Flashback Friday: KSTP airs Minneapolis Millers game 72 years ago this week, marking state's first commercial TV broadcast | KSTP.com

Flashback Friday: KSTP airs Minneapolis Millers game 72 years ago this week, marking state's first commercial TV broadcast

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: May 01, 2020 04:52 PM
Created: April 30, 2020 07:56 PM

Monday marked 72 years since KSTP-TV made the first commercial television broadcast in Minnesota.

In airing a Minneapolis Millers baseball game from Nicollet Park, the station made history.

The game was broadcast to about 2,500 people in the Twin Cities who had television sets at the time.

However, the work toward that moment began many years earlier. In 1928, Stanley E. Hubbard, the owner of KSTP, which was just a radio station at the time, began transmitting with the new experimental "radio picture broadcast." Four times per week, the station would broadcast still photos, although the Minnesota Historical Society notes it was so new that hardly anybody had the receivers to view the pictures.

Ten years later, Hubbard bought the first TV camera ever sold by Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and RCA's first available electronic TV set. In August 1939, he set up the first demonstration of electronic television in Minnesota, showing an American Legion parade on a closed-circuit telecast that went to six TV sets in the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel.

KSTP continued closed-circuit programming, but the audience wasn't very big, as TV sets at the time cost about $600, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

During World War II, broadcasts were temporarily suspended. However, new technology continued to be developed during the war and that later allowed for mass production of things like TV sets, which lowered the prices.

The National Broadcasting Center (NBC) made KSTP-TV its first-ever station affiliate in March 1948, and KSTP-TV on Channel 5 became Minnesota's first commercial station on April 27, 1948, broadcasting from the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul. The Minnesota Historical Society notes KSTP was the first TV station in the Northwest and the first to cover local news.

After broadcasting the Minneapolis Millers to mark the state's first commercial TV broadcast, in January 1953, KSTP became the first TV station to increase its power to 100,000 watts, which was the highest allowed by the FCC and meant viewers as far away as Duluth and Brainerd could better receive the station. Eight years later, under Hubbard's son, Stanley S. Hubbard, KSTP became the first TV station in the United States to become all-color, the Historical Society says.

The work at KSTP continues to this day as the station still broadcasts from its location on University Avenue on the border of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As for the Minneapolis Millers, after that KSTP broadcast in 1948, the team played for another seven years at Nicollet Park before moving to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington in 1956. When the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota to become the Twins for the 1961 season, the Millers ceased operation.

However, Baseball Reference notes the team did have some pretty good players over the years, including, Ted Williams in 1938 and, in 1951, Willie Mays, Hoyt Wilhelm and Ray Dandridge. The team name was resurrected in 1994 for one season before shutting down again.

The good news for minor league baseball fans is the Millers' fierce rivals later restarted and continue to play today: the St. Paul Saints.

Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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