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January 2004

Buffalo Wouldn’t be Buffalo Without Dan Neaverth

by Joseph H. RADDER


For almost forty years he’s been starting our days with a smile. Just as Buffalo wouldn’t be Buffalo without beef on weck, Buffalo wouldn’t be Buffalo without Danny Neaverth.

You can’t sit down to talk to Dan Neaverth without laughing with him. He answered our first question, “When were you born?” with the quick retort “Very young!” It’s this kind of wit that has endeared him to radio listeners as far back as a lot of us can remember. He can get serious, however. For example he told us that “growing up in South Buffalo, I picked up a lot of street smarts. It’s interesting,” he continued, “that no matter where you grew up...South Buffalo, the east side, the west side, or North Buffalo, everybody seemed to be really proud of where they’re from.”

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Dan and his parents Herman and Louise - 1942. Dan - 1944.
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Dan - 1947. Dan graduated from Bishop Timon High School in 1955.


Pinning down his childhood neighborhood even finer, he said “I was from St. Monica’s Parish. We always came home from school at lunch time. Nobody walked, everybody ran.” In later years, Dan told his kids he ran three or four miles to school every day, uphill both ways. “But about five years ago I took the car and I measured it. It’s less than a mile!”

Neaverth got his start in radio with a little radio station at the South Buffalo Boys’ Club. “Joey Reynolds and Danny McBride were on the staff,” he remembered.

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Dan's first on air job was at WFRM in Coudersport, PA. Joey Reynolds and Dan.
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Dan with Frankie Avalon. Dan, Joe DeLamielleure and Sandy Beach.


You would expect Danny Neaverth to admit to being the class clown at Bishop Timon High School. On the contrary. “It’s funny,” he said. “I met a woman about ten years ago from the old neighborhood, and she said, laughing, ‘You know I can’t believe it. You’ve been on radio and television all these years doing that funny stuff. I don’t understand it. You were the most boring kid in the neighborhood.’” Frankly, we find that hard to believe.

Like so many people we’ve talked to from South Buffalo, Dan credits the priests and the nuns with shaping his strong character. “Those Franciscans didn’t take any guff”, he said. “They were real men.”

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Dan conducting the BPO. Dan skiing.


Herman Neaverth, Dan’s father, was a banker, and worked for the M&T Bank all his life. His mother, Louise Zeaska Neaverth obviously created a very happy home for Dan and his Dad. “I was an only child”, he said, “and the nuns used to think that if you were an only child you were spoiled. That wasn’t really true. We were one of the last families on Keppel Street to have a television set, one of the last families to have a refrigerator, and were one of the last families in the neighborhood to have a car. During the war when the other kids’ fathers were working in the defense plants and making big money, my father was working in the bank, and bank employees were not very well paid.


Dan married Marie Seifert in 1958. The Neaverths had four boys, Danny, David, Darren, and Dean. It’s a good thing they didn’t have a fifth son. “We were going to name him Dopey” he said.

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Dan and Marie's wedding - 1958. Dan, Marie and family - 1972.


When he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame he said “Marie was my wife, mother, lover and friend. She is a special person from a special family. Her mother and father were a very important part of my life too. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like Marie.”

In addition to their four adult sons, Marie and Dan have nine grandchildren, seven girls and two boys.

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Back row: Dan, Jr., Darren, Dean and David.
Front row: Marie and Dan.
Dan' and Marie's grandchildren: Top row: Kim, Darren, Jr., Dean, Jr.
Bottom row: Chelsea, Darci, Elizabeth, Christina and Danielle. Missing from photo: Delacy.
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Daughter in law Pam P.J. Foxx (D.J.), Dan Jr. (Sports Director), Darren (Sales Manager WHTT) and Dan - 1989.


After high school, Dan went to Curran Studios, a broadcasting school in Syracuse. He graduated in 1957, and his first job in radio was in Coudersport, Pa. Then he went to Dunkirk to station WDOE. While he was working in these towns, his parents would send him the Buffalo papers. “One day I read that some guy from WBNY was leaving, so I went up there for an audition and got the job.”

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Dan at Buffalo City Hall after a bicycle race from Albany to Buffalo for cancer research. Dan with Richard Simmons on Nearly Noon, Channel 2.
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Marquee at Shea's for Dan's 25th anniversary at KB - 1986. County Executive Ed Rutkowski and Mayor Jimmy Griffin with Dan at dedication of Keppel Street name change to Dan Neaverth Lane (for one day).


Future goals? “All I want to do is live a long life and see my grandchildren all happily married.”

Dan Neaverth is not only in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, but in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Apparently they have a room full of computers where you can log onto rock and roll disc jockeys in all the major cities. If you go there and click on Dan Neaverth’s name, be forewarned that he’s not all that proud of the material he sent them. “At the time I didn’t think the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was going to amount to anything, so when they asked me for tapes, I sent them the first thing I could put my hands on. It isn’t funny at all.” By the way, because they have so many DJs in the northeast, you’ll have to look for Dan under “mid-west.”

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Dan and Hank Nevins. Tom Donahoe, Dan and Sandy Beach.
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Dan - PA announcer for Buffalo Bills for 13 seasons.


Dan seems to be happy to be back on KB, playing the kind of music and doing the kind of humor that made him famous. Everything retro is popular these days, retro cars, retro trolleys and retro radio too. Listening to Danny Neaverth in the morning will take you back to the ‘60s and ‘70s. And Buffalo was apparently ready for a return to the old KB sound. According to a recent article in the Buffalo News, ratings have tripled according to Arbitron., and “Dan Neaverth was the big reason for KB’s rise.”

It may surprise you to learn that Dan Neaverth is a train buff. He has traveled thousands of miles on Amtrak. “Marie has shared a few of my train rides”, he said, “ but she’s not as excited about train travel as I am. Last year Dan did the Seattle to Buffalo trip. He has also taken America’s longest train trip, from Los Angeles to Orlando, that takes three and a half days. And he collects model trains. “When I was a kid”, he said, “I used to go to Spoonley the Train Man on Choate Avenue and drool over the stuff he had there. I’d make lists every year and leave them lying around the house before Christmas, but I never got any of the stuff. So now I have the stuff that I wanted to have then.” He tells us, surprisingly, his grand-daughters and even his daughters-in-law seem to be more interested in his trains than his sons and grand-sons.

He’d love to see high speed rail across New York State but isn’t optimistic. He enthuses about his experience on the TGV in France. “It’s incredible! 140 miles an hour, dedicated track (no freights). Curves are banked where they need to be banked. All crossings are elevated. And when they come into the terminal it’s whoosh! And when they leave they’re going 90 miles an hour when they’re still in the yards.”

Summing up his interesting life, Dan told us, “I think the key to any success that I’ve had is that I know who I really am.” In other words, unlike some humorists, he’s not always “on”. Apparently when you see Dan Neaverth in a serious mood, you can be pretty sure he’s relaxing.

You’d think a man who is a Buffalo legend might have a big ego. Not at all. Dan Neaverth is the same person he was in South Buffalo all those years ago. I guess that’s what makes him so likeable. That down-to-earth quality comes through on the air and is probably the secret of his popularity.


Joseph H. Radder, a free-lance writer and regular contributor to Living Prime Time, is the author of a new book, a fictional biography of a young Jew named Jesus, “Young Jesus, the missing years.”

 

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