Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We have a purpose.

"when you punish a person for dreaming his dream,
don't expect him to thank or forgive you."
The Mountain Goats, "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton"
On December 10th, 2008, the Student Media department at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas pulled the plug on a 47 year-old tradition. KTXT was unceremoniously and without warning, ripped from the airwaves. A radio station that was one of the most powerful in the country was just ended. Without warning. Without discussion. Without any input from the students who listened and operated it.

For many of us, the station was the entire reason we came to Tech. Radio broadcast and media is our passion. We love playing music for the people that came to us. We wanted something more than the dross found on mainstream radio channels, and we wanted to give back to the body that first birthed in us an appreciation for things outside the norm. Things special to us, that were ours in a way that only completely heartless bastards could take away from us. This was not an act of economy or policy or failure, but an act of violence. Whole vital bits were cut out of hundreds of people. Pasts and futures were negated in one sharp swoop by people completely uninvested in this action's outcome.
Lubbock is not a glamorous or exciting place to live. There is drinking and church and school and herpes. And then there was KTXT, which occasionally incorporated these elements, but stood outside and above them all. If you felt disenfranchised or alone, or lost, or simply wanted more, we were there. For some of us, it has been an incubation stage, wherein we might find ourselves and hone our souls to better bite into life and meet the world outside. For some, it was a small comfort, a distant radiant beacon between our dusty conclave and a shimmering horizon we would, for whatever reason, never venture past.
There is no reason for taking this from us that is not petty. That is not small and hateful and awful. For us, without this, there is no reason to remain here, to continue to give Lubbock and Texas Tech our time, our love, our worth and energy and sweat and tuition dollars and voice and mind and heart and sorrow and pain and Goddamnit!

We will rebuild. We can persevere. We can take what we've learned, under your tutelage and through your cruelty. But we'd rather not. We'd rather the fields we cultivated, in soil made fertile from this city's history, be returned to us to tend and and seed and return the harvest to those who granted it us to us. It isn't ours and it isn't yours. It came to us from those who tilled it before, and we'd hoped to sow the favor forward. For the love of those who came before us, and the hopes of the ones who will come after, we ask this small thing. And we will strain hard to reclaim it. If we didn't, then what was it for? We are young and fecund and angry and we will rise from this and never thank you for it. And you will never even feel the weight of the innumerable future joys you have murdered. But I suppose they were never for you anyway.


  1. While I understand your passion, I urge you to moderate your tone. Remember that everything you'll be doing from here on is about *politics*. There are a lot of people from the alumni and at-large community that want to sprint to your aid, but please keep your disdain for the city at a minimum. As an alumnus (of station and university), I'm already trying to get some of us together. I'd like to send them your way. Please feel free to contact me at whereis88point1@gmail.

  2. I am saddened and disgusted by the summary cancellation of KTXT. This has clearly left a huge, gaping hole in the musical culture of Texas Tech and of Lubbock. This is exactly why many talented musicians ditch Lubbock and head to Austin, and is exactly why many talented students may ditch Texas Tech and head to other schools.

    Even Amarillo College has a student-run radio station. Surely Texas Tech, an institution striving for flagship status and for an enrollment of 40K, can find a solution to funding KTXT. Cutting cultural programs (and yes, exposure to indie music, local and Texas music, jazz, blues, and other music you can't hear anywhere else is culturally enriching) is not the way to achieve these goals.

    "Strive for Honor" is our motto. Was it honorable to have kept this decision from the students who put their time and energy into KTXT so that they couldn't even put together a farewell broadcast? I don't think so.

    If it sounds like I'm taking this personally--you bet I am. I have been a loyal KTXT listener since I was 13. That was in 1983. Back then, it was the only place you could hear Adam and the Ants, Sex Pistols, the Cure, Depeche Mode, the X-Ray Spex. Early REM. When I was a student, they did shows like Beatles for Breakfast every Saturday. KTXT gave me my first taste of Pixies, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Raidiohead, The Mountain Goats, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and so many others.

    And the shows--who's going to bring quality indie acts to Lubbock any more? No one, that's who.

    I feel like I've lost a friend.

  3. Please remember- this is not "the university's" decision. Higher administration had nothing to do with this. Keep the blame focused on where it should be- Student Media. Demand an accounting. Student fees were used there were they not? What happened to the fees Tech students gave for the station? KTXT costs were 41% of Student Media's budget? On what? 6 student assistant positions?

    It's not adding up, but temper the anger at who it should go to...

  4. RE: Anonymous - Whether or not higher administration made the decision is of no relevance, as they are about to feel the weight of this decision. This station has never made money - something went down and almuni won't stand for this - they played classic Bowie for crying out loud!

    This whole discussion will be subject to Freedom of Information Act request and I look forward to participating in the uprising. I already feel for Susan Peterson - she's a nice lady.

  5. JP, I thought this was a beautiful post, and it said exactly so many thoughts and feelings that have been floating around in my head the past two days. Keep it up, and I'll be sending my letters to the bigwigs as well.

    -Josh Justice

  6. As for Susan being "nice"- it was her decision to keep students out of the loop.

    Think about that.

    Then think about it again.

  7. JP,
    This was a great post. I found your blog thanks to the FB group on "The X".
    If you'll allow an "old fogey" to share some thoughts...
    I worked at KTXT-FM from 1975 to 1979. Even then there were battles with the powers that be to let us play certain songs or albums. I can remember the outcry when we played Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" because of the words "damn it". (The local commercial stations at the time edited it out)

    The university forced us to play classical music from 9am to noon weekdays because "the faculty wants to hear it". Now I realize that they wanted to hear as little rock and roll on the station as possible. But they couldn't tell us what to play the rest of the time. They had to grin and bear it, I guess.

    The reasons for KTXT going dark simply do not make sense to me. It just sounds like it was easiest to use "budget constraints" as an excuse to have the station go away.

    Believe me, when Mass Comm calls or writes me to ask for money, not only will I tell them no, but HELL NO.