KUHF (branded as News 88.7) is a public radio station serving Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. It broadcasts on a frequency of 88.7 megahertz on the FM dial. The station is owned by and licensed to the University of Houston System, and is operated by Houston Public Media. KUHF is housed in the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting—along with KUHT—on the campus of the University of Houston.
KUHF first began airing programs on November 6, 1950, at the 91.3 Megahertz frequency. Broadcasting at 9,600 watts, the station was operated by student volunteers. The station increased its signal strength to 12,000 watts in 1969. In the following year, the station began broadcasting at 88.7 Megahertz, in order to reduce interference with KLYX (now KMJQ). The station finally began broadcasting at 100,000 watts in 1979, after receiving a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This grant also allowed the station to hire a professional staff, as well as become a National Public Radio member station. KPFT granted a request to relinquish its right to KUHF, to broadcast NPR content.
Between 1979 and March, 1986, KUHF's format was NPR news and jazz. In March 1986 local commercial classical music station KLEF changed its format and donated its 12,000+ disc library of music to KUHF, with the proviso that the University of Houston commit KUHF to a format that served Houston's classical music audience, recently disfranchised by the loss of KLEF. The broadcasting of classical music was explained by citing that the charter of KUHF was to provide music unavailable, otherwise, to Houston. KUHF began airing classical music during the day and late night jazz from 10PM to 5AM, with NPR news in the morning and afternoon drive time hours. During the summer, former KLEF Operations Manager John Proffitt was hired as the new General Manager for KUHF, and he arrived at his new position on August 3. After the next on-air fundraiser in October, which was aimed at NPR, classical and jazz listeners, KUHF eliminated its remaining jazz broadcasting. KUHF GM Proffitt defended eliminating several genres of jazz from Houston radio on the basis that the number of daytime classical listeners far exceeded the overnight number of jazz listeners.
Until the 2011 creation of all-classical sister station KUHA (see below), the format on FM 88.7 consisted primarily of classical music and news programming from National Public Radio and American Public Media. Since May 2011, 88.7 is exclusively devoted to news and public affairs; to this end, programs such as Fresh Air, Talk of the Nation and The Diane Rehm Show were added to the regular daytime schedule. In addition, KUHF airs many public radio staples, such as Car Talk and A Prairie Home Companion.
In September 2006, to accommodate the growing demand for an all-NPR news and information service, KUHF began broadcasting in HD Radio offering three channels of digital programming in addition to the analog FM: HD channel one offered the same programming as was heard on FM, while HD channel two was a "mirror" of FM/HD-1 by offering classical music during times the other channel played news and informational programming, and vice versa. In this fashion, KUHF HD listeners could receive either NPR news/information or classical music any time of day or night, 24/7. Since KUHA's shutdown in July 2016, KUHF 88.7FM and HD-1 feature NPR news/information exclusively, 24 hours a day, and HD-2 features classical music exclusively (formerly it was a simulcast of KUHA from May 2011 until May 2016, when the simulcast broke off and KUHA began airing delayed repeats of 88.7 HD2's programming several hours or days after it had aired on 88.7 HD2). HD Channel 3 carries a mixture of the BBC World Service and Adult album alternative music provided by Philadelphia-based public radio station, WXPN.
On August 17, 2010, the University of Houston System announced its intent to purchase the broadcast tower, FM frequency and license of KTRU (91.7 FM) from Rice University. UH then moved all of KUHF's classical music programming to the 91.7 frequency under the call letters KUHA, allowing KUHF to become a full-time NPR news and talk station. (originally announced as KUHC, but those call letters were already in use). The FCC approved the purchase and transfer of license to the University of Houston System on April 15, 2011. (KTRU programming was transferred to a digital subchannel of local Pacifica Radio member station KPFT, and continues under the name Rice Radio.) The new split programming began on May 16, 2011. Non-news entertainment programming, such as Snap Judgment, A Prairie Home Companion and the radio version of America's Test Kitchen, airs on weekends.
Four and a half years later, in August 2015, The University of Houston System announced its intention to sell KUHA and move the classical format to the HD2 subcarrier of KUHF and internet streaming only. KUHT's fifth digital subchannel will also continue to simulcast the format. It was announced the following February that KUHA would be sold to the KSBJ Educational Foundation, who announced plans to change the format of KUHA to Christian hip hop music. KUHA ceased broadcasting classical music on July 14 and started stunting with looped announcements informing listeners of KUHA's demise and the continuation of the format on KUHF-HD2 and other digital platforms. The following morning, on July 15, the sale closed and KUHA (now KXNG) went dark.