Speakers on the 2024 Presentation Stage at Route 66 Road Fest Skip to content

Presentation Stage

Conversations with Voices from the Road

The AAA Route 66 Road Fest Presentation Stage is your chance to hear about the past, present, and future of The Mother Road from authors, historians, documentarians, and more.

Guests from previous years include: Michael Wallis, Candacy Taylor, Joe Sondermen, Dr. Bob Blackburn, and Stephanie Stuckey.

Schedule & Subjects

Saturday, June 22nd @ 11:30

“Route 66 for Beginners” with Joe Sonderman


Saturday, June 22nd @ 12:30

“Stories from the Road:  Ken Busby in Conversation with Michael Wallis, aka, The Sheriff”


Saturday, June 22nd @ 2:00

Bentenya Dance


Saturday, June 22nd @ 2:30

“Intrepid Journeys & The Road to Route 66” with Jim Hinckley


Saturday, June 22nd @ 4:00

“Supernatural 66: UFOs, Hauntings, and Other Mysterious Happenings” with Joey Madia

Sunday, June 23rd @ 12:30

Bentenya Dance


Sunday, June 23rd @ 1:30

“The Road to the Centennial” featuring a panel of special guests


Sunday, June 23rd @ 3:00

“Weird 66: The Curious, Odd, and Wacky on The Mother Road” a panel discussion with Jim Hinckley, Joe Sonderman, and Joey Madia

Michael Wallis

Michael Wallis is a popular speaker and the author of 20 best-selling books.

It has been said, “reading a Michael Wallis book is like dancing to a romantic ballad. He offers his hand and gently guides you across the floor, swaying to the song of the American West.”

A best-selling author and award-winning reporter, Michael is a historian and biographer of the American West who also has gained international notoriety as a speaker and voice talent. In 2006 Michael’s distinctive voice was heard in Cars, an animated feature film from Pixar Studios, also featuring Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Owen Wilson, Michael Keaton, and George Carlin. Michael is also featured in Cars 2, a sequel to the original motion picture released in 2011, and he has a cameo in Cars 3.

A storyteller who likes nothing better than transporting audiences across time and space, Michael has published twenty books, including Route 66: The Mother Road, the book credited with sparking the resurgence of interest in the highway.  He is currently working on his 21st book on the life of outlaw, Belle Starr.

Other Wallis books include: The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West; Mankiller: A Chief and Her People; Way Down Yonder In The Indian Nation; Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd; Oil Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum; and The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny.  His work has been published in hundreds of national and international magazines and newspapers, including Time, Life, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

Michael has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize and was also a nominee for the National Book Award. He has won many other prestigious honors, including the Will Rogers Spirit Award, the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall & Western Heritage Museum, the Oklahoma Book Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book, and the Best Western Non-fiction Award from the Western Writers of America.

Michael was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, the Oklahoma Professional Writer’s Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame, the Tulsa Hall of Fame, and was the first inductee into the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame. He received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book as well as the Lynn Riggs Award and the first John Steinbeck Award.  He and his wife are also the recipients of the Global Vision Award from the Tulsa Global Alliance.

Since 1982, Michael and his wife, Suzanne Fitzgerald Wallis, have made their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Jim Hinckley

Jim Hinckley is an internationally acclaimed author, lecturer, historian, tour guide, and tourism development consultant with three primary areas of expertise: Route 66, the American Southwest, and the American automobile industry between 1885 and 1980. His portfolio of published work includes 22 books, and more than 500 feature articles for a wide array of publications including True West, Old Cars Weekly, Hemmings Classic Car, Route 66, Antique Power, and Cars & Parts magazine. His work has been the subject of television and radio interviews, as well as blogs, podcasts, and for a variety of print media. Among the most prestigious of these are Jay Leno’s Garage, Rudy Maxa’s Travel World, and Frommer’s. Audiences and venues for his presentations have been equally as diverse.

Among Jim’s popular books are: Here We Are…On Route 66, Murder & Mayhem on The Main Street of America: Tales from Bloody 66, Backroads of Route 66, Travel Route 66, Checker Cab Manufacturing Company: An Illustrated History, The Big Book of Car Culture, Backroads of The Great American West, The Route 66 Encyclopedia, The Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona, Ghost Towns of the West, 100 Things to Do on Route 66 Before You Die, and Ghost Towns of Route 66.

He has been a featured speaker at European Route 66 festivals in Germany and the Czech Republic, and at events all over the United States and Canada.

He also assists with the creation of visitor guides for communities such as Tucumcari, New Mexico, and the development of historic district walking tours. Jim is the creator of the Jim Hinckley’s America network that includes a website (jimhinckleysamerica.com/), social media, the weekly livestream “Coffee with Jim” program, a YouTube channel, and the “Wake Up with Jim” podcast.

Linked with this are community education programs developed to foster an increased awareness of an area’s history and its role in the development of tourism as a component in economic development.

Joe Sonderman

Joe Sonderman is a St. Louis-area radio personality and traffic reporter who has written more than 20 works on Route 66. He has worked extensively with the Missouri Department of Transportation, National Park Service and collaborated with a long list of authors including: Jim Ross, Jim Hinckley, Russell Olsen, Cheryl Eichar Jett, Mike Truax, and Shellee Graham.

Joe is nationally recognized as a Route 66 collector and maintains a strong social media presence with his Vintage St. Louis and Missouri’s Historic Highways pages – the latter of which presents historic photos from the Missouri DOT’s archives. He has collected thousands of postcard and archival images that capture a simpler time, when people were not in such a hurry.

Sonderman’s “day job” consists of producing traffic reports for all eight St. Louis Clear Channel stations, Total Traffic Network, the KTVI web site, and navigational units for Garmin and BMW – as well as on-air work for KLOU, KMJM, KSTZ, KSD, KATZ-FM and KATZ-AM. 

When he is not busy reporting traffic, he spends much of his time on Route 66 behind the wheel of his treasured 1957 Chevrolet.

Road Fest has been honored to feature Joe on our presentation Stage each year of the festival and appreciate his support and collaboration with Road Fest Curator, Wade Bray, in developing The Journey.

Joey Madia

Joey has been a field investigator and consultant in the world of the paranormal and supernatural for 15 years, working with clients in numerous states to understand the mechanisms behind hauntings, UFO contactee and abduction events, and other strange phenomena. 

He is co-author of Watch Out for the Hallway: Our Two-Year Investigation of the Most Haunted Library in North Carolinawith his wife Tonya (2018), which chronicles their two-year, 150-hour investigation of the Webb Memorial Library. Their book, Roommates from Beyond: How to Live in a Haunted Home (2020), is a popular handbook for investigating and mitigating hauntings. His award-winning paranormal thriller, The Man at the Foot of the Bed (based on a true story about a family of psychics by Josette Saginario), has been a two-time screenwriting contest Official Selection and a Beverly Hills Film Festival invitee.

Joey is the host of the paranormal podcast Into the Outer Realms (200+ episodes) and is a frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts, with 80+ appearances to his credit, including Coast to Coast AM. He is a frequent presenter at workshops, conferences, haunted places, universities, and museums. He is a recognized expert on the Mothman, UFOs, and Men in Black in Point Pleasant, WV, in 1966 and 1967, about which he has created numerous nonfiction and fiction works, including writing the narrative and designing the puzzles for the Mothman ’66 Escape Room.

When he is not investigating or writing about strange phenomena, Joey is a screenwriter, Escape Room and immersive experience writer/designer, playwright, novelist, actor, and director.

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