Friday, July 31, 2015

‘Rose Garden’ queen dies

Lynn Anderson, whose version of the song "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" was one of the biggest country hits of the 1970s, died Thursday of a heart attack at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. Anderson was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1947, and grew up in Sacramento, California.

She had her biggest hit, the Joe South-penned "Rose Garden," in late 1970 and early 1971. The song was No. 1 on the country charts for five weeks and topped out at No. 3 on Billboard's pop charts.

Off we go into the wild sky yonder,

Keep the wings level and true

If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder

Keep the nose out of the blue!


Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!


nU.S. Air Force song


Former WKNT news director Bob Carpenter and his U.S. Air Force buddy Dennis Maki from their Vietnam days, a pair of gray-haired wonders, had their hearts soaring into the wild blue yonder Thursday at the Fort Myers, Florida airport.
Atten-hut, everyone: It was their first get-together in 50 years. Dennis found Bob on Facebook, that social media wonder, several weeks ago.

The reunion was a natural flight to friendship.

Writes Kent State graduate Bob:


To see an earlier BJ Alums blog article on the discovery of the half-century, scroll down two stories on this blog.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

57th Soap Box for Iula

All-American Soap Box Derby general manager Jeff Iula attended his 57th SBD today in Akron. That puts him on a soapbox more often than a politician.

Writes Jeff:

“I don't think anyone else can say that! I was lucky enough to have both GRANDKIDS in it. Zoe drove well for her first try and lost to the Fifth place champ. TRIN won her first heat, then won her 2nd heat , then lost in the 3rd round then ran for 7th, 8th, 9th and PLACED 7th!! I was happy and she got a big trophy!! IT WAS A GREAT DAY FOR POP POP!”
Jeff’s father, Ralph Iula, was Beacon Journal derby director for 20 years, beginning in 1954, when he was BJ promotions director. Ralph also oversaw the Beacon Journal Spelling Bee and the Beacon Journal Charity Fund. He died in 2006.

Said Jeff: ``He's why I got hooked on the derby.''


Bob Carpenter today will have a reunion in Punta Gorda, Florida with his Air Force buddy from the Vietnam Days. That’s 50 years ago!

Writes Kent State graduate and former Kent radio veteran Bob:

“TODAY IS A VERY SPECIAL DAY FOR ME. My long-time USAF buddy I haven't seen or heard from in 50 YEARS is flying from Nebraska for a 5 day visit.”

Explains Bob:

Dennis Maki “found me on Facebook several weeks ago and we made contact. The three of us were in the USAFSS as Intelligence Analysts (202's) and were together in San Antonio, San Angelo, Crete and DaNang. The Koz passed away March 2014.”

Bob served in Vietnam twice, in DaNang and in Saigon. He lives in Punta Gorda with wife Kaye.

Bob was news director of WKNT on May 4, 1970, a day which will go down in infamy at Kent State because the Ohio National Guard killed four students and wounded nine others.

He moved to Maui in the mid-70s and worked in radio and public relations before moving to Florida. He retired from his job as Public Information Officer of the Charlotte County, Florida sheriff.

For years Bob and wife Kaye personally delivered  Christmas gifts to hundreds of challenged children in Beijing, China; Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Quito, Ecuador.

Bob served in Vietnam twice, in DaNang and in Saigon. Wife Kaye purchased a brick with Bob’s name it that was placed at the Kiwanis Veterans Garden in Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, Florida. It is next to the Vietnam Veterans brick memorial.

Last winter Paula and I had a reunion with Bob and Kaye in Sarasota. As Bob explained:

“Paula and I go way back to our Kent State University days. She married Jeff Tucker in the early 1970s. Jeff and I worked together as KSU broadcasting students at WKSU and the commercial station WKNT in Kent, Ohio. Unfortunately Jeff died unexpectedly after we graduated.

“Paula and I have been friends all these years . . . we both were there and experienced the Kent State shootings May 4, 1970.”

In December 1965, this photo was taken as the Air Force buddies are about to leave DaNang, Vietnam. In the photo: Bob Carpenter on the left, Dennis Maki (with the hat) and Rich "The Koz" Kozlowski is sitting.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Desrosiers to Repository as executive editor
Beacon Journal Metro Editor Rich Desrosiers will become executive editor of the Canton Repository.
Laura Kessel has been serving as interim editor since the February departure of Therese Hayt, who became executive director of the American Society of News Editors in Columbia, Missouri.
Desrosiers, a Stark County resident for 35 years, came to the BJ in 1994 as assistant national editor, became deputy news editor in 1995, news editor in 1996, executive news editor in 1998, Stark Bureau chief in 2000, sports editor in 2006 and, finally, metro editor.

At my request, Rich provided more information:
“I have been at the Beacon Journal almost 21 years to the day: July 25, 1994 to
July 31 (Friday will be my last day), 2015.
“Before coming to the Beacon Journal (as the assistant national editor), I had been at the Canton Repository as a sportswriter (about 4 years) then as a page designer (nearly 5 years). I designed both A1 and the B1 (metro) pages, plus some inside pages, five days a week -- an assignment that prepared me to help the ABJ transition to full pagination in the 1990s.

“I attended the University of Akron, graduating in 1985 with a BA in Mass Communications.
“The title of my new assignment is ‘executive editor of GateHouse Ohio Media.’ In a nutshell, I will oversee the newsroom operations of the four print/online entities in that group: The Repository, The Massillon Independent, The Dover-New Philadelphia Times-Reporter and The Suburbanite.
 “If you need anything else, please let me know.
 “Thanks for your interest.
 “Rich D”
This continues the BJ newsroom exodus of managers and underlings. Larry Pantages, at Ol’ Blue Walls since 1972, left in February to become managing editor of the Medina Gazette.
A newsroom that once held 250 employees has shrunk alarmingly to fewer than 60. In 1984 128 of the 754 BJ employees, from the newsroom to the pressroom, had at least 25 years of experience.
Rich's wife, Anne, is a substitute teacher and high school volleyball coach. Their three children, Andrew, Maggie and John, attend the North Canton schools. Rich is a coach with the Canton Akron Penguins youth hockey association.
Jim Porter, the Repository’s publisher, had said the search would be for “a candidate who fits our community and our culture.” That fits Rich like a glove.
Gatehouse owns the Repository and the Massillon Independent.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You don’t need to watch “The Lion King” movie to learn about the circle of life.

Just read this article about Mark Dawidziak, PD and former BJ entertainment critic.
In 1982 Mark published his first book, “The Barter Theatre,” about an Abington, Virginia town where in the Great Depression actors put on shows to an audience that brought 30 cents worth of food for admission.
Playwrights like Noel Coward, Thornton Wilder, Robert E. Sherwood and Maxwell Anderson accepted the food as their royalties. George Bernard Shaw, a vegetarian, bartered for spinach.
And the reign of “Ham for Hamlet” was born.
Barter’s alumni include Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn, Ned Beatty, Gary Collins, Larry Linville, Kevin Spacey, Frances Fisher, Barry Corbin, Jim Varney and “Cheers” creator James Burrows.
Well, come Wednesday, Aug. 5, Mark will return to the Barter Theatre with his wife, Sara Showman, to perform "Twain By Two" at 7:30 p.m., based on Mark’s 12th book, “Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness.”
As for the fabulous tale of the Bart Theatre, let Mark tell it, after I asked him to provide the full background for me:
“The Barter Theatre is in the small town of Abingdon, in southwest Virginia. I did not know about it while attending George Washington University. I finished up college in three and a half years, so got out in December 1977.
“By then, I was working full time at the Knight-Ridder Bureau in the old National Press Building at 14th and F (Dave Hess was representing the Beacon Journal). I then went to work at the Associated Press bureau in D.C. on K Street.
“In January 1979, I started as the arts editor at the Bristol Herald Courier (the Virginia/Tennessee state line ran through Bristol, and I lived on the Tennessee side).
“Abingdon is nearby and, before I left Washington, several people told me my job would include covering the Barter. So I read up a bit and learned it was one of America's most important regional theaters.
“It was started in the depths of the Depression by Broadway actor Robert Porterfield, who was from that area. Porterfield was in the original Broadway production of ‘The Petrified Forest’ with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart.
“He took a company of 22 starving, out-of-work New York actors to Abingdon and started staging shows in the town's opera house (a structure that went back to the 1830s, in one of the buildings not burned during the Civil War).
“Farmers with plenty of crops they couldn't sell could barter their way in for 30 cents worth of produce. The actors would work and eat. The area would get New York quality theater. Playwrights agreed to a royalty of just a Virginia ham, a tradition followed by the likes of Noel Coward, Thornton Wilder, Robert E. Sherwood and Maxwell Anderson.
“It was dubbed ‘Ham for Hamlet’ by the national press. The joke was that they estimated a season's success by weighing the company.
“Porterfield had a tremendous knack for promotion and for spotting talent, and among the actors who got started at the Barter: Gregory Peck, Hume Cronyn, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine and Ned Beatty. I got to personally present copies of my book to Peck and Borgnine.
“When I got to Bristol that January, I headed for the local library and asked for the history of the Barter Theatre. The theater had such a colorful and noteworthy history, I just assumed there was one. There wasn't, so I decided there should be.
“I started researching the theater and collecting interviews while working first at the Herald Courier, then at the nearby Kingsport Times-News. The entire area is known as the Tri-Cities -- Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City (Sara's hometown).
“The book was published in 1982, a few months before the Barter's 50th anniversary on June 10, 1983. Four months later, I was starting as the TV critic at the Akron Beacon Journal. 
“The book's subtitle, which I wanted to be the main title, is from a Kahil Gibran quote used for a memorial when Robert Porterfield died in 1971: ‘Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work, and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms from those who work with joy.’
“Need anything else, let me know.
       “ Mark “

This is a more than ample serving, Mark. Bon appetite at the Barter!
In 1946, Barter was designated The State Theatre of Virginia, the first theatre to receive a form of recognition that later became a national practice.
Barter is the longest running professional Equity theatre in the nation.
Robert Porterfield died in 1971. The late Rex Partington took over until 1992. Richard Rose was the next leader.
Attendance has grown to more than 140,000 annual patrons for the 500-seat theater and a 167-seat smaller venue across the street.


Monday, July 20, 2015

BJ charges dead man for newspapers it never delivered

The Beacon Journal has been billing Harry Liggett for nine months for his subscription to his former newspaper.

Never mind that the BJ Alums founder passed away 16 months ago.
Harry Liggett, John Olesky

Writes Harry’s son, Bob Liggett of Copley:

“ABJ knew about Dad’s passing. I called them on that.”

Added Bob:

“The refund (for the subscription) was just short of $90. Your guess is as good as mine as to how they arrived at that.”

Based on my retirees subscription to the BJ, which I keep out of loyalty, which is $29.95 for three months, the BJ refunded nine months of subscriptions. I don’t know what happened to the other seven months.

Harry’s other son is Tom Liggett of Akron.

This situation brings up several questions:

1. Did Harry set up automatic payments through his checking account and, if the account closed after nine months and the BJ got an “account no longer active” notice, then the Circulation folks figured it out. In my case, my subscription charges are paid through my credit card, so the BJ will continue to collect from me till my credit card is canceled.

2. Was the BJ giving Harry’s carrier his/her cut of Harry’s subscription payments, as the BJ does from all the other customers?

3. Maybe they expected Harry to provide his change of address: Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron.

I can’t help but wonder how Harry would have handled this story. Or, for that matter, Pat Englehart. I suspect the Nobil-chewing guy would have mentioned something about “a man with a paper asshole.”

RIP, Harry. The BJ stopped ripping you off.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Moe Greene’s cashed in his chips

Alex Rocco, who went from the tough Winter Hill section of Boston to film immortality as Vegas casino owner Moe Greene in “The Godfather,” died at the age of 79.

The gravelly voiced Rocco studied acting with the late Leonard Nimoy, a fellow Boston-area transplant.

Rocco won an Emmy Award in 1990 for best supporting actor in a comedy for playing sneaky Hollywood talent agent Al Floss on the short-lived CBS series "The Famous Teddy Z," starring Jon Cryer.

He was born Alexander Federico Petricone in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To read the entire CNN article, click on

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

BJ columnist Bob Dyer and PD/former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak will be inducted into the Press Club of Cleveland’s Journalism Hall of Fame Nov. 13 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton, WTAM-AM multimedia journalist Ken Robinson and Reader’s Digest editor in Liz Ludlow  Vaccariello also will be inducted.

The Press Club also said it will present its annual Chuck Heaton Award to WKYC-TV meteorologist Betsy Kling. Heaton is the late Plain Dealer reporter and Press Club Hall of Famer member.

Last year’s Hall of Fame inductees were Ed Byers, on WGAR as Ed Richards for nearly three decades; Call & Post associate publisher and editor Constance Harper; WOIO-TV news reporter Paul Orlousky; 36-year (WJW & WEWS) news anchor Wilma Smith; and PD editorial board’s Tom Suddes. WJW anchor Wayne Dawson got the Heaton Award.

It’s a double-barreled pleasure for me since I was editor of both Dawidziak and Dyer in my Features Department days. I’d like to say I thought both of them everything I know, but who would believe THAT?

In 2012 former BJ writing coach Stuart Warner was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 2009 former BJ and later PD columnist Regina Brett was inducted into the Hall.

Dawidziak has been a TV and movie critic for 35 years, coming to the BJ from Tennessee and to the PD from the BJ. His Mark Twain shows and authoring tomes about ol’ Sammy are nationally known.

Dyer wins state and national awards more often than I change my underwear, and I don’t stink all that badly.

Kudos to both of my “proteges”!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

For 67 years, the Oval Office is only for millionaires

When adjusted for inflation to compare in current U.S. dollars, George Washington is the wealthiest President in American history at $525 million.

Next is John F. Kennedy at $125 to $1,000 million, depending on whose figures you go by.

Thomas Jefferson is at $212 million. Andrew Jackson is at $119 million.

Theodore Roosevelt is at $125 million. Cousin Franklin Roosevelt had $60 million.

James Madison is at $101 million.

Lyndon Johnson is at only $98 million.

Since Harry Truman (less than $1 million), Dwight Eisenhower is at $8 million, Richard Nixon at $15 million, Jimmy Carter at $7 million, Barack Obama at $8 million, Ronald Reagan at $13 million, Gerald Ford at $7 million, George Bush at $20 million, George H.W. Bush at $23 million. So America hasn’t elected a non-millionaire since 1948.

When the President tells you he feels your pain at trying to pay your mortgage or rent, he only means symbolically.

Abraham Lincoln, among the less than $1 million crowd in the Oval Office, wouldn’t stand a chance today.
Maybe BJ columnist Bob Dyer should have LeBron James’ guy build a larger trophy room for Bob. Hell, by now he’ll need a second wing to his Copley home.

Bob’s latest awards are third places, both in general interest and in humor, Bob’s speciality, in this year’s National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest.

My long-time fellow survivor of Blue Room food, till my 1996 retirement, has authored three books in his spare time, one with former Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel.

The list of awards, which Bob will provide for you at the drop of a hat, are pretty close to three score.

They might as well call the award as Best Columnist in Ohio from the Society of Professional Journalists chapters in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus the Bob Dyer Award because he’s won it so many times. Seven years in a row, last time I checked. The Associated Press Society of Ohio habitually names him columnist of the year, too.

In 2008, the National Society of Professional Journalists named him the best columnist in the nation.

The list is too long for me to plunk it into this article. But if you want to see it, ask Bob: He keeps it handy in his desk drawer.

He was one of the lead writers for "A Question of Color," a year-long examination of racial attitudes in Akron that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. And was a Pulitzer nominee as a columnist, too. About the only award he hasn’t snared. But give him time. This guy is the best humor columnist this side of Dave Barry. He’s the Mark Twain of his day.

He’s pretty fierce on the golf course, too and, till age caught up to his, a mighty good baseball player.

Bob came to Ol’ Blue Walls from the Wooster Daily Record.

BJ readers I encounter during my 19 years of retirement from the BJ complain that the newspaper is a shell of its former self. But Bob Dyer is one part of it that is even better than he was when I was prowling the newsroom.