Thursday, December 11, 2008


From the website:
Texas Tech University's Student Media department is undergoing several changes. The most significant of those changes occurred today when KTXT-FM, the university's student-run radio station, ceased its broadcasts on 88.1 FM and

Control of the radio station's FCC license, which is maintained by the university, is being shifted from the Student Media department to Texas Tech's other educational radio station, KOHM-FM.

No firm plans regarding the future of the 88.1 FM frequency or the related Web site have been announced.

Lubbock is an isolated, desolate place. The closest cities of any size (Fort Worth, Austin, Albuquerque) are all 5-6 hours away. The weather map during the news looks like a brown grid with a dot in the middle labeled "Lubbock," surrounded by smaller dots with labels that sound more like landmarks than towns: Brownfield, Levelland, Muleshoe, Sweetwater. The landscape is uninviting. Sure, there are buildings and trees planted in the city, but if you drive too far out, you see the rows of houses and lawns just... well, end, and flat, arid plains stretching out over the horizon, the relentless wind building little dust devils in the dirt.

The radio is sort of like that, too: isolated and desolate. There are a bunch of Clearchannel stations, including a crusty rock frequency in the middle of the dial whose aging DJ's play more Led Zeppelin and Van Halen than all the bands from the last 10 years combined, and a mixed 80's, 90's, 00's station that seems to have stopped buying CD's in 2002. Then there's all the pop country and Tejano stations, with a couple of Christian ones sprinkled in between, and one classical station. There is no NPR.

Hanging out on the left end of all that isolation, however, the kids always had K-TXT, Texas Tech's student-run radio station. The station was good by any college radio standards, with a frequently updated playlist that included lots of up and coming acts and was intentionally defiantly short on the top 20 hits. They played music that was catching on outside the twin bubbles of West Texas and MTV. Their DJ's were hip, snobby, Parliament-smoking college students who wore Goodwill sweaters and corduroys and t-shirts that said: "88.1 K-TXT: Don't ask me about music."

In the late 80's, my buddy Shane got us into it, and he (and the purple-haired girl who turned him onto 88.1) became perhaps the only kids at Matthews Junior High to own The Cure's Disintegration. A couple of years later, we all got Wish (which I still contend is the better album of the two). There is virtually no end to the litany of bands I first heard on 88, from the now-classics like The Pixies to alternative babes like Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donnelly and Kim Deal to alt-country "y'allternative" rockers The Old 97's and Ryan Adams.

88 was far from perfect; in fact, much of the music they played I found unlistenable. Even the crap, however, was at least new crap. It was unmanufactured, non-mass-produced crap. It was crap that hipsters all over the country were listening to and pretending to like so they could look avant-garde.

The good stuff, however, was far better than anything any other station had to offer. It made us feel like we were plugged in, like we hadn't left the 21st century at the base of the Caprock on our way in.

And just like that, the station that over the years introduced me to The Cure, The Pixies, The Old 97's, and Rilo Kiley falls silent.


TioChuy said...

It does kind of suck. I mostly listen to my iPod in the car these days anyway. KTXT was getting a little too emo/noiserock of late. The new bigwigs at Tech now are $$$ people and I think it was hard to convince them to spend money on not only music they don't care for but also the hour-long talk shows about comic books. They say they are giving the FCC license to KOHM, which runs the classical station. (by the way that's not a bad little station they do jazz on Thursdays) Hopefully, KOHM will use the new license to put NPR on here.

Rene said...

broadcast radio is pretty useless these days unless you're listening to coverage of live events like hockey games.

I use pandora for music and podcasts for talk shows. That said, I agree with tiochuy that NPR would make Lubbock a much happier place.