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Straight Talk about Steele County

Lead Summary

If there is one thing I have learned over the past year, residents are fortunate to have two viable options of keeping in touch with what's happening in Steele County:  Straight Talk by Owatonna Live and the Steele County Times.
I recently had the opportunity to join Karen Hale, host of the weekly news program for Owatonna Live, in promoting our weekly newspaper. I actually was one of the first interviewees on the show's set in a new studio on Rose Street in downtown Owatonna. Hale has been hosting Straight Talk since December.
Hale laughed out loud when I asked her how she became the show's host, which features businesses, events and non-profit organizations throughout the county. "Completely tripped and fell into it," she said.
She also operates While You're Busy, a company aimed at helping small businesses with building websites and managing social media. In January 2020, Hale began working with Scott Limberg of Limberg Productions, the company that produces Owatonna Live. Last fall Limberg asked her to host Straight Talk.
Hale still chuckles about it all.
"I can talk in front of 1,000 people on stage, but in front of a camera, well that's entirely different," said Hale.
Limberg prompted her to try it because "I think you would be good at it."
Six months into the gig, Hale is enjoying the new role of interviewing movers and shakers around the county.
She likens the show to a format similar to Entertainment Tonight except exclusively for Owatonna and Steele County. "We're getting the straight story on things," Hale said. "It's a way to keep in touch with the community."
Hale told me her favorite aspect of hosting the show is "getting to know everybody and learning about what they do and what they bring to the community."
She isn't native to the area. Hale moved to Steele County in November 2018 after living in the Phoenix-Scottsdale, Ariz. area for many years. Her daughter, Jordan, married Zachary Olson, a native of Owatonna. And, as Hale said, if she wanted to see her grandchildren with any regularity, it meant moving to Minnesota.
Hale's professional background doesn't have anything to do with TV or social media. She worked in corporate insurance for 35 years with Prudential and later USAA. Her insurance work focused on international operations in places like Ireland.
At one point, she started a service for troops deployed to handle paying their bills during deployment. That eventually dried up as troops came back and spun her into the social media and digital marketing world.
Hale offers a neat perspective of being an outsider coming into an entirely new area. And she is more than impressed with what she has found in her new home of Steele County.
"People just rally and come together to promote events," Hale said. "It's amazing to watch the traction things get. People get things done."
The entrepreneur spirit that exists throughout the county also flabbergasts Hale. "There is something in the water here. This town is all entrepreneur," she said. "They come together with impossible goals and make it happen."
The current, as well as previous shows of Straight Talk, can be seen at www.owatonnalive.com.
It's reassuring that there are at least a couple of media organizations who are in hot pursuit of keeping a pulse on the great things happening in Steele County.
 

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