By Rob McCarthy
Photos courtesy of KTSU

Of all the radio stations in Houston, I’ve found that the only one I consistently enjoy is 90.9 FM The Choice. It’s like a non-stop party, whether they are blasting oldies and soul hits from the ‘60s or laying down funk and dance hits from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. When the mood is right, they play some of the sexiest sexy time music and the bluest blues. There are never commercials, and the music is always soulful. If you want to catch some gospel, tune in on Sundays and you’ll be doing cartwheels around your living room. Free Press Houston reached out to Donna Franklin at KTSU to learn more about the station’s history, the best places in town to catch a good live show, and details about some of their most popular shows and DJs.

How long has KTSU been on the air?

KTSU is currently in its 41st year of public broadcasting.

What is the station’s longest running show?

The longest running show, including longevity, goes to James “The Original Sinbad” Lancaster. He has been with the station since 1976 and is currently KTSU’s Interim General Manager.

What is the KTSU’s most popular show? Who is the station’s most popular on-air personality?

That is a tough one. If you like Jazz in All Its Colors, then you would probably say Sinbad, Donna Franklin or Chris O’Neal. If you like blues, Dr. Freddie Brown; neo soul and R&B — Ms. Melodic; reggae — Supa Neil and DJ Uncle L; R&B oldies — your choice might be Larry “The Chatta Box” Hale, Ms. Melodic, Donna Franklin, Devan Wade, Jay Edwards, Deon Haywood, Terry Franks, Vernon J, James Eaglin or Lorenzo “LL” Livas.

On the other hand, if you like gospel — Rev. Ricky Williams, Marilyn Bolden-Grant, Rev. Charles Hudson, Ebonee Brown, Tyrone Campbell, Paul Davis II, Chelsea Lee, or Brother Blakes. If news and public affairs is your thing — Donte Newman, Samantha Vallejo, Damien Thaddeus Jones, Bruce Brown or Dr. DZ Cofield.

What do people enjoy most about working at KTSU?

We enjoy the freedom of designing our playlist with the listener in mind. We can all agree that our Choice listeners enjoy KTSU for the variety of music that is played — less talk and more music on a daily basis.

There are no commercials, which makes listening to KTSU such a treat. How do you stay on the air?

We do have underwriting spots. However, KTSU is a public radio station and a member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our primary funding comes from membership. We have two membership drives per year. Spring Membership Drive is held on the last Friday in April — it runs for 10 straight days. Our Fall Membership is held the last Friday in October and it also runs for 10 straight days. Membership is good for one year. Membership begins at $45. You don’t have to wait until our membership campaigns to become a member — membership is 365 days a year.

Whenever I turn the radio to KTSU, it seems like there is always a dance party happening. How do you keep things poppin’?

You are exactly right! It is a party every time an announcer is on the air. We enjoy what we do — and that is bringing you a variety of music. Music is good for the mind, heart, body, and soul.

What are some of KTSU’s favorite joints in town for live music?

There are a number of places: Café 4212, Phil & Derek’s, Club Divus, House of Blues, Kingston’s Rum Bar, Club Hole in the Wall, and Red Cat Jazz Café. These are just some of the few places in town that support KTSU.

Who are some of the station’s absolute favorite artists of all time? What about local artists?

I get that question all the time. My answer: ALL OF THEM. How can you choose with such great artists not only in our country but around the world?! Local artist: ALL OF THEM. Houston has such great talent; it is hard to just name one.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about KTSU? Anything big happening soon for the station?

We have several events happening at KTSU: August 16, KTSU will have a Back To School, School Supply Drive. August is Jazz Appreciation Month in Houston. KTSU will host a Choice Evening of Jazz at Café 4212, located at 4212 Almeda every Thursday in August, beginning August 1 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Cover is $5 for members and $15 for non-members. September is Gospel Heritage Month. KTSU will host a Gospel Brunch at the Downtown Aquarium on Saturday, September 7 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. October is Fall Membership Campaign.

Thank you to our listeners and supporters of KTSU. If you have not had the opportunity to listen to KTSU, please, by all means, check us out KTSU 90.9 or online at