In Memory of Dale Knippers, KICKS 105 DJ Who Taught Me A Lot
In January 1990, I made the trip from College Station to Lufkin to pick up some part-time fill-in hours at KICKS 105 Radio. The station's general manager was Larry Gunter. The line up of air personalities on the radio was:
- Morning Drive - Dark & Dawn
- Middays - Dale Knippers
- Afternoon Drive - Charlie Burrell
- Evenings - Debbie Richards
All of the DJs were awesome, but the two I learned the most from concerning radio and life were Larry Gunter and Dale Knippers.
Gunter, who passed away several years ago, was my second dad. I could go into paragraph after paragraph into the tidbits I learned from him, but the most important lesson I got from him concerning radio was to keep the community first. If you ever hear public service messages or on-air interviews promoting area non-profits or fundraisers, you can thank Larry Gunter for that. When you see stories on our website or KICKS 105 App doing the same, once again, that's part of his philosophy of keeping the community first.
Dale Knippers looked like he should have been the 4th member of ZZ Top. He had a gruff voice but you could hear his wonderful smile and genuine personality every time he opened the microphone. That was something that greatly resonated with me.
Knippers was real with his audience. Every time he was on the air, it was story-time with Dale. We were all gathered around the mid-day campfire and Dale Knippers would hold our attention with his wonderful way of telling stories, 10-15 seconds at a time.
Be real, be conversational, be friends with the listener - these lessons I learned through Dale Knippers' actions, and I have implemented them to this day.
It was no secret that Dale's passion was NASCAR. He hoped someday to land at a radio station in a market that shared that same passion. That wish came true when he landed a radio gig at WRNS in North Carolina. Many years later, Dale called me to let me know that he was leaving the East Coast to return closer to home. I asked him why he would leave his dream job. He told me that "sometimes when you get to the top of the mountain, the view isn't always that great."
That statement spoke volumes to me. I had been working at KICKS 105 for quite some time but had strongly considered what successes might be out there at bigger markets such as Dallas, Houston, or beyond. But after my conversation with Dale, I took a step back to take a look at the great wealth I had, wealth that can not be measured in dollars and cents.
I was born in Central Texas, but East Texas is my home. Dale Knippers taught me that sometimes when you get so focused on chasing a dream, you might lose sight that you are living a wonderful dream.
Dale moved back to his home of Many, Louisiana. He passed away a few days ago after a battle with cancer. I feel that I am better at my job and better as a person thanks to the lessons taught to me by Dale Knippers.