For the first 46 years of their existence, the Twins could always be found on WCCO Radio. So in a sense, they are going home.
The Twins and WCCO will reunite for the 2018 season and beyond after 11 seasons on other outlets, the team announced Friday.
Twins games have been broadcast on Go 96.3, an FM station owned by team owner Jim Pohlad and his family, since 2013. But the move in-house, seen as a way to profit from ad revenue rather than rights fees, was always an odd fit for its flagship station, which features alternative rock music when the Twins aren't playing.
Twins games were broadcast on 50,000-watt WCCO beginning when the team arrived from Washington, D.C., in 1961, and remained on the AM-830 airwaves — with Hall of Fame broadcaster Herb Carneal calling nearly every game from 1962 until his retirement after the 2006 season — for 46 years. The station's clear-channel status made it possible to pick up Carneal's play-by-play throughout the Upper Midwest, and the team's fan base in neighboring states grew as the Twins won World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.
WCCO, which has long billed itself as "The Good Neighbor," was outbid for the rights to baseball when its contract expired after the 2006 season. ESPN-affiliated station KSTP (AM-1500) broadcast Twins games for six seasons, until the Pohlad family, which had bought the current Go 96.3 (then branded as KTTB) in 2007, chose to broadcast the games themselves. The station was rebranded KTWN, or K-Twin, ahead of the move.
The station dropped that brand, switched from an awkward mix of sports and adult contemporary music to alternative rock, and largely de-emphasized baseball in 2015, changing its identity to Go 96.3 (with call letters KQGO).
WCCO, which was sold to Entercom this year along with 116 other stations owned by CBS Radio, is expected to retain the current broadcasting team of Cory Provus and Dan Gladden, Twins employees who have called the team's games together since 2012.
Gladden, who scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series the left fielder on both Twins World Series championship teams, has been on the air for 18 seasons, and has been the team's main radio analyst since 2004. Provus, who previously worked for the Brewers and Cubs, replaced John Gordon, a member of the Twins Hall of Fame, who called games alongside Carneal, and then replaced him, from 1987 to 2012.
WCCO also broadcasts Timberwolves games.
In a statement Friday, Twins President Dave St. Peter said: "The Twins are beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to return our radio broadcasts to WCCO-AM 830. Twins baseball on WCCO Radio was an Upper Midwest tradition for more than four decades. We look forward to building on that tradition with a new era of Twins baseball starting in 2018."
The Twins will continue to produce all game broadcasts including 30-minute pregame and postgame shows, the team said. WCCO-AM 830 and other Minnesota-based Entercom properties 104.1 JACK-FM and BUZ'N @102.9 will have interviews with team personnel through the year.