In this world, there are those rare individuals who can make an impact on just about every person they meet. Lacy Neff was one of those people. Lacy, a longtime broadcaster from WVAQ in Morgantown, WV, passed away this week leaving behind silence on the West Virginia airwaves. I met Lacy years ago when I went to work for West Virginia Radio Corporation. At the time, he was the program director and nighttime personality for WVAQ. Lacy had the kind of talent that a new broadcaster like myself admired. He was dynamic, energetic, and imaginative. He had the talent to go anywhere he wanted. I've no doubt that Lacy could have easily gotten jobs in Los Angeles, NYC, or any major radio market. Yet, he chose to remain with the audience that he had grown to love.
One of the amazing things about Lacy was that he couldn't go anywhere in northern West Virginia without someone knowing who he was. I doubt that there was a bar in Morgantown where he wouldn't be greeted with shouts of "Lacy!" when he walked through the door. Being out on the town with him was like being on the set of Cheers. Everyone knew his name.
Lacy's leadership at WVAQ resulted in the station winning three coveted Marconi Awards, as well as winning two himself for "Small Market Personality of the Year". They were all awards that were well-deserved.
I think my fondest memory of Lacy was broadcasting from the Strawberry Festival in Buchannan, WV. WVAQ had a giant boombox on a trailer which we would bring out to events for live broadcasts. On Friday evening, the Strawberry Festival hosted a massive block party on the main street through town. We parked the boombox on the street, and cranked up the music all night. Lacy stood on top of the boombox during his broadcast, tossing t-shirts and prizes into the crowd. We even brought out the super soakers, firing water streams all over the audience. I'd never had more fun in my broadcasting career than I did during the Strawberry Festival. It wouldn't have been the same without Lacy.
When I took over leadership at WSSN, the sister station to WVAQ, Lacy was more than willing to take time out of his own work schedule to mentor me on the finer points of being a program director. His eagerness to help anyone with just about anything made him, not only a great broadcaster, but a great person.
In 2013, Lacy was diagnosed with a rare disease that builds up abnormal proteins in vital organs. He's been in and out of hospitals ever since. He underwent a heart transplant, stem cell transplant, and other medical procedures over the past few years. Throughout it all, his attitude had always remained positive, just as it was every day on the air.
The last time I saw Lacy Neff was at the WVAQ Class Reunion weekend about seven years ago. The station had invited a number of personalities from the past back for an on-air reunion. I was privileged to part of it. Lacy was his usual energetic self, making sure that everyone enjoyed themselves throughout the weekend.
Lacy Neff will be missed, and the airwaves of West Virginia will never be the same. Rest in peace, my friend. Thanks for the sharing your talent and energy with the world.