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WCCO Radio pioneer Howard Viken dies at 97

He was a staple of Twin Cities radio for nearly 40 years.

The Twin Cities broadcasting community is mourning the man who helped shape WCCO into a local broadcasting institution, setting standards for radio personalities in the process.

Howard Viken, who joined WCCO Radio in 1950 and remained there for nearly 40 years, died Saturday at the age of 97, the station has announced. 

Station leadership credits Viken with "transitioning WCCO Radio from 'formal' radio to 'friendly' radio," owing to his "smooth, deep" voice and folksy sense of humor, which came across in his broadcasts.

A cause of death was not immediately available, but Viken had been in "'so-so' health recently," the announcement says.

As the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting notes, he served in the Marines in World War II, returning to his native Minnesota to study speech and journalism at the U of M. From there, he went on to study broadcasting at Brown College.

When he landed the CCO gig, "he led broadcasting into a new era," the Pavek Museum says, becoming "the first to successfully transition into the creative and high-energy morning show format that is commonplace today."

"His shows were an extension of his personality; he joked around and hammed it up unlike anyone before him, respecting the past, yet blazing new ground with every show."

He was inducted into the Pavek Museum's Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2004. 

News of his death has prompted former CCO staffers to share their memories of him on Facebook. One said that "he was kind, respectful, and always had a trick up his sleeve":

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