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November 22, 2005 > Memories of 'Buz'

Memories of 'Buz'

Patricia "Pat" Danielson, RHIT, a member of the Washington Township Health Care District Board of Directors and host of Pat's Health Matters" shown on local cable television, has known "Buz" Covalt for many years. His sudden death on October 10, 2005 was a shock to the Tri-City community, especially for those who had been personally touched by his work as a cable television personality hosting and producing programs on local politics and sports. Ms. Danielson shares her thoughts and remembrances of this local icon.

The death of my friend and mentor, Buz Covalt leaves a void in my life. Buz did most of the camera work and was a great support for me when I began taping my show on November 30, 1998. I learned quite a bit from watching his shows and every now and then he would give me helpful hints but although I tried to get him to verbally critique my shows, he would not say anything negative to me. However, comments of my performances would come in interesting ways. Once, when I knew my taping session was not progressing well - my guest was not being responsive - Buz, who would always stand and watch, lowered himself into a chair, spread out his long, lanky body and rested his chin on his chest. I got the hint, it was boring! That was the harshest criticism I ever received from Buz.

The highest compliment he ever gave me was after a show in which a person I have known for years 'froze' and I had to struggle for interesting answers to my questions. My persistence in that interview finally paid off with an informative and good show. Buz applauded my work by commending me for a good interview in a difficult situation. That was high praise and I will always treasure it. He never negatively criticized my shows even if they did not turn out well. That is a unique trait and I have subsequently found from others that this was a core component of his personality - supportive and moving people forward. Although there are many people who have helped me with my show during the years, I credit the gentle, quiet guidance and persuasion of Buz for my success.

Buz knew the politics of the Tri-Cities and interviewed just about every politician in the area; he was extremely well read. I believe that everyone who was interviewed by him - and that includes just about anyone who has run for office in this area - would agree that they received a 'fair shake' from Buz Covalt. He went right for the issues, allowed everyone to say their piece and let it go from there. An astute observer of the political scene with a strong desire to bring out the issues and not make judgment calls, he was well informed and a tough interviewer.

When working with the City of Newark and Newark Unified School District on a strategic plan, I decided to ask Buz for air time to let people know what we were doing. That was when I saw the other side of Buz Covalt. Bill Fitts and I were relentlessly and honestly grilled...and we were not prepared. I learned a big lesson. From that point on, I tried harder and always prepared extensively for interviews. When Buz hosted sports programming, it was an extension of his love of sports and it showed.

As a part of the eulogy at Buz' funeral, his brother revealed the origin of his nickname, "Buz." Although the word came from a mispronunciation of the word 'brother' by his siblings, to me that is who he was and always will be. I don't know him by any other name nor do I want to. I thought Buz would live forever and in my mind, he will.

 
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