Darrell Winkie

2009 - Disc Jockey

Darrell Winkie was born and raised in Decorah, IA. Following high school graduation, he attended Luther College . During his first day at college, Darrell was involved in an automobile accident that put him in the hospital for eight weeks and on crutches for nearly a year.

With a lot of time needed to recuperate, he began hanging out at the local radio station where a good friend of his worked. With the encouragement of his friend, Darrell began announcing at the station and a radio star was born. All of these extenuating circumstances turned into a fulltime career in broadcasting for Winkie.

By the early 1960’s, Darrell had a regular on-air shift that included playing the top rock and roll hits of the day. As this new music gained in popularity, he began to take his “Wink-I” Pepsi Party on the road. He began spinning records at sock hops in the local high schools, town halls, skating rinks and eventually in the ballrooms.

In the mid 60s Winkie began booking regional bands at different venues; especially the Inwood Ballroom in Spillville. Many of the top entertainment groups in the Midwest performed to sellout crowds. Winkie’s big break came when, in 1965, he booked the original Byrds into the Inwood. At that time they had the #1 song on the Billboard charts with “Mr. Tambourine Man. ”

For the next 10 years, a who’s who of top notch musicians played the area dance halls and ballrooms. The Fabulous Flippers, Pete Klint Quintet, Lee Rainey and IBTC, Bobby Vee, Bobby Goldsboro, Dee Jay & the Runaways, The Trashmen, the Castaways, and a multitude of other greats all headlined to standing room only crowds. He also booked many artists on the same night in a traveling package called “The Galaxie of Stars Tour.”

It was in the mid 70’s that Winkie noticed that “the times were a changing.” Dances were becoming more of a concert setting. Music was less danceable, with psychedelic and harder rock taking over the airwaves and arenas. The drinking age was lowered and that had an effect on audience attendance. After the teen dances began to fade, Darrell continued to host and spin platters at class reunions, wedding dances, private parties, etc. His career in radio, as an on-air personality and sales representative continued until his retirement in the 1990’s.

For his 40-plus years in broadcasting and live music promotion, Darrell Winkie takes his rightful place in the IRRMA Hall of Fame with the Class of 2009.

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