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Dakota Huseby off the air

Well-known and opinionated Grand Forks radio talk show host Dakota Huseby went off the air over the weekend at KNOX Radio, 1310 on the AM dial. It wasn't her choice, and the sudden change led to questions from listeners Tuesday. She's worked ther...

Well-known and opinionated Grand Forks radio talk show host Dakota Huseby went off the air over the weekend at KNOX Radio, 1310 on the AM dial.

It wasn't her choice, and the sudden change led to questions from listeners Tuesday.

She's worked there for about a decade, starting as a news reporter but becoming better known in recent years as opining with some heat, mostly on local city matters.

"Friday was her last air day," General Manager Jeff Hoberg said Tuesday.

"We made some changes in the format of the radio station that left us with one extra on-air personality."

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Huseby said today that after her shift Friday, Hoberg and operations manager Jarrod "JT" Thomas -- his real last name is Spoor -- told her it was over.

"All I know is I was let go on Friday," she said. "I am exploring my options for the future."

By Monday, KNOX's Web site contained no mention or sign of Huseby.

The "Afternoon Affair with Denny and Kerri" show now will run from noon to 2 p.m. on KNOX, Hoberg said.

Denny Johnson and Kerri Drees do a "magazine" format of general interest talk topics, Hoberg said. It's a sort of a kinder, gentler change from Huseby's politics-oriented show that usually focused on Grand Forks City Council decisions and what she didn't like about them.

Mayor Mike Brown was known for declining to be on her show, and Huseby knocked him for it regularly.

Council member Curt Kreun often was a guest on her show.

Mike McNamara, who also has a talk show on KNOX and is the station's production manager, is on the City Council.

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Huseby had been a public face for KNOX.

After a tornado devastated Northwood, N.D., in late August 2007, Huseby was one of the KNOX broadcasters who sat in the local cafe interviewing residents and recovery workers live on the air, dispensing needed information for displaced residents and telling the story.

Although many radio personalities use on-air names, her radio handle is her given name, and it's an apt one, she says.

"What's more North Dakota than that?"

Married with a family in Grand Forks, Huseby grew up in Fargo, graduating from Fargo North High School.

She worked as a news reporter for WDAY Radio from 1999-2000 before moving to Grand Forks to take a reporting job at KNOX, she said.

But it was "moving up" to be a talk show host that was her forte, as she invited public officials on and pressed them for accountability.

"I take some pride in that I think I did some good things there," she said. "I was a big advocate for open records and open meetings, and I think that caused some entities to take a second look at what they were doing."

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Johnson and Drees are less political, less controversial, Hoberg said.

"We just felt there was a need for a show like that, kind of a soft place to land," Hoberg said. "To give listeners a little break from political news and the spirited talk kind of thing."

KNOX is owned by Leighton Broadcasting of St. Cloud, Minn., and is run as an ESOP, or employee stock ownership plan, in which employees obtain shares through their time put in on the job.

Huseby's immediate supervisor was Jarrod Thomas, and during his show today, he faced questions from callers about Huseby's fate.

"Did Dakota get fired?" one guy asked

"All I can tell you is that Dakota Huseby no longer works with the company," Thomas said, repeating himself more than once.

To another caller who pressed for more information, Thomas explained that out of "respect for Dakota," and general employer responsibilities, little could be said publicly about such a change.

Hoberg said he and Thomas and a consultant made the decision to go forward without Huseby.

"We all kind of agreed that maybe there was a spot for Denny and Kerri from noon to 2," he said. "That left us with one extra body . . . so we had to make a decision there."

Huseby said Hoberg and Thomas had been working with a San Francisco radio consultant, John Lund, who apparently was in on the decision.

It was sudden, but that often is the nature of the radio business, she acknowledged.

"I don't know what my future holds," Huseby said. Except it probably won't involve listening to KNOX.

"That is a chapter that is closed. When I close a chapter, I don't look back."

She didn't get much explanation as to why she was let go, Huseby said.

"Whether it was a format change or money, who knows? They didn't replace me, so that's a free salary for them."

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