Dr. Young first operated the station from his house in north Minneapolis at 2219 Bryant Ave. N., cycling through the names WHAT, WGWY ("W-George W. Young"), and finally WDGY ("W-Dr. George Young") in the next two years until being chastised by the government for changing too frequently. The station kept the WDGY calls until 1991. WDGY operated on eight frequencies by the time it settled on 1180 AM. It made its final move to 1130 AM in 1941 as required by the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) under which most American, Canadian and Mexican AM radio stations changed frequencies. In 1942, the station gained approval to broadcast at night.
The station shared time with at least four local stations, including WRHM and WCAL during periods of 1927. Subsequent to his home as the station's base, Young located the station's studios at his storefront at 909 West Broadway in Minneapolis, the West Hotel on Hennepin at 5th Street, the Nicollet Hotel on Nicollet Avenue at Washington Avenue (beginning in 1938 in WCCO's space after WCCO moved to its new building on 2nd Avenue) and the Builders Exchange at 609 S. 2nd Avenue. Transmitter sites are known to have been at Young's house, at the Broadway address and from 1927 to 1949 at Superior Boulevard and Falvey Cross Road in St. Louis Park on the grounds of a fox farm; the site is known now as I-394 at Louisiana Ave. Following Dr. Young's death on April 27, 1945, studio locations included Bloomington (two locations), 611 Frontenac Place in St. Paul and, in 2004, iHeartMedia (then known as Clear Channel Communications) consolidated offices in St. Louis Park at 1600 Utica Avenue. The transmitter site moved in 1949 to Bloomington at a site that would within a decade overlook I-35W, using a vast 9-tower array.
Minnesota native George Putnam began his broadcasting career at WDGY in 1934. Putnam later gained fame as a Los Angeles television news anchor and talk show host.
In 1933, Dr. Young was granted a license for W9XAT, an experimental mechanical television station. It is believed that the first transmission of the 120- or 125-line system—probably the first telecast in Minnesota—occurred on August 4 of that year, featuring a handshake between WDGY station personality Clellan Card and Minneapolis mayor William Kunze. The station pushed the technological limits of the day and provided a lot of interesting exercises for WDGY engineers, but Dr. Young never got into regular broadcasts. The license for that station expired in 1938, partly because mechanical television development was heavily discouraged by that point. After 64 years of dormancy, an amateur radio group in the area acquired the W9XAT call sign in 2002 with the intention of using it for mechanical and narrow-bandwidth TV experiments. Nine years after the 1945 death of Dr. Young, WDGY in 1954 flirted with modern TV, applying for channel 9 in the Twin Cities. Also applying were competitors WLOL and KEYD. However, WDGY and WLOL withdrew their applications at the last minute and the new station was awarded to KEYD, and the station went on-air in January 1955.
The station was one of the first stations in the country to program rock and roll music in a top 40 format in 1956. It was then owned by Todd Storz, one of the pioneers in programming to the baby boom generation with music that theretofor had been rarely heard on "white" radio stations. Storz's stations were heavy on promotion, headline-grabbing contests, and high profile dee-jays (usually using echo-chamber microphones). Other Twin Cities station owners resented the attention WDGY received, but soon they too jumped on the top-40 bandwagon. Later they admitted that the Todd Storz they often disparaged very well may have saved radio at a time when television was stealing its audience.
WDGY gained the (perhaps unfortunate) nickname Weegee after a time. By the 1960s, the station didn't use the name itself, but the name stuck among people in the radio industry for many years to come. From about 1955 to 1977, the station played popular music and was one of the most popular stations in the area, primarily competing for music listeners with KSTP 1500 and KDWB 630, though WCCO 830 was the major force of the day with a mixture of music, talk, and farm reports.
WDGY station changed to a country music format in September 1977, around the time when most music stations began shifting onto the FM band. In 1982, its sister FM station, KEEY, flipped to a country format.See also KFXN-FM
The country format continued until 1989, when it became "News Talk 1130, WDGY". Just prior to this, WDGY became the inaugural flagship station for the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves NBA team. The talk format gradually morphed into a sports talk format, and the calls were changed to KFAN in 1991. Following this change, the WDGY call letters were switched to the 630 kHz frequency, which was formerly KDWB (now WREY).
More recently, KFAN experienced severe storm damage in April 2004 at its transmission site, when four out of nine towers at its directional array in Credit River Township (near Prior Lake, Minnesota) were blown down.
On August 22, 2010, KFAN's programming began simulcasting on 103.7 FM via K279AZ, a translator station atop the IDS Center previously owned by the Educational Media Foundation, which used the signal to broadcast its K-LOVE network prior to the translator's move from Cottage Grove. Within weeks of the upgrade, however, complaints were filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by listeners of KLZZ ("the Loon") in St. Cloud. Because translators are a secondary service, a translator's owner must either immediately fix the problem or shut the translator down. As a result of the interference complaints, on September 24, K279AZ's power was significantly reduced and it moved to 103.5 under Special Temporary Authority from the FCC. The low-power signal is intended primarily for commuters within the 494/694 beltway to take advantage of the stronger signal reception of a car stereo. K279AZ broadcasts KFAN by translating KTLK-FM's HD Radio HD2 subchannel of KFAN's programming, which is allowed per FCC regulations.
On August 8, 2011, Clear Channel announced a two-way frequency swap that would move KTLK-FM's talk format to 1130 AM and a translator at 102.5 FM, while the sports format of KFAN would move to 100.3 FM, which took effect Monday, August 15, 2011. The low-power signal at 103.5 FM and the HD2 subchannel at 100.3 FM both underwent the same format swap as did 1130 AM. The company planned to simulcast the talk station's signal on FM translator 102.5 FM, but has been delayed in seeking FCC approval.
In 2006, Clear Channel decided to launch a news/talk station in the Twin Cities, in order to take advantage of its Premiere Networks syndication arm and the company's recent launch of FOX News Radio. Clear Channel informed KSTP that it would not renew its contract to carry The Rush Limbaugh Show and it eventually did the same with Sean Hannity. (KSTP shortly switched to a Sports radio format.) Clear Channel decided to put a talk format using these and other Premiere Network hosts on one of its Twin Cities FM signals. The company had experienced success with the introduction of news/talk programming on one of its Pittsburgh FM stations, WPGB.
On January 2, 2006, the company switched KJZI (100.3 FM) to talk, becoming the second commercial FM talk station in the area after female-oriented talk station 107.1 WFMP (now KTMY). The new call letters on 100.3 were KTLK-FM to represent the word "TaLK." When KFAN and KTLK swapped formats and frequencies in August 2011, the KTLK calls, however, did not move to 1130. Because the KTLK call letters were already on an AM sister station in Los Angeles, the call sign KTCN was used on 1130. In early 2014, the Los Angeles station switched to the call letters KEIB, with 1130 adopting the KTLK calls on January 8, 2014. The call sign KTCN is now on a station in Rochester, Minnesota.
In the spring of 2008, former KTLK News Director Jeff Monosso was honored with U.S. Congressional recognition for his reporting on the 35W Bridge collapse. He and former host Jason Lewis were also honored by the Minnesota Associated Press for best spot news coverage.