KSTP (1500 AM; "1500 ESPN Twin Cities") is a Sports radio station. It is the flagship AM radio station of Hubbard Broadcasting, which also owns several other television and radio stations across the United States and some other media properties. It is the ESPN Radio affiliate for Minneapolis-St. Paul. KSTP operates at a power of 50,000 watts and shares clear-channel, Class A status on 1500 AM with WFED in Washington, D.C, from a transmitter located in Maplewood.
The station's studio facility, located on the boundary line between St. Paul and Minneapolis, is shared with sister stations KSTP-FM (94.5 FM), KSTP-TV (channel 5), KTMY (107.1 FM), and KSTC-TV (channel 45). The station's transmitter is located in Maplewood. On weekdays, KSTP airs local sports shows from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and carries ESPN programming late nights and in the early morning. Some of KSTP's shows are simulcast on other Sports Radio stations in the region.
KSTP's AM signal at 1500 kHz is the product of a 1928 merger between two other Twin Cities stations. WAMD ("Where All Minneapolis Dances") and KFOY had each started broadcasting a few years earlier. Stanley E. Hubbard's WAMD went on the air for the first time on February 13, 1925, originally broadcasting live dance music from a local ballroom. It is claimed that this was the first radio station to be completely supported by running paid advertisements. KFOY radio first took to the air on March 12, 1924 in St. Paul.
Twin Cities stations were experimenting with frequency-modulated transmissions in the late 1930s. KSTP engineers had started running W9XUP at 29.95 MHz by 1938. This "ultra-short-wave" station continued regular broadcasts until at least 1944. Other Twin Cities stations also experimented with FM, but not as extensively. WCCO operated a low-power station, but it apparently went off the air quickly (WCCO did not sign on its own FM station permanently until 1969, which is now KMNB). WTCN's FM transmission stayed around longer, but remained intermittent. KSTP's locally produced programs from this era include the 5:45 News, with newscaster Cal Karnstedt, in 1947.
KSTP was an affiliate for the NBC radio network for much of its early existence. It programmed a full service MOR radio format, in the shadow of its chief competitor, CBS affiliate 830 WCCO. KSTP was the radio home of the Minnesota Vikings from 1970-75.
In 1973, KSTP broke away from its longtime adult format and became one of four area stations at the time to program a Top 40 format, as "15 KSTP," (actually "AM1500, The Music Station") competing with other Top 40 AM stations WDGY, KDWB and later, WYOO. The competition would eventually shake itself out, with outrageous rocker WYOO dropping out after being sold in 1976, and then the staid WDGY switching to country music the following year. As for uptempo hits station 15 KSTP, it went from a tight Top 40 format to leaning adult rock in 1978, to leaning adult contemporary in 1979, to evolving into adult contemporary/talk by 1980, before it officially shifted to news/talk by 1982. Most Top 40 rock music, by this time, had moved to the FM band.
Notable hosts who have been on KSTP include Jesse Ventura, Larry Carolla, Tom Barnard, Big Al Davis, Don Vogel, John MacDougall, Griff, Mike Edwards, Geoff Charles, Joe Soucheray, James Lileks, Leigh Kamman, Barbara Carlson, Peter Thiele, Tom Mischke, Jason Lewis, Chuck Knapp, Machine Gun Kelly, Charle Bush, Mark O'Connell and Paul Brand. These broadcasters were supported by producers such as Bruce Huff, Rob Pendleton, Alison Brown, Jean Bjorgen, David Elvin (who Vogel dubbed the "Steven Spielberg of Talk Radio"), Mitch Berg and others.
The station has, for the most part, emphasized local hosts over the years, though it was one of Rush Limbaugh's first affiliates (Clear Channel-owned KTLK-FM would take over rights to Limbaugh's show in January 2006). Other syndicated hosts previously heard on KSTP include Sean Hannity, Bruce Williams, Larry King, and Owen Spann.
KSTP switched to Sports Talk on February 15, 2010. As the station had to wait for ESPN's contract with rival KFAN and its sister station KFXN to expire, it did not become an ESPN Radio affiliate until April 12 (the same day that the Minnesota Twins were scheduled to play their inaugural game at Target Field against the Boston Red Sox), and as a result Coast to Coast AM and Live on Sunday Night, it's Bill Cunningham were retained during this period; conversely, one ESPN Radio program, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, was picked up by KSTP immediately following the format change.
The station's studios are located in St. Paul and its transmitter is located in Maplewood, Minnesota.
On August 1, 2006 the station announced that it would be the new flagship station for Minnesota Twins baseball, effective with the start of the 2007 season. The Twins had been on rival WCCO since arriving in Minnesota in 1961.
The switch has caused inconveniences and dissent among some listeners, particularly in neighboring states and out-state Minnesota regions. Although KSTP is the state's second most powerful AM station, it must operate directionally at night, delivering a reduced signal to parts of the market. WCCO, by comparison, offers a much clearer and stronger signal during all times of the day than KSTP does, with its non-directional 50,000 watt signal. In response, the Twins have expanded the number of affiliates.