So long, KTRU and “Blues in Hi-Fi”

April 27, 2011

Media & Culture

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.

RELATED: Negotiations may keep KTRU on the air on KPFT HD and Welcome to the new Houston talk radio scene

Copyright © 2011 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.

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About Ken Fountain

I'm a journalist and writer in Houston, Texas. My areas of specialty inxfcgclude law and courts, local government and industry and environmental issues. You can follow me on Twitter at @twitter.com/kenfountain and email me at kenfountain1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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6 Comments on “So long, KTRU and “Blues in Hi-Fi””

  1. curlydan Says:

    A tragic day for radio. I love KTRU! Thanks for sharing these memories with us.

    Reply

  2. jeff Says:

    I happened upon this station a couple of years ago and wondered – before any callsigns or DJ talk was heard – how Houston was supporting a station with such an awesome range of tunes. Of course, it was soon revealed. This wasn’t some corporate station. And it was a breath of fresh air. I, too, an sad to see it go. My fav, btw, of the Gulf Coast blues set was always Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, who unfortunately passed a few years back. So glad I got to see him live in concert about 10 years ago.

    Reply

  3. Ken Fountain Says:

    Jeff, I always found it funny how you could listen to KTRU at any given time and hear something completely amazing, immediately followed by something completely maddening. But that’s what made it such a great addition to the Houston airwaves. I only got to see Gatemouth once, sometime in the late ’80s at Miller Outdoor Theatre. I remember it being a great show.

    Reply

  4. Brandon Says:

    The KTRU sale is a shame – but it was destined to be, Rice University administration has wanted to shed itself from the irreverent but not irrelevant station for at least a decade.

    Hopefully with time, KPFT or another local station will pick up the gems like Blues in Hi-Fi and put them back on the analog dial.

    Reply

  5. Jeff Says:

    A friend just passed along this website run by a fellow named Craig Hattersley, who is fighting the good fight to keep corporate radio from owning the airwaves… http://keeppublicradiopublic.com/

    Reply

  6. John Davis Says:

    Its Clint’s own fault this show no longer exists. Instead of doing what most ok the KTRU staff did and stick it out he quit. I know he had recovery and med bills but where is he now? Holding out for a spot on KPFT, which already hosts a whole day of blues on Sunday’s. Now we all lose from his desire to prove a point.

    Reply

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