Houston Public Media announced yesterday that it plans to sell off its KUHA 91.7 FM license (aka Classical 91.7) and will move its classical music programming to HD radio (via 88.7 FM HD2). Radio Survivor readers may recall that the license for 91.7 FM was previously held by Rice University and was the former home to college radio station KTRU-FM. Back in 2010 it was announced that the license would be sold to University of Houston (which runs Houston Public Media), which planned to use 91.7 FM in order to divide its talk and classical public radio programming across two frequencies.
Rice’s student radio station KTRU has continued as an online/ 90.1 FM HD2 station. Earlier this year, Rice University was also awarded a construction permit in order to build a new low power FM (LPFM) radio station, which KTRU hopes to get on the air by the end of the year on 96.1 FM. According to an announcement on the KTRU website in February, 2015, “KTRU, Rice University’s student-run radio station, will use this permit to broadcast a signal from atop Rice Stadium, at 96.1 MHz. The construction of the transmitter is being funded from the proceeds of the 91.7 sale in 2010.”
In recent years there were rumblings that University of Houston’s classical station KUHA was struggling. We reported back in 2013 that local hosts were eliminated and replaced with syndicated programming.
According to a post by Houston Public Media,
General Manager Lisa Shumate told University of Houston officials she wants to sell the frequency and transmitter for the station. No layoffs are planned. Since the classical music station is licensed to the University of Houston, the UH Board of Regents has final say over any changes. Full-time classical programming will be available on 88.7 HD 2, online streaming at Houstonpublicmedia.org, free applications like iHeartRadio and TuneIn, and via television at TV 8.5.
‘We are making this change in recognition of the growing popularity, superior broadcast quality and greater efficiency of digital broadcasting,’ Shumate said in a statement. ‘Placing our focus on HD radio and digital streaming for our classical music programming enables us to make the best use of technology and resources to continue providing the music and arts and culture content that our listeners enjoy.’
The University of Houston Administrative and Finance Committee made the recommendation to the full board of regents, which is expected to approve the plan during its meeting on Thursday.
KUHA 91.7 FM was purchased from Rice University for $9.5 million in 2010. Most of the classical music and arts programming produced by Houston Public Media moved to the new station, along with live broadcasts with the Houston Symphony, the Houston Grand Opera and local performing artists and groups. KUHF then adopted a 24-hour all news and information format.”
This has to be bittersweet news for KTRU fans and supporters who fought so hard to try to keep the license only to see it up for sale 5 years later. There’s no word yet on if there are any interested buyers for the 50,000 watt license.
Other College Radio Headlines
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