Friday, July 29, 2011

One listener's many attempts to receive 91.7 FM KUHA in Southwest Houston

I have a large stereo receiver with FM/AM, CD, tape, and record player inputs. It is in a cavernous den with six large windows that face northeast. The receiver is placed against the wall opposite the windows. The antenna that came with the receiver picks up 91.7, but with substantial static. I tried six antennas, ranging in price from three to fifty dollars, and none worked any better. A discussion of the attempts follows:
1. I attached a standard folded dipole antenna, unfurled it completely, and nailed it to the wall above the radio. It produced worse reception than the original.
2. Next up was a TERK FM+ indoor radio antenna. No improvement was heard.
3. Then I tried a TERK FM-4000 Edge Amplified indoor antenna. Without the amplification it was better, and while the number of other FM stations that could be heard clearly was increased, 91.7 remained poorly audible.
4. Next came a TERK PI-B AM/FM indoor antenna. If anything, this was worse than previous antennas, no matter whether it was powered or not.
5. Next was a TERK AF-9330 Powered AM/FM antenna, shaped like a thick, rigid telescoping antenna of the type found on cars. Again, there was no improvement.
6. The method of last resort involved attaching the AF-9330 to 50 feet of RG-59 cable and a two-way “F” connector and placing it on the ledge of one of the windows, situated 8 feet off the ground, then connecting it to the receiver. Strangely, the reception was again poor and barely audible.

Of all six attempts, the Edge antenna, unpowered, sounded best, but still pretty bad. I find it untenable that a receiver of great quality with an antenna in a high window was still unable to receive KUHA 91.7. I wish better luck to anyone who wants to improve their reception of classical music on 91.7 FM.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What students of U of H think about 88.7/91.7 FM radio fiasco

Dear KUHF,

I am a senior at the University of Houston. Unfortunately, I will be unable to donate money to support the station, this year and forever after. The decision to move classical music to a station with half the power and a third the effective reach of the original transmitter was unconscionable. While KTRU did everything they could to tell their listeners that they were going off the air, KUHF did nothing save for mention it on an information page on its website and discuss the new opportunity during the recent fund-raising campaign. The majority of the listeners to KUHF don't visit the website regularly, and they had no way of knowing of this catastrophic change, of the brutal suddeness with which they would shortly lose their only source of classical music on the radio in Houston.

On that fateful morning in May, thousands of music lovers turned on the radio after 9 am, expecting to hear music waft from their speakers. Instead they heard NPR's “The Diane Rehm Show”. Disappointed, they tried again later, only to hear endless babble on NPR and BBC news, and realized that this was the brave new world that KUHF had secretly created. Instead of doing what any sane station would do when radically changing its format, the officers of KUHF withheld news of the switch from the world.

What is most galling about the switch is not that it was unannounced, which itself is poor behavior from a radio station of this calibre, but rather that classical music was shunted elsewhere, with 24-hour news put into the limelight instead. It seems KUHF would rather appeal to people over 30 instead of younger listeners, who would appreciate music rather than the news which which various media channels bombard them every day. It shows that your priorities are on news and money, instead of music and art. Shunting the only voice for Fine Art in Houston to a station that is inaccessible to fully half the metropolitan area of the city shows your disdain for music and culture.

Now, you will probably reply to this letter with platitudes about how to help strengthen the signal by purchasing additional equipment. But then, you will have missed the point. Before the switch, news and music were side-by-side, with music being more prominent. Music and fine art was easily accessible for all, as a strong signal pumped megawatts of joyous, spiritual, and uplifting music every second to all of Houston. Today, 24-hour news is KUHF's claim to fame, and music is now gone for those luckless few who are in the wrong place, with the wrong equipment.

Or perhaps, you will not reply at all. In which case, the silence will be truly deafening.

Sincerely yours.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Letter to Larry Faulkner, President of Houston Endowment. Inc.

Our supporter sent this letter to Mr. Larry Faulkner, President of Houston Endowment. Inc.

Dear Mr. Faulkner,

As I am sure you are already aware, the only classical music radio station in Houston has been split recently into two radio stations. 88.7 now carries all-day news and political analysis, while classical music programming has been spun off as 91.7.

This broadcasting change would have been more or less transparent to classical music fans in the Houston area were it not for the fact that while 88.7 can be heard anywhere in the Houston region and out into the Gulf of Mexico, the 91.7 transmitter has such limited range that the southern half of our metropolitan area has been left essentially without coverage. In other words, thousands of classical music listeners in the fourth largest American city have no access to classical music programming on the radio dial.

While many of us appreciate the availability of All Things Considered on 88.7, it is a troubling development that news and politics received the more powerful transmitter in view of the fact that, with universal access to the Internet, anyone interested in current events and political discourse has thousands of choices online as well as in traditional media like TV and radio. At home, in the car or at work, the news is everywhere. By contrast, no alternative to classical radio exists in the Houston radio spectrum for the thousands of listeners left in the lurch by the 88.7/91.7 fiasco.

Throughout the years, by its sponsorship of the wonderful Houston Symphony, the Houston Foundation has recognized that classical music is an island of serenity and beauty in a ocean of chatter, a form of art that will be remembered when today's politics is all but forgotten. Where it is readily available, classical music enriches life and nourishes the mind.

On behalf of the classical music community of the Houston area, I beseech you and the Houston Foundation to use your considerable influence to help restore access to classical radio to everyone in the Houston area. Thank you in advance!

Kind Regards.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The loss of classical music on Houston radio

This is the opinion of my friend:

"As you well know, the 88.7/91.7 fiasco has resulted in a situation in which thousands of classical music lovers in the Houston area have been left without their beloved, and only, source of classical music on the radio.  A steady source of classical music has now been replaced by a source of news, politics and political discussion beamed by a transmitter strong enough to be heard by oil workers in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.

Everyone with a computer, and that means virtually everyone in America, has recourse to all manner of news sources -- the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, the BBC, CNN, the Google News aggregator.  The news is already everywhere, in every corner of cyberspace, in every language spoken by Houstonians, on dozens of television channels.  To make matters worse, the entire radio spectrum is already riddled with political commentary, angry tirades from right, center, and left, and engrossing accounts of holdups, armed robberies and assaults.

Are we really to believe that Houstonians need another source of news, and an antiquated one at that, at the expense of THE ONLY CLASSICAL RADIO STATION on our local dial? 99% of today's news will be forgotten in five years' time, if not in five months.  But Bach, Beethoven and Mozart have not been forgotten because this is music of an objective beauty, music of a majesty so universal that it was inscribed and sent into space on Voyager on the assumption that other advanced species, if they exist, will appreciate it. Classical music is one of the few refuges of enlightenment, inspiration, beauty and calm in this world.

  Thousands of those who love this form of music, hence thousands of potential and regular financial contributors, are deprived of the only source of classical music on the local radio.  This unique educational and uplifting resource is replaced by the umpteenth source of news, political opinion and idle chatter on the radio, a station made obsolete by smart phones and the Internet."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

From NPR: Houston looses its beloved classical music radio station

I got this from NPR

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In reply to my message:


Houston, we have a problem. We are the 4th largest city in the US, but recently the classical music station was exchanged with an all-news station. So now we hear the NPR alright, but for tens of thousands of listeners the source of culture and classical music is gone! We started a Facebook group about this,, and we hope to win in the end.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coverage of 91.7 FM vs. KUHF

These circles show the broadcasting ranges of KUHF 88.7 FM (large) and 91.7 FM. It is obvious that KUHF's establishment knew that very few people will be able to listen to classical music on 91.7 FM. And yet they defiantly went on with their usurpation of a bastion of classical music in Houston.