18.3: KLRU Q
18.4: PBS Kids
|Owner||Capital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council|
First air date
|May 4, 1979|
(satellite of KLRN until 1984)
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
18 (UHF, 1979–2009)
Call sign meaning
|disambiguation of its former television partner KLRN|
|HAAT||357.5 m (1,173 ft)|
Public license information
KLRU (channel 18), branded on-air as Austin PBS, is a PBS member television station in Austin, Texas, United States, owned by the Capital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council. In 2022, KLRU moved into its "Austin Media Center" studios located on the Austin Community College Highland Campus, which was redeveloped from the former Highland Mall. KLRU occupies 45,000 square feet (4,181 m2) in what was previously the mall's Dillard's department store. The station's transmitter is located in the West Austin Antenna Farm in unincorporated Travis County. In addition to airing program content from PBS, it produces original programming including the national music series Austin City Limits.
When KLRN in San Antonio was built, it was designed to serve both San Antonio and Austin, as there was interest in building a public television station in Austin but not enough funding until the University of Texas got involved. It had studios in both cities (in Austin, at the Jesse H. Jones Communications Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus). Its transmitter was located at New Braunfels, providing enough signal to provide coverage to San Antonio and Austin, but this arrangement proved insufficient to cover all of Travis and Williamson counties, and reception in Austin had been poorer than expected due to intervening hilly terrain. The Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council, owner of KLRN, filed to build a new television station on Austin's non-commercial reserved channel 18 in 1975 and received a construction permit on September 3, 1976.
In 1978, KLRN began a public fundraising drive to raise the money to build KLRU. Its construction enabled 23 additional school districts to benefit from the station's educational programming. The transmitter was activated on April 24, 1979, and programs began May 4. Born at a time when its ownership was embroiled in other controversies involving operations, the station's first license was only for one year due to misrepresentations over matching donations during the fund drive.
From the moment KLRU signed on, a future where KLRN and KLRU were separate entities was in the offing. Only a year after KLRU hit the airwaves, it received its own Austin-based governing board, though it continued under the ownership of the Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council. In 1984, KLRN moved to a new tower in San Antonio. Two years later, for financial reasons, officials began exploring an outright split of the two stations, which was approved in September 1986, with separate branding for both stations instituted on October 1, 1986. In 1987, the two stations officially went their separate ways, with KLRU coming under the ownership of the Capital of Texas Public Broadcasting Council.
In addition to the Austin market, KLRU claims Bell and Falls counties, which are in the Waco–Temple–Bryan market, as part of its primary coverage area. It became the default PBS member station for the western half of the Waco market via cable after KNCT ended its membership with PBS on August 31, 2018.
On November 4, 2019, the station rebranded as Austin PBS with a new logo, to coincide with PBS' rebranding the same day and the 50th anniversary of the parent network.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|18.1||1080i||16:9||KLRU-HD||Main KLRU programming / PBS|
|18.3||KLRU-Q||Q (Locally programmed channel with PBS/KLRU encores and additional programs not aired on primary channel. Q Night at the Movies on Saturday nights focuses on film)|
KLRU shut down its analog signal on April 16, 2009. Before shutting down the signal forever, it played its nightly sign-off from the 70's one last time. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 22, using PSIP to display KLRU's virtual channel as 18 on digital television receivers.
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