PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. - It's a quiet morning on the streets of Prairie Du Chien. But when 8:00 rolls around, a familiar voice can be heard throughout town. Radio news man Norb Aschom is a staple in this community. "Irreplaceable," says former colleague and PDC resident Ryan Skaife. "He's an institution to this town. For so many folks who've grown up here, they know him, know the voice. In a small town like this, someone like Norb is someone they can trust."
And trust they have for decades. On April first, Norb marked 50 years on the air at WQPC-FM and WPRE-AM. "I was always interested in radio. It was the golden age and you listen to the drama's and comedies every night."
Over the years, Norb's 'voice' has been a constant, but his job responsibilities have been anything but. "I've worn every hat possible except engineer. From program director to news director to director of public affairs. Call it what you want."
And his routine has changed along with his job titles. Yes he still works full time but instead of just lunch at noon, "take a nap and then come back from 2-5. Squeeze in a nap? Gotta have a nap!"
As it goes in small town radio, Norb has had more than a handful of colleagues along the way. "I bet we've had 100 announcers coma and go. Some use this as a stepping stone. Several are in really good broadcast markets. Many are out of the business. Some are deceased. And every year, some come back and show their children or grandchildren. 'This is where I got my start in radio. Right here.'"
He himself has had multiple opportunities to go on to bigger and better things but every single time, something about this community holds him here. "You're like an extended family. I know that's overworked but it's true. You know everyone by their first name. You could drive down the street and keep your hand in the air because everybody knows you and you know everybody. How terrific is that?"
"You can go down to any business and just walk in and say 'Norb,' and they know him. It's that voice. He's covered so many people and he's living, breathing history in Prairie Du Chien. And all generations can feel proud of him."
For now, Norb has no plans to bid his listeners farewell. "I plan to keep going for awhile."
Skaife adds, "I've moved away and come back many times and as soon as I turn that radio on...I know I'm home."