KTUH began as a standing committee of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi (ASUH) in 1966. For the first three years, KTUH was entirely an ASUH committee, both in funding and operation. As an AM closed circuit operation, it reached UH dorms. On September 28, 1967, the ASUH passed a resolution asking then-UH President Thomas Hamilton to apply for an FM educational license.
In December 1968, under the sponsorship of ASUH Senator Ken Kuniyuki, the ASUH passed another resolution again petitioning the BOR to apply for an FM educational license. Under the direction of Dr. Forest L. Whan, Faculty Advisor to KTUH, and with the approval of Speech-Communications Department Chairman Dr. Richard Rider and Dean Furniss, Dean of Arts and Sciences, President Hamilton was urged to approve an application to be filed with the FCC for an FM educational radio station. On January 8, 1969, the BOR authorized the administration to file for a 10 watt FM radio station.
KTUH was issued its first educational FM license on September 29, 1969. With the expansion of KTUH to an FM station, the Department of Speech-Communications obtained administrative control and line funding, though the ASUH continued to publish the station’s program guide as a quasi-stipulation of the BOR at the time of transfer.
According to the original purposes, objectives and program policies laid down in the 1968 license application to the FCC, KTUH’s prime responsibilities were to provide the people of Honolulu with alternative programming for the cultural and educational enrichment of the students of the University and the community. As KTUH has grown, it has metamorphosized from a radio lab in the Speech-Communications Department to a public radio facility, in continuous operation, producing quality educational programming for student and community growth. It is the primary objective of KTUH to produce and disseminate to the students and the community the vast wealth of opportunities within the University.
The construction of the present studios in Hemenway Hall was made possible by a grant from the 1974 Legislature and part of the installation of the facilities was aided by a grant from the Campus Center Board in January 1979. The present studios double the previous area available, and triple previous available studio space, making possible live music, more complete news coverage, and other special events.
In 1977, KTUH fell under the aegis of the Director of the Bureau of Student Activities, and it developed as a student organization similar in design and intent to those previously chartered by the BOR. In 1979 a proposal was made to the Chancellor recommending that KTUH become part of a new chartered organization. The organization, called the Broadcast Communication Authority (BCA), was granted its charter on April 6, 1982. On June 28, 1985, KTUH FM went to 100 watts ERP, in compliance with FCC regulations.
At midnight on the morning of Tuesday, July 31, 2001 KTUH said goodbye to transmitting at 100 watts. At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, August 16, KTUH returned to the airwaves at 3,000 watts! The first song to broadcast was Change is Gonna Come, by Otis Redding.