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‘A dream come true’ for Perham native

Cory Hepola of Perham will be returning to Minnesota from Houston, Texas as the KARE 11 News Sunrise anchor this month. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It  was a long journey, but Perham’s Cory Hepola fulfilled his dream. On March 23, it was announced that Hepola would become the new KARE 11 morning news anchor in Minneapolis.

Hepola said, growing up, his dream was to be an anchor for a station in Minneapolis.

Hepola will join Kim Insley on the 5-7 a.m. slot on Monday through Friday.

The trip to Minneapolis featured several twists and turns, which led him from Montana to New York and to Texas, before returning home to Minnesota.

“It’s been a long process. They had an opening since August, and we knew about it since November,” Hepola said. “It wasn’t the right time, and it didn’t work for me.”

But then, an unfortunate turn of events left Hepola out of a job. In February, Hepola called KARE 11 and made his case to the News Director, Jane Helmke.

“I poured my soul out and told her this would be a dream come true,” Hepola said. “If you give me the opportunity to audition for you, I’ll fly up on my own.”

The station eventually flew Hepola up for an audition and an interview to be considered for the main morning show news anchor.

Hepola will be transferring from the sports world, where he won the “Best Sportscast” award from the New York State Broadcaster’s Association in 2010.

“It’s something I’m really thrilled about. I have been trying to transition over from sports to news for quite a while,” Hepola said. “I have been waiting for the right opportunity, and this is it. I feel that there is so much more to me than sports. I am interested in talking about current events, pop culture and it’s a really good fit.”

The morning show format at KARE 11 is one that Hepola said suites him perfectly.

“I felt pigeon-holed in sports. I thought there was so much more to me to offer outside of sports,” Hepola said. “I’m really excited. I feel that this morning format fits who I am, my personality and my energy really well.”

Hepola appeared to be on the fast track to achieving his dream out of college. He started his career in Fargo. However, the company was bought out and he lost his job.

“At that point, I didn’t know if I was ever going to get back on air, or what would happen,” Hepola said. “It was a difficult time for me. I was 21 and still in college when I was anchoring sports. I lost my job, and it was really eye opening.”

Hepola caught on with a television station in Montana, before relocating to New York. He spent time in both Elmira and Rochester in New York before working at Comcast Sportsnet in Houston, Texas.

“It was a really awesome position, and I was very thankful. We were broadcasting over a five-state region,” Hepola said. “I was doing work with the Houston Astros and the Houston Rockets.”&

“We were really happy to be here,” Hepola said of Houston. “However, the station budget group had some issues, and the network dissolved last October.”

And so, once again, Hepola found himself out of work.

Hepola said one of the most rewarding things happened during that time, the birth of his son, Cormac, in November.

“We were on the search and on the look since then,” Hepola said. “When this came about, we jumped on it and couldn’t wait. It’s a dream come true and it has been a lot the past few days. My parents (Terry and Diane Hepola) have been so supportive of my dreams. When I was a kid I told them I’m going to be an anchor in Minneapolis. This really is my dream coming true. It’s just so cool.”

When he moved away in 2004, Hepola said that he didn’t know if the road would lead back to Minnesota.

“We had no idea, you hoped, but you wonder will the right position at the right time ever open up,” Hepola said. “That’s what I think makes this even more gratifying – all those times along the way where you wonder where there is some self-doubt. For it to end up like this is so special and overwhelming. It has been emotional.”

One of the toughest times for Hepola has been the past five months. After receiving a couple of promotions with CSN-Houston, the station shut down.

“I had been promoted two or three times and was on the main show,” Hepola said. “I had received really good feedback from different executives around the country. I had felt really good… and then to not have a job, you wonder how you are going to support your family. I have a son, which is the most rewarding thing of my personal life, to losing of a job, which was a challenge. I look back in these past five months, and I see a growth and a maturity in myself.”

Hepola said his family and faith helped push him through those trying months.

“I got back into reading the Bible every single day. I feel like having a son, and my wife (Camille) who are so supportive and love me so much, I feel like a fuller person,” Hepola said. “My wife has been the best. She is super supportive. She has pushed me, motivated me and believes in me. Every time there would be a shred of wonder, she would be there for me.”

Hepola added that family was the driving force for him while in a business with more rejection than job offers.

“My family kept pushing me and motivating me because they knew that’s what I wanted to do in my heart. They knew that was my dream,” Hepola said. “It didn’t matter how many tapes it took me.”

“To get to Montana, it took me 150 resume reels. To get to Elmira, it took 150 resume reels,” he continued. “That’s 300 rejections, but I got two yesses and that’s all I needed. It was 30 more and I was in Rochester, 100 more and I was in Austin, 20 more and I got Houston and now 30 more I got Minneapolis. That’s a lot of no’s but seven yesses. This is the best yes so far.”

Hepola was quick to credit the community of Perham for helping shape him into the person he is today. He said he is excited for the opportunity to watch the Yellowjackets, when he gets a chance to come home.

“I still stay in contact with a lot of teachers, coaches and friends. It’s really important,” Hepola said. “Dave Cresap was one of the first to text me when he found out. Lance Rach, Sandra Wieser-Matthews and Erin Anderson were instrumental to me in my youth. They helped mold my character. I told Coach Cresap that he will have another three fans at some home games to check them out. It’s something I have missed since I have left. We are so thankful.”

Hepola is expected to start his new job with KARE 11 in mid-April.

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