Twin Cities MN 1970s-80s Radio Commercials

I’ve had several requests to include local and national radio spots in my various station exhibits. Many are scoped airchecks, so the commercials were edited out when the original recording was made. However, I do have some unscoped tapes containing the commercials which originally aired as part of the broadcast. These will be presented here in no particular order of station or date. Most are from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota during the 1970s and 1980s, since this is where and when I grew up.

If you’re looking for something specific, be sure to use the “search” box. I’ve tagged each clip with identifying information to make it searchable both within the site and via Internet search engines. This will be an ongoing project and will be updated regularly. If you like old radio commercials, be sure to check back often!

1. Schaak Electronics Presidents’ Day Sale. Schaak Electronics was a local chain in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota during the 1970s and early 1980s. It was founded by Richard L. (Dick) Schaak. The unique sound effects used at the end of their radio spots are especially memorable, as heard here.

This commercial was voiced by Schaak Electronics president Paul Ginther and tagged by KDWB-FM 101.3 morning host Chris Edmonds. It aired during the 6:00AM hour on February 12, 1982:


2. Sound of Music Presidents’ Day Sale. Sound of Music was another local Twin Cities stereo and electronics chain. It was one of Schaak Electronics’ two main competitors, the other being Team Electronics. Sound of Music eventually evolved into Best Buy, a major worldwide electronics retailer.  True to their roots, Best Buy’s corporate headquarters remain in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, Minnesota.  This spot aired on KDWB-FM 101.3 during the 7:00AM hour on February 12, 1982:


3. Mount Frontenac. Mount Frontenac was one of the area’s top skiing destinations.. Others included Buck Hill in Burnsville, Mankato’s Mount Kato, and Trollhaugen in Dresser, Wisconsin. Though it aired on KDWB-FM 101.3, the original production was done at WCCO-AM 830. It aired during the 7:00AM hour on February 12, 1982:


4. Iten Chevrolet 1982 Chevy Rebate Sale. New auto rebates had just been introduced, a response to the 1981-82 recession which took a steep toll on car and truck sales. $500-750 cash back doesn’t sound like much now, but it was a big deal back then. This rebate was available on Chevy Cavaliers, Celebrities, Chevettes, and Citations! The commercial is voiced by KDWB-FM 101.3’s Jack Hicks. It aired during the 7:00AM hour on February 12, 1982:


5. 20th Annual Twin Cities Autorama World of Wheels. This was an annual event, held at the St. Paul Civic Center. Check out the list of celebrities who will be in attendance. As a bonus, see Smokey and the Bandit II for free! Agency spot with tag provided by Stereo 101’s Jack Hicks. This aired during the 7:00AM hour of February 12, 1982 on KDWB-FM 101.3:


6. Bill Withers for the American Express Card. American Express presented a series of radio commericals featuring popular musicians of the time. The story line told how they were unknown, but worked hard to make it in the business. Once they had “arrived”, they obtained an American Express card as proof of their success! This aired on KDWB-FM 101.3 during the 7:00AM hour on February 12, 1982:


7. Pickwick International Help Wanted. Pickwick was once a large national distributor of discount records and tapes. Perhaps you remember their “Top Hits” records and 8-track tapes? You could buy them for betweem $2-3. The only catch was that it was NOT the original artists singing the songs! Later, Pickwick did produce several releases by the original stars. Mostly older “catalog” material by musicians who had been big-name acts in the past but were starting to fade away.

KDWB-FM 101.3’s Ed O’Brien voices this :30 second spot. It aired during the second hour of “American Top 40” (8:00-9:00PM) on September 16, 1978. Speaking of 8-tracks, the source audio here is actually a Realistic Supertape 90 minute 8-track cartridge!


8. Oxy 5 Penny Wise and Pimple Foolish. I don’t think there’s a person alive who was a teenager during the late 1970s and doesn’t remember the Oxy 5 spots! An authoritative, slightly evil voice warned us that unless we dug deep in our pockets for this powerful potion, our face would resemble a pepperoni pizza for years to come! A new product at the time, Oxy 10 is also mentioned here. This was an agency spot which aired on KDWB-FM 101.3 during the second hour of “American Top 40” (8:00-9:00PM) on September 16, 1978:


9. Sound Inn Credit Connection by Phone. Here’s a rare recording featuring the Sound Inn Moose! In the spring and summer of 1977, this client ran a heavy schedule during “American Top 40.” Anyone who listened to Casey Kasem on KDWB during this time will remember these spots. Hokey, but very effective. 42 years later, I still remember “8-7-4-zero-zero-zero-6.” This aired during the 3rd hour of AT40 (9:00-10:00PM) on June 5, 1977:


10. Hurrah! By request, here’s one of those infamous Hurrah! radio spots from the summer of 1977. Hurrah! was a local discount clothing chain. They had stores in most of the major Twin Cities shopping malls.

There were at least 2 versions of this commercial produced. The original version featured just one girl singing the recital number with a generic ad. It first aired in early 1977. This version was released a few months later and highlights the current sale items. It features an “older” girl, a “younger” girl, and a “studio technician” who cues the younger girl. The spot was an agency production with tagging done by the legendary True Don Bleu.

Hurrah! ran a heavy schedule on KDWB-FM 101.3 during Sunday night’s “American Top 40” broadcasts. I just happened to be recording AT40 (minus the commercials) and heard this come on the air. Since I liked the spot, I grabbed the 8-track cartridge and jammed it back in so it would record! This explains why the first 4 seconds are missing. You can hear the tape kick in at the beginning as the capstan roller engages. It’s also why the left channel is slightly louder than the right. 8-tracks can be a real pain when it comes to crosstalk or getting left and right channel levels to match. In any event, this commercial is rare and I feel lucky that the tape has survived for 42 years. This aired during the second hour of AT40 (8:00-9:00PM) on June 19, 1977:


11. Pioneer Car Stereo “Tape Eater.” Thanks to Tom at for donating this one. He says it came from a reel of Pioneer car stereo spots which aired on WWTC during 1981. This was the funniest one on the reel, but apparently never aired on the station:


12. Minnesota Department of Energy. In the fall of 1978, the state of Minnesota released a series of public service announcements on energy efficiency. This was just before the Iranian Revolution and resulting gas crisis of 1979. These aired on KDWB-FM 101.3 during “American Top 40” when there were no spots to fill the local avail windows. There are two cuts here, both of which aired during the third hour of the show (9:00-10:00PM) on September 17, 1978:


KDWB_FM_Minnesota_Dept of_Energy_PSA_2_Sepember_17_1978

13. Macho Clothing. Ed O’Brien voiced this commercial for a local discount clothing store. It aired during the third hour of “American Top 40” (9:00-10:00PM) on KDWB-FM 101.3, September 17, 1978:


(to be continued!)