KMSP-TV, channel 9, is a Fox owned-and-operated television station, licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, US. KMSP-TV is owned by the Fox Television Stations division of 21st Century Fox, and operates as part of a television duopoly with WFTC (channel 29), the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area's MyNetworkTV station. The two stations share studios located on Viking Drive in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and KMSP's transmitter is located in Shoreview, Minnesota.
- Early history 1.1
- As an ABC affiliate 1.2
- Becoming an independent once again 1.3
- First Fox affiliation, then back to independent 1.4
- As a UPN affiliate 1.5
- Return to Fox as an owned-and-operated station 1.6
Digital television 2
- Digital channels 2.1
- Analog-to-digital conversion 2.2
News operation 3
- Awards 3.1
- Notable current on-air staff 3.2
- Notable former on-air staff 3.3
- Broadcasting facilities 4
- Notes 5.1
- External links 6
The station grew out of an AM station, KEYD (1440 AM, now KDIZ), with which it was co-owned until mid 1956. When the FCC opened up bidding for the channel 9 construction permit, WLOL and WDGY (now KFAN) also expressed interest. However, they withdrew their applications at the last minute, assuring that the new station would go to KEYD and its owner, Family Broadcasting. KEYD-TV began broadcasting on January 9, 1955 and was affiliated with the DuMont Television Network. During this time, Harry Reasoner, a graduate of Minneapolis West High School and the University of Minnesota, was hired as the station's first news anchor and news director. However, DuMont shut down in late 1955, leaving the station as an independent outlet; when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased a minority (25 percent) but controlling stake in the station in 1956, the news department was shut down and Reasoner was hired by CBS. Reasoner became a host for CBS's 60 Minutes when it launched in 1968.
After MGM bought into the station, the call letters were changed to KMGM-TV in 1956, to go along with its new minority owner. National Telefilm Associates, which later purchased WNTA-TV in the New York City area, purchased 75 percent of the station not owned by MGM in 1957. A year later, NTA bought MGM's stake and changed channel 9's calls to the current KMSP-TV. KMSP was sold to United Television (at the time 20th Century Fox's broadcasting division) the following year. The KMSP call letters were featured on prop television cameras in the May 29, 1963 episode of the CBS sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, produced by 20th Century Fox Television; the show was loosely set in the Twin Cities area. The episode was titled "The Call of the Like Wild".
During its early years until 1972, the station's studios and offices were located in a lower level of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis; the transmitter was located on top of the tower, the tallest structure in the area until 1971, along with channels 4 and 11.
As an ABC affiliate
In 1961, KMSP-TV took over the ABC affiliation from WTCN-TV (channel 11, now KARE). Throughout its years with ABC, KMSP was notorious for having a sub-standard news department with large staff turnover. Ratings were dismal with KMSP obtaining only one-third of the viewing audience of each of their two competitors, CBS affiliate WCCO-TV (channel 4) and NBC affiliate KSTP-TV (channel 5). The station's transmitter was moved in 1971 to a new tower constructed by KMSP in Shoreview, while the studios and offices relocated in 1972 to Edina on York Avenue South, across from Southdale Shopping Center.
In the late 1970s, ABC steadily rose to first place in the network ratings. Accordingly, the network sought to upgrade its slate of affiliates, which were made up of some stations that either had poor signals or poorly-performing local programming. In early 1977, ABC warned KMSP that it would yank its affiliation unless improvements were made and fast. Ratings improved by 1977 when ABC went from being the last-place network to being the first. To cash in, KMSP re-branded itself "ABC9" (approximately 20 years before the use of a network's name in a station's on-air branding became commonplace among U.S. affiliates), and retooled its newscast. Despite the changes, KMSP's news department remained a distant third behind WCCO-TV and KSTP-TV. That same year, Chris-Craft Industries purchased a minority stake in United Television's parent 20th Century Fox.
Becoming an independent once again
On August 29, 1978, ABC announced that KSTP-TV would become the network's new Twin Cities affiliate the following spring. The signing of channel 5 made nationwide news, as it had been an NBC affiliate for three decades. KSTP-TV looked forward to affiliating with the top network, as third-place NBC had been in a long ratings slump. In retaliation for losing ABC, KMSP-TV immediately removed all ABC branding and regularly preempted network programming. Channel 9 then attempted to affiliate with NBC, thinking The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson would be a good lead-out from their 10 p.m. newscast, despite low prime time ratings. However, NBC, miffed at losing one of its strongest affiliates, and not wanting to pick up ABC's rejects, turned down KMSP's offer almost immediately and signed an affiliation agreement with independent station WTCN-TV. As a result of being rejected by both ABC and NBC, KMSP-TV prepared to become an independent station. Although it now faced having to buy an additional 19 hours of programming per day, it also would not have to invest nearly as much into its news department. Most of the on-air and off-air staffers resigned, not wanting to work for a down-scaled independent operation.
The affiliation switch occurred on March 5, 1979, and KMSP debuted its new independent schedule featuring cartoons, syndicated shows and even the locally-based American Wrestling Association, with much of the station's programming having been acquired from WTCN-TV. The station rebranded itself as "Receptive Channel 9", and unveiled a new "Circle 9" logo. The station became quite aggressive in acquiring programming, obtaining broadcast rights to several state high school sports championships from the MSHSL, the NHL's Minnesota North Stars and the Minnesota Twins baseball team.
As it turned out, KMSP's transition into an independent station turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was far more successful than the station ever had been as an ABC affiliate. It became a regional superstation, available on nearly every cable system in Minnesota as well as large portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Over time, it became one of the most successful and profitable independent stations in the country. In 1981, KMSP went through another ownership change when United Television became partly owned by BHC Communications as the result of Chris-Craft Industries' swap of its then-20% stake in 20th Century Fox for a 19% ownership stake in United Television. Two years later, Chris-Craft Industries gained majority control of United Television.
First Fox affiliation, then back to independent
Channel 9 remained an independent station through 1986, when it became one of the original charter affiliates of the newly launched Fox network. However, Fox only aired programming two days a week, so KMSP was still essentially programmed as an independent station. This suited channel 9, as it wanted the prestige of being a network affiliate without being tied down to a network-dominated program schedule. For its first few years with Fox, the station served as the de facto Fox affiliate for nearly all of Minnesota and South Dakota.
However, the station did not remain a Fox affiliate for long. By 1988, KMSP was one of several Fox affiliates nationwide that were disappointed with the network's weak programming offerings, particularly on Saturday nights, which were bogging down KMSP's otherwise successful independent lineup. The station started preempting and time-shifting network shows, much to Fox's irritation. After KMSP turned down an ultimatum to run the full schedule in pattern, Fox signed an agreement with KITN (channel 29, now WFTC) to become its new Twin Cities affiliate, and KMSP reverted to being an independent station full-time. In 1992, the station relocated to its current studio facilities on Viking Drive in Eden Prairie. Along with the other United Television stations, KMSP carried programming from the Prime Time Entertainment Network from 1993 to 1995.
As a UPN affiliate
By the early 1990s, Fox had exploded in popularity; it had begun carrying strong shows that were starting to rival the program offerings of the "Big Three" networks, and had just picked up the broadcast rights to the NFL's National Football Conference. In response to this, in late 1994, Chris-Craft/United Television partnered with Paramount Pictures (which was acquired by Viacom that year) to form the United Paramount Network (UPN) and both companies made independent stations that both companies respectively owned in several large and mid-sized U.S. cities charter stations of the new network.
UPN launched on January 16, 1995 (with the two-hour premiere of Star Trek: Voyager), with channel 9 becoming a UPN owned-and-operated station due to Chris-Craft/United's ownership stake in the network – making it the second network-owned station in the Twin Cities (alongside CBS-owned WCCO). Over time, KMSP became one of UPN's most successful affiliates in terms of viewership. In addition, the station was still enjoying success with local sports programming featuring the Minnesota Twins, as well as the MSHSL championships. KMSP was stripped of its status as a UPN owned-and-operated station in 2000, after Viacom exercised a contractual clause to buy out Chris-Craft's stake in the network, although the station remained with UPN as an affiliate for another two years. Around this time, Viacom bought CBS.
Return to Fox as an owned-and-operated station
KMSP and several other stations owned by Chris-Craft were sold to Fox Television Stations in 2001 (this brought KMSP, along with San Antonio's KMOL-TV and Salt Lake City's KTVX, back under common ownership with 20th Century Fox). An affiliation swap was expected once the station's affiliation agreement with UPN ran out in 2002, given Fox's presumed preference to have its programming on a station that it already owned. Additionally, KMSP's signal was much stronger than that of WFTC, it was a VHF station that had been on the air much longer than UHF outlet WFTC. Most importantly, Fox had been aggressively expanding local news programming on its stations, and KMSP had an established news department whereas WFTC's news department did not begin operations until April 2001. The move was made easier when Fox bought WFTC from Clear Channel Communications in July 2001, in a trade deal with KTVX and KMOL (now WOAI-TV).
The affiliation switch occurred on September 8, 2002 (accompanied by a "Make the Switch" ad campaign that was seen on both stations), as Fox programming returned to KMSP-TV after a 14-year absence, while WFTC took the UPN affiliation; KMSP was the only former Chris-Craft station that was acquired and kept by Fox that did not retain its UPN affiliation. The station began carrying Fox's entire programming schedule at that time, including the Fox Box children's block (which later returned to WFTC as 4KidsTV, until the block was discontinued by Fox in December 2008 due to a dispute with 4Kids Entertainment). The affiliation swap coincided with the start of the 2002 NFL season; KMSP effectively became the "home" station for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings as a result of Fox holding the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference. Finally, in 2014, with the launch of Xploration Station which replaced Weekend Marketplace which WFTC carried, KMSP-TV began clearing the entire Fox network schedule for good.
Since Fox has affiliates in most media markets and the Federal Communications Commission's syndication exclusivity regulations normally require cable systems to only carry a given network's local affiliate, and Fox prefers only an area's affiliate be carried as opposed to a distant station for ratings tabulation purposes, KMSP was eventually removed from most cable providers outside the Twin Cities. By this time, these areas had enough stations to provide local Fox affiliates. KMSP thus effectively lost the "regional superstation" status it had held for almost a quarter-century, dating back to when it was an independent station. Due to the advent of digital television, many stations in smaller markets previously served by KMSP began operating UPN-affiliated digital subchannels towards the end of the network's run to replace that network's programming in those markets, which in turn became MyNetworkTV or The CW affiliates.
Digital channelsThe digital signal of KMSP contains two subchannels, while that of WFTC contains three. Through the use of virtual channels, WFTC's subchannels are associated with channel 9.
|Channel||Station||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|9.1||WFTC||720p||16:9||KMSP-HD||Simulcast of KMSP-TV|
|9.2||WFTC-HD||Main WFTC programming / MyNetworkTV|
|9.9||720p||16:9||KMSP-HD||Main KMSP-TV programming / Fox|
In November 2009, KMSP began broadcasting a standard definition simulcast of WFTC on its second subchannel (virtual channel 29.2), with WFTC's adding a standard definition simulcast of KMSP on its second subchannel (virtual channel 9.2) in turn. This ensures reception of both stations, even in cases where the digital channels that KMSP and WFTC operate are not actually receivable.
On June 19, 2014 KMSP-TV announced plans that, effective June 24, 2014, they will broadcast their 9.1 virtual channel via RF channel 29 (with RF channel 9 mapping to PSIP 9.9) to take advantage of its broader coverage area and allow viewers with UHF-only antennas to receive the station in high definition. The Minneapolis-St. Paul market is unique in that all three television duopolies in the market, which besides KMSP/WFTC, include Twin Cities Public Television's KTCA/KTCI and Hubbard Broadcasting's KSTP and KSTC, have merged their various signals onto the same VHF PSIP channel slots for easier viewer reference (with all but KMSP-TV transmitting on UHF). KMSP and WFTC unified all of their over-the-air channels as virtual subchannels of KMSP. As a result, the PSIPs of WFTC changed to channel 9.
KMSP-TV originally broadcast its digital signal on UHF channel 26, which was remapped as virtual channel 9 on digital television receivers through the use of PSIP. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 26 to VHF channel 9 for post-transition operations.
KMSP presently broadcasts a total of 41 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours on weekdays, four hours on Saturdays and 4½ hours on Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any television station in Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota. KMSP's Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. newscasts are subject to preemption due to network sports coverage, as is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts. The station's first news director and news anchor was Harry Reasoner when KMSP signed on (as KEYD-TV) in 1955.
The station, which had long been a distant third to WCCO-TV and KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities news ratings, began an aggressive campaign in 1973 to gain ground against its competition. After a nationwide search, management hired Ben Boyett and Phil Bremen to anchor a newscast with a new set and format, known as newsnine. The new format did not really draw many new viewers, and the station's low news budget, ill-conceived promotion and frequent technical glitches didn't help matters. One botched campaign for a news series on venereal disease, in the spring of 1974, resulted in lawsuits from two young women that claimed that their likenesses were used in promos without their permission, thus damaging their reputations. By the fall of 1975, Boyett and Bremen would be gone, replaced by respected veteran newsman Don Harrison and the station's first female anchor, Cathie Mann. These changes did little to take channel 9 out of third place, and despite ABC becoming the #1 network by 1977, KMSP's newscasts still struggled.
When KMSP lost its ABC affiliation in 1979, the station's 10 p.m. news program became a stripped-down evening newscast that was moved to 9:30 p.m., before moving to 9 p.m. and expanding to a full hour by 1981. After purchasing KMSP, Fox Television Stations began investing heavily in the station, creating channel 9's strongest news operation ever (the station even continued to produce a 10 p.m. newscast for sister station WFTC until 2006). Today, the station's 9 p.m. newscast often draws better ratings than the newscasts on KSTP-TV, which obtained the ABC affiliation from KMSP thirty years before the Fox purchase. Over time, the station gradually expanded its news programming with the debut of a 10 p.m. newscast in 2006 and the addition of an hour-long newscast at 5 p.m. in September 2008.
On June 16, 2006, during one of the station's newscasts, KMSP broadcast a "Free Press and The Center for Media and Democracy in 2006 and 2007.
On May 11, 2009, KMSP became the second television station/the Minneapolis-St. Paul market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (after KARE, which began broadcasting HD newscasts in 2006). On September 14, 2009, KMSP expanded its morning newscast to 5½ hours from 4:30–10 a.m., with the added 9 a.m. hour titled as Fox 9 Buzz (KMSP was one of several Fox-owned stations to expand their morning newscasts into the 9 a.m. hour that month, following the cancellation of The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet). Jeff Passolt and Robyne Robinson, who primarily anchored the 9 p.m. newscast, were the longest-running anchor team in the Twin Cities, according to the station – anchoring together for 14 years until Robinson left KMSP on May 11, 2010 after a 20-year run at the station.
The station is noted for having a number of Emmy-winning photojournalists and reporters. Its newscasts have been nationally honored with the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast and Spot News Coverage, in addition to awards for Investigative Reporting, and Videography. In October 2007, KMSP won 17 Emmys, along with one Emmy for its sister station WFTC; among the Emmys were wins for Best Website, several for investigative reports, along with several Emmys for advertisements such as the "Wake Up With Fox 9" and "Jeff & Robyne" image campaign spots.
In October 2008, KMSP won 17 Emmys, along with four Emmys for its sister station WFTC; including wins for advertisements for myfoxhockey.com, foxhilitestwincities.com, the "Stay Connected with Fox 9" image campaign, and best online marketing initiative for Family Guy Photos at the Fair. Sister station WFTC won multiple Emmys for its "Twins on My29 Pinball" promos, and its generic composite ads. In September 2011, KMSP won 12 Emmys, including awards for Station Excellence, Best Daytime Newscast and Best Evening Newscast; sister station WFTC also picked up two more for commercials.
Notable current on-air staff
Notable former on-air staff
- Heidi Collins — news anchor (2010–2013); previously with CNN
- Rod Grams — news anchor (1982–1991); later U.S. Senator (deceased)
- Ed Harding — sports anchor (1977–1978); later at WCVB-TV/Boston
- Don Harrison — news anchor (1975–1979); later with Headline News (deceased)
- Jack Horner — sports anchor (1950s) (deceased)
- Bob Kurtz — sports anchor, Minnesota Twins play-by-play announcer (1979–1986), later with KSTP-AM, Minnesota Wild
- Coast To Coast AM
- KPIX-TV/San Francisco
- Ahmad Rashad — sports anchor (1978); previously a player with the Minnesota Vikings and later host of NBA TV's NBA Inside Stuff
- Harry Reasoner — KMSP's first news director/anchor (1950s); later with CBS News and ABC News (deceased)
- Robyne Robinson — news anchor (1990–2010)
The KMSP TV Tower is located in Shoreview, Minnesota. KMSP owns the tower, which stands 1466 feet (446.8 m) tall, but shares it with sister station WFTC and the Twin Cities Public Television stations, KTCA and KTCI. Several FM stations are also on the tower: KQRS-FM, KXXR ("93X"), KTCZ ("Cities 97"), KTIS-FM, KSJN, KFXN-FM, KDWB, KEEY ("K102"), KMNB, and KZJK.
KMSP maintains an extensive network of translators that relay the station's signal throughout much of central and southern Minnesota.
- National Television Academy Upper Midwest Chapter list of Upper Midwest Emmy Awards
- Your Newsnine Station: The saga of KMSP-TV Minneapolis – St. Paul in the 1970s
- Minnesota TV Translators and Satellite Channels – Northpine.com
- Center for Media and Democracy
- FCC Listing of All Low Power, Full Power, and Translators, both Analog and Digital.
- Historical reference to KEYD-TV and AM, Pavek Museum of Broadcasting.
- Historical reference to 1954 applications for TV channel 9 by WDGY Radio and WLOL Radio, Box Office Magazine, April 24, 1954, page 71
- St. Louis Park Historical Society – Reasoner
- and IMDB
- "KMSP-TV Twin Cities joins ABC-TV, replaces WTCN." Broadcasting, January 30, 1961, pg. 9. 
- "ABC-TV bags largest game yet in affiliation hunt: KSTP-TV." Broadcasting, September 4, 1978, pp. 19–20.  
- , October 2, 1978, pg. 30Broadcasting"In Brief."
- WWF Champs – All Profiles
- RabbitEars TV Query for KMSP
- RabbitEars TV Query for WFTC
- Your NewsNine Station: The Saga of KMSP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul in the 1970s
- Would You Buy a Car From This Man? | Center for Media and Democracy
- FCC Levies Fines On KMSP, WMGM, TVNewsCheck, March 25, 2011.
- fox9.com – KMSP-TV FOX 9 official website
- My29TV.com – WFTC-TV official website
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- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on KMSP-TV
- Historical KMSP footage at tcmedianow.com
- RabbitEars.info website – KMSP
- Photo of Harry Reasoner in 1955 with KEYD from the Minnesota Historical Society
- KEYD studio photo, Slim Jim’s Country Western Show