There are some outright falsehoods and misunderstandings being propagated at the moment, I would like to take a bit to clear these things up. Consider this your obligatory FAQing.
1. Why should this matter to me?
KTXT is something rare and valuable in the country. With 35,000 watts of transmitting power, we are one of the largest student-run radio station in the country. It's a big deal that makes Tech notable around the country. Many students come to Tech solely for this experience, which they cannot get elsewhere. I'd love to see someone explain how removing this opportunity benefits or improves the school in any meaningful capacity.
A lot of us have put a lot of work into the station over the years, and the benefits can be reaped by the whole Lubbock community. We bring shows here that go on to be big stars. Try to get $8 tickets to a Deceberists show now! But a few years ago you could, courtesy KTXT. The music and programming on the station are free for all to enjoy. We are the last bulwark against total ClearChannel domination of Lubbock's airwaves. We play cool music for cool people. Or people who want to become cool. Or just fake it, or don't even care about coolness but just genuinely like what we do.
KTXT is cultually necessary for the growth of this town. There is no large, important city that does not have a thriving under-and-aboveground art scene, and we are an integral part of that. Lubbock tries to convey an image of big-town sensibility, but often stumbles and reveals itself to be a small-town with big dreams. This is one of those instances. The underground scene attracts creative individuals and groups who bring us cache that attracts more individuals. The scene brings in money from those who patronize it, and concentrate efforts to add to it, which does the whole community a service.
KTXT has also, for 47 years, trained students in the ins-and-outs or media careers. KTXT alumni have gone on to work for CNN, CMJ, to be artists and lawyers and business exectuives. And they return the favor to the school in donations and credit.
2. The station should/has to make money.
Well, no, it doesn't. The FCC license under which KTXT operates is non-commercial. We are not a for-profit entity. We exist to teach students about running a radio station, or working in the media business in general. To provide students with contacts that they will find useful in future careers in the music biz. To inculcate responsibility for an organization, its equipment and staff. To teach management skills and instill a work ethic. To train DJs and to allow students to discover themselves. Thinking about it as a radio station misses the point: It's a laboratory, and must be free to have experiments conducted within it.
But it is a lab which costs money to operate. KTXT can do this with underwriting, but that is often not enough. We hold shows, but after paying the band's guarantees, there is some but not a lot of money remaining to fill the coffers. We have, time and time and many different voices, wanted to do some sort of alternative fundraising, and we have been told by Texas Tech, to refrain from doing so. We were told to enjoy being a "kept woman."
3. You can transition into being an internet medium!
This is not a terrible idea and the first one many of us thought of. We then thought of other, better ideas. Internet radio is far from ubiquitous and requires an investment in strange equipment to have function the same as radio. And even then, a computer network is far less reliable than FM broadcasting. Internet streaming has long been part of our organization, and this time without KTXT is forcing us to build an infrastructure that will hopefully be able to operate along with the reborn KTXT.
But merely saying "internet" in media matters is like saying "free market" in economic ones. It is a power word, meant to magically fulfill whatever the ideal version of the system the invoker is thinking of. There's more to it than that. First off, internet is a "pull" medium as opposed to a "push" one. Someone has to make a conscious decision to visit a website or tune into a streaming station. Terrestrial radio is always there. The buy-in is negligible to free. This is too valuable ground to give up.
The argument that Tech presents, that radio is dying, holds truth only in the sense that nothing is permanent and everything will, eventually be over taken by something else. But their claims are alarmist at best. Radio is still thriving, and still a vital part of everyone's lives. If anything the thing that is killing radio is the over-corporatism of the medium. Stations are being bought up by companies whose only interest is playing the same 6 songs every hours and bringing the advertising-to-content ratio higher and higher. They have no interest in the different or strange. This phenomenon is known as a "monoculture" and it's dangerous because it inherently limits our ability to innovate, professionally and personally. It chokes out new ideas and experiences the same way carbon monoxide poisoning kills living things. KTXT is vital to the culture of Lubbock not jsut because it gives hipsters and nerds and punks a safe place to grow and prosper, but because we provide an alternative to everyone and we keep safe the path for new ideas to gain ground in the mainstream. We are actively protecting you from an all-Rhianna, all-Nickelback, all-Hollister world, and you're welcome.
Plus, and I don't mean this as an attack against these institutions, but if "internet is killing the medium" is a valid argument for ending some Student Media bodies, then La Ventana and The Daily Toreador had better watch their asses. There is no way yearbooks can at all compare to Facebooks, and I suspect that the DT has as many readers of their webpage as they do their print edition. The DT, in particular, could become a website-only venture and be financially richer for it, but we would lose a tradition and valuable experience-building. Which is supposed to be what university is all about.
4. What are we gonna do?
Well, we have some options. There is an effort to reassure the license under student control outside of the purview of Student Media. This solution requires us to get money for operating costs and workspace. Exact numbers on this are forthcoming, but it won't be cheap.
To assure continuity of the station as an institution, on thing that will have to be done is to recorporate. To set the foundation so that the station can continue to operate outside of any given executive staff, and will be able to meet the changes that come with time and human interaction. Canadian school newspaper The McGill Daily ran into a problem much like ours and their solution was to create a co-operative student-owned corporation. They secure funding through an annual student fee. Parts of this plan should be incorporated into any long-term independent survival plan for ths station.
5. What can I do to help?
This is an excellent question! Thank you for asking. The important thing is to watch this blog and the Facebook group for news and updates and to join in the discussion and add your voice to the echo chamber. Also, give us money. We already have several fund-raising ventures going. You can donate to us here. This is an especially good idea if you are outraged alumni. Give us the money you would have given them, or the money they asked for but you never cared enough to give. And then let them know! We will also be hosting several events to raise cash, such as concerts and such. If you have things you would like to donate in auctions (art, cool music-related antiques or memorabilia, etc) let us know! If you are fabulously wealthy and would like to offer us an endowment, this would be awesome too. We will also need volunteers for outreach and things. Contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how you can help in any way.
We're also fighting a PR front, so spread the world. Let people know in no uncertain terms how this has changed your view of Texas Tech, or Lubbock in general. Local media has been all over this story, and if you are in a position to help spread it to the outside world, do it. Also, let the internets know. One angry email is nothing here, but if Pitchfork, Idolator, Boing Boing, or any other number of music or culture blogs get a pile of emails pointing to this story, they can't ignore it. Write your newspapers, your congressman, your dog groomer, dental hygienist, necromancer, grimy mutant, music video actress, David Sedaris or whoever.
Also, let the good folks at Tech know your displeasure with their actions with this handy contact list:
TEXAS TECH PRESIDENT:
Office of the President
Texas Tech University
150 Administration Building
Lubbock, Texas 79409-2005
TEXAS TECH PROVOST:
Jane L. Winer, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Office of the Provost
PO Box 42019
Lubbock, TX 79409-2019
(806) 742-2184 Office
(806) 742-1331 Fax
TEXAS TECH CHANCELLOR:
Office of the Chancellor
124 Administration Building
Mailstop 42013 Lubbock, TX 79409
(806) 742-0012 | (806) 742-8050 fax
BOARD OF REGENTS STUDENT REGENT KELLI STUMBO:
The Station Manager Answers to
Susan Peterson, Director of Student Media: 742.3388
Who Answers to
Jan Childress, Associate VP for Student Affairs: 742-2691
Who Answers to
Michael Shonrock, VP of Student Affairs: 742-4360
Emails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Be nice but stern. We need to make it clear that this action is unappreciated by the community who supports them. Displeasure and anger are fine to state, but keep it civil and rational.
Any further questions? Lemme know!