WCCO-TV has won the Jason Matheson sweepstakes, returning the popular local talent to the station where he began his TV career.
“I know he was coveted,” WCCO-TV news director Michael Caputa told me Wednesday. “We’re excited. He’s excited. He wanted to work here and we wanted to have him join us. It worked out. He will join us March 31. He’s going to contribute to us for our 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news with a lot of promotable content; things people are talking about that day. Then he’ll do taped pieces for our morning show as well.”
Matheson’s one-year noncompete with FOX 9, where he worked for 13 years, expired March 1, as the little old ladies who kept calling my voice mail reminded me.
When he and FOX 9 could not come to terms on a new contract, Matheson left the station where his career took a trajectory he could not have imagined. He started at FOX 9 as an entertainment producer, and eventually did on-air pieces as “The Buzz Boy.” When the bigger-than-life personality exited the station, he was co-anchoring the FOX 9 early morning news show, co-hosting “The Buzz” and anchoring “Weekend Buzz,” the entertainment show.
While contractually barred from being on Twin Cities television, Matheson has nicely maintained a profile at MyTalk 107.1 FM that was not always recognizable on the streets as he indulged beard growing. The beard’s got to go, but his return to TV will not disrupt the morning drive show he does with Alexis Thompson. Matheson’s former FOX 9 boss Bill Dallman, now the man at FOX Sport 1 in Los Angeles, first allowed Jason to stick his toe in the radio world. Matheson turned an appearance on a Saturday show into a bigger profile, a popular weekday afternoon program that led to his current drive-time spot.
“I’m so excited,” said Matheson, who demonstrated that with multiple false starts in the sentence department.
“Let me start all over. I am so blank, blank, blank excited,” he laughed. “WCCO is where I started. I’ve always wanted to go back [since leaving in 2000] so today really feels like a dream come true; like coming home. It’s where I started when I was 22 listening to police scanners on Friday and Saturday nights. I look at everyone at WCCO like family. Amelia [Santaniello, anchor] is like a big sister. Frank [Vascellaro, anchor] is like a big brother with really good hair,” he laughed. “And [morning show anchor Jason] DeRusha is the brother I never thought I wanted.” More laughter. “I’m excited to grow as part of the WCCO family.”
KSTP-TV, which like FM107.1 is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, had the first right of refusal in the bidding war for Matheson’s TV talents.
At FOX 9, which didn’t want to him to leave in the first place, I hear that there were rumblings about Matheson anchoring an evening show.
While he was mum on KSTP and FOX 9 talks, Matheson had a brief response to my knowledge that he was recently seen at KARE 11.
“Yes,” he said. The loquacious one stopped, suspiciously, with just one word.
The chatter in local broadcasting, even before Matheson was seen at KARE 11, was that the Gannett station was making noises as if corporate had fattened the bottom line. In the end, I understand that KARE 11 couldn’t meet the deadline Matheson had for his return to TV broadcasting.
That is just as well. Re-landing at WCCO-TV means Matheson is returning to colleagues who like him as much as he likes them.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on FOX 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.