Roger Greene 1952-2006
by Marc Sheforgen
Roger Greene listened mostly at 33 1/3 RPM, but he lived at 78. The 35-year veteran of the Hi-Fi business died Wednesday, March 1 at his home in Duluth, Minnesota. He had battled Leukemia since September 2004. Roger would have been 54 March 13.
Roger worked at Acoustic Sounds from June 2003 until he got sick and returned to his native Duluth, where his wife, Judy, continues to live. Remarkably, in just 15 months in Salina, Kansas, Roger left an indelible impression on our company. Memories of him inevitably circle back to something silly, humorous or downright ridiculous. Roger actually defined the phrase "kid at heart" through his everyday living. He was carefree, and he was always up for a party. Always.
He's the guy that'd work a full day Friday, drive his Harley more than 1,500 miles to Duluth and back, in time for work Monday morning. Roger's the guy who'd stay out all night at the casinos in Vegas and then show up at the Acoustic Sounds CES booth never having made it back to his hotel room. He'd take off for the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis on a moment's notice. Roger was the guy who'd hit the bar with a pal and buy shot after shot for whoever happened to be around. His home was always open, and he'd spin records for whoever wanted to listen and for however long they could. The guy had fun. He was also the guy that'd say "yes" to whatever a friend might ask of him, even before hearing the favor request.
Roger was a hell of a guy. It's really that simple for those who knew him.
He also was a true professional and an enormous asset to the Hi-Fi industry. He began working for a TV/stereo shop while going to college in Duluth. In 1972, he attended a tech school in Minneapolis and earned a degree in electronics. He returned to Duluth after school and found work in a stereo store. He didn't care for their way of doing business, so he decided to do it himself. He negotiated a deal with a Minneapolis chain called Sound of Music and opened a franchise in Duluth. He cut ties with Sound of Music after seven years, becoming an independent store. Soon after, Sound of Music became Best Buy. Roger loved to joke about the timing of his decision. "The guy that owns Best Buy is like the third richest in the country," he'd say. "I think I'm the third poorest."
He closed his store after several years and spent a few years in various jobs outside of audio. Finally, he got a job at an appliance store selling TVs at the very beginning of the video revolution when VCRs and video cameras were red hot. Roger partnered with Bill "Bink" Schurter and opened Twin Ports Video Center, specializing in audio and video. That lasted for seven years and produced what surely are some of the most insane TV commercials Duluth, Minnesota has ever seen. In one spot, the pair spoofed "All-Star Wrestling" and acted as a tag team. The ad was shot in Duluth before a wrestling event and featured professional wrestler The Blaster and ex-Minnesota Viking Doug Sutherland. Roger told hilarious stories about the filming of the commercial. At one point, The Blaster got carried away and actually tossed Roger through the ropes of the ring. Roger crashed to the ground and suffered a pulled groin.
Roger worked for six years at Salon One Audio in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin until that store closed in 2000. From there, he went to Minneapolis and worked a couple of shops and for a mail-order company called The Needle Doctor. After that, he came to Acoustic Sounds.
After Roger had become sick and left Salina to return home for treatment, customers would regularly call to inquire about him. The quality that seems to have struck them most was that Roger was a pure music lover. He wasn't a salesman. Instead, Roger sold high-end audio. That's a very important distinction. Roger loved to talk music and gear, and he genuinely wanted his customers to achieve the very best sound. It wasn't about pushing boxes to Roger.
"He's a great guy," we'd hear over and over from customers.