Post Academic

Footnotes: The one in which the music died

Posted in Housekeeping by Arnold Pan on September 19, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

“Footnotes” is supposed to be a semi-regular series that collects some stories and postings that are semi-relevant to the semi-academic focus of the blog.  This one we’re devoting to college radio and college rock, two of our favorite things about college and one of the first bonding topics that brought together the Post Academic team back in grad school.  Unfortunately, we only have bad news to convey here: Can the crapped out economy plus the conservative right really kill the rock for the kids?

Rice U’s KTRU station sold: KTRU is something of a college radio institution, at least as Arnold’s high school friends from Rice have told him.  But that didn’t stop Rice U’s admin, through some shady, secret deal, from selling the school station’s frequency and transmitter to the U of Houston for $9.5 million.  Under the plan, its freeform format will undergo a facelift and become a NPR-affiliated classical music station, under the callsign of KUHC, with KTRU still existing online.  What’s interesting is that the public U of H seems to be taking advantage of the well-heeled, highly-endowed private Rice, which claims it’s selling due to recession-related budget woes.  Relatedly, Rice UP is being shuttered after restarting a few years ago as an online-only publisher.  The best line from the Houston Chronicle piece linked above is that “the secrecy surrounding [the sale] was counter to academia’s preferred openness.”  Seriously, academia prefers openness?  Like, you know, in all those job searches and tenure reviews?

Anyhow, for more info from those on the ground, check out the Save KTRU blog.

Vandy’s WRVU considers selling: That’s probably a situation that weird music listening Vandy alums–like four-year DJ Caroline Roberts!–should keep an eye on, since their alma mater’s WRVU is exploring the possibility of selling its license and frequency to go online.  The official line from the student-run station is that “the proceeds would be used to create an endowment to support innovative student media experiences, facilities and operations at Vanderbilt in perpetuity.”  But according to Nashville alt-weekly The Scene, there might be something more dubious afoot, passing along unconfirmed speculation that a Christian network–Educational Media Foundation–is interested in picking up the frequency to work its way into the market.  It doesn’t help, either, that Vanderbilt Student Communications, which runs the station, pre-empted any dissent by buying up domain names like “  In any case, the financial motive is for Vanderbilt Student Communications to use the money to endow an online-only station that would supposedly be unburdened from relying on finding revenue in other ways.

After these two stories, you gotta be asking what up with fancy privates sometimes referred to as “the Harvard of the South” selling/out their radio stations?

New Pornographers cancelled by Christian college: As if no one could see this was coming, but Christian school Calvin College in Michigan cancelled a scheduled performance by indie-supergroup the New Pornographers.  For those of you not in the know, the New Pornographers are really not pornographic at all, unless you count sentimental love songs with a tinge of humor as X-rated.  Pretty much the only thing racy about the outfit is that part-time singer Neko Case was unsolicitedly voted as the “Sexiest Babe in Indie Rock” in a Playboy poll.

The reasoning given by the Calvin College powers-that-be was that, “after weeks of discussion and consideration, the irony of the band’s name was impossible to explain to many.”  That’s kinda hilarious, because there’s some kind of assumption that the band’s moniker could only be ironic–however the CC folks define that–if it wasn’t serious.  This article in The Grand Rapids Press compiles all the jokes made at the expense of Calvin College because of its decision.  Even better is yet another piece in the GRP–has anything else happened in Grand Rapids this week?–pointing out how other bands much more sketchy thematically have performed at Calvin, from too sexy Liz Phair to too drunken Hold Steady.  My question is how does Calvin College get such great shows in the first place?