Remembering Paul Hedberg
KBEW radio owner also had Giant statue idea
Legendary Blue Earth radio broadcaster and station owner Paul Hedberg died on Thursday, May 27, at his home in Southlake, Texas, just one day shy of his 82nd birthday.
Hedberg was well known in the Blue Earth area for two main things. One, he started the KBEW radio station in August of 1963, and secondly, he is the person who came up with the idea of creating a 55-foot tall fiberglass Jolly Green Giant statue and placing it in Blue Earth back in 1979.
“Paul was always looking for ways to promote not just the radio station, but Blue Earth and the local area,” says Larry Anderson, who was a friend of Hedberg’s. “Getting the Green Giant statue in Blue Earth was just one of the many ways he helped promote the town.”
Anderson was the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce executive director back when Hedberg was promoting the city.
“I remember when KBEW radio was celebrating its 10th anniversary in 1973,” Anderson says. “Paul convinced Paul Harvey to come here for the celebration. When he picked up Paul Harvey at the Fairmont airport, he had to take him all around Blue Earth and ‘sell’ him on what a wonderful town it was. Paul (Hedberg) was always ‘selling’ Blue Earth.”
It worked, too, because later that week Harvey talked about wonderful Blue Earth on his radio show.
Anderson says Hedberg had a much larger impact on Blue Earth than just the creation of the radio station or the Green Giant.
“He did so many things, like working to get Telex to move here, getting the route of Interstate 90 moved south to be next to Blue Earth, getting the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Miss America to come to the I-90 Golden Spike dedication,” Anderson says. “Who does that? The list of what he was able to accomplish is long. Paul’s motto was that nothing was impossible.”
Hedberg also never forgot about Blue Earth, even after he moved away 40 years ago. Anderson says he has been doing things and making donations to projects over the years.
The latest Hedberg gift to the community was to fund the new six giant-sized musical instruments located at Giant Park. He had made a similar donation to Arnold’s Park at Lake Okoboji.
The instruments were to be dedicated on Friday night of Giant Days this year, with Hedberg and members of his family in attendance.
“We are still going ahead with the dedication on Friday, July 9,” Anderson, who is going to emcee the event, says. “It will be a memorial to Paul and a thank you to the family. I’m saddened that Paul is no longer with us and won’t be here to speak at the dedication.”
Former KBEW radio station manager Kevin Benson also remembers Hedberg as a person who made a real difference and brilliantly promoted people, businesses and an entire area for the common good.
Benson was hired by Hedberg on Sept. 15, 1975.
“Personally, I’ll always remember Paul as the guy who gave me my first job out of college,” Benson says. “Thankfully, he took a chance on my inexperience.”
Benson says Hedberg had a great voice, a quick wit and that rare likeability quality – and that he had an impact on a lot of people.
“I was blessed to have known him,” Benson says. “I’ll never forget one of his favorite “Hedbergisms, when talking about something in the past that you couldn’t change; “That’s just water over the damn dam.”
Anderson agrees that Hedberg had a big impact on people and the community.
“He never had a negative comment about anyone or anything, always all positive,” Anderson says. “If every community had a Paul Hedberg kind of leadership in everything, we would all be better off.”