The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Sidney graduate honored in Omaha


For The Sun-Telegraph

John Knicely takes a closer look at his Face on the Barroom Floor at the Omaha Press Club. Knicely, a longtime anchor at WOWT (Ch. 6), is the 140th person to receive the prestigious Face recognition by the Omaha Press Club. The Face on the Barroom Floor tradition began in 1971.

Not too spicy, not too sweet-just Knicely Done. It was a warmhearted roast, fitting for Omaha television's Mr. Nice Guy, John Knicely.

And nice guys finish first in friendships. A sellout crowd-including college classmates, golf buddies, fellow church members and professional colleagues – filled the Press Club on Feb. 21 to see the longtime WOWT anchor honored as the OPC's 140th Face on the Barroom floor.

Knicely is a 1970 graduate of Sidney High School and is the son of Jack and Jan Knicely of Sidney. Jack was a longtime attorney in Sidney.

Knicely's reputation for decency made it difficult to poke at his character. Struggling to find criticism of substance, roasters turned instead to the cosmetic. John Ryan Knicely, a TV anchor in Seattle and one of John and Sue's five children, said: "A lot of dads teach their kids how to change the oil in their car or fix the sink. My dad taught us how to apply on-air makeup."

Then there's the Knicely hair. John said his father's is "exactly in the position it was in 1975. His secret tonight is exposed: Aqua Net Extra Super Hold."

John Knicely also said he had a letter from President Obama declaring that his father's six decades of hairspray use had moved Omaha past Los Angeles on the smog scale. But, "Obama" continued, "At the request of the EPA, I have determined it to be worth it. Boy, that hair does look perfect! I hereby decree John Knicely the hairspray czar of the Obama administration."

The Rev. Les Beauchamp, Knicely's pastor at Lifegate Church, said Johncan be seen assuming a defensive position when the congregation lifts its hands during services. Why? "He's trying to avoid getting touched on the hair!"

Other roasters weighing in under the deft guidance of emcee Mary Maxwell were Hall of Fame golfer Susan Marchese, former Mayor Mike Fahey and Cornhusker legend Tom Osborne.

Said Marchese, "John would love for me to tell you that he's a better golfer than me. But I don't haveit in me. I know it's your night, but it's my reputation."

Fahey added, "This is a hard guy to roast. It would have been a lot easier if you were a politician."

Speaking via video, Osborne called Knicely a "genuinely good person, rather unusual in the broadcast journalism business and probably a little bit too nice to have his face on a barroom floor."

"Every night on the news he can recite all the horrible things that have happened in Omaha, and you get the distinct impression that he had nothing to do with it."

Face on the Floor artist Jim Horan said Knicely's nearly 40 years in television – he is Omaha's longest-tenured anchor – provided a rich target of opportunity for the caricature. Knicelyis pictured with his on-air iPad (displaying a tic-tac-toe game) in one hand and a golf club in the other. Surrounding John are some of his John at Work adventures: riding in a stunt planeand abobsled, skydiving, garbage hauling, and scaling office and TV transmitter towers.

After the Face unveiling, Knicely joined in the cosmetic humor by introducing his barber and by poking fun at a prominent Knicely facial feature. "I realized that God has a sense of humor. He plastered that eyebrow on my forehead, and I can't do anything about it. I watch myself on TV and say: Why don't you wipe that smirk off your face?"

Turning serious, Knicely thanked Jesus for changing his life 40 years ago and then raised a toast to "faith, family and friends. Thank you all for being here for this special night."


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