TWIN CITIES TELEVISION MILESTONES
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From the NORTHWEST MUSICAL HERALD for September 1928
"On August 23 KSTP celebrated the close of its first month of radio picture broadcasting. The St. Paul station is a pioneer in this field of broadcasting, being the first station in this section of the country to send out the "still" pictures. These pictures are sent out four times each week in the regular schedule broadcast by KSTP. These periods come on Monday and Thursday at 10:10 pm and on Wednesday and Saturday at 1:01 pm.
KSTP, in keeping pace with the scientific development of radio has also purchased a television receiving set and will start receiving pictures following a series of tests now being made by engineers of the station. Stanley Hubbard, manager of KSTP, has asked the Federal Radio Commission for permission to broadcast television with the possibility that television signals may be sent out by the National Battery station this fall."
KSTP was to have a great many “firsts” in the following years. The remarkable pioneering efforts of Stanley E. Hubbard and, later, Stanley S. Hubbard, and their impact on the television industry nationwide, are unparalleled.
Stanley E. Hubbard
"On Monday, September 29, 1930, the week-long ninth annual Northwest Radio and Electrical Show opened in the Minneapolis Auditorium. One of the main attractions was a demonstration of [mechanical scanning disc] television. Joseph Lukacs, a television engineer from New York, installed the portable transmitter and receiving equipment. In the auditorium, Lukacs supervised the construction of a projection room where the programs originated, a receiving room where the signal was fed, and a small theater where the crowds could see the results. The first night's demonstration of television included a shot of Minneapolis mayor William F. Kunze shaking hands with a young Clellan Card." (from Julian West, author of What a Card, the biography of Clellan Card)
In June 1933 Dr. George A. Young, who had operated his own radio station for over a decade, obtained a construction permit to operate experimental TV station W9XAT. The station could transmit a TV signal with a visual power of 500 watts, with the accompanying audio sent out over his radio station.
Young’s system used a mechanical scanning disc. Broadcasts included local puppeteer Bob Longfield, local radio star “Slim Jim” Iverson, and a black and white bulldog belonging to a staff person.
Dr. Young gave up his television license in 1936, three years before the advent of the electronic iconoscope system. Station W9XAT closed down in 1938.
original 1933 certificate donated by Paul March click here for larger image
In 1938, Stanley E. Hubbard paid $8,500 for the first television camera ever sold by RCA. He also bought the first television set commercially available from RCA.
The first demonstration of electronic television in Minnesota was by Stanley E. Hubbard of KSTP in August of 1939. It was a closed-circuit telecast of an American Legion parade playing to six TV sets in the Radisson Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
photo courtesy Hubbard Broadcasting click here for larger image
Later that month
KSTP introduced television
to Minnesota State Fair visitors.
The image on the right and the one below of Arlington Electric came in as part of a donation from the family of Harry Seils, who moved to St. Paul from Yankton, South Dakota, in the 1930s to work for KSTP, apparently just in time to witness the dawn of television. We are grateful to his daughter, Cathy Boxell, for taking the time to send them to us.
The inscription on the back of the image on the left says, "Picture of the interior of Arlington Electric store, September 22, 1939. Television demonstration by KSTP during Payne Avenue Harvest Festival."
Arlington Electric was located at 1001 Payne Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Those RCA TRK 12 televisions sitting on their packing crates retailed for $600 apiece. Rumor has it that there is still one over at Hubbard headquarters.
During World War II, television was put on hold, but started its comeback in 1946.
That year, televisions cost as much as $400, but about 43,000 were sold nationwide.
1946 RCA 630TS
On April 19, 1947, Joe Beck opened the Twin City Television Lab, designed to train personnel in the skills needed in the new television industry. Located in the Lyceum Theatre Building at 85 Eleventh Street South in Minneapolis, the complex occupied over 11,000 square feet of studios, classrooms, and offices. Mel Jass played a major role in designing and managing the Lab.
Unfortunately, the Lab closed in the fall of 1950. One reason was an FCC freeze on new stations that lasted three and a half years. Beck Studios, Inc., had submitted an application to broadcast a commercial station on Channel 7, but it was denied. Another reason was that young men - potential broadcasters - were being drafted for the Korean War. The worst reason was that Joe Beck was in a horrific traffic accident on May 27, 1949, that killed his wife and put him in the hospital for five months. Joe Beck told his experiences in an article called "Pioneering in Television in the Twin Cities," published in the Fall 1979 issue of Minnesota History (the journal of the Minnesota Historical Society).
On December 7, 1947, 8:00 pm, Jack Horner was the first person to appear live on TV in the Twin Cities when he hosted a special program on KSTP-TV, Channel 5. The show lasted twenty-five minutes as Jack introduced film highlights of the Army-Navy football game, did commentary on the latest Gopher-Wisconsin game, and showed a kinescope of the marriage ceremony between Prince Philip and the future Queen of England, Elizabeth.
KSTP-TV was the first television station in Minnesota, signing on the air April 27, 1948, from the Prom Ballroom. It was the first NBC affiliate not owned by the network.
The transmitter, located at the executive offices at 3415 University Avenue, had a 571 foot tower and an effective radiated power of 24,700 watts.
That day was also the television premiere of the Sunset Valley Barn Dance with David Stone. The Barn Dance had been on KSTP AM radio since the fall of 1940. It became one of the most popular shows on radio and television for years to come.
April 27 was also the premiere of the first movie shown on Twin Cities television, Knight of the Plains, starring Fred Scott. The next day, Jimmy Valentine, who did everything from news and weather to children's shows during nearly forty years with Channel 5, interviewed people about their hobbies in the area's first TV talk show.
There were about 2,500 TV sets in the metropolitan area at the time.
In its early days, local news was broadcast only once a week.
The KSTP Tele-Foto News was broadcast on Mondays.
By August 3, 1948, there were more than 6,000 televisions operating in the Twin Cities, according to the Radio Manufacturers' Association.
On September 30, 1948, the FCC put a freeze on new TV station applications that lasted until April 1952. Thirty-two television stations in the U.S. were scheduled to use RCA transmitters, including two in Minnesota: WTCN and KSTP. Channel 1 was deleted and assigned to land mobile use.
The cast of Play or Pay
WTCN-TV began broadcasting on Channel 4 on July 1, 1949. In addition to live local programming, WTCN-TV carried network programming via kinescope films. Its primary affiliation was with ABC, but also broadcast shows from CBS and DuMont.
Don Anderson John Gallos Toby Prin Jeanne Arland Peterson Bill Metchnek
Pianist Toby Prin hosted many local shows over the years, starting almost immediately after WTCN-TV went on the air, then continuing with WCCO-TV.
By December of 1949 there were 60,000 television sets in the Twin Cities.
In 1949 a young Bud Kraehling joined WTCN-TV Channel 4. In 1950 he began a five-minute 10:00 pm television weather report for Taystee Bread (replacing the original Taystee Bread weatherman, Bob Fransen). Bud wrote forecasts on the "Weather Window" for crowds gathered outside the studio, and later worked from the "Shell Weather Tower," an elaborate set with weather maps, dials, and gauges. Through it all he has been a reassuring presence that viewers loved and trusted. Bud retired in 1996.
In May the first national television listings were
published as the TV Times.
In July, after a short stint at a Battle Creek, Michigan, radio station, Dave Moore returned home to join WTCN-TV Channel 4. At the age of 26, Moore began to enjoy an unparalleled Twin Cities broadcast career.
On September 30 coaxial cable joined Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and thirteen other cities to national television networks, opening a new world to Twin Cities television viewers. The Twin Cities hookup was actually a combination of coaxial cable and radio relay towers. They were linked to Des Moines, Iowa, by coaxial cable and from Des Moines to Chicago by radio relay towers.
WTCN-TV Channel 4 connected to ABC's network feed via the new cable.
KSTP-TV was the exclusive NBC outlet in the Twin Cities, while WTCN-TV carried ABC, CBS, and DuMont programming (Mpls Tribune, 10/1/1950).
On October 3, 1950, KSTP-TV was the first in the U.S. with a regularly scheduled daily newscast at 10:00 pm Today's Headlines was hosted by Bill Ingram. Local film coverage was done by Dick Hance, while Kenn Barry directed the show.
In 1950 there were 88,700 TV sets in the Twin Cities, ranking 14th in the country.
By 1951 the television day ran from 8:00 a.m. till 1:00 a.m.
Mel Jass hosted many TV shows during his 30-plus-year career. Although he may have appeared earlier, he first showed up in the TV magazines in December 1951, when he hosted Show People on Channel 4.
In September 1952 he followed with the first Mel Jass Show, also on Channel 4. Then came Mel's Almanac, a new Mel Jass Show, and on and on. Many people remember him as the host of Channel 11's 1:00 pm Matinee Movie, which ran until 1979.
In 1951 a strike closed Minneapolis schools, leaving 30,000 kids idle. In the breach, WTCN-TV Channel 4 aired two-hour Video School programs.
Bob Ryan began hosting KSTP’s 6:00 pm News Picture, becoming one of the most popular and trusted broadcasters in the history of Twin Cities news.
On August 5 the Minneapolis Tribune reported that an application for a television station had been "filed with the FCC by the Meredith Engineering Company of Des Moines, Iowa. The company is owned by Meredith Publishing Company, publishers of Better Homes and Gardens and Successful Farming. The company owns stations WHEN, WOW-TV and KPHO-TV. The application for Minneapolis is for channel 11, with a transmitter on the Foshay Tower and a plant to cost about $732,000." On August 15, 1952, WTCN-TV's parent company divested itself of WTCN Radio and bought WCCO Radio from CBS. On August 17 the call letters changed to WCCO-TV, and the primary network affiliation changed to CBS. Some ABC and DuMont programs were also carried. The merger between WTCN-TV and WCCO Radio formed Midwest Radio and Television, Inc. During its first week of operation, WCCO-TV presented about 35 hours of programming. The letters WCCO stand for Washburn Crosby Company, predecessor to General Mills, and the original owners of what is now WCCO-AM.
On September 5, 1952, the TV Times (see 1950) became the TV Forecast. And on April 3, 1953 the Forecast became the TV Guide.
On January 7 KSTP-TV became the first television station in Minnesota to increase its power to 100,000 watts. "Residents in Duluth and Brainerd, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota, notified the station that quality of reception was much improved." (Mpls. Star - 1/8/53)
In February Senators Edward J. Thye and Hubert H. Humphrey had the honor of pressing the key in Washington, D.C., to signal WCCO-TV’s increase in power to 100,000 watts. WCCO-TV became the fourth station in the United States to operate with maximum power permitted under the Federal Communications Commission rule. As the station grew in popularity and sophistication, Studio II was added in April to accommodate the station’s needs. There were no elevators, so all props for this studio had to be carried up the stairs.
At 5:30 pm, Friday, April 17, 1953, Sherm Booen's World of Aviation replaced Stations of The Cross on WCCO-TV Channel 4. A Korean War hero and major in the Marine Corps Reserve, Sherm was an experienced broadcaster and airplane pilot. So, it was only natural that he would host a locally produced show about flying. The program bounced around from Friday evenings to Saturday afternoons until October 23, 1955, when it landed on Sunday afternoon. There it stayed until Sherm retired in 1982, making it the longest-running show in WCCO-TV's history.
Stuart A. Lindman
On September 1, 1953, the WTCN-TV call letters reappeared as Channel 11, an ABC affiliate. WMIN Radio announcer Stuart A. Lindman signed the station on the air.
At first the channel was shared with WMIN-TV. The stations articulated their programs on a cooperative basis, sharing time and transmission facilities, but maintained two different studios; WTCN-TV studios were located on the third and part of the second floor of the Calhoun Beach Hotel, while the WMIN-TV studios were in the Hamm Building in Saint Paul. WMIN-TV's general manager was Larry Bentson.
Daryl Laub created the first costumed character kids’ show as Skipper Daryl on WTCN-TV, Channel 11. Later in the year, he added a second character, J.P. Patches, the clown. For the next year and a half, J.P. Patches came on the air at 8:00 a.m. and Skipper Daryl came on at 5:00 pm. His shows benefited from the release of Warner Brothers cartoons to TV for the first time.
In April of 1955 both characters moved to KSTP-TV Channel 5 and became T.N. Tatters at 4:30 in the afternoon and Captain Daryl at 5:00 pm. Makeup changes were hectic.
There were only about 200 TV stations in the entire country, but it is estimated that over 50 percent of Americans owned TV sets.
The first color broadcast in the Twin Cities was the Dragnet Christmas episode, which ran on KSTP-TV December 10.
KSTP-TV broadcast the Tournament of Roses Parade in color on January 1.
Noon Time Express, starring Roger Awsumb, was scheduled to sign on May 14, 1954, from WMIN-TV, Channel 11. The description in the TV Guide was "Rog Awsumb as Casey Jones." The show was preempted by coverage of the Army/McCarthy hearings and didn't actually debut until June 21, 1954.
When WMIN-TV sold out to WTCN in 1955, the operation moved to the Calhoun Beach Hotel and the show’s name was changed to Casey’s Lunch Club.
When Casey’s original sidekick (Joe the Cook) left, Lynn Dwyer was hired to play Roundhouse Rodney. Dwyer had an education degree from Macalester College and had been a professional skater with the Ice Capades.
ABC took over WTCN-TV’s daytime schedule and Casey was dropped, but in response to irate letters, the show was revised to be broadcast after school from Grandma Lumpit’s Boarding House – with Dwyer as Grandma. In 1961 the station lost its ABC affiliation, and they were back in business, now titled Lunch With Casey. The afternoon show stayed on, as did a new morning show, Wake Up With Casey and Roundhouse.
Roger Awsumb and Lynn Dwyer
By the early 1970s live TV kiddie shows were on their way out, partly because fewer kids were coming home for lunch, and partly because of efforts by Action for Children's Television to prevent hosts from doing commercials. The last Lunch With Casey was presented on December 29, 1972.
Dwyer continued on with his own Roundhouse Show on Public Television in 1974.
On September 3, 1976, at age 48, he had a fatal heart attack while jogging in Brainerd.
On June 30, at 5:07 a.m., WCCO-TV pool-fed live footage of the total eclipse of the sun to both CBS and NBC. CBS news correspondent Tom Costigan led the first nationally televised eclipse from the 27th floor of the Foshay Tower.
Also in 1954 Axel and His Dog made its debut on August 12 on WCCO-TV Channel 4. TV Guide said: "Thursdays at 5:00 pm, gives old favorite Clellan Card a chance to trot out his inimitable Scandinavian accent. Built around animated cartoons, the show features Axel, his faithful dog Towser, who can almost talk, and a host of animal friends." Towser was played by Don Stolz, owner of the Old Log Theater, until spring 1962. The show originally alternated with shows like Terry and the Pirates, Superman, and the Cisco Kid.
On October 8, 1954, Axel was the first live local show broadcast in color. Clellan Card had played Axel on his radio show since 1937. He passed away on April 13, 1966, just weeks after his final program.
On December 29, WCCO-TV produced the show Country Holiday, which was the first commercially sponsored color broadcast to originate in the Twin Cities. The show starred Clellan Card and Mary Davies.
Despite the introduction of color in 1954, only about 1,000 color sets were sold nationwide.
But sales jumped to 20,000 in 1955.
In January 9, 1955, locally owned KEYD-TV went on the air broadcasting on Channel 9. It was affiliated with the DuMont Network. The station would eventually become KMSP-TV. DuMont drastically cut back its programming in April of '55 and was out of business by August of 1956. KEYD-TV became an independent station until 1961.
The first Minnesota community to get cable television was Lanesboro.
At the end of April 1955 WTCN-TV and WMIN-TV, which had been sharing a frequency, parted company. WMIN got out of the television business and WTCN took over the station, retaining the talent of Stuart A. Lindman and Roger Awsumb and the network affiliation of ABC.
Also that year, KSTP-TV began broadcasting NBC network programs in color.
WCCO-TV had been operating in the Radio City Theater building since 1949 and was quickly outgrowing its space. Despite ideas to move the station out of downtown Minneapolis, WCCO-TV decided that the city was the heart of the television station and received permission to refurbish Radio City.
After two years of searching for a newscaster, building a set, hiring personnel, and talking sponsors out of weekend movies, WCCO-TV began the 10 O’Clock Weekend News with anchorman Dave Moore.
News director Chick McCuen continued to anchor WCCO-TV's daily Noon-Time News.
On April 4, 1957, Mr. Earl R. Mohr of
St. Louis Park
won a Garry Moore look-alike contest.
The first videotaped TV commercial was made for Kellogg's Cornflakes.
Chick McCuen on the 'CCO set
American Bandstand premiered in the Twin Cities on August 5, 1957, on Channel 11. The first song played was "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" by Jerry Lee Lewis. In the early days, it could be seen daily at 4:00 pm. From October through December 1957, there was also a prime time version, airing on Mondays at 6:30. From February 1958 to September 1960, the prime time Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show aired with the same format as Bandstand. Bandstand started as a local show in Philadelphia in 1952. Dick Clark began hosting in 1956. In 1963 it went to once a week on Saturdays. In 1964 it moved to Los Angeles. It ran until 1989.
August 22 thru August 27: Truth or Consequences came to Southdale, courtesy of NBC and KSTP-TV. In five days, more than 20,000 people crowded into the Twin Cities' first super shopping mall. Southdale Shopping Center opened on October 8, 1956.
KSTP brings Truth or Consequences to Southdale, August 22, 1957
September 15: KTCA Channel 2 held a two-hour kickoff event at the St. Paul Town and Country Club.
September 16: America’s 26th public TV station, KTCA Channel 2 went on the air at 1:30 pm.
WTCN-TV Channel 11 was bought by Time, Inc. Mel Jass was hired to anchor the 10 PM News, with Stu Lindman doing the weather and Frank Buetel on sports.
In 1957 National Telefilm Associates (NTA) acquired control of KEYD Channel 9 by paying $650,000 for 75 percent interest.
On December 2, 1957, Loews, Inc., (an arm of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) purchased 25 percent interest in Channel 9.
By the time of the sale, the call letters had already changed to KMGM (TV Guide lists Channel 9 as KMGM on September 8, 1956).
Loews sold its interest in KMGM Channel 9 on February 10, 1958. The station was renamed KMSP, derived from the abbreviation of the Twin Cities Airport: MSP.
KMSP-TV featured Minneapolis Wrestling , starring Verne Gagne. Gagne won a Big Ten wrestling championship in 1944. After two years in the Marines, he was a defensive end for the Gophers – and “perhaps the greatest wrestler in school history.” Gagne made his pro debut on May 10, 1949. In 1960 he began producing All Star Wrestling, a one-hour program for the newly formed American Wrestling Alliance. Thanks to his promotional and business expertise, the show became wildly popular, as evidenced by the local hit song "The Crusher" bellowed out by the Novas (from
) in 1965. All Star Wrestling was eventually carried by 120 stations nationwide, nationally syndicated for 30 years, and even picked up by ESPN.
In the fall of 1958 WCCO-TV installed a weather radar system on the top of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis. It was the first system of its kind in the Twin Cities, and one of only about a dozen in use by radio or television stations in the country at that time.
The system operated in the microwave C-band at 5400 MHz with a power output of 100kW. The system had a range of 150 miles, and with a trained operator at the controls, it could detect rain or snow formations to within one half mile.
Bill Carlson, who began his broadcasting career producing on-air programs at WCCO Radio, started working part-time on-air at WCCO-TV in 1959.
WCCO-TV became the first station in the Northwest to be equipped with the Ampex Videotape Recorder. This machine could record and play TV shows on magnetic tape, prompting CBS to feed news film to WCCO-TV during non-network hours. The machine cost $50,000 and a part-time employee was hired just to operate it. This videotape capability changed the industry and had a profound effect on the newsroom.
KMSP Channel 9 brought in Dave Lee and his puppet Pete to host their 6 pm weeknight kids' show LooneyTuners Club. They stayed till they moved over to Channel 11 in 1962.
Alan Lotsberg, Mary Davies, & John Gallos
Commodore Cappy, starring John Gallos, debuted on Channel 4 in the fall of 1959. The show evolved into Clancy the Keystone Cop, and on September 3, 1963, it was Clancy the Cop. Clancy had a sidekick detective, Willie Ketchum (Allan Lotsberg). Gallos had been with WCCO-TV since 1950. The show aired until March 25, 1977.
Soupy Sales also debuted on Twin Cities TV in 1959. Kids and adults alike watched him on Channel 11 on Saturdays at noon.
On November 9, 1959, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased KMSP-TV from National Theaters for $4.1 million.
In June 1960 the second iteration of the TV Times began publication. It is unknown when it stopped.
At the height of the live children's shows, fueled by the onslaught of boomer children, we find that Axel went up against Casey in the late afternoon.
On August 4, 1960, WTCN-TV Channel 11 offered to switch channels with KTCA-TV and was rebuffed. Channel 11 wanted the better technical signal of Channel 2. KTCA-TV rejected the deal even though WTCN-TV offered a cash incentive.
On April 16, 1961, WTCN-TV lost its ABC affiliation to KMSP-TV and became an independent; KMSP-TV became the area’s ABC affiliate, an arrangement that would last until 1979 (see TV Times for Feb. 11, 1961).
In May of 1961 Channel 11 aired Lucky 11 Dance Time emceed by Brad Johnson.
KSTP-TV became the country’s first all-color station.
The April 1962 Minneapolis newspaper strike led to a nightly show on KTCA Channel 2 featuring the newspaper’s staff. This show was done Monday through Friday at 5:30 pm featuring management of the station reading news, comics, sports scores, etc.
On July 23, 1962, WCCO-TV participated in the first live international TV broadcast via the Telstar satellite. WCCO-TV’s mobile units provided the feed for all three networks, ABC, CBS, and DuMont, for a special program from the Black Hills showing Mount Rushmore to the world.
Dave Moore hosted and performed on The Bedtime Nooz, a late Saturday night satirical review of the day’s news. The show is still remembered by many as a forerunner to Saturday Night Live.
1962 also saw Dave Lee and Pete move over to Channel 11 at 4:00 pm from Channel 9, where they had been since 1959. The new show was called Popeye and Pete, featuring cartoons, goodie bags of candy for the kids, and puppets Pete the Penguin (who liked to pull ponytails) and Omar the Alligator. The crew liked to staple Omar's mouth shut as a joke on Dave.
KMSP Channel 9 acquired a General Electric solid-state color film chain.
WTCN Channel 11 was purchased by Chris-Craft Industries on October 2, 1964. The station still had no network affiliation.
A Date With Dino was a local rock 'n' roll show on Channel 9 starring Dino Day and a teenage Nancy Nelson. It started twice weekly on October 13, 1964; on January 25, 1965, the show went daily at 4:00 pm. It ran the school year to June 7, 1965, then came back on in October of '65 as Upbeat.
The ad on the right reads "Dino Day hosts television's swingest [not swingingest] Dance Show ... 'live' from Channel 9 Studios ... exciting top record stars perform their hit records ... keep informed with Teen News International and Sports All-American." (That's a Ray Conniff record behind him.)
KTCI (Channel 17) received its license on May 3. It was a sister station to KTCA-TV and the first UHF station in the market. It was originally assigned to the Tedesco Brothers in the early 1950s as commercial station WCOW-TV, to be affiliated with the DuMont network, but [WCOW-TV] never made it on the air.
In November 1966 WCCO-TV went to all color.
WTCN-TV acquired an all-color film chain.
In January 1967 KMSP-TV, Channel 9, went to all color.
On April 11, 1967, KTCA-TV and KTCI-TV were the first educational stations in the country to broadcast live in color.
In 1967 two local TV magazines were started. The TV Digest ran until at least 1973. And the third iteration of the TV Times came out in April 1967. This third Times was a bit questionable; it had almost no content, and was distributed primarily in motels.
WCCO TV's The Scene Tonight evening newscast began in January of 1968 with:
( l-r) Hal Scott, Skip Loescher, Al Austin, Dave Moore, Bud Kraehling (not shown), and George Rice.
Mark Rosen joined the WCCO-TV staff as a part-time sports writer/reporter while attending high school. He then joined the sports staff full time while he studied at the University of Minnesota. Mark also hosts his own weekly sports magazine show, Rosen’s Sports Sunday. He has been featured in Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, the Twin Cities Reader, and City Pages as the Number One Sportscaster in Minnesota.
Bob Ryan and John MacDougall served as the first dual-anchor television news team in the Upper Midwest on KSTP-TV's Twin News Tonight.
In 1970 WTCN-TV went to all color.
On May 19, to save money, KTCI-TV went off the air for the summer.
Metromedia made a deal for WTCN-TV Channel 11 in 1971 but they didn't actually take over from Chris-Craft until June 22, 1972.
WTCN-TV moved from the Calhoun Beach Hotel to their newly built studios in Golden Valley. "The grand opening of the WTCN-Metromedia broadcast showcase took place September 16,1974, with special guests Merv Griffin and Governor Wendell Anderson. The six million dollar facility was billed as 'the most modern and fully equipped broadcasting complex in the Midwest,' with 60,000 square feet overall, 7,500 square feet of studio space, eleven color cameras, five video tape units with computerized editing, total on-air computerization and automation, and a collection of contemporary art work." (courtesy J. R. Lonto)
The Betamax home VCR was introduced by Sony in 1975.
VHS was introduced by JVC the following year. VHS eventually won, but it was a long battle.
When KSTP-TV hired Steve Edelman and Sharon Anderson in 1976 to co-host Twin Cities Today, little did they know that it would lead to marriage. After four years of the successful live morning show, Steve and Sharon left the Twin Cities to co-host the nationally syndicated World of People. In 1982 they returned to the Twin Cities to launch Good Company, a daily afternoon hour that went on to become the highest-rated local talk show in the country. In 1985 their son David was born, an event that many think was shared on the air. Neither their wedding nor the birth of their son actually aired, though many remember seeing it. Good Company ended its 12-year run in 1994.
Steve and Sharon Edelman
On August 29, 1978, ABC announced that it would move its affiliation from KMSP-TV to KSTP-TV. The switch was effective on March 5, 1979.
Don Shelby joined WCCO-TV as weekend newscast anchor and investigative reporter. He anchored the 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm news from 1985 until he retired on November 22, 2010.
A huge realignment of network affiliations took place on March 5, 1979. KSTP-TV became an ABC affiliate, WTCN-TV became an NBC affiliate, and KMSP-TV, Channel 9 went independent.
Cable TV came to
St. Louis Park
on September 14, 1979, after two unsuccessful attempts. Bloomington, Fridley, and Apple Valley were wired in 1974. Northern Cablevision was the provider; in 1981 it was located at
3516 Beltline Blvd.
Twenty new channels were available at first, available in stages by section of the city. The monthly charge was $7.95.
United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB) was founded by Stanley S. Hubbard, who is widely considered to be the father of modern satellite broadcasting. Hubbard spent most of the 1980s raising awareness and money to launch a digital satellite television service. In the 1990s, he teamed up with RCA/Thomson Consumer Electronics and Hughes Electronics Corporation to come up with a practical digital satellite service capable of 175 channels. Hughes offered programming from most other cable television channels under the banner of DirecTV. DirecTV acquired USSB in 1998.
Stanley S. Hubbard
Three new independents began UHF broadcasting:
(1) WFBT signed on September 13, 1982. The call letters stood for (W) Family Bible Television. The station was on Channel 29 and featured a morning show with Roger Awsumb in Breakfast With Casey. The station was sold in 1984 and changed to KITN. In 1988 it became the local Fox affiliate and changed the call letters to WFTC (We're Fox Twin Cities). In 2002 WFTC became a UPN station and became known as UPN29.
(2) On September 22 KTMA Channel 23 signed on as a scrambled pay-per-view UHF channel called Spectrum. The call sign stood for "K-Twin Metro Area." Although the pay-per-view feature lasted only two years, the KTMA designation endured through several owners until the station was purchased by Lakeland Group Broadcasting in November of 1991.
On March 2, 1992, KLGT replaced KTMA on Channel 23.
The most significant contribution made by KTMA had to have been the introduction of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 in November of 1988.
In 1995 KLGT became one of the original members of the WB Network.
Following the sale of the station to Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) in 1998, the call letters changed again to KMWB ("Minnesota's WB").
From Wikipedia: "On January 24, 2006, it was announced that The WB and UPN networks would merge into The CW Television Network. It was very likely that KMWB-TV would become the new network's Twin Cities affiliate, as News Corporation, parent company of Fox, announced that all of its current UPN affiliates, including WFTC in the Twin Cities, would affiliate with My Network TV when both networks launched. Although Sinclair's later group deal with My Network TV involving several other stations around the country provided some doubt, on May 2, 2006, KMWB was confirmed as the Minneapolis-Saint Paul affiliate for The CW Television Network." (CW became WUCW on June 19, 2006.)
(3) KXLI (XLI is 41 in roman numerals) went on the air on November 24, 1982. It was initially called "K-41." "TV Heaven 41" did not begin until April 1988 and the station abruptly went off the air in December 1988, in spite of the promotional blitz surrounding TV Heaven. It went back on the air in September 1990 and had several different formats including two short-lived revivals of TV Heaven and a simulcast of KTMA-23. In the mid-1990s it was purchased by Lowell "Bud" Paxon. They changed their call letters to KPXM in 1998. They joined the PAX network (now ION Television) later that same year.
WCCO-TV moved from the old Radio City Theater at 50 S. 9th street into the new building at 90 South Eleventh Street on the Nicollet Mall. The building was designed by the award-winning architectural firm Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates of New York to resemble a TV tower. The building was constructed from red variegated sandstone quarried in Mankato, as well as copper that was mined and crafted in Minnesota. The inside of the building is approximately 200,000 square feet and contains mahogany and ebony wood from the Philippines that was found stored in an abandoned building. WCCO-TV remains the only station located in downtown Minneapolis
In April 1983 Metromedia sold WTCN-TV Channel 11 to Gannett Broadcasting Group for $75 million.
On September 19 Gannett unveiled a brand-new look with Paul Magers, Diana Pierce, and meteorologist Paul Douglas. Paul Magers and Diana Pierce remained a team for the next 20 years, bringing the station's news operation from a distant third, behind KSTP-TV and WCCO-TV, to number one.
Back row: Amy Powell, Joan Steffend, Randy Shaver, Andria Shaine, Kevin MacDowell,
Dennis Feltgen, Steve Carroll, Jeff Passolt, John Bachman, Sally Patrick
Front row: Tom Ryther, Diana Pierce, Paul Magers, Kirsten Lindquist, Paul Douglas
KSTP developed CONUS, the world's first satellite news-gathering capability, thereby becoming the first station in the world to have live daily satellite feeds in local news broadcasts.
The original CONUS truck is on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
In April WFBT (Channel 29) was renamed KITN.
On July 4, 1985, WTCN-TV changed its call letters to WUSA, but there was a conflict with a station in Washington, DC, so on June 11, 1986, the station became KARE.
In September, KTMA-TV ended its affiliation with Spectrum, unscrambled its signal, and began regular broadcast programming.
In 1986, KMSP-TV became the local affiliate for the new Fox network, but lost it in 1988.
WUSA became KARE 11 on June 11.
On July 18, 1986, KARE-TV broadcast a live shot of a tornado over Fridley for an entire newscast. The live video showed some of the most candid shots of a tornado ever captured.
The Fox affiliation moved from KMSP to KITN, and KMSP became independent.
November marked the beginning of locally produced Mystery Science Theater 3000
On March 2, KLGT replaced KTMA on Channel 23.
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) purchased WCCO-TV and also acquired WCCO-AM, KCCO-TV (Alexandria), KCCW-TV (Walker), Midwest Sports Channel (MSC) and WLTE-FM, WFRV-TV (Greenbay, WI)
KITN became WFTC on October 1.
KVBM, Channel 45, started as an affiliate of the Home Shopping Network. It would become KSTC in 2000.
In January, KLGT became affiliated with Warner Brothers, and KMSP became affiliated with United Paramount.
KMSP-TV Channel 9 became a charter UPN (United Paramount Network) station on January 16, 1995. The station was sold to Chris Craft, which traded it for the Fox affiliation in 2002.
WCCO-TV added a new component to the rapidly changing media market launching an official web site, www.wcco.com.
The first digital broadcast in the region was sent out at 7:30 pm on Channel 16
On September 11, KVBM, Channel 45, became KSTC. The station was owned an operated by Hubbard Broadcasting, which also owned KSTP. The station has no network affiliation, although it provides back-up service to KSTP during certain situations.
KMSP became a Fox affiliate.
On October 15, Channel 45's KSTC-HD became the first commercial TV station in the Twin Cities to broadcast high definition programming full time. It was designated Channel 45.2.
MAJOR STATION THUMBNAIL HISTORIES
KTCA (Channel 2) began broadcasting as the first non-commercial public television station in the state on September 16, 1957 from what was known as the Minnesota Statehood Centennial Memorial Building for Education Television, at 1640 Como Avenue in Saint Paul, the building which now houses another Twin Cities commercial television station, WUCW, channel 23. KTCA's first program was Exploring Science. A second station, KTCI (channel 17), was launched on May 4, 1965. Channel 17 was originally owned by the Tedesco Brothers in the early 1950s to be commercial station WCOW-TV, but never made it to air. In 1967 KTCA became the first educational television station in the United States to broadcast in color, then in 1977, it changed its corporate name to the current Twin Cities Public Television.
On September 16, 1999, the stations began their first digital television broadcasts, which by then were originating from their current building at 172 4th Street East in downtown Saint Paul. In 2000, KTCA and KTCI were re-branded tpt2 and tpt17, paving the way for the larger family of digital broadcast services to come. In August, 2003, TPT became the first broadcaster in Minnesota to launch a channel, tptHD, fully devoted to high-definition programming, and on September 16, 2005 the organization launched a full time digital channel, tptMN, devoted entirely to local and regional programs.
The first station to occupy the Channel 4 position on the TV dial was the original WTCN -TV which began broadcasting July 1, 1949 from the Radio City Theater in downtown Minneapolis.
The WTCN call letters go back to 1934, when the Minneapolis Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press bought radio station WRHM. The new call letters stood for Twin Cities Newspapers. (Other variations are Twin Cities of the North or World and Twin Cities News.)
The newspapers sold WTCN Radio in 1952, purchased WCCO Radio and Television, and merged the two companies into Midwest Radio and Television, Inc.
On August 17, 1952, the TV station changed its call letters to WCCO-TV to match the company's WCCO Radio.
The call letters come from the Washburn Crosby Company (now General Mills), an early owner of the radio station.
WCCO-TV has always been a CBS affiliate.
On October 8, 1954, Axel and His Dog was the first live local show broadcast in color. Also in 1954, WCCO produced the show Country Holiday, which was the first commercially sponsored color broadcast to originate in the Twin Cities. The station went to all color in 1966.
The station moved to its new building, at 90 S. 11th Street, Minneapolis in 1983.
The station was owned in one form or another by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune until they were purchased by CBS in 1992.
Hubbard Broadcasting was started as KSTP, Inc.
It later became, and continues to this day to be, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.
In 1938, Stanley E. Hubbard bought the first television set commercially available from RCA, and he also bought the first television camera ever sold by RCA. The first telecast in Minnesota was a close circuit telecast to six TV sets in the old Radisson Hotel in 1939, and it featured an American Legion parade which was staged for the broadcast.
The Twin Cities' first over-the-air telecast took place on December 7, 1947; a 25-minute program hosted by Jack Horner.
KSTP was the first TV station in Minnesota to broadcast regularly scheduled programs, permanently signing on the air April 27, 1948. The 571 foot tower was located at the executive offices at 3415 University Avenue, "bridging the Minneapolis Saint Paul line, and sending a signal in a radius of sixty miles." The transmitter had a "visual output of 5,000 watts with effective radiated power of 24,700 watts and aural output of 3,000 watts with effective radiated power of 17,300 watts at a frequency of 76 to 82 megacycles." (from A Report on KSTP Television dated August 1948 and KSTP Rate Card #1 dated June 1, 1948)
KSTP TV became the first NBC affiliate not owned by the network - its contract with NBC was signed on March 17, 1948, and was touted as the "first station affiliation contract in the history of television."
October 3, 1950 was the date of KSTP's first regularly scheduled daily newscast at 10 pm.
It was the first regularly scheduled evening newscast in the nation.
On January 7th, 1953, KSTP became the first station in Minnesota to increase its power to 100,000 watts.
On December 10, 1953, KSTP broadcast the first network color telecast in the Twin Cities, the Dragnet Christmas episode.
On January 1, 1954, NBC and KSTP broadcast the Tournament of Roses Parade in color.
In 1955, KSTP began broadcasting NBC network programs in color.
In 1961, KSTP TV became America's first independent all-color television station, and the first station to have color film processing so that news could be brought to viewers in color in less than an hour after the event had occurred.
On March 5, 1979, KSTP became the new ABC affiliate.
In 1981 Stanley S. Hubbard founded United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB), and is widely considered the father of modern satellite broadcasting.
In 1984 KSTP developed CONUS, the world's first satellite news-gathering capability, thereby becoming the first station in the world to have live daily satellite feeds in local news broadcasts. The original CONUS truck is on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
In the 1990s Hubbard teamed up with RCA/Thomson Consumer Electronics and Hughes Electronics Corporation to come up with a practical digital satellite service capable of 175 channels. DirecTV acquired USSB in 1998.
The station has always been known as KSTP, has always been on Channel 5, and has always been owned by Hubbard Broadcasting.
On November 24, 1953, Lee Whiting (home address: 5316 Kellogg Avenue, Edina) of The Family Broadcasting Corporation, 15 North 9th Street, Minneapolis, filed an application with the FCC for a construction permit for a new commercial television station to be operated on Channel 9. The application included a nine section RCA Super Gain antenna driven by a 50 kilowatt DuMont model 12000 transmitter. An amended application, dated February 16, 1954 specified a 50 kilowatt RCA model TT50AH transmitter.
On September 20, 1954, Minneapolis Tower Company
(Morris T. Baker) bought 75% interest for $300,000.
Channel 9 signed on the air Sunday, January 9, 1955, with the call letters KEYD-TV. Family Broadcasting was the owner, which also operated KEYD-AM radio. The transmitter/antenna was located in the Foshay Tower, while the studios were located in an adjacent building.
At that time, the 447 foot tall Foshay was the tallest structure in Minnesota.
Programming was a mix of local talk, music, sports, movies and news. The DuMont Network provided national programming.
A young Harry Reasoner was hired as News Director, and reported that the station's highest rating happened the day the Democratic Party bought up time on the three major stations to broadcast a speech by Adlai Stevenson. Viewers tuned him out by the score, and Reasoner said that KEYD's film on water safety was a big hit that night.
Sports programming was an important part of the broadcast schedule. Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints baseball, Lakers basketball and pro wrestling found their way to the hannel 9 airwaves. Some days the engineering remote crew would do a baseball game from Nicollet Field in the afternoon and wrestling matches from the Minneapolis Auditorium later that evening.
DuMont drastically cut back its programming in April of 1955 and was out of business by August of 1956 leaving the station to operate as an independent until 1961. (TV Guide lists 9 as an independent beginning November 5, 1955.)
Harry Reasoner in the Minneapolis Courthouse with Tom Carlyon on camera
On June 3, 1956, Thomas P. Johnson, Seymour Weintraub and Associates (operating as United Television, Inc) bought 100% interest for $1.14 million (including KEYD AM). Later that year, KEYD AM, 1440 AM, was sold to Robert Purcell and James A. McKenna for $35,000. It became KEVE (Adam & Eve in the Valley), KQRS AM, and now Radio Disney.
In 1957, National Telefilm Association (NTA) acquired control of the station by paying $650,000 for 75% interest.
On December 2, 1957, Loews, Inc., (an arm of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer) purchased 25% interest.
By the time of the sale, the call letters had already changed to KMGM. (At least 2 sources give the date that Channel 9's call letters changed to KMGM-TV as May 23, 1956. TV Guide first lists Channel 9 as KMGM on Sept. 8, 1956.)
On Feb. 10, 1958, Loews sold its interest in KMGM to NTA (NTA merged with National Theatres Inc. in 1959).
The station was renamed KMSP some time between March 7 and May 24, 1958.
The call letters KMSP-TV derived from the abbreviation of the Twin Cities Airport: MSP.
On November 9, 1959, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased KMSP-TV from National Theaters for $4.1 million.
The corporate name was known as United Television, Inc.
KMSP operated as an independent until April 16, 1961 (see Feb. 11, 1961 TV Times) when KMSP became the area’s ABC affiliate, an arrangement that would last until 1979, when again KMSP became an independent station.
KMSP went to all color in 1967.
A new 52-story office building was being planned for downtown
in 1968. The
would soon be dwarfed by this structure. The three television stations transmitting from the Foshay would have to relocate. The five Twin Cities stations tried to agree on a common facility in
but KMSP decided to build a separate tower a mile east of the tower WCCO, KSTP and WTCN would build. This would be a single tower of a candelabra design. KMSP built its own 1394-foot conventional tower that allowed educational station KTCA-TV and a cadre of future broadcasters to transmit from it. In June of 1971 KMSP began transmitting from their new facilities in Shoreview.
In September of 1971, the WCCO/WTCN/KSTP candelabra tower collapsed, killing seven construction workers.
Eventually broadcasting resumed from that site but with two conventional towers.
KMSP stayed in downtown Minneapolis until 1972 when they moved to a new facility near Southdale Center.
Business was good during the next 20 years. KMSP was the number one independent station in the nation for many rating periods.
August 29, 1978, ABC announced that it would move its affiliation to KSTP, effective March 5, 1979.
During the early 1980s Twentieth Century spun-off United Television, which then owned five stations.
Later in that decade United Television combined with Chris-Craft Industries’ television group.
In 1986, KMSP became the local affiliate for the new Fox network, which lasted only until 1988.
KMSP moved to their present
facility in the spring of 1992.
The station stayed independent until January 16, 1995, when it became a charter UPN (United Paramount Network) station.
UPN was a cooperative effort with United Television and Paramount Pictures to establish yet another broadcast network.
Chris-Craft Industries sold their television stations to the News Corporation in 2001 and through a series of station swaps with Clear Channel Communications the combination of KMSP/WFTC exists today.
"After the Federal Communications Commission lifted its four-year freeze on new television licenses, [in April 1952] Channel 11 expanded the Twin Cities television universe beyond Channels 4 and 5. Since radio competitors WMIN and WTCN were both interested in operating on Channel 11, the FCC approved a deal allowing both stations to operate on the same channel in 90-minute to two-hour intervals. They were completely separate operations, with separate staff, programming, and facilities. WMIN-TV was located in the Hamm Building in St. Paul while WTCN-TV was located in the Calhoun Beach Hotel in south Minneapolis. Both stations would carry programming from the ABC Television Network." ( J.R. Lonto, It Happened On The Air.)
Stuart A. Lindman
On September 1, 1953, WMIN Radio announcer Stuart A. Lindman signed Channel 11 on the air. Other WMIN talent to appear in those early years included Steve Cannon as Wrangler Steve, Jim Lange as Captain 11, and Roger Awsumb as Casey Jones in Noon-Time Express.
On April 6, 1955, WMIN sold its interest in the station to WTCN.
By April 30, of 1955, the station was listed as WTCN 11.
WTCN was owned by Minnesota Television Service Corporation. It was the Twin Cities' first ABC affiliate, and from 1953 until Sept. 1, 1955 it also carried programs from the DuMont
In 1957, magazine publisher Time Inc. purchased the station.
WTCN was an affiliate of ABC until April 16, 1961; it operated independently until 1979.
In 1964 it was purchased by boat manufacturer Chris-Craft Industries.
WTCN went to all color in 1970. Metromedia took over the station in 1972 and owned it until 1983.
The the station moved into its current facility at the intersection of Hwy. 55 and General Mills Boulevard in Golden Valley in 1974.
The address there is:
8811 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN 55427.
In 1979, WTCN became an NBC station.
The station was purchased by the Gannett Corporation in 1983.
On July 4, 1985, WTCN changed its call letters to WUSA, but there was a conflict with a station in Washington, DC, so on June 11, 1986, the station became KARE. Stuart A. Lindman signed the station on the air through all three call letter inaugurals.
TV Times(I) started in May 1950 and ended on August 30, 1952.
TV Forecasttook over from TV Times and was published between September 6, 1952 and March 28, 1953.
TV Guidetook over from TV Forecast. Its first issue was April 3, 1953, with Lucille Ball on the cover.
TV Times(II) began publication in June 1960, and published until at least the end of 1964.
TV Digest started sometime in 1967 and published until sometime after August 1973.
TV Times(III) started publication in April 1967 and continued until at least January 1981.
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.