TWIN CITIES RADIO TIMELINE
St. Louis Park is fortunate to be the home of the
Museum of Broadcasting, located at 3515 Raleigh Avenue.
Much of the following information was provided by the
Another good source of information on the history of
local radio stations can be found in Minnesota Airwaves,
1912 through 1939 and Radio Trivia by Charles W. Ingersoll.
The Radio Act established that radio was to be monitored by the Secretary of Commerce, who was Herbert Hoover at the time. The Act authorized the Secretary to issue licenses to every applicant, and did not provide him with any regulatory powers.
The very first active commercial radio station in the nation is thought to be KDKA in Pittsburgh, which got its license in October 1920. The first broadcast was the Harding-Cox Election returns on November 2.
Minnesota’s first authorized radio station was KUOM, going on the air on January 13, 1922 from the University campus.
Optometrist George W. Young started a radio station in 1923, first known as “George Young’s Twin City Station, Inc.” (also the “Jewelry and Optical Station), later to become WDGY (Doctor George Young). Young first broadcast from the living room of his house at 2219 North Bryant Avenue in North Minneapolis in late December 1923. The station was first called KFMT, then changed to WHAT in 1925, and WGWY in 1926. Finally on March 22, 1926, the station’s call letters became WDGY. More information on this station is available at www.earlytelevision.org
WLAG went off the air on July 31, as did rival WBAH, founded by the Dayton Company. The Northwest Radio Trade Association worked to revive WLAG, and found a buyer in the Washburn-Crosby Company. The station recommenced on October 2 as WCCO (“The Washburn Crosby Company”). It was promoted as “The Gold Medal Station,” after the company’s major product.
The Twin City Barber College first aired station WAMD on February 3. It broadcast from the Marigold Gardens dance hall in Minneapolis. This station became KSTP in 1928.
WDGY got approval for its final name change on March 22, 1926 and the studio was moved from Dr. Young’s house to the West Hotel in Minneapolis.
In August 1927, WDGY’s transmitter was moved to Superior Blvd. and Falvey Cross Road [Wayzata Blvd. and Louisiana] in St. Louis Park. [The address in 1955 was 7401 Wayzata Blvd.; most likely where the Louisiana Transit Station at 394 is today] This was on the grounds of the U.S. Silver Fox Farm, at the very northern border of the Village. In late 1935 a new non-directional 226 Truscan Steel Vertical Radiator (tower) was erected at the site. In 1949, the station moved its transmitter to a new multi-tower array at 103rd and Lyndale Ave. So. in Bloomington.
On April 28 (March 29?), KSTP radio started life, a combination of WAMD and KFOY. The 2,000 watt station began its career with a seven-hour program that ended at 2 am. The station became an affiliate of the NBC Blue network in the fall. In 1930 it switched to NBC Red.
General Mills (newly formed in 1928 from the Washburn Crosby Co.) sold one third of WCCO to CBS. The station became a CBS affiliate on December 30, 1930. General Mills sold the remaining shares to CBS on November 1, 1931 for $300,000.
In September, WRHM’s call letters were changed to WTCN (“Twin Cities Newspaper”), as a result of the purchase of the station by a joint venture of the publishers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Tribune. In December KSTP was elevated to a Red network Basic or Key station status. NBC Blue went over to the new WTCN. The move was so important that Jack Benny welcomed Minnepaolis listeners to his December 16, 1934 broadcast. The station was affiliated with the NBC Blue Network in 1936, and remained when Blue became ABC in 1945.
Furniture retailer Edward Hoffman began to broadcast his
station WMIN in the summer.
The North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement of 1941 required most North American radio stations to change their frequencies. This affected all seven Twin Cities radio stations. The deadline was 3 am on Saturday, March 29.
Armed Forces Radio began.
Joe Billman's [St. Louis] Park Mortuary sponsored a radio program of Bible dramas on WLOL at 6:15 pm each Saturday.
The first FM stations appear: WTCN-FM in Minneapolis and KSTP-FM in St. Paul. WTCN-FM folded in 1954. KSTP-FM changed frequencies and resumed in 1967 after a hiatus.
Station KQRS was established in May, with studios in St. Louis Park.
Skippy Peanut Butter, a new St. Louis Park manufacturing concern, sponsored the "Skippy Hollywood Theater" every Wednesday evening at 9:30 on WCCO radio.
WTCN was sold and relocated to the Calhoun Beach Hotel, along with WTCN-TV. Both were sold again in 1955 and again, to Time, Inc. in 1957.
Omaha businessman Todd Storz purchased WDGY on Feburary 6, 1956 for $35,000. It was at this point that the station adopted the “Top 40” format that characterized Storz stations. It was Minnesota's first rock'n'roll station.
The station that would become KDWB was renamed WISK, and
in 1958 it was moved to 630 kc (“Channel 63”). But the
station was not exactly viable, and was sold to
Crowell-Collier, owner of the legendary KFWB in Los Angeles.
Chuck Blore was Crowell-Collier’s national program director,
and ran a disc jockey school that the DJ’s at KDWB attended.
Two 260-ft radio towers in Eden Prairie tumbled to the ground in early 1957. The towers, owned by Radio Suburbia, Inc., would, when reassembled, transmit KRSI radio.
KRSI Radio (“Request Station Inc.”) was located at 4500 Excelsior Blvd. in St. Louis Park from 1957 to October 1972. It was owned by Radio Suburbia. KRSI FM was started in 1967.
KDWB (Channel 63) went on the air on October 1, 1959. John McCrae was the first General Manager, and original DJ Sam Sherwood held that position throughout the 60’s. The FCC required that the station identify itself as “KDWB – Lake Elmo, also occasionally serving Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
Congress amended the FCC Act in September 1960 to provide
penalties short of license revocation for violations of FCC
rules. The first station in the country to receive
disciplinary action was KDWB. The Twin Cities rock’n’roll
station was fined in March 1961 for exceeding its authorized
power in nighttime operations. Although authorized for only
500 watts from midnight to 4am, it had been broadcasting at
full 5,000 watt strength since it went on the air in 1959.
Golden Valley radio station KUXL went on the air on December 8, 1961, 13th in the market. Its frequency was 1570.
WTCN dropped its ABC affiliation on December 31.
WTCN was sold once again. On October 2, the station debuted with its new call letters, WWTC (Wonderful World of the Twin Cities or World Wide Twin Cities News, take your pick). Early in 1965 the station moved from the Calhoun Beach Hotel to 609 Second Ave. So. in Minneapolis. The station did not broadcast 24 hours a day until 1970.
KQRS-FM made its debut in 1967. In 1968, DJ Alan
Stone would begin a nighttime program that would evolve into
a "deep cuts" progressive rock, independent format.
On November 30, 1969, fire spread through the KDWB studio, shutting it down for two days. DJ Ron Block, the only one in the building at the time, announced “We’re on fire! Somebody call the fire department!” before hurriedly signing off. Depending on the teller, the song “Na Na Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye” (by Steam) had been playing, or the DJ put it on to commemorate the event. One story says that the next day the record was found melted to the turntable, but DJ Barry McKinna/Siewert says that the top was badly charred while the flip side was perfect - and that he has it on his wall. The fire damaged much of the station’s record collection.
WMIN changed its call letters to KEEY, discontinued its country format, and began playing “Beautiful Music. In 1982 the call letters were changed once again, to KLBB.
KSTP began an adult contemporary format. In January 1974, it ended its 46-year association with NBC.
WWTC began a golden oldies format that lasted until
November 1984, when the station went into freefall. The
nadir was in September 1985, when the station went to an
ill-conceived all-weather format.
WWTC was sold to Christopher Dahl in 1990, and Radio AAHS,
with programming for children ages 12 and under, went on the
air in October 1991. The studio was established in the old
First Federal Bank building at Highway 100 and Excelsior
Blvd. in St. Louis Park. The station was so successful that
Disney stole the format. The station went off the air in 1997.
This information comes from a variety of sources: newspapers, books, yearbooks, phone directories, interviews, etc. Given the varied sources, we cannot guarantee that all of this information is correct, and welcome any additions and corrections. Please contact us with your contributions and comments.