Houston Public Media aims to sell classical FM station

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Workers prepare a billboard in 2014 for the launch of Houston Public Media’s new brand and website. (Photo: HPM/Erich Schlegel)

Workers prepare a billboard in 2014 for the launch of Houston Public Media’s new brand and website. (Photo: HPM/Erich Schlegel)

Houston Public Media is planning to sell its classical music station, KUHA, less than five years after buying the signal.

The administrative and finance committee for the University of Houston, the station’s licensee, recommended the sale to the full board of regents. The board was expected to approve the sale at a meeting Thursday, according to HPM.

KUHA’s classical service will continue on an HD radio channel and as a digital stream.

In addition to KUHA, Houston Public Media operates news station KUHF-FM and PBS station KUHT-TV. The pubcaster has lost money for years, with deficits ranging from $656,809 in 2012 to $2 million in 2014.

HPM bought KUHA, then KTRU, in 2011 from Rice University for $9.6 million, supporting the acquisition of the student-run station through a long-term bond issuance. HPM paid more than $400,000 on the debt service per year in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

No layoffs are planned in conjunction with the proposed sale, according to HPM. The classical station has mainly been airing the syndicated Classical 24 service.

“We are making this change in recognition of the growing popularity, superior broadcast quality and greater efficiency of digital broadcasting,” said General Manager Lisa Shumate 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.”

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  • altfactor@hotmail.com

    I presume the station will probably get sold to EMF, who would use it to run their “K-Love” contemporary Christian format.

  • Aaron Read

    Ken Mills has a source that says that’s not likely.

    http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2015/08/did-tv-sink-kuha-radio-in-houston.html

    “The licensee [Houston Public Media] may own KUHA longer than they anticipate unless they want to sell it for a big loss. The only organization that might pay that kind of money is Educational Media Foundation who bought WKCP in Miami. Houston is not on EMF’s bucket list because locally owned KSBJ owns the Contemporary Christian Music audience there.”

  • Maybe KSBJ buys it for their Christian CHR “NGEN” format? Looks like it would offer them some analog coverage in a part of the market they only cover with HD-2 at the moment.

  • PatBryanTX2

    The Rice deal smelled real funny at the time. It all seems to have blowed up in their faces. So, because of their greed to eat something bigger than their heads, Rice will have no station, Houston will have no Classical station (despite KUHF smiley propaganda, Classical HD2 will not be capable of hitting more than 10% of radios), and 2 out of 3 of their HD channels will be mechanized.
    Combine that poor management with poor maintenance: KUHF’s analog signal continually loses power, and the station has refused to remedy a .221 second lag between analog and HD signals (giving all channels a horrible stutter at borderline distance and echo if more than one radio is on).
    Now they have decided to refuse to end their fund drive before a total is reached. They are beyond the point of diminishing returns. The drive may not end before the next begins.
    KUHF is mismanaged.

    • MarkJeffries

      Rice does have a station. They’ve got an LPFM at 96.1 that returned to the air on Oct. 2 as KBLT (although they are going to brand themselves as “KTRU,” the 91.7 calls). Yes, not a 50kw signal, but at least they can be heard on campus now.