Monday, July 18, 2011

What students of U of H think about 88.7/91.7 FM radio fiasco

Dear KUHF,

I am a senior at the University of Houston. Unfortunately, I will be unable to donate money to support the station, this year and forever after. The decision to move classical music to a station with half the power and a third the effective reach of the original transmitter was unconscionable. While KTRU did everything they could to tell their listeners that they were going off the air, KUHF did nothing save for mention it on an information page on its website and discuss the new opportunity during the recent fund-raising campaign. The majority of the listeners to KUHF don't visit the website regularly, and they had no way of knowing of this catastrophic change, of the brutal suddeness with which they would shortly lose their only source of classical music on the radio in Houston.

On that fateful morning in May, thousands of music lovers turned on the radio after 9 am, expecting to hear music waft from their speakers. Instead they heard NPR's “The Diane Rehm Show”. Disappointed, they tried again later, only to hear endless babble on NPR and BBC news, and realized that this was the brave new world that KUHF had secretly created. Instead of doing what any sane station would do when radically changing its format, the officers of KUHF withheld news of the switch from the world.

What is most galling about the switch is not that it was unannounced, which itself is poor behavior from a radio station of this calibre, but rather that classical music was shunted elsewhere, with 24-hour news put into the limelight instead. It seems KUHF would rather appeal to people over 30 instead of younger listeners, who would appreciate music rather than the news which which various media channels bombard them every day. It shows that your priorities are on news and money, instead of music and art. Shunting the only voice for Fine Art in Houston to a station that is inaccessible to fully half the metropolitan area of the city shows your disdain for music and culture.

Now, you will probably reply to this letter with platitudes about how to help strengthen the signal by purchasing additional equipment. But then, you will have missed the point. Before the switch, news and music were side-by-side, with music being more prominent. Music and fine art was easily accessible for all, as a strong signal pumped megawatts of joyous, spiritual, and uplifting music every second to all of Houston. Today, 24-hour news is KUHF's claim to fame, and music is now gone for those luckless few who are in the wrong place, with the wrong equipment.

Or perhaps, you will not reply at all. In which case, the silence will be truly deafening.

Sincerely yours.

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