Programming has returned to Texas Tech's formerly student run radio station KTXT, however, listeners can expect to wait at least a year to hear alternative music and student voices on 88.1 FM.

After almost six months of silence, programming returned to the station in May in a new format and under new management.

The radio station, formerly run by Tech students, is now under the oversight of Derrick Ginter, general manager of KOHM-FM, Tech's publicly funded non-commercial, educational radio station and the National Public Radio affiliate for the South Plains Region.

"We had to put it back on the air because if you don't do anything with it, the FCC comes asking why you still have the license," Ginter said of the station, which now plays a mixture of world news and jazz music. "The last thing I wanted to have happen is to sell it or surrender it."

The station went off the air in December due to concerns about operating costs. Tech's Student Media Department handed the license to the station to KOHM in order to keep the license without keeping the financial responsibility.

The decision was met by protests and rallies led by students who were surprised by the decision to cut the station after almost 50 years on the air.

Susan Peterson, student media director, said the Federal Communications Commission allows a station to cease programming for up to 90 days. Ginter said test broadcasting began in May in order to keep the license.

The programming on the station is not a schedule Ginter is happy with, he said, but it's what he can afford to do with the space and resources he has. An automated computer runs the station daily, switching between satellite programming from Public Radio International and a library containing 33 hours of jazz music.

"It's what we would call running unattended," he said. "Basically, the only reason it's being operated that way is that I don't have a choice. How can you run it without a studio?"

Bringing KTXT back slowly was the only way to get back on the air. His long-term goal is to have a separate studio for the station when KOHM is moved to a new location, he said, which will happen within the next year.

Peterson, said the station was dropped from the Student Media Department due to operating costs. The department has kept the studio equipment the station used in order to someday break into online media.

Student Media will never have an FM station again, she said, however, Ginter is the most qualified person to oversee KTXT.

The station has been run through the Student Media Department since 2001. From 1961 to 2001, the College of Mass Communications on campus successfully ran the station, Peterson said.

Alan Brown, a former DJ and promotions director for KTXT, said the station was best run through the College of Mass Communications, where students had oversight from professors who had radio experience.

"I believe we were not the machine it had once been," he said, of the station. "KTXT had gone through so many ups and downs because it was student run. We were all students and there was no oversight."

Without oversight, Brown said the station continued to be successful.

"We did the best we could for as long as we could," he said. "We've been the number one college radio station in Texas and the number seven college station in the nation."

Brown said he is pessimistic about a student-run terrestrial radio station ever being part of the university again, however, has hopes for a community of students dedicated to education and arts.

Brown, and other KTXT employees, were told the station would go off the air due to financial reasons, and also, because radio is a dying media. He is currently the promotions director for The Llano Idea, an online alternative station in Lubbock, and said he feels radio continues to have an impact on Tech students and the Lubbock community.

"Everybody who worked here had fun," he said, "and it was an excellent learning tool. You learn how to speak on the radio, how radio works and how to promote and advertise."

Besides teaching students the business of mass communications, he said the station cultivated the arts community within Lubbock, something The Llano Idea's station manager, Ben Williams, aims to do with his new radio project.

The Llano Idea was started in February, Williams said, in an attempt to build a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an alternative source to radio and support the local arts.

"We wanted to do what KTXT was doing," he said, "but it's a long term project. We'd like to build a strong non-profit organization that supports the artistic community. That went away when KTXT shut down."

Besides spreading the word about local music and arts, the station is replacing the learning experience students once had with KTXT. The station has between 20 and 30 student volunteers, he said, who are getting not only radio experience but multimedia experience as well.

"We're hoping to provide a good convergence experience," he said, "by using video production, blogs and radio programming."

Until resources are made available to Ginter, students and community members can hear alternative music and local arts information at www.thellanoidea.com.

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