Familiar Radio Voice is Signing Off: Veteran Newsman Announces Retirement

After 40 years of reporting in the Kansas City region, Dan Verbeck announced plans today to retire. Since 2008, Verbeck has served as a general assignment reporter for KCUR 89.3 FM, Kansas City’s public radio station located at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Previously, he worked as a street reporter for KMBZ 980 AM for 23 years, ending his reports with a signature signoff: “Cruiser 980…clear.”

“I have always admired Dan as a hard-boiled radio newsman who has a poetic and empathetic approach to the people in his stories,” said KCUR News Director Frank Morris. “After years of following his work on KMBZ, I was delighted when he came to work at KCUR.”

A native of Chicago, Verbeck began his career as a reporter and photographer for newspapers in the Chicago suburbs. Two years serving in the U.S. Army led him to switch from print to radio. Since 1974, he’s covered major stories in the Kansas City area, from the Hyatt Regency hotel walkway collapse to the Joplin tornado to the natural-gas explosion at JJ’s Restaurant. Verbeck was often among the first on the scene when it comes to breaking news, blizzards, tornadoes, floods and fires.

“Dan is a first responder. He didn’t call to ask if he should go cover the Joplin tornado; he called to say he was on his way,” Morris said. “He arrived hauling a bag of Monster energy drinks, but without his toothbrush or high blood-pressure medicine, and worked almost nonstop for two days. That’s Dan Verbeck.”

In 2005, Verbeck was asked to step in to help the New Orleans station, WWL, with coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Stories of his experience — and approach to reporting — were included in Extraordinary Jobs in Media (2006):

“I have to talk to people first. That’s when people reveal things,” Verbeck said. “You have to be engaging enough that people want to trust you…this job is about people — the good people, the scoundrels, the heroic people. Telling their stories sometimes is more important than the events going on around them.”

Verbeck attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C., Loyola University in Chicago and Benedictine College in Atchison, KS, majoring in English literature. He received the Joe McGuff Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kansas City Press Club in 2008; the Associated Press, Kansas and Missouri Broadcasters’ Associations and United Press International also have honored him. Verbeck was included in the now-defunct Kansas City Media Professionals Hall of Fame.

In his retirement starting in March, Verbeck says he plans to “do anything he wants” including spending time with his five children, and his wife, Sylvia Stucky, in rural Platte County, as well as reading American history and traveling.

“Dan’s not just a great radio reporter, he is one hell of a good guy,” Morris said. “He’s one of the most helpful, upbeat and supportive guys I’ve ever known. He will be deeply missed at KCUR.”

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