Radio legends set to embark on 'new' careers with WECK - The Buffalo News
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Radio legends set to embark on 'new' careers with WECK

Danny Neaverth looks at joining WECK Radio (AM 1230 and FM 102.9) as a chance to entertain more listeners than just his wife.

Harv Moore cracked he would pay owner Buddy Shula just to get out of the house.

Gail Ann Huber thought her radio days were over until Shula, her friend of nearly 30 years, called.

Neaverth, Moore, Huber and former "AM Buffalo" co-host Jon Summers begin their "new" careers July 10, when the new live and local programming WECK lineup premieres.

They will be joined by former WBEN-AM morning news anchor John Zach and veteran local radio personality Mike Jacobs as WECK becomes a 24-hour local and national news station with old-time local personalities and locally programmed adult music.

The hiring of the radio legends has led at least one person on social media to refer to WECK's announcing lineup as Geezer Radio.

"Well, we are 'geezers,' " wrote Moore in an email. "The music that's on WECK, we played when it was new. And we are all still here to play it again!"

It is a good time to find out what Neaverth, Moore and Huber have been up to lately, what they and Summers thought when Shula approached them. Their responses were edited.

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As expected, Neaverth, who spent 25 years working mornings at WKBW radio and 15 years at WHTT-FM, took the emailed questions less seriously than his new teammates:

What have you been doing since you left radio? "Studying Medicine and investigating extra-terrestrial contacts."

What did you think when Buddy called and asked if you would join WECK? "He never mentioned it in a call but asked if we could meet at one of the 10 Tim Hortons within a few miles of my lavish home. I was surprised and intrigued by his offer, which was actually a full-time air shift. I told him I was not interested in a full-time job. After a hot tea and bagel with too much butter, he said he wanted me to be involved in some capacity."

Neaverth needed and received assurances that his visits to Sandy Beach's WBEN show several times a month and his co-hosting duties on several "very successful" European trips wouldn't be jeopardized.

What does he hope to get out of his return? "An opportunity to entertain someone other than Marie (his wife)."

Do you have any plan on what you will say on the first day back? "Of course ... but I don't want to give it away as I have been planning it for years. Ever since those **#%<#ds at WHTT didn't renew my contract."

Why are you only working on Fridays? "Because for 4 hours I can be fantastic.......20 hrs....not so much."

Percentage-wise, how much lower is the compensation from your previous radio job? "My previous salary was the reason for losing that radio job. This time they can afford me."

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Huber, who spent 14 years on the WYRK morning show and later worked on the WHTT-FM morning show, will be the morning co-host with Tom Donahue. Zach will be the news anchor on a show called "Good Morning with Tom, Gail and John Zach."

What has she been doing since leaving radio?

"The majority of my time was spent working at a retirement community in Orchard Park as a Personal Care Aide. That's something I never saw coming, but I had twins to raise and bills to pay, so that's where I landed. If I had to 'bounce' anywhere, I'm eternally grateful for where I landed. I have learned so much from my time there...about perseverance, adapting to age and life's obstacles with grace and dignity, and how loyalty means an awful lot to an older generation. The job allowed me to be there for the kids when I needed to be and to be with my mom when she got sick and passed away."

She said she knew Shula would be getting calls from 'radio ghosts,' so she left her long-time friend alone.

"When he did call, I was stunned, of course, and thrilled that my name would come to the forefront. Initially, I began to have weird thoughts about how this was going to work and would I fit in, but the adrenaline kicked in pretty quickly and I'm more optimistic every day.  Buddy's a smart cookie, so I trust his decisions."

"I honestly thought my radio days were done, but I still listened to a number of stations and critiqued the on-air announcers and thought of how I would have done or said something different. I don't know, radio is a DNA thing for most of us. It's always with you on some level.

"I hope that this great team of talents that Buddy has assembled will be a blueprint for other small stations around the country. His vision of bringing together the past and putting it in the future is brilliant. It's the kind of radio that most of us remember. Voices you have heard, news that's local and pertinent and music that is top-notch. Winner, Winner...chicken dinner."

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Summers, who has the 9 a.m. to noon shift, didn't think he was going to work anywhere after he left Channel 7 until he read that Shula had purchased WECK.

"We met for breakfast about a week later, and he told me his vision for WECK and that it was going to be all live. That was music to my ears and I applied for the job on the spot. I came from radio and it has always been the softest spot in my heart in the broadcast world."

"Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my 27 years at Channel 7 for anything. I look back on them as a treasure in my life, but I started in radio as a teenager… I might have thought at one point I was done with radio, but Buddy has made it possible for me to continue the dream. I’m a twice veteran of WECK having worked there in the mid-'80s and again later in the late-'90s and loved every minute of it, so it’s like a homecoming in a way."

He added that the job allows him "to stay in touch with Western New York as I have for the past 44 years here in Buffalo … and I get to continue the dream."

He said he considers the compensation a private matter.

"But I will say, I thought the offered compensation was extremely fair and considerate," he said. "Remember, Buddy could have just as easily gone automated and saved a bundle, but he has a vision for this station and its place in the market, and he considers live talent to be absolutely vital in establishing the station’s image."

"I think we have an incredible staff, not only who share Buddy’s vision for WECK, but who will become family in their interactions with one another and with the listeners."

Unlike Moore, he was offended by the idea that WECK will be Geezer Radio.

"I had not heard that from any other source, and quite frankly all of us at the station would take that as an insult. So whoever put that label on us, tell them they couldn’t be more wrong."

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Moore, the former co-host of Taylor & Moore Breakfast Flakes, will be the noon to 3 p.m. host.

He said for the past 15 years he and Bob Taylor (his former radio partner) have produced a daily radio feature called Rewind that is carried in 20 stations in the U.S. and Canada.

"We're hoping Buddy signs up. My hobby is music production. I have been working with a young singer/songwriter named Allison Rapp. I'm writing the instrumental track for one of her songs. Allison just graduated from Kenmore West, heading to college to major in journalism. I'm hoping Buddy will let me play her song when it's finished."

Moore noted that Shula "interned for us at WPhD 103.3 when he was 15. His father used to drive him to the radio station. Even way back then, his goal was to own a radio station. When he called and told me he was in the process of buying WECK, I told him I would help him in any way I could...no compensation needed. I told him I wanted to see him succeed."

He said his return is "all about passion. I have always had a passion for radio.  It was what I wanted to do ever since I can remember. I wanted to start right after high school, but my father, a schoolteacher, impressed upon me the importance of furthering my education. I'm very happy to be back on the air."

He said he wasn't concerned about his pay check.

"When it came to salary, Buddy was honest with me: It was a start-up operation, and he didn't have a whole lot of cash. I told him, 'Buddy, I will pay you to get out of the house! My wife retired last year, and we are falling all over each other.' I wasn't concerned about compensation.  I just wanted to help Buddy."

"I was very fortunate for most of my career, in that, I worked for single-owner stations. Today, it's all about corporate, and corporations are trimming wherever they can. There just isn't the money in radio (for deejays) that there used to be. I made a lot of money. I was highly overpaid. WECK has a local owner – Buddy Shula. I applaud that."

And I suspect that former listeners of Moore, Neaverth, Summers, Huber and Zach will be leading the applause again come July 10.

Email: apergament@buffnews.com

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