David Hochberg, '88: From Mortgage Lender to Trusted Advisor and Radio Show Host
By Lia Kizilbash Gillet
David Hochberg, '88, captivates Chicagoland every Saturday with his WGN AM 720 radio show “Home Sweet Home Chicago,” educating listeners about real estate, mortgages, credit, and the ins and outs of homeownership.
Hochberg has built a loyal audience and a trusted brand through his dedication to educating and empowering homeowners as Homeside Financial’s vice-president of lending. There he leads a team of professional loan officers as they help homeowners secure new mortgages, refinance their current mortgages, or reverse mortgage their existing homes.
Having been a mortgage professional for years, Hochberg never planned on a second career in radio. But in 2003, an unexpected connection led him down that path.
Chicago’s radio station WCKG 105.9 FM had a lineup of Howard Stern in the morning, Kevin Matthews midday, and Steve Dahl for the afternoon drive. Hochberg received a call from two realtors he did business with one day. They were in the backseat of a limo, claiming to be on their way to a live broadcast with Kevin Matthews’ co-host, Scott Mackay. The realtors said they would sell Scott a home, and Hochberg needed to get him a mortgage.
“These realtors had a history of being creative storytellers, and I didn’t believe them, so I asked to speak to Scott,” said Hochberg. “I always listened to Kevin Matthews’ show and knew the realtors weren’t pulling my leg when I immediately recognized Scott’s voice.”
Mackay told Hochberg he would never be able to get him a loan. Accepting the challenge, Hochberg told Mackay that when he secured a mortgage for his new home, Mackay would have to let him on the radio. Mackay closed on his new home in Evanston, Illinois, on a Friday afternoon, and Hochberg was at his door that night with two bags of groceries and restaurant gift cards to buy the Mackay family dinner. After handing Mackay the gifts, Hochberg made sure to ask when he was going to be on the radio.
A few weeks later, Mackay held his end of the deal and invited Hochberg to the show. He told Hochberg that he would be bounced during the next segment if he was awful. Hochberg was the opposite—the phones didn’t stop ringing and he wound up answering questions from listeners for over 45 minutes. After advertising for over a year on WCKG and being a regular guest on Mackay’s show, Hochberg started his own show in 2004. Over the past 19 years, the show has grown from one hour on Sundays to a three-hour show on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WGN AM 720.
“I am very fortunate and proud to be able to use my show to help educate listeners on navigating the challenges that come with homeownership,” said Hochberg. “I also like to have fun on my show; I’m always joking on air and with the guys in the newsroom.”
Hochberg's taste of success came at an early age. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Hochberg moved to Des Plaines, Illinois, when he was seven years old after his father’s job relocated him to the Chicagoland area. Joining the Cub Scouts, Hochberg had his first sales experience raising money for his pack.
“I sold chocolate-covered ‘turtles’ door-to-door and stood outside of banks. The adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment I felt at only eight years old got me hooked on sales,” said Hochberg.
At age 15, Hochberg experienced another pivotal point when his grandfather, “Papa Joe,” a significant influence in his life, passed away.
“Papa Joe was the hardest working man I knew, and through his passing, he made me who I am today,” said Hochberg. “He was a man of his word and did what he said he would do. He made others around him laugh and feel like they were the only person in the room. Those are the principles I live by every day.”
After graduating from Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, Hochberg attended NIU, where he studied marketing and was a Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity member. He was a cheerleader, Victor E. Huskie, Homecoming King (’85), and learned government as a senator in the Student Association. As the first Tugs chairman, Hochberg secured sponsors and stands for the spectators sit.
“I have many fond memories of my four years at NIU,” said Hochberg. “I am still friends with people I met on the fourth floor of Grant North and from my fraternity. But Professor Elliot Lesson made the most significant impact on my life at NIU.”
Hochberg took Professor Lesson’s course in the fall of ’86 and was a self-described “cocky, know it all junior.”
“Professor Lesson called me out and put me in my place the first day of class, which I respected,” Hochberg said. “He became a friend of mine and other members of Pikes and eventually became our faculty advisor. His leadership and guidance helped mold members of Pikes and many other men and women in fraternities and sororities into the leaders they are today.”
Today, Hochberg shares his best advice to NIU College of Business students. During two events hosted by the college, Hochberg talked about the importance of learning outside of the classroom, getting involved on campus, building relationships with peers, and establishing and maintaining good credit while in college.
“It blew me away when students didn’t know the names of other students they see daily. I had them introduce themselves to each other. The best advice I gave them was to take their earbuds out of their ears, turn their cell phones off and introduce themselves to everyone in their class. I emphasized that the relationships they build while at NIU will propel them in their careers upon graduation.”
Hochberg’s dual careers in mortgage lending and radio may seem unrelated, but they share a common theme: communication. Whether he is helping his team navigate the complex world of loans and rates or answering listeners’ questions live on air, Hochberg knows how to connect with people and explain things in a clear and engaging way. His personality and humor shine through his radio show, making him a fan favorite and a trusted advisor. And his advice to NIU students echoes his own experience: get involved, network, and believe in the power of personal connections and the unexpected paths they may lead.
Click on the image below to listen, laugh and learn from Hochberg on "Home Sweet Home Chicago."