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Reflections on the KTRU Transmitter

I like radio more than most people do. I only ever listen to it in the car, of course, and I don't actually drive very much, but I try to plan trips to coincide with favorite programs like Saturday's "Lunch With Led," Monday's "Think Pink," Thursday's "Save the Wave," and Friday's "Ask the Seattle Archbishop Your Inane Doctrinal Questions."

My undergraduate college had its own radio station, KTRU. No one listened to it except for the girl on our floor who dressed all in black and wore Skinny Puppy t-shirts, mostly because the music was programmed by DJs like the girl on our floor who dressed all in black and wore Skinny Puppy t-shirts, whose musical tastes (like those of the other DJs) were best described as "inaccessible."

When Skinny Puppy was a new DJ she got the all-important 3-5am shift, and one night Cesar and I stayed up really late so we could listen to her show on a novelty radio that was designed to look like the Tropicana orange. We quickly decided (partially on account of the late hour, and partially on account of the lousy reception, but mostly on account of the "inaccessible") that we'd rather listen to "Kilroy Was Here," which for the rest of our college career (and beyond) we continued to prefer to KTRU.

Of course, it was always my dream to be a radio DJ, but my proposed "Huey Lewis Hour" was received coldly, as were "Joel Sings Karaoke On-Air," "Dramatic Readings of Ayn Rand Stories," "Men at Work at Work," "The Best of Rush Limbaugh," and the eerily-ahead-of-its-time "Who's Hooking Up With Whom?" Eventually I turned my attentions to campus politics and making fun of things, one of which turned out to be probably the most valuable skill I learned in college.

Most students cared less about the radio station itself than about its black and yellow "ktru 91.7fm rice radio" stickers, which could be cut and pasted to make clever political statements like "death from above" and "lovett sucks" and "keep houston unbearable."

Alas, all inaccessible things must come to an end, as today Facebook brought us the news that the KTRU transmitter has been sold to the University of Houston, who astutely noticed that while Houston has both a "Tejano" station and a "Super-Tejano" station, there's still a huge market opportunity for a "Mega-Tejano" station.

Apparently KTRU will keep "webcasting" online. This doesn't really help the 4 people who listen to KTRU over the airwaves, although maybe their hurt feelings will be soothed when the proceeds from the sale are used to acquire something useful, like a commemorative statue of Edgar Odell Lovett.

Nonetheless, there is a larger issue here, and that's that colleges shouldn't change things from the way they were back when my Facebook friends and I attended. I'm pretty sure this is an idea we picked up from older alumni, who always seemed disappointed to learn that we no longer continued their cherished traditions, like the "Charles Manson Party" and the "Stagflation Ball" and "sex."

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