Dan "Ol Dan" Willis
Dan began his broadcasting career in September of 1955 at KUOA-AM, while attending John Brown University, where he majored in communication. In the spring of 1960 Dan was offered his first "professional" job in radio at KTLQ, a small station in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Shortly after joining KTLQ Dan moved to Post, Texas, where he helped design and build KUKO radio. It was giant undertaking for the 23-year-old but the station was soon on the air and Dan hosted the morning show at KUKO until 1963 when he then moved to Ralls, Texas, to work at KCLR.
Shortly after moving to Ralls, Dan knew it was time to try to move back to the four-state area. He sent out letters to the three stations he wanted to work with … KGGF in Coffeyville, KFDI in Wichita, and of course, KKOW in Pittsburg. Although all three stations eventually called Dan, the first (and one he secretly most wanted to work) was KKOW.
Like most broadcasters, Dan figured his stay in Pittsburg would be short … four years at the most. But something special happened at KKOW, Dan fell in love with the four-states and the four-states fell right back in love with Dan. His first day on the air was September 29, 1964, and the first voice most Four-Staters heard for the next 40 years was "Ol Dan". Through changes in ownership, management and formats, Dan's love for KKOW never wavered. In his years at KKOW, Dan did nearly everything, from programming to engineering … sales to severe weather watches … Dan was always there.
His remote broadcasts are the things of legend with literally thousands of people showing up to see and talk to the man who embodied the four-states.
Dan was a lot of things to a lot of people. A great husband, a loving father and to those who knew him, a true friend. Above all, he was a broadcaster who loved his job and the community that embraced him.
He will always be remembered by KKOW and our listeners.
Awards and Recognition received during Dan's career:
1989: Miner's Lamp Award - for outstanding dedication and support to the Coal Mining Heritage of Southeast Kansas.
1993: Sonny Slater Award -- Presented by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters for distinguished and exemplary service to both his industry and community.
1994: Appreciation for Support of Slovenian Music Award - Presented by 50 Camp Lodge 225 for his continued support of the Slovenian Heritage and Music.
2000: Friends of County Agents Award - Presented by KAACA for continued support of the work of county agents.
2004: Ambassador of Agriculture Award - Presented by the Crawford County Farm Bureau Association.
2004: Heart of the Heartlands Award - Presented by the Heart of the Heartlands railroad group in appreciation of his efforts to promote and publicize the railroading history of the fourstate area.