Friday, October 24, 2014


Author Thrity Umrigar, former BJ reporter, will be reading from her native India-setting 6th novel, “The Story Hour,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 in the Market Garden Brewery, 1947 West 25th Street in Ohio City, Cleveland.

The other reader for the Brews + Prose event will be Kevin Keating, famed sports autograph collector and author of “The Natural Order of Things,” a novel that features the abuse of animals, prostitutes, handicapped children and about every husband and wife in town.

·        Keating visited Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn at the lefty’s Broken Arrow, Oklahoma home, got his autograph and had his picture taken with the other half of Spahn and (Johnny) Sain and pray for rain of the Milwaukee Braves heydey. Spahn died a few days later in 2003.

Keating was Spahn’s player memorabilia agent for years.

Keating and his wife also were at the White House with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Thrity has been in the Brews + Prose spotlight before. Former BJ columnist and author David Giffels and PD Pulitzer winner Connie Schultz have appeared at the events, too.

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).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

There was a crowd from the BJ when Beth Angela Thomas and David Ralph Hertz were married in the Akron Civic Theater. That was Oct. 23, 1993.

Two children later (Alyssa and Josh), Beth and David are celebrating their 21st anniversary.

Facebooked Beth:
“21 years ago today I married my sweet hubby David Hertz. Can't believe how young we look! As he famously wrote in a poem for the occasion, ‘The joy of years together starts with the faith of youth.’ “
Ah, that Dave. He’s not Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but he’s in the same league. Well, the Triple-A version.

Responded Dave:
“Yes, 21 years ago today I married this cute redhead copy editor from the Akron Beacon Journal. Not much has changed, except we have two kids, two cats, sit through band competitions, attend Boy Scout campouts, swim meets, social media escapades, oh, and someone gets foot rubs on a semi-regular basis. I won't say who. Yeah, not much has changed in 21 years, and I wouldn't have it any other way.”
In 2006 Dave left the BJ, where he helped bring one of four Pulitzers to Ol’ Blue in 1994, to be vice president in media relations at Cleveland’s Dix & Eaton.

Beth, at the BJ 1991-1995 in page layout and design, became managing editor at the Cleveland Clinic Communications Department. After six years, she left to be a full-time freelance writer.

The Hertz household huddles happily in Copley.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

 Presidential Medal of Freedom for Bradlee in 2013
Post's Ben Bradlee dies

Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post’s executive editor when investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were bringing down President Nixon and the Watergate plumbers, died.

Jason Robards won an Oscar for portraying Bradlee in “All the President’s Men,” about the 1974 downfall and resignation of Nixon. Deep Throat took on a new meaning that it didn’t have in the XXX-rated movie of that name.

In 1971, Boston native Benjamin Crowninshield "Ben" Bradlee approved publication of the Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the Vietnam War was not going as political leaders portrayed it.

President Obama, who last year honored Bradlee with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said that Bradlee “set a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting.”

Bradlee was the Post’s executive editor from 1968 to 1991.

He was married three times and had four children.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nose cells make paralyzed man walk, drive a car again

Polish surgeons used nerve-supporting cells from a 38-year-old man paralyzed from the waist down that made his broken tissue heal his spinal cord enough so that he can walk with the aid of a walker. And drive a car.

Darek Fidyka, a Bulgarian injured four years ago, is believed to be the first person in the world to recover from complete severing of the spinal nerves. Sensation has returned to his lower limbs.

The surgery was performed by a Polish team led by Dr. Pawel Tabakow, from Wroclaw Medical University, and involved transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from the nose to the spinal cord.

OECs assist the repair of damaged nerves that transmit smell messages by opening up pathways for them to the olfactory bulbs in the forebrain.

Relocated to the spinal cord, they appear to enable the ends of severed nerve fibres to grow and join together – something that was previously thought to be impossible.

Don’t believe it? Click on

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sara Showman, Mark Dawidziak
Dawidziak & Sara resume the Civil War in Peninsula on Thursday
PD and former BJ TV & movie critic Mark Dawidziak and wife Sara Showman will give their third performance of "Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at the G.A.R. Hall, 1785 Main Street (Route 303), Peninsula.

Mark and Sara have been fighting this war on stage since 2013, when they kicked it off at the Nordonia Hills Branch of the Akron-Summit County Library.

The Largely Literary Theater Company production include poetry by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, as well as a terror tale by Ohio native and Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce. The show also features a special section about Abraham Lincoln.

Bob Dyer, who wrote the explosive series about televangelist Ernest Angley’s weird doings with his Grace Cathedral congregation, explains how he went about the two-month long project in this video.

This is not the smart-ass Dyer of his columns, where “I’m kidding” frequently follows some of his deliberately absurd sentences.

I’m trying to decide whether he’s Akron’s Woodward or Bernstein. In any event, a damn fine job of reporting. I see a lot of awards, maybe – although it’s a long shot – Pulitzer consideration.

Anyway, to watch and listen to our man Bob at the BJ, who has matured since our daily lunches together in the Blue Room, click on

This is proof that even a decimated BJ staff, by the standards of the 1996 newsroom size at my retirement, still can do some astounding work.

Apparently the Blue Room food didn’t contaminate Bob’s brain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Former BJ and national circulation giant John Murray passes away

John P. Murray, a Cuyahoga Falls resident whose career in circulation included the Beacon Journal and who was inducted into the National Circulation Director Hall of Fame in 2011, passed away Sunday, Oct. 12.

John Murray
The Louisiana State University marketing and economics graduate began his newspaper career in 1979 in Columbus, Georgia.

Murray was in Knight Ridder's Circulation Management Development Program. He also was vice president of audience development for the Newspaper Association of America, focusing on marketing as newspapers struggled to remain viable in the midst of the Internet avalanche. 

Murray was the point person on Audience Metric issues coordinating NAA/ABC Liaison committees.

Murray joined the Newspaper Association from the Fort Wayne, Indiana Newspapers, where he was circulation director for seven years. Murray managed Fort Wayne’s News Sentinel, a six-day afternoon newspaper and Journal Gazette, a seven-day morning publication.

In 2011 Murray told circulation executives that it was costing newspapers $450 a year to sign a subscriber paying $400, which meant advertising revenue was crucial to survival in the digital age.

Murray warned that the newspaper’s editorial side must “produce a relevant, compelling newspaper” that the occasional reader will reach for in the coffee shop, the doctor’s waiting room or while having his oil changed.

The message: With print audiences and advertisers eroding quickly, instead of spending effort and focus on propping up the fading business, newspapers should be dropping daily printed editions and go full-throttle into digital.

John Murray’s obituary:

CUYAHOGA FALLS -- John P. Murray, 59, passed away suddenly October 12, 2014. He was born in Pennsauken, N.J. and resided in Cuyahoga Falls for the past 20 years.
He retired from Knight-Ridder News with 25 years of service, with the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Akron Beacon Journal.
John had a passion for Life, was a great drummer and enjoyed playing music with his sons. In the past few years he had developed a love for astronomy, telescopes and now he walks among the stars.
He is survived by his wife, Kim, of 30 years; children, Ian (Rebeccah), Shawn (Kerrie), Joe (Carrie) and Sara; grandchildren, Madaleine, Willow, Gavin, Ella, Kathreine, Luke, Joey and Lileine; parents, Mary and Jack; brothers, Steven (Maggie), Richard (Mary), David and James (Nancy); and many nieces and nephews; cat, Baby.
Shine on.

Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 17 in the Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home, 1930 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 313 N. Depeyster, Kent, OH 44240. In lieu of other remembrances, memorials may be made to Memorial Fund for John Murray, c/o Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home. To send condolences or sign the guest book visit

Monday, October 13, 2014

Katie, Sarah and Cheryl home . . . finally!

Katie Byard, Sarah Vradenburg and Cheryl Miller slept in their own beds Monday night after surviving three days in a Paris airport after their plane turned back with engine trouble.
Posted Katie:
Alfie welcomed her, then the family dog resumed staring at squirrels.
Retired BJ reporter Jim Carney, Katie’s husband, welcomed her, too, then headed for his week’s talk show gig on WAKR 1590 radio.

Katie Byard

BJ reporter Katie Byard, former Editorial Board retiree Sarah Vradenburg and Firestone High grad Cheryl Miller, once at Akron Children’s Hospital, who lives in Canal Fulton were flying from Paris to America, but engine trouble east of Iceland caused the plane to turn back to Paris, which by that time was three to four hours away. 

Then came three days of waiting in Paris airports for flights in an already overloaded  situation.

Sacre bleu!

Sarah wrote that they made it to Atlanta (Monday, Oct. 13) and then . . . Well, let Sarah tell it:
Sarah Vradenburg
Sitting in Atlanta airport after being held hostage by Air France/Delta for three days being told we cannot have the flight home we were promised because it was full. But not with us.
Good news is we get home tonight. Bad news is Delta has made me lose my good sense of humor. It's not a pretty sight.
Then Sarah posts a photo that “is a dark shot of about 400 people in line trying to get someplace after an Air France pilot turned around mid-flight and dumped us all into a system that's already overloaded.”
Quips Katie:
Is it a canceled flight if it begins and then turns around? Sounds like a one-hand clapping joke, but it wasn't funny if you were caught in the quagmire of confusion.
Very kind, hard-working Air France employee Stephanie was trying to figure out how to get us to Cleveland (from Paris) today. She couldn't -- hence the second overnight stay in an airport. hotel. Note the little felt garlic in the right-hand corner of this shot of the computer terminal. Margaret - one of our traveling crew - brought him -- Garleeky -- along on the trip as our travel mascot!
There's me waiting in line. That's Nico from the Netherlands in the background. He and his wife were on their way to visit a daughter who lives in Denver. They were fun line companions! I think his lively wife is sitting on a luggage cart or a suitcase.
People would stand, sit on suit cases etc., inching up every ten minutes or so, remark how long it was taking for Air France to find alternative flights, do weird stretches. show each other pictures in their cell phones or tablets. Read books, kindles, and that's pretty much how the day went.
After the eight-hour wait on line at the airport - with only breaks to go to the bathroom, make quick purchases from the nearby gift shop, and to get weak Nescafé from the coffee machine -- whine, whine -- we were too exhausted to do anything but eat the buffet supper provided to us weary travelers in the hotel lobby this evening.
I pretty much had choc mousse, some creamy cauliflower thing and wine for dinner.
We have to be back at the airport -- about a 15-minute shuttle drive through a Montrosey area with French signs -- at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow --Monday -- so no touring!
Watching a piece on over-timbering in Alaska on The Weekly world news. It is a small world.
Met a woman here at the hotel from New Zealand. She just got done walking the El Camino trail in Spain all by herself, took her 40 days. She said it was an amazing experience. Hmmmmm. Not too sorry Jamesy! Glad to be heading home -- finally !!! -- tomorrow!
Katie, Sarah and Cheryl were enjoying Lucca, Italy Friday on a whirlwind tour of Italy. They left Lucca for Paris and a Saturday flight to Ohio.
Getting from Siena to Pisa to Lucca to Paris was fairly uneventful.

Ah, but they’ll always have Paris – in their nightmares!

Look at the bright side, K, S and C: You could collaborate on a book that would be a best-seller made into a movie that would rival National Lampoon’s “Vacation” film series.

To see the earlier story on their misadventures, click on
Carney on WAKR this week

Retired BJ reporter Jim Carney is on WAKR 1590 this week from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Monday’s guests were BJ publisher Mark Cohen; Edie Deyarmin, mother of Lance Cpl. Daniel Nathan Deyarmin, Jr., killed in Iraq in 2005; Duane Crabbs of South Street Ministries; marathon runners Zeke Petrie and Andre Travis.

Jim was a radio guy before he began his BJ career. Jim retired in May after 35 years at Ol’ Blue.

Jim is subbing for Jasen Sokol, a Baldwin Wallace grad and Kent State grad assistant who was producer of WKSU’s “Morning Edition” before migrating to WAKR.

The radio gig will give Jim something to do while he waits for wife Katie Byard, a BJ reporter, to get a flight home from Paris. Hopefully, this time her plane won’t have to return to Paris after nearly reaching Iceland.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Forced abortions, vasectomies by Angley?

BJ columnist Bob Dyer usually fills his writing with humor.

But the bombshell series by Dyer that began in Sunday’s BJ is far from funny.

It details accusations of forced abortions and vasectomies and an Akron version of James Jones’ Kool-Aid cult at evangelist Ernest Angley’s Grace Cathedral.

To read Bob’s astounding article on the BJ’s front page, go to

When the first Ebola case hit Firestone’s plantation March 30 in Harbel, Liberia, the company swung into action.

Ed Garcia, the managing director of Firestone Liberia, redirected his entire management structure toward Ebola.

Firestone’s Harbel hospital set up Ebola wards. Hundreds exposed to Ebola were quarantined in other plantation facilities, including the closed schools.

Seventy two cases were reported in Harbel, including people who came from neighboring towns.

The swift action worked. 

Today, the only Ebola cases remaining on the 185-square-mile plantation are in patients who came from those neighboring towns.

Harbel is a company town not far from the capital city of Monrovia. It was named in 1926 after the founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Harvey, and his wife, Idabelle.

Take a hike, Stuart

Former BJ writing coach and PD editor Stuart Warner, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona with wife Debbie Van Tassel, also former BJ and PD staffer, took some steep steps forward in his recovery from his July shoulder replacement surgery.

Stuart explains:
“First hike in the mountains since surgery on July 21. Not ready to take it to the top yet.”
Debbie works at the Arizona Republic.

The Mad Hatter was a lecturer at Case Western Reserve before going West.

Stuart came to the BJ (1979-99) after 10 years with Knight-Ridder's Lexington newspaper. He was at the PD 1999-2008, and advanced to writing coach and projects editor.