KTRU to return to FM radio on 96.1 with celebration concert

KTRU Rice Radio will return to the FM airwaves in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 2. A free public concert will be held Thursday night to celebrate the launch of the new signal.

The new license allows Rice’s student-run radio station to broadcast on 96.1 FM from an antenna placed on top of Rice Stadium with enough power to reach from 610 South to Buffalo Bayou – about a three- to five-mile radius of campus. The official call signs for the new station are KBLT-LP (low-power) because the KTRU call signs are no longer available, but the station will still refer to itself as KTRU. KTRU will continue to provide its live Web stream to all parts of the world via http://ktru.org and various services, including the iHeartRadio app, the Tune-In app, the official KTRU app and devices such as Tivo and Next Gen Radio.

Before the new signal is launched just after 11:59 p.m. Oct. 1, local artists Robert Ellis, Buxton and Deep Cuts will perform at a concert that begins at 8 p.m. in the Grand Hall at Rice Memorial Center.

KTRU’s first broadcast day on 96.1 coincides with College Radio Day, a celebration of college radio stations across the United States observed by hundreds of stations and founded in part in response to the sale of Rice’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license in 2011. KTRU DJs will play an eclectic mix of music interspersed with live appearances from special guests.

Since the sale of the 50,000-watt transmission tower and frequency  to the University of Houston, KTRU has been broadcasting via the Internet and Pacifica Radio affiliate KPFT’s HD-2 channel, which will be discontinued.

“Returning to the air is truly turning the page to a new chapter in KTRU’s history,” said George Barrow, one of KTRU’s music librarians, who noted that many people have expressed excitement about the station’s upcoming return to FM. “We’re returning to our roots with the on-campus, low-power transmitter. Not only is this an important step in KTRU’s story, but it’s also extremely important for the Houston music community, since no station on the FM dial right now focuses on exposing local and emerging talent quite like KTRU does. It’s amazing to be a part of this organization during one of its most important transitions.”

The FCC approved KTRU’s application for a low-power FM transmitter Feb. 9. Rice designated a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the previous transmission tower and frequency to be used by KTRU. The station is using the majority of that funding for programming, but the funds will also cover the cost of equipment for the new signal and installation.

KTRU originated in 1968 as an experiment by Rice undergraduates and was issued its first broadcast license in 1970.

For more information on the station and its programming, visit http://ktru.org/. To view the minimum expected coverage area of the new signal, visit http://on.fb.me/1QCeGh6.

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About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.