|Broadcast area||Greater Houston|
|Radio: KNTE, KQQK, KTJM|
First air date
Call sign meaning
|The KEY to Houston (original branding)|
|Power||Licensed: 10 kilowatts (day)|
185 watts (night)
current: 100 watts (daytime only; under Special Temporary Authority)
KEYH (850 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in Houston, Texas, under Special Temporary Authority from the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast at 100 watts from a temporary longwire antenna, on a tower located in Northline, North Houston.
After the loss of its main transmitter site, due to the sale of the land the array sat upon, KEYH went silent from December 31, 2020 until December 27, 2021. KEYH's previous format, prior to going silent, was Regional Mexican, with sports programming interspersed. KEYH is owned by Estrella Media and upon getting back on in late 2021 temporarily rebroadcast Estrella Media sister station "La Raza" 98.5 KTJM. However in early 2022, KEYH began broadcasting classic hits as Joe 850.
Under normal operations, KEYH is licensed to broadcast with 10,000 watts; because AM 850 is a clear-channel frequency reserved for 50,000 watt Class A KOA in Denver, Colorado, KEYH was required to reduce power at night to 185 watts. The former transmitter location was near Denver Miller Road in Sugar Land, Texas.
In 1974, KEYH first signed on as a daytimer, required to be off the air between sunset and sunrise. It was owned by Artlite Broadcasting and aired an all-news format, affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting System and the Associated Press. The all-news format did not generate many listeners so talk shows were added.
KEYH's slogan was "The Key to Houston" and featured a long key with the station's 850 dial setting and call sign featured in its logo. KEYH struggled to gain footing in the market and began airing Mexican music on weekends, while continuing the news/talk format weekdays. With Houston's growing Mexican-American population, the Spanish-language music featured on the weekends proved popular. By the end of the 1970s, KEYH went full-time Regional Mexican, and became direct competition to the original Spanish-language station in Houston, AM 1480 KLVL.
KEYH has gone through several owners and variations of formats since then, including the current incarnation of "La Ranchera" which marks the third time KEYH has used the name (both in conjunction with 101.7 KNTE Bay City and as a standalone). In 2003, Liberman Broadcasting, based in Burbank, California, purchased KEYH for $5.7 million.