Thursday, February 21, 2013

Neil Everett's secret to success

Neil Everett says he owes his career as an ESPN anchor to his years in Hawaii, and expresses his thanks by peppering his national broadcasts with island phrases

In the promotions leading up to his talk at Downtown Athletic Club, ESPN anchor Neil Everett was described as a local boy who made it big. This brought up the expected question: Does the Portland-born and Spokane-raised journalist qualify for the coveted title of “local boy”?

For anyone who has heard him speak of his time in Hawaii and how those 15 years shaped his future, the answer is a resounding yes!

Neil Everett Morfitt – yes, that’s his real name – first arrived in Hawaii while a student at Willamette University. At the time, Williamette was the Northwest campus of choice for many Hawaii residents, and the affable Everett connected with the displaced local boys. Former UH offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Tommy Lee was the football coach, Aloha Stadium manager Scott Chan was the Bearcats’ quarterback, there was a Hawaiian club on campus and his frat brother was a Kaiser High alum who invited him to visit for the summer.

“I couldn’t find Hawaii on a map, and then when I landed it was like, ‘God, why doesn’t everybody live here?’” says Everett with an ever-present smile and boisterous laugh.

Within three years he was back in Hawaii looking to make the 808 his permanent home. He had recently graduated from the University of Oregon and had gotten a “dream job,” making $600 a month at an upstart radio station in the coastal town of Florence, Ore. It was there, while working as the news director at KGBU during the day and bartending at night, where the Neil Everett secret to success blossomed: Work hard and be nice to people. It’s not that hard.

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Neil Everett, Rob DeMello's mentor

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