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FAQ: 2 New Stations – KUHF News 88.7 FM and Classical 91.7 FM

What is the benefit of a second public radio station to Houston? For 24 years, KUHF has broadcast a dual format of classical music and NPR news, sharing the single 88.7 FM channel. As the audience for public radio has grown nationally and locally, news listeners in Houston have asked for more news and classical […]

  1. What is the benefit of a second public radio station to Houston?

    • For 24 years, KUHF has broadcast a dual format of classical music and NPR news, sharing the single 88.7 FM channel.
    • As the audience for public radio has grown nationally and locally, news listeners in Houston have asked for more news and classical listeners in Houston have asked for more classical music — a zero-sum game on the single KUHF channel.
    • The purchase of 91.7 FM will allow it to become an all-classical public radio station, while KUHF becomes an all NPR news and information public radio station.
    • Existing program and staff resources will allow both stations to operate with a modest increase — about 14% — over FY 2010 KUHF actual expenses.
    • Thus, to provide true 24/7 access to both news and classical for the Houston radio audience, a second FM channel is the single best option, and can be implemented efficiently and economically.
    • KUHF is 100% locally owned and operated — an integral part of the local community and an essential part of the soundscape of a dynamic, cosmopolitan and growing city.
    • Public radio has demonstrated nationwide success in supporting, operating and expanding both news and classical radio formats, based on the non-profit, public service business model, in which all earnings in excess of expenses are automatically reinvested in the station.
  2. Why, specifically, does KUHF want to do this?

    • The top twenty-five metropolitan areas of the United States — with the sole exception of Houston — have both a full-time NPR public radio station and a full-time classical public radio station. As part of the University of Houston’s commitment to Tier One status, KUHF and 91.7 FM together will provide a comprehensive Tier One level of public radio service that greater Houston deserves.
    • KUHF shares the goal of the University of Houston to “…be the engine of social and economic advancement of the metropolitan region and the state” and shares the commitment of UH to “…engage with its community and […] hold itself publicly accountable for contributing toward community advancement.”

      • A full-service NPR news & information station serves its community as a key provider of content in the 21st century information economy, where information is both the currency and the product — and a critical component of growth and progress throughout society.
      • Houston’s continuing social and economic advancement will continue to depend on the general availability and widespread dissemination of information to its citizens.
    • Likewise, KUHF shares UH President Renu Khator’s goal to “…expand and strengthen partnerships and collaborations with key arts organizations in Houston.”

      • Houston’s arts community is world class in all aspects, with Symphony, Opera, Ballet and Museums that position Houston at the forefront of global 21st century culture.
      • 91.7 FM will serve as the Voice of the Arts in Houston, providing a one- stop media platform to unite stakeholders, stimulate community awareness and advance this key component of Houston society.
    • Through national and international media partnerships , KUHF and 91.7 FM make the story of Houston available to a world-wide audience.
  3. Why an existing radio station, rather than starting a new one?

    • All FM radio frequencies in greater Houston are occupied by existing stations, so if KUHF is to expand its on-air programs to full-time news and full-time classical, the only possibility is through acquiring an existing station.
    • KUHF learned of a Houston-area non-commercial FM radio station, KTRU 91.7 FM, for sale in mid-2009. It will be re-named 91.7 FM.
    • The non-profit media broker Public Radio Capital worked with UH and KUHF to successfully negotiate the purchase from Rice University.
  4. What are the benefits to the community?

    • Doubling the current KUHF news and classical music offerings, and providing both on-air, 24/7, will significantly increase service to the greater Houston community.

      • Now, KUHF alone attracts about 380,000 listeners each week; the two stations combined are conservatively projected to reach over 500,000 weekly listeners, or about 10% of the population of greater Houston, and this figure is expected to grow even more over time.
    • On KUHF News, increased Houston-centered content will address, among many topics:

      • health and medical issues, including the implications of an ageing population;
      • science, technology and research as cornerstones of Houston’s development;
      • education, K thru Graduate School, as a key to a community’s future;
      • demographic and cultural trends driving Houston’s evolution into the 21st century; and
      • business and economic development.
      • KUHF will also sponsor and broadcast town-hall forums devoted to issues of concern to the community.
    • On Classical 91.7, increased Houston-centered content will include expanded in-studio live performances, live remote broadcasts and full-length concert broadcasts of local performers.

      • Existing broadcast partnerships with Houston’s arts organizations, including the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Friends of Chamber Music, Da Camera, et al., will continue on the new station and be expanded.
      • The Front Row will continue regular in-studio broadcasts, adding monthly remote live broadcasts from various community venues (Discovery Green, Bayou Bend, etc.)
      • Young performers and the upcoming generation of classical musicians will be featured in partnerships with area music schools, including concert broadcasts, media sponsorships and other cooperative ventures:

        • Moores School of Music at the University of Houston
        • Shepherd School of Music at Rice University
      • 91.7 FM will also work with its arts partners to promote educational outreach, audience expansion and diversity.
  5. Where is the new station located?

    • KUHF and Classical 91.7 FM studios and offices are located at the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, University of Houston, 4343 Elgin, Third Floor, Houston, Texas 77204-0887.
  6. Can I listen online to both stations — KUHF News and Classical 91.7?

    • Each station will have a website and its own online listening options at
  7. Will I be able to hear classical music on 88.7 FM?

    • Classical music will be heard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on Classical 91.7 FM and online, and on 88.7’s HD Channel 2.  For the first time, audiences will have the choice of a dedicated, round-the-clock schedule of classical music on 91.7 FM, including classical music during the morning drive time from 6-9 a.m. and the evening drive time from 3-7 p.m.
  8. Will my donation dollars go to just one station or both?

    • Our on-air fundraising campaigns and a new online donation pages will allow you to contribute to one station or to both — it will be your choice.
  9. How do I reach the new station’s membership department?

    • KUHF and 91.7 FM member services will be handled by the same membership department at Houston Public Radio.  You can reach the membership department at 713.743.5843 or
  10. How do I listen to KTRU?

    • KTRU will continue to provide radio programming online at
  11. Why is the 91.7 FM signal not as strong as the 88.7 FM signal?

    • All radio stations have an assigned broadcast power from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  For technical and historical reasons, the FCC has assigned 88.7 FM to operate with 100,000 watts and 91.7 FM to operate with 50,000 watts. To provide an alternative method of receiving Classical 91.7 FM for those who experience difficulty with 91.7, we will stream Classical 91.7 online at and  on 88.7 HD digital channel 2.
  12. What areas of Greater Houston does the 91.7 FM signal cover?

    • The city-grade signal (60dBu and stronger contour) is mapped to the terrain and shown in red. It reaches 3,125,243 potential listeners, including almost all of the area within Beltway 8, the northern suburbs of Tomball, The Woodlands, Humble/Atascocita and Kingwood, plus large portions of Baytown and Pasadena. Listeners in the city-grade area will have normal FM reception when compared to other stations, including KUHF.
    • The suburban-grade signal (54 to 60 dBu contour) is shown in orange. It reaches 4,401,430 potential listeners. Listeners in the suburban-grade area will be able to receive a signal. Most car listeners will have reception comparable to other Houston FM stations. Home and office listeners may need to adjust the location of their radios to get the best signal.
    • The fringe-grade signal (less than 54 dBu contour) is shown in pink. It includes the remainder of the greater metro listening audience, 5,427,259 potential listeners. Listeners in the fringe-grade area will receive 91.7 FM only with special effort, such as an external antenna. Car listeners will notice increasing static or loss of the signal.
  13. What is Houston Public Radio doing to resolve 91.7 FM signal issues that some listeners might experience?

    • 91.7 FM will be simulcast on KUHF HD channel 2, which has excellent coverage in the fringe areas. We will facilitate getting HD radios to those contributors who live in difficult reception areas. We are investigating the lease/purchase of two Translators to boost the 91.7 signal – one in Clear Lake, the other near Cinco Ranch. The KUHF engineering department will provide advice and assistance to those listeners who call asking for help in improving their reception of the 91.7 FM signal.

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