Radio has been a long time part of hip-hop all over the country. Disc jockey’s have acted as street A&R’s for up and coming artists for a very long time, and in Houston, the situation is no different.
Texas Southern University, located in the heart of Houston’s Third Ward community, started KTSU’s broadcast as a ten-watt FM radio station in 1972. Sometimes called the “Black Jewel,” KTSU’s programming centered primarily on jazz, blues and gospel for its first ten years in operation. In fact, its “Sunday Morning Gospel” program was the number-one-rated show in Houston for a number of years.
“Houston, was home to Kidz Jamm, one of the first radio programs dedicated solely to hip-hop, which aired every Saturday morning from 1982 to 2005.” (Faniel, Maco L.. Hip Hop in Houston: The Origin and the Legacy . Arcadia Publishing Inc’)
This initially started because of Charles Porter. He created the youthful segment Kidz Jamm for his high school children. The show wasn’t actually 100% hip-hop when it began. The station played a lot of pop and R&B. Hip-hop wasn’t readily available at the time. This all changed when Lester “Sir” Pace came in to work for the show.
One day, Lester was left in the studio over the weekend because other members of the station were out at a game, and he began playing hip-hop albums. Soon after, listeners began demanding hip-hop a lot more, and Kids Jamm then transitioned to mostly hip-hop music.
KIdz Jamm was an instrumental tool at the time for up-and-coming artist to get their music heard. The show ran on the weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and DJ’s would play the best of the best hip-hop music on the station. Back then, Kids Jamm was the place to be, especially if you were an artist. This was a time where you could just walk into the radio station and ask the DJ’s to play your music.
Kidz Jamm was noted for breaking Scarface’s first single, “Scarface”; Real Chill’s first single; and many other local artists’.
KTSU’s KIdz Jamm trailblazed the radio waves, it spread new AND popular music, it broke new artists, and it was an outlet for the community, being in the heart of Houston’s illustrious Third Ward. While many may argue that Houston didn’t have the very first hip-hop radio station, we beg to differ. There were other hip-hop stations out at the time, in different regions across the country. BUT what set KTSU and Kids Jamm apart from the rest is the notoriety that the show received, and the longevity on the airwaves. As a program, Kids Jamm lasted for a very long time, and in addition to that, KTSU still exists today, and is one of the few popular radio stations here in Houston today.
Because of the radio’s influence, KTSU helped to make Houston a hip-hop city, and artists in the Bayou City decided to take the high road and go the independent route.