|Broadcast area||Greater Houston|
|Frequency||90.1 MHz (HD Radio)|
|Slogan||Radio For Peace|
Spanish (select programming)
|Subchannels||HD2: Alternate programming|
First air date
|90.1: March 1, 1970|
89.5: March 6, 2001
90.3: September 20, 2011
91.9: November 24, 2014
Call sign meaning
KPFT is a listener-sponsored community radio station in Houston, Texas, which began broadcasting March 1, 1970 as the fourth station in the Pacifica radio family. Larry Lee brought the idea to Pacifica to establish listener-supported radio in Houston as an alternative to mainstream broadcasting. The station airs a variety of music and Progressive (leftist) news, talk and call-in programs. Prominent persons who have been regulars on KPFT include science educator David F. Duncan and humorist John Henry Faulk.
KPFT also broadcasts its signal live on their HD-1 channel (64k) and related alternate programming on HD-2. Notably, its HD-2 channel was home to student-run college radio station KTRU but after it signed on a new LPFM on the 96.1 frequency in southwest Houston in October 2015 (it now relies solely on internet streaming to reach listeners outside that area), KTRU abandoned the HD-2 channel of KPFT, which subsequently fell silent. The now blank HD-2 channel was soon replaced with the programming of the HD-3 channel, which was shut down. Radio Maria Hispana (Houston) the local unit of Radio Maria USA, airs Spanish-language programming for the Hispanic Catholic community on KPFT's subcarrier.
KPFT commenced broadcasting on the 90.1 FM frequency with the song "Here Comes the Sun" from the Abbey Road album by The Beatles. Currently, KPFT broadcasts over 20 programs, including "Growing Up in America" produced by the non-profit organization Children at Risk, "Wide Open Spaces," and Democracy Now!.
KPFT was one of three US radio stations to introduce Al Jazeera English with Pacifica stations in Berkeley and New York December 7, 2010. The station is home to The Prison Show, founded in 1980 by Ray Hill. KPFT also hosts the weekly radio show of recording artist DJ Sun, Soular Grooves, since January 1995.
The station's transmitter was bombed and destroyed May 12, 1970, two months after going on the air. The new station was off the air for three weeks until it was repaired. Five months later, October 6, 1970, while the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," the transmitter was bombed yet again and the damage was significantly more extensive. The second bombing took KPFT off the air for three months. No other U.S. radio station or transmitter has been bombed.
On January 21, 1971, KPFT management invited Guthrie to visit the Houston studios, where he performed "Alice's Restaurant" live as the station commenced transmitting yet again.
After months of inactivity by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police, Pacifica took the initiative to mount a media campaign designed to draw attention to the unsolved case and seek support for pressuring authorities to act. Federal agents ultimately arrested a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Jimmy Dale Hutto, and charged him with the KPFT bombings, as well as with plotting to blow up radio stations KPFA and KPFK. Hutto was convicted and imprisoned in 1971.
In the early morning hours of August 13, 2007, a bullet was fired into the studio, breaking a window and narrowly missing a woman's head, but no one was injured. The shooting followed a week-long fundraising drive. After the shooting, one of the windows was covered with the KPFT banner and the front entrance was locked.
On July 16, 2008, a man demanded access to KPFT's studios. After being rebuffed, he punched out a window pane on the back door with a knife. The man was apprehended without resistance, and was promptly arrested.
An assailant severed power lines to the station's transmitter on June 28, 2010, leaving the station's program available only to online listeners. Damages were estimated at approximately $10,000. Power was restored the following day, and regular broadcasting resumed.
Raj Mankad wrote at OffCite that the KPFT bombings in 1971 were part of a larger campaign of "threats and acts of violence against progressive and radical institutions in Houston," including underground newspaper Space City!