|Broadcast area||Minneapolis-St. Paul|
|Slogan||New Buz'n Country|
102.9 FM (MHz) (also on HD Radio)|
102.9-2 FM-WCCO-AM simulcast (HD Radio)
102.9-3 FM-Radio Disney (HD Radio)
|First air date||1969 (as WCCO-FM)|
|Callsign meaning||Minnesota Buz'n|
CBS Radio |
(CBS Radio Media Corporation)
part of CBS Corp. cluster with TV station WCCO-TV
KMNB (102.9 FM, "Buz'n Country") is a radio station in Minneapolis-St. Paul that carries a country format. KMNB is owned by CBS Corporation. Its main transmitter is located on the KMSP Tower in Shoreview, Minnesota, with backup facilities on the nearby Telefarm installation. The station's studios are located in the CBS Radio Building at 625 Second Avenue South in downtown Minneapolis.
The station began as WCCO-FM in 1969, the FM broadcast of local powerhouse WCCO 830 AM, but was hampered by its limited signal and never carried 'CCO's signal very far. It also carried programming separate from the AM, with a mix of Beautiful Music and MOR album cuts and soft vocals, not unlike the pre-rock KQRS. The station later added two DJ shifts separate from the AM, hosted by Denny Long and Lou Lattson, playing a free-form rock music format, which included some underground rock tracks, along with full-service elements such as news and weather.
Until 1973, the station only operated for the minimum amount of time required to keep the license. However, when the transmitter was upgraded full-power full-time to 100,000 watts in November 1973, a broad-based music format was launched. By 1975, the format evolved to Adult Contemporary, though they continued to play more deeper album tracks than most AC stations. This approach was essentially an early example of Adult Album Alternative (AAA). In that same year, WCCO-FM picked up Dr. Demento. Personalities included Paul Stagg, Carl Lensgraf, Terri Davis, Tom Ambrose, Curt Lundgren, Johnny Canton, Peter May and Pat O'Neill. Tim Russell, currently a cast member of "A Prairie Home Companion," hosted middays and created memorable characters like traffic reporter "Captain Buzz Studley."
WCCO-FM was a successful station until new IDS Center transmitters for competing stations were built in 1979, causing damaging interference to the station's broadcast signal. In addition to the interference, the station was affected by a strike, at about the same time. The striking FM airstaff was temporarily replaced with staff with little experience, making the station sound unpolished compared to its usual presentation. The station also began to face formidable competition after a relaunch of KS95 with a comparable live AC format. And it gravitated to a stricter playlist as the 1980s wore on. In 1983, Top 40 became a massively popular format across the country. WLOL, which picked up the format by 1982, was one of the most successful stations in the market, and KDWB was just returning to the FM band. WCCO-FM switched to Top 40 under Program Director John Long that year. Results were dismal, and both the format and Long lasted just a few months.
The "lite" format was introduced in 1983, along with new call letters WLTE. In addition to the adult contemporary format, the station switched to all-Christmas music from mid-November to midnight on Christmas, billing itself in that period as "The Official Christmas Music Station". Rival Kool 108, an oldies station, also programs nothing but Christmas music during this period.
Until the early 2000s, the station has been known as "W-Lite" and "Lite Rock 103 FM", having rounded the frequency up to "103" since the WCCO-FM days. The frequency approximation worked in the days before digital tuners, and it eliminated confusion with KEEY, on 102.1. It became "102.9 Lite FM" in the mid-2000s, following a trend of abandoning the practice of frequency rounding to make stations easier to find on digital tuners.
During the month of December 2011, WLTE became the subject of format change rumors, amid falling ratings. On December 16, 2011, the station dismissed its entire on-air staff, effective December 23, while also dropping all liners of Lite FM and promoting "Something Fresh Coming To The Twin Cities". CBS then announced on December 19 that the station would switch to a country music format, to be known as "Buz'n 102.9", effective December 26 at 8:00 AM. However, 102.9 switched to country at 6:00 p.m. on December 25, about 14 hours earlier than originally planned. The final song on "Lite FM" was "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy, while the first song on "Buz'n" was "My Kinda Party" by Jason Aldean. On December 26, 2011, WLTE changed its call letters to KMNB to reflect the new branding. WLTE was the last of four CBS Radio stations to drop the AC format in 2011 after March's flip of WIAD in Washington, D.C. from AC to hot adult contemporary (WWFS in New York City followed suit on October 12 to follow WIAD's route) and WCFS-FM in Chicago on August 1 that year, when they went to all-news to simulcast WBBM.
- "New country station BUZ'N 102.9 to replace WLTE". Star Tribune. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KMNB
- Radio-Locator information on KMNB
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KMNB
- Radiotapes.com Historic airchecks of Minneapolis/St. Paul radio stations dating back to 1924 including WCCO-FM (including an aircheck from May 1969 when the station first went on the air) and other Twin Cities stations
- TwinCitiesRadioAirchecks.com This site has some recent photos of Glen Olson, Beth Kidd and Johny Canton at the control board and on the air. The site also has many airchecks of Twin Cities radio from the 1970s, including WCCO-FM, WLTE's predecessor