The man who helped put one of the most successful independently owned CHR/Pop radio stations on the air has died following a Monday evening automobile accident in which he was driving in the wrong direction on an interstate highway in eastern Iowa.
According to KCRG-9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rob Norton Jr. — owner of KZIA-FM 102.9, KGYM-AM 1600 “ESPN Radio,” and FM multicast “Rob FM” — was driving southbound in the northbound lanes of I-380 when it crashed into a car driven by Cedar Rapids resident Jennifer Koenighain, aged 28.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Norton was aged 69.
A third vehicle was also involved in the accident. Two people in that vehicle suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The accident is still under investigation.
KZIA Inc. released the following statement to KCRG in the 4pm hour, Central Time:
“Our hearts are broken as we learn of the passing of two people in a vehicle accident Monday night, including Robert Norton, the President of KZIA, Inc. Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in the accident, as well as with their families and friends.”
KZIA has long been one of the top-rated stations in Cedar Rapids. In fall 2017, it finished as a rare No. 2 to Townsquare Media’s crosstown Country KHAK-FM. At the same time, KGYM-AM saw its best ratings in two years, 12+.
Norton’s career began with All Access Music Group owner Joel Denver at WINX-AM 1600 in Rockville, Md. Norton would then take a weekend position at WPGC-AM 1580 and FM 95.5 in Washington, then the biggest Top 40 station in the Nation’s Capital.
“A consummate radio junkie, he fulfilled his lifelong dream to own and operate his own stations. You will be missed for your laughter, your quirkiness, love of the business and friends as well as your creativity. RIP my friend,” Denver said.