1943 alumnus Bob Fransen will receive the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication Alumni Society Board's Award for Excellence on April 30, 2014, as part of the School's annual Spring Showcase event.
Fransen, who has been an important figure in Minnesota broadcasting for nearly six decades, led WTCN-TV (now KARE-TV) for 18 years. During his tenure, Channel 11 was the top-rated independent station in the United States, but when NBC sought a new affiliate in the Twin Cities market, it was Fransen who sold the network. To this day, KARE is an NBC-affiliate station.
A Minnesota Daily columnist during his days in Murphy Hall, his broadcasting career began during WWII, when he produced radio shows for the U.S. Army Air Forces in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He then worked as news director at KYSM Mankato and then moved to WCCO-TV in 1949 and served many roles as announcer, director, production manager and weatherman. In 1952, he spent a short stint at Kerr-McGee Corp. filing TV license applications for stations in Illinois and Oklahoma. But in 1954, he returned to Minnesota to help launch, staff and program what is now KMSP-TV, the area's first independent television stations. In 1957 he moved to WTCN-TV to work as an account executive and sales manager before being promoted to vice president and general manager. He later served as vice president and general manager of what is now WFTC-TV and as general manager of KSTP-AM.
He has received the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Award and has been inducted into the Pavek Museum Broadcasting Hall of Fame.