Central Minnesotans on Wednesday remembered former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., as a friendly and approachable politician and radio station owner.
Grams, who owned three Little Falls radio stations, died Tuesday night at his home in Crown. He had been diagnosed with cancer and entered hospice care in September. He was 65.
Corey Fink, news director for KLTF AM in Little Falls, said the former Twin Cities television news anchor offered guidance to him when he took the news director post five years ago. Fink produced Grams’ four-day-a week talk and call-in show “Up Front,” a program he described as one of Grams’ greatest joys.
“Sen. Grams, as an owner, was a very open and approachable person here at the radio station,” Fink said. “He was just such a kind man, friendly and very approachable, door always open ... professionally, just a great person to work for.”
Grams, who lived in Crown, commuted roughly 90 minutes each day to Little Falls, Fink said. The news manager, who has worked for the station for about eight years total, said Grams set goals for the radio station and also played a role in production work and music selection.
“You can’t say enough kind words about him,” Fink said. “He had a passion for what he did and he always had a smile on his face.”
In addition to KLTF, Grams and his wife, Christine, owned 94.1 KFML FM and 92.1 WYRQ FM. Fink said Grams and his wife bought the stations in 2004.
State Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, recalled a note he sent to Grams’ wife in which he described the former senator as “one of the good guys.” Kresha said he would occasionally seek advice from Grams during his own legislative race. The state lawmaker said his condolences go out to Grams’ family and those who knew him.
“He was just a real even-keeled person,” Kresha said. “His demeanor was always the same, it was very pleasant.”
Kresha said he never heard Grams say an unpleasant remark, even against political opponents.
Also saddened by the news of Grams’ death was Perry Nouis, current treasurer and former chair of the Morrison County Republican Party. Nouis said he got to know Grams during the former senator’s 2006 bid to unseat Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., in 2006 and also when Grams was interim chief of staff for Rep. Chip Cravaack and Nouis was press secretary and district office manager for Cravaack in Brainerd. Nouis described Grams as intelligent and a great American.
“That’s a great loss for the state of Minnesota,” Nouis said. “He was a dedicated public servant.”
Grams, who had been the lead anchor for KMSP TV in the Twin Cities, won a seat in Congress in 1992, defeating Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-Minn. Two years later he was elected to an open U.S. Senate seat but lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Mark Dayton.
The Associated Press reported Grams is survived by his wife, four children and several grandchildren.