KUTE back on the air

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

KUTE, the U’s student-run radio station, may be back on the air in 2008 if plans to put an antenna on the roof of the Languages and Communication Building are completed over Winter Break.

The Student Broadcast Council recently voted that up to $1,000 of KUTE’s reserve funds can be used to install the antenna. Now the station is waiting for bids from University Telecommunications and Plant Operations to determine the cost of the installation.

KUTE would play on 1620 AM, the same signal it had before the station stopped broadcasting its AM frequency when the old dorms were demolished in 2005. Listeners would only be able to pick up the station while on campus.

Even though KUTE Assistant General Manager Jake Fawson said the station is “almost out of money,” with only a few thousand dollars in its contingency for costs such as rent and phone bills, he said it’ll have enough to pay for the antenna.

KUTE General Manager Bob Avery said the station has been living off savings for three years. KUTE has been in a financial crisis since the Associated Students of the University of Utah pulled its funding last year. The student government constitution authorizes up to $15,000 to be allocated to KUTE each year, but last year the legislative branches and Board of Trustees approved a move to suspend funding because they didn’t think the radio station was a good use of student fees — since the average number of listeners at any given time was two.

KUTE hopes going back on the radio will revive the station, which now only broadcasts on Channel 66 of the university cable TV system. KUTE’s Internet streaming was cancelled this summer because the station couldn’t afford the $4,000 in fines imposed by the Recording Industry Association of America, which was given permission by the federal government to start collecting royalties for streaming songs online.

The station will have to pay for all the songs they’ve used since they started streaming online, plus some “late fees,” Fawson said.

“At this point, in order to get back on the Internet, we need funds from ASUU,” Fawson said.

Fawson and student station manager Jaleh Afshar are going to submit a bill to ASUU to request funding again, Avery said.

Student Body President Spencer Pearson said he has spoken with KUTE, but ASUU is waiting for a decision from the Student Media Task Force, set up by U President Michael Young to examine options for student media on campus, before they will make any decisions about funding.

“We like the idea (of funding KUTE) and we like to see the concept of a student radio station continuing, but we want to make sure we fund it in a way consistent to the direction (KUTE) is going,” Pearson said.

Ann Darling, chair of the task force, said she doesn’t know when KUTE will come up on the agenda. Darling would not say whether the task force would discuss KUTE.

Fawson said the KUTE staff is “holding its breath” when it comes to changes that could be initiated by the task force.

Broadcasting on the radio will make the station more successful, Fawson said.

“I think it will definitely help us get more listeners,” Fawson said. “But we’ll be on AM (radio), so we won’t compete very well with the X96s of the world.”

Avery said KUTE has always prided itself on having three different outlets of broadcasting: radio, Internet and television.

“With the two with the largest audience in abeyance, it’s been hard,” Avery said.

If the station goes back on the air, KUTE will start recruiting new DJs in January.

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Playlists are already being gathered for the KUTE return.