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Published December 20 2012

KFGO airs retraction on political sign story

FARGO – KFGO 790 AM aired a retraction on Thursday stemming from broadcasts made during the election season when political signs began showing up on restricted areas such as public boulevards.

Joel Heitkamp, the station’s general manager, said Thursday that at the time the activity was going on, the station asked listeners: “Hey, if you see who is doing this, let us know.”

Heitkamp said listeners provided the station with a photo of a pickup said to be connected to someone working with signs backing U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, who at the time was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and a rival of Heitkamp’s sister, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

Heidi Heitkamp was elected to the Senate post.

Joel Heitkamp said a regular listener of KFGO provided the station with the identity of the owner of the pickup, “and in that process it went probably further than it should have to the notion that they were the ones that did the illegal signs.”

He said an individual identified in station broadcasts as Jake Werner, a retired deputy U.S. marshal, told KFGO he had worked to repair legitimately placed signs and had nothing to do with illegal signs.

Heitkamp said Werner informed KFGO through an attorney that he was due an apology.

“I and the station took him at his word that he wasn’t (involved in illegal sign placement) and to make this right by him, basically I said what I said on air today,” Heitkamp said.

Thursday’s retraction was aired during the first half-hour of the “Joel Heitkamp Show” and Heitkamp said it would also air on the “Mike McFeely” show, which he said also aired information dealing with the sign issue.

Attempts to reach Werner for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.