WCCO morning anchor Jason DeRusha will leave his job in June

·4 min read

After nearly 20 years at WCCO-TV, Jason DeRusha is leaving his job as morning anchor. After announcing the news on air early Tuesday morning, the Illinois native was flooded with messages and social media posts from his friends, enemies, colleagues and viewers.

“It’s been really overwhelming,” the 47-year-old said Tuesday after his afternoon nap. “I was texting a friend about this. I obviously like to be the center of attention. Even for me, this is a little too much. It feels like I’m a guest at my own funeral. But it’s been nice. People will get back to telling me I’m fake news tomorrow, but today has been quite nice.”

DeRusha will remain at WCCO in a limited role, acting as a special correspondent for occasional stories. “Who knows when they’ll ask me to do something? Maybe I’ll be back around the State Fair or for other big stories,” he said.

As for what’s next, DeRusha wouldn’t reveal his plans now, but said he expected to at some point before his final morning on air June 23. “I can’t say what’s next and I hate that kind of answer,” he said. “It’ll be here in Minnesota and it won’t be totally foreign to the areas I’ve been working in. It’s not politics. I’m not running for governor.”

DeRusha said he’s been thinking about making the move for a while and the pandemic influenced his decision. Seeing other friends and colleagues make life-changing career decisions also helped spur him on. (DeRusha didn’t name any names, but several fellow longtime broadcasters have left their jobs in recent years, including KARE’s Eric Perkins, WCCO Radio’s Cory Hepola and DeRusha’s former colleague Liz Collin.)

“My three-year contract was up and it kind of forced me to re-examine my priorities,” he said. “I’m at a unique point in my life where I’m old enough that I feel like if I’m going to take the jump, I need to do it now. (And if it doesn’t work), I’m young enough to come back and do it again.”

Before taking a reporting job at WCCO in 2003, DeRusha spent time at stations in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. He also interned at “ABC World News Tonight” in New York. He took the morning anchor role in 2013 after serving as the reporter for the station’s “Good Question” segment and working as a weekend anchor. Thanks to his active and frequent social media participation, he’s become one of the highest-profile names in local television news.

Whatever DeRusha does next, he’s looking forward to enjoying a more traditional sleep schedule. For the past nine years, he has woken up at 2:30 a.m. and was on the air live two hours later.

“The schedule of a morning anchor is a blessing and a curse,” he said. “The joy of it is I’ve been able to go to all our kids’ activities. I help around the house in the afternoon. We have family dinner most nights at the dining room table, which is sort of remarkable with two high school students. The curse is that I’ve got to wake up at 2:30 a.m. That wears on you.”

Is DeRusha going to miss what he has long called his dream job?

“Hmmm. That’s such a good question. That was a fundamental question I had to answer myself. I’ve been working in a television newsroom since I was 19. To think about the end of June, when I won’t be talking to people on TV on a regular basis … that was a big step for me to get to.

“Being on TV is great. I’ve loved every minute of it, I really have. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to help guide people through some of the best times and worst times we’ve had in this community. And it’s a unique role (as a morning anchor) being among the first people who get to tell you what’s going on in the world. I’m ready for new challenges, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss it. I’m going to miss it incredibly.”

Related Articles