4.1 CBS4.2 Decades
WCCO 4 (general)WCCO 4 News (newscasts)
Minnesota's most-watched station (General)
First air date
July 1, 1949; 67 years ago (1949-07-01)
1 July 1949, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Former channel number(s)
Analog: 4 (VHF, 1949–2009)
Secondary: ABC (1949–1953)
WCCO-TV, UHF digital channel 32 (virtual channel 4), 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.
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- Digital channels
- Analog to digital conversion
- Satellite stations and translators
- News operation
- Notable former on air staff
WCCO-TV's programming is also seen on two full-power satellite stations: KCCO-TV (channel 7) in Alexandria, Minnesota; and KCCW-TV (channel 12) in Walker, Minnesota.
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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 when another incarnation of WTCN-TV (now known as KARE of which it also had the ABC affiliation from its sign on in 1953 until 1961 when it became an independent station).
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). 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. In 1961, with the establishment of the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, the station became the unofficial home station of the team, a partnership that would continue until 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.
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.
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).
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
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. 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.
Satellite stations and translators
WCCO-TV operates two satellite stations northwest of the Twin Cities area:
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. 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.
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:
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).