WCCO-TV: Wikis


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Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
City of license Minneapolis, MN
Branding WCCO Channel 4, WCCO, CCO (general)
WCCO News (newscasts)
Slogan Know More (TV)
Always On (webpage) What Will Happen Next? (TV Promo)
Channels Digital: 32 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Subchannels 4.1 CBS
Translators (see article)
Affiliations CBS
Owner CBS Corporation
(CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)
First air date July 1, 1949
Call letters’ meaning Washburn Crosby COmpany
(original owner of WCCO-AM)
Sister station(s) KZJK, WCCO (AM), WLTE
Former callsigns WTCN-TV (1949–1952)
Former channel number(s) Analog: 4 (VHF)
(July 1, 1949 - June 12, 2009)
Transmitter Power 1000 kW
Height 432 m
Facility ID 9629
Transmitter Coordinates 45°3′44″N 93°8′21″W / 45.06222°N 93.13917°W / 45.06222; -93.13917
Website www.wcco.com

WCCO-TV, is the CBS owned and operated television station that serves the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota. It broadcasts a digital television signal on channel 32 . It also operates two full-powered semi-satellites--KCCO-TV in Alexandria (7 DT) and KCCW in Walker (12 DT). KCCO-TV simulcasts WCCO-TV, but airs separate commercials. KCCW is a full repeater of KCCO-TV. The station's studios are in downtown Minneapolis, while its transmitter is at the Telefarm complex in Shoreview, Minnesota.

From 1947 to 1996, WCCO-TV and WCCO-AM won twelve George Foster Peabody Awards, more than any other Twin Cities broadcast outlet.

Unlike most other CBS owned-and-operated stations, WCCO does not follow the CBS Mandate in its branding, using simply its call letters rather than "CBS 4".



WCCO-TV's roots actually originate with another radio station, WRHM, which took to the air in 1925. In 1934, two newspapers—the Minneapolis Tribune and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch—formed a joint venture named "Twin Cities Newspapers," which purchased the radio station and changed its call letters to WTCN. WTCN-TV went on the air on July 1, 1949 as Minnesota's second television station, broadcasting from the Radio City Theater in downtown Minneapolis.

When Twin Cities Newspapers sold all their radio holdings, including WTCN Radio, in 1952, it created an opportunity to purchase WCCO radio (AM 830 and FM 102.9, now WLTE) and merge the two companies into Midwest Radio and Television, Inc. The new company changed Channel 4's call letters to match its new radio sisters.

Channel 4 has been the market's only station to never change its affiliation. Partly because of this stability, WCCO-TV is one of CBS' best-performing affiliates.

The WCCO building in downtown Minneapolis

In 1954, a live CBS broadcast from the Foshay Tower provided a view of an early-morning solar eclipse, the first time such an event had been televised nationally. In 1955, a mobile unit was formed, using a van dubbed the "Blue Goose" which would be used for more than a decade.

WCCO-TV participated in the first transatlantic television broadcast via the Telstar satellite on July 23, 1962 when a mobile crew provided video of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. This video was broadcast across the three major networks of the time: ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Rival KSTP-TV led the news ratings competition with WCCO until 1968, when Channel 4 debuted a new, chattier format called "The Scene" at 6 & 10 p.m. Conceived by news director Joe Bartelme and consultants McHugh & Hoffman, the "Scene" format propelled WCCO into a news ratings lead that would last until the mid-70s, when KSTP-TV firmly established its Eyewitness News format along with new anchors.[1] After KSTP self-destructed in the early 80s, WCCO took the lead again before battling a resurgent Channel 11 (WTCN/WUSA/KARE) in the middle of the decade.

Since the May 2006 ratings period, WCCO's newscasts have claimed the top spot in total household ratings for most news programs. The exception has been the mornings, where KARE still leads all local competitors. In main demographic groups, WCCO usually comes in second place. May 2009 showed a third place finish behind KSTP at 5:00 p.m.[2]

Under Bartelme's guidance, WCCO became a kind of farm club for CBS News. CBS eventually hired more than a dozen WCCO reporters, including Phil Jones, Bob McNamara, Jerry Bowen, Susan Spencer, and Don Kladstrup. A handful more signed on with other networks, including [[Bill Stewart]], who was killed covering fighting in Nicaragua for ABC.

Channel 4's studio was renovated in 1956, but as the station grew the space eventually became too small. In 1983, the station moved to a new studio on the south end of Nicollet Mall. Channel 4 is the only area TV station broadcasting from downtown Minneapolis today.

In 1977, WCCO-TV unveiled the "Circle 4" logo. At the time of the unveiling, the "4" was colored blue and was placed inside a yellow circle. The first newscast title to use that logo was called NewsWatch 4. By the 1980s, a blue circle encompassed a white "4". The disc was changed to red in the 1990s.

In 1987, WCCO bought KCMT, channel 7 in Alexandria, and its satellite KNMT, channel 12 in Walker. KCMT signed on in 1958 and had been the only full-power VHF station in central Minnesota. KNMT signed on in 1964 as a satellite of KCMT in northern Minnesota, serving Bemidji and Brainerd. KCMT and KNMT were renamed KCCO and KCCW, respectively, and began carrying WCCO programming with the exception of brief news inserts produced in Alexandria and inserted within WCCO's newscasts, local commercials, and a small number of other local interest programs. In 2002, WCCO discontinued the local news segments and shut down the KCCO studio in Alexandria. In its place, WCCO opened local news bureaus in both Brainerd and St. Cloud, but those too were shut down after a few years. Today, WCCO identifies itself on-air as "Minneapolis-St. Paul/Alexandria/Walker," and both KCCO and KCCW are full satellites of WCCO, airing the same programming and commercials as their parent station.

WCCO was purchased by CBS in 1992; it had been a minority owner of the station for many years. It does not follow the CBS Mandate; it is branded as WCCO 4 rather than CBS4. Other CBS O&Os not to follow this mandate are KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh (branded by its call letters), WWJ-TV in Detroit (branded by its call letters), WJZ-TV in Baltimore (branded WJZ 13), and WBZ-TV in Boston (branded as simply WBZ).

WCCO experimented with cable in the 1980s. Known initially as WCCO II or 'CCO cable, it was a way to transmit programs that wouldn't ordinarily make it onto the over-the-air frequency. During this time, WCCO II aired local forecasts when not airing sports or other programming. This later morphed into the Midwest Sports Channel (MSC), which operated for several years. Following Viacom's purchase of CBS, MSC was sold to News Corporation and became FSN North.

WCCO also operated a local weather channel on cable systems in the Twin Cities area. Unlike The Weather Channel, WCCO Weather Channel did not have any on-camera personalities and instead consisted of computer graphics with voice-over provided by WCCO-TV's meteorologists. This programming ran in a loop until updates were made available. Ads on this channel were delivered in this way as well (voice-over consisted of radio-formatted advertising). During severe weather occurrences, the channel would interrupt the recorded voice-over with live weather bulletins provided by WCCO 830 AM. Twin Cities PBS member station KTCI-TV airs weather info in a similar way but with the following differences:

  • no advertising
  • format is geared towards aviators
  • audio is provided by the Minneapolis Air Route Control Center (NOAA Weather Radio KEC65 during severe weather)
  • digital multicast on channel 17.5 (originally shared airtime with PBS during the daytime and late night hours)

A later experiment in 1995, this time in the field of evening newscasts, also proved to be interesting. WCCO partnered with KLGT (channel 23, later KMWB and now WUCW) and fed a second news show to that station. This was known as "News of Your Choice", where the news anchors would periodically describe the upcoming items on each channel. This allowed viewers to decide which stories they wanted to see. Multiple factors contributed to the shutdown of the experiment after about one year.

A late ice storm on April 6, 1997, caused the KXJB-TV mast to collapse. As a result, several cable systems in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota were unable to receive CBS programming. Some cable systems temporarily or permanently replaced KXJB with WCCO, KDLO, KXMB, KXMC, etc.

On about June 29, 2006, WCCO introduced "The Plaza Studio", a renovation to their existing studio, on 11th St. South and Marquette Ave.

On about April 25, 2009, WCCO launched local news in widescreen standard definition.

On May 30, 2009, WCCO launched local news in High Definition. Beginning with their 5pm evening newscast, they became the third station in Minneapolis to switch to HD, after KARE and KMSP.

Satellite stations and translators

WCCO-TV's transmitter is located at the Telefarm paired tower installation in Shoreview also used by KSTP-TV, KARE and WUCW. The market's southern and western portions gets WCCO from three low-power translators, all privately owned:

WCCO also operate these satellite stations outside of the Twin Cities area.

Station City of license Channels First air date Former callsigns ERP
Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
KCCO-TV Alexandria Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
October 8, 1958 KCMT (1958–1987) 29 kW 339.6 m 9632 45°41′10″N 95°8′3″W / 45.68611°N 95.13417°W / 45.68611; -95.13417 (KCCO-TV)
KCCW-TV Walker
Digital: 12 (VHF)
Virtual: 12 (PSIP)
January 1, 1964 KNMT (1964–1987) 59 kW 286.4 m 9640 46°56′5″N 94°27′19″W / 46.93472°N 94.45528°W / 46.93472; -94.45528 (KCCW-TV)

Note: Both of these stations were affiliated with NBC (primary) and ABC (secondary) from their sign-on dates until 1981, when they switched to CBS.[3] Both stations were acquired by WCCO in 1987.

Notable personalities

An early local program broadcast by the station was a children's program named Axel and His Dog, featuring Clellan Card as Axel. In 1954, the first local program to be broadcast in color by the station was an episode of Axel.

Some notable personalities at the station have had long careers. Dave Moore, a Minneapolis native who worked his entire career in the city, anchored the 6:00 p.m.and 10:00 p.m. newscast from 1957 until September 1985. He continued to anchor the 6:00 p.m. news until 1991, when he moved to a more leisurely schedule broadcasting a public affairs program. In 1962, he created The Bedtime Nooz, a satirical view of newscasts that aired on Saturday nights. For more than 20 years, Dave anchored with weather forecaster Bud Kraehling. Moore died in 1998.

Bill Carlson joined the station in 1959, working in several roles over the years including news anchor. He was with the station until he died due to complications of prostate cancer on February 29, 2008.[4]

Don Shelby joined the station as a news anchor in 1978 (at the time WCCO's newscasts were branded "The 6 PM Report" and The 10 PM Report. [WCCO-TV never used the name NewsWatch 4]) and also has done investigative reporting, although he ended that area of his career when one of his reports was heavily criticized.[5] Shelby suffered a mild stroke in early 2004, and returned to anchor duties by the end of that year. As of 2005, Shelby continued the unique dual responsibility of hosting an afternoon radio show which ended at 5:00; for a while, immediately after the show, he anchored the 5 pm TV newscast. As of 2006, the radio show goes an extra hour, and the 5 pm news has been moved to 6 pm, still simulcast on radio but now minus Shelby. Today, Shelby only does the 10:00 news on television.

Sports commentator Mike Max, talk show host Dark Star (real name George Chapple) and other personalities also cross over between TV and radio.

Silvia Gambardella was a consumer affairs reporter, but later removed from this role after filing reports that were critical of the practices of local car dealers, inspiring the dealers to cancel their advertising contracts with the station.[citation needed]

In April 2008, WCCO, affected by the cutbacks at CBS News announced the layoffs of a list of employees, most notably, weekend anchor John Reger, and chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas. In March 2009, WCCO, affected by the economic downturn, announced the layoff of Jeanette Trompeter [6].

March 5, 2010 brought the sudden passing of Darcy Pohland, a three-decade reporter for WCCO; and one of the only quadriplegic TV journalists in the country. Most of the 5:00 broadcast that evening was dedicated to Pohland. The opening of the newscast was silent, with a still-shot of Pohland. Anchors Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santenello along with reporters fought back tears throughout the newscast. [1]

Current on-air talent

Current Anchors

WCCO Weather Team

WCCO Sports

  • Mark Rosen - Sports Director; Monday-Thursdays at 5, 6 and 10 p.m., Sundays at 10 p.m. (and host of Rosen's Sports Sunday)
  • Mike Max - Friday-Saturdays at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 p.m.


Former WCCO on-air talent

  • Matt Baylow - weekend meteorologist (1989–1998; now at KFMB-TV in San Diego)
  • Tony Berlin - reporter (now producer at WCBS-TV in New York)
  • Bridgette Bornstien - reporter
  • Kevyn Burger (now host on Twin Cities FM-107)
  • Clellan Card - children's television personality "Axel" (1954-1966)
  • Bill Carlson - noon anchor/entertainment reporter (died on February 29, 2008)
  • Christine Clayburg - weekday morning meteorologist
  • Alan Cox - reporter (retired)
  • Mary Davies - children's television personality "Carmen the Nurse" (1954-1977)
  • Andy Dominianni - weekday morning anchor (2002-2004; now at WSYX-TV in Columbus, OH)
  • Paul Douglas - chief meteorologist (1997-2008)
  • Jonathan Elias - 5 p.m. anchor/reporter (1993–1998; now with WBZ-TV in Boston)
  • Ralph Jon "R.J." Fritz - weekend sports anchor (now host of the WCCO travel show Out n' About)
  • Rick Fuentes - reporter
  • John Gallos - children's television personality "Clancy" (1959-1977), staff announcer
  • Nelson Garcia - reporter (now at KUSA-TV in Denver)
  • Brian Gotter - weekday morning meteorologist (2002-2006; now at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee)
  • Chris Grote - morning meteorologist)
  • Terri Gruca - weekend weeknight/consumer reporter (2003-2008; now 6 and 10 p.m. anchor at KVUE-TV in Austin)
  • Tom Hanneman - sports anchor (now Minnesota Timberwolves television play-by-play announcer)
  • Ed Heil - sports reporter
  • Cindy Hillger - morning anchor (1998-2002)
  • Dave Huddleston - morning anchor (1999-2002; now at KYW-TV and WPSG in Philadelphia)
  • Anne Hutchinson - sports anchor (later at KSTP-TV until December 2008)
  • Paul Huttner - weekend mornings (now at MPR)
  • Mel Jass - on-air personality (c. 1950-1957)
  • Randi Kaye - weeknight anchor (now at CNN)
  • Jim King
  • Terri Knight - traffic reporter (went to WLTE radio; was released in November 2008)
  • Rebecca Kolls - Rooftop Gardener & chief meteorologist, Infomercial Host for knives)
  • Bud Kraehling - weather forecaster; retired (1949-1996)
  • Karen Leigh - morning anchor (2004-2008; now at KCNC in Denver)
  • Allan Lotsberg - children's television personality "Willie Ketchem?" (1963-1977)
  • Chandra Michaels
  • Pat Miles - anchor (1978-1988; later at KARE-TV and WCCO Radio; now retired)
  • Dave Moore - announcer/emcee (1950-1957); 10:00 p.m. anchor (1957-1985); 6:00 p.m. anchor (1957-1991); host of Moore on Sunday (until 1996)
  • Bob Rainey - reporter/weekend anchor (died July 26, 2008)
  • John Reger - weekend anchor
  • Lisa Kiava - reporter
  • Michele Tafoya (now with WCCO Radio)
  • Mary Tan - reporter
  • Aloha Taylor - weekend meteorologist (2005-2006)
  • Heather Tesch - meteorologist (now with The Weather Channel since 1999)
  • Jeanette Trompeter - 5:00 p.m. anchor and "Finding Minnesota" feature reporter (2005-2009; now at KSBY-TV in Salinas, CA)
  • Ben Tracy - general assignment and "Good Question" feature reporter (now with CBS News)
  • Trish Van Pilsum - investigative reporter (now at KMSP-TV)
  • Darcy Pohland - 5 & 6 p.m. weekday reporter (1986-2010) (Died on March 5, 2010)
  • Mike Walcher - anchor (1978–1998; now reporter at WINK-TV in Ft. Myers, FL)
  • Noelle Walker - morning anchor (2000-2003; later at KNBC in Los Angeles from 2003-2005, KNTV in San Francisco from 2005-2008 and briefly KPIX-TV in San Francisco, whereabouts unknown)
  • Cathy Wurzer - reporter (now morning anchor on Minnesota Public Radio)
  • Paul Stagg - staff announcer (was also a WCCO-FM disc jockey in the 1970s and early 1980s)

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Telenews (1949–1952)
  • Closeups in the News (1952–1964)
  • The Big News (1964–1968)
  • The Scene at Six/The Scene Tonight (1968–1973)
  • TV-4 News (1973–1977)
  • NewsWatch 4 (general)/NightWatch 4 (10 p.m. newscast; 1977–1981)
  • WCCO News (1981-1993 and 2003-present)
  • 4 News (1993–1996)
  • WCCO 4 News (1996–2003)

Station slogans

  • Get the Picture on TV-4 News (1970s)
  • NewsWatch 4, The News People (1977-1979)
  • We're Looking Good on TV-4 (1979-1980; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Looking Good Together, TV-4 (1980-1981; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Reach for the Stars on WCCO (1981-1982; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Great Moments on WCCO (1982-1983; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch, You and WCCO (1983-1984; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You and WCCO, We've Got the Touch (1984-1985; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Serving and Informing the Twin Cities (1985-1990)
  • The Community's First Choice for News in the '90s (1990-1993)
  • Today's WCCO (Early-mid 1990s)
  • This is Your News (1993-1997)
  • The Hometown Team (1997-2000)
  • The Twin Cities News Station (2000-2006)
  • Know More (2006-present)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

"On Air @ The Fair"

Every year, at the Minnesota State Fair, WCCO takes most of its set and moves from their Nicollet Mall Studio to their Minnesota State Fair Newsroom/"Studio" and broadcasts its noon, 5, 6 and 10PM newscasts at the WCCO studio in Carousel Park, at the Fairgrounds. The Anchors do the news, weather and sports at the grounds, a reporter broadcasts any breaking news at the studio. WCCO is also known for feeding its "studio" audience with state fair food. When they are not on the air, the anchors and reporters sign autographs and chat with fans. The 2007 fair brought changes to the 10:00 show with Don & Amelia doing the news form the main studio and the weather/sports anchors along with one of the other news anchors at the fairgrounds.

In 2003, WCCO installed a dunk tank at the fairgrounds. They dubbed this "Dunk Don" (named after lead anchor, Don Shelby who was the only anchor dunked the first year.) Then from 2004–2006, wcco.com visitors voted for who they wanted to be dunked. At 10 PM, a reporter or anchor went into the tank and 3 "lucky" viewers (or local celebrity) were chosen to have a chance to dunk the anchor. If all 3 people missed, one of the other anchors had a chance to hit the target. Dunk Don was replaced in 2007 in favor of the "Go Green" News campaign that sees how much human energy it would take to power each live newscast.

Dunk Don 2004 "Dunkees"

Dunk Don 2005 "Dunkees"

  • Aug. 25- Jeanette Trompeter
  • Aug. 26- Karen Leigh
  • Aug. 29- Terri Gruca
  • Aug. 30- Don Shelby
  • Aug. 31- Paul Douglas
  • Sept. 1- Amelia Santaniello
  • Sept. 2- Amelia Santaniello

Dunk Don 2006 "Dunkees"

  • Aug. 24- Frank Vascellaro
  • Aug. 25- Amelia Santaniello
  • Aug. 28- Jeanette Trompeter
  • Aug. 29- Jason DeRusha
  • Aug. 30- Paul Douglas
  • Aug. 31- Don Shelby
  • Sept. 1- Heather Brown

On August 24, 2007, WCCO completed the first ever human powered newscast.

Digital television

At 11:59pm on June 12, 2009, WCCO-TV discontinued regular analog programming on channel 4 and began a 30-day "analog nightlight" operation. WCCO-DT broadcasts continue on its current pre-transition channel 32. Digital television receivers display WCCO-TV's virtual channel as 4 through the use of PSIP. On the same day WCCO's full-power satellites moved their digital broadcasts back to their former analog frequencies. WCCO-TV's analog channel 4 is currently looping, in English and Spanish, a nationally-produced infomercial-length public service announcement with instructions on how to convert to digital and will also air emergency news/weather alerts until it is shut off for good on July 12.


  • In the movie Wrongfully Accused, a WCCO Channel 4 News Van is used as a get-away car by the freedom fighters after a botched attempt to assassinate Sir Robert McKintyre. Also, a brief newscast was shown during the movie using the WCCO logo.
  • The Late Show with David Letterman did a Minneapolis-themed show on May 9, 1997. On the telecast, anchors Don Shelby and Amelia Santaniello performed a scripted "breaking news" bit, in which Shelby memorably declared that he had a gopher in his pants named Carlos. Kirby Puckett also guest starred.
  • Channel 4 was one of the few stations to broadcast Jeopardy! in the morning (it aired at 9:30 AM, leading into The Price is Right), but the show now airs at 4:30 PM on Channel 11 (though Wheel of Fortune can still be seen at 6:30 PM on Channel 4).
  • WCCO-TV, (along with KARE) is also carried on most cable systems in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. The stations do not make any attempt to cater to this audience, other than their inclusion on regional weather maps.

The call letters of WTCN would later be picked up by KARE, also WCCO's former sister station now carries the WTCN calls.

External links



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