History of Hubbard Broadcasting

 (courtesy ESPN)

Hubbard and Company (Twin City Barber College) received the call letters WAMD at their request on the date the Radio Division of the Bureau of Navigation, U.S. Department of Commerce issued a new broadcast station license at Minneapolis, Minnesota. On February 13, 1925, the Bureau authorized the new station to operate with 500 watts on 244 meters (equal to 1230 kilocycles). WAMD’s inaugural program was heard February 13, 1925 from the Marigold Gardens, 12 Grant Street at Nicollet. It broadcast from a small room adjoining the popular dance hall which provided Hubbard and Company a small transmitting room in an adjacent structure “to broadcast orchestras appearing at the Gardens,” and also put up the antenna poles atop its building. WAMD presented dance band music programs 5 nights a week.


By May 1925, WAMD’s license was issued jointly to Hubbard and Company and to the Twin City Barber College, but, on July 24, 1925, a new license was issued to WAMD in the name of Hubbard and Company (a partnership). Aviator Stanley Eugene Hubbard, a World War pilot was Station Director of WAMD which, from its inception was :a commercial proposition.” WAMD’s studio and transmitter location changed in August 1925 when it moved to the Radisson Hotel, located at 49 South Seventh Street in downtown Minneapolis. A studio, 24 ft. by 30 ft., covered with monk’s cloth, was installed in the hotel building with two steel masts, 50 feet above the Radisson roof and 75 feet apart, supporting WAMD’s inverted “L”-type cone antenna. Its transmitter was placed on the top floor adjacent to the building’s elevator hoisting motors. WAMD’s technician, under Station Director Stanley Hubbard was M.G. Goldberg.

WAMD’s ownership incorporated in March 1926 as The Radisson Radio Corporation. In mid-1926, the station’s slogan used both on the air and off was “The Call of the North.” While assigned 1230 kilocycles by Governmental license, WAMD on July 12, 1926 “pirated to a different wave” for a period of a week — that of 294 meters (equal to 1020 kilocycles) — without authority to do so. On July 22,1926it was reported back on 1230 kilocycles. At this time, radio regulation had broken down, and many station changed wavelengths and raised power levels at will to improve their position once new radio laws were passed. A court ruling in the summer of 1926 held that the Government was powerless, under existing lady (the Radio Act of 1912) to assign frequencies and power levels. WAMD had reportedly “jumped” to 1020 kilocycles in November 1926 and increased its power illegally to 1,000 watts.

Both the Radisson Radio Corporation and Stanley E. Hubbard became joint licensees of WAMD in the spring of 1927. In June 1927, WAMD was assigned to operate on 1330 kilocycles by the Federal Radio Commission and was by now operating with a power of 500 watts. The station suffered a studio fire at its quarters within the Radisson Hotel building in 1927. In late 1927, WAMD still “The Call of the North” was reassigned to operate on 1350 kilocycles and began dividing time on the new dial position with KFOY at nearby St. Paul.

In early 1928, the National Battery Company (L.J. Shields, President and owner) seeking a broadcast station of its own, formed the National Battery Broadcasting Corporation and acquired the Radisson Radio Corporation and entered into a purchase agreement with Stanley E. Hubbard. In February 1928, the national Battery Broadcasting Corporation acquired WAMD and a month later the corporation acquired WAMD’s sharetime partner at St. Paul, KFOY. A construction permit was issued in February by the FRC for higher-powered station and the call letters KSTP were assigned to it. Under a license bearing the call letters WAMD. a first test program was undertaken during the post midnight hours on February 27, 1928 from newly constructed transmitting facilities at Westcott, Minnesota. While in its newly installed transmitter there was a capable of 10,000 watts, WAMD was now broadcasting with 2,000 watts on an interim basis. While WAMD’s license had been extended through April 1st, KFOY’s broadcasts were terminated and its license returned to the FRC for cancellation. On March 29, 1928, WAMD was consolidated with KFOY to form a new station, KSTP. Two licenses were canceled and one new on issued. In early April 1928, new studios were inaugurated in St. Paul, the twin city to which KSTP was now licensed. Studio quarters in the St. Paul Hotel were provided. An associate studio in the Radisson Hotel continued to be used by the merged station. By June 1928, the station’s power level was boosted to 5,000 watts.

KSTP joined the NBC Blue “chain” in the fall of 1928 at that network’s Twin City affiliate. Its NBC network liaison changed in 1930 from the NBC Blue to the NBC Red network. On April 2, 1931 the town name of Westcott was officially changed to Radio Center, MN. Radio Center, located southeast of St. Paul was the site of KSTP’s twin towers and its “T” type antenna system. By August of 1931, a new vertical wire antenna was installed there.

By 1932 KSTP operated 19 hours a day. Kenneth M. Hance former co-owner of a Fargo, ND station became assistant manager of KSTP. He joined the St. Paul station’s staff in 1928. Stanley E. Hubbard continued at General manager of the NBC affiliate. The FCC granted a construction permit for KSTP to raise power from 10,000 to 50,000 watts in March 1933.In late 1935 concurrent with the official power increase, KSTP’s transmitting site was moved from Radio Center, MN to a new site at Snelling Ave and County Rd C. At that time the new 363-foot uniform taper steel vertical radiator was installed at KSTP’s new site, 4.5 miles NW of downtown St. Paul. General manager Stanley E. Hubbard became President of KSTP’s licensee in November 1935 replacing L.J. Shields.

Kenneth M. Hance was promoted to Co-General Manager in early 1938. By mid-1938, KSTP’s air slogan was “The Northwest’s Leading Radio Station.” It was now in daily operation from 6am until 1am with NBC Red network programming. In 1939, KSTP raised its day power to 50,000 watts while night power remained at 10,000 watts. Three Truscon 342-foot self-supported steel vertical radiators were erected at a site adjacent to Highway 61 and County Rd C a few miles east of its former site and were placed on the air when the daytime power increase took place. It was now broadcasting two directional patterns day and night from the site. K.M. Hance became KSTP’s GM in 1939.

In 1941, KSTP’s licensee name was changed from the National Battery Broadcasting Corporation to KSTP Inc. with Stanley E. Hubbard its President and majority owner. A portion of the KSTP Inc. stock was sold to Mr. Hubbard’s friends. In the early forties, KSTP’s old Radisson Hotel studio in Minneapolis was closed. In 1945, construction began on renovated studio quarters in downtown Minneapolis’s “Radio City” Theatre building. the new facilities were opened the following year. Kenneth M. Hance was named Vice President and Treasurer of KSTP Inc. in 1946. On March 20, 1947 KSTP Inc. was fully acquired by Stanley E. Hubbard, who purchased the remaining shares of stock for $825,000.

Studios of KSTP in the St. Paul Hotel were abandoned in early 1948 when the NBC affiliate moved to its new “Radio City” studio and office building at 3415 University Ave S.E., St Paul. The new 3-story structure was designed for future television operation as well, with KSTP’s studios and offices located on the ground floor. A 635-foot tower was constructed on the property to support the KSTP-FM antenna and was to provide antenna space for upcoming TV Broadcasts. The KSTP-AM transmitter continued to be situated at a site on Highway 61 and Country Rd C.

K.M. Hance became Executive Vice President as well as continuing as Treasurer of KSTP Inc. in 1949. In 1955, Stanley S. “Stub” Hubbard became station manager of KSTP. His father continued tin the dual position of President and GM. In 1961, a new wing to the University Ave. building was added at a cost of 9 million dollars, providing expanded studios and office space for KSTP and KSTP-TV. In 1962 Stub Hubbard was elected to Vice President and Station Manager. By mid-1964, KSTP started airing a “Quality Music” format from 5a-1a. In 1965, Eugene G. Clark became KSTP’s Station Manager. In 1967, Stanley E. Hubbard was elected Chairman of the Board of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. while Stanley S. Hubbard was currently appointed President and GM. Longtime executive Kenneth M. Hance died at the age of 74 on March 13, 1969.

John J. Nugent was names GM of KSTP in July 1972. In 1973, KSTP adopted an “Adult Contemporary” music format and in January 1974 its 46 year association with NBC came to a close when KSTP became an independent facility. KSTP operated 24 hours a day using the air slogan “15 KSTP, The Music Station” by 1976 from its transmitting site in Maplewood. KSTP was one of the “first generation broadcaster-owned commercial radio stations” in the US at this time. Ownership of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. was in a family trust on behalf of 82-year-old Board Chairman Stanley. E. Hubbard and his son Stanley S. Hubbard.

In 1980 the station became “News Plus Radio” and in 1982 made the switch from “Adult Contemporary” music to a “News/Talk” programming format. Also in 1982, it joined the ABC Information Network and by August was carrying national talk programming from the new ABC TalkRadio Network.

Studios were moved from St. Paul to Maplewood in early 1985. The stations licensee name was changed in 1985 from Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. to KSTP-AM and John Mayasich was named its new president. The stations NBC liaison ended in 1997 and a year later it affiliated with the ABC Entertainment Network, concurrently dropping programming from NBC’s “TalkNet.” Sports talk programming was added in 1988.

In 1990, Virginia H. Morris, the daughter of co-owner Stanley S. Hubbard was named GM of the “News/Talk/Sports” outlet. Ginny Morris rose to Vice President and GM in 1992. Also that year, KSTP dropped its ABC Entertainment Network and ABC TalkRadio network affiliations. Founder Stanley Eugene Hubbard, KSTP’s chairman of the Board died at 95 on December 27 after a long illness.

Virginia H. Morris succeeded John Mayasich as President of licensee KSTP-AM Inc. in 1998 while continuing as GM. Studios were moved from Maplewood back to St. Paul in 1999.

America’s First KSTP-AM 1500 History in the Making

1923 – KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first commercial radio station.

1925 – KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first radio station to employ a full time news department.
– KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first radio network between Chicago and the Twin Cities
– KSTP-AM 1500…becomes the Midwest’s first radio station to provide live ringside broadcasts of prize fights.

1926 – KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first 50,000 watt clear channel radio station.

1928 – KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s musical favorite by providing the largest live radio staff orchestra in the nation.

1930 – KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first radio station to affiliate with the UPI.
– KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first radio station to cover a golf tournament live.

1931 – KSTP-AM 1500…becomes America’s first radio station to use a mobile short wave radio unit.

Hubbard Broadcast Journalism “Firsts”

Since entering the communications business in 1923, the Hubbard family has pioneered a number of significant news and broadcasting developments. Among them:

1923 – Ex-barnstormer Stanley E. Hubbard returns to the Twin Cities and starts WAMD, the nation’s first commercial radio station.

1925 – WAMD originates daily newscasts with Ruel Barlow, head of the University of Minnesota’s school of Journalism at the microphone. It becomes America’s first radio station with a full-time news department.

1928 – KSTP, created as a successor to WAMD, becomes the first radio station to establish a full-time education department. Its mobile short-wave transmitter is the forerunner of mobile news units.

1929 – When AP and UP (now UPI) refuse to sell their services to radio stations, Hubbard launched the Radio News Association, with bureaus in New York, Chicago, Washington DC and the Twin Cities, plus a correspondent in Los Angeles. UP relents and offers its service to radio stations; KSTP is its first customer.
Hubbard Broadcasting History


1923 – Stanley E. Hubbard founds world’s first advertiser supported radio station, 500 watt WAMD (Where All Minneapolis Dances) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

1925 – WAMD establishes Chicago/Twin Cities/Los Angeles news wire using postal telegraph lines.

1925 – WAMD provides ringside broadcasts of prize fights

1926 – WAMD provides first play-by-play broadcast of a hockey game to Midwest listeners

1927 – Hubbard Broadcasting purchases KFOY and exchanges licenses from WAMD and KFOY for new 10,000 watt license

1927 – Hubbard Broadcasting founds KSTP-AM in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

1928 – President Calvin Coolidge presses key in White House to put KSTP-AM on air. Power eventually increases to 50,000 watt clear channel

1928 – KSTP-AM joins “Blue Network” of National Broadcasting Company (NBC)

1929 – KSTP-AM provides first live coverage of a United States Open golf tournament with portable transmitter wheeled around course in daughter Alice Hubbard’s baby carriage.

1930 – Hubbard Broadcasting forms first national radio news service, with bureaus across the country, including Chicago, New York, the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C.

1930 – KSTP-AM becomes first independent station in United States to form special events department and equip it with mobile short-wave unit

1938 – Hubbard Broadcasting purchases TV camera from RCA; first TV camera ever sold

1939 – KSTP-TV demonstrates television at Minnesota State Fair where 200,000= people see a TV for the first time

1948 – KSTP-TV goes on air in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and becomes first TV station between Chicago and Los Angeles

1950 – KSTP-TV establishes nation’s first seven-days-a-week late night newscast

1966 – KSTP-FM goes on air in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota

1981 – Hubbard Broadcasting applies to FCC for Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) license and founds U.S. Satellite Broadcasting (USSB).

2000 – KVBM-TV becomes KSTC-TV and together with KSTP-TV creates one of the first major-market duopolies

2000 – Hubbard Broadcasting announces entertainment network MOVIEWATCH

2006 – MOVIEWATCH becomes ReelzChannel. a multi-media brand dedicated to entertaining, informing, direction and connecting fans to everything about movies.

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