|Slogan||The Channel That Changes You|
|Channels||Digital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
|Owner||University of Houston System|
|First air date||May 25, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||University of
|Sister station(s)||KUHF, KUHA|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
8 (VHF, 1953–2009)
9 (VHF, 2001–2009)
|Former affiliations||National Educational Television (1953–1970)|
|Transmitter power||34.3 kW|
KUHT (branded as HoustonPBS) is a PBS member public television station serving Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area, and is the first public television station in the United States. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8. The station is owned by and licensed to the University of Houston System, and is operated by Houston Public Media. KUHT is housed in the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting—along with sister NPR radio station KUHF and sister classical music radio station KUHA—on the campus of the University of Houston.
KUHT also serves as the default PBS member station for the Beaumont–Port Arthur and Victoria markets.
The station was established by Dr. John C. Schwarzwalder, a professor in the Radio-Television Department at the University of Houston, and commenced broadcasting on May 25, 1953 from the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building on the University of Houston campus as the first public television station in the United States, and one of the earliest stations of National Educational Television, which eventually merged into PBS. Its dedication ceremonies were broadcast on June 8 of that year. The station's initial cost was an investment of US$350,000, and had an annual operating budget of about US$110,000. Originally licensed to both the University of Houston (UH) and the Houston Independent School District; however, UH became its sole licensee in 1959.
The station also offered the university's first televised college credit classes. Running 13 to 15 hours weekly, these telecasts accounted for 38 percent of the program schedule. Most courses aired at night so that students who worked during the day could watch them. By the mid-1960s, with about one-third of the station's programming devoted to education television, more than 100,000 semester hours had been taught on KUHT.
In 1964, KUHT moved into new studios on Cullen Boulevard, which were previously occupied in order by KTRK and later KNUZ. It purchased a new transmitter that not only enabled the station to broadcast beyond Harris County into its surrounding areas, but also to begin broadcasting in color. Five years later, in 1969, the Association for Community Television was formed to fund KUHT.
In 1970, the Public Broadcasting Service, the successor network to National Education Television, began service, combining televised educational lectures with popular programs such as Sesame Street, NOVA, and Masterpiece Theatre that remain PBS staples to this day.
The station is also noted in Houston for many technical firsts at the local level. In 1981, KUHT became Houston's first closed captioned television station, and 10 years later, in 1991, it became the first station in Houston to offer Descriptive Video Service, and other services for the visually impaired as well as bilingual viewers via a secondary audio program.
In 1982, with assistance from then–Capital Cities owned ABC affiliate KTRK and then-Metromedia owned independent station KRIV, KUHT launched on a new transmitter near Missouri City—making it one of several television and radio stations that now broadcast from that location.
On August 21, 2000, KUHT moved to its current studios in the LeRoy and Lucile Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting on the campus of the University of Houston, where KUHT shares broadcast facilities with public radio station KUHF—both owned by and licensed to the University of Houston System—where the complex is located. The previous facility is now in use by the university's Texas Learning and Computation Center.
KUHT was known on-air as "Houston Public Television" for many years before adopting the "HoustonPBS" moniker in the early 21st century. From 1993 into the early 2000s, KUHT's logo also did not include the number 8, but used a logo similar to the ones used by Detroit's WTVS and Seattle's KCTS-TV. These stations are members of LARK International, a public-television production company, which owns the sunburst-on-square logo; however, they are not related to each other. KUHT's current logo is based on the sunburst portion of that logo.
KUHT has almost 600 reels of film in its archives (some more than 50 years old), along with 5000 videocasettes, some dating back more than 30 years. However, the archive material is in various states of deterioration, with some film already suffering from vinegar syndrome. In September 2010, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission granted the University of Houston $25,000 for film preservation; however, the funding is only enough to transfer 25 films to digital format, with films related to Texas taking top priority.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||1080i||16:9||KUHT-HD||Main KUHT programming / PBS|
|8.4||N/A||KUHT-TF||Houston Taping for the Blind (radio reading service; audio only)|
KUHT's digital signal originally began broadcasting on VHF channel 9 on May 12, 2001. On June 12, 2009, the federally mandated date for American television stations to cease analog transmissions across the country, KUHT ceased broadcasting programming on analog VHF channel 8. Its digital signal relocated from its pre-transition VHF channel 9 to channel 8 (corresponding with the former analog channel).
In 2009, KUHT filed with the FCC for construction permits that would enable it to build low-powered digital transmitters in Beaumont (on channel 24) and Victoria (K29JI-D channel 29). Currently, both cities have no local over-the-air PBS service, though KUHT is available on cable in these cities.
KUHT has produced the following original national productions for PBS:
- Cucina Sicilia (2003–2004) - West 175 Productions
- InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse
- Mary Lou's Flip Flop Shop
- Space Station (1999)
- The Story of Jesse H. Jones (1999)
- Weeknight Edition
- John C. Schwarzwalder Papers, "Historical Note."
- "KUHT-TV: The University of Houston’s Second Great Vision."
- Houston PBS History
- "Cautious Progress". Time. 1954-07-19. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
- HoustonPBS History. HoustonPBS. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
- Houston Chronicle: "KUHT's Endangered Legacy", January 3, 2011.
- Ellison, David (February 6, 2009). "Consumer Watch: Stations have more DTV work to do". Houston Chronicle.
- CDBS Print
- FCC data: new channel 24 in Beaumont
- FCC data: K29JI-D new channel 29 in Victoria
- KUHT - HoustonPBS
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KUHT
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KUHT-TV
- University of Houston Buildings collection at the University of Houston Digital Library