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Good Question: We’re WCCO, But Should We Really Be KCCO?

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park is a broadcast bridge between past and present.

From radio receivers to transmitters and televisions, it has a little bit of everything, including how WCCO became WCCO.

“Sometime after radio stations came on the air in 1920, the government said, ‘We’ve got to put some order to this,'” said managing director, Steve Raymer.

Raymer said in the 1920s the Mississippi River became a dividing line, and it was decided that stations west of the river would start with a K and everything east of the Mississippi would start with a W.

WCCO was an exception.

When the Washburn Crosby company acquired their own station in 1924, they wanted to use a W for WCCO, even though they were just west of the river. Governing bodies at the time still gave them the go-ahead.

If WCCO were to start today, it would probably be K something, Raymer said.

Some call letters are based on a station’s city, or a name, or a saying.

For other stations there’s no rhyme or reason, and if you want a W instead of a K, all you have to do is ask the FCC.

“There is a rule, but not too many people follow it,” Raymer said.

The W and K used for U.S. TV and radio stations were based on an international agreement. Stations in Canada use a C. And stations in Mexico use an X.

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