Regents' meeting to decide radio station's purchase

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The 98.9 KXBT-FM is currently Austin’s oldies music and talk radio station. The University of Texas is looking to buy KXBT-FM to facilitate a split between news and music broadcasts onto separate stations.

Photo Credit: Hayden Bernstein | Daily Texan Staff

The UT community and the city of Austin may encounter a different tune the next time they switch their radio to KUT’s 90.5 station if the UT System Board of Regents approves the buyout of a new station.

The Board of Regents will vote July 11 on whether to approve KUT’s purchase of KXBT’s 98.9 classic hits station, which serves the city of Leander. This move would switch all of KUT’s musical programming to 98.9. Border Media Business Trust, a Delaware common law trust, is selling the station for $6 million, or approximately $3.83 per audience member in its area. Both the Board of Regents and the Federal Communications Commission must approve the acquisition. If approved, KUT will use money from UT’s unrestricted Unexpended Plant Funds cash reserves to purchase the station and repay the funds with interest.

No student tuition or fee money will be used to acquire KXBT, according to the Board of Regents’ agenda.

College of Communication Dean Roderick Hart said this expansion will provide students with more chances to gain educational experience by creating a greater range of internship opportunities,

“This purchase is going to make a tremendous difference,” Hart said regarding the internships. “From a dean’s point of view, this is a really important aspect.”

Hart said he does not think KUT will have any trouble paying back the funds if the regents approve the purchase.

“KUT is an incredible operation,” Hart said. “I’m sure they will be able to pay this off very quickly. They are good at making the case to their supporters to help them.”

If KUT is not able to repay this sum, the College of Communication has agreed to step in and repay unpaid balances with its Gift Fund, according to the Board of Regents’ agenda. The acquisition of this station will allow KUT to differentiate its services between two stations, one focusing on news and the other on music. Hart said since Austin is known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” the acquisition of an all-music station will allow KUT to become closer to Austin’s music community.

Radio-television-film senior Ofer Shouval is a fan of KUT and said he is looking forward to the creation of a dedicated news station.

“KUT music is really eclectic, and I don’t want to listen to some of it, but I almost always want to listen to their news,” Shouval said. “I like having the option to choose between the two.”

Since the Board of Regents will not vote on this proposal until Wednesday, UT System spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said he is not able to speak about the proposal at this time.

“I cannot speak about this, because it would be inappropriate for me, as the board spokesperson, to comment on the item before the board has an opportunity to discuss it,” de Bruyn said.

According to the Board of Regents’ agenda, UT-Austin is optimistic that revenue from the acquisition will help KUT maintain its new studios in the Belo Center for New Media and provide capital during difficult times.