Kansas City lost a bright light earlier this week when noted journalist, radio host, foodie, and author Charles Feruzza passed away at the young age of 62 after complications from a stroke.
The Newsdog met Charles about ten years ago when he was hosting a morning radio program on local NPR affiliate, KCUR.
The conversation was about food, of course, but it was my job as a guest to bring the Historic Northeast food community to the listeners of KCUR that morning.
The Dog must have done an admirable job because shortly after, I was invited to be a guest on his Friday morning show on KKFI, 90.1 Community Radio.
The studio then was in a compact, two-story building at the corner of Westport Road and SW Trafficway, right above where PotPie is located.
That was the first of dozens of appearances on his KKFI program.
Whenever The Dog was a guest there, the talk was always about Northeast. What’s new in Northeast, what’s going on with this house or that restaurant, but always about the Northeast community and some of the rich history in our neighborhood.
He often joked with co-host Carol Jean Barta that they would move in together on Gladstone Boulevard and be the talk of the gossipers.
Charles was a champion of community journalism and favored the ink from the page smeared on his hands versus the swipe of a screen of the modern journalism world, which is why we mailed hard copies of the paper to him every week at KKFI.
Charles was also an educator, often imparting knowledge and experience via his dry wit.
Two summers ago, our trio of Northeast News interns acted as associate producers for Charles’s ‘Anything Goes’ show at KKFI.
Each intern had to pitch their show idea to show producer, Martha Lally, a tough cookie with over 20 years of radio production chops.
It was each intern’s job to secure a good guest, make sure they were at the studio at least twenty minutes ahead of time, and give the show host at least three good questions that would make good radio.
Watching Charles during those shows was like watching a professor at work.
Fortunately, each guest was engaging and calls lit up the switchboard during each of the three shows our interns were assigned to produce.
An experience like that is tough to come by in commercial radio, but our college interns got a real taste of live radio thanks to Charles Feruzza.
They must have done well because we were invited back with new interns.
Today, two out of three of those interns are in media, one locally and one in Oklahoma.
Charles also took a special interest in the Newsdog’s wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.
Following her “all-clear” diagnosis, Charles was a guest at our home for our cancer-free party.
Whenever we spoke and whenever we met in person, he always, without exception, asked how Mrs. Newsdog was and sent a hug along her way.
The light of journalism is much dimmer now without Charles Feruzza.
I shall miss our friendship, our candid conversations and being a guest on his KKFI ‘Anything Goes’ show.
He loved the Northeast community and made it over here whenever possible.
Rest in peace, my friend. We are a better community because of you.