KQDS-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for the Twin Ports and Iron Range areas of Northeastern Minnesota that is licensed to Duluth. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 17 from a transmitter west of downtown in Hilltop Park. Owned by Red River Broadcasting, the station has studios on London Road in Duluth along I-35. Syndicated programming on KQDS includes: Two and a Half Men, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Feud and According to Jim.
|Branding||Fox 21 (general)
Fox 21 News
|Channels||Digital: 17 (UHF)|
|Owner||Red River Broadcasting
(KQDS Acquisition Corporation)
|First air date||September 20, 1994|
|Call letters' meaning||Quality Duluth/Superior|
|Sister station(s)||KQDS, KQDS-FM,KZIO, WWAX|
|Former callsigns||KNLD (1994-1999)|
|Former channel number(s)||21 (UHF analog, 1994-2009)|
|Former affiliations||Independent (1994-1999)|
|Transmitter power||3.14 kW|
All translators except K31GH and K39GG have construction permits to air low-powered digital signals.
|Call letters||Channel||City of license||Transmitter location|
|K15GT||15||Hibbing||southwest of downtown|
|K29EB||10||Grand Rapids||northwest of Taconite|
|K31GH||31||Hayward, Wisconsin||east of city|
|W32CV||32||Ironwood, Michigan||Hurley, Wisconsin|
|K39GG||39||Aitkin||east of Rabbit Lake Township along the Crow Wing and Aitkin County line|
|K45JD||45||International Falls||east of city|
The station signed-on as KNLD on September 20, 1994 airing an analog signal on UHF channel 21. However, very few people knew the station was actually on-the-air at this time as it aired at low power with an extremely limited schedule usually only a few hours in the morning to meet minimum Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements for keeping its license. The station was independent, and although its lineup once included Big Ten college football, most of the schedule was filled with the Shop at Home Network by the late-1990s.
In 1998, Red River Broadcasting (via sister company KQDS Acquisition Corporation) purchased KNLD and several area radio stations, and later changed the TV station's call sign toKQDS-TV. The new owners found some controversy as they tried to upgrade the station. It was attempting to construct a new tower to replace its old one adjacent to Duluth Central High School but some school and city officials expressed concern about the danger of ice falling from the tower onto the school parking lot. Although the new tower had already been approved by city officials, KQDS agreed to build it further from the parking lot than initially planned.
On September 1, 1999, it became the area's first-ever Fox affiliate while increasing its transmitting power and adding eight translator stations. Fox had previously had to be cabled into Duluth from WFTC which was its Twin Cities affiliate at the time. On February 1, 2009, this station ceased analog transmissions and now broadcasts only in digital.
KQDS currently produces a live newscast twice nightly during the week at 6 and 9pm, and once per evening on the weekends at 9. The weeknight show debuted on March 12, 2007 with co-anchors Amy Rutledge and Nick LaFave (the only dual anchor team in the market). Rutledge co-anchored at CBS affiliate KDLH until it was combined with KBJR in March 2005. The Fox 21 News staff at one time included veterans of every commercial station in the area. The Sunday newscast was added on August 26, 2007 and was the first one in the area. The Saturday production was added on November 29, 2008 and also holds that distinction.Early in KQDS's Fox affiliation, it experimented with a 9 p.m. newscast produced by NBC affiliate KBJR. It was broadcast out of that station's studios on South Lake Avenue in Duluth and was anchored by Mark Mallory with meteorologist Paul Heggen and sports from Tom Hansen. The broadcast was canceled after about nine months due to low ratings and was replaced by a half-hour simulcast of CNN Headline News. KBJR's 9 o'clock broadcast resurfaced in September 2002 when that station launched a UPN affiliate on its second digital subchannel.
In its first ratings period in May 2007, KQDS was third among all evening newscasts. It drew more viewers than KBJR's Northland's NewsCenter Tonight at 9 and KDLH's 10 p.m. shows. In August, after just six months on-air, Fox 21 News was nominated for three Upper Midwest Emmy Awards in the categories of "Best Newscast", "Best News Special", and "Investigative Series". KQDS provides weather forecasts for the Red Rock Radio-owned stations in the market. July 2009 showed to be this station's best ratings period to date. It came in third place with about 8,650 viewers just about 2,000 less than KBJR's 10 o'clock show. In Fall 2009, this station was the winner of two regional Emmys for "Best Newscast" and "Overall Station Excellence". On June 28, 2010, Fox 21 News at 6 debuted. 
- Nick LaFave - Main anchor; weeknights at 6 and 9 p.m., also reporter
- Makenzi Henderson - Co-anchor; weeknights at 6 and 9 p.m., also reporter
- Tracee Tolentino - weekends at 9 p.m.; also reporter
- Jacob Kittilstad - Northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan reporter
- Dan Hanger - 9 p.m. Lead Reporter
- Bonnie McLaughlin - Health Reporter
- Chaas Toberg - Intern Reporter
- April Hanson - Intern Reporter
Storm Tracker Weather Team
- Chris Snider - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 6 and 9 p.m.
- Sam Ryan - Meteorologist; weekends at 9 p.m.
- Greg Chandler -Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 9 p.m.
- Eric Gullickson - Sports Anchor; weekends at 9 p.m., also sports reporter
- Harry Baker
- Mitchell Davis
- Jeff Ernewein
- Adam Jagunich
- Kristian Tharaldson
- Nathaniel LeCapitaine - Sports
- Jesse Porter - Production Manager
- Kyle Wanek - Weekend Director
- Jesse Gangi - Web Manager/ Production Asst.
- Greg Thompson - Production Assistant
- Brian Williams - Production Assistant
- Jessie Wagner - Production Assistant
- Jerod Braswell - Production Assistant
- Joe Mann - Production Assistant
- Chass Toberg - Production Assistant
- April Hanson - Production Assistant
- Brian Quam - Production Assistant
- Chris Nettleton
- Jon Ellis(now at WDIO-WIRT TV in Duluth)
- Beth Jett
- Zach Dunanski
- Melissa Ganje
- Nicolette Helling
- Randy Howe (now at KSNV-DT in Las Vegas)
- Chris Misun
- Julie Moravchik
- Jenn O'Neill
- Joy Redmond (now at WJBK in Detroit)
- Amy Rutledge (now a media spokesperson for Minnesota Power)
- Todd Nelson (now at WeatherNation, LLC)
- Karl Spring
- Amy Swanoski
- Lisa Waldrup
- ^ "Fox 21 News adding 6 p.m. newscast". Duluth News Tribune. April 7, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
- KQDS-DT "Fox 21"
- Query the FCC's TV station database for KQDS-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K15GT
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K29EB
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K31GH
- Query the FCC's TV station database for W32CV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K39GG
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K45JD
- Query the FCC's TV station database for K47IR