Twin Cities PBS

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Current tpt logo used since 2015
CitySaint Paul, Minnesota
BrandingTwin Cities PBS
Affiliations2.1: TPT 2/PBS (1970–present)
2.4: PBS Kids
2.5: TPT Now (24/7 Weather)
OwnerTwin Cities Public Television, Inc.
First air date
September 16, 1957 (64 years ago) (1957-09-16)
Former call signs
KCTE-TV (CP, 6/20/1956–10/22/1956)[1]
KTCA (CP, 1956–1957)[1]
Former channel number(s)
2 (VHF, 1957–2009)
NET (1957–1970)
Call sign meaning
Twin Cities Area
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID68594
ERP662 kW
HAAT411.1 m (1,349 ft)
Transmitter coordinates45°3′30″N 93°7′28″W / 45.05833°N 93.12444°W / 45.05833; -93.12444 (KTCA-TV)
Translator(s)See below
Public license information
  • Saint Paul–Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • United States
CitySaint Paul, Minnesota
Brandingsee KTCA-TV infobox
Affiliations2.2: MN Channel
2.3: TPT Life/PBS
2.6: SD simulcast of MN Channel
OwnerTwin Cities Public Television, Inc.
First air date
May 4, 1965 (57 years ago) (1965-05-04)
Former channel number(s)
17 (UHF, 1965–2009)
16 (UHF, 1999–2010)
Call sign meaning
disambiguation of KTCA
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID68597
ERP375 kW
HAAT412.9 m (1,355 ft)
Transmitter coordinates45°3′30″N 93°7′28″W / 45.05833°N 93.12444°W / 45.05833; -93.12444 (KTCA-TV)
Translator(s)see article
Public license information

Twin Cities PBS (abbreviated TPT, from the name Twin Cities Public Television used on-air until 2015[2] 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[3] [relaying KTCA] and K29IE-D[4] [relaying KTCI] in nearby St. James through the local municipal-operated Cooperative TV [CTV] network of translators[5][6]), 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 a shabby, WWII wooden barracks-type structure on the University of Minnesota Agricultural Campus. The studios and offices were moved in the 1960s 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 Television Network, but that station never made it to air. In 1967, KTCA became the first educational television station in the United States to broadcast in color. In 1977 it changed its corporate name to Twin Cities Public Television.

On September 15, 2000, the stations began their first digital television broadcasts, 10 years after moving to 172 4th Street East in downtown Saint Paul. In 2000, KTCA and KTCI were rebranded tpt2 and tpt17, paving the way for the larger family of digital broadcast services to come. In 2003, TPT became the first broadcaster in Minnesota to launch a channel, tptHD, fully devoted to high-definition programming, and in 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 began 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 2000 until September 30, 2015.

During the summer of 2015, a new name and logo, "Twin Cities PBS", was introduced, before debuting on air on September 30, 2015.[2] The rebrand included an updated version of the tpt logo that had been used since 2000, 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)[7]

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

  • Newton's Apple – The first major children's science show (October 15, 1983 – January 3, 1998)
  • DragonflyTV (January 19, 2002 – January 31, 2009; June 1, 2014 – August 24, 2014)
  • SciGirls – A show that demonstrates the scientific method and inclusive future for science. (February 11, 2010–present)
  • Hero Elementary – An animated series using Super Hero kids to demonstrate scientific concepts and problem solving (June 1, 2020–present)

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

TPT also regularly produces programs exclusively for and about Minnesota and the surrounding region. Its Friday night public-affairs program Almanac has 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 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 subchannel 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:

Channel Station &
Video Aspect Short name Programming[8][9]
(RF 34)
1080i 16:9 TPT 2 Main KTCA-TV programming / PBS
(RF 23)
TPTMN Minnesota Channel
2.3 TPTLife Main KTCI-TV programming / PBS
(RF 34)
TPTKids PBS Kids
2.5 TPTNOW 24/7 Weather
(RF 23)
480i TPT-MN SD simulcast of Minnesota Channel

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

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

TPT rearranged its on-air lineup on February 18, 2009.[10] It 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 date on which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts by federal mandate. The station's digital channel allocations post-transition are as follows:[11]

  • 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 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 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 it would continue its 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.


City of license Callsign Translating Channel ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates Owner
Frost K16MA-D KTCA-DT 16 3 kW 90 m (295 ft) 5896 43°35′09.0″N 93°55′47.0″W / 43.585833°N 93.929722°W / 43.585833; -93.929722 (K16MA-D) Cooperative TV
K21KF-D KTCI-DT 21 89 m (292 ft) 182392 43°35′09.0″N 93°55′47.0″W / 43.585833°N 93.929722°W / 43.585833; -93.929722 (K16MA-D)
Jackson K22MY-D KTCA-DT 22 3.1 kW 98 m (322 ft) 5895 43°36′12.0″N 94°59′34.0″W / 43.603333°N 94.992778°W / 43.603333; -94.992778 (K22MY-D)
St. James K26CS-D
(in the Mankato market)
KTCA-DT 26 1.7 kW 298 m (978 ft) 13844 44°06′25.0″N 94°35′45.0″W / 44.106944°N 94.595833°W / 44.106944; -94.595833 (K26CS-D)
(in the Mankato market)
KTCI-DT 29 3 kW 179 m (587 ft) 167234 44°06′28.0″N 94°35′56.0″W / 44.107778°N 94.598889°W / 44.107778; -94.598889 (K29IE-D)


  1. ^ a b "FCC History Cards for KTCA-TV".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b "Who We Are". December 7, 2015.
  3. ^ RabbitEars – Digital TV Market Listing for K26CS-D
  4. ^ RabbitEars – Digital TV Market Listing for K29IE-D
  5. ^ The Webpage of Cooperative TV (CTV)
  6. ^ CTV Channel Listing via the Cooperative TV (CTV) Website
  7. ^ "About Out North". Twin Cities PBS. October 17, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  8. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KTCA
  9. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KTCI
  10. ^ Twin Cities Public Television | Digital Channels Update
  11. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]