Student support could save KUTE

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Students have the power to help determine the life or death of the U’s student-run radio station KUTE, which has been on a downhill turn since ASUU pulled its funding last year.

The Student Broadcast Council is forming a student committee to create a new vision for the future of KUTE, which will include plans to change the station to meet demands and trends in new media.

“The committee of students will decide whether KUTE should be scrapped, changed or stay the same and try to get funding based on the status quo,” said KUTE Assistant General Manager Jake Fawson.

Bob Avery, general manager for KUTE, said radio technology has changed dramatically since the station first developed its mission statement, and updates need to be made.

“Use-patterns by students have also changed, and in order to ensure that our services are consistent with the desires of students, this is a good way to involve all students in setting a revised mission statement and have them get behind (seeking) funding from ASUU,” Avery said.

The committee currently has about ten members, but all students are invited to participate.

KUTE has been running on contingency funds since the Associated Students of the University of Utah cut funding, but Fawson said this money will be depleted at the end of the semester.

If the station doesn’t receive more funding before this happens, the station will fold, Fawson said.

“Basically we’d have to pack up,” he said.

If the station closed, the Student Broadcast Council would disband, and the station would basically “disappear,” making it hard for anyone in the future to get it started again because they would have to start from scratch, Fawson said.

KUTE was supposed to begin broadcasting again on 1620 AM starting in January, but installment of an antenna on the Language and Communications building has been postponed due to weather.

The station now only broadcasts on Channel 66 of the university’s cable TV system. Internet streaming stopped this summer because the station couldn’t pay $4,000 in fines for song royalties imposed by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The student committee will create a proposal that will be presented to the Student Broadcast Council in March and then to ASUU in the form of a bill to get more funding.

The student government constitution authorizes up to $15,000 to be allocated to KUTE each year, but last year ASUU and the Board of Trustees approved a move to suspend funding. The decision was made because the board and ASUU didn’t think the radio station was a good use of student fees since few students listen to the station..

“ASUU doesn’t seem like they want to have a student radio station. But on the other hand, it doesn’t look like the students do either,” Fawson said.

Student interest in KUTE has reached an all-time low, but Fawson said he thinks there are still students that could benefit from the broadcasting experience it offers.

“My one fear is there are students interested in this?but they don’t know about it,” Fawson said. “But I don’t want to be wasting student funds if students don’t care about it.”

Student Body President Spencer Pearson said ASUU still has the intention of funding KUTE, but they are waiting for recommendations from the Student Media Task Force — a group set up by U President Michael Young to examine options for reorganizing student media on campus — to decide what to do.

Avery said the task force is close to putting out a final report, but he is concerned KUTE will need to move independent of it.

“We want to reenergize KUTE so ASUU will feel comfortable with funding the station whether the task force is completed or not,” Avery said.

Pearson said the student committee could help speed up the process if there is a favorable response from students regarding interest in the station.

“I’m interested in keeping the radio station going, but I want to maximize student fee dollars,” Pearson said. “We want to not just fund, but fund in the right direction.”

Pearson pointed out that the money has not been permanently suspended from KUTE, and he said there is no intention to change Redbook, the student government constitution, to make it permanent.

The committee will meet next Tues., Feb. 19, at 3:30 p.m. in LNCO 2120.

They will meet at least once more before the Student Broadcast Council meeting on March 12, when they will hear the recommendations and decide what to do with KUTE.

“We need to convince ASUU that it is in their interest to fund this, basically with a student mandate,” Fawson said.

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Maegan Burr

Ash Porter and Cassie Murphy play music every afternoon on KUTE as part of a radio writing class.