Adam Winkler Interview
Director of Operations and Sports Play-by-Play
Career Capsule: My radio journey began in the fall of 2001 when I started working at the campus radio station, KTJO at Ottawa University in Ottawa, KS. During my four years at OU, I served in several different roles including on-air DJ, play-by-play voice of the football and basketball teams as well as the Sports Director and General Manager. I spent the summer of 2004 interning at Sports Radio 810 WHB in Kansas City when they had the broadcast rights for the Kansas City Royals. I was fortunate to spend time at Kauffman Stadium that summer and do many things a young Royals fan would only dream of doing. In December of 2004 I felt God leading me towards Christian radio and after graduating from Ottawa University in May of 2005 I began my career at KNEO 91.7 FM in Neosho, MO. It has been amazing to see how God mixed my desire to be in Christian radio and blended it with my passion for sports play-by-play. I had never heard of a Christian radio station that carried local sports until I came to KNEO. I have now been at KNEO for the past 15 plus years.
Adam, tell us what’s new at KNEO … news, changes, & new with YOU… etc?
What is new at KNEO and with me? – 2020 was an exciting year at KNEO Radio amidst everything that is going on in our world. God continued to show his faithfulness to this ministry in many different areas and we are extremely grateful for that. This past year we were awarded the Missouri Broadcasters Association award for the best Public Affairs program for small market stations. We were also named the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce Non-Profit Organization of the Year for our work in the community. Both of these awards speak to the hard work and dedication of the team here at KNEO.
We are staying busy with our daily on-air broadcast duties as well as providing play-by-play for three different local high schools on radio as well as a live video webcast of the games.
Lastly, we are currently in the final stages of switching out our automation system. This has been a large project but we know we will reap the benefits from this switch for many years to come.
Personally, I am staying busy with my play-by-play duties, handling the switch over of the automation system, family time and coaching my kids’ sports teams, running and of course, cheering on our beloved Kansas City Chiefs!
How has your job changed during the pandemic?
How has your job changed during the pandemic? – In many ways it didn’t change at all and in other ways it changed for the better. We have still been in the office everyday and performing our normal duties. We have been able to participate in many community events such as broadcasting a 5-hour drive through graduation for a local high school, participating in local county fairs, heading up the “Lighting in the Park” at Christmas time, serving as the announcers for our local Christmas Parade and heading up the local Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day.
I think the pandemic has shown how important local radio really is. We not only get to broadcast gospel to our comminutes but we get to live it out then by being involved and serving in different areas.
The biggest change in duties for me during the pandemic was since all of our local high school spring sports were cancelled I did not have to broadcast two or three baseball games a week. In turn, this gave me a chance to spend a lot more time with my wife and kids which I cherished greatly. We got to just do normal family activities every night whether we played a game, go for a walk and play outside in the backyard. I’m thankful for those small moments in life with them that sometimes we take for granted.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst? – The best would be the importance of preparation. Whether you are handling an on-air shift or doing sports play-by-play you must be prepared. When you are prepared you are confident on-air, you can articulate your thoughts and provide a quality broadcast. The listeners deserve it and your employer deserves it.
The worst advice – just wing it. Yes, there are times where you are going to be thrown in the fire at a moments notice and you have to react as news or information is coming through. But if you know you have an on-air shift, sports broadcast, important donor meeting the old saying from Benjamin Franklin rings true, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Some say the more Christian stations in a market the “better”…. What’s your opinion?
Some say the more Christian stations in a market the “better” – I would agree and disagree. The more Christian stations in the market the better chance someone has to hear the gospel message and have their life changed forever. The downside of over saturation is are there enough donors and sponsors to go around? In a larger market, maybe? In a smaller market like we are in right now, I would say no.
What’s your opinion on podcasts… is it necessary to have one, are they a threat to radio… etc?
Thoughts on podcasting – I think we need to understand that podcasting is not going away anytime soon. So as a radio station I think you embrace it and make it a part of your broadcast strategy. We don’t need to have a podcast just to have a podcast. That is just wasted time. But look at how you can create a podcast(s) that would benefit the communities that your living in. What is no one doing in your market that you think you can do better than anyone else? Find the answer to that and go for it!
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
Where will new and upcoming talent come from for Christian radio? You can continue to look at the normal places college graduates and believers who have been in secular radio and want a change. We also need to keep our eyes open for talent in our churches and our local communities. These individuals might not have any formal training but they have an interest in being a part of Christian radio. One of our best employees over the past 15 years was a young man who came to us as a senior in high school and expressed interest in radio. We brought him in and slowly started to train him in many different areas including website design, radio production and interviewing authors. That young man was with us for 8 years and was one of the best employees we have ever had! He was talented, hardworking, smart and was a radio pro when he left to become a youth pastor at a local church. Keep your eyes open, you never know who God has already placed in your path.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
What are the biggest obstacles facing Christen air-talent? – Commitment might be at the top of the list. The thought of working in Christian radio sounds exciting and it is! But it’s a lot of work and depending on the market the pay is not the greatest at times. You have to wear many hats, be willing to work long hour at times and someone has to be responsible on weekends and holidays. That being said, working in Christian radio is one of the joys of my life and I’m thankful for the lessons I have learned over the last 15 plus year.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Hero’s in Radio – Growing up in Kansas City my radio heroes were Denny Matthews, the Voice of the Kansas City Royals, Bob Davis, the Voice of the Kansas Jayhawks and Mitch Holthus, the Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs. They are so good at what they do and they pull you into each game. Bob Davis is now retired but Denny Matthews and Mitch Holthus are going strong. I had the privilege to interview Mitch Holthus while I was in college. He is one of the most genuine and humble people I’ve met. He didn’t have to give me the time of day but he graciously came down at halftime of a basketball game and allowed me to interview him on-air. That was and still is one of the highlights of my career.
The other radio influence is my boss, the General Manger of KNEO Radio Mark Taylor. He took a chance on a 23-year-old college senior who was getting married and needed a job. Besides helping me learn the ins and outs of radio, he has challenged me to grow spiritually everyday for the last 15 years. His constant encouragement to be in the Word, seek the Lord in prayer and depend upon Him every day are the most important lessons that I have learned.