Considering his dapper designer duds, unabashed name-dropping and get-off-my-lawn antics, Barry ZeVan appears to be a man who's reached the top.
Not so, says the former Twin Cities weatherman. Although he's often credited with being the first in the business to deliver personality with a side of weather, and, three decades later retains the nickname "Barry ZeVan, the Peekaboo Weatherman," he insists he still has plenty of places to go, things to do and people to see.
"I don't feel that I have reached what I've wanted to reach," ZeVan, 72, said while sporting a pair of crisp white Italian polyester slacks, a navy Burberry blazer with gold finishes and a rainbow-colored tie.
That's why, 40 years after first poking his head into the television frame and waggling his eyebrows during his zany weather segments on KSTP-TV, Ch. 5, ZeVan is making a foray back into the spotlight. He has several deals "in the works," including writing an autobiography and lending his distinctive baritone voice to commercials, documentaries and radio -- all while running ZeVan Corp., a marketing and public relations consulting business, from his home office.
ZeVan says he's busier now than he's ever been. That's saying a lot, considering his lengthy and successful career began in 1943 and spanned nearly every part of the entertainment business, including Broadway, radio and television.
Still, it's not enough, ZeVan says. Ultimately, he hopes to someday land a gig as host or co-host of a national talk or variety show on television to impart his wisdom to the masses.
"Although I've already had national exposure, I want to be able to share the knowledge and wisdom I've achieved all these years to better people's lives," he said.
The former weatherman has been doling out commentary on everything from current events and politics to entertainment and a long list of personal pet peeves.
On grammar: "Broadcasters these days are absolutely massacring the English language."
On driving: "My God, it's like the Indy 500. I've noticed an increase in the arrogance and the aggressiveness of drivers here in the Twin Cities area."
And don't even get him started on getting older: "I'm 72 and I feel younger than when I was 30," ZeVan says. "So for kids today ... who look at an old person and say there's a garbage heap there? Wrong. Very wrong. We can go to the most hip places and do the most hip things -- except for my hip. I had that replaced last June."
Local ZeVan fans can get a taste of that wisdom soon, in a video series on startribune.com aptly titled "Senior Moments."
ZeVan is the first to admit he "will probably be considered a real curmudgeon," but it's a title he welcomes as long as his opinions compel people to think.
When he's not putting in workdays that often last 15 hours or more, it's no surprise that the former weatherman continues to be a news, weather and entertainment junkie. His house has 14 TV sets, even one in the bathroom, and it's not unusual for four or five of them to be on at one time so he doesn't miss any local news. ZeVan especially likes "Two and a Half Men," "Dancing With the Stars" and says he's "crazy nuts over Taylor Swift," because "she has the poise and panache of a person who's 70."
But it's in the basement of his 1950s Golden Valley rambler where the "peekaboo weatherman" seems to be most at peace. Surrounded by wall-to-wall photographs of himself with various notables from politics and entertainment, ZeVan takes a star-studded trip down memory lane, reciting times spent with heavy hitters such as Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Jennings and George Carlin, to name just a few. They are legends, but ZeVan counted them among his friends.
He credits his childhood for his ambition to work hard and hold on tight to the people who enter his life.
"I was raised by a single working mother. My father left when I was 16 months old. He went to get a newspaper one day and never came back," ZeVan said. "I'm not trying to pump myself up, but this is my crowd. It's part of my real life, and I just want to share that with people."
Aimée Blanchette • 612-673-1715