Andy Hilger was just passing through St. Cloud, Minn., on Hwy. 10 in 1958 when he stopped and made a call to WJON management to ask about a job at the station. He was hired on the spot.
Hilger became half-owner of WJON in 1965. He later added WWJO-FM, KMXK-FM and KKJM-FM.
The central Minnesota broadcaster and businessman whose radio career spanned six decades has died at age 83.
Hilger died Sunday at St. Benedict’s Senior Community in St. Cloud, Miller-Carlin Funeral Homes said. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the St. Cloud Times.
Hilger landed a job at WJON-AM as a nighttime disc jockey under the name “Tin Pan Andy, ” WJON reported. For 40 years, Hilger wrote and produced daily editorials for WJON. He also built WJON Cablevision in the late 1960s, bringing cable television to the St. Cloud area.
In 1998, Hilger sold WJON, WWJO and KMXK to Regent Communications of Cincinnati. He kept contemporary Christian station KKJM and later donated it to the St. Cloud Catholic Diocese. He volunteered to serve as its manager for six years.
He also launched an all-Catholic AM station, K-YES AM.
His wife, Carol, said her husband’s involvement with Christian radio may have been the work of which he was most proud. She said he would often leave work to attend daily Mass and spent many hours in prison ministry.
“He was born and raised Catholic, and that was the foundation he believed in and lived, ” she said.
In 2006, Hilger was inducted into the Minnesota Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Besides his wife, Hilger also is survived by their four children and several grandchildren. Services will be held Friday at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.