Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel dies at 96

Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis "Studs" Terkel died at his home on the North Side today. He was 96.

Beset in recent years by a variety of ailments and the woes of age, which inc
luded being virtually deaf, Terkel's health took a turn for the worse when he suffered a fall in his home two weeks ago.

Louis Terkel arrived in Chicago as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched--in its energy, its swagger, its charms, it
s heart--his own personality. They made a perfect and enduring pair.

At his bedside was a copy of his latest book, "P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening," scheduled for a November release. He was 96 years old.

It is hard to imagine a fuller life.

A television institution for years, a radio staple for decades, a literary lion since 1967, when he wrote his first best-selling book at the age of 55, Terkel was born in New York City on May 16, 1912. "I came up the year the Titanic went down," he would often say.

He moved with his family when they purchased the Wells-Grand Hotel, a rooming house catering to a wide and colorful variety of people. He supplemented the life experiences. there by visits to Bughouse Square, the park across the street from the Newberry Library that was at the time home to all manner of soap box orators.

"I doubt whether I learned very much [at the park]," Terkel wrote. "One thing I know: I delighted in it. Perhaps none of it made any sense, save one kind: sense of life."

Read the full obituary in the Chicago Tribune

See a gallery of photos

100,000 visitors!


Congratulations on your blog reaching the 100,000 visitor mark today! Thank you for creating and maintaining this venue for all of us to enjoy and use to stay connected.

Someone out there must have a "We Light Up Your Life" bumper sticker or something to award to visitor No. 100,000! (According to the SiteMeter data, it was someone with an AOL email address.)

Stay well, Ken Krause

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tom Moore back in Florida with Roy Hobbs

Here's Tom Moore back in florida again with Tom Giffen and the
Hobbs World Series

"These are my three 'bodyguards,'" writes Moore "They're three
great guys, members of the Hobbs staff
and also certified umpires. Tthey

are the Martin brothers and they're from Akron."

Post updated to correct last name of the umpires.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CNN to provide new wire service

CNN is courting newspapers -- and possibly competing with The Associated Press -- with a new wire service the cable network plans to launch soon, with plans for an all-expenses-paid, three-day summit in December to show off its news gathering capabilities.

In a letter to numerous newspaper editors, CNN is boasting its new CNN Wire will "provide stories of interest to your newspaper and online readers -- breaking news, national, international, business, politics, consumer, medical, and more. We are talking to a variety of newspapers and newspaper groups, large and small, about this project."

The letter, sent last week from Joe Middelburg, CNN Newsource Sales' vice president of sales & affiliate relations, adds: "Like most major news organizations, CNN has its own internal wire service to provide original reporting on world news. With a worldwide staff of 3,800 people, 22 international bureaus, soon to be 15 domestic bureaus (including Seattle), 900 North American TV broadcast affiliates, a Web site, and a radio network, we are able to maintain a strong flow of up-to-the-minute stories. We now believe we have the base to offer this service to other news organizations."

Click on the headline to read the full story by Joe Strupp in Editor & Publisher

Time Inc. to cut magazine work force 6 percent

Time Inc., the world’s largest magazine publisher, plans to cut 6 percent of its work force — more than 600 positions — and will revamp the organization in a way that could radically alter the culture at the company.

The company outlined the overhaul on Tuesday evening in a memorandum to employees after The New York Times revealed the cuts on its Web site. The layoffs will begin in about two weeks.

No magazines are scheduled to close, but some are likely to be severely cut back. Ann S. Moore, Time Inc.’s chairman and chief executive, was already planning an overhaul because of the upheavals in print media, but she was forced to speed up those efforts amid the financial crisis and looming recession.

Time Inc.’s 24 magazines in the United States and their Web sites will be organized into three divisions: news, which will include Fortune, Money, Time and Sports Illustrated; lifestyle titles, which include Real Simple, Cottage Living, Coastal Living and Southern Living, among others; and style and entertainment, which includes People, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly, which has suffered a severe downturn and is likely to be whittled down under the new structure.

Click on the headline to read the full story in the New York Times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christian Science Monitor to print only weekend

The Christian Science Monitor today announced it will drop its daily print edition early next year and focus on growing audience and advertising on its website. After April 1, it will publish only a weekend edition in print.

Celebrating its 100th birthday this month and next, is the most prominent newspaper to date to take the online plunge. But, like some of the others that have quit daily print publication t
his year, it has special circumstances that would not apply to the typical metro daily. In the Monitor's case, those circumstance include a modest circulation -- about 50,000 -- combined with national distribution.

Also, it is owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist, which has been willing to underwrite operating shortfalls though the years but not the big losses that come in the current deteriorating print

Both the print and Web versions of the Monitor are light on advertising. So unlike most dailies, it will save substantially on printing, paper and distribution without an enormous sacrifice of premium-priced print advertising revenue.

Editor & Publisher reported that the Monitor expects to save $4 million in the first year, but will lose about $5 million in revenue.

LA Times to cut news staff by 10 percent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Times plans to cut 75 jobs, or 10 percent of its news staff.

The cuts are comparable in scale to some that the Times made on the business side of its operations last week, Editor Russ Stanton told employees in an e-mail message that the Times posted on its website on Monday.

"The growing economic downturn is forcing us to undergo another round of job reductions and cost cuts," Stanton wrote. "I appreciate your patience, understanding and cooperation during this difficult period."

It is the second round of news staff layoffs since a previous round was announced in July. The paper has offered buyouts and has cut back staff levels in its news operations from a high of some 1,200 a bit less than a decade ago.

The Times is the largest daily paper owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co, which also publishes The Sun in Baltimore, the Hartford Courant and the Orlando Sentinel. It also is one of the largest U.S. papers, with circulation of about 780,000.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Big newspapers show major circulation drops

The latest figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations released show major drops in circulation at the big metros.

According to ABC for the 507 newspapers reporting in this period, daily circulation slipped 4.6% to 38,165,848 copies. For the 571 papers, Sunday dropped 4.8% to 43,631,646 copies.

For comparison purposes, in September 2007 reporting period, daily circulation fell 2.6% and Sunday was down 4.6%.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer circulation was done 8.58 per cent.

Here are the figures of the top 25:

USA TODAY -- 2,293,310 -- 0.01%
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL -- 2,011,999 -- 0.01%
NEW YORK TIMES -- 1,000,665 -- (-3.58%)
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- 739,147 -- (-5.20%)
DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK -- 632,595 -- (-7.16%)

NEW YORK POST -- 625,421 -- (-6.25%)
THE WASHINGTON POST -- 622,714 -- (-1.94%)
CHICAGO TRIBUNE -- 516,032 -- (-7.75%)
HOUSTON CHRONICLE -- 448,271 -- (-11.66%)
NEWSDAY -- 377,517 -- (-2.58%)

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC -- 361,333 -- (-5.51%)
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- 339,430 -- (-7.07%)
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS -- 338,933 -- (-9.28%)
BOSTON GLOBE -- 323,983 -- (-10.18%)
STAR TRIBUNE, MINNEAPOLIS -- 322,360 -- (-4.26%)

STAR-LEDGER, NEWARK, N.J. -- 316,280 -- (-10.40%)
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES -- 313,176 -- (-3.94%)
PLAIN DEALER, CLEVELAND -- 305,529 -- (-8.58%)
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER -- 300,674 -- (-11.06%)
DETROIT FREE PRESS -- 298,243 -- (-6.84%)

THE OREGONIAN -- 283,321 -- (-8.45%)
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE -- 269,819 -- (-3.00%)
ST. PETERSBURG (FLA.) TIMES -- 268,935 -- (-6.88%)
THE SACRAMENTO BEE -- 253,249 -- (-4.22%)

Kinght Center director found dead

Carol Horner, 63, the director of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland since 2000, was found dead in her Washington home Friday.

The former Philaelphia Inquirer reporter had been battling debilitating migraines for month
s. Friends and coworkers said she was suffering from another headache Thursday.

A cause of death had not been determined.

"Carol was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known," said Thomas Kunkel, former dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at Maryland. "She was an amazing journalist but also just a great spirit."

As head of the center, she brought journalists to College Park for weeklong programs led by experts on specialized topics, such as nuclear energy and the business of sports.

A native of Richmond, Va., and a 1967 graduate of the College of William and Mary, Ms. Horner started out teaching English in North Carolina and Virginia. After earning a master's degree in journalism from American University, she landed a reporting job at the Record of Bergen County in New Jersey in 1973. She wrote editorials at the former Philadelphia Bulletin and joined The Inquirer's reporting staff in early 1979.

Ms. Horner is survived by her father, Overton Jones; her stepmother, Kathryn H. Jones; a sister, Vivian "Vee" J. Davis; stepbrothers Bryan Jones and Gary Jones; a nephew; and a niece.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Music Critics protest to PD editor

The Music Critics Association of North America write in an Oct. 21 letter to Plain Dealer editor Susan Goldberg: "The decision to reassign our colleague, Don Rosenberg, and remove him from the duty of reviewing the Cleveland Orchestra has shocked the journalistic and music worlds.

Among those signing the letter is former BJ staffer John von Rhein, now Chicago Tribune critic.

Click on the headline to read the full letter reprinted in our Commentary section on the website.

Smart Tony dumped his McClatchy stock

This article is reprtined from "Reflections of a Newsosaur," a blog by Allen D. Nutter, former editor turned critic:

How the shrewder CEO cashed out at MNI
The year 2007 was a tough one at the McClatchy Co., as it struggled to integrate the complex and costly acquisition of Knight Ridder at the same time a steady deterioration in advertising sales began picking up steam.

But the company seemed to be in luck. It had not one, but two, experienced chief executives on its board of directors – the incumbent Gary Pruitt and former Knight Ridder boss Tony Ridder.

Unfortunately for MNI shareholders, the shrewder one evidently got away. Tony left the board in May.

Before he departed, however, Tony demonstrated his superior wisdom by dumping at least 87% of his MNI stock, according to filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission. In transactions completed as of Nov. 30, 2007, he netted $3.6 million at an average price of $39.61 per share, or roughly 10.7 times more than the stock would be worth today at its close of $3.69 a share.

Gary Pruitt, the guy who stuck around, did hedge his bets to some degree, selling about half his shares as of Feb. 4, 2008. Gary collected $3.1 million at an average price of $32.59 per share, or roughly 8.8 times more than the stock would be worth today.

After being paid some $20.6 million for engineering the sale of KRI to McClatchy in the summer of 2006, Tony probably wasn’t hard up for cash. So, his decision to liquidate nearly all of his McClatchy holdings suggests that he suspected things were not going swimmingly in Sacramento.

Could Tony have been alarmed by the burden of the more than $2 billion in debt that MNI shouldered to help fund the $4 billion-plus KRI acquisition?

Was Tony worried about the company’s inability to develop cutting-edge products and strategies to create new sources of revenue in response to the quickening decline in the traditional newspaper advertising business?

Did he doubt the discipline of management to aggressively cut expenses enough to fund the transition of the business away from its print legacy and into the digital future?

Or, was Tony simply concerned that McClatchy’s senior managers were too inbred and too self-absorbed to objectively face up to the company’s growing problems?

These issues evidently were clear enough to motivate Tony to get out while the getting was good.

So, you have to wonder: Did Gary miss them? Or just not know what to do?

Disclosure: I own MNI shares

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Update from Barb (Galloway) Mudrak

Here's an update from Barb (Galloway) Mudrak:

After taking a buyout in 2001 after 23 1/2 years at the BJ, I went back to Mount Union to get my teaching license. Since the fall of 2003, I've been teaching English and Journalism - and being the adviser for the illustrious Red and Blue Flyer - at Alliance High School. Still living on the farm in Columbiana County with Pete and two boys, one at KSU, one in
grad school at Auburn.

Here's Barb's email address:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CNN may be on hiring binge, Kavanagh reports

Heartening words from Jim Kavanagh:

Word is that and are about to go on something of a hiring binge. Those who want to give it a shot should check and/or send resumes to (that's for news jobs in Atlanta) or for CNNMoney (business news) in New York.

These are not reporting jobs only. Copy editors, designers and people with graphics and photo skills (for a position they call associate producer) also will be needed.

CNN also is planning to open numerous one-person bureaus all over the country, including Columbus. The candidate should be able to take photos and use audio and video equipment competently, as well as report and write. They will be feeding both the broadcast and online operations. Could be an exciting opportunity for the right person.

If I get more or better information I'll pass it along.

Jim Kavanagh

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McClatchy posts profit, but ad revenue falls

NEW YORK (Reuters) - McClatchy Co posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, but advertising revenue fell 19 percent because of the weak economy and changes buffeting the newspaper business.

The results illustrate how U.S. newspaper companies are struggling with a deteriorating business and few options for growing revenue. Internet results are improving, but they still cannot compensate for declines in print advertising, long the staple ingredient of their business.

"Our advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2008 continued to be hurt by the weak economy, and, to a lesser extent, the secular shift in advertising to the Internet," Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a statement.

The ad climate does not look like it will improve any time soon. So far, October ad revenue is performing similar to September, the Sacramento, California-based McClatchy said.

Still, McClatchy's third-quarter profit, excluding special items, beat Wall Street's expectations by 4 cents a share as the company worked to cut costs and restructure.

McClathy will stick with AP

This report from Mark Fitzgerald, Editor & Publisher:

McClatchy Co. is not going to the join the chains bolting The Associated Press, Chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt told analysts Tuesday.

"McClatchy has recently signed a new deal with AP, so we are not part of the group that is giving notice," Pruitt said in response to a question during a conference call to discuss McClatchy's third-quarter earnings report.

"We are pleased we had a rate reduction from AP. That doesn't mean all our editors are pleased with AP or that we don't have issues with AP, but we don't plan at this point to give notice."

In recent weeks, a number of papers, including all nine Tribune Co. dailies, have given AP the required two-years notice to drop the wire service.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guregian accepts job with Cleveland orchestra

Friday will be music critic Elaine Guregain's last working day at the Beacon Journal.

Guregian has accepted a position as communications manager for the Cleveland Orchestra beginning October 31. Her position is a newly-created one for the orchestra.

Guregian has been an employe of the Beacon Journal for 18 years. Her first day at the BJ was March 19, 1990

Rx from Abbott: Bob Brown case


Here's the first of the latest developments with the BJ.

This involves a stereotyper (moved to paperhandling when that department was eliminated) named Bob Brown. I did get his permission to use his name when I talked to him last week.

What he has done is taken the BJ to Small Claims Court in Tenn. about their cutting off his medical and Rx coverage.

And he won! As I understand it, he has received several checks for some monies concerning that judgment. He had cashed one but not the others because the BJ had stipulated that by accepting those checks he was relinquishing future claims related to the action.

While I'm not sure of the exact amounts (I didn't feel comfortable asking that detail) it was definitely in the thousands. A lot of the claims resulted from the BJ's lack of coverage (medical, hospital and Rx) concerning his wife's (and partially his) medical problems. He lost his wife about a year ago.

At this point, since he didn't sign away his right for future claims or some ongoing claims, the BJ is now fighting him on those points. Their position is that the Tenn. small claims court doesn't have jurisdiction over the matter. While I'm definitely not a lawyer (but I'm starting to feel like a Philadelphia lawyer!) it's my belief that a small claims action can be brought against anybody for any reason...we'll see.

A point I would like to bring up here is the obvious. Since the BJ is owned by Canada's Mr. Black and I'm pretty sure the BJ is his only U.S. can imagine the cost of their answering legal actions anywhere but Akron, OH. I'm reasonably certain they don't have legal counsel ready to go all over the country. So they probably have to hire local counsel to represent them. Get the picture? The only way we can get the BJ to live up to their obligations is to make it more expensive not to. I would imagine this is the reason they tried to "buy off" Bob Brown. It's cheaper.

I believe this might have some real potential...especially with those retirees in other states (of which there are many).

And that why I'm urging everybody to keep all medical, Rx and any other bills that the BJ insurance should have paid but didn't. It would be necessary to have proof of the BJ's failure to meet their obligations.

Bob Brown says that the BJ cut off all his and his wife's coverages. The counsel I've been working with has also said that if the BJ does that...we would have a strong case. So far...and realize the limitations of our previous legal "investigation" into the BJ's "forcing" those over 65 to sign up with Aetna Rx/Medicare plan. They haven't cut me off yet. But this is a whole new ball game!!

I will repeat something Attorney Piatt told me. The courts generally accept the contract in effect at the time of retirement/separation. And whatever benefits you had been getting at that point, wether it's in writing in the contract or not, it is valid. So, if your contract said you would get medical/hospital coverage, you have a case if you don't get that coverage. If you were getting a prescription card or have a case if they cut you off.

Can you see the potential? Not in my personal case, at this point, but for many of the retirees that I have talked to that have, indeed, been cut off.

While I don't have Mr. Brown's permission to give out his address or phone number, if anybody needs to talk to him please get in touch with me and I will try to handle it on a one on one basis.

He has said he will keep me up to speed with the developments of the ongoing small claims actions and the BJ's stance. I will then pass the info along as it develops.

It ain't over!!

bob abbott

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gil Beorn, retired mailer's president 25 years

Gilbert Eugene Beorn

Gilbert Eugene Beorn February 1, 1910 to October 16, 2008

Gilbert was preceded in death by Opal, his loving wife of 67 years. He was the beloved father of Carol Lee Denholm (Paul), Darla Padgett (Lee), David Beorn, and Laura Modzel (Joe); Father-in-law of Betty Hobbs; grandfather of Tim, Mike, David, Dean (Vicky), Scott, Lisa (Jonathan), Tina (Guy), and David; great-grandfather of Sean, Conner, Ashley, Austin, Justin, Jordan, Laci, Rachel, and Taylor. Gilbert was a proud employee of The Akron Beacon Journal for 45 years and held many offices in the Mailers Union, including president, for 25 years. He was a leader in Methodist Men for many years and enjoyed bowling, golfing, tennis, bike riding, and swimming. He and Opal loved traveling the country together, having owned seventeen travel trailers over the years. He loved his family dearly. He was an exceptional man who was always kind, and he will be missed immensely by those he has left behind.

Services to be held Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at Phoenix Memorial Park, 200 W. Beardsley Road, Phoenix, AZ.

[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Sunday, October 19, 2008, page B5, col. 4 ]

Beorn Family
16225 N. Cave Creek Rd

Space 28

Phoenix, AZ 85032

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Retired mailer Gil Beorn dies at 98

Gil Beorn of of Pheonix, AZ, a 1972 retiree of the BJ mailroom, died Thursday, October 16, at the age of 98, his daughter, Laura, reports..

Gil woul
d have been 99 years old in Febutrary,

Gil’s wife, Opal Christina, died on April 5, 2008 at the age of 88. Tney were married for 67 years. Gil then moved in with his son.

A brother, Ralph, and son, David also were mailers. Gil was one of the regular viewers of this blog. This is a photo which ran with a post about him in February, 2007. Type Beorn in the search box at the top left to see more photos and a list of former mailers.

We are exoecting a full obituary soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rx info from Bob Abbott


There are some very interesting developments in the BJ retirement situation.

At this point...since I'm still reading some legal cases...I would prefer to (at this time) only bring up what has personally happened in my situation.

As you might recall, I ran into problems with my part A & B Medicare medical coverage due to the fact that the BJ had forced all of us over age 65 to sign up with the Aetna Rx program. This was brought out in the fact that I couldn't sign up for any "Advantage" programs covering the Medicare part A & B. Medicare doesn't "split" their payments when sub contracting out the medical/Rx coverages. It turned out to be a nightmare of coverages, cancellations, reinstatements to get it straightened out.

To make a long story short, after contacting attorney Piatt with the information that the BJ's actions greatly limited my options of other medical coverages, it was determined that the BJ still hadn't denied me the prescription coverage. And the attorney was the one that wanted me to contact him when all this was to the limitations forced upon me. I don't get it I guess...

However, he did restate the fact that if the BJ ever cut off (in this case) the Rx coverage that then there would be a strong case. I am assuming that this also would apply to anybody that had their medical or Rx totally cut off (or greatly limited). And that's the next direction we're going...

While our "slush fund" has been shut down at this point we may need to get something started some new directions.

Meanwhile, I ask that all of you keep ALL medical and ALL Rx bills that you may incur. This could be of great advantage in the future and give you proof of injury by the BJ's actions.

Please, keep talking to as many people with legal knowledge (it is paying off in with some new relevant information) as you can. Several of the group have been "shaking the bushes" and it's interesting what's falling out.

I will try to explain the new info within the next week or two and we'll see if we can make some progress.

thanks for your patience...

bob abbott

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Check the new name of our blog above

Choosing a new name for the blog formerly called BJ Retirees was a no-brainer. From now on we will call it BJ Alums. Our website also will carry the new designation which better fits our role. More than half of our viewers are probably just former Beacon Journal employes rather than retirees. If they are retirees, then it is from some other news media or other occupation.

We also renamed a couple of the links at left to get rid of the retiree misnomer. No need to change your bookmarks or favorites since our url was kept.

So now you can be a member of our happy family without the stigma of being retired.

This blog guy still loves retirement very much.

18 added to our Blog Wall of Honor

As it turns out, the buyouts this year have turned out to be more devastating in a way than those of two years ago.

On September 27, 2006 we set up the "Blog Wall of Honor." It included the names and years of service for 18 members of the editorial staff who volunteered to leave often in the hope of saving someone else's job after the company announced a layoff of one-fourth of the staff.

Today we added a list from October 3, 2008 of 18 others who accepted buyouts and thus avoided layoffs announced by the company.

There are others, of course, who have lost their jobs of left since McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder and the BJ was purchased by David Black. The demise of the Knight Ridder chain was toasted by a "BJ end of the era party " on June 27,2006

Somebody needs to go back through the archives of this blog to put the whole history in some sort of chronological order.

The September, 2006 list includes 18 veterans with 291 years of service.

The October, 2008 list includes 18 veterans with 327 years of service.

The Guild roster now includes only about 70.

It is our hope that the recent "volunteers" will keep us informed about where they go and what they do. We also invite any of them to send us a "swan song" on their leaving.

Please click on the headline to see the new Blog Wall of Honor. You also might want to check out a little quiz we had on the earlier departures,.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Akron News Now explains how it is now

Akron News Now (that's your old local radio news station now blogging on the web) posted the latest on the buyout at the Beacon Journal. The links we tried would not let us listen to Warsmith, but the post says briefly "The outlook is hopeful and the layoffs are no more" so it's "bittersweet" and "very sad."

Here's the post:

The outlook is hopeful and the layoffs are no more according to the union representing the Akron Beacon Journal.

Union Representative Stephanie Warsmith said 18 employees took one of the two offered buyout packages.

"It's kind of bittersweet, because we're glad that nobody is being forced to leave, but at the same time it's very sad," she said.

Calling it quits after 38 years

Chuck Montague and Ted Schneider Jr. all packed up and ready for a traditional BJ party

Here are just two photos from one
of those traditional going away parties
for two at the BJ.
Chuck Montague and
Ted Schneider Jr. each had 28 years.
There are at least 16 others who will depart.
How many parties
can you have?

So why is Kathy Fraze looking so cheerful? She is left holding
down the fort after losing 18 staffers. Maybe that bottle helps.

Friday, October 10, 2008

USA Today price going to $1

USA Today said Friday it will raise its newsstand price by 25 cents to $1 to offset rising newsprint costs.

The 33 percent increase could affect the nation's highest-circulation newspaper more than price hikes affect the other two national newspapers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, because USA Today is more dependent on single-copy sales. The cost of the Times went up 25 cents in August, while the Journal's price rose 50 cents in July.

Even after the increase, USA Today's newsstand price will be less than the $1.50 now charged for weekday editions of the Times and $2 for the Journal.

Neither home delivery rates nor distribution agreements with hotels will be affected by the newsstand price increase for Gannett Co.'s flagship newspaper, which takes effect on Dec. 8. One-third of USA Today's sales are in hotel-guest copies.

Are we ready for a name change?

Probably more than half of our viewers are not retired employes of the Beacon Journal, so "BJ Retirees" is not a name that fits this blog.. There are many former BJ types who have left the newspaper for far-off lands like Paris, LA, DC, New Zealand and elsewhere. They may be retired or even doing another kind of work.

Before the blog, when we just kept a list of BJ email addresses, the name might have fit a little better. When we put up the website as a place for longer pieces and commentary, it was named "BJ Retirees' as a better fit.

Now it seems, it is time for a name change.

Because of the current buyout (because we did not want to lose them, too), we have been asking those who will no longer reside at the corner of Exchange and High streets to give us their new, non BJ, email address. We also want to add them to our Address list. It might be painful for some to think of themselves as retirees when they are just hoping to change jobs.

The postal address list originally was one provided by the company which used to compile a list around Christmas each year to mail out in an employee newsletter. They can no longer provide that list and we already have added many who are just BJ types now living elsewhere. It is difficult to keep such a list current but we try.

We already have decided to change that link at the left which says "Retiree Address List" to simply" Address List" and the link that says "Retirees Website" to simply "Our Website." That leaves the page header which still says "BJ Retirees" so we are asking for suggestions on a name change. We could just make it BJ Retirees et. al. except there are probably more et. al. types than retiree types. We must continue to keep the BJ, but what other short title will describe us. We already have rejected BJ Goners and BJ hasbins. Maybe we all are, after all, just "BJ Retirees." What say you?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Keeping up with departures

It is difficult keeping up with all the departures.

Only one of the 18 staff members listed in our earlier post on buyouts still may have an opportunity to rescind. You can say goodybye to all but Elaine Guregian who is still tentative if our information is correct.

Carl Chancellor, Dave Giffels and Ann Mezger have agreed to stay until after the election.

Here is the departure list then as we know it:

Last Week:
Clerk Telli Gulledge, service not known

Tracy Wheeler, reporter, 11 years
Ken Love, photographer, 11 years
Brian Windhorst, reporter, on October 3, 12 years

Today, October 9
Connie Bloom, reporter 34 years
Charles Montague, copy editor, 38 years

Friday, October 10

Dennis Earlenbaugh, artist, 32 years
Diane Leeders, librarian, 23 years
Ted R. Schnedier Jr., copy editor, 38 years

Saturday, October 11
Mitch McKenney, manager, service unknown

Friday, October 19
Lew Stamp, photographer, 30 years
Betsy Lammerding, copy editor, 35 years

Please send any additions or corrections to

If you are leaving, PLEASE be sure to send us a new email address to replace the Beacon Journal email address we may have for you.

We also like to keep a list of postal (mailing) addresses, so please forward yours.

Cleveland Museum painting on stamp

An Italian Renaissance painting from the Cleveland Museum of Art will adorn millions of postage stamps this holiday season.

The U.S. Postal Service has chosen Sandro Botticelli's "Virgin and Child with the Young John the Baptist" as its 2008 Christmas stamp.

Six hundred million copies of the 42-cent stamp will be printed.

The postal service scours art museums across the U.S. to find an image of Mary and the baby Jesus to feature on the stamp each holiday season.

The Cleveland painting was chosen by a committee that sifted through about 50,000 proposals, a number received every year.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How dare they write about BJ boss that way

It is best for a blog like ours to use a source you hope you can trust. In this case, however, an exception is granted as a change of pace from the maddening too-close-to-Christmas buyout climate. It’s from a blog called the Voice of San Diego discussing the possible sale of the Sen Diego Union-Tribune

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 Two months after it put itself up for sale, The San Diego Union-Tribune has been courted by four major suitors. One's premier property is a famous Gray Lady. Two are run by larger-than-life CEOs who send their newsroom employees running for the Excedrin. And the fourth is a little-known dark horse from Canada whose name is mud in Akron.

All the companies -- New York Times Co., MediaNews Group, Tribune Co. and Black Press, Ltd. -- would have to overcome major financial hurdles in order to buy the U-T, which announced in July that it's up for sale. The entire newspaper industry is in a major slump, and the economy's credit crunch could make it impossible for the companies to borrow the money needed for the purchase.

Another complication: some local businesspeople are said to have their eyes on the paper, although none of them would confirm their interest to

Then there's the state of the U-T itself: Would a newspaper company even want this property? The U-T has suffered from sliding circulation and rapid declines in advertising, and some of its most talented and well-known journalists have left during rounds of buyouts.

On the other hand, the U-T's dire straits are hardly unusual in the newspaper industry. And despite its troubles, the U-T is attracting interest: The four newspaper companies have all been in contact with U-T executives about a possible purchase, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

Officials at Black Press and MediaNews didn't respond to requests for comment. Spokespersons for Tribune Co. and New York Times Co. declined to comment. U-T officials have been mum about the sale since the paper announced it was on the block. A company spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment Tuesday.

That is all of the report, but click on the headline if you must check out the blog.

Note well: We sure don't want to lose you

To our many friends hit by layoffs:

If you are buying out, PLEASE be sure to send us a new email address to replace the Beacon Journal email address we may have for you.

We also like to keep a list of postal (mailing) addresses.

In former years, the BJ compiled a list of retiree address lists each year around Christmas so retirees could send greetings. The cost of printing and mailing then became too costly and now since, 9/11 especially, everyone is uptight and concerned about privacy so we cannot get an updated list. This means we have to depend on readers from all over the world to let us know when there is an address change or death.

We would appreciate it if you could help us keep as up to date as possible.

Just mail the information to the address on your screen:

2 with top Guild seniority leaving BJ this week

Beacon Journal readers are probably a little familiar with the name Lew Stamp, because he is a photographer and gets a credit line. They also will recognize the bylines of many of those who are accepting buyouts. They are less likely to recognize the names of Theodore Schneider and Charles Montague who are listed as copy editors. Each one has 38 plus years of experience.

Schneider, is what we used to jokingly call "line drawers." He has been designing and laying out newspaper pages for years and has been at the BJ for 38 years and 6 months. That's more than any copy editor, but just 2 months more than Montague who is a veteran copy editor and has handled many assignments.

Lew Stamp has more years of service than any photographer except Paul Tople. Paul has 37 years and three months. Stamp has 30 years and 3 months and in photo lingo that means lots of exposures.

Montague's last day is Thursday and Schneider's is Friday. Stamp leaves next week.
It should be noted that the BJ staffer who still tops the seniority list is Sheldon Ocher with 40 years and 11 months. Would anyone even think about losing the top baseball writer in the world?
To give you a better idea of the loss of three veterans, we could put it another way. Here are their hiring dates:

Ted Schneider............February 15, 1970
Charles Montague......April 20, 1970

Lew Stamp...................May 8, 1978

8 make it to Papa Joe's for October gathering

There were only eight BJ retirees at Papa Joe's for the October lunch. Composing's Cal Deshong, Carl Nelson, Gene McClellan and Al Hunsicker, Engraving's Pat Dougherty and Newsroom's Tom Moore, Dave Boerner and John Olesky gathered for the chat and laugh session. It's beginning to feel like a gathering of the Last Man Club. With so many taking BJ buyouts, come on down to Papa Joe's restaurant at Portage Trail and Akron-Peninsula Road on the second Wednesday of each month. It's a fun thing to do.

[Story by John Olesky and photos by Tom Moore]

Note: Post on health care has been updated

The post below stating that health care was ending for Guild employees at the BJ has been updated. The statement is true only for those who accepted a buyout as pointed out by a Guild health care trustee in a comment to the post.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

PD to cut 38 unionized newsroom jobs

Posted by Sarah Hollander on as breaking news at 7:04 p.m.

The Plain Dealer plans to cut 38 unionized newsroom positions by year's end, further whittling the size of its staff.

President and Publisher Terry Egger announced the decision to union members Tuesday, blaming worse than expected advertising revenue and hard times ahead for the newspaper industry.

"This is a tough decision," Egger said. "But the end result of what we're trying to do is keep the newspaper strong and able to serve the community for a long time."

The Plain Dealer is turning a small profit, Egger said, but much less than expected.

Traditional media like newspapers, television and radio have suffered revenue declines in recent years because of a weakening economy and marketers' decisions to spend more on Internet advertising.

Newspapers across the country, from San Diego to Akron to Newark, have been trying to cut costs through buyouts and layoffs. The nation's biggest newspaper chain, Gannett, recently announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs at its papers.

At The Plain Dealer, the target number represents about 16 percent of the newsroom's Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild members, including reporters, photographers, support staff and some editors.

Employees have been given until Nov. 20 to decide to leave voluntarily. If 38 don't volunteer, the paper will then move to layoffs, Editor Susan Goldberg said.

The severance package would include two weeks of pay for every year worked. Health insurance is not part of the package.

No decisions have been made yet on who should be cut, Goldberg said. Layoff criteria will follow provisions of the union contract, which include job performance, special skills or abilities, adaptability to future work assignments and length of service.

"I think every department will be affected to some extent," she said.

The decision comes at the tail end of a buyout offer made to most of the paper's non-union employees, including newsroom managers, as well as employees in advertising, circulation and other departments. They were offered six to 18 months pay and health care coverage, depending on their time at the paper.

Egger said 10 newsroom employees took that buyout, but he wouldn't give a company wide number. Still, the paper needs to cut expenses further, he said.

In 2006, The Plain Dealer offered a buyout to all of its employees. Sixty-four newsroom employees left at that time in exchange for severance packages that remain among the most generous in the industry.

The newsroom now includes 299 employees, with 238 of those represented by the Newspaper Guild..

Rollie Dreussi, executive secretary of the local guild, said members wonder why more management jobs aren't being cut. "Our people provide the content," he said. "It's unfair for us to take the burden of 38 people."

The paper's owner, Advance Publications, for many years has pledged not to cut non-union employees for economic reasons, although their job duties can be shifted.

Dreussi also said he hopes the company reconsiders its decision not to offer health care coverage.

Changes at PD discussed with staff

The management and staff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer met Monday to discuss possible major changes in the newspaper, including layoffs and reducing the size of the actual paper itself, according to a report on Channedl 3 WEWS-TV

"The media is not immune to the downturn in the economy," Plain Dealer Publisher Terry C.Z. Egger told Channel 3 News Tuesday, "and we are not either. It's tougher than we thought."

Although Egger says talk of layoffs is premature, Plain Dealer staffers say the possiblity was raised during the Monday meeting.

Any major changes need the approval of the PD's parent company. The process could take several weeks.

The mood at the meeting was described by one Plain Dealer staff member as "gloomy," as management held a frank discussion of the severe financial pressures the newspaper is facing.

"We need to be thoughtful about our decisions," said Terry Egger. "Our most important mission is to serve our community and to do that we have to be viable."

Other options reportedly being considered are cutting the number of weekly pages in the Plain Dealer by as many as 35, eliminating or downsizing certain sections of the paper and increasing the price of the newspaper.

[Updated] Health care coverage ends for Guild

Updated with bracketed information to clarify the statement.

Guild chair Bob Demay left the following as a comment, but we thought it should be posted so as not to be overlooked:

Health care coverage ends at the end of the month for Guild members [who are taking the buyout]. There is a contractual provision for health care for Guild members who retire between the age of 62-65. All others are on their own. Visual and dental benefits end on your last day of work. Life insurance for Guild employees drops to $14,000 when you retire.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Reminder: Retirees lunch is Wednesday

Don't forget the Beacon Journal Retirees Lunch at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Papa Joe's Restaurant in the Valley (Portage Trail at Akron-Peninsula Road).

Somebody might even explain how these buyouts work: Do you get a pension and buyout--or must you choose?

Current employees of the Beacon Journal are always welcome at the luncheons which are
the second Wednesday of every month at Papa Joe's Restaurant. There is no agenda--no business--just lots of chatter by old fogies about how much better things used to be.

Hope to see you there

George Thomas is Cavs reporter, right?

It must be assumed that George Thomas
is new Cavs beat writer, replacing Brian Windhorst. Thomas has an article on the Cavs in today's paper and also a blog entry with a cryptic reference to his predecessor which, as Ken Krause points out in a blog comment, you can see at

Presses put out 28,000 papers an hour--now still

They won’t print the Boston Herald in Boston anymore. Presses that once put out 28,000 papers an hour have been stilled and 130 jobs lost.
Joe Fitzgerald on Boston laments the loss

You can’t miss someone you never knew, so even longtime Herald readers won’t have a hint of the emptiness and sadness many of us are experiencing here this morning amid the all-too-familiar drill of hugs and handshakes and promises to keep in touch.

Once again, technology has made humanity expendable.

Some call it progress and perhaps it is, but when it means people no longer matter, it’s awfully hard to embrace.

This was the final edition of the Herald to roll off our ink-stained presses, those enormous steel dinosaurs, three stories high, that whirred and rumbled, making the building vibrate while whipping out 28,000 papers an hour.

Inanimate? Of course they were.

And yet there was was something wonderfully intimate about them. To step into our lobby at midnight, feeling their rhythmic pulsation while grabbing a paper so fresh it was as warm as a muffin coming out of an oven, was an occasion for goosebumps every time, if newspapering is in your blood.

But now they’ve been silenced and will soon be dismantled.

Tomorrow’s Herald will inaugurate a new era in which the printing will be done on offset presses in Chicopee, eliminating the jobs of 130 colleagues who did nothing to deserve the heartache of saying goodbye, not just to one another but to a profession most of them had loved all of their lives.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Retired printer Richard Froelich dies at 76

Richard Lee Froehlich, 76, passed away October 3, 2008.

Born in Barnesville, Ohio, Richard has lived in Tallmadge for most of his life. He served in the U.S. Navy during t
he Korean Conflict on the USS Valley Forge. He retired in 1990 from the Beacon Journal with 30 years of service. Richard was a member of Our Lady of Victory Church, Akron Turner Club, Mogadore VFW, Army Navy, and the Eagles' Club.

He was
preceded in death by his brothers, Walter, Harold, and Eugene Froehlich. He is survived by his daughter, Christine (Christian) Fox; sons, Richard L., Jr. (Patty) Froehlich, Jason (Lisa) Froehlich, Matthew Froehlich; grandchildren, Shane Barber (Sherri Swiger), Richard, Brandon, Sean, and Michael Froehlich; great-grandchild, Dylan Barber; sister, Ruthann (Harry) McGee; brothers, Kenneth Froehlich, Vernon (Jo) Froehlich; and Denise James a loving family member who helped care for dad in his final days; and many nieces and nephews..

Funeral service will be 11 a.m. Monday, October 6, 2008 at the Donovan Funeral Home, 17 Southwest Ave. (On the Historic Tallmadge Circle) with Rev. Father John Hengle officiating. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, where military rites will be conducted by Mogadore VFW Post 8487. Friends may call 2 until 6 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.
[Beacon Journal, Akron, OH,Saturday, October 4, 2008, page B7, col. 1]

Classmates to honor May 4 shooting victim

Former classmates and friends gathered today in the Goverance Chambers at Kent State University for a memorial for Robert "Robby" Stamps, one of the nine students wounded M
ay 4, 1970 in the shootings on campus.

Stamps. 57. died of pneumonia June 11 in Tallahasssee, FL., He is the second student wounded May 4 to pass away.

John Powers, president of the May 4 Task Force, said part of the group's mission is to educate others about what happened.

"Unfortunately, those opportunities are becoming less and less with losing Robby Stamps this year and Jim Russell last year," he said.

All but one of the surviving May 4 wounded and Jim Russell's family plan to attend.

Following the memorial, attendees will walk to the site where Stamps was wounded carrying candles and memory stones.

Stamps graduated magna cum laude from KSU in 1972, later earning master's degrees in both sociology and journalism. However, he had trouble finding a job, and told the Record-Courier it was because of the notoriety he earned because of the events of May 4.

Stamps sued Cuyahoga Community College in February 1978, alleging the school gave him a verbal agreement for a counseling job, but later withdrew it because of his role in the shootings. In an April 1980 interview with the Record-Courier from his new home in San Diego, he said he loved Northeastern Ohio but had to leave because he couldn't find a job. At the time,

Friday, October 03, 2008

If just 14 leave, 345 years of service will be lost

By the best estimates at present 14 Beacon Journal Guild members and four managers have signed up for buyouts. If all leave, the loss would be 345 plus years of service not counting the four managers. The management’s guess is that it would take 20 people to save the desired $1.5 million.

Everyone has seven days from when they signed to rescind. The company can decide which to accept. In estimating the years of service we added only the years and not months. If someone had 30 years and 10 months service, only 30 years was used to compute the total. The two staffers with the most service are Charles Montague and Ted Schneider who eacdh have 38 years.

Drum roll. Here’s the list by job title:

Chip Bok (cartoonist) not confirmed because he is in Europe 25 years
Dennis Earlenbaugh 32 years

Telli Gulledge (years of service not known)

Copy Editor
Betsy Lammerding 35 years
Chuck Montague 38 years
Ted Schneider 38 years

Diane Wright 23 years

Ken Love 11 years
Lew Stamp 30 years

Tracy Wheeler 11 years
Brian Windhorst 12 years
David Giffels 14 years
Elaine Guregian 18 years
Carl Chancellor 24 years
Connie Bloom 34 years

Val Pipps
Mitch McKenney
Ann Mezger
Keith McKnight (not confirmed but widely reported)

Both the Newspaper Guild and the Teamsters are now in negotiations.

Carmen Parisi of the Teamsters reporting on a company offer called it the "worst I've ever seen."

The details:
  • 15% wage cuts across all classifications
  • On top of that, an increase in the work week from 37.5 to 40 hours (a 6.7% workload increase in return for a 15% pay reduction)
  • Freeze the pension
  • No extra money toward health care (meaning any increase in the premium will be borne by the employees).
This is on top of the sweeping non-economic proposals that would abolish jurisdiction, permit outsourcing, and do away with job classifications/titles.

The Guild expects to receive an offer similar in nature and will weigh that factor in bargaining while dealing with all other open issues on the table.

Bargainers for BJ employees say that “listening to the company you would think that last rites are in order for the industry.”

Meanwhile publisher David Black is one of the prospective buyers of the San Diego Union Tribune.

On July 16, a post on this biog. quoted from an article on by Don Ward about publisher Black.

The article, headlined “Betting on David Black,." poses this question:

Major dailies are shedding employees, hemorrhaging cash, and losing advertisers to the Web. So why is David Black swimming in ink?

The article is worth reading. Click on the headline to see the post

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Top BJ columnist Giffels accepts buyout

Starting next fall you can call him Professor David Giffels. The BJ columnist has accepted a buyout and is waiting for the paper work to clear.

He will begin a new career as professor in the English Department at the Universi
ty of Akron in the fall and is planning another book.

Giffels said this afternoon he is happy he can remain in Akron. "That's where I want to be," he said. He has been at the Beacon Journal more than 14 years, beginning in June, 1994. He is among those who have top recognition among Beacon Journal readers.

Giffels' latest boo
k is All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House, which the New York Times called ''sweet and funny.'' He also has co-written Wheels of Fortune, a history of Akron's rubber industry, and Are We Not Men? We Are Devo.
David a
nd wife, Gina, who is a school teacher, are, proud owners of an exquisitely renovated 1913 Tudor house, with six fireplaces, a solarium and a billiards room. All The Way Home, which talks about their renovation exploits, got a large review in the New York Times.

It is best just to type Giffels in the search box at left above to see all of our posts abo
ut him.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

McClatchy replaces 3 publishers

McClatchy Co, fresh off
on paying back its debt, is busy making some changes at its newspapers. McClatchy has replaced three publishers in the past two days. We don’t yet know if this is coincidence or part of a coordinated move.

The changes:

The Tribune in San Luis Obispo, CA: Bruce Ray takes over from Chip Visci, who is retiring, according to a press release. Ray previously was chief financial officer at the paper. Visci, according to McClatchy Chief Executive Gary Pruitt, is starting “the next chapter of his life.” Visci’s previous chapter was as a Knight Ridder guy before McClatchy ate up the chain and incurred all those billions of dollars in debt.

The Bradenton (FL) Herald: Robert Turner Jr succeeds William Fleet, who will become president and publisher of McClatchy’s Fresno Bee in California. Turner is a 29-year veteran of the Herald, according to another press release. Fleet was in California and unavailable. Turner was in a meeting, so we left a message.

The Fresno Bee: Fleet replaces Ray Steele Jr, who is retiring. No word about the next chapter in his life. He has worked for McClatchy for 41 years

Last chance for a NY Sun headline pun

Yesterday was a sad day for the seven-year-old New York Sun which published its last edition. Only the headline writers had fun:

Darkness falls on New York Sun
Sun Goes Down

Sun Goes Dark–For Good

Sun sets on New York Sun

New York Sun
Sun sets

Following are excerpts of remarks by the Editor of the Sun, Seth Lipsky, to the newspaper's staff:

It is my duty to report today that Ira Stoll and I and our partners have concluded that the Sun will cease publication. Our last number will be the issue dated September 30, the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I want you
to know that Ira and I, and our partners, explored every possible way to avoid having to cease publication.

We have spoken with every individual who seemed to be a prospective partner, and everywhere we were received with courtesy and respect. I tend to be an optimist and held out hope for a favorable outcome as late as mid-afternoon today. But among other problems that we faced was the fact that this month, not to mention this week, has been one of the worst in a century in which to be trying to raise capital, and in the end we were out not only of money but time.

So we are at this sad moment. It is sad for any newspaper to go out of publication, and it is particularly sad for one that is as loved as much as all of us here love The New York Sun and the readers we have won in our six-and-a-half years of publication. But I want you to know that the decision to close the paper has not been an acrimonious one. It is a logical decision following a hard-headed assessment of our chances of meeting our goal of profitable publication in the near future.

This was always a risk, and all the greater is the heroism of our financial backers. Even at the end they were offering millions of dollars if we could find the partners we needed. I don't mind saying to you, as I have to them, that I very much regret — I will always regret — that we were not able to return to them the capital that they invested in us. Yet we have not heard a single regret from any of them on this head, which underscores the fact that it was not only for the possibility of profit that they invested in this newspaper. They invested also for other ideals, as well.

They invested in the ideal of the scoop, the notion that news is the spirit of democracy, and in the principles for which we have stood in our editorial pages — limited and honest government, equality under our Constitution and the law, free markets, sound money, and a strong foreign policy in support of freedom and democracy. They liked the way the Sun reflected the dynamism of our city and spoke for its interests in the national debate.

They invested, too, in the joy with which you illuminated the cultural life of New York, in our willingness to spring to the defense of so many who are not always defended, in the thrill of our sports coverage, the verve and warmth of our society coverage, and in our efforts to bring together a community and give it voice.

Our backers asked me to tell you that they are enormously proud of what you accomplished, a sentiment that was expressed for all our partners pointedly in the most recent meeting by our founding chairman, Roger Hertog. I am sure the reference was not only to our reporters and editors, who come in for the public attention, but the advertising, circulation and business departments, whose staffers have gone out every day into the an environment in which most newspapers are losing advertising and circulation and yet managed to produce consistent gains. This month, our last, was a record month for advertising revenues, which were up more than 60% over the year earlier month and ahead of the budget goals, with year-to-date advertising revenues up nearly 25%

Click on the headline for more excerpts.

Dawidziak suggests a Poe Halloween

Poe actors (from left) Tom Stephan, Sara Showman and Alex J. Nine.

The Largely Literary Theater Company’s The Tell-Tale Play, a two-act collection of poems and stories by Edgar Allan Poe, returns to the Kent Stage for two performances, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17 and 18. The shows will be staged as benefits for the historic downtown Kent theater.

“This is not only an ideal way to celebrate the Halloween season and Poe, whose 200th birthday is in January, it’s also a chance to support this fabulous Kent landmark,’’ said Mark Dawidziak, the former BJ critic who is artistic director and co-founder of the Largely Literary Theater Company.

The Largely Literary Theater Company was founded by Dawidziak and wife, Sara Showman, in late 2001. In addition to A Christmas Carol) and The Tell-Tale Play, the company offers shows based on the works of such authors as Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson..

Designed for high school students and older, the play features three popular area actors – Tom Stephan, Showman and Alex J. Nine. They interpret Poe’s works, telling the audience along the way about the writer’s short but eventful life and career.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for seniors and stduents. For reservations, call 330-677-5005 or go to The Kent Stage is located at 175 East Main Street.

Three of Poe’s classic short stories are presented in The Tell-Tale Play: “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” Also included are three of his major poems: “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells.” Other poems in the play are “Alone,” “Eldorado,” “Dreamland” and “Spirits of the Dead.”

The set for the Largely Literary Theater Company production is relatively simple. The lights go up on three lecterns – one covered in rich velvety material – arranged before a succession of black curtains. There are three chairs set behind the lecterns, with assorted pillars, candelabra and gothic set pieces establishing the mood. The three actors enter, dressed in period costumes, acknowledge each other, open their scripts, then Showman steps forward, stopping down stage and center, to welcome the audience.

Before the first offering, Stephan’s interpretation of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the three actors take a moment or two to tell the audience about “Poe’s brief, brilliant and tortured life.” Born in Boston on January 19, 1809, Poe “spent only 40 years on this planet,” yet he “found the time to create the detective story and write a couple dozen of the most influential horror stories ever put to paper.”

Dawidziak, the company’s artistic director, is the TV critic at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His 11th book, The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula, was just published. (See our earlier post) His previous books include a novel, Grave Secrets, and such non-fiction works as Mark My Words: Mark Twain on Writing, The Columbo Phile: A Casebook, The Barter Theatre Story: Love Made Visible, The Night Stalker Companion and Horton Foote’s The Shape of the River: The Lost Teleplay About Mark Twain.

For bookings, contact Dawidziak and Showman at the Largely Literary Theater Company: 330-923-8350 or at