Kuntz honored as distinguished citizen

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

Gene Kuntz

HUNTINGBURG — When Gene Kuntz was a broadcast student at Vincennes University more than four decades ago, he overslept and missed his first sign-on shift at the college radio station.

When he realized he’d slept over an hour past his shift, which was supposed to start at 5 a.m., he ran from his dorm hall across campus to the station, Kuntz’s former professor, Skip Sparkman said. When he arrived, the news director didn’t say a word to him, and Sparkman threatened to fail him in class if he ever missed again. So he didn’t.

“He hasn’t missed a responsibility since then,” Sparkman said.

Kuntz, longtime general manager of WITZ, was awarded the Lincoln Heritage District Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award Wednesday at the Huntingburg Event Center. In the past, Kuntz has received awards such as the Indiana Broadcasters Association’s award for Small Market Station of the Year, Billboard Magazine’s Program Director of the Year for radio markets under 100,000 population, and the Key to the City of Jasper.

Wednesday evening was filled with words from Kuntz’s colleagues, friends and family about his dedication to his career and desire to better those around him.

Kuntz began as an announcer at WITZ in 1977 and has been working there ever since, soon rising to program director, sales and operations manager and ultimately, general manager.

“You just don’t know what a rarity it is in this industry for an individual to be employed by a single company for the totality of their career,” Sparkman said. “It just does not happen.”

Broadcaster and Hall of Fame coach Bob Lovell, Kuntz’s longtime colleague, also spoke of Kuntz’s dedication to WITZ, which has played an integral role in the success of Lovell’s show, Indiana Sports Talk.

“When Gene asked me to do this, I said ‘yes’ without question because of how important he is to us in our program and our network and all the things he does for broadcasting in our state,” Lovell said. “I’ve found that in communities like Jasper … at their core, there is a group of people you can count on, like Gene Kuntz, people who are willing to make that call, send that letter, be there at every meeting, have a vision, have an idea, have some passion for what they do.”

Kuntz attended the event with his wife, Phyllis — who he said he would be nothing without — his two children, Jennifer Dill and Matt Kuntz, and two of his three grandchildren.

His children spoke about how although their father is very passionate about his career, he is even more dedicated to his family. They described him as an avid Indiana University fan, an expert pancake maker and the king of dad jokes.

On a more serious note, they described him as someone who puts everyone else before himself, especially his family.

“Ultimately, you determine your own direction in life. You are responsible for your own happiness. You’re responsible for the choices you make,” Dill said. “But the lessons you learn from adults in your life as a child ultimately shape your future. Dad, thank you for teaching me that family is the most precious gift.”

The two also shared the five secrets to life that they believe their dad has always lived by. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Attitude is everything. Family is everything. Find your work-life balance. And always give more than you take.

When Kuntz spoke after receiving the award from his two grandchildren, Brayden and Noah Dill, he emphasized how the relationships in his life will always be more important than any goal he makes or award he receives.

Often, people are just looking for their 15 seconds of fame in life, he said. But it’s more important to focus on what comes after that 15 seconds and find what’s really important in life.

“Have no regret in that 16th second of your life,” he said.




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