Profile of Robert Winkler, journalist – published in MAXIMA Hungary, in 2007

Robert Winkler – Jornalist, television presenter

Link to original article in Hungarian

A real media maverick. He presents a television show, he writes, boxes and races motorcycles. The TotalCar presenter is also interested in nature, dogs, and music – so much so that he wrote about both for years in his regular column for Magyar Narancs. He is also happy and has lived in a stable relationship for over a decade – with his German shepherd.

I would rather not go into how difficult it was to get hold of him. First he wanted to answer my questions via email, then he sent me home because I did not have a tape recorder on me. To my defence  he called me half an hour earlier to come right away and I dropped everything, but had no time to go home to pick up the thing. Winkler would not budge: no recording device, no interview. He said he did not like wasting time on ’little journalist girls who have no clue’. So when I finally managed to meet up with him and everything seemed to be right (photographer, tape recorder, replacement batteries and a slightly nervous journalist girl) I was surprised how nice he was. He is just crazy busy and likes to make sure, it seems…

Wasting time is not something Winkler does, he plans his days carefully. He has done a wide variety of things. It started with music, with his band ’The Ladybirds’ while at university in Szombathely, also his hometown. When they failed to become stars he became a journalist. ’In the cafeteria I told one of the girls about how Maister Mekk [Hungarian children’s programme, popular in the 1980s] was really a political commentary, cleverly hidden. She worked for the local paper and asked me to write about it.’ The following decade and the half saw Winkler in a variety of media jobs. He was at one time columnist on Magyar Narancs [cool, liberal political weekly] and journalist on Kiskegyed [trashy women’s glossy]. ’I think this is unique in the history of Hungarian media. It must be unprecedented that someone can be the darling of two papers simultaneously, let alone two at such opposite extremes of the spectrum.’

’You have to ask him about his dog’ – said my friend who finally got me his number (only if I swore I would not tell on him to Winkler, no-one else was willing to, they were all afraid of his wrath). Apparently Winkler takes his dog everywhere, he sometimes dresses it up in a tie and a jacket. Once he took it to a business meeting and after introducing himself he pointed at the dog and said ’And this… This is my lawyer.’ He hates convention and is admittedly often a ’moody bastard’. His journalism very much depends on his mood, too.

My head starts to spin as he lists his interests. Although of late he has became known as a Hungarian Jeremy Clakson, he still writes about animals and nature regularly. He is also works as a box commentator and an occasional travel writer. He  loves music, but he is only willing to write about bands he likes. No wonder he is so busy. I cannot help but wonder if he had some sort of plan. To be as versatile as possible for example. ’No – he says – there was no plan. I just went with it.’ Winkler never plans, he is not interested in the future, only the present. ’When he got a job at Index.hu [the coolest Hungarian news portal, with 300k individual visitors a day] I wanted to write about box, but I liked cars, too. So I ended up as the editor of TotalCar.’ Then it grew into the television show, then the box commentary… ’It all just happened.’ – he says over and over again. I cannot help but see some sort of pattern here. The other sentence he repeats is ’I am satisfied with what I have.’ Oh, well, good for him. A partner and a family… Are they pat of the picture, too? ’No, no girlfriend, no children. I am all alone, except for my dog, who has been my faithful companion for 12 years. I am content like this.” All right, all right – I cannot stop myself thinking – I heard you the first dozen times already…

As we say good-bye I cannot help but notice that he seems a bit relieved. We both are, to be honest.

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