|City||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Broadcast area||Greater St. Louis|
|Branding||The Big 5-50, KTRS|
|Owner||KTRS-AM License, LLC|
(CH Radio Holdings/St. Louis Cardinals)
First air date
|June 26, 1922(as KSD)|
Former call signs
|KSD (1922-1982, 1993-1997)|
Call sign meaning
|K Talk Radio St. Louis.|
|Translator(s)||106.1 K291CW (St. Louis)|
KTRS (550 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in St. Louis, Missouri. The station airs a talk radio format with some sports. It is owned by the St. Louis Cardinals and CH Radio Holdings. Comedy actor John Goodman is a part owner of the station. The studios and offices are located in Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights.
KTRS broadcasts with 5,000 watts of power, day and night. It uses a directional antenna at night to avoid interfering with other stations on AM 550. The transmitter is located near Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. KTRS can also be heard in St. Louis and its adjacent suburbs on 250-watt FM translator K291CW at 106.1 MHz.
On weekdays, KTRS airs local shows during the day and evenings. "Farmer Dave" Schumacher has an agricultural show at 5 a.m., followed by McGraw Milhaven and Kelly Jackson in morning drive time, Jennifer Blome and Wendy Wiese in late mornings, John Carney and Julie Buck in early afternoons, Heidi Glaus and Josh Gilbert in afternoon drive time, The Big Sports Show with Brendan Weise in the early evening followed by Ray Hartmann at night. Two syndicated shows are heard: The Jim Bohannon Show overnight and First Light airs before sunrise.
Weekend programming includes shows on money, health, the outdoors, veterans, golf, movies and pets, with occasional sports events. Most hours begin with world and national news from ABC News Radio.
The station was originally owned by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, beginning experimental broadcasts in 1921 at 833 kilocycles with 27 watts of power. The official sign-on took place on June 26, 1922. The original call sign was KSD, standing for Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. KSD moved to 550 AM in 1923.
Power was increased to 5,000 watts daytime and 1,000 watts nighttime in 1934. With a new transmitter in place, in November 1948 KSD increased its night output to match its daytime output, 5,000 watts.
KSD was one of the first eight radio stations of the NBC Red Network in 1926. KSD carried NBC's schedule of dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band broadcasts during the "Golden Age of Radio." The NBC network affiliation lasted until the early 1980s.
Sister station KSD-TV (now KSDK) went on the air February 8, 1947. Because of KSD Radio's long affiliation with NBC, the TV station also began broadcasting NBC shows. In 1980, the owners of KSD acquired FM station 93.7 KCFM. The call sign was changed to KSD-FM, since those call letters were well known in the St. Louis radio market. In 1983, the AM station gave up the heritage call sign but they continue on KSD-FM, now owned by iHeartMedia, Inc.
As network programming passed from radio to television, KSD switched to a full service, middle of the road format, playing popular adult music, with news, talk and sports shows. Then as Top 40 radio became more popular, KSD switched to a contemporary hits format in early 1971.
As Top 40 listening shifted from AM to FM radio, KSD began an all-news radio format in early 1980. KSD flipped to country music the following year, and in 1983, KSD became KUSA. March 17, 1993 saw the restoration of the KSD call sign and a switch back to all-news, this time utilizing the full-time CNN Headline News network feed. The station flipped to adult standards in January 1995.
On April 15, 1996, the station became KTRS and switched to its current Talk radio format. The station was purchased by its current owners, CH Radio Holdings, in 1997.
KUSA started AM stereo broadcasts in 1983 after rebuilding most of the transmitter to accommodate stereo transmissions. Stereo broadcasts continued throughout most of the 1990s, using the C-QUAM standard. In 1997, KTRS stopped sending stereo programming to the transmitter but continued broadcasting the stereo pilot signal. In 2001, the stereo pilot was silenced.
KTRS Morning Show hosts Bill Wilkerson and Wendy Wiese, sports director Jim Holder (at the time the public address announcer at the Edward Jones Dome for the NFL Rams' games), Randy Karraker, McGraw Milhaven, Kevin Horrigan, Scott St. James and Meme Wolff were all fired. Management, including program director Al Brady Law, announced plans to bring in a new lineup beginning in January 2006.
Milhaven, however, was reinstated during the spring of 2006. Law was fired on December 11 of that year. Wendy Wiese also returned to the station.
KTRS announced on October 6, 2010, that it had hired veteran St. Louis radio personality J.C. Corcoran to fill its weekday midday slot starting October 25, 2010. Corcoran was fired on April 27, 2012, and later joined 1380 KXFN. Trish Gazall, who had been John Brown's co-host, joined Corcoran in January 2011 as his producer; Trish Gazall left the station in October 2012 for KEZK-FM.
Steve Cochran, who later worked at WGN in Chicago, hosted a weekday evening talk show on KTRS from 2010 until 2013.
KTRS broadcast St. Louis Blues hockey games from 2000-2006. In 2006, the Blues moved to competitor 1120 KMOX.
After five years (2006–10), KTRS sold the rights to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games to KMOX starting in 2011. (The Cardinals nonetheless retained their ownership stake in KTRS and still airs the games of its owned-and-operated farm club, the Memphis Redbirds.) With the elimination of the Cardinals, KTRS now airs the University of Missouri Tigers football and men's basketball as well as their weekly sports show, along with occasional high school football contests.
In July 2006, severe storms knocked over two of the four transmitting towers. The towers were replaced in 2009. A second storm in 2018 knocked over the #4 tower, which required replacement.