History

The old KVOF-FM tower formally located on the Texas Western College (now UTEP) campus.

In October of 1946 WTCM began weekly broadcasts from Kelly Hall on the University of Texas at El Paso campus. At that time, the university was known as the Texas College of Mines. It was a "carrier current" station and could only be heard in those buildings that had been wired to receive the signal.

In 1947 the call letters were changed because a station in Michigan had them first. The station became KVOF which stood for the Voice of Freedom.

1949 In November the Board of Regents of the University of Texas approved the newly renamed Texas Western College (now UTEP) to apply for a license through the Federal Communications Commission for a 10 watt FM radio station. This would allow KVOF to broadcast over the air and be heard outside of the college.

Virgil Hicks, head of the Broadcast Department at Texas Western College at the KVOF controls

In September 1950 KVOF-FM became the first FM station in El Paso, and one of the first in the state of Texas. The power was 10 watts. Mr. Virgil Hicks was the head of the Broadcast department at then Texas Western College. In order to serve the El Paso Public School District, the programming began as educational classroom instruction. Various elementary schools purchased FM receivers so that the children could take advantage of the educational programs in the classroom.

Early KVOF control room, Virgil Hicks, head of Broadcasting on the right.

The 10-watt antenna was located behind Kelly Hall on the Texas Western College (now UTEP) campus. This location provided limited coverage of the city for KVOF, because the tall buildings on campus and the nearby mountain would block the signal from reaching most of the city. In 1966 the antenna and transmitter were moved to the KROD-TV (now KDBC-TV) tower on Mount Franklin. This additional height allowed KVOF to reach a great portion of the El Paso area. The station was, and still is, a laboratory for broadcast students. KTEP continues to train communication majors from UTEP to this day.

Sam Donaldson in the KTEP studios in the mid 1970s

In 1954 Sam Donaldson, now of ABC news, was student station manager of KVOF.

When, in 1967 Texas Western College became The University of Texas at El Paso, KVOF changed its call letters to KTEP-FM. Congress created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private non-profit organization, designed to help fund public radio and television stations across the nation.

In 1969, with the beginning of public broadcasting as funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, it was decided that KTEP would discontinue instructional programming for the schools. By then, the programs were out of date and the school district did not wish to acquire new ones.

Some things have not changed about doing an airshift!

1970 KTEP increased its operating power to 3,800 watts.

1971 KTEP became a charter member of National Public Radio and also increased its service to 18 hours per day. The station also began adding to its collection of classical and jazz recordings, giving it one of the largest libraries of that type in the region today.

1976 KTEP began broadcasting in stereo.

1980 Power was increased to 100,000 watts. Also the station, in cooperation with the El Paso Lighthouse for the Blind, started broadcasting programming for the blind through its SCA (sub channel authorization). Clients of the Lighthouse are given FM receivers that tune in only the programming being broadcast on that frequency. This public service continues today.

The KTEP antenna and transmitter were moved to the KVIA-TV site on the Franklin Mountains where they remain today. Also, KTEP began sharing a satellite-receiving dish with KCOS-TV the local PBS station, in order to receive National Public Radio programming.

El Paso announcer and TV newscaster Marlin Haines as a student at KVOF

1989 KTEP acquired its own satellite receiving dish since the Corporation for Public Broadcasting determined that public television and public radio should not share a dish. The receiver is located on top of Cotton Memorial Building at UTEP, which is the home of the Communication Department and KTEP.

1997 In September, KTEP began 24 hour per day broadcasting. Using automation equipment, jazz is broadcast from 1 AM to 5 AM daily.

2010 On September 14th, KTEP celebrated 60 years of providing educational and informational programming to the El Paso region.