Norm Hall – signing off for the last time
After 30 years of bringing the residents of the Blue Earth area the news on KBEW radio, Norm Hall is hanging up his headphones, turning off his mic, and retiring. His last day is May 31.
“I started here at KBEW in October of 1991, so my 30th anniversary was this past October,” Hall explains. “I was hired by Roy Haven, the station manager at that time.”
Hall’s path to becoming the news director at KBEW took a very circuitous route.
He was born and raised in Crown Point, Indiana, and graduated from high school there.
“It’s basically a suburb of Chicago,” Hall says. “After high school I went to work at one of the steel mills, because, well, everybody worked in the mills; there were few other jobs.”
From there it was off to North Dakota where he worked in the oil fields for a few years and then for the railroad.
His next move was to Fairmont, because his former wife’s father was there.
“I lived in Blue Earth for a short while, and worked at Juba’s,” Hall recalls. “Then went back to Fairmont and worked at what is now Fairmont Foods.”
Then came what he calls one of those life-changing events.
“I heard on the Fairmont radio station they were advertising for someone to go out and do mobile church broadcasts so I applied and got the job,” Hall says. “It was go to a different church each Sunday and record the service.”
He says he was immediately hooked.
“Radio can become addictive if you like it,” he says. “And I did.”
He started going in to the station after hours and practice being a radio DJ.
“I created my own pretend station, and practiced introducing the music, starting the music, reading the weather, news and sports,” he says. “I taught myself the radio profession. I never went to school for it.”
He worked part-time at KSUM radio in Fairmont, then heard about the job opening in Blue Earth.
“I applied, came in to read for the part,” Hall says. “Roy handed me a script and said, ‘here, read this.’ So I did. Then he asked, ‘when can you start.'”
He has been the news director at KBEW ever since, only the fourth one in the station’s history.
“Things happen in life that lead you to where you are supposed to be,” Hall says. “Blue Earth is home, and I am happy to call it home.”
He says he feels very fortunate to have had this job for 30 years, considering he had no training for it.
“I have a ton of great memories,” Hall says. “I have been fortunate to meet so many good people, interesting people. From U.S. Senators and a vice president to county commissioners and many other folks around the area. The relationships you develop with people is one of the best things about this job, what I will miss the most.”
So many people know him that he often stops and visits with folks when he is out and about.
“I was at the KBEW fair booth and got to visiting so much I forgot to do the top of the hour newscast,” he says. “I suddenly realized it was way after the top of the hour.”
What he is most proud of is his being part of keeping the citizens of Blue Earth, Faribault County and the area informed of what is going on in the community.
“I have gone to a lot of meetings and reported on them,” he says. “If the radio and the newspaper reporters were not at the meetings, then people would not know what is going on in their local governments. They would not all go. And they need and want to know what is going on.”
So what does retirement look like for Norm Hall?
Well, for one thing, he is going to continue just one of the interview shows he has done on the radio. The Gardening Show with Cindy Lyon. Hall says he likes gardening, although he adds they don’t have a very big garden, just big enough to keep him busy.
“And, if I am needed to fill in at the station some time, I agreed to do that,” Hall says. “But mainly I am going to take time off, not get up early every day and enjoy the summer.”
That includes spending a whole lot of time with his, and his wife Michelle’s, nine grandchildren.
“I have already agreed to take care of some of them when their parents need me to,” Hall says. “Sort of Grandpa Daycare. I want to help teach them some things as much as possible.”
And, Norm and Michelle Hall have been doing a lot of creating wood items out of old pallets as a hobby and side business.
“We make things like coat racks, signs, planters,” he says. “It is our new hobby, and I find it relaxing.”
Of course, the couple has another long-running business together, the KBEW Dance DJs, which they will still continue to do, and are already booked for many events this summer.
If that is not enough, Hall is also a part-time employee for the city of Blue Earth.
“Well, it is not a big deal,” he explains. “I help out sometimes at the fitness center or the pool. And, so I had to become a city employee for liability purposes.”
Michelle Hall is the manager of the Faribault County Fitness Center and the Blue Earth Community Pool. And no, Norm Hall says, she is not retiring at this time, although several people have asked.
“I do want to thank all the people I have worked with over the years at the station,” Hall says. “Everyone I interviewed for the news and who helped me over the years, and the whole community for listening. I really feel very fortunate and grateful.”