Longtime Duluth TV sportscaster Hansen signing offNorthland's NewsCenter sports director Tom Hansen will be on-air for the last time March 22 before he moves to a university relations position at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune, Superior Telegram
A longtime figure in local sports media announced during Monday's newscast that he is leaving the business.
Northland's NewsCenter sports director Tom Hansen will be on-air for the last time March 22 before he moves to a university relations position at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Hansen said the hours involved with six sportscasts a day, shooting game highlights and interviews in addition to play-by-play work for University of Minnesota Duluth athletics has caused his family to make a lot of sacrifices over the years.
"I wanted to be a better husband and a better father," Hansen said. "And in order to do that, I needed to change the hours that I worked."
Hansen, originally from St. Paul, came to Duluth as a news reporter in 1985 and spent five years at WDSM-AM. He was hired by the NBC affiliate in 1990, a job that included a stint as weekend weatherman. He eventually moved on to sports and, after more than 22 years, has ended up covering the children of athletes he reported on early in his career.
"Tom has truly been Mr. Sports for the past 20 years in this market," said David Jensch, vice president and station manager at Northland's NewsCenter. "He's been a great local connection to college and high school teams and players and coaches. A lot of young people have grown up watching Tom Hansen cover them. I can't tell you how many athletes have talked to us about the connection to Tom Hansen that they have. It's not the Packers, the Twins or the Vikings. He's all about their local team."
Hansen's father, who was an athletic director at St. Bernard's High School in St. Paul, died earlier this year and Hansen's wife, Kris, has had health problems the past few years.
"It allowed me time to think and reflect on what's important in life," Hansen said. "That's family. I needed to spend more time with them when I could."
Tom and Kris Hansen have two daughters: Kelsey is a freshman at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and Nikki is a junior at Superior High School. Hansen said he is hoping to attend his daughter's swim meets next season - and stay for more than 10 minutes.
News Tribune sports reporter Kevin Pates, who plans to retire this summer, ranked Hansen up with Marsh Nelson, Bob Junkert, Cal Sabatini and Steve LePage as memorable Northland sports personalities.
"Tom is one of the most caring professionals to come through the Duluth-Superior media sports scene in the last 40 years," Pates said. "He is genuine in his interest of athletes and teams and coaches in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin. He's sincere; there's not a phony bone in his body. The smile you see on every sportscast and at every game is real."
Hansen said he hopes to still do on-air play-by-play game coverage, his favorite part of the job.
His career highlights have included covering Kara Goucher's course record in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in June, the UMD women's hockey team's NCAA Division I titles and subsequent trips to the White House and Duluth East's Dave Spehar's three hat tricks in three days during the 1995 Minnesota Class AA State High School Hockey Tournament.
He also covered the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, a pair of Super Bowls, the World Series, Stanley Cup, PGA Championship and the NCAA Final Four.
Hansen was inducted into the UWS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
"It's been a great career," he said. "I've loved every second of it."
One bonus, Hansen said, is saying goodbye to Max Factor: "After 22 years I won't have to wear makeup any longer," he said.