Memories of Former 98 Country Owner Andy Hilger
My old boss, Andy Hilger, died over the weekend.
Andy was 83 and had been battling Alzheimer's for the past couple years. That awful disease took his ability to communicate or to even recognize the people around him. Especially cruel for a community leader and man who made his living talking with other people.
Andy owned 98 Country when it was still Stereo 98. The fact that so many people still call it Stereo 98 from time-to-time is a testament to the power of the station from its earliest beginnings. I worked in the newsroom and did news and farm programming on 98 Country as part of my daily duties. It always floored me how many resources Andy put into his two stations -- Little 'JON and Big 'JO. Hourly newscasts, sportscasts and play-by-play, business reporting, farm markets and news, not to mention editorials on topics Andy himself wrote each day. He had five reporters, two farm people and a sports guy at one time. We all reported on a lot of news and information on 98 Country on top of all that country music. But we did it because Andy believed in it. He had the vision.
Times change and so did radio. Andy sold WWJO in 1999 and went on to his next big adventure. But the tradition he started here was already engrained. His mark will forever be on this station -- his commitment to serving the community lives on.