Thanks to Stuart Held, author of The History of KDXL, published in 1991. Please contact us if you have any additions or corrections, especially in more recent years.
Radio station KDXL had its genesis in the simple act of kids wanting to be on the radio. They would spin records in their (or their sisters’) bedrooms, announce ball scores, even read comic books, anything to simulate being on the air. With the help of a crystal radio and some wires, the kids could actually be heard within a four-to-five block radius and had listeners.
The students lobbied to have their own station inside the High School, and were granted a trial period during Interim, 1973. Joel Held and Jeff Locketz were give a small back room in the front office and were able to broadcast for a few hours during the lunch period and at the end of the day. The station only went into certain rooms and the lunch room. They had enough equipment, borrowed from various departments, to record shows ahead of time and play them during school. They were required to air educational programs, including a driving instruction tape and various public service announcements. They resumed broadcasting in May 1974 and operated on a limited basis in 1974 and ’75. Joel Held rememberd that in 1974-1975, for a short while, they would use alternate call letters, both WHAT and WSLP. Joel also remembers that in 1974, Rob Sherwood of KDWB radio fame stopped by to give them some encouragement.
In October 1975, radio station KTS (named for Tom Dawson and Scott Segelbaum) made its debut, with the support of teacher Pete Peterson. The students needed a quiet place to make their recordings, and ended up in Room 3 in the basement. The audio-visual advisor, Don Shute, helped Tom and Scott find equipment. The station broadcast into the cafeteria. The principal required that all types of music be played, but when they would play a country song, “the kids in the lunch room would go nuts. Sometimes the wires to speakers were snapped.” They eventually won the battle to avoid country and classical music. The station went back to the call letters KSLP.
In 1976 teachers Pete Peterson and David Litsey began to investigate the possibility of the station getting a 10 watt license. They contacted the FCC and in June the School Board provided $1,000 to cover expenses of applying for the license. By the fall of 1977, the call letters were changed to KDXL – the D “meant nothing” and the XL meant Extra Large. The station was moved once again, to Room 8 – a spare music room. School carpenters built the studios and school electricians wired the boards.
A perpetual controversy was how much disco to play. Some students loved it, some hated it.
In May 1977, Independent School District #283 received a ten-watt FM license, and the station moved to an art room for better reception. Scott Sklenar was the first Program Director for KDXL when it started broadcasting in the school in late fall of 1977. KDXL went to its new frequency, 91.7 on February 21, 1978. Scott Segelbaum and Tom Dawson were invited back to make the first broadcast and Tom was the first one on the air. It could be heard within a five-mile radius of the school, which encompassed nearly all of St. Louis Park and had listeners in Minneapolis and Edina as well. The station had a staff of 45 students The actual license was received on April 1, 1978.
A federal grant paid for more equipment in January 1979. Program Director was so successful in promoting the station that it actually showed up in 23rd place out of 27 stations in the area.
In February 1980, Sarah Porter became the first female disk jockey on KDXL. Carolyn Charles became an additional faculty advisor.
Promotion continued to grow, with the station issuing their own “street sheets” or Top 40 lists for distribution to record stores.
The station was relocated to frequency 106.7 in April 1985. Its former proximity to giant KQRS was the reason for the switch.
Chris Beckman continues the story:
From the Fall of 1992 through the early Spring of 1995, there was a Thursday night heavy metal show called “The Metal Storm.” Airing from 7-10pm local central time, the show was pretty much the only weekly KDXL show of any kind to have regular listeners and regular callers, who often contributed to the “flair” of the show.
The early version of the show in 1992 and 1993 featured Class of 1996 St. Louis Park High graduate Lance Vein, and Class of 1997 SLP graduate Chris Beckman. Baseball teammates within SLP, Vein and Beckman quickly established a reliable local metal show that grew to include several other SLP graduates, who all went on to make a big impact on KDXL in the mid to late 1990s.
I am going to call it the Spring of 1995 at Park High. KDXL was rolling along in the basement of the high school as it had for some number of years now. But a few shows, in fact one show, “The Metal Storm,” which had grown to include about 6-10 Park graduates from 1995-99, was in the focus.
One thing led to another, including the lesser involvement of founding member Beckman, and the FCC busted the late night metal show for several rules violations.
The entire radio station was shut down for a time, before returning in the center of the school’s “circle,” rather than in the basement of the school as in the past. “The Metal Storm” had been shamed. But were they really to blame?
Long term / lifetime bans ensued for several Metal Storm members, and “The Metal Storm” never again recovered as a full force metal show on KDXL. Big changes came with the shutdown and re-location into the circle, and the station never again regained it’s old “flair” and local repertoire.
Independent School District #283 voted to shut down KDXL on June 25, 2018. On Jun 26, 2018, the School District informed the FCC that the station would cease operations on July 1. The license was cancelled on July 16, 2018.
KDXL PROGRAM DIRECTORS
1973-74: Joel Held, Jeff Locketz, Jeff Paletz
1974-75: Joel Held, Jeff Locketz, Stan Brooks
1975-76: Tom Dawson, Scott Segelbaum
1976-77: Scott Segelbaum
1977-78: Scott Sklener
1978-79: Andy Bloom
1979-80: Jed Stillman, Stuart Held, John Peterson, Bob Nelson, Gregg Litman
1980-81: Stuart Held, John Peterson, Kevin Knudsen
1981-82: Dave Swerdlick, Todd Hammond, Gary Sklenar
1982-83: Todd Hammond, Dave Swerdlick, Gary Sklenar, John Vaida
1983-84: Todd Hammond