Every year, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) awards the Sonny Slater Award to one Kansas broadcaster who exemplifies service to their radio station and communities. Slater was a long time farm director at KSAL in Salina before passing away in a farming accident in 1991.
This year’s winner of the KAB Sonny Slater Award is Curtis Duncan, of Rocking M Media in Goodland.
Curtis’ broadcast career started with service to community. At the tender age of 9 he watched two broadcasters from KOFO in Ottawa cover their local county fair, passing along interviews, 4-H results and information on fair events. He instantly knew this was what he wanted to do and took the initiative to reach out to these men. As a result, he was on the air live with them later that very afternoon assisting in fair coverage. His first talent compensation was 2 cartons of chocolate milk. This marked the start of a broadcast career that has spanned over the past 6 decades.
Curtis made many stops early in his broadcast tenure…Ottawa, Topeka, Montgomery City Missouri, Leonardtown Maryland, Columbus Mississippi…and he was even a TV news anchor for 4 years in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. It was there he was dubbed “the poor man’s Willard Scott.”
He was back to Kansas in the mid-90’s. After a brief stint in Wichita, Curtis moved to northwest Kansas and became the morning show host for KXXX-AM. Following two years in Colby he was hired by KLOE/KKCI radio in Goodland and this has remained Curtis’ home for the past 22 years.
Curtis is the quintessential community broadcaster. His listeners rely on him for comprehensive weather coverage, both on calm days and stormy days. He’s been known to camp out on a cot or air mattress at the radio station for days, always just a few paces away from the mic so that he can pass along the latest information. He’s so important to the area that the National Guard makes it a priority to get him to the station during winter storms if the roads are unpassable.
His commitment to community goes far beyond just weather coverage. He’s seen at nearly every school concert, from elementary to high school. The Goodland Auditorium even has a permanent seat reserved for him (3rdrow aisle seat). He is a fixture at county fairs, service organization fund raisers, ribbon cuttings, and numerous other community events. He’s always armed with his trusty recorder so that he can share highlights of these events with his extremely loyal listeners during his popular “Good Neighbor Hour” on the KLOE morning show. Curtis has served as Chairman of the Board for the Sherman County Red Cross, been a board member with the Goodland United Methodist Church, and is very active with the local VFW, American Legion and countless other service organizations.
Curtis will be presented with his award at the annual KAB Convention in Lawrence, KS on October 20.
Past Sonny Slater Award winners include:
1992 *Sonny Slater, KSAL/KYEZ, Salina
1993 *Dan Willis, KKOW AM, Pittsburg
1994 *Bob Kearns, WIBW Radio/TV (retired), Topeka
1995 Tad Felts, KKAN/KQMA, Phillipsburg
1996 *Don Engelhardt, KSAL/KYEZ, Salina
1997 Wilma “Perky” Perks, KWBW AM, Hutchinson
1998 *Abram Burnett, KHOK FM, Great Bend
1999 Mike Cooper, KAYS/KHAZ, Hays
2000 *Claude Hughes, KNGL/KBBE, McPherson
2001 Larry Hatteberg, KAKE TV, Wichita
2002 Larry Moore, KMBC TV, Kansas City
2003 *Lloyd Mintzmyer, KOOD TV, Bunker Hill
2004 Laverne Goering, KWCH TV, Wichita
2005 Marlena Adkison, KTPK FM, Topeka
2006 Dowe Quick, KOAM TV, Pittsburg
2007 Phil Grossardt, KBGL FM, Great Bend
2008 Bill “Ray” Rowson, KSAL AM, Salina
2009 John Wright, KFDI / KFTI, Wichita
2010 Rod Keen, KCLY FM, Clay Center
2011 Paul Heskett, KXXX, Colby
2012 Joe Miller, KWCH TV, Wichita
2013 Carol McCaffrey, KLWN, Lawrence (posthumously)
2014 Vern Napier, KLEY/KMWE, Wellington (posthumously)
2015 Brian Cunningham, KSOK AM/FM, Ark City
2016 Carol Hughes, KFDI FM, Wichita
2017 Scott Donovan, KHOK FM, Great Bend
2018 Carla Eckels, KMUW FM, Wichita