|City of license||Edina, Minnesota|
|Broadcast area||Minneapolis-St. Paul|
|Slogan||"Quality music, true variety."|
|Frequency||96.3 FM (MHz)|
|First air date||1993 (as KARP)|
|Callsign meaning||"K TWiN"|
|Former callsigns||KQXA (1991-1993)
|Owner||Northern Lights Broadcasting|
|Webcast||Listen Live 32kbps stereo AAC
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KTWN-FM (96.3 FM) is an American radio station licensed to Edina, Minnesota and serving the Twin Cities area. KTWN-FM is currently airing a hot adult contemporary music format, branded as "96.3 K-Twin." It is the flagship station of Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins. The station is owned by Northern Lights Broadcasting, which in turn is owned by the family of Twins owner Jim Pohlad.
The frequency was originally licensed as KQXA by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on August 15, 1991. In August 1993, the station signed on as KARP, playing a wide mix of classic rock, oldies, country music and farm reports.
To increase the value of the station, KARP's owners decided to seek FCC permission to increase power and move the transmitter closer to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The transmitter was moved farther east and power was increased from 50,000 watts to 100,000 watts, giving the station a city-grade signal over much of the west metro area. The move also resulted in WJMC-FM (96.3 FM) in Rice Lake, Wisconsin downgrading from 100 kW to 50 kW, changing its frequency to 96.1 FM, and moving its transmitter north. The actions were approved by the FCC in September 1999.
Buzzing like a "B"
In February 2000, KARP was purchased by a group consisting of local investors Kandu Communications and Cincinnati, Ohio-based Blue Chip Broadcasting, with the aim of bringing a quasi-urban-formatted music FM station to Minnesota for the first time. The station moved its transmitter to a new site later that month. The transfer in ownership to Blue Chip Broadcasting took place just after Noon on May 18, 2000. The station played all requests during the morning hours, with goodbyes from the DJ's and other staff. Morning hosts John Carrigan and John Mons gave a final farewell, followed by "Happy Trails." They also announced that the KARP call sign and format would be moving to KKJR (106.9 FM) in Hutchinson, Minnesota, on June 1. Following KARP's departure from 96.3 FM, the station began stunting, repeating a short list of songs from Prince and Janet Jackson.
The new B96 (KTTB) debuted on June 1, 2000. In May 2001, Blue Chip sold the station to Radio One, a company that specializes in urban formats. However, Radio One allowed B96 to maintain its rhythmic formatted playlist (although B96 leaned towards urban and played some urban exclusive songs that most rhythmic stations normally didn't play).
Off to the "Northern Lights"
On June 14, 2007, Northern Lights Broadcasting, owned by the family of Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad, announced the purchase of KTTB from Radio One for $28 million (USD). The deal was approved by the FCC on August 20, 2007. Northern Lights had already stated that it would keep the station's staff and format intact.
In September 2008, Northern Lights Broadcasting filed an application to change KTTB's city of license from Glencoe to Edina (the city in which the station's studios are located), move its transmitter to the tower in St. Louis Park used by AM stations WWTC and KYCR, and decrease its power (from 100,000 to 24,000 watts) and antenna height. Northern Lights purchased 1310 AM KRBI in St. Peter in late July, and changed its call sign to KGLB. It plans to change KGLB's city of license to Glencoe (which has no other radio stations licensed to it) to maintain local service to Glencoe. The deal was not approved, but Northern Lights' application to change KTTB's city of license to Edina, move the transmitter to New Hope, and decrease its power (from 100,000 to 19,000 watts) was approved, and KTTB began transmitting from New Hope on August 20, 2009.
The move has strengthened KTTB's signal in urbanized portions of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The lower power meant the station lost coverage in the nearby smaller markets of Mankato and St. Cloud where it also had significant listenership.
Getting more "Now"
At Noon on January 6, 2010, Northern Lights changed the station's name to "96.3 Now" and call sign to KHTC, officially dropping the urban lean at the station, while retaining the rhythmic format. The final song on B96 was "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child, while the first song on Now was Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A.". The move put KHTC in an even closer rivalry to mainstream Top 40 (CHR) station KDWB-FM. According to radio promos, the station also features Commercial-Free Mondays. While they may be challenging KDWB, KHTC's Program Director Sam Elliott insists that "96.3 Now" will continue to have a Rhythmic flavor, will be more "Dance-oriented" than KDWB, will not play any songs that are too "Disney Pop", and will not add any pop/rock artists (like Nickelback). KHTC is still a reporter in Nielsen BDS' Rhythmic Airplay Panel as well as in Mediabase's Rhythmic Chart because of its rhythmic direction and playlist, and therefore does not meet the criteria to be included on their mainstream Top 40/CHR reporting panels.
The move to "K-Twin"
On December 29, 2011, Northern Lights announced that KHTC would drop the rhythmic format and "Now" branding on January 1, 2012, and shift to a modern adult contemporary format, branded as "96.3 K-Twin." At Midnight on January 1 (after "In Paris" by Jay-Z and Kanye West), the station officially flipped to the new format, with "Misery" by Minneapolis band Soul Asylum being the first song being played. The "K-Twin" playlist featured, according to Northern Lights' preview of the change, "today’s guitar based, pop alternative music" and similar, gold-based hits from 1985 onward. "K-Twin," though it was described as a modern adult contemporary format with an alternative rock lean, was classified as adult top 40 because of rhythmic content (such as Bruno Mars' "It Will Rain") and non-alternative classic hits (such as Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me"), and to differ itself from hot adult contemporary rival KSTP-FM (that station reports to the Mediabase/BDS hot AC panels). Even some 1970s staples could be found on the station, such as "Jamming" by Bob Marley. The artist roster on "K-Twin" features acts ranging from Bon Jovi and U2 to Adele and Green Day, along with songs and artists that, according to Northern Lights, "aren't currently being played in the (Twin Cities) market." It leans in a much older direction versus KSTP; however, as of April 2012, the station is now on the Nielsen BDS hot AC panel. The station in the Modern AC era also competed against Cities 97, which shared many of the titles played.
Another noticeable emphasis of "K-Twin" is its connections with Twin Cities listeners and its employment of local personalities, including a morning show (which debuted on January 4) that featured Tone E. Fly, a KDWB alum and a former "B96" and "96.3 Now" jock, former Miss Minnesota International contestant Danni Star who is also a former "Now" jock, and KARE news personality Eric Perkins.
With the flip to "K-Twin", the station changed its call sign to KTWN-FM, which mirrors the calls on Northern Lights' country-formatted AM station in Glencoe, Minnesota. The calls and "K-Twin" branding were originally used by what is now KQQL from 1968 to 1983.
By the spring of 2012, KTWN evolved to a straightforward hot adult contemporary format playing hits from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and today. The station is trying to fill a void left by KSTP-FM, which has moved closer towards Top 40 (CHR).
On August 15, 2012, the Minnesota Twins announced KTWN would be the team's new radio flagship, starting with the 2013 season.
- Broadcasting News-September 1999
- Broadcasting News-January 2000
- Broadcasting News-May 2000
- Broadcasting News-May 2001
- Vomhof, John Jr Pohlads, Hasselquist team on BMW deal Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal December 21, 2007
- Northern Lights Broadcasting Acquires KTTB FM - B96 - Entertainment - redOrbit
- "B96 Changes Format to Top 40" from Metromix Twincities (January 6, 2010)
- "K-Twin In The Twin Cities?" from RadioInsight.com, updated 12/29/2011
- KTWN-FM website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KTWN
- Radio-Locator information on KTWN
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KTWN