Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

September 10, 2010

Personal touch key to success

ALTAMONT — Racing announcer Kurt Becker said Thursday the ability to develop personal relationships are the key to success in any walk of life.

    Becker said he learned his interpersonal skills while growing up in Altamont.

    “I’ve always known that in Effingham County, you are not just a number,” Becker said. “People want to get to know you as a person. I judge a lot of folks based on people I’ve known in Effingham County. You’ve set a high bar.”

    Becker was the main speaker at Thursday’s Community Celebration of Excellence breakfast at Altamont Grade School. The breakfast was sponsored by the Effingham County Vision 2020 community development group.

    Becker, a horse and auto racing announcer who also announces at automobile auctions, said the good announcer takes time to develop personal relationships with the people he is covering. He said he’s had a number of good role models, including famed motor racing play-by-play man Eli Gold.

    “Despite the fact that Eli is established, he firmly believes in building personal relationships,” Becker said. “Eli goes through the garage area before every race and talks to people.”

    Becker said Gold uses the knowledge gained behind the scenes to build a successful race broadcast.

    Another person Becker extolled as an example of someone who never stops growing was auctioneer Mark Gelman with Barrett Jackson Auto Auctions.

    “Mark could rest on his laurels, but he talks to buyers and consigners while he’s not on stage,” Becker said. “He develops a personal relationship with the customer.”

    Becker also talked about his experience as a horse racing announcer with Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky, where he learned a little more about the personal touch.

    “Memorization skills are very important,” he said. “But so often, the unexpected happens.

    “You need to be in the barn area to find out about the horses,” he added. “You’re not prepared if you haven’t taken time to build personal relationships.”

    Becker recalled his first experience with racing at the Effingham County Fair demolition derby —and the first time he remembered watching a stock car race, when a family friend asked if he could watch the Daytona 500 at the Becker home.

    “I don’t know if it was the color of the cars or what, but something clicked,” he said. “It was something I wanted to know more about.”

    Becker is a graduate of Altamont High School and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In addition to his announcing career, he has been a part-time sportswriter with the Effingham Daily News for many years.

    He’s also active in the community as president of the Altamont Library Board and Bethlehem Lutheran Church Sesquicentennial Committee.

    Attorney Kirsten Osteen emceed Thursday’s breakfast, Entertainment was provided by the Altamont High School drum line and Altamont Grade School chorus.

    The breakfast was sponsored by a number of local businesses and organizations, including the Effingham Daily News, Premier Broadcasting and Cromwell Radio Group.

    Other sponsors included Consolidated Communications, Lake Land College, Wal-Mart, Agracel, Inc., Midland States Bank, Siemer Milling Company, Altamont Lutheran Interparish School, Altamont News Banner, Beecher City Journal, Bonutti Clinic, Effingham County Community Foundation, First National Bank of Dieterich, Greater Effingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Patterson Companies, Taylor Law Offices, Altamont Education Foundation, Altamont Veterinary Clinic, Bray Title Services, City of Altamont/Altamont P.A.R.K.S., Deb’s Catering, Novatek Medical and People’s Bank and Trust.

    Vision 2020 is seeking locations for next year’s breakfasts, one each in the spring and fall. Those with any ideas can call Norma Lansing at the Effingham chamber, 217-342-4147.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com


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