Wednesday, June 14, 2017

R.I.P.: Former ND Radio Owner Justin Hoberg

Justin Hoberg
Justin Hoberg, a former Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce president and civic leader who is remembered for his sense of humor and shaping KNOX 1310 AM into a talk radio station in Grand Forks, North Dakota died Friday at his home on Lake Bemidji, less than a month shy of his 88th birthday.

"I just think he had an amazing life," his daughter Jill Hill said. "All of the things he got to do, how well he did in radio, what an amazing marriage he had ... it's like a script that couldn't have been written better for any human being."

Hoberg's Grand Forks Herald obituary hints at his sense of humor. He was born July 5, 1929, in Bemidji, and though the family couldn't find any record of him graduating from Bemidji High School, "he assured us he was a straight-A student," the obituary said.

Hoberg attended UND, where he met his wife. After serving in the Army, he was offered a sales position with KNOX. His son, Jeff, recalled how his dad sold shoes.

"(Hoberg) talked to my mom about it, and she said, 'You don't have any experience selling advertisements,' " Jeff Hoberg said. "He said, 'I think we can figure it out.' "

That job lead him to purchasing KNOX in 1966, as well as stations in Bemidji and Minot. He also acquired KYTN-FM in Grand Forks.

He later sold the stations over the years—KNOX went to Peoria Journal Star in 1972, at which point he became Peoria's executive vice president and general manager for its broadcast division until he retired in the 1990s to Bemidji.

Justin Hoberg was Jarrod Thomas' first general manager at KNOX, which is now owned by Leighton Broadcasting of St. Cloud, Minn. Joining the station in 1993, Thomas, who hosts "The Jarrod Thomas Show," joked that Hoberg would do what he could to save the radio station money, but his employees were his priority and he really got to know the people he worked with.

Jeff Hoberg said his father focused so much on building relationships because he felt the community was important to be successful in the radio business.

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