Although never a full-time sports station, there was an era when WCCO was the flagship home of the Twins and Vikings, University of Minnesota football and basketball, and programmed all sports from 7 p.m. to midnight and the bulk of the weekend. What remains are Timberwolves basketball broadcasts and Mike Max’s nightly sports talk show, plus weekend afternoon sports talk.
All-sports competitors have provided more natural homes for game broadcasts or outbid WCCO for them, while other teams have been deterred by the station’s demographics, some of the oldest in town.
- Format debut: 1922
- Owner: CBS Radio (New York)
- Format: News/talk/sports
- Marquee talent: Mike Max
- CBS Radio is sitting on lots of cash, but will ownership spend?
- Bench depth: Thin. Barely a player in current team makeup.
“The market doesn’t view them as a sports station,” says Jen Walz of Compass Point Media. “They’re not really in that discussion.”
Station boss Mick Anselmo bristles at the idea. “We haven’t given sports up, not by a long shot.” And WCCO needs sports. “For a station with an older audience,” says Jeffrey Litt, former general sales manager at the station, “sports brings down your average age of listeners and attracts additional advertising.”
But neither can WCCO overinvest in sports. “Their reputation is in news and they would be hard to dethrone there,” says Hubbard’s Dan Seeman, but the station also enjoys substantial numbers of female listeners and caters to them.
Going forward, Anselmo says he will be a player in the quest for team broadcast rights, and he has the flexibility to simulcast sports on one of CBS Radio’s local FM outlets (Jack FM or Buz’n Country). But in a bidding war, he will need CBS to write a larger check than it’s been willing to do in recent years.
WCCO is certainly making money, leading this group of stations in annual revenues (see graphic, page 55). Despite fading demographics and a less than clear-cut audience niche, “WCCO has been able to maintain a really impressive revenue base,” says an executive at one of its competitors. “It’s a credit to Mick and his marketing prowess.”