Trinity University's KRTU brings all shades of jazz to San Antonio

"I don't have a definition of jazz... You're just supposed to know it when you hear it." — Thelonious Monk

From the dulcet tones of Sade to the swinging sounds of Benny Goodman’s licorice stick; from Be Bop to Dixieland; from Brubeck to Spyra Grya ... all that is jazz music is on the air at 91.7 FM on your radio dial. Broadcasting from their studio at Trinity University, KRTU is jazz radio for San Antonio and beyond via live streaming at The station is a nonprofit involved with "Jazz'SAlive" and other community educational gigs, while their cool members and hip fans support the station's operations with their donations.

On a recent tour of the studio, KRTU's Development Director Kate Rawley Warters laid some some facts on me:

  • KRTU was founded as project of the Communications Department of Trinity University in 1976 by a staff member and a talented group of students.
  • Over the years, the music changed its format several times and included various genres of music i.e. classical and rock.
  • In 2002, KRTU composed its current arrangement as a jazz music station and San Antonio became one of only a handful of cities in the U.S. with 24/7, non-commercial jazz music for the enjoyment of it's citizens.
  • In 2007, KRTU joined the first wave of radio stations in the country to begin broadcasting in HD digital audio.
  • The hep cats with the cans (headphones) on their ears, spinning the tunes are staff and community volunteers who share their love of Jazz music and artists with their audience.

So, in addition to cool tunes, the listener is treated to an educational and diverse context behind the music. Add some history and artist highlights and you have a radio station that is 18 karat!

Cool Jazz--Hot Vinyl

KRTU has a vast and impressive vinyl collection. Old enough to remember vinyl in all three speeds, I was simply blown away by the huge collection of jazz recordings from all eras, and a variety of record labels such as Blue Notes, Columbia, Verve, and Impulse. I asked music director Kory Cook, why such a collection was significant. Cook explained, "There is a depth to vinyl you can't get from a CD — like the bottom bass sound. A collection like ours, some 50,000 records, is even more valuable because approximately 70-percent of all jazz recordings have never been digitized." Who knew? And, that's why you can hear the coolest, and sometimes rare and unique jazz music on KRTU 91.7 FM. It's the cat's meow.

One more thing. I've had the pleasure to work with KRTU staff, including Kate and JD Swerzenski, over the past several years in producing and engineering excellent podcast recordings. Interested nonprofits can give them a call for more information.

For more from Laura Carter follow @lauracarter or visit A Small Blog