Whither Metropolis Radio?

So Texas Tech is doing all it can to kill off the highly popular student-run KTXT-FM, citing money trouble. And one of the things I’m wondering is: what happens to Radio Free Metropolis, the best comics-oriented radio show on the planet?

My google-fu is proving weak once again, because I can’t find anything with any solid info. Will they go to online podcasting? Is there still a chance of resurrecting the station somehow and continuing the broadcast over the airwaves? If KOHM lets KTXT broadcast through them, will Metropolis be able to get any of that limited air-time? Heck if I know. Seems like no one knows much of anything right now.

As for why the university is trying so hard to close down KTXT? I don’t think this was a monetary matter — Student Media is claiming that running KTXT was expensive and they didn’t bring in much revenue. Of course, the FCC’s license of KTXT says they’re pretty much not allowed to make any money from advertising, except under extremely limited circumstances.

But there are lots of departments and offices at Tech that don’t make money for the university. Does the Tech Museum bring in scads of cash, compared to the costs of running it? Does the English Department? KTXT-TV? KOHM? Heck, that’s what state funding is about — we as a society pay to educate students in mathematics, in history, in music, in broadcasting, because it benefits society as a whole to have people around who know this stuff.

If the university kept open only those departments and offices that made money, you’d probably have a university that consisted of Engineering, Law, Medicine, a few of the hard sciences, and athletics.

Plus there’s this:

The way they went about this was pretty sneaky and underhanded in my opinion. Yesterday, at 2:30 they called the station manager and told him what was happening ten minutes before they pulled the plug. One of our other exec staffers was on the air at that point. By the time I got there, they had painted over the KTXT logo on the wall in our lobby and were shooing everybody out. They had threatened to change the locks and the entry codes before anybody even had a chance to get their cd’s out of there.

That’s not the way you do it if the only problem is that the station wasn’t making enough money. KTXT has sponsored concerts and shows in the past, and they seem to have an excellent reputation and track record for that kinda stuff. The way to do it would’ve been to go to the students participating in the station, tell ’em there’s money trouble, and let ’em set up a benefit concert. Heck, do it every few months, like pledge weeks on public radio and public TV, except with better music.

But kicking everyone out with ten minutes’ notice, while you’re painting over the logo, while you’re threatening to change the locks and keep the students’ CDs? That’s not “We’re closing because of money trouble.” That’s “We hate KTXT, and we’re going to screw them as hard as we can, then go home and laugh about it.”

In other words, when Student Media says they shut down KTXT because of money trouble… well, I’m not sure I can believe that.

More than likely, this is some member of the university administration, either within Student Media or maybe higher up the food chain, deciding they wanted to throw their weight around. That’s the way university politics works — some bureaucrat who’s managed to work his or her way into a position of power gets it into his head to stir stuff up, picks an employee, office, or department, smites the heck out of them, then settles back into his comfy chair and calls the dry cleaners to get his Sansabelts cleaned up. Meanwhile, the rest of the university breathes a sigh of relief that at least they weren’t the target of the smackdown this time.

How do you respond to this? You stick up for the lowbies who the bureaucrats want to strike down, partly for the good of KTXT and listeners in Lubbock who like good music, and partly to remind the bureaucrats that their power isn’t as great as they’d like to pretend it is.

UPDATE: There’s a concert to support KTXT-FM tonight at 8 p.m. at Jake’s Sports Cafe, at 5025 50th Street. And Texas Tech’s Board of Regents will be meeting today at 11 a.m. in Room 202 of the Administration Building. They usually have a closed session for most of the morning, though, so check around for a meeting agenda to see when they’ll be in open session…

No Comments

  1. Robin Foley Said,

    December 12, 2008 @ 7:18 am

    After thinking about the KTXT situation, I realized it did not take the university long to come up with millions for the football coach. Something to think about.

  2. Luke Said,

    December 12, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

    Wow! Thanks for that information. I hadn’t heard any of THIS story ANYWHERE. Only the “monetary problems” story. Someone should get this story from the students that were ACTUALLY rushed out of there. It did sound suspicious when it was announced, then shut down all within a day. It was a good station to turn to when all the other Lubbock stations were playing the same Mylie Cyrus song.