KUTE funding cut may require Redbook change

As student leaders push to cut funding from KUTE, the U’s student-run radio station, it is likely they will need to temporarily amend the student constitution.

Student government leaders are putting together legislation that would sever funding to KUTE for the current school year, but because bylaws of Redbook, the student constitution, guarantee the station annual funding, they will have to undergo the more difficult process of amending Redbook.

Under the current Associated Students of the University of Utah budget, KUTE receives $15,000 in yearly funding. The previous ASUU Senate and General Assembly approved funding for the station last April when they passed the 2006-2007 budget.

But Student Body President Jake Kirkham is considering making a rare move and pushing a bill to cut the station’s funding from the previously passed budget.

Kirkham’s administration is currently researching and writing a bill to make the change. He said that if a bill is drafted, it will be released later this week

“We’re still deciding how were going to proceed,” Kirkham said.

While Kirkham hasn’t announced any specifics of the bill, Redbook specifies that in order to change or amend ASUU bylaws, a majority of both houses in ASUU and the U Board of Trustees must sign off on the change.

Kirkham said KUTE does not deserve the $15,000 in funding it is receiving and that he wants the station’s funding to be suspended until June 2007.

Kirkham said he volunteered as a sportscaster for KUTE a few years ago and found that few students actually listened to the station’s broadcasts.

“I felt like nobody was listening,” he said. “I would offer free movie passes and nobody would call in.”

KUTE can currently be heard streaming online through its Web site, kute.org, or on 1620 AM. The station’s AM radio frequency is weak and can be received at few locations on campus and nowhere off campus.

The Board of Trustees heard similar complaints about KUTE last year when the previous student administration sought to bring the station under ASUU control.

Its proposal to give ASUU control of KUTE won approval in the Senate and Assembly, but died at the Board of Trustees. The trustees tabled the issue and a task force was formed to evaluate student media on campus.

This time around, ASUU leaders aren’t pushing to control KUTE, saying that they just don’t want to put more money into the struggling station while the task forces conducts its study.

“I don’t have strong feelings about who controls it as long as it’s successful,” said Shadie Ghaibi, ASUU senate chair.

Officials for KUTE said ASUU’s move is coming at the wrong time. They said the student government should wait until the task force finishes its evaluation before making any bold moves.

“It seems premature that ASUU should make its judgment about the effectiveness of student radio on campus until there has been a thorough study,” said KUTE General Manager Bob Avery, chairman of the Student Broadcast Council and communication professor.

Avery said ASUU has not set criteria or specified its expectations for KUTE.

“I don’t understand how it is that Jake is coming to this conclusion that the station isn’t performing correctly,” Avery said.