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KUAT logo 2014.jpg
Tucson, Arizona
United States
BrandingPBS 6
ChannelsDigital: 30 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
TranslatorsK20GG-D Duncan
OwnerUniversity of Arizona
(Arizona Board of Regents for the benefit of the University of Arizona)
First air dateMarch 8, 1959 (60 years ago) (1959-03-08)
Call letters' meaningUniversity of
University of
Sister station(s)KUAT-FM
Former channel number(s)Analog:
6 (VHF, 1959–2009)
Former affiliations
Transmitter power667.5 kW
Height1,092.1 m (3,583 ft)
Facility ID2731
Transmitter coordinates32°24′55.4″N 110°42′54.2″W / 32.415389°N 110.715056°W / 32.415389; -110.715056
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile
Tucson, Arizona
United States
Brandingsee KUAT-TV infobox
ChannelsDigital: 28 (UHF)
Virtual: 27 (PSIP)
  • 27.1: PBS
  • 27.2: PBS Kids
  • 27.3: World
OwnerUniversity of Arizona
(Arizona Board of Regents for the benefit of the University of Arizona)
First air dateJuly 22, 1988 (30 years ago) (1988-07-22)
Call letters' meaningKUAT Secondary
KUAT Stereo
Sister station(s)KUAT-FM
Former channel number(s)Analog:
27 (UHF, 1988–2009)
Former affiliations
  • DT2:
  • V-me (2007–2011)
  • DT3:
  • Create (until 2011)[1]
Transmitter power50 kW
Height177.9 m (584 ft)
Facility ID2722
Transmitter coordinates32°12′53.2″N 111°0′23.3″W / 32.214778°N 111.006472°W / 32.214778; -111.006472 (KUAS-TV)
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile

KUAT-TV, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 30), is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station licensed to Tucson, Arizona, United States. Owned by the Arizona Board of Regents and operated by the University of Arizona, it broadcasts from the facilities of Arizona Public Media, located on campus in the Modern Languages Building. KUAT's transmitter is located atop Mount Bigelow.

KUAT operates full-time satellite KUAS-TV (virtual channel 27, UHF digital channel 28), also licensed to Tucson, that covers northwest Tucson and the communities west of Mount Lemmon that are shielded from KUAT's signal. Its transmitter is located on Tumamoc Hill, west of downtown Tucson. KUAT is also rebroadcast on one low-power translator: K20GG-D (channel 20) in Duncan.

Like all TV stations in North America that operated on analog channel 6, KUAT-TV's audio signal was heard on 87.75 FM until March 31, 2009.


KUAT-TV launched on March 8, 1959 as the first public television station in Arizona. It was an affiliate of National Educational Television (NET), forerunner to PBS, from 1959 through 1970, when PBS replaced NET.

KUAT was the first station in Tucson and one of the first educational television stations to broadcast in color, as it had discussed plans to do such broadcasts as early as 1960. In 1977, construction work began on a satellite dish in a vacant pool south of the Bear Down Gymnasium, allowing the station to receive PBS programming via satellite, which it ably did by the mid-1980s.[2]

Like the other stations in the Mount Bigelow tower farm, KUAT-TV is barely viewable in much of northwest Tucson and areas west of Mount Lemmon (even though its coverage area should theoretically include most of southern Arizona). The Santa Catalina Mountains abruptly end with a steep drop-off in Oro Valley, a Tucson suburb, and communities near the mountain are shielded by terrain from the signal. As a result, much of this area only got a grade B ("rimshot") signal from KUAT-TV until the arrival of cable television in Tucson in the 1970s.

Eventually, the U of A activated Tucson's second noncommercial license on UHF channel 27, and opened KUAS as a satellite of KUAT. The construction permit was granted on July 25, 1985, and after two failed attempts, the station went on the air on July 22, 1988 under Program Test Authority, and was licensed on December 20.

In July 2003, the Aspen fire interrupted the KUAT transmitter's remote control system. The station was forced to remain off the air, instead of signing on in the morning, as it could not restart its transmitter. Operations on KUAS and cable distribution were unaffected.[3]

Both stations were granted construction permits to build digital facilities in August 2001, and both signed on in February 2003. KUAT-DT received Special Temporary Authorization to operate at reduced power the same month. KUAS-DT was licensed on June 5, 2003, and KUAT-DT received a license for its full facilities on September 23, 2004. The station was the first in Tucson to transmit its programming digitally.[4]

After providing $2.6 million in cash to AZPM in the 2013–-2014 school year, the University of Arizona planned cuts for 2014–2015 of $400,000 and continued cuts until 2019.[5]


Former logo.

As a PBS member station, KUAT-TV televises the most popular PBS shows, such as Masterpiece, Frontline, PBS NewsHour, Washington Week and Antiques Roadshow.

Two notable long-running series on KUAT are produced in-house:

  • Arizona Illustrated, a weekly newsmagazine which has provided in-depth coverage and analysis on local public affairs issues since 1980. University students handle most of the production of Arizona Illustrated, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. Arizona Illustrated was previously one of the few nightly local newscasts produced by a PBS member station.
  • The Desert Speaks, an Emmy Award-winning natural history and travel series (hosted for its first few seasons by veteran Western TV and film actor Don Collier). The Desert Speaks is produced in high-definition, has been distributed nationally to PBS member stations by American Public Television, and has been picked up by the high-definition television channel, HDNet.

In 2008, KUAT produced the documentary Phoenix Mars Mission: Ashes to Ice,[6] which became the first of the station's productions to air nationally on PBS.[7] Its programs have received over 45 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards.[8]

KUAT also produces Reflexiones Domingo, a Spanish-language newsmagazine that airs on Sunday mornings.

In addition to its primary programming, KUAT operates two digital subchannels, KUAT Kids and KUAT World. KUAT Kids, formerly known as PBS Kids, offers youth-focused educational and entertainment programming, while World features non-fictional programming. It was one of the first stations to experiment with a multi-channel format, doing so as early as 1994.[9]

On October 11, 2016, the station changed its line up to match on both KUAT 6 and KUAS 27. V-me move to cable only from 6.2 while UA Channel move to online only from cable. ReadyTV and World programming would share the same channel .3 and while PBS Kids would be on .2.[10]

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[11]
6.1 / 27.1 720p 16:9 KUAT-HD Main KUAT-TV programming / PBS
6.2 / 27.2 480i 4:3 KIDS PBS Kids
6.3 / 27.3 ReadyTV Ready TV/World

Analog-to-digital transition[edit]

KUAT-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, at 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2009, two months and 13 days before June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[12] The poor audio quality on the video clip of the shut-off was owed to interference from KLTU, a K-Love station which had been broadcasting on 88.1 MHz and thus had pounced on the KUAT audio signal throughout the time prior to the analog signal being shut off. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 30, using PSIP to display KUAT-TV's virtual channel as 6 on digital television receivers.

With the dropping of PBS Kids in 2005, KUAT programmed its own children's channel, KUAT Kids.[1] On 6.3, V-me started broadcasting on November 30, 2007 while .1 and .2 were HD and SD PBS.[13] On December 1, 2011, the station's affiliated with Create was dropped for an independent lifestyle channel branded Ready TV.[14][1]


  1. ^ a b c d Sefton, Dru (June 11, 2012). "Multicasts tailored to local priorities". Current. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  2. ^ https://www.azpm.org/sixtyyears/
  3. ^ "Aspen fire puts Tucson TV transmitter site in harm's way, causes shutdowns". BroadcastEngineering. 2003-07-15. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  4. ^ https://www.azpm.org/sixtyyears/
  5. ^ Alaimo, Carol Ann (June 17, 2014). "Public broadcaster faces steep UA funding cut". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  6. ^ https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/phoenix-mars-mission-ashes-to-ice-premieres-on-nov-6
  7. ^ https://www.azpm.org/sixtyyears/
  8. ^ https://www.azpm.org/sixtyyears/
  9. ^ https://www.azpm.org/sixtyyears/
  10. ^ "Changes to AZPM Television Channel Lineup". AZPM. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  11. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KUAT
  12. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations Archived 2013-08-29 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Schuster, John (November 29, 2007). "Media Watch". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  14. ^ Schuster, John (December 1, 2011). "Media Watch: AZPM Switches Alternate Channel". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved September 12, 2017.

External links[edit]