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Posted December 2, 2009    

Patrick Reusse

Joe Nathan

Lou Nanne

Bud Grant

Clark Griffith

"On The Record"

Rochester's Raphael Butler and Joey Abell of Coon Rapids will fight for the Minnesota heavyweight title on Friday night at Target Center.


Reusse Talks Retirement, Feuds & More 

Like him or not, every sports fan in this town has known the name Patrick Reusse for decades.  Knowledgeable, opinionated and, yes, at times irreverent, Reusse has commanded attention for more than three decades but he told Sports Headliners his days at the Star Tribune and KSTP Radio could be ending in a couple of years.   

Reusse, 64, talked last week about his career, writing style, feuds, addictions and more during a candid interview where he answered questions in detail, and often with self-deprecating humor.  For years a full-time columnist with the Star Tribune, he now writes two columns a week because of the opportunity to host a Monday-Friday morning radio show on KSTP-AM 1500. 

“Patrick Reusse & Company,” which airs from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., debuted in January. The show has Reusse out of bed by 3 a.m. work days and welcoming an occasional afternoon nap.  Writing Thursdays and Sundays for the Star Tribune, Reusse now only attends assigned sports events and often avoids night games. 

“The hardest adjustment is only being a two days a week columnist because you kind of feel like you’re out of it a little bit, but there’s no way I could have maintained my newspaper schedule and do this radio,” he said.  “I am 64 years old. … Frankly, this radio is a lot harder than writing four or five columns a week. That had become such a habit.  It was just something I looked forward to.  The radio, it’s a grind.” 

Reusse signed on for the Monday-Friday show knowing what he wanted the product to sound like.  “It turned into what I wanted it to be and if it works, fine,” he said. “If not, what the heck.  (It’s) a current events show, with numerous segments, lots of interviews and not taking phone calls. …A morning show, it’s got to be newsy, sportsy, and have traffic updates and stuff.  You’re changing topics every eight minutes."

Just like his approach for years with the newspaper column, Reusse decided to make the KSTP show appealing to his No. 1 target demographic--himself.  “My audience is me and as I said when I took the job I want a show that I could listen to,” he said. “There’s nothing that I could listen to in town when I was in my car in the morning, which wasn’t a lot.  But I just don’t like wacky, completely wacky.  And I don’t like full blown promotional WCCO: 'Aren’t the Gophers great? They made 201 yards against Iowa.  We’re so proud of them.'  That homerism in all things radio.  I just want a kind of candid, quick hitting radio (show) with sports and news and politicians.” 

Reusse had logged air time on KSTP for years but nothing that commands the commitment of his new Monday-Friday show.  The faltering and uncertain economics of the newspaper industry impacted his decision as he pondered his future livelihood.  But he was also curious to see how he would do hosting a show like “Patrick Reusse & Company” and so he agreed to a three year contract with KSTP. 

“When the contract is done, I am probably done, both here (Star Tribune) and there,” he said.  “I’ll be 66 and hopefully I will be able to retire then.  I don’t know.  I would like to keep writing in some form.  I enjoy the writing as much as I ever did but it’s certainly not the same job it used to be.” 

Reusse didn’t say what his combined income is from KSTP and his part-time work with the Star Tribune.  The total is believed to be in six figures and Reusse said that despite less compensation from the Star Tribune his total income remains similar to when he was a full-time columnist and worked part-time on radio.   

“I am doing okay, but somehow my wife (Katy) and I have managed to stay in a situation where I still have to work two jobs,” he said.  "I don’t know how we’ve done it, but it’s quite a feat.” 

Awhile ago the Reusses remodeled their suburban Minneapolis home, increasing the mortgage and adding to another financial burden-- the swimming pool that came with the house when Reusse bought it in 1988.  “That’s worse than having five kids,” he said.  “I can’t plead with people enough not to have a pool.  If you’re looking for financial well being, don’t have a pool.  That’s my advice.” 

Reusse said his columns are often more oriented toward reporting and feature writing than they are opinion pieces.  He strives for reaction including a response from readers of “Gee, I didn’t know that.” 

The columns do frequently have an “edge” to them.  Reusse doesn’t advocate soft approaches to opinions when he puts them in print. “Don’t pull a punch,” he said. 

Reusse admits some readers see him as a “negative SOB.”  He writes what interests him and hopes for reader reaction, whether it makes you scream, laugh or just “feel good about some other human being.”


"My audience is me and as I said when I took the job I want a show that I could listen to. There’s nothing that I could listen to in town when I was in my car in the morning."
Patrick Reusse on his new radio show











“When the (KSTP) contract is done, I am probably done, both here (Star Tribune) and there. I’ll be 66 and hopefully I will be able to retire then.  I don’t know.  I would like to keep writing in some form." 
Patrick Reusse  




Feuds Often Are 'Patched Up' 

Sometimes Reusse has used name calling in his columns. Does he have regrets about that? 

"That’s always the big debate, whether it’s personal or whether it's observation,” he answered.  “When I get attacked in return, I never take it personally.  I find it extremely humorous that people take a shot at somebody and then get offended when they take a shot back at you."

Reusse said Twins relief pitcher Joe Nathan is upset with him.  Reusse criticized Nathan's performance in the playoffs.  "I said 'choked,' and you looked at him on the mound against the Yankees and he couldn’t breathe," Reusse said.  "Now is that personal?  Or is that observation of an athletic performance?  That’s what the debate becomes.   

“He’s outraged, and that’s fine.  He should be.  He’s told guys ‘I am never talking to him again.’  I am not going to think any less or any more of him either way. People don’t believe that but really I don't.  Somebody wants to say that ‘he’s a fat SOB,’ there’s no denying the fat part.  I am not very defensive at all about stuff I’ve written. 

“Sure, there’s regrets.  A lot of them have been patched up.  Harvey Mackay (friend of ex-Gophers coach Lou Holtz) and I were mortal enemies during the Holtz era, and now I get along with him fine.  Louie Nanne (ex-North Stars president) is a former turkey of the year (Reusse's annual Thanksgiving column) and I consider him a good friend, and a character.   

“What the hell. You can’t write 250 columns a year for 30 years until the last year and not say, 'God almighty, was I stupid.'  Of the feuds I’ve allegedly had, yeah, maybe the Holtz one (Reusse labeled him the "Music Man" after the character in the Broadway show).  He came in and he started bullshitting and I got kind of offended.  Now I look back at him and I should have adopted him as a unique character.” 

Reusse recalled how he was critical of former Vikings coach Bud Grant and Twins owner Calvin Griffith.  His observation was that “everybody” was required to patronize Grant so much it drove Reusse nuts.  “So when I started writing columns, I would take some shots, whatever I could,” Reusse said.  “Then through the years I came to appreciate he’s one of the most unique Minnesota guys we’ve ever had. Calvin, too, I went from taking shots at him every chance to thinking he was one of the greatest characters of all-time. So I guess I regret some of the early observations I made of some people. …” 

Reusse grew up in southwestern Minnesota and later graduated from Prior Lake High School.  He was a liberal arts major at the University of Minnesota but dropped out long before he could earn a degree.  His dad had a friendship with a Minneapolis Tribune writer and Reusse signed on as a teenager for an entry level part-time position in the sports department in 1963. 

The Tribune was home almost at first sight.  “God, it took me about two weeks to say this is the greatest," Reusse said.  "I just loved the hubbub and the crazed Friday nights, and the angry people, and the hard drinking people. (People) screaming at each other and taking calls.  You go to work and you were probably working a six-hour shift back then and it was over in 10 minutes. ...” 

At age 20, Reusse headed for Duluth and a job with the daily newspaper there paying $76.08 per week.  The work didn’t require a degree and journalism positions were easier to come by in the 1960s than they are now.  “Hell, it was between me and some wino off the street, probably for the job,” Reusse said. “Who are you going to hire for that kind of money?” 

A few months later Reusse was writing sports for the newspaper in St. Cloud.  His salary increased to $110 per week for 52 hours in an “anything goes” sports department atmosphere.  Reusse’s memories include befriending a couple of St. Cloud State athletes with plenty of favorable publicity.  They were also old enough to buy beer for him when he wasn’t of legal age.  















"Somebody wants to say that ‘he’s a fat SOB,’ there’s no denying the fat part. I am not very defensive at all about stuff I’ve written."
 Patrick Reusse

No Alcohol Since April 27, 1981 

Four-plus years after going to St. Cloud, Reusse arrived in St. Paul writing for the Pioneer Press.  Later he switched to the Star Tribune and between Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers has been writing a column for three decades.  Ask other journalists about Reusse and many will say his touch (how he uses words and phrases) is among the best in the country.  When Reusse began writing he copied the clichéd filled style of most sportswriters during that era.  But Reusse worked at his writing, thinking about how he enjoyed taking a “mild situation” and exaggerating it, or a “horrible” one and understating it.  He also read and admired the country’s best sportswriters including a roster of legends in Boston such as Will McDonough, Bob Ryan and Leigh Montville.

Reusse started covering the Twins for the Pioneer Press in 1974.  He enjoyed “turning a phrase,” working with the excitement of writing under a deadline, and also fitting in a few hours of daily drinking. 

An addiction to alcohol forced a decision in April of 1981.  Twins vice president and friend Clark Griffith had told Reusse to call him when Reusse was ready for treatment.  “There was no risk to my job or anything like that,” Reusse said.  “I got sick of being hung over. I was single, (and) my first wife had divorced me in ‘79.  I was running around with a younger crowd and acting goofy.  Just got sick of being hung over and one Sunday morning called Clarkie and the next morning I was in Saint Mary’s (for recovery).” 

That spring the North Stars were in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Reusse grew up without exposure to hockey and to this day struggles with his interest in the sport.  He said the “good news” about being in treatment was he avoided about “30 days of hockey columns.” 

Reusse hasn’t had a drink of alcohol since April 27, 1981.  He said it’s “the greatest feeling in the world” to see a police car’s lights in his rear view mirror and know “they can’t hurt you and ruin your life.”  Then he added: “Fortunately I did my heavy drinking in the ‘70s when drunken driving was legal.”   

Alcohol is the easiest of addictions, Reusse said.  He’s seen others struggle with booze, cigarettes and over eating.  He has battled a weight problem for years, using crash diets and seeing the pounds fluctuate.   

“I must be at 300 now,” he said.  “It’s terrible.  I haven’t tried one of my crash diets for about three years now.  I am ready probably for another one.  Obviously it’s (the extra weight) not healthy."

Reusse, who weighed 170 pounds in high school and 190 after treatment for alcoholism, has no major health problems but is worried about his weight and so, too, is his family.  “I am concerned,” he said. “I am like everybody else.  I am afraid I am going to tip over.”     

But Reusse has seldom missed a day of work and remains energetic. “It’s amazing how lucky I have been with my healthy considering how fat I am,” he said. 

Reusse “loves writing baseball” and he talked about the “smaller the ball, the better the scene” theory of sportswriting.  Baseball and golf, he believes, offer special opportunities to describe the scenes with the fields, courses, stands, galleries and more, not just the “combatants.” 

Then Reusse brought up Gophers football and how many readers believe he is a “big U basher.”  He followed Minnesota teams in the 1950s and remembered sobbing as a 12-year- old when the top 10 and undefeated Gophers lost to Illinois in 1957, a season that held promise of a national championship. 

Reusse said it amuses him when he walks into a Gophers game now and fans ask him to write “something good.”  That’s not up to him, he said, that’s on the Gophers.  “People think that you go to a game thinking you know what you’re going to write.  No, you go to a game to see what happens.” 






 Harvey Mackay








 Lou Holtz








Bud Grant