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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
SESTERHENN, Steve. (Chicago, IL- ). It was said that Sesterhenn "had ears" meaning he could identify "hooks" in songs that captured listeners' attention. His ears could identify a song off an album that would rocket to individual stardom. At the age of 29 with ten years of experience at KFMD-FM D-93 RADIO, Sesterhenn had lots of experience listening to music as the station's music director. (1)

Due to Sesterhen's talent of identifying hit songs, KFMB by 1980 had become one of fifteen test markets for Top 40 rock music. Ststerhenn received an average of 135 telephone calls weekly from record producers and musicians interested in his opinions. His talent earned him many gold singles and several albums from appreciative musicians. One example was "Magnet and Steel" by Walter Egan. Sesterhenn began playing the song from an album six weeks before it was released as a single. He also called the producers and suggested the single release. The record spent 10 weeks in 1979 in the Top 10 and 22 weeks in the Top 40 and sold 1.5 million copies. (2)

Faced with songs he felt were too long, Sesterhenn edited and spliced them so that they could be played. The record company of "Eugene," called and described his version more commercial than the original. His editing of the seven-minute "Highway Song" by Blackfoot led the group to present a gold album to Sesterhenn making KFMD one of the few Top 40 stations in the country to receive such an honor. In 1980 he spliced three songs from Journey's million selling "departure" album into a platinum single that hit the charts at number 32. "Good Morning Girl/Stay Awhile" was an edited version of "Departure," "Good Morning Girl" and "Stay Awhile."(3)

In 1980 KFMD, a Dubuque Top-40 FM station also known as D-93 produced "BASEMENT TAPES", a hometown album featuring seven area rock bands. There were 2200 copies of the record sold for $3.93 at fifteen record stores, department stores and bars where the bands played. Profits from the album, expected to be about $3,000, were designated for the United War of Dubuque. To promote the project, a Battle of the Bands concert, promoted by the station, was held on Monday, November 17th, at FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER featuring four area bands. Prizes ranging from $250 to $1,000 were offered, but publicity had the potential of much more. Representatives of Atlantic, Electra, Columbia, EMI, MCA and Epic record labels were involved in the judging giving the four bands tremendous publicity. (4)

In 1981 as a result of Sesterhenn's 85 percent success rate charting the future success of Top 40 singles on RADIO, KFMD became one of fifteen test markets for Top 40 rock. His ability to pick winning records and play them off albums before their release as singles earned him gold singles and albums from appreciative musicians. (5)

Sesterhenn also edited records that contributed to their future success. His editing of the seven minute "Highway Song" by Blackfoot to just over four minutes led the group to present him with a gold album. In 1981 Sesterhenn spliced three songs from the "Departure" album by Journey into a platinum single that entered the charts at number 32. (6)

Of the 3,500 singles released annually, fifty-two will sell a million copies. Only eight will rate platinum by selling two million copies. Between 1971 and 1981 Sesterhenn had more songs hit the charts than anyone else and compiled four gold and one platinum between 1979 and 1981. (7)

In 1987 Sesterhenn was the manager of human resources at CYCARE SYSTEMS, INC. (8) In 1999 he served as the spokesperson for COTTINGHAM AND BUTLER, INC.. (9)



1. Johnson, Elaine, "D93/s Sesterhenn Picks Hits for the Record Industry," Telegraph Herald, February 19, 1981, p. 7

2. Ibid,

3. Ibid.

4. Darlin, Damon, "Album Brings Exposure to Dubuque Area Bands," Telegraph Herald, November 13, 1980, p. 15

5. Johnson, Elaine, "Ears of Gold," Telegraph Herald, February 19, 1981, p. 7

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. "Colleges List Commencements Plans," Telegraph Herald, May 5, 1987, p. 24

98. Berg, Renee, "Preparing for Tomorrow's Jobs," Telegraph Herald, November 7, 1999, p. 41