Twin Cities PBS

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Twin Cities Public Television logo (PBS).png
Saint PaulMinneapolis, Minnesota
United States
CitySaint Paul, Minnesota
BrandingTwin Cities PBS
ChannelsDigital: 34 (UHF)
Virtual: 2.1, 2.4, 2.5 (PSIP)
TranslatorsSee below
Affiliations2.1: TPT 2/PBS (1970–present)
2.4: PBS Kids
2.5: TPT|Now
OwnerTwin Cities Public Television, Inc.
First air dateSeptember 16, 1957 (62 years ago) (1957-09-16)
Call letters' meaningTwin Cities Area
Former channel number(s)Analog:
2 (VHF, 1957–2009)
Former affiliationsNET (1957–1970)
Transmitter power662 kW
Height411.1 m (1,349 ft)
Facility ID68594
Transmitter coordinates45°3′30″N 93°7′28″W / 45.05833°N 93.12444°W / 45.05833; -93.12444 (KTCA-TV)
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile
Saint Paul–Minneapolis, Minnesota
United States
CitySaint Paul, Minnesota
Brandingsee KTCA-TV infobox
ChannelsDigital: 23 (UHF)
Virtual: 2.2, 2.3 (PSIP)
Translatorssee article
Affiliations2.2: MN Channel
2.3: TPT Life/PBS
OwnerTwin Cities Public Television, Inc.
First air dateMay 4, 1965 (54 years ago) (1965-05-04)
Call letters' meaningdisambiguation of KTCA
Former channel number(s)Analog:
17 (UHF, 1965–2009)
16 (UHF, 1999–2010)
Transmitter power375 kW
Height412.9 m (1,355 ft)
Facility ID68597
Transmitter coordinates45°3′30″N 93°7′28″W / 45.05833°N 93.12444°W / 45.05833; -93.12444 (KTCA-TV)
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile

Twin Cities PBS (abbreviated TPT, from the name Twin Cities Public Television used on-air until 2015 and still used as the organization's legal name) is a non-profit organization based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States, that operates the Twin Cities' two Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television stations, KTCA-TV (virtual channel 2.1, UHF digital channel 34) and KTCI-TV (virtual channel 2.3, UHF digital channel 23), both licensed to Saint Paul. It produces programs for local, regional and national television broadcast, operates numerous websites, and produces rich media content for Web distribution.

Twin Cities PBS also serves the Mankato market (via K26CS-D[1] [relaying KTCA] and K29IE-D[2] [relaying KTCI] in nearby St. James through the local municipal-operated Cooperative TV [CTV] network of translators[3][4]), as that area does not have a PBS member station of its own.



Twin Cities Public Television was incorporated in 1955 as Twin City Area Educational Television.

KTCA (channel 2) began broadcasting as the first non-commercial Public television station in the state on September 16, 1957 from shabby, WWII wooden barracks-type structure on the University of Minnesota Agricultural Campus. The studios and offices were moved in the '60 to what was known as the Minnesota Statehood Centennial Memorial Building for Education Television, at 1640 Como Avenue in Saint Paul. (Incidentally, that building housed another Twin Cities commercial television station-WUCW, channel 23, from 1989 to 2018.) KTCA's first program was Exploring Science. A second station, KTCI (channel 17), was launched on May 4, 1965. Channel 17 was originally assigned to the Tedesco Brothers in the early 1950s to be a commercial station, WCOW-TV affiliated with the DuMont network, but this station never made it to air. In 1967, KTCA became the first educational television station in the United States to broadcast in color, then in 1977, it changed its corporate name to the current Twin Cities Public Television.

On September 16, 1999, the stations began their first digital television broadcasts, 10 years after moving to their current location at 172 4th Street East in downtown Saint Paul in 1989. In 2000, KTCA and KTCI were rebranded tpt2 and tpt17, paving the way for the larger family of digital broadcast services to come. In August 2003, TPT became the first broadcaster in Minnesota to launch a channel, tptHD, fully devoted to high-definition programming, and on September 16, 2005 the organization launched a full-time digital channel, tptMN, devoted entirely to local and regional programs.

In December 2005, the organization began distributing many of its productions online, making programs available through iTunes, Google Video, and Yahoo! Podcasts among others. Its website features streaming video as well as video podcasts. In 2007, TPT also plans to begin offering Video-On-Demand (VOD) thorough local cable providers.

KTCA's Nielsen ratings are among the highest of any PBS station in the country.[citation needed]

Logo used from 1999 until September 30, 2015.

During the Summer of 2015, the station teased a new name and logo, "Twin Cities PBS" was introduced, before debuting on air on September 30, 2015. During the rebrand, included an updated version of the tpt logo, that was used since 1999, by Minnesota design agency Capsule.


TPT is one of the few public television organizations that regularly produces programs for the national PBS schedule. Major productions include:

  • Grant Wood's America (1985)
  • Alive from Off Center (1985–1996)
  • Hoop Dreams (1995)
  • Liberty! The American Revolution (November 23–25, 1997; June 21 – July 26, 2004)
  • The Nine Steps To Financial Freedom (December 5, 1998)
  • The Courage to Be Rich (1999)
  • Jane Goodall: Reason for Hope (October 27, 1999)
  • American Photography: A Century of Images (October 13, 1999)
  • Transistorized (November 8, 1999)
  • Organizing from the Inside out with Julie Morgansterm (August 12, 2000)
  • American High (April 4, 2001)
  • The Road to Wealth (August 6, 2001)
  • Seth Eastman: Painting the Dakota (2002)
  • Benjamin Franklin (November 19–20, 2002)
  • Suze Orman: The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life (March 2, 2003)
  • The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's (January 21, 2004)
  • The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke (2005)
  • The New Medicine (2006)
  • Out North – MNLGBTQ History (2017)[5]

In addition, TPT has produced the children's science series:

  • Newton's Apple (October 15, 1983 – January 3, 1998)
  • DragonflyTV (January 19, 2002 – January 31, 2009; June 1, 2014 – August 24, 2014)
  • SciGirls (February 12, 2010 – March 8, 2018)

Other series included Right on the Money. Make: television, produced in collaboration with Make magazine premiered on PBS stations and on the web in January 2009.

TPT also regularly produces programs exclusively for and about Minnesota and the surrounding region. Its Friday night public-affairs program Almanac, has been aired weekly for more than 35 years. Other significant local productions include numerous concerts with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota: A History of the Land (2005), North Star: Minnesota's Black Pioneers (2004), the series Don't Believe The Hype (10 seasons), Seth Eastman: Painting the Dakota (2001), Death of the Dream: Farmhouses in the Heartland (2000), the series Tape's Rolling, Wacipi-Powow (1995), Lost Twin Cities (1995), Dakota Exile (1995), The Dakota Conflict (1993), Iron Range: A People's History (1994), and How to Talk Minnesotan (1992).

The Minnesota Channel[edit]

The Minnesota Channel (TPT MN) is a full-time statewide network originating at Twin Cities Public Television and carried on digital subchannels of nine stations. It features programming related to Minnesota and Wisconsin, including ethnic and public-affairs programming.

In early 2003, TPT began setting aside time on KTCI for the "Minnesota Channel", an evening dedicated to local and regional related programming, which expanded to a full-time digital channel on September 16, 2005. The Minnesota Channel was expanded region-wide in Minnesota and North Dakota in February 2008.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Call letters Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[6][7]
KTCA-DT 2.1 1080i 16:9 TPT 2 Main KTCA-TV programming / PBS
KTCI-DT 2.2 TPT MN Minnesota Channel
2.3 TPTLife Main KTCI-TV programming / PBS
KTCA-DT 2.4 TPTKids PBS Kids
2.5 TPTNow Weather information

KTCA-DT and KTCI-DT began broadcasting on channels 16 and 34 on September 16, 1999.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

TPT rearranged the on-air lineup on February 18, 2009.[8] TPT continued to use both KTCA-DT and KTCI-DT's transmitter, but shut down the separate tpt17 service and unified all over-the-air channels as virtual subchannels of 2. TPT's stations shut down their analog signals at 9 a.m. 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 channel allocations post-transition are as follows:[9]

  • KTCA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2; the station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 34. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 2.1.
  • KTCI-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 17; the station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 16. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as 2.3

The then-new channel lineup was originally meant to coincide with the DTV transition. When the transition's mandatory cutoff was delayed, TPT announced the new lineup would still go forward and they would continue their analog service until the new cutoff. Until then, KTCA-TV simulcasted tpt 2 and KTCI-TV simulcasted tptLife on their analog signals.

Transmission technical data[edit]

KTCA and KTCI are broadcast from the KMSP Tower in Shoreview, Minnesota. In addition, there are four digital translators in southern Minnesota relaying KTCA and one relaying KTCI.


  1. ^ RabbitEars - Digital TV Market Listing for K26CS-D
  2. ^ RabbitEars - Digital TV Market Listing for K29IE-D
  3. ^ The Webpage of Cooperative TV (CTV)
  4. ^ CTV Channel Listing via the Cooperative TV (CTV) Website
  5. ^ "About Out North". Twin Cities PBS. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  6. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KTCA
  7. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KTCI
  8. ^ Twin Cities Public Television | Digital Channels Update
  9. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]