His voice resonates in rich tones and immediately catches your attention, making him perfectly suited for radio and broadcasting. Richard Kadzis, aka his self-named radio moniker of The Buzzman, thought he was destined for scholarly studies in the Greek and Latin classics before he enrolled in broadcasting and journalism in college.
Growing up in Boston, he graduated from Boston Latin School, which he proudly relates is the oldest school in the United States, established in 1635. His father was a teacher to at-risk students and his mom was a graphic and fine arts watercolor artist. The Buzzman hails from a “nice Boston Catholic family of five siblings,” in his words, so of course, he was an altar boy and was taught Latin at his parochial school, where he was constantly drilled by nuns.
As children, he and his siblings did a lot of reading, since his parents allowed them to watch only two hours of TV during the school week. Buzzman was outdoor-oriented and an exceptionally good baseball player, a pure leftie playing first base. His father, who taught him the game, very briefly played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. As Buzzman describes it, “My father had a cup of coffee in the major leagues—that’s the term they use when you’re not there long.”
He graduated from Boston Latin in 1972 and enrolled in Connecticut College with a focus on the classics. “Socrates and Plato were my best friends. I went to an all-male high school so aside from discovering women, I was the co-founder of WCNI FM radio on the campus of the college. This was a community radio station launched in February 1974. It was a major accomplishment by four guys who had a vision,” he says of his team that created the station.
“I loved radio as a kid. I got to meet George Carlin, who was on air as a deejay at WEZE in Boston. I was in the Key Club, which is the high school version of the Kiwanis Club. I was introduced to him by my Kiwanis sponsor, who took me into the station where Carlin was on live and I thought, I want this, I’ve got to be in a radio studio! Carlin looked at me and said, ‘You got the bug, kid, don’tcha?’ Being the respectful little geek I was. I said, ‘Yessir, I sure do!’”
Buzzman graduated from college in 1976 with a BA in classical civilization and set out to trip the lights fantastic on the streets of Manhattan for a couple of years, working in the 5th Avenue headquarters of Lord and Taylor, knowing the entire time he wanted to get into journalism school. He made the best of that time he says. “I bought a lot of fancy ties for a while, met a lot of incredibly beautiful women and I got to do cool things like see the Eagles debut their Hotel California album at Madison Square Garden with a guy named Jimmy Buffet opening up the concert.”
He enrolled in Boston University’s School of Public Communication, set on being a broadcaster and a journalist. He was the only graduate student at the time to become a pro broadcaster while still studying. “I was hired by WBUR, which is a NPR member station. They supplied a huge amount of programming to NPR, live news, broadcasting news and public affairs content. I was reporting for NPR primarily on the environment and politics from 1978 through 1980. I reported on the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear reactor project that they wanted to build just two miles north of Boston,” which, he recalls, generated a huge groundswell of protest and mass demonstrations that became violent. “I was in the middle of it. I was hanging out with Jackson Browne, who would give concerts in support of the Seabrook demonstrations.”
When CNN got started they hired the Buzzman as a producer. “No on-air work, but lots of writing, and coordination of crews. I was very familiar with the broadcast field operations. I had covered a bunch of candidates so I knew how the logistics worked. I covered Ted Kennedy’s failed campaign for the Democratic nomination when he lost to Jimmy Carter, who was the sitting president. I covered the lawsuit that prevented the oil industry from drilling off Cape Cod,” he says. But he wasn’t with CNN long; in fact, Buzzman was there for ten weeks before, he says, “I realized I wasn’t getting paid so I became a corporate communicator and got paid a lot more money.”
He was hired to work for a community in South Carolina, helping them in marketing for job creation, acting as a liaison between major companies and the communities to enable collaboration. During his 15 years working in South Carolina, he earned a second master’s degree in 1992 in organizational communication from the University of Delaware.
In his next career move, Buzzman was hired by a group that represented major corporations, emphasizing how companies can be socially responsible for their employees through their workplace practices. “I did a lot of writing and spinning. Companies will make a lot more profit if they treat their people well. I became an advocate for companies to be more socially responsible for their people,” he says of his 18 years there.
Buzzman was introduced to Crested Butte in 2006 through his then girlfriend (now wife), Karen Choate, who had a home here. “I was a hockey player in college and learned to ski in Vermont during that same time. I tuned into KBUT and thought wow this is really good. It reminded me not only of my college radio experience but these cool FM stations back east I used to listen to as a kid. I started daydreaming about being on the air at KBUT. I’d go to Crested Butte to work remotely and realized that Crested Butte is a creative collaborative. I was doing some of my best writing and thinking while I was here.”
Eventually, he hit the wall with work. “As I became aware of the ecology of creativity in Crested Butte it became clear that I had to make a decision. Do I want to keep doing what I’m doing every day or do I want to do something more meaningful for me? I slowly transitioned out of the corporate interests. We sold the house in Atlanta in one day, packed up the car and the cat and moved to Denver, where I could earn money as a consultant.”
But after a year in Denver, having spent Christmas 2015 at their Crested Butte home, they decided to just stay.
Buzzman credits Chad Reich for making it happen for him at KBUT. “When Chad said I passed the audition, I sheepishly asked if I can use the name Buzzman on the air.” Chad responded with an impish grin, “You bet your ass,” and with that, The Buzzman was resurrected. “I hadn’t been on the air in years. It felt like a release into heaven. I had entered nirvana and my soul was untethered. The next summer they gave me my own show, Altitude Adjustment with The Buzzman.”
Currently, The Buzzman and Karen split their time between their mountain home in Crested Butte and La Cruces, N.M. “I became a devotee of the west,” he smiles. He’s also one of the founding deejays of community radio KTAL in the Mesilla Valley, which went live August 2017.
“I was recording jazz and rock ‘n roll shows for KTAL radio in the KBUT studios back in August 2017, then sending them on Google Drive to the new station,” he says. He recently graced the cover of Sonoma Ranch Lifestyle magazine, which dubbed him “The Voice of the Rio Grande.”
Still very much a part of the creative community, Buzzman is co-producing a KBUT series with Jackson Petito, a special radio documentary, The Art and the Heart of the DeeJay. “I’m the writer, Jackson’s the producer. It’s about the creative aspiration of being in Crested Butte and back to the idea of the creative collective that is Crested Butte. Think about how KBUT is a channel for all the other arts and non-profits to promote themselves and it is a reflection of this creative focus that extends across the visual arts, the performing arts, the art of craft and the art of music, dance included. The cultural immersion is intensive. KBUT is an expression of all of that. That’s how KBUT is an important channel, it’s a nucleus of all that incredible creative critical mass. It’s a special place that inspires creativity and allows you to contribute to that as well. I’m an example of that and I’ll be grateful to the day I die for what Crested Butte has gifted me with.”