MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - At one point, more than half of the radios in the Twin Cities were tuned to the WCCO Radio morning show team of Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson. Boone died in 2015 and now Erickson's voice is silenced. He died Monday night at his home in Plymouth at the age of 89.
“He loved Minnesota. He just loved the people he saw,” said Dave Lee, currently the morning show host at WCCO. “He was legitimately a really great person. And off the air, he just loved being a part of the state.”
Roger Erickson started working at WCCO in 1959 and just a few years later he began the partnership with Charlie Boone that would become legendary.
“Boy, they owned the market at a time when you could,” Lee said. “And now with social media and everything else, it’s a different beast out there.”
Boone and Erickson hosted together for 38 years, perhaps the longest running duo in radio history. Both were eventually inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Erickson was perhaps most well-known across the generations for a duty he relished – school closings.
“He was the guy, set the bar," said Lee. "[He] owned the school closing market, which was a big market and then you get those young demos. He had all those locked up. We were the only place that did it.”
An example of the power Boone and Erickson held was during the 1964 Presidential Campaign, when an interview with Sen. Hubert Humphrey was interrupted by a network bulletin. Dan Rather reported Lyndon Johnson was about to call Humphrey to discuss picking the senator as his running mate.
“Of course, Humphrey had to get off the air quickly, but at the same time with Roger, they were making note of what a fantastic coincidence this was,” said Tom Gavaras, founder of radiotapes.com and former WCCO employee. “It was also a reflection of the power of WCCO Radio.”
During a 1994 interview with KMSP-TV, Erickson reflected on his career.
“I hope to die in this chair,” he said. “Then they're going to have a tombstone, formerly two hours late...now closed.”
A memorial service for Erickson will be held Friday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. at the Lafayette Club in Orono. It is open to the public.