The foundation for his life of adventure was laid during his years at Evangel
SPRINGFIELD, MO — Dan Wheeler has had more hours in front of the camera on live TV than David Letterman and Jay Leno combined — more than 11,000 hours throughout his career. Most of those were accumulated during the past 29 years on QVC, the No. 1 electronic retailer in the world.
During his time on QVC, Wheeler interviewed every one of his childhood heroes — people like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and George Foreman — as well as hundreds more in the world of sports, entertainment, business and politics. He has also traveled the world, visited historic places and sampled more exotic cuisine than most foodies can imagine.
And the foundation for those adventures was laid right here in Springfield, Missouri, during his years at Evangel College (now University). Wheeler’s first taste of live broadcasting was in 1974, as a sophomore, on the campus radio station.
“I remember working at KECC and realizing that radio was an amazing way to reach people with a message,” he said following a recent visit to the Ozarks on a book tour. “When students on campus said they listened to my show, I was thrilled that I could reach so many people by speaking into the microphone.”
He played baseball at Evangel, was a music buff, and learned to combine those passions with humor on his popular evening radio show.
“The creative aspect was amazing to me, and I just really enjoyed working there. So I remember thinking — I love this, and I seem to have some ability for it, so this is how I want to make my living!”
Wheeler graduated from Evangel in 1977 with a double major in broadcast communication and Biblical studies, and was honored as the Outstanding Communication Major that year.
The path to success
Dan stayed in Springfield following graduation and landed his first professional job as a sports reporter on the former KMTC-TV, which has also been known over the years as KDEB, KSFX and currently goes by KOZL.
He recently told students at Evangel that they have to be willing to take chances, make moves, and follow the leads where they go. He had seven jobs from Springfield to Chicago to Minnesota before landing the gig with the fairly-new QVC Network.
“I prayed that it would last three years, thinking that would be the break-even point for moving our family to the East Coast,” he told the students. “I look back now and am thrilled to have lasted 29 years with the greatest company in the world.”
QVC is currently found in 110 million homes. However, on the air, Wheeler says he speaks to one person at a time. “Our goal was to communicate like we were talking to our neighbor over the back fence.”
It certainly works.
Dan sold more than $4 billion (yes, that’s a B) worth of product during his years with QVC ranging from sports memorabilia to books and music, from home electronics to tools for the handyman.
Harkening back to his radio days, career highlights also include launching new albums for a wide variety of artists, including Hall & Oats, Alabama, Michael McDonald and Willie Nelson.
However, of the hundreds of stars that he has met, “The three who stand out as most memorable are Joe DiMaggio (sports memorabilia), Charlton Heston (Bible on DVD), and Bob Hope (Christmas album),” said Wheeler.
Most of his efforts were broadcast from the mega-studio in West Chester, Pennsylvania, but Dan was also known for his remote broadcasts from around the world.
“QVC led the world into the dawning of the new millennium on Jan. 1, 2000, and I was honored to be the host from Gisborne, New Zealand, which is the City of First Light,” said Wheeler. “We were 18 hours ahead of New York. John Tesh and I were on a beach overlooking the Indian Ocean with a cast of hundreds.”
That same year, he spent three weeks in Sydney, Australia, hosting the QVC coverage of the Summer Olympic Games.
The turning point
Life was grand for the Wheelers. As Dan tells it, he and his wife, Beth, lived in a beautiful home and had raised a wonderful family. They had two lovely daughters, a great son-in-law and an amazing grandson.
However, their world was rocked in 2012 when Beth was diagnosed with Stage IV endometrial cancer, Dan wrote in his book, Hurricane of Love: My Journey with Beth Wheeler.
For the next three years, Dan balanced his career as a cheerful, upbeat QVC television host with caring for his wife, Beth, as she battled for her life, he shares in the book.
“Our priorities were turned upside down, but ultimately right side up in an instant,” he wrote. “While those three years were the toughest of our lives they were also the most meaningful because we didn’t waste our time worrying about little things that didn’t matter.”
In his book, he shares personal stories, such as how they turned chemo treatments into chemo “dates.” He tells of Beth’s tremendous capacity to love, which impacted everyone she touched — like a hurricane of love.
That love “swept through the halls of medical clinics, hospitals and chemotherapy suites, positively impacting the lives of medical personnel, family and friends. She became every doctor’s favorite patient and helped nurses rediscover why they went into their profession,” shared Wheeler.
“In October of 2015, after a very long roller coaster of emotions, she decided to stop all treatment. Beth passed into heaven at her home on October 30, 2015,” he wrote.
Their inspiring story is published by WestBow Press and was released in October 2018.
Hurricane of Love: My Journey with Beth Wheeler can be purchased on Dan’s website, hurricaneoflove.com or on Amazon.
Evangel classmate Kay Compton Logsdon was deeply touched. “If you ever need a book to remind you how to love life, this is it,” she said, after reading an advance copy.
“Yes, it tells the story of walking through cancer, from diagnosis to death; and yet, it is so full of moments done right that you can’t help but think, ‘This is how to do it,’” said Logsdon, publisher of The Food Channel.
The passing of his beloved wife and the process of writing this book caused Dan to re-evaluate his priorities.
In 2016, he partnered with his old college roommate, Terry Steen, and another friend from Evangel, Brian Roland, to form Fearless Faith Ministries. “FFM is a nonprofit organization created by three friends seeking to pray for, inspire and encourage people to live a fearless life through faith in God,” they say.
With more than 23,000 people following them on Facebook, Fearless Faith features a daily three-minute devotional rotated among the three of them, which they call their “Morning Cup of Inspiration.”
Dan retired from QVC at the end of 2017.
Returning to his roots
Dan Wheeler returned to the Ozarks in early December 2018 — for the first time since the mid-1990s — at the invitation of another friend from his days at Evangel, Karen Best, who now serves as mayor of Branson, Missouri, the live entertainment mecca of the Midwest.
Best booked a full weekend of activities, including a parade, a book-signing party and several broadcast appearances. “His first night in town, we attended and enjoyed the 35th Annual Christmas Concert at Evangel where Dan met President Carol Taylor and reconnected with several other old friends,” said Best.
“Returning to Evangel was like coming home,” said Wheeler. “My mind was flooded with great memories of walking across campus and realizing that my whole life was in front of me. Evangel is where so many of my aspirations and dreams were born.”
Steve Grant is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchor on KY3 News, a top-rated NBC affiliate. He fondly remembers Wheeler from classes they took together in the mid-1970s.
“Even then, we knew Dan was a natural for TV,” said Grant. “He had what those of us in the business call ‘star power.’ Dan is proof of how strong and relevant the Evangel broadcast and communication department was and is.”
While in the area to promote Hurricane of Love, Wheeler was warmly welcomed by the local media, where he was interviewed on:
- KOLR-10’s Ozark’s Live, by Joy Robertson and Tom Trtan;
- KADI-FM morning radio by Rod Kittlemen;
- KY3 News at Noon by fellow Evangel grad Steve Grant; and
- KRBK’s Ozarks Fox AM by Kelly Smith.
Back on campus, Wheeler shared words of wisdom with a class of combined business and communication majors. He used students to illustrate how to create a story, how to position a product in the mind of the listener, and then challenged them to commit to excellence.
“Speaking to the students was so much fun — they were locked in on what I was saying, and they were taking notes. I was so impressed with their desire to learn. Evangel is truly a special place to get a fabulous education in a rich, Christian environment.”
Before leaving town, Dan recorded his thoughts about the trip to Branson and Evangel University, while standing in the middle of the campus where his passion for broadcasting began.
CHECK IT OUT! That video was posted for the next edition of “Morning Cup of Inspiration,” and his strong endorsement for his alma mater has since been seen by thousands of people around the world. Thanks, Danny!
For more of the heart of Dan Wheeler, or just to see more photos with stars, read his last blog at QVC, written Dec. 22, 2017: “Looking Back Before Moving On.”