Shaking Up the Airwaves

Houston Public Media plans to sell FM 91.7 frequency and move classical station to HD format

FM 91.7 frequency is for sale as classical station moves to HD format

Houston Public Media announced plans to shift its 24-hour classical station, 91.7 KUHA, to an all-digital format and sell its frequency on the FM dial.

The station will be moved to 88.7 HD-2 — an HD radio station with a much lower profile— as the organization received approval from the University of Houston Board of Regents on Thursday to adopt an HD broadcast and an all-digital distribution for its continuous classical music programming. No layoffs are planned amid the changes.

In addition to HD radio, Houston Public Media listeners will be able to access its classical music programming online at the organization's website and on free applications like iHeartRadio and TuneIn, as well as 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," said Lisa Shumate, associate vice president and general manager of Houston Public Media, in a press release. "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."

No buyers have been approached yet regarding a price for the station, according to a report from Radio Insight.

Houston Public Media, which is affiliated with the University of Houston, launched the all-classical station on 91.7 KUHA in March 2011 as part of a reorganization plan, that included combining KUHF  88.7, which adopted a 24-hour all news and information format, and PBS affiliate KUHT Channel 8 under one umbrella organization. The KUHA frequency, which Rice University sold to UH for $9.5 million in 2010 amid student protests, was previously used to broadcast Rice's popular student-run station, KTRU

In 2013, eight full-time positions, including four local hosts, were eliminated at KUHA, which adopted a broadcast content format from Classical 24, a nationally syndicated service from Minnesota Public Radio. An arts & culture team was developed to produce content for all HPM outlets. The team will continue under the latest changes.

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Houston Public Media has announced that the 24-hour classical station, currently broadcast on 91.7 FM, will switch to an all-digital format.