Viken had been in "so-so" health recently, according to former WCCO Managing Editor Steve Murphy who spoke to Viken just last week. He had retired to Florida, but returned to the Twin Cities in recent years.
Viken joined WCCO in 1950 and began an amazing 39-year run for the station. Viken became one of the most recognized names in his home state of Minnesota.
Murphy credits Viken for transitioning WCCO Radio from "formal" radio to "friendly" radio.
"When Howard started, he told me his job was to introduce segments of network radio like soap operas and comedies," Murphy said. "Once television came along, the local radio stations had to come up with local programming and Howard was one of the first to pick-up that mantle."
Viken's legacy at WCCO Radio is still felt today.
"When you hear 'CCO Radio as opposed to WCCO Radio, think of Howard, because that's when the station made that transition to becoming the good neighbor and the friendly station people enjoyed having on at home, in the car, and in the barn," added Murphy.
Viken was a former Marine who fought in World War II in the Battle of Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. He returned home to study speech and journalism at the University of Minnesota, and then continued on to further study broadcasting at Brown College.
Viken did shows that were an extension of his personality. His shows were lighthearted, full of laughs and fun. If he liked a song or comedy routine, he figured his audience would, too––most often he was right.
"He was very intelligent, but never condescending," longtime WCCO personality Denny Long told The Star-Tribune over the weekend. "He was just a gem."
Viken worked at WCCO Radio from 1950 to 1989, during its heyday as a powerhouse statewide station. Especially during wild winter weather, he was a trusted voice for many Minnesota households.
In 2004, he was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame.