Paul Douglas is returning to the airwaves. Starting Aug. 1, the longtime Twin Cities personality will once again be spelling out the WCCO call letters, but for the radio station, not the CBS-affiliated TV station that terminated him nine years ago.
He and Jordana Green will co-host weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., a time slot previously held down by Don Shelby, Michele Tafoya and, most recently, John Williams.
“If you think of Paul as just a weather guy, he’s going to surprise you,” said Lindsey Peterson, WCCO radio’s operations manager. “He’s incredibly smart, he’s funny, very well connected, and we think the two of them will be a good match.”
The station made the announcement late Thursday afternoon, but we grabbed some time earlier in the week with Douglas in between his duties as a Star Tribune contributor and founder of two weather-driven businesses.
Q: People may be surprised to learn that you actually got your start in radio. How did that happen?
A: I owe my career to study hall. I think I lettered in study hall. I was sitting there one day and realized that the kid at my table was a DJ with his own show. He was something of a savant. I thought, “What the heck?” and asked him if he had ever thought of having his own weather service. He looked at me and said, “That’s not a bad idea.”
He got me on the pay phone with his boss as WHEX (Columbia, PA), a daytime station that literally shut down at night. He asked me my name and I said “Douglas Kruhoeffer.” There was a long pause. “You don’t understand. Our DJs are so stupid they’ll never be able to say your name. They can’t even say their own names. If you want to get $25 a week, you’ll have to change it.” So Paul Douglas was born. I was a senior in high school and I was hooked.
Q: So TV was never part of the master plan?
A: In my darkest dreams, I never imagined a television career. I was very content with radio. In many ways, I prefer it because it’s not as dependent on visuals. You have to draw a picture and every listener imagines something different. I’m looking forward to not having to wear makeup and a four-piece suit.
Q: How do you plan to fill three hours every day?
A: I can tell you what I’m not going to do. It’s not going to be a partisan food fight. It’s not going to be people shouting at each other. There’s a place for that. But I’m interested in things that bring us together, as Minnesotans and Americans. I hope Jordana and I can fine tune a solution-space show, provide resources that help people’s lives and have a laugh together.
Q: How long is your contract?
A: I think it’s two years. Of course, if I turn out to be a bum, I’m sure they’ll find a way to make it shorter. People come up to me and say, “Are you retired?” Not really. I’ve got the Star Tribune and the two companies. I do a fair amount of traveling. My wife and I just returned from Alaska, which was our 50th state. We’ll have to scale back on traveling to focus on WCCO. One my goals is to make sure we are not too Twin Cities-centric, to get out and explore the state and what makes it diverse.
Q: Any good-luck charms you’ll be bringing into the studio?
A: My Doppler. I think I can squeeze it into the studio. There just won’t be room for anyone else.
Neal Justin • 612-673-7431 • Twitter: @nealjustin