Growing up in rural Minnesota meant only one thing in our household. Our radio was tuned to WCCO-Radio, the 50,000-watt blow torch that blankets much of the upper Midwest.
I grew up listening to one of the nation’s most enduring and popular radio duos of all time, Boone and Erickson. They were a hit in our household for much of their 40 years of existence, even before my time.
This past weekend one of the icons of that hit pair, Charlie Boone, died at the age of 88. He was one of the most recognizable announcers on WCCO for decades. Boone and his cohort Roger Erickson began their daily show in 1961 and they kept it lively all the way until the end when Erickson retired in 1998.
Boone continued to host a show on Saturday mornings until he retired in 2010.
As far as I’m concerned, Boone and Erickson created a radio shtick that no one else has ever come close to replicating. Their show featured skits that poked fun at politicians and satirized current events. They often interviewed celebrities and dignitaries.
More than anything, Boone and Erickson were known for their “worse than bad” jokes.
Boone was the voice of my childhood, as well as many others. In fact, at one time, WCCO captured more than 60 percent of the total radio audience in the Twin Cities. That is unheard of today as no one comes anywhere close.
I’ll never forget listening to Boone deliver school closings around the breakfast table on those cold and snowy Minnesota mornings. I always sat at the edge of my chair wondering and waiting to hear those familiar words, “Brownton Public School, closed.”
I had the honor and pleasure to meet Boone many years ago when I arranged for my high school guitar club to be on WCCO. The group traveled to the Minneapolis studio to play Christmas music on Boone’s radio show.
There were several things that stuck out about that experience. First, I was in awe of being in the studio of one of the greatest powerhouse radio stations in the country. And secondly, I’ll never forget how gentle, charming and talented Boone was not only on the radio, but also in person.
Radio will never be the same again without radio giants like Boone and several others from his era behind the microphone. So many younger announcers try to measure up to their success, only to end up falling short. There was always something magical about Boone on the air. He had one of the most pleasant voices one could ever expect to hear on the radio.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow up listening to one of the greatest radio legends of all time. For me, Boone is one of the reasons why Minnesota has been such a charming place to call home all these years.
I wish Boone’s survivors the best as they go in hot pursuit of remembering a wonderful man.