KUHF celebrates 60 years
For 60 years, KUHF has been transmitting quality programming through the airwaves from UH as one of the oldest continuously-operated stations in the city.
“We now have in 2010 — our 60th year — about 400,000 weekly listeners, which puts KUHF in the top-tier of radio stations in Houston,” Senior Producer of News and Public Affairs Paul Pendergraft said. “It’s an accomplishment for the little radio station at UH that has done a lot of really good work that Houston is acknowledging and recognizing. Now we have a chance to celebrate it.”
Mayor Annise Parker and CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz, who got his start at KUHF, have recorded testimonials within this past year congratulating the station on its success.
To celebrate 60 years, KUHF is having a special program of A Prairie Home Companion during its show airing Nov. 20.
In 1950, KUHF started off as a student volunteer radio station when it broadcasted for the first time from the Ezekiel Cullen Building on Nov. 4.
However, 30 minutes into the broadcast, the transmitter failed, and KUHF had to pick back up again on Nov. 6 broadcasting at 9,600 watts of power at 91.3 FM, Pendergraft said.
“In the early days it was a training opportunity for students to learn how to do what we are doing now,” he said. “It signed on in the afternoon after school, and it was on until 10 p.m. through midnight each night.”
Pendergraft said that sometimes the equipment failed and it was off the air for several weeks at a time.
The programming featured music from the days of rock, classical music and even show tunes on Broadway. In 1976, KUHF received a grant from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and was able to hire professionals.
“The format was jazz then, and this was about the time that NPR was getting started,” Pendergraft said. “In 1986, a commercial radio station KLEF donated its entire music library of 25,000 records and CDs that were all classical to UH. It was decided then that the format would change from jazz to classical music.”
Despite the change, students still find the original aspects of KUHF captivating.
“I love that they have the NPR programming,” public relations senior Kendall Zurbuchen said. “It lets me know what is going on in the world and gives me traffic and news updates.”
As the voice of the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Grand Symphony and many other cultural arts, Pendergraft said that he hopes students will be able to use KUHF as a way to take part in their community.
He also said he hopes this achievement will help motivate more students to become interested in radio and participate in KUHF’s active internship program.
“We’re out there in a very public way waving the UH flag,” Pendergraft said. “We want the students to recognize that they are a part of the UH family and we’re all in this together.”