Committed to Local: Get to Know WITZ AM/FM and WQKZ FM’s Gene Kuntz

 

Gene Kuntz, current general manager of WITZ FM, WQKZ FM and WITZ AM , has a love of radio that start years before he got his first job in the business.

In high school, Gene said he listened to “all the great DJs” including Larry Lujack, Don Imus and John Records Landecker from WLS; Garry Todd and Fred Heckman from WIBC in Indianapolis; and Jim Scott from WLW and WSAI Cincinnati. Kuntz would tape the announcers and practice intros even before starting college at Vincennes University.

Once at Vincennes, he got his first full-time job at WAMW, WFML in Washington, Ind. He stayed there a year-and-a-half then came to WITZ where has been ever since.

Career at WITZ

Kuntz started at WITZ in January of 1977 as a nighttime announcer working 7 p.m. to midnight.

Throughout the years, “I eventually moved up to afternoons, became program director, moved to middays and started selling,” Kuntz said.

Although he said he had dreams of working in bigger markets coming out of college, Kuntz “soon realized the job security offered in a smaller market was what I needed for my family.”

He moved up to full-time sales and was promoted to operations manager and eventually sales and operations manager. In sales he started making more money which gave him greater incentive to stay in a smaller market.

In August of 2011, Kuntz became general manager at WITZ and has now been with the stations for more than 40 years.

“You don’t find many broadcasters that can say that today,” he said.

Kuntz’s radio stations are very local, allowing listeners to rely on them for local news, weather and sports broadcasts. The streamed WITZ FM broadcasts receive many listeners during high school sporting events and Dubois County Bombers baseball broadcasts.

IBA Involvement and Staying Local

Kuntz credits his past boss, Earl Metzger – who passed away from cancer in 2011, with his IBA involvement.

 “I believe in what IBA does and wanted to continue to learn and work with other great broadcasters from throughout the state,” he said.

Kuntz said the networking, free legal advice, Spectrum awards and seminars provided by IBA are all very helpful.

“We are doing a disservice to our communities when stations aren’t truly local. There is no local training ground for future announcers anymore since many stations are either automated or voice track,” Kuntz said.

He said it is becoming more difficult to hire and find qualified full-time employees, and believes the trend of larger companies buying up smaller stations and syndicating programming will continue.

Outside of Work

Kuntz “has been blessed with a great wife of 39 years, two children and two grandchildren.” He loves being outdoors, especially to hunt deer and turkey, fish with his wife and grandchildren, and go boating.

Kuntz also plays softball on a church league as well as pickleball and racquetball.

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