houston before being shunted off to HD purgatory?


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