Howard University May Auction Off WHUT Airwaves

Howard University is considering auctioning its public television station, WHUT, after more than three decades of broadcasts.

The university sent students and faculty a memo announcing it is weighing the potential to create "significant income" by selling Channel 32 and an unused digital channel to the FCC. The university reported a $44 million loss for fiscal 2014, according to Washington Business Journal. In April, 84 staff positions were eliminated.

"Howard University must consider the significant financial opportunity presented with the [auction]," the announcement from University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said. "At the same time, we will consider the value that WHUT adds to the experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty ... and the public service opportunities we provide through WHUT to its loyal viewers."

The university would sell the wireless communication signal to the FCC, which would then sell it to wireless carriers that would use it to create stronger wireless internet networks.

Howard alumni Bruce Chapman, who graduated in 1976, said he was proud of WHUT and would be sorry to see it disappear. 

"I was appalled," he said. "The TV station is now. What's next? The radio station? Those are two things I've been listening to for 30 years." 

Student Cyrene Tankare said she wanted to hold on to Howard's heritage. 


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"I feel like there are other ways that we can come up with to compensate for the debt that we have here at Howard University," she said. 

WHUT was the first and only PBS member station to be licensed and operated by a predominantly African-American institution, according to its website

Howard officials will decide in early December whether to participate in the auction.

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