UPDATED: KUHA Lays Off Local On-Air Staff; Classical Music to Come From Minnesota

Categories: Spaced City

Bye-bye local hosts.
Classical-music station KUHA-FM has axed almost all its local on-air personalities in favor of a service programmed from Minnesota, the University of Houston announced today.

UH spokesman Richard Bonnin says the station, which along with KUHF Texas Southern University's KTRU-FM is part of an entity called Houston Public Media, will continue to air the music listeners have heard in the past, meaning the programming will be heard on 91.7 FM and not relegated to online streaming.

"There will be no change in how people listen," Bonnin told Hair Balls. "It's just that there won't be local on-air talent." (He notes, "Technical and production staff are still part of the team. Recording engineers and other content staff who produce programming remain in place.") Two on-air personalities will remain, he said.

Among those out of a job are longtime hosts Chris Johnson, Elaine Kennedy, Chris Hathaway and Bob Stevenson.

Not everyone's happy, of course. Says one former employee, "I'd ask what they're going to do about all the listeners who just donated during [the] on air campaign. They donate to get the local personality of the station, because otherwise, CDs are fine."

A UH press release says the KUHA program The Front Row will undergo changes.

The Front Row is being "re-imagined into multi-platform local content that exposes artists and arts organizations to wider audiences," said Lisa Shumate, executive director and general manager of Houston Public Media. "The new Arts and Culture Team will continue service to the local arts community via multiplatform initiatives with Arts Insight, Manor of Speaking, and Houston Matters -- all local programming that launched in 2013," Shumate said.

Chris Johnson wrote this on his Facebook page: "Friends, as of 7:35am I am no longer employed at Classical 91.7. I, along with almost all of my colleagues, had our positions eliminated today. Thanks for your love and support. I'm touched by the outpouring of concern and kind thoughts. I love you and I love Houston."

The university says its move to non-local programming is "in keeping with trends in the industry." In all, eight people were laid off, including six four on-air hosts.

Not to worry, though:

Houston Public Media announced Thursday (Nov. 7) it is creating an Arts and Culture Team to increase and enhance coverage of the city's vibrant arts community.  Creation of the Arts and Culture Team is the latest in a series of moves by Houston Public Media to add increased capabilities in local multi-platform content development, and realign staff to strengthen local news coverage, web initiatives and public affairs programming.

So there's that.

Follow Houston Press on Facebook and on Twitter @HairBallsNews or @HoustonPress.

Send your story tips to the author, Richard Connelly.

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"Houston Public Media to add increased capabilities in local multi-platform content development, and realign staff to strengthen local news coverage..." It's all just techno-babble. What it all means is that they didn't make enough in the latest fund drive to cover the Big Stations' expenses so they're taking the little stations' money to cover it. Sorry all you classical music donators, you just had your money re-designated to cover NPR's asses!!


As a former KTRU dj, yes, I was sad to see the rice radio station leave FM, but at the very least I wanted whatever replaced it to be spectacular and reflect and cultivate the vibrant classical scene in Houston which is just oozing with potential. In my time working at Classical 91.7 Houston Public Radio I felt that potential. There are ways to make changes to modernize your organization that don't involve firing respected figures already in place. This is the last straw in a year long stint of poor leadership decisions, Ms. Shumate. Houston deserved something brilliant but this is a tragedy.


KTRU isn't part of Houston Public Media.  Houston Public Media is KUHF, KUHA and KUHT.  

Michael Webb
Michael Webb

soo all the programming will come from Minnesota .... so instead of pledging local, justgive the dollars XM or Pandora and Spotify. Same thing just better quality sound and more choices and no pretense of helping the community.


Oh, the inaccuracies. There is no KTRU-FM. Houston Public Media does not program or control a radio station at Texas Southern University. HPM is classical KUHA (the former KTRU, previously owned by the William Marsh Rice University) and KUHF. KUHA and KUHF are licensed to the University of Houston.


Another tier-one decision from the cretins who took down KTRU.  Not content with destroying the last indie station on the local scene, the Confederacy of Dunces and Houston Public Media is doing their level best to follow their agenda of liquidating that awful "old, dead, white, European, Male" music genre as well.  

Every attempt to tie the station into local music performances was always met with vigorous resistance by senior artistic staff and management.  Anyone expecting a more "local" music station by content will be sorely disappointed.  KUHA's level of quality music will now equal the quality of their broadcast signal.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Lisa and St John!


@slyerthanyou And since when is punk rock and gangster rap played by Communist homosexuals better than THE MUSIC OF THE MASTERS played by properly-trained musicians?  You're the cretin, libtard--the University of Houston is trying to bring CULTURE AND PROPER BEHAVIOR to Houston! I guess you want the minorities to take over and make America a Third World country, just the way your half-breed monkey boy Messiah BARRY HUSSEIN SOTERO wants it!  NOT IN MY AMERICA, LAZY BUM COMMUNIST HOMOSEXUAL!

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