Tonight, as I write this post, the radio program “Blues in Hi-Fi” is spinning its last tunes over the free airwaves on KTRU, the student-run station at Rice University. Tomorrow morning, KTRU goes away from regular radio forever, although it will live on on KPFT’s HD2 channel and on the Web. (Click here for background on Rice’s sale of KTRU to the University of Houston.)
I don’t know Clint Broussard, host of “Blues in Hi-Fi” for more than 13 years, but I count him as a kind of “younger statesman.” He often talks about how his love of blues music, especially that of the Gulf Coast, came from listening to his parents’ record collection while growing up in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area.
I’ve listened to the show on-and-off for most of those years. When I worked at a newspaper in Baytown, a half-hour’s drive from my apartment in Houston, it was often a tonic during my commute through the industrial landscape of Interstate 10 East.
More than that, Clint introduced me and countless others to songs we’d never heard before, along with many old favorites. At the same time, he gave us the history of the music in a knowledgeable but not pedantic way, interspersed with classic circa-1950s radio jingles. There are other good blues programs on the air (especially Nuri Nuri’s “Blues Brunch” on KPFT), but none tops “Blues in Hi-Fi.”
On tonight’s final show, for instance, Clint played everyone from Etta James to Otis Redding to John Lee Hooker to Charlie Rich to Elvis Presley to Tom Waits (a personal fave of mine, as well). And he also paid a tribute, of sorts, to the troubled but legendary Gulf Coast producer Huey P. Meaux, carefully drawing a distinction between the man’s place in music history and the more unsavory parts of his life.
Thankfully, I own an HD radio, so I’ll still be able to catch the show (and other seminal KTRU programs like “Treasures of the 60s”), but somehow, I don’t think it’ll be quite the same. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my radio analog.
Thanks for 13 great years, Clint. Catch you on the flip side.
UPDATE: On January 2, 2013, KPFT announced that “Blues in Hi-Fi” would return to the airwaves on Monday evenings as part of its new “Arts & Culture Lineup.”
In February 2015, more than four years after the sale of KTRU’s license and transmitter, RIce University announced that it was purchasing a low-power transmitter that would begin broadcasting KTRU near the end of the year.
In August 2015, Houston Public Media, the parent organization for both news station KUHF and classical music station KUHA (which uses the frequency formerly used by KTRU) announced that it would be selling the KUHA license and analog transmitter and switching to an all-digital format.
Copyright © 2011 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.