“Renaissance man” and Kansas Public Radio opera host Jim Seaver dies at 92

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Jim Seaver, host of one of radio’s longest-running shows, Opera is My Hobby, on Kansas Public Radio, died March 14 in Lawrence, Kan. He was 92.

The show’s debut was Sept. 19, 1952, just four days after KANU (now Kansas Public Radio) signed on the air. Seaver produced his last show a week ago and was thinking of the program up until the day he died, KPR general manager Janet Campbell told the Lawrence Journal World. “It was more than a hobby, even though that is what he called it,” she said. He continued to produce the show as a volunteer until his hospitalization on March 11. The newspaper noted the show’s success “was largely based on his extensive collection of one-of-a-kind opera recordings, many of which he kept in his attic.”

Seaver was a professor of Western civilization and ancient history at the University of Kansas until his retirement in the 1980’s. He was considered an expert on opera as well as Greek and Roman history. “He was closest to a Renaissance man as I could think of,” his friend Lois Clark told the paper. She’d met Seaver 53 years ago when her husband arrived at KU as a graduate student. “They just don’t make them like that anymore.”

Seaver, a California native, arrived at the university in 1947 as a history professor. He had been captain of the tennis team at Stanford University and later coached the KU men’s team to a Big Seven Championship.

Survivors include his wife and three sons, Richard, Leawood, Kan; William, Lawrence, Kan; and Robert, who lives in Italy. Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver is his nephew.

The family is working with KU to arrange funeral services.

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