MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO first took the air 70 years ago. A whole lot has changed since then.

When we first went on the air as WTCN-TV on July 1, 1949, we could still turn the lights off at night, and certainly wouldn’t have had the news on at 5 o’clock in the morning. There were a mere 26 employees.

By the end of that first year, there were 60,000 TV sets in the Twin Cities.

Three years later, the station merged with WCCO Radio and changed its call letters to WCCO-TV. The call letters came from the Washburn Crosby Company, now General Mills.

Picture from 1955 shows Cedric Adams reading the news. (credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

In those early years, most TV programming was done live, because tape wasn’t around yet, and film was expensive. We had shows like “Axel and His Dog” and “Around the Town.”

Picture from 1955 shows Dave Moore, Bud Kraehling, Rollie Johnson, E. W. Ziebarth. (credit: Pavek Museum)

NEWS

Over the years, our programming shifted primarily towards news, and included our I-Team investigations and special reports.

How we gather news has changed, too.

We started with film cameras. Then in the late 70s, we started using tape cameras and eventually live trucks to bring you news from where it’s happening.

Picture from 1978 shows WCCO reporter/photographer in action. (credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

Now, we use digital cameras and computers to bring you high definition video from virtually anywhere, even roller coasters.

“Everything that I ended up doing on the air as an anchor person was just a big imitation of Dave Moore, my hero” former anchor Don Shelby said.

BUILDING

The building we’re in today is not the same as when we started. The old building was the Radio City Theater on 9th street. We moved to 11th street in 1983, and remain the only TV station located in downtown Minneapolis.

WEATHER

Our weather coverage is also a fascinating story.

It started out as part of a 5-minute Tastee Bread commercial, then Bud Kraehling expanded it with the “weather window” for crowds to watch on 9th street.

Our first radar system was installed on top of the Foshay Tower in 1958, and could spot rain or snow about 150 miles out.

One huge weather story from the early years was the tornado in Fridley in 1965. More recently, the Halloween Blizzard of 1991.

Technology has continued to evolve over the years, and our ability to forecast keeps getting better all the time.

Picture from 1978 shows WCCO anchors, including Dave Moore (middle) (credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

VIEWER MEMORIES

We asked viewers to share their fond memories, and we got a lot of response on social media. Here’s just a taste:

Thanks for watching, Minnesota! Here’s to 70 more years and beyond!

Bill Hudson

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