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WCCO CBS 4 logo.png
MinneapolisSaint Paul, Minnesota
United States
City Minneapolis, Minnesota
Branding WCCO 4 (general)
WCCO 4 News (newscasts)
Slogan Minnesota's Most-Watched Station
Channels Digital: 32 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Subchannels 4.1 CBS
4.2 Decades
Translators (see article)
Affiliations CBS (O&O) (Secondary through 1953)
Owner CBS Corporation
(CBS Broadcasting Inc.)
First air date July 1, 1949; 68 years ago (1949-07-01)
Call letters' meaning derived from sister station WCCO radio (Washburn Crosby COmpany)
Sister station(s) KMNB, KZJK, WCCO
Former callsigns WTCN-TV (1949–1952)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
4 (VHF, 1949–2009)
Former affiliations Secondary:
ABC (1949–1953)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 432 m (1,417 ft)
Facility ID 9629
Transmitter coordinates 45°3′44″N 93°8′21″W / 45.06222°N 93.13917°W / 45.06222; -93.13917
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website minnesota.cbslocal.com

WCCO-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 32), is a CBS owned-and-operated television station, licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States and serving the Twin Cities television market. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. WCCO-TV's studios are located on South 11th Street in downtown Minneapolis, and its transmitter is located at the Telefarm complex in Shoreview, Minnesota.

WCCO-TV's programming is also seen on two full-power satellite stations: KCCO-TV (virtual and VHF digital channel 7) in Alexandria (with transmitter near Westport); and KCCW-TV (virtual and VHF digital channel 12) in Walker (with transmitter near Hackensack).


The WCCO building in downtown Minneapolis.

WCCO-TV's roots originate with a radio station, but not the one with which it is affiliated today. Radio station WRHM, which signed on the air in 1925, is the station to which WCCO-TV traces its lineage. 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. Twin Cities Newspapers later expanded into the fledgling FM band with WTCN-FM, and shortly thereafter the then-new medium of television with the launch of WTCN-TV on July 1, 1949 as Minnesota's second television station, broadcasting from the Radio City Theater at 50 South 9th Street in downtown Minneapolis. It has always been a primary CBS affiliate since its sign on. However, it also had a secondary affiliation with ABC during its early years from 1949–1953[1] when another incarnation of WTCN-TV (now known as KARE-TV, of which it also had the ABC affiliation from its sign on in 1953 until 1961 when it became an independent station; it has been affiliated with NBC since 1979) signed on.

Twin Cities Newspapers sold off its broadcast holdings in 1952, with channel 4 going to the Murphy and McNally families, who had recently bought the Twin Cities' dominant radio station, WCCO (830 AM), from CBS. The stations merged under a new company, Midwest Radio and Television, with CBS as a minority partner. The call letters of channel 4 were changed to WCCO-TV to match its new radio sister on August 17th (the WTCN-TV call sign would later be picked up by what is now KARE).[2] CBS was forced to sell its minority ownership stake in the WCCO stations in 1954 to comply with Federal Communications Commission ownership limits of the time.

In 1959, WCCO became the first station in the midwest to have a videotape machine; it came at a cost of $50,000 and one part-time employee was hired to operate the machine.[3] In 1961, with the establishment of the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, the station, via CBS, which held the rights to broadcast NFL games, became the 'unofficial' home station of the team. This would be a partnership that would continue until the end of the 1993 season, when most games were moved to WFTC (most Vikings games are now on KMSP-TV); today, channel 4 airs Vikings games (at least two each season) when the team plays host to an AFC team at plays at U.S. Bank Stadium, or on Thursday Night Football, or, starting in 2014, with the institution of the new 'cross-flex' rules, games that are moved from KMSP-TV.

On July 23, 1962, WCCO-TV was involved in the world's first live international broadcast via the Telstar satellite; the station's mobile units provided the feed for all three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC for a program originating from the Black Hills showing Mount Rushmore to the world.

The station began telecasting color programs in 1966. In September 1983, WCCO relocated its operations from its longtime studios on South 9th Street to the present location at South 11th Street & Nicollet Mall. The network gained full ownership of WCCO-TV in 1992, when it acquired the broadcast holdings of Midwest Radio and Television.[4]

During the 1980s, a cable-exclusive sister station was created to supplement WCCO, with its own slate of local and national entertainment programming. This was known as WCCO II, but by 1989, it had evolved into the Midwest Sports Channel, focusing on regional sporting events. It continued under CBS ownership until 2000, when it was announced that MSC and sister RSN Home Team Sports were to be sold—HTS went to Comcast, while MSC was sold to Fox Entertainment Group and became part of Fox Sports Net, becoming Fox Sports North (it had been an FSN affiliate since 1997).

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[5]
4.1 1080i 16:9 WCCO-DT Main WCCO-TV programming / CBS
4.2 480i 4:3 WCCODT2 Decades

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WCCO-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 32.[6] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.

On October 21, 2014, CBS and Weigel Broadcasting announced the launch of a new digital subchannel service called Decades, scheduled to launch on all CBS-owned stations in 2015, including on WCCO-TV on channel 4.2, KCCO-TV on channel 7.2, and KCCW-TV on channel 12.2. The channel will be co-owned by CBS and Weigel (owner of CBS affiliate WDJT-TV in Milwaukee), with Weigel being responsible for distribution to non-CBS-owned stations. It will air programs from the extensive library of CBS Television Distribution, including archival footage from CBS News.[7]

Satellite stations and translators[edit]

WCCO-TV operates two satellite stations northwest of the Twin Cities area:

Former KCCO/KCCW logo
Station City of license Channels
(TV / DT)
First air date Former call letters ERP HAAT Transmitter Coordinates Facility ID Public license
KCCO-TV Alexandria 7 (PSIP)
7 (VHF)
October 8, 1958; 58 years ago (1958-10-08) KCMT
29 kW 339.6 m (1,114 ft) 45°41′10″N 95°8′3″W / 45.68611°N 95.13417°W / 45.68611; -95.13417 (KCCO-TV) 9632 Profile
KCCW-TV Walker 12 (PSIP)
12 (VHF)
January 1, 1964; 53 years ago (1964-01-01) KNMT
59 kW 286.4 m (940 ft) 46°56′5″N 94°27′19″W / 46.93472°N 94.45528°W / 46.93472; -94.45528 (KCCW-TV) 9640 Profile

Both of these stations were founded by the Central Minnesota Television Company and maintained primary affiliations with NBC and secondary affiliations with ABC from their respective sign-ons until the summer of 1982, when both stations switched to CBS.[8][9] KCMT had originally broadcast from a studio in Alexandria, with KNMT operating as a satellite station of KCMT. Central Minnesota Television sold both stations to Midwest Radio and Television in 1987, at which point they adopted their present call letters and became semi-satellites of WCCO-TV.[10]

Until 2002, the two stations simulcast WCCO-TV's programming for most of the day, except for separate commercials and inserts placed into channel 4's newscasts. However, in 2002, WCCO-TV ended KCCO/KCCW's local operations and shut down the Alexandria studio, converting the two stations into full-time satellites. Since then, channel 4 has identified as "Minneapolis-St. Paul/Alexandria/Walker", with virtually no on-air evidence that KCCO and KCCW were separate stations.

In addition, the broadcast signal of WCCO-TV is extended by way of six translators in southern Minnesota and one in northern Minnesota:

City of license Callsign Channel
Frost K35IU-D [11] 35
Jackson K35IZ-D [12] 35
Olivia K51AL-D [13] 51
Red Lake K49LO-D [14] 49
Redwood Falls K33LB-D[15] 33
St. James K41IZ-D[16] 41
Willmar K46AC-D [17] 46

News operation[edit]

WCCO presently broadcasts 41½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 7 hours on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and 3 hours on Sundays). WCCO's newscasts begin with the slogan "Now...from Minnesota's Most Watched Station...this is WCCO 4 News." WCCO leads the Twin Cities market in nearly all time slots, from their morning show to the 10 p.m. news. WCCO leads by large margins in overall households, though compared to the 25-54 demo, the numbers are much more competitive with NBC affiliate KARE.

WCCO is one of two owned-and-operated affiliates in the Twin Cities market, the other being Fox-owned KMSP.

Notable former on-air staff[edit]


External links[edit]