Proposal to sell Texas Student Media properties cause agitation among UT students and staff

Kayla Jonsson

Texas Student Television and the KVRX 91.7 staff members are upset by a proposal to sell the stations in an effort to combat the Texas Student Media’s deficit.

Former Texas Student Media director Gary Borders wrote the unofficial proposal in November. Borders abruptly resigned Feb. 8. Borders said his resignation was forced upon him by Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez — possibly as a result of Gonzalez’s strong opposition to the proposal. TSTV and KVRX station managers said they were not notified about the proposal at the time.

Kevin Hegarty, UT vice president and chief financial officer, was appointed Monday by UT president William Powers Jr. to take Gonzalez’s place in the oversight of this issue. Hegarty said there are no plans for another proposal suggesting sale of any TSM entities, which also include The Daily Texan, The Cactus Yearbook and the Texas Travesty.

Details of Border’s proposal will be discussed at a TSM board meeting Feb. 27.

“Doing things that bring in a one-time source of money is just pushing the problem away,” Hegarty said. “It doesn’t necessarily solve the deficit.”

Dan Knight, radio-television-film lecturer and TSTV program coordinator, said the monetary value of the stations Federal Communications Commission license is hard to predict because they are local stations with low frequency power.

“The FCC grants a station the right to use a frequency spectrum,” Knight said. “For KVRX that frequency is 91.7. It can be sold, but it’s not as simple as just selling a car or buying a pair of shoes.”

KVRX station manager Travis Bubenik said working in a radio station is an irreplaceable experience which cannot be duplicated in a classroom.

“The option to get rid of or sell KVRX is not an option now and never will be,” Bubenik said. “It would be an incomprehensible loss for both the community and the UT population.”

Borders said the possible sale was an option for balancing the $175,000 TSM deficit. However, he said he dropped the proposal without ever making it official when he learned the vice president’s office opposed it. According to the proposal, the two stations do not have the capital to expand or properly operate because of a shortage in advertisement sales.

“In terms of money, [selling TSTV] might be a short-term solution for the problem,” TSTV station manager Steven Zurita said. “We need to hold on to our license so we can continue to generate ads.”

Bubenik said although it is true that KVRX does not sell many advertisements, the station generates revenue through hosting monthly concerts and online donations.

“We have shown we can generate our own revenue,” Bubenik said. “There are different ways to make the station viable.”

TSTV alumnus Zach Anner, who is now an Austin filmmaker and has a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, said he made a $33,000 donation to TSTV in January because the station had such a positive influence on his life.

“The experiences I had at TSTV are directly responsible for me having my own TV show now,” Anner said. “Not only the experience, but also the friends and contacts I made were invaluable to me.”

Printed on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 as: Officials say TSTV, KVRX not in dnager of being sold.