Dan Culhane, whose voice was a Twin Cities radio and commercial staple for decades, dies at 62

·3 min read

You might not have met Dan Culhane, but there's a good chance you've heard his voice.

At radio stations across the Twin Cities, Culhane voiced commercials over three decades for stations ranging from KFAN and KOOL 108 to JACK FM and WCCO Radio.

The voice-over work extended to TV as well, where for the past eight years he introduced "Minnesota Bound," the popular outdoors show on KARE 11.

Culhane also occasionally filled DJ shifts. Work as a radio host in the 1980s brought him fame as part of "The Tom and Dan Show," a meteoric morning-drive program on KQRS that launched the ongoing run of Minnesota radio royalty Tom Barnard.

Culhane, 62, of Minneapolis, died on Feb. 28 from complications of COVID-19. In the weeks since, friends say they've been reminded of him on the airwaves, either through commercials still running or broadcast tributes from old friends.

"You couldn't find a nicer man than Dan Culhane," Barnard said during his radio show this month. "Look for the good stuff. Dan Culhane certainly was one of the good things about my life."

Born and raised in Superior, Wis., Culhane loved radio from an early age, said his wife, Nancy Mitchell. In junior high, he was a "radio nerd," she joked, making tapes with a friend as they pretended to be DJs.

Culhane got his degree at the University of Wisconsin-Superior in business administration, with a minor in broadcasting. He worked in Duluth radio for a few years before landing a job at KQRS in the Twin Cities.

The morning show quickly flourished, though the on-air cast changed. After two years Culhane was let go, Barnard recalled on his show this month, but there was no controversy because Culhane handled it with "nothing but class."

"Not only did he also develop another great radio career in a couple of different places," Barnard said, "but he also developed a great voice-over career."

Culhane's voice was pleasant, trustworthy and informative, but the best word to describe it might be "genuine," said Tony Lee, a longtime friend and producer at KQRS. Beyond his comfort level with voice-overs, Culhune was skilled in the production studio where he expertly massaged sounds, Lee said.

Since 2011, Culhane was production director for WCCO and two other local radio stations owned by Entercom Communications. As such, his voice would be heard on locally produced ads that didn't feature Twin Cities celebrities, said Shannon Knoepke, senior vice president and market manager for Entercom Twin Cities.

"He had this effortless way of delivering creative audio messages," Knoepke said. "It was recognizable. … He had a gift."

Around WCCO, Culhane was a reliable source of friendly conversation and candy, recalled John Hines, the station's morning show host before he retired in 2018. Culhane's office was notorious for being located in one of the coldest parts of the building, Hines said, yet was a draw for its gumball machine filled with Peanut M&M's.

"He was really good at what he did," Hines said. "Dan is one that I will miss, for sure."

Outside of radio, Culhane's freelance work included TV commercials, audio books and video narrations for corporate clients. But professional accomplishments were just part of the story, said Donna Valentine, a longtime friend and show host on myTalk 107.

"We lost a really, really good human," she said, "and I think a lot of people are heartbroken because of it."

In addition to his wife, Culhane is survived by his son, Joe, his daughter, Cori Orak, of Bali, Indonesia, and two grandchildren. The family is planning a memorial service for a later date.