Tuesday, August 24, 2010

KTSU....No Longer The Choice

With commercial mainstream radio already being horrible by playing "music" with no substance and you hear the same 10 songs over and over all day everyday, Houston is about to suffer a double blow with listener supported radio. Both KTSU 90.9 FM at Texas Southern University, as well as KTRU 91.7 FM at Rice University have plans to make big changes that most feel will have a great impact on listenership and funding.

I've caught KTRU only a few times because of a low transmission signal, but as far as KTSU, I pretty much grew up to the sounds they played. One of the main shows I listened to was Kidz Jam on Saturdays. You heard an excellent selection of real Hip-Hop, Dance, R&B, and the resident DJs who smashed it with their witty mixes. Other days I could count on hearing "Jazz In All It's Colors" featuring great Jazz recordings by musicians I grew to admire. Now, rumor has it that "The Pride of Texas Southern University" or "The Black Jewel" will be changed to some cheap, stiff and cold sounding "in the box" (like 97.9) type station. It's as if all those years of quality programming will be flushed down the toilet as if it's worth less than urine. I can't express how disappointed I am to hear the news about what's to come. And that is, it supposedly going to change to an all R&B format. *deep sigh*

There was a letter written about the concerns of the recent changes and firings of staff who have volunteered for so long. The letter is as follows....

Dear editor:

Since it’s inception, KTSU 90.9 FM Radio Station has been a constant pulse which beats life producing musical vibes throughout the Third Ward, The City of Houston and the World by way of the internet and the word of travelers who come in contact with this beautiful thing we have in Houston and go back and tell others they meet about “Jazz In All It’s Colors” and a whole lot more!!!

This institution provided a much needed voice in an ever-changing world where the colorful vibrations of its purveyors painted rhythmic hues of pianos and saxes to feed a generation of listeners the roadmap of the masters…that NOBLE sound. From Basie to Sachmo to Ella, Sarah and Miles, that noble sound has set the pace through thick and thin it’s always been the Choice 90.9 on your FM dial.

If the roll were called, it would include the names: Pam Collins, The Frog Prince, Myron Anderson, Bernard Walker, Charles Porter, Detria Ward, Steve Crain, Vince Kannady, Rick Roberts, Bro. George Nelson, Corliss A Rabb, Maurice Hope-Thompson, Fred Pendegrass, Mother Nature, Dr. Freddie Brown, Tommy D. Armstrong, Rev. Ricky Williams, Slick Rick Lauderdale, Chris Tucker, Shirley Wolford, Bill Green, Leonard Moon, Lyle Q. Barnes, Marilyn Bolden-Tyrone, Bro. Carl B. Harris, Chattabox, Maurice “The Gangster” Jackson, Aaron Cohen, Bobby Oneal, Sis. Blondell & The Crew, Lucky Brown, Superneal, Frank Torrey, Rev. Robert McKinley Gilmore Sr., Rev. Lloyd H. Crosby, Kidz Jamm, Parish Murphy, Devan Wade, Juan Flores, the Houston community, and so many many more as keepers of the flame as it pertains to this great light in our community.

This tremendous gem we all gave birth and life to and dubbed: “The Black Jewel” is now experiencing a dulling effect of its uniquely shiny and beautiful glow, and is in grave danger if not checked and soon, of being forever changed by the current leadership regime absolutely bent on changing everything this “Jewel” shines for.

Historically, KTSU derives it’s great reputation for it’s musical diversity from the individual on-air personalities and their own music selection that makes this diversity possible. Currently this trend is not only discouraged but also outlawed under management guidelines thus creating a robot-like atmosphere with programmed music which real deejays hate!

The deejays at KTSU hate being there that’s why the quality level is going down from it’s standard. This is directly opposite of the path the pioneers of this great station blazed. Now that long time (maybe too long) General Manager, George Thomas is at eligibility age for retirement with full benefits, there is suddenly a great deal of movement in the management structure of this great “Jewel” of our community.

At press time, it is reported that Ms. Donna Franklin, (2nd year KTSU deejay) has been granted the appointment of the position: Assistant General Manager of KTSU 90.9 FM. This is a sudden meteoric rise unprecedented in the 36 year history of this station that an on-air personality go from deejay to GM without so much as the position being announced as available. Furthermore in the annals of KTSU never has anyone been granted such a great position of responsibility with no prior experience; no that has been done, with George Thomas.

This is the person responsible for the huge mistake of naming the new KTSU facilities after Tavis Smiley in exchange for the promise of a million dollar check that Tavis never wrote to this day; thus the removal of his name from the Tavis Smiley School of Communications at TSU.

As far as we the public know, Ms. Franklin served for a brief period of time as an on-air personality at KODA Sunny 99.1 FM, and another brief stint with the now defunct KJZS Smooth FM 95.7 contributing to it’s demise before bringing her wealth of radio expertise to KTSU 90.9 FM to save the day. Save what day? As far as we know KTSU is publicly funded and non-profit therefore not in danger. On that note, what has Ms. Franklin actually brought to KTSU since she has been there drawing that huge paycheck she enjoys anyway? Take if you will for instance the idea of playing in the Friday lineup on KTSU; historically, all the deejays who have played in the Friday lineup at KTSU held down club gigs at the hottest dance clubs in Houston . That is until Ms. Franklin came along. She simply begged and pleaded with the office of the President of Texas Southern University and was awarded a much sought after, blood earned coveted Friday slot on KTSU. Not just any slot, but the afternoon drive-time slot too! She managed to receive what no deejay before her arrival has ever received…a chance to play on the most widely listened to radio station in Houston on a Friday with no talent to operate with. In the words of the late Houston born songwriter and Blues Legend Johnny Guitar Watson: Ain’t that a _ _ _ _ _?

Somebody’s doing something slick, yeah they are; got me wonderin’ which is which, ain’t that a _ _ _ _ _? You see, at TSU there is still certain procedure that must be followed and posting an open job position to the public allowing other potential applicants to vie for the job is still the law, unless you’re under this current management structure or you happen to be Donna Franklin then it does not pertain to you. She also begged to have the chance to play the 5 o’clock Blues Cruise but after the beating she received over the request line from the real Blues lovers they quickly put the most distinguished veteran and a legend of the Friday oldies posse (Slick Rick) back in that seat from 5 now to 7PM.

Finally, the position of Asst. GM of a public broadcast station is supposed to be non-existent. Lindsay Williams (former KTSU Asst. GM) was dismissed some time ago because they said: “The position does not exist”. It has been said by Ms. Franklin that when she closes the door to the studio at KTSU she is in her heaven; well it seems that her heaven is to be others “Hell” who stand in her way.

The station for the most part these days, is actually being run from across the campus by the President’s office though not widely known, and you are starting to hear the gradual changes being put into place daily. One of these days you’ll turn your radio on to KTSU and not even recognize it by that NOBLE sound anymore. They already tried to take Gospel Sunday off the air as well as Jazz Latino with Juan Flores and as her first official act of vengeance, Ms. Franklin has already dismissed longtime KTSU family member and host of Sports Talk Devan Wade. How stupid is that?

For quite some time now the tone of the current management regime has been one of arrogance and egotism which is blatantly obvious when one listens to Sheldon T. Nunn spout his personal malarkey all over the airwaves. With this new crop of Air-Heads on the Air, KTSU is no longer your friendly neighborhood “Jewel” but another cold corporate-like ice palace where a local musician doesn’t stand a chance of getting any play.

There are those on the radio today blowing up the airwaves telling anyone who will listen to that crap that our distinguished Congressional representative from the 18th Congressional District is trying to kill black owned radio. This about someone who also authored legislation creating and establishing Gospel Music Heritage Month annually in America . Be very wary when you see someone spending that much money and time trying to tear down the reputation of someone else…something is not right about that. We say that a greater threat to black radio is incompetent people running black radio stations. That is the case today at KTSU.

KTSU 90.9 FM has a tremendous heritage of playing music and putting out vital messages in our community. Surviving these past 36 years is no accidental occurrence and continuing to exist will be no accident either. To try and fix something 36 years old by changing it is a fatal mistake and must cease immediately! There are some standouts that deserve to be recognized for their fine work. These include: Vernon Jay, Devan Wade, Juan Flores, The Original Sinbad, DJ Mouton and Wayne ’s World to name a few.

George Thomas, President Rudley, Donna Franklin, Sheldon T. Nunn this is not your radio station it is ours and we demand that you leave it as is and step off before you destroy what does not belong to you! This is a cry out to the true lovers of “The Choice” 90.9 FM KTSU to stand up and be counted.

Let your voice be heard! Don’t allow these individuals to destroy what you have grown to love. This radio station has been built with the blood, sweat, and tears of hardworking volunteers who have devoted countless hours to this entity for no pay. We’ve now entered into an era where the top people are getting the big bucks and the real workers are left out still with nothing…not even a bus token. Sweeping changes have already begun don’t fall asleep and let them take KTSU, “The Black Jewel” away from it’s family. “What Are They Doing To The Black Jewel”?

Honestly Submitted,
Concerned Legends of KTSU

Hopefully there will be some type of petition to help let everyone's voice be heard. If no petition is made, I would hope those who have supported for so long no longer listen to the station or make donations to keep it in operation. Listener supported radio SHOULD be left up to it's supporters to say what music they would love to hear. Jazz, Soul, Blues, and other formats of music have been supported for so long by listeners of the station. I feel it's a tremendous slap to the face to those who have tuned in for so long.

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