Guests - If You want access to member only forums on HSO. You will gain access only when you sign-in or Sign-Up on HotSpotOutdoors.

It's easy - LOOK UPPER right menu.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Scott M

RIP Steve Cannon

7 posts in this topic

Steve Cannon: A man of many voices signs off

by Neal Justin, Star Tribune

Steve Cannon, one of the most unforgettable voices in the history of Twin Cities radio and for years the highest-rated afternoon drive host in the country, died late Monday after a short, fierce battle with cancer.

Cannon's booming baritone voice steered WCCO's drive-time show, "The Cannon Mess," for 26 years -- a national record -- aided only by sportscaster Morgan Mundane, sexpot Ma Linger and the effeminate Backlash LaRue, all voiced by Cannon himself.

Those characters were so beloved that Cannon became the only inductee in the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame with two plaques: one for himself and one for his make-believe trio.

Cannon died just after 10 p.m. Monday at his home near Minneapolis' Lake of the Isles, surrounded by family members. He was 81.

In the 1970s and '80s, when WCCO dominated the airwaves, Cannon held court as the gruffest, most gregarious of the "Good Neighbors," making his voice as recognizable to many Midwesterners as everyone's cantankerous but lovable uncle who never skips the cocktail hour.

"It's awfully tough comparing the 125 people in our hall of fame, but in terms of sheer talent, does anyone stand out above Cannon?" said Steve Raymer, managing director of the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park, which honored the legend in 2002.

Cannon actually attended that ceremony, which was somewhat of a surprise since he was well-known for his insistence on privacy. Dark Star, who has worked at WCCO for decades, recalled the time Cannon was temporarily run out of his intimate studio because of fire damage and was forced to broadcast from the main studio. He refused to go on the air unless staffers covered the windows with newspapers so no one could see him slip in and out of his characters. Dark Star also remembered that the station had prepared a big party for his final show in early October 1997, but Cannon sabotaged the celebration by signing off one day early and slipping out the door.

"He did it his way," Dark Star said. "He taught me that you have to be self-sufficient, that you have to do your own show and be your own person."

Cannon's work habit and determination were rooted in the Iron Range, the area that raised other fiercely independent Rangers in the first half of the century, including politician Rudy Perpich, hockey legend John Mariucci and singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

"I didn't want to work the mines," Cannon told the Star Tribune in 1997 while explaining his doggedness. "This was a great impetus for me."

Not that Cannon shot to success overnight. After moving out of his hometown of Eveleth, he tried his hand at stations in Mason City, Iowa, Stillwater, Bemidji and Duluth with only smidgeons of encouragement along the way. He finally got his big break in the late 1950s when he landed at KSTP and worked on the morning show for 13 years.

Fans protested when he was fired and, three weeks later, WCCO picked him up, launching one of the most successful relationships in radio history. It wasn't always easy. Several attempts to set up Cannon with partners were treated by the station's star as shotgun marriages. None of them lasted. Cannon worked alone. No callers, no music, no guests. He usually turned down requests to promote the station and scoffed at having his picture taken.

Cannon stepped even further away from the spotlight after his retirement.

"He used to call himself Mr. Yesterday, because he was very aware that his time had come and gone," said T.D. Mischke, a fellow radio renegade who befriended Cannon in 2003. "I could count on half of one hand the number of people in the industry he stayed in contact with."

But Cannon could be extremely social among those he felt comfortable with. Mischke, currently streaming an online show for City Pages, recalls long hours on the phone or sitting in the corner of Cannon's kitchen in his Lake of the Isles mansion, as his mentor spun one tale after another.

It was during one long-distance call that Mischke got the news: Cannon had cancer. Doctors in Naples, Fla., where Cannon would spend chunks of the winter, told him in November that tumors had spread throughout his body. Twin Cities doctors confirmed the diagnosis and told him he wouldn't last through spring.

"He was kind of ticked off about it," Mischke said. "There was so much he still wanted to do. ... But when it became clear that it was ending, he was very matter of fact about it."

Still, Cannon wasn't going quietly. Mischke visited him a week ago and, fairly convinced that it would be last time his friend would be in condition to sustain a conversation, he kissed him on the forehead and told him he loved him.

"Hey," Cannon replied. "I'm not out of here yet!"

*************************************************

I used to listen to this program in the car while on the road or running errands with my parents. He was a real rarity on the airwaves. I can still hear the opening music. I was so young I thought all the voices were different people.

It's sad to see people go who love what they do and do their best. That's all anyone can do in this life: give their very best and Steve certainly gave that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with ya, the name brings back memories of being picked up from school or whatever and Mom or Dad listening to Cannon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cannon's type of radio was the end of an era.

I can remember a few friend's fathers who never switched their car radio from 830.

It's pretty hard to listen to a lot of today's talkers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cannon was fantastic. A true great. Too bad 'CCO had to mess with a good thing at pair him with Ruth Koesilack for a bit.

RIP, Steve-o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, he brings back good memories. My first church was in SE South Dakota, JUST out of range of the WCCO, BUT if I went Ice Fishing on Lake Thompson when it first flooded and got huge - I could JUST pick up the Evil Neighbor and listen to the Cannon Mess when I was watching Tip Ups in my car. Wow - what a great entertainer - he was certainly one of a kind. I miss those simpler days - and it wasn't that long ago...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0



  • Posts

    • I think just about anything can be smoked. would be easy to get the crappies over dry. they turned out great using the technique above. dang near as good as smoked eggs!  
    • Raised beds, you hear people talk about them but what are they? Depending on how much money you want to spend on material and dirt a raised bed can be just a couple 2x8’s nailed together to waist high beds that you don’t need to bend over to work. Now that waist high one will with dirt is going to cost you some compared to the shallow 2x8 bed. Either way a raised bed does some or all of the following things. It eliminates the need for tilling, as you never step into the bed thus compacting it. When you fill the bed it allows you too put clean dirt exactly where you want it, not on the paths between beds where you walk and never plant. Weed control is much easier. Containing the crop you are growing is much easier. Harvesting is much easier. You can add fertilizer taylor made for the crop you are growing not fertilizing the entire garden that maybe 30% of that you walk on and don’t grow in.   The last few years I have been switching to low raised beds and container growing. A typical 4x8 bed takes twenty bags of dirt to fill or about 500#’s the beds are so fluffy that I can turn them over with my hand or just a little rake. This season I am going to add three more beds which will give me total of 11 and over 50 five gallon containers. Of course if room is not a problem then traditional planting stills works just fine especially for spuds and melons and squash. Just offering other ideas.
    •   But yet Christians claim they do.....  
    •   The one I made called for cumin. I think next time I might do something in between my recipe and this one.
    • I always thought smoking was for more fattier fish such as lake trout, salmon, suckers, whitefish and the like?
    •     This sounds good. Gonna have to try it   Plus the emphasis on vegetables in most Chilis
    • Buy the best door you can afford. I installed a steel clad Peach Tree door on the front of my place mainly because it faces south and there is a big temp difference during the day. I paid 600.00 for it, not much for a door these days but thirty years ago I had the father in law scratching his head when we put it in. My back door is out of the sun and I went with an all glass Morgan door, 300.00 I think it was still looks almost brand new after all of these years. Love the light that it lets it. Both have adjustable thresholds and we keep an eye on the weather-stripping. Stay away from the box store bargain doors unless it is rental property. Another thing is don't go cheap on the lock sets, you get what you pay for. Also reinforce the jam on the lock side while you are replacing the door.
    • Xlake area got about 6" of fluffy stuff, I am told, but I wasn't up this weekend. Looks like Tuesday might add a few more. I might still be able to ride yet
    • I hear she has a new campaign video out.  Mayor of New York?  President?   Gotta keep the money coming in. 
  • Our Sponsors