Monday was former KARE-TV anchor Cory Hepola’s first day on the job as host of his eponymous “News Talk 830 WCCO” radio show.
“It was a great first day,” said the always pleasant Minnesota native, who succeeded John Hines in the 9 a.m. slot. He said he was grateful for “the response from the listeners, friends and family and supporters.”
Hepola spent four years at KARE, where his broadcaster wife, Camille Williams, eventually joined him. During the last two years, they co-anchored the weekend newscasts with coordinated wardrobes — much to the delight of viewers, Working together had been a dream since they met 11 years ago while working at competing stations in Elmira, N.Y. They are the parents of three children under 5, Williams, who left KARE in the fall, comes up a couple of times in this interview.
Q: What’s your radio show supposed to be?
A: It’s going to evolve. I hope people have some patience. We’re going to talk politics, news, sports, generational communications, psychology, science. There are great medical breakthroughs here. ... We want to listen to what is interesting you and help further the conversation in a positive way.
Q: Is Camille ever going to be on the radio with you?
A: Yeah, she will. I want her, whether she wants it or not, to have a recurring role.
Q: When you were a KARE anchor, it was important that you look good. And you were a clotheshorse, so that worked out perfectly. Now it doesn’t matter what you wear to work. How long before you start dressing like you’re on the radio?
A: This [fashion] is just my thing. I was voted best dressed in high school. I take pride in looking nice. I’m a believer [that] if you look good, you feel good.
Q: KARE was on your vision board. Was WCCO radio ever on your vision board?
A: Not specifically. If you had just one goal your entire life, lots of times you’re going to be disappointed or frustrated. If you go solely on one particular thing, the Lord may be calling you to do something else that’s even better for you. I feel like that’s kind of the case.
I’m very thankful for my four years at KARE. Those are the greatest, most talented people. I came to a point where I’m ready for something new. ... Over the last 18 months I’ve been searching for my purpose. I’m a husband and daddy to three. I started thinking, “What can I do to give back?” I think some of my gifts are being able to connect with a lot of different people, being able to listen to a lot of people. It is our responsibility to give back for those gifts.
WCCO radio called me. Our first conversation went really well. So we had a second one and a third one and fourth and fifth, and it kept progressing. I kept waiting for a red flag, and it never came. And that’s how I knew. We’re [he and his wife] people of faith. I just knew the Lord is calling me for a very specific purpose.
Q: I’m told they really liked you at KARE [where he won Emmys in 2016 and 2018].
A: And I really liked them. When WCCO called I went to KARE and said, “I’m eternally grateful and very thankful, but it’s time for me to move on to the next chapter so I can help people in different ways.” I was able to do things that I’ve talked about, things on my bucket list in terms of a [TV] career. Covering a Super Bowl in your home state, home stadium. I remember watching my first one in ’92 from my parents’ basement. Being able to work with Camille, absolute highlight of my life. We dreamed about that when we first met 11 years ago. To be able to do that for two years, we loved it.
There are so many wonderful things that happened in this community; reconnecting with my kindergarten teacher Mrs. [Lorly] Schik, who wrote my parents a note. She said, “Hey, what a joy it is to watch Cory on the news.” Who does that? She’s such an unbelievable person. That meant so much to so many people. Mrs. Schik and I still talk. She’s met Camille and the kids.
Q: You and Camille really liked working together. I get the idea she left because she wanted to do more with you than just anchoring the news on weekends. Is that right?
A: That’s fair. And I would say the same thing. We wanted to do more together. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. But we have some ideas that we can maybe work on and maybe [have] impact in terms of a parenting podcast.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.