Friday, April 18, 2014

Cleveland GM Bill Applegate retiring

Channels 19/43 General Manager Bill Applegate
General manager Bill Applegate, who put the “action” in Action News at WOIO-Channel 19 and WUAB-Channel 43, will retire Friday, April 25.

Applegate took over the Raycom Media-owned Cleveland stations in January 2001. Happy talk was replaced by in-your-face news presentations.

Applegate cut his teeth in newsrooms, both on newspapers and in TV stations. He wasn’t the usual general manager promoted from the sales department.

His career took him from Eugene, Ore., Buffalo, N.Y.; Boston; San Francisco; Chicago; and New York City.

Applegate joined Raycom in 1996, eventually winding up in  Cleveland. He and his wife, Katherine, have four children and live in Lakewood.

To read PD TV critic and former BJ TV critic Mark Dawidziak’s article on Applegate’s retirement, click on
Nobel author Gabo dead at 87
Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize-winning author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera," is dead. He was 87.

Gabrial Garcia Marquez
He was the most significant Spanish-language author since Miguel de Cervantes, the 16th-century writer of my role model, "Don Quixote." Paula accuses me of “tilting at windmills” when I take on businesses (often successfully) for reimbursements. When we were in Spain, I made a point of giving a thank-you pat to Rocinante, the horse Don Quixote was riding in the sculpture.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared three days of national mourning, ordering flags at half-staff.

Known by his nickname "Gabo" in Latin America, Marquez was one of 11 children of a telegraph operator and was born in the northern Colombian town of Aracataca, which became the inspiration for Macondo, the town at the center of "Solitude," his 1967 masterpiece.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Almost one-third of America's paid journalists left in 6 years 
America has lost 30% of its paid media workers in six years. Blame the Internet age and media owners who failed to get in front of and benefit from the technology revolution.
The Pew Research Journalism Project reports that print publications laid off 17,000 reporters and editors from 2006 to 2012 -- 55,000 slashed to 38,000.
Commentators lament the loss of so many “watchdogs” of investigative journalism.

Warns Alberto Ibarguen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: It’s an ideal time to be a crook because fewer and fewer media reporters are watching what they do.

Politicians and businesses are having a field day with so few left to keep them honest.

To read the article, click on  

Terry Oblander was a fabulous storyteller, in his reporting for the Beacon Journal or regaling fellow BJ retirees at a Papa Joe’s monthly lunch.

He laughed when he told his tales, and the mirth scurried from his belly and cascaded out his mouth as a devilishly joyful sound.

Terry died Nov. 13, 2011 but the memories of his raucous humor will live as long as those who heard them are not brain-dead.

Terry had a zest for life.

So does Ott Gangl, retired BJ photographer, who sees a “Sinday” of nude models as an artistic adventure.

The two combined their talents in a North Canton barn when Ott photographed models for 72 straight hours and Terry observed and wrote about the event in his unique way.

This is the story that Terry wrote, but was never published. Until now.

72 Hours of Models for $29.65


Terry Oblander

      More than 100 women volunteered to pose for him free. The only pay they
 expected was six free prints.
      It was a photograph of one of the “free” models that received an international award for the photographer, Ott Gangl of Akron, Ohio.

     Besides the cost of film and processing, the bill for the 72-hour session was
$29.65, the cost of shaved ham and beer. Any photographer with a little moxie and talent can do the same thing.

      Most of the women responded to a poster, which Gangl and a young protégé placed in grocery stores, mod clothing shops and area universities. The poster invited “any girl with an interesting face and a good figure.”

      For the best part of 72 hours, a small community of professionals, --photographers, fashion experts, hair stylists and makeup artists—contributed their time free, turning models into goddesses for Gangl’s camera.

     For 72 hours, they cried together, they laughed together, they go tired


     The scene of the photographic marathon was the basement of a 90-year-old barn in North Canton, a small city not far from the Canton, Ohio Football Hall of Fame. The ground floor of the barn housed a mod clothing store called the Quonset Hut. The basement, where cows and horses once slept, had served as storage area. It took hours to turn the basement into a photo studio.

     In exchange for use of the basement and the store’s vast clothing supply, Gangl gave store owners prints of their shop, which they could use for advertising.

     One old horse stall became the work area for the hair stylists and makeup artists.     One unexpected occupant of that stall was a barn mouse who occasionally would stick its head out of a hole in the barn foundation to see what was going on.

     Another stall became a dressing room, or an undressing room as the case may be. Near the center of the barn basement was the nerve center—the shaved ham and beer and a stereo that pumped out rock music for much of the 72 hours.
     It was 72 hours of fun and artistry, but it wasn’t always easy.

           *                           *                             *

             A 17-year-old girl stood beneath the hot lights and tried to strike sexy, professionals poses. She wasn’t sexy or professional.

     She was one of many students at a Canton modeling school who volunteered for the marathon. Most of them were taking a course of modeling for the still camera and saw the marathon as an easy way to get free prints for their portfolios.

     “We have a bunch of girls who came here not wanting to give. They just want to take,” Gangl yelled at the girl. His European voice was fast and angry.

     “I am used to real emotions when I point my camera at someone. What do they teach you to be at that school? Plastic statues? I don’t like plastic casts. I like to smash them,” Gangl continued.

     She began to cry. The tears and the hot light melted her makeup. Gangl’s voice also melted. He reached out and gently touched her cheek. Another battle had ended.
   *                              *                                    *
             The artists were a strange lot.

      Gangl was the spiritual leader of the three-day community. When he is not conducting 72-hour photographic marathons, he works as a news photographer for the Beacon Journal, Akron’s only daily newspaper. “I make love to every one of my models with my camera,” he says. Most of his models admit a shooting session with Gangl was a real affair.

 “I am 41 years old and I only have another 60 or 70 years left. I don’t have time to play games,” the redheaded photographer told one dallying model.

Tom Metz, 20, was an aspiring young painter until he met Gangl and his photography. For two years Metz had clung closely to Gangl, gleaning everything he could from the senior photographer. Gangl shot more than 5,000 frames during the marathon, about 100 times as many as Metz. The marathon served as an invaluable training for Metz.

     Hairdresser David Cline worked without stopping, it seemed. The dingy basement sparkled with hairdos and the rafter echoed with his laughter. “If that mouse jumped on the chair, you’d probably run over there and start setting its hair,” Gangl teased Cline.

The 26-year-old Cline began his hairdressing career at 14 when he was the only boy to enter a Texas radio station contest. His 25-word essay won him a scholarship to cosmetology school. Allergic to hairspray, the professional hairdresser spends $30 a month for allergy shots.

     Judy Peterek, a dark haired education major, applied the makeup talents she had learned in theater courses at the University of Akron. Girls with plain faces became photographic Mona Lisas in her hands. Other models watched, sometime in dismay, as Judy transformed them into colorful mosaics.

     On the second night some of us managed to get about three hours of sleep despite the noise that accompanied an all-night remodeling project upstairs. We awoke as Judy screamed out, “Who was that fat bastard who pounded on the floor and slammed doors all night?” The man who had been working all night was just a few feet away when she yelled that. Obviously embarrassed, he left without saying a word. The day began with a roar of laughter.

     Tom Gillis, 23, volunteered to work at the marathon to “see if I had it in me.” Tom works as a salesman in a local clothing store. Selling clothes is far different than clothing models. Young ladies found themselves wearing everything, from all-leather outfits to bikinis and motorcycle helmets. At first the combinations seemed awkward. On film they were rhythmic and poetic.

     I was the marathon’s writer. I arrived two hours after the session began and was greeted with the sight of a long-legged blonde stretched out on a black felt background. I gawked at first.  After all, writers never get models to pose for their articles.

     Gangl ran up to me. “Terry, talk to her while I fix the lights and load my cameras.”
“What should I say to her?” I was nervous.
“Just be yourself,” he said, scurrying away.

There she sat, cross-legged and nude. I squatted next to her, fully clothed. Never once did to I let my eyes wander lower than her chin. We talked about anything—anything except her beautiful naked body. Five minutes passed. It seemed like an hour.

“I know this girl,” I thought. As a Beacon Journal cub reporter, I had photographed and written about this girl four years earlier when she was a camera-shy high school girl. She had become a photographer’s dream—polished and uninhibited.

I balked when Gangl told me he was going to photograph her long legs in black and white, her mid section in sepia tone and her head and breasts in color.

That composite, which Gangl called “Penny-3”, was the photograph which won Gangl the KTF Bronze medal in color photography from the Art Institute of Krakow, Poland. One thousand photographers from all over the world had entered the Institute’s “Venus ‘74” competition. Gangl’s photograph had competed with 791 other color entries. Winning photographs are published in the Venus annual and are featured in an exhibit that tours Europe’s major cities.

     The marathon produced an award-winning photograph. That was important.

     But even more important was the natural “high” that needed no alcohol or drugs.

     Models and artists, many of whom had never seen each other before, came for their own selfish reasons. But they left 72 hours later. Each had changed just a little.

     They may never see each other again. But they won’t forget.


Postscript:  (by Ott Gangl)

 When the idea came to me for the 72-hour shoot-in I was pressed by the deadline in entering an international contest and thought that a shotgun approach of having 36 female models (and several male models), shooting one every two hours, could result in shot or two I could enter.

     Though I never closed an eye for the whole 72 hours, being super awake after about 50 hours, to my surprise I functioned very well. A few points I want to make clear:

It was a closed set, only persons working as models or artists were allowed in order to avoid controversies.

Everyone needed a signed model release (parents permission in case of minors under 18)

Models, who were asked to spend six hours for makeup, clothing and shooting could linger or return to take part in the intense atmosphere.       

I did not hear of a single dissatisfied person who partook in this marathon. It was an adventure for all.

For the most part pictures were barely better than average but a few models were superb. Models could sign up for portrait, fashion or nudes. Minors were not present when nudes were photographed.

     Though intended for possible publication with a story by Terry Oblander, it never came about. My fault.

     I want to thank my wife Ann for her help and support in this endeavor.     

     Ott Gangl, photographer.

John Olesky here:

Being around Terry was like plunging into a vat of vibrant Irish whiskey. He was proud to call himself a “socialist” because he cared about those others discarded to the fringes of society. He was an ardent Guild supporter and negotiator. He seemed to have the DNA of Mother Jones and John L. Lewis in him. All with a splash of humor and a tad of loveable blarney.

Terry, we miss you. That’s not thunder we hear, but you regaling St. Peter with laughter.

To see some of the photos that Ott took during those 72 hours, click on  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Student newspaper out-reports Ann Arbor daily

The University of Michigan let its placekicker – usually the top scorer on a team – remain with the squad for four years after his 2009 violation of student sexual conduct policy until his athletic eligibility ended, then he was “permanently separated.”

But the Ann Arbor news, owned like the Plain Dealer by Advance Publications, printed nothing about the four-year pass. It was revealed by The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper.

The New York Times took note that student newspapers more and more are out-doing mainstream newspapers in investigative coverage.

To read former BJ political columnist/writing coach Abe Zaidain’s article, click on

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Harry’s son saves fellow runner

Bob Liggett, son of the late Harry Liggett, BJ newsroom retiree and founder of this BJ Alums blog, helped save a fellow runner who collapsed.

Bob explains:

One thing from today's run and I always live by: Never leave a runner who needs help. 

Mile 18 my friend running with me collapses. Go back to her and after a little while something had to be done ASAP. 

Broke off course to a campground and found two guys to help me carry my friend to the road. EMS came and she got checked over. She is doing much better. 

Did not finish today but finishing comes second. My friend's health comes first.

Bob is a University of Akron accounting graduate.

Brother Tom Liggett -- married to Susan and the parents of Erin Catherine and Anna Teresa -- plays with local bands. Tom and his Straight On band mates will perform at the Garrettsville Fire Relief Rock Concert April 26 (the concert runs from noon to 9 p.m., and Tom's group expect to take the stage at 7:45 p.m.).

Tom Liggett is Community Pregnancy Center director of development and a graduate of Hoban High and the University of Akron. 

Fact-checking politicians increases sharply world-wide

Fact-checking journalism, which won a 2009 Pulitzer for PolitiFact, has had dramatic growth around the world in the past decade.

So much expansion that the first global fact-checking summit will be held in June in London.

It’s the Snopes version of applying “true” or “false” to what politicians and government officials say, from the U.S. presidential elections to claims-spouters on every continent.

PolitiFact’s Pulitzer followed its fact-checking on Barrack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 presidential race.

Bill Adair, a Duke faculty member who was a founder of PolitiFact at the Tampa Bay Times, identified 59 fact-checking groups globally, including more than 15 in the United States.

To read the AFP global news agency article, click on

Saturday, April 12, 2014

If long-dead parent owes Uncle Sam, your tax refund will be confiscated

If the government overpaid your parent a half-century ago, they are taking it from your federal and state tax refunds today.

Hundreds of thousands are getting their tax refunds confiscated to pay the old debts, for such things as survivor benefits when today’s adult wasn’t even old enough to be in kindergarten.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds this year — $75 million for debts delinquent for more than 10 years.

You can blame one sentence tucked into a farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam three years ago. Since, the government has collected $424 million for debts more than a decade old.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Barbara Mikulski have asked that Social Security stop going after decades-old debt when the taxpayer involved was a child.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rise & fall of deaf printers at the BJ

As World War II amped up and the military sucked millions of traditional employees out of the work force, businesses looked elsewhere to keep their operations going.

Women were enticed into the workplaces like never before. Rosie the Riveter became commonplace.

And companies looked to those the military did not absorb, including those labeled 4-F for wartime service.

Firms had been hiring deaf employees decades before Hitler terrorized Europe. But military personnel needs accelerated the shift to women and those men not snapped up by the service branches.

One group were those who were deaf. Akron rubber shops began hiring the hearing-impaired. So did the Beacon Journal.

Their names are familiar to those who worked at the BJ:

James Beldon
John Bradley
Eddie Cooper
Dale Efferson
Richard Fair
Mike Goins
Earl Hartman
Emil Hartman
Robert Leland
Paul Midkiff
Ron Sanderlin
Moses Vance
William Weigand
Brian Westlake
Cecil Kolb
Don Reppart

And others that Composing retiree Mike Herchek, former BJ sports editor Ken Krause and newsroom retiree John Olesky couldn’t think of off the tops of their heads.

Clubs for the deaf proliferated in America in the 1940s and 1950s. Akron’s Club for the Deaf -- today at 2307 Sackett Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls – was founded in 1943. Others sprang up in Cleveland, Warren, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Cincinnati.

Clyde Wilson, who died in 2011, was a leader in organizing sports activities for the deaf: Founded the Tri-State Deaf Softball Association Tournament in 1940 and the National Deaf Basketball Association Tournament in 1944, was all-star leftfielder for the Akron Silents baseball team in the 1950s and was secretary-treasurer of the Ohio Deaf Bowling League for 19 years. 

The Firestone retiree wrote the “Akron History of the Deaf” book.

The number of clubs for the deaf has plummeted nationally since, and those that remain – mostly in the Midwest and the South -- have ever-dwindling memberships. One man reported that, while visiting the Akron club, he was the youngest person there, at 68!

The Akron club, which bought its own building, was open 24/7 during World War II, to accommodate deaf workers at Goodyear Aircraft. Nearly 1,000 deaf men and women worked in Akron defense industries (the rubber shops converted for wartime purposes).

The International Typographers Union rapidly added deaf printers to its rolls, including at the BJ. When World War II ended and the rubber companies went back to peacetime activities and downsized the number of workers, their deaf employees shifted to print shops and places like the BJ.

Printing remained a solid occupation till cold type and computerized production eviscerated composing rooms around the nation. So women, minorities and the deaf flocked to government jobs.

To read more about the rise and decline of clubs for the deaf in America, click on

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Abe names BJ buyout candidates

Former BJ political columnist and writing coach Abe Zaidan names the people he thinks will get the year's pay to leave the BJ staff. Management wants five buyouts.

Abe says Jewell Cardwell, Dave Scott, Jim Carney and Bill Lilley are on the list. Food writer Lisa Abraham resigned to accept the same job at the Columbus Dispatch. 

If more than five apply for the buyout and year's pay, Abe says, the top BJ editors will decide who to let out the door.
Garrettsville to rock to rebuild town 

Tom Liggett, son of the late Harry Liggett, BJ Alums founder, is getting ready to perform with his band mates April 26 at the Garrettsville Fire Rock Relief benefit concert. 

There will be eight bands, starting at noon and running till 9 p.m. Tom's mates think they'll hit the stage about 7:45 on that Saturday.

The concert will benefit the 13 Garrettsville businesses hit by the March 22 fire that wiped out an entire block of Main Street. All the proceeds of the Garrettsville fundraising, under guidance of the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce, will go into the Garrettsville Strong account at the Middlefield Bank in Garrettsville.

So have and will such fundraisers as T-shirt sales, haircuts/pedicures, fish frys, ribbons, beer-brewing, computer repairs, spaghetti dinners and chocolatiers. 

G-Plex donated the use of its site at 10340 Industrial Street in Garrettsville for the benefit concert. Admission is $10.

The crowd will bring blankets and lawn chairs. There will be refreshments and raffles. And plenty of rocking and rolling.

Tom Liggett is Community Pregnancy Center director of development and a graduate of Hoban High and the University of Akron.
Colbert to replace Letterman

David Letterman, Stephen Colbert
Four-time Emmy winner Stephen Colbert will succeed David Letterman as “The Late Show” host when Letterman retires after more than 20 years in 2015. 

The “Colbert Report” host will stay with Comedy Central through 2014.

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes that Colbert will not host on CBS as the characterized version of himself that he’s been playing for 17 years. “The Colbert Report” premiered on Comedy Central in 2005, a spin-off featuring the character Colbert launched on host John Stewart’s “The Daily Show” in 1997.

To read the Buzzfeed article, click on

PD & former BJ TV critic Mark Dawidziak says the move is great for CBS, but is it good for Colbert? To read Mark's article, click on

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Thrity’s 6th novel will be out Aug. 19
Former BJ reporter Thrity Umrigar’s upcoming 6th novel and 7th book is “The Story Hour,” scheduled for an Aug. 19th unveiling.

Posted Thrity on Facebook:

“Just got the advanced reader copy for the upcoming novel, ‘The Story Hour,’ and I must say, it feels as thrilling as the very first time I ever held a galley of one of my novels. I think they did a great job with the jacket.”

Bombay, India native Thrity’s previous novels are “Bombay Time” (2002), “The Space Between Us” (2007), “If Today be Sweet” (2008), “The Weight of Heaven” (2010) and “The World We Found” (2012), and all set in the country of her birth, as was her memoir, “First Darling of the Morning”  (2008).

After a childhood as a Parsi child in a middle-class family attending a Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu country, Thrity left India at the age of 21 to attend Ohio State University. Parsis are members of a small ethnic minority who came to India as political refugees from Persia more than 900 years ago and became one of India's most affluent and Westernized ethnic communities.

Why Ohio State? “I was sitting in my living room in Bombay, checking off a list of American universities that offered an M.A. in journalism, when my eyes fell on ‘Ohio State University.’ There was a Joan Baez record playing on the turntable and right then, her song, “Banks of the Ohio,” came on. I looked up and thought, ‘It's a sign,’ and decided to apply there.”

After Ohio State, Thrity began her reporting career with The Lorain Journal. Two years later, in 1987, she came to the BJ.

She left the Beacon to attend Harvard on a Nieman Fellowship, wrote “Bombay Time” and her author career took off.

In 2002 Thrity began teaching creative writing, journalism and literature at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ramping up & digital replica online

The BJ’s and digital replica online partners promise a lot of new bells and whistles on April 15th, which is the BJ’s 175th birthday.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Akron No. 18 in national obesity

The Akron metropolitan area is the 18th  most obese in the country, according to the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. Toledo metro area is 7th.

Huntington, West Virginia/Ashland, Kentucky is the fattest metropolitan area in America.

The national obesity rate has fattened up to 27.1 percent.

The skinniest city in the country is Boulder, Colorado, where Paula and I saw folks going to work with backpacks that they would use to hike in the Rocky Mountains after leaving the office.

RIP, Channels

By JOHN OLESKY (BJ, 1969-96)

Channels, the Beacon Journal’s weekly television guide, was born in January, 1981. It died in March, 2014, another victim of the overwhelming expansion of technology.

MBO, PD and NFL played roles in Channels’ birth.

Editor Dale Allen needed to come up with an MBO (Management by Objective) under his name, even though MBO effectiveness had been discredited by 1980 everywhere except by Knight Newspapers. The Plain Dealer unveiled its TV guide that embraced the burgeoning cable channels lineup.

And quarterback Brian Sipe was having a banner year for the Cleveland Browns that brought  him the Associated Press’ Most Valuable Player award and incredible TV ratings in Northeast Ohio when his team played.

And I was brought aboard to succeed George Davis as Television Editor because this new TV guide world was a complex technology, and I was the BJ newsroom’s electronics coordinator.

We three wise men – Allen, Features Editor Jim Nolan and myself – put our heads together and decided the perfect time to launch Channels would be on Super Bowl Sunday, 1981.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . Sipe threw a pass instead of the Browns going for a game-tying field goal against the Oakland Raiders (the famous Red Right 88 play that was intercepted), lost the AFC title game. So Channels would start without a push from having the Browns in the Siper Bowl, as we were going to call it.

I spent six months, with Nolan (who never used a vowel in his memos; who knows why) demanding new page proofs with every mockup, even if his only changes were to add punctuations. Hey, it brought me more than $10,000 in overtime pay in 1980, which would be equivalent to $30,400 today. And it paid for the Jones family with its Classic Pools company on Nimisila Road at Manchester Road to gouge a massive hole in my Cuyahoga Falls side yard and put in “the pool that Channels built.”

The technology still was crude, so it took someone skilled in formatting to handle Channels. And it turned the remainder of my career from been-there-done-that boredom to fresh excitement.

When the weekly alphabetized movie listings were longer than the space we had for it, I concocted a string-of-macros format for scrubbing out plotlines for films that had only 1- or 2-star ratings. This slowed down the BJ computer system so much that, after outcries from the copy desk, I had to wait till after the 3-star deadline before I could implement it.

This slowdown was so predictable that, when Knight-Ridder honchos came to the BJ to see if the Akron newspaper REALLY needed more powerful mainframes, Allen stopped by my desk and said, “Don’t bring us to a halt, but slow down the system.” I did. A convinced KR gave the BJ the money it wanted for a more powerful system.

It cost the BJ about $400,000 a year to have an outfit in Glen Falls, New York print the first Channels. Later, a Medina firm was used because they would do it cheaper. In recent years, the BJ began printing Channels in-house and saving even more money.

Now, by not putting out a television guide at all, the BJ has reduced the cost to zero.

When the BJ began printing Channels, the cable channels and local stations’ network programming fit onto one page. Today, Time Warner Cable has channels that go from 1 to 1,810. And a cable guide on your TV that tells you what’s on them all, even if the changes were made a day ago.

There’s just no way that newspapers can compete with that. So the BJ doesn’t any more.

RIP, Channels.

To read the explanation of Channels’ March march to death by Rich Heldenfels, the third of three editors who wrote for Channels under my guidance (after David Bianculli in 1981, and then Mark Dawidziak, still at the PD), click on