In September of 2019 KXLG-FM (Watertown, SD) owner Bob Faehn was diagnosed with cancer. Last month he passed away. Faehn launched the station in 2009 and was a big proponent of live and local. One of his first hires, who like many starting in radio, did everything in the building, was Melissa Herrboldt, who, as of last month owns the station.
We reached out to Melissa to ask her about how she went from working at the front desk and helping with promotions to becoming the owner of the radio station. As you’ll find out Bob Faehn had a lot to do with her rise to ownership
Radio Ink: Tell us about the station.
Melissa Herrboldt: KXLG was built on the concept of “Live and Local.” Bob handpicked his team and created a culture that was a family atmosphere where being a true team really meant something. Everyone chipped in. We were a “seasoned” staff except for myself. Our announcers had over 100 years of experience when we started and the sales experience matched that. He had a crew who knew how to get the job done. Bob’s philosophy was hire good people and get out of their way. Our mission statement says it best. KXLG’s Mission is to be an admired and involved part of our communities, while providing important information and entertainment in an upbeat, honest, and friendly manner that maximizes the success of our advertisers. Core Values: Honesty, Integrity, Expertise and Attitude.
Radio Ink: What do you believe the station means to the community?
Melissa Herrboldt: Bob started KXLG knowing the importance of a local community. KXLG was created to serve the communities it would reach. Bob Faehn was a well known name in our communities and in the state. So people knew if Bob was part of this it would be a success. I remember early on in our adventures at KXLG we had a client that had a little girl that needed hearing aids and for whatever reason the family couldn’t afford them. Before you knew it KXLG’s listeners had raised $6,000 in just a few hours for the little girl so she could get hearing aids. We asked and our listeners responded.
Radio Ink: How important is live and local?
Melissa Herrboldt: As important as oxygen is to us. When you say “live” you get live with KXLG. We have live announcers on air from 6am – 6pm Monday – Friday and Saturday from 7am – 1pm. When the storms come we cover them. Local events we are there. We take care of our listeners, communities and customers. It’s been said that local businesses are the backbone of the community. It’s true! KXLG is a locally owned business and we understand the importance of “local.” We created a program to promote locally owned business and the importance of supporting them! It’s what makes KXLG who we are. KXLG truly is “Live and Local”!
Radio Ink: What happened to Mr. Faehn?
Melissa Herrboldt: Bob was diagnosed with cancer in September 2019. Bob was more than a boss, he was my mentor and an incredibly smart, patient man that really let me grow in the business. He sent me on trips to learn more about the radio world. He invested in me. I remember when he called me from the ER before he was flown to Mayo Clinic in September and he asked me to do him a favor. He didn’t know what would happen to him. I knew right then how much Bob meant to me. And if something happened to him I wanted him to know I cared for him. So I said it, I told Bob I wanted him to know how much I appreciated him and that I loved him. He responded back with ‘I love you too Melissa.’ It was from that moment on that our relationship grew deeper and I knew Bob wasn’t just my boss anymore. He was a friend and father figure. I never imagined I would ever meet someone like Bob that would have such an impact on mine and my family’s life. We wouldn’t have had this opportunity to purchase this radio station had I not met Bob Faehn.
Radio Ink: Did you know he wanted you to take over the station when he passed?
Melissa Herrboldt: Yes! Bob talked to me about buying the station once a year starting in 2017. He never pushed the issue. He always said he wanted it to go to someone who would take care of it. Someone that wouldn’t screw it up. I was too chicken to do it because we are a very profitable station and I always thought about us solely buying it and I knew that wasn’t an option. Although when he decided to retire on February 2nd, I knew if my husband and I didn’t buy it someone else would. Our staff and what Bob created didn’t deserve to be changed. Before he retired I sat down with him and said ok how do we go about buying this station. I am ready to talk! Then Bob, Susie, Jeremy and I had supper together to visit about how we could purchase KXLG. Jeremy and I visited and before I knew it we agreed this was a great opportunity for us. Let’s do this! We started looking for investors. Our first investor we asked was Susie. It was a perfect fit. I also always prayed that if this was meant to be everything would work out and our investors would come to us we wouldn’t have to go to them. And that’s exactly how it happened. Well they came together because they knew how much KXLG meant to Bob. They also knew his health situation. In a short amount of time we had all 3 investors we needed for our dream of buying KXLG to became a reality. Bob’s legacy would live on!
Radio Ink: What does it feel like to be an owner?
Melissa Herrboldt: I don’t know if it has sunk in yet. The crazy part is I always took ownership of my work and in some ways always felt like I owned a little part of KXLG. I am super excited and incredibly humbled to continue the legacy Bob Faehn created. Providing the community, listeners and our customers with the best local radio like we have been for the past 12 years. Financially we made it work with investors. We couldn’t be more blessed to have the investors we do. They all know Bob and know what his vision was and how he operated his business. They also know the importance of local radio!
Congratulate Melissa on becoming a radio station owner at [email protected]