KQRS 92.5 FM started out as KEVE-AM on September 1, 1963. For awhile they called the AM station KEVE and the FM station KADM – “Adam and Eve in the Valley.” The two stations were simulcasting classical music when they both went to KQRS.
On December 1, 1964, KEVE was changed to KQRS “Quality Radio Station,” still playing classical music.
Within a couple of years, KQRS-AM switched to a mix of jazz, Broadway tunes, public affairs, and talk shows, including one by the controversial host Joe Pine. Pine was known for making people mad, and Dick Driscoll tells of coming on the air after Pine and having people call to yell at him for things Pine said.
In 1967 KQ-FM made its first foray into album rock with its “Night Watch” program, broadcasting from midnight to 5 am. George Donaldson Fisher describes the transformation:
I began the Progressive (I referred to it as “Underground”) rock on KQRS in early 1967. The station had signed off the air at 11 p.m. when I did evenings until I was offered the overnight slot with Musicland as a sponsor. Then I was given stacks of albums of rock, bands from primarily the West Coast, to audition and play once my show began that Spring. I developed a “format” of album rock, blues, soul, some jazz, a bit of folk, classical, spoken word and anything I could find that interested listeners. The reaction to the music I played overnights was very favorable and the “format” expanded to evening hours and then into days and [by 1968] KQ became full time rock.
A 1973 ad featured a hippie smoking a pipe on a bed of nails reading a book called Happiness Through Yogurt. The ad pointed out that the station’s news came not only from AP and UPI but also from Zodiac and Earth News, and provided exclusive perspectives on ecology, abortion, drug use, and consumer protection. It also provided local-oriented public service information on groups like Y.E.S., Pharm House, Red Door, Women’s Counseling Service, and more.
On November 18, 1973, KQ AM and FM began airing “The National Lampoon Comedy Hour,” a comedy show created specifically for radio by Michael O’Donoghue, editor of The National Lampoon magazine. An article in the Star said the show included “skits, blackouts, parodies on talk and telephone shows, and interviews.” Although the show was an hour long, KQ began by airing a half-hour version at 10 pm on Sundays. Listeners remember taping the show and playing it the next day for friends.
An ad from October 1976 describes the playlist as “Folk, Jazz, Blues, Totally Album-Oriented – The Fine Rock Station.” DJs could play anything they liked and anything that pleased the station’s audience.
On July 1, 1977, the station went from “free-form” to “album rock.” In an article in the Star dated August 3, 1977, Jon Bream called the new format “commercial, superstar rock.” DJs were restricted to playing a list of songs chosen by a consulting firm in Atlanta. Bream’s article explained:
KQRS made the format change, explains Dick Poe, station vice-president and general manager, because of impending competition from four FM stations that will be increasing their signal power and potential audience this winter with new antennas atop the IDS Center.
Protests of the new format came in the form of resignations of staff, pickets, “KQ Sucks” t-shirts, loss of advertisers, and the formation of an organization called People for Progressive Radio, which strove to bring the free-form format back, either at KQ or otherwise.
In the fall of 1985, KQ adopted the Classic Rock format.
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