BrandingAustin PBS
OwnerCapital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council
First air date
May 4, 1979; 45 years ago (1979-05-04) (satellite of KLRN until 1986)
Former call signs
KLRU-TV (May 4, 1979–August 22, 1979)[1]
Former channel number(s)
Analog: 18 (UHF, 1979–2009)
Call sign meaning
disambiguation of its former television partner KLRN
Technical information[2]
Licensing authority
Facility ID8564
ERP700 kW
HAAT357.5 m (1,173 ft)
Transmitter coordinates30°19′19″N 97°48′12″W / 30.32194°N 97.80333°W / 30.32194; -97.80333
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.

KLRU was founded in 1979 as a full-time satellite of San Antonio PBS member KLRN. That station had long doubled as the PBS member for Austin as well, but provided a marginal signal at best to much of Austin's inner ring. Soon after KLRU was brought on line, its owner, the Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council, laid the groundwork for repurposing it as a full-fledged PBS station for the Austin area. This culminated in 1986, when KLRU severed the electronic umbilical cord with KLRN and became a separately-programmed station. A year later, the Capital of Texas Public Broadcasting Council was formed as KLRU's owner.


When KLRN in San Antonio was built, it was intended to serve as the National Educational Television station for both San Antonio and Austin. While there was interest in building a public television station in Austin, there not enough funding until the University of Texas at Austin got involved.[3] It had studios in both cities (in Austin, at the Jesse H. Jones Communications Center on the UT campus). In hopes of providing enough signal to reach both San Antonio and Austin, the transmitter was located in New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio located halfway between the two cities. 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.[4] It did not help that Austin is 54 mi (87 km) north of New Braunfels, leaving it with only secondary coverage from KLRN.[5]

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.[6] It was to serve as a full-time satellite of KLRN, and was primarily intended to reach up to 100,000 homes in Austin's inner ring where KLRN coverage was poor or nonexistent. Austin ABC affiliate KVUE leased space on its transmitter for the new station.[4]

In 1978, KLRN began a public fundraising drive to raise the money to build KLRU.[4] Its construction enabled 23 additional school districts to benefit from the station's educational programming.[7] The transmitter was activated on April 24, 1979,[8] and programs began May 4.[9] 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.[10]

From the moment KLRU signed on, officials envisioned a future in which KLRN and KLRU were separate, locally-focused PBS member stations.[9] 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. In particular, they believed a split would allow KLRU to be "a better (corporate) citizen" in Austin and use its longstanding ties to UT to increase local programming.[11] The split was approved in September 1986 and took place in two stages. Separate branding for both stations was instituted on October 1, 1986.[3] In 1987, the two stations officially went their separate ways when the Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council split into two nonprofit organizations, with KLRU coming under the ownership of the Capital of Texas Public Broadcasting Council.[12]

In addition to the Austin market, KLRU claims Bell and Falls counties, which are in the WacoTempleBryan market, as part of its primary coverage area.[13] It became the default PBS member 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.[14]


Programs produced by KLRU

Programs produced in Austin and presented by KLRU

Technical information


The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of KLRU[15]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
18.1 1080i 16:9 KLRU-HD Main KLRU programming / PBS
18.2 480i KLRU-CR Create
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[16])
18.4 PBSKids PBS Kids[17]

Analog-to-digital conversion

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.[18] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 22, using virtual channel 18.


  1. ^ "FCC History Cards for KLRU" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Facility Technical Data for KLRU". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  3. ^ a b Herndon, John (September 22, 1986). "Local public television stations to separate". Austin American-Statesman. p. D8. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Kelly, Lee (February 5, 1978). "New public TV station planned". Austin American-Statesman. pp. A1, A10. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  5. ^ "Do Channel 9's Programs Look Like This On Your TV?". Austin American-Statesman. March 17, 1978. p. G2. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  6. ^ FCC History Cards for KLRU
  7. ^ "Do Channel 9's Programs Look Like This On Your TV?". Austin American-Statesman. March 17, 1978. p. G2. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  8. ^ "New TV station gears up for action". Austin American-Statesman. April 25, 1979. p. B1. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Reaves, Gayle (May 4, 1979). "KLRU debut due today". Austin American-Statesman. p. B1. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  10. ^ Szilagyi, Pete (February 26, 1981). "FCC awards 1-year license to KLRN/U". Austin American-Statesman. p. B1. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  11. ^ Stanley, Dick (June 20, 1986). "KLRU split with KLRN considered". Austin American-Statesman. p. B7. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  12. ^ Herndon, John (February 18, 1987). "Split of public television stations all but completed". Austin American-Statesman. p. B6. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  13. ^ Coverage map
  14. ^ Sengupta Stith, Deborah (November 4, 2019). "Local station KLRU rebrands as PBS celebrates 50 years". Austin 360 by Austin American-Statesman. GateHouse Media, LLC. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  15. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KLRU
  16. ^ "KLRU Q starts July 1". KLRU. June 30, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  17. ^ "PBS Kids begins airing April 1 on 18.4". KLRU. March 31, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  18. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations Archived August 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine