KQRS-FM (92.5 FM, KQ92 or 92 KQRS) is a radio station in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota broadcasting a classic rock music format. The station is licensed to suburban Golden Valley, transmits from the KMSP-TV tower in Shoreview, and is owned by Cumulus Media, with studios located in Southeast Minneapolis in the Como district.
The original call letters were KEVE-FM and the station was co-owned with sister AM station KEVE-AM. KEVE-AM's history predates the FM by 14 years; it launched in May, 1948 and was owned by Family Broadcasting until mid-1956 and was known until at least then as KEYD, co-owned with KEYD-TV 9 (now KMSP-TV and launched by Family Broadcasting in January, 1955). The KEYD Radio studios were located in downtown Minneapolis on 9th Street off of Hennepin Avenue practically next to the Orpheum Theater (see 1953 photo link below). Calls were changed to KADM to complement its AM sister (as in "Adam and Eve") in October 1963. On December 1, 1964, the call letters for both radio stations became KQRS and the two stations changed from country music to a classical music format. The KEVE-AM studios had, by 1957, moved to its transmitter site in Golden Valley at 917 Lilac Drive, set back from Minnesota State Highway 100. This location was the first studio and transmitter site for the station.
The KQRS call sign stayed with the AM until 1982, when it switched to an oldies format as KGLD before returning to the simulcast and the KQRS calls less than two years later. In 1996, the AM was again split from the FM to become one of the first affiliates of Radio Disney, a format targeting children (see KDIZ). Both stations were owned by Disney at the time. In early 2001, KQRS and KDIZ (along with sister stations 93X and 105.1/105.3/105.7) moved to studios and offices at 2000 Elm Street SE in Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota campus.
In the mid-1960s, KQRS programmed a Middle of the Road-format (MOR) with big band music and Brazilian Bossa Nova music evenings. In addition to this format, Joe Pyne's talk radio show was carried. In the summer of 1967, KQRS started experimenting with freeform rock in the late night hours with George Donaldson Fisher as DJ. This became very popular with college age listeners and in a few months the rock format began playing evenings too with DJ Alan Stone. A few months later, this became the primary format.
By 1977, the freeform rock would give way to a tightly programmed rock approach, courtesy of radio consultants Burkhart/Abrams and their "Superstars" format, which was essentially just the hits from album rock. This approach continued into 1986, with respectable, if not spectacular ratings, when KQRS signed a new consultant, Jacobs Media, and evolved into its present day classic rock format. That, coupled with its massively popular morning show, elevated KQRS to the top of the ratings.
KQRS has the distinction of unseating legendary area broadcaster WCCO (830 AM) from being the most-listend-to station in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market (12+), an achievement which WCCO had held unchallenged for decades. The KQ92 Morning Show hosted by Tom Barnard was a major element in KQ's ascendance to the top spot, along with shifting market demographics. Barnard and the KQ Morning Show also were successful in holding the top rating spot when Howard Stern made his debut on the Twin Cities airwaves in 1997. Stern lasted only until mid-1999 in Minneapolis as his ratings brought him to the number two position in morning drive time, but the station that carried the show, WRQC, had poor ratings during the rest of the day, leading to the dropping of Stern and a format change.
Rival KXXR, then known as "93X", was purchased by then-owners Capital Cities-ABC in the Spring of 1994 and became an alternative rock station (KEGE, "The Edge"). It primarily competed with the growing "REV 105," though KQRS' owners purchased the three signals comprising it in 1997. The stations went through several incarnations, including heavy metal, Urban Oldies and for the majority of the time, alternative rock, as well as Soft AC/oldies, adult contemporary and sports talk, prior to flipping to its current classic hip hop format on August 14, 2015.
With the three formats, Disney initially created what many in the industry refer to as the "wall of rock". It's easy to say that Disney dominated rock music in the Twin Cities, and used 93X and Drive 105/Zone 105 as 'flankers' to ward off competitors trying to knock off the company's cash cow KQRS.
KQRS had been programmed by award-winning programming veteran (and former DJ) David Hamilton for over 25 years, until his retirement in December of 2012. At that time, Cumulus appointed WZGC (Atlanta) Program Director Scott Jameson as a successor to Hamilton. The KQRS airstaff has remained unusually consistent for years as well. Tom Barnard and Terri Pawelk ("Traen/Trainy") host the long-running morning show (with others such a Dave Mordal, Phillip Wise, Throttle-Me Bill and KMSP-TV news personality Jeff Passolt), Wally Walker hosts middays; Lisa Miller hosts half of the afternoon drive and Brian Zepp takes the other; Ray Erick hosts evenings.
On June 1, 2007, Citadel Broadcasting closed on its purchase of ABC Radio, acquiring KQRS. KDIZ, the former KQRS 1440, was retained by Disney. Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.
In the 1996 Christmas-themed movie Jingle All the Way, the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger calls KQRS during a contest in an effort to win a rare toy doll for his child. He gets through and answers the question correctly but finds out that he only won a gift certificate.