History

Since 1976, KRTU 91.7 FM has brought you programming that’s educational, engaging, innovative, and most importantly, a reflection of the community from which it broadcasts. 

KRTU made its first broadcast on January 23, 1976 at just 50 watts of power. Founded as a student-run, non-commercial educational (NCE) radio station, a variety of genres could be heard on 91.7 in its first year - including rock, country, classical and jazz. News reporting and in-studio performances were also an important part of the station’s original programming. 

From its inception, KRTU served as a student laboratory that would enable experiential learning for Trinity University students interested in radio. By 1982, faculty in what is now the Department of Communication began offering one-hour practica courses in radio production and management to all Trinity University students. 

From the 1980s through the late 1990s, KRTU’s format was a mix of classical and jazz. By 1999 the station began broadcasting at 8,900 watts and introduced alternative indie rock programming in the overnight hours. 

Since adopting jazz as its primary music format in 2002, KRTU has earned international recognition as a first-rate cultural force in jazz radio. Around thirty-five specialty programs highlight the vast spectrum of jazz - from classic jazz artists and recordings to premier modern day pioneers and regional artists. One of only 52 FCC-licensed jazz stations nationwide (and one of two in Texas), KRTU keeps jazz relevant within a modern context while emphasizing its historical significance, contemporary value and diversity.

In 2008, KRTU joined the first wave of radio stations in the country to begin broadcasting in Hybrid Digital (HD) audio so KRTU could be heard over traditional radio and the internet. The expansion was made possible through a technology grant from the AT&T Foundation.

Originally launched in 2004, KRTU introduced a new pilot of its Growing Jazz initiative in 2015, which brings experienced jazz musicians into schools for workshops, mentoring, and inspiration. The program will return in 2018 through new funding partnerships. Also in 2015, KRTU launched a new website and improved free mobile app.

KRTU celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2016 with a concert featuring Benny Golson, and implementing new remote broadcast technology which was made possible with the receipt of a $25,000 grant form the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation. 

In April 2017, KRTU launched a new broadcast signal at 30,000 watts - a significant increase of more than 2,500 square miles!

Today

What began as a strictly volunteer, primarily student-run college radio station is now a professional non-profit, widely respected media outlet and exemplary student laboratory. KRTU is operated by six full time staff members and employs up to twelve student-interns throughout the year. Each academic year, more than twenty students each semester complete courses taught by KRTU professional staff members in audio production, radio announcing and media management.

KRTU maintains one of the largest in-studio collections of jazz recordings in the country. Vinyl records, the original format used at KRTU, continue to be played on a daily basis. In addition to a robust collection of vinyl and CDs, the station maintains a digital library of over 100,000 songs. 

Specialty jazz programming is featured every day 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with an alternative rock format “Indie Overnight” broadcasting nightly 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.