A Wednesday decision by the UT System Board of Regents has left radio station KUT in a temporary intermission, halting KUT’s plans to purchase local station KXBT. The board has not announced when it expects to address the proposition.
UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa requested the board table the matter at its July meeting because there were still lingering questions about the $6 million acquisition. The board did not specify what questions it needed answered, although an anonymous source close to the proceedings said the main question regarded the future of radio, according to the Austin American-Statesman. President William Powers Jr. attended the meeting and said he was willing to answer any questions the board had about the acquisition.
The board first announced KUT’s plans to acquire KXBT earlier this month in an agenda for the meeting. If approved, KUT plans to split its music and news programming between the two different stations.
College of Communication Dean Roderick Hart said he is also available to answer any questions the regents might have. KUT plans to purchase KXBT with a loan from UT’s Unexpended Plant Funds that it will pay over time. The College of Communication has offered to cover any remaining costs if KUT cannot fully pay back the loan.
“We feel strongly that this purchase is both financially sound and of enormous benefit to the University, to its students and to the greater Austin community,” Hart said.
Hart said besides opening up more internship opportunities, expanding KUT just made sense.
“KUT is already one of the finest NPR stations in the nation,” Hart said. “Located as it is in a well-educated city that also happens to be the live music capital of the world, having both all-talk and all-music stations on our campus makes all the sense in the world.”
Under the Texas Constitution, the regents must authorize decisions such as financial purchases, campus expansions, tuition changes and presidential appointments. Before the meeting, the board had made no indication of denying KUT’s request for acquisition.
Katy Aus, station manager at Texas Student Media’s KVRX, said she does not think KUT’s expansion will hurt KVRX’s
“Our mission of providing ‘None of the hits, all of the time’ remains intact,” Aus said. “As a college radio station, we provide an irreplaceable product: exposure to new music, commitment to local artists and a wide spectrum of genres and specialty shows which are emblematic of that very specific college radio dynamic.”
Representatives from both the UT System and UT-Austin said they had no further comment.