KQRS-AM first signed on as KEYD, billed as Family Broadcasting, 1948. A huge booklet issued in 1949 provides pictures of everyone involved in the station and all the reasons why America is better than any other country. On September 2, 1951, the station sponsored a concert by the Blind Boys, advertised in the Minneapolis Spokesman. There was a live broadcast at 9:15 a.m. and a performance at Graham Temple at 3 p.m. A December 1951 ad said [Cassius’s] Bamboo Room is KEYED for your enjoyment, which may or may not mean that there was a tie-in.
In 1953-55 announcers included Howard Viken, Don Riley, Harry Zimmerman, Slim Jim Iverson, and Slim Jim’s brother the Vagabond Kid. The Record Rodeo show featured western, folk, and other typical American music on Saturday afternoon. No doubt the “Random Ranch” show was similar. Shows like “Record Reville,” “Melody Mart,” Platter Previews,” “The TNT Club,” and mid-1955’s “Hot Corner” don’t give us much to go on as to their format. People could come and watch Slim Jim’s show at the studios on 9th Street.
One mainstay was the “Key Room,” broadcast on Saturday mornings. Photos from the Minnesota Historical Society show the Augie Garcia Quintet performing at the River Road Club in Mendota in front of a banner that says they were featured on the “Key Room Show” on KEYD-AM. The banner gives the show’s host as Dave Reau, and the time slot as 11-11:15 am. Unfortunately the photos aren’t dated, but we do know that the band formed in 1954 when Augie returned from Korea.
A December 1, 1955, ad says “Now All Day” and announces DJs “Texas” Bill Strength and Johnny “T” from Tennessee, and Slim Jim.
In January 1956 Will Jones of the Trib talks about “KEYD radio’s new staff of imported hillbillies,” Texas Bill Strength and Johnny T. from Tennessee. The song list included such gems as “You Clobbered Me,” “Ink Dries Quicker Than Tears,” “Lie Detector,” and Take Your Cotton-Pickin’ Hands Off My Girl.” The station had been playing some Top-10, Classical, semi-classical, some religious, etc. The owners brought in Robert Purcell to inject life in the station, and a friend who booked Country & Western touring shows told him that the area was one of the top in the country. This is borne out by the number of Grand Ole Opry touring shows that came through in those days.