History of KMSP-TV

Source: Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park, Minn. Learn more at http://www.pavekmuseum.org

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.

September 20, 1954, Minneapolis Tower Company (Morris T. Baker) bought 75% interest for $300,000.

Sunday, January 9, 1955 Channel 9 signed on the air, 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 channel 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.

April of 1955 DuMont drastically cut back its programming and was out of business by August of 1956 leaving the station to operate as an independent until 1961.

November 5, 1955 – TV Guide lists 9 as an independent

May 23, 1956 – Channel 9 call letters changed to KMGM. But TV Guide first lists Channel 9 as KMGM on Sept. 8, 1956

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.

December 2, 1957, Loews, Inc., (an arm of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer) purchased 25% interest.

Feb. 10, 1958, Loews sold its interest in KMGM to NTA (NTA merged with National Theatres Inc. in 1959).

Change to KMSP

Some time between March 7 and May 24, 1958 the station was renamed KMSP

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 when KMSP became the area’s ABC affiliate, an arrangement that would last until 1979, when again KMSP became an independent station.

1967 – KMSP went to all color.

1968 a new 52-story office building was being planned for downtown Minneapolis. The Foshay Tower 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 Shoreview, Minnesota 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.

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.

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.

1986, KMSP became the local affiliate for the new Fox network, which lasted only until 1988. KMSP moved to their present Eden Prairie facility in the spring of 1992.

October 1, 1994 KITN became WFTC

January 16, 1995 – 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.

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