Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cathy Strong explores drone journalism

Former BJ State Desk reporter Cathy Robinson Strong, on the faculty of Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, wrote an extensive paper on the new methods to cover the news, particularly drone cameras.

Cathy Strong
There’s even a Professional Society of Drone Journalists, founded in 2011. Can you imagine Don Roese or Ott Gangl piloting drones to get their photos of major news events?

Drone cameras are much cheaper than hiring a plane or helicopter for aerial photos, and can get closer to the actual happening. Drone cameras made a major impact in covering Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in 2013, which was a tuneup for even better and more extension coverage of  the Nepal earthquake in 2015.

The major limitation is battery life, so the drone cameras have to get in and back to base in a few hours. But then they can go back out again with fresh batteries.

The other barrier is dealing with restrictions on drones from country to country.

Maybe the BJ should get a drone camera to cover major events in Akron or Cleveland.

And then there are backpack journalists, who can get to the affected people quicker and closer to collect and tell the story in words and images. Problems there, too with poor sound and images if the reporter isn’t good with both technology and interviewing victims.

Cathy has been in New Zealand for decades, with a 3-year break to teach journalism in Dubai, United Arab Emirate. She flies to America regularly to visit family and friends. Cathy’s sister, Janet Mullins, lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Cathy’s married daughters are Penelope, Rebecca and Amanda, all living in New Zealand, where earthquakes are a weekly occurrence.

The late Fran Murphey, retired BJ photographer Don Roese, former State Desk reporter Paula Stone Tucker and I have visited Cathy in New Zealand.

If you’re in New Zealand and want to look up senior lecturer Cathy, she’s in the Massey University School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Room SF47, Block 5. Her phone number is (04) 801-5799, extension 63549 and her email is  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

And a Happy New Year

Saturday, December 24, 2016

                Love, Fran

Friday, December 23, 2016

BJ blues gig: ’12 Days of Browns Christmas’

Beacon Journal staffers had fun with their own recorded version of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” Cleveland Browns style.

In case you’re excited, the Cleveland Browns Super Bowl team is a fantasy. It was Red Right 88 that was reality.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Matt Horak
Horak illustrates ‘Punisher’

Akron illustrator Matt Horak has taken over the illustrations for Marvel Comics’ “The Punisher,” which spotlights vigilante anti-hero Frank Castle as The Punisher.

He replaced the late Steve Dillon.

Horak is art director at Earthquaker Devices, which manufactures guitar pedals in a warehouse on Bowery Street.

Horak, 41, has been drawing since he was 3 years old. He attended art classes at St. Vincent-St. Mary High and drew comic books for projects at the University of Akron. He also studied at the Cleveland Art Institute.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Retired BJ driver Ed Speight passes away

Former BJ Circulation driver Ed Speight passed away Tuesday, December 13.

Ed Speight
Ed’s obituary:

Edward R. Speight, 91, passed away Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at Roselane Care Center.

Ed was born April 27, 1925 to Edward and Cecilia (Hamel) Speight in Akron and has been an area resident his entire life. He was employed by the Akron Beacon Journal for over 42 years as a delivery truck driver. He was a member of St. Paul Catholic Church and VFW Post 3383. He was a veteran of the Army during WWII and a recipient of the Bronze Star.

Ed is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty (McFall); children Jack (Joanne), Kevin (Paula) and Ed Speight and Debi (Brian) Secrest; special niece Jane (John Fousek) Payerle; grandchildren Shannon Coffee, Shane, Alexander, Benjamin, Maurine and Nicholas Speight and Shelby, Madison and Samantha Secrest; great grandchildren Paizlee and Morgan Leger. In addition to his parents, Ed was preceded in death by his brothers Fr. Raymond, Donald and Paul.

The family will receive friends Friday from 4 to 7 pm at the Anthony Funeral Home Kucko-Anthony-Kertesz Chapel, 1990 S. Main St. Akron where a funeral service will be held Saturday at 11:00 am. Pastor Brian Nutt officiating. Cremation will follow. Interment with Military Honors will take place at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery on Tuesday at 1:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alzheimer's Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601 or Cross Road Hospice, 3743 Boettler Oaks Dr., Uniontown, OH 44685.
BJ retiree Paul Straits passes away

Former BJ transportation manager Paul Straits passed away Friday, December 16 in Millersburg, where he attended high school.
Paul’s obituary:

Paul R. Straits passed away on December 16, 2016 after a brief illness with his family by his side.He was born on January 26,1930 to Walter J. and Sue (Nye) Straits in Millersburg, Ohio.

He was a 1948 graduate of Millersburg High School, served in the U.S. Navy, followed by six years in the Naval Reserves and had a 37 year career at the Akron Beacon Journal.

Paul enjoyed golfing, fishing, watching golf and spending time with his family. He was a long time member of Saint Hilary Catholic Church and volunteered on the Funeral Luncheon Committee.

Paul is survived by wife, Susie; and children, Beth (Bob) Forwark, Bruce (Tracie Lee) Baumgardner, and Marty (Debbie) Baumgardner; also survived by grandchildren, Andy (Brittany) Forwark,Eric Forwark, Bryan, Kelsey, Alison, and Jared Baumgardner.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Walter J. Straits; sisters, Joann Straits, Ruth Tillitski, and Mary Derr.

Calling hours will be at Ciriello & Carr Funeral Home, 39 S. Miller Rd. in Fairlawn Tuesday, December 27, from 6 until 9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial 11 a.m. Wednesday, December 28 at St. Hilary Catholic Church. Private interment at Standing Rock Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities Community Services of Summit County, 812 Biruta St. Akron, OH 44307. 330-836-3100

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bob Batz passes away

Former BJ columnist Bob Batz (1966-1970) passed away Friday, December 16.

Bob Batz
He left Ol’ Blue Walls to write columns for the Dayton Daily News till his 2007 retirement. Even after that, he wrote a column for the Brookville Star, just north of Dayton, till his passing.

He was a University of Dayton adjunct professor for more than 24 years.

Bob grew up in Flint, Michigan, where he met his late wife, Sally Samalley Batz. Their children are Pittsburgh Post Gazette editor-writer Bob, Jr., Laurie Batz Fryman, Jackie Batz Erbaugh and Chris Batz. They have seven grandchildren.

Bob and Sally shared a 150-year-old home in Brookville, where both worked in the Brookville Volunteer Fire Department.

Bob began as a copy boy at the Flint Journal, then worked at the Rochester, New York newspaper before coming to the BJ.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

Harry Morgan, who played two memorable characters on “MASH” and “Dragnet” and was in more than 100 movies, often with film giants, passed away at the age of 96 in his Los Angeles home.

Morgan -- born Harry Bratsberg in Detroit in 1915 -- won an Emmy for playing Colonel Sherman Potter on “MASH” (1975-83).  He was Officer Bill Gannon to Jack Webb’s Joe Friday in “Dragnet” (1967-70).

Morgan was in “The Ox-Bow Incident" in 1943 with Henry Fonda, “High Noon” in 1952 with Gary Cooper, “The Glenn Miller Story” in 1954 with Jimmy Stewart and “Inherit The Wind” in 1960 with Spencer Tracy.

Talk about performing with the film gods!

Morgan joined “MASH” in 1975 after McLean Stevenson, who played another popular character, the unit's commanding officer, left the series. That’s not an easy task to replace a well-estabished series character.

Harry and his first wife, Eileen, who died in 1985 after 45 years of marriage, had four children. His second wife, Barbara Bushman, survives.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I knew that Curt Brown couldn’t resist playing a church organ somewhere for long.

The former BJ reporter retired from New Life Episcopal Church in Uniontown in 2014 after nearly two decades.

November 17 he un-retired and became the organist at Brecksville United Methodist Church.

Maybe the septuagenarian’s next gig will be in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau, Germany, which has the largest church organ in the world – 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. Paula and I were surrounded by organ music emanating from pipe clusters in the ceiling and from all four walls of the structure. Amazing experience!

Former BJ photographer Tom Marvin, who plays his guitar on his farm near Salt Fork Park in Ohio and wherever he travels around the country and beyond, has a musical memory with Curt:

“Curt and I played the music for Rubber City Sorrows together many, many years ago. That song never made the top 10, or even the top 1  million!”
 Curt came to Ohio from the Charleston Gazette, where he was city editor, to the BJ (1971-74), then became the PR guy for the United Rubber Workers and the United Steelworkers.

I came to Ohio from the Charleston Daily Mail, the Gazette’s sister paper, to work at the Dayton Daily News before I migrated to the BJ in 1969 (and retired in 1996, which makes the two dates easy to remember since the 6 and 9 are transposed).

Curt, 70, teaches piano and organ at his Highland Square home. He also does organ recitals. His mother and two sisters also played the piano.
Curt was married to the late Jolan "Jody" Moldvay Brown. There’s a Curt Brown, Jr. floating around this country, too.

Curt's response to this article:

Thanks John!

Wish I were still 70 but turned 73 last month. Since I resigned from my previous regular organ job in 2014 I have been subbing at various area churches and decided I missed the regular weekly commitment so I was very happy to begin at Brecksville United Methodist Nov. 17—a warm and welcoming congregation and home to a beautiful Casavant pipe organ.

Didn't really cover labor at the ABJ but worked on State Desk, covered police and was finally on the night city desk as well as religion writer when I went to work for the URW in 1974..

Son Curt Jr. just finished his MFA in Book Art and Fiction at Mills College graduate school in Oakland, CA. where he also studied electronic music as electives.

Good memories of three years at ABJ '71-'74 which was by far the greatest newspaper in Ohio at the time.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Buchtelite to suspend publication … for now

The Buchtelite, 127-year-old independent student newspaper of The University of Akron previously under the capable hands of former BJ editor Roger Mezger as its advisor, will suspend publication at the beginning of next semester, marking the second time in less than three years that the paper has gone on hiatus.

Two students editors are graduating, another four are going out of the country to work or study.

The paper’s current temporary adviser, Val Pipps, is trying to round up replacements. Val joined the Akron faculty after a 2006-2008 stint at the BJ, where he was the major reason the web site hits more than doubled during his guidance.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

John Glenn passes away

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, has passed away in Columbus at the age of 95.

He returned to space in 1998 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

Glenn was in the U.S. Senate from 1972 to 1998 and ran for President in 1984.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Former PD, Newsday reporter passes away

William Brian Williams, former PD and New York Newsday editor/columnist reporter, passed away Wednesday, December 1.

William Brian Williams
Calling hours will be at Hummel Funeral Home in Akron with burial in Colorado and a memorial mass in the future at Hudson’s St. Mary’s Church.

His obituary:

William Brian Williams

Wm. Brian Williams of Hudson, died Wednesday, Dec. 1 after a courageous three-month battle against complications of Achalasia, a disorder of the esophagus that interferes with food digestion. He was 82.

He and his wife, Teresa (Terry) Considine and their daughter, Katy, moved back to Ohio 11 years ago, after 30 years in New York, where for 24 years, Brian was an editor/writer for New York Newsday, the country’s largest afternoon newspaper and after retirement, an editor for Doubleday Book Clubs.

A native of Colorado, Brian was a reporter, editor and columnist for 11 years at The Cleveland Plain Dealer, where he met his wife. He moved to the San Diego Union for four years and then on to New York.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by his sister, Mary, of Napa Valley, Calif.; and his nephew, Nick Wingfield, Seattle Bureau Chief for the New York Times; as well as numerous Considine relatives.

Calling hours will be on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Hummel Funeral Home, 500 E. Exchange St. in Akron. Rev. Fr. Edward J. Kordas, pastor of St. Mary’s, Hudson, will lead a prayer service at 6 p.m.

Burial will be in Colorado. A memorial mass will be said at St. Mary’s Church, Hudson at a future date.

In remembrance, Brian suggested we all laugh a little more and when meeting someone challenged with a disability that we pretend it isn’t there and get to know the real person.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

If it’s anywhere near Christmas you can count on Carol Eubank, BJ Marketing Communications Department retiree, to, well, be a-Carol-ing.

And Bev Fry, Green High grad, wife of Tom Fry, rabid Ohio State fan, usually is in the mix.

They did it in 2014 in Youngstown’s Arms Family Museum.

And again this week closer to home.

Greystone, the magnificent Arts & Crafts style residence of Olive A. and Wilford P. Arms is preserved a century later as The Arms Family Museum of Local History. Coincidentally, Carol’s extensive activities include involvement with another Greystone, the building in downtown Akron constructed for the Masons.

Carol also is involved with the Green Historical Society.

Carol, a 1957 Coventry High grad, lives in Portage Lakes, where she also is involved with the Portage Lakes Historical Society.

Carol also is the “queen” of BJ reunions. She’s always getting Ol’ Blue Walls escapees together for fun gatherings. Even when they don’t sing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TV giant Grant Tinker passes away

Producer Grant Tinker, who formed MTM Enterprises named after Mary Tyler Moore, his wife at the time, passed away at the age of 90.

Grant Tinker
His resume is incredible:

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (#1 in ratings for 7 seasons; 29 Emmys; gave birth to “Lou Grant,” propelled Betty White to a long career) #19 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“The Bob Newhart Show” #92 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“Family Ties” #99 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“St. Elsewhere.”

“Hill Street Blues” #63 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“Marcus Welby, M.D.”

Personally, as the BJ TV editor for 16 years, I would put MTM, Newhart, St. Elsewhere and Hill Street in my top 25 of all time.
So one guy, in my opinion, came up with 4 of the best series in TV history. Pretty impressive body of work.

Tinker was born in Stamford, Connecticut and was a Dartmouth College graduate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Black (and blue) Friday for Dale Allen’s hip

Former BJ Editor Dale Allen learned the hard way the warning that is implicit in the term, Black Friday.

Dale Allen
Dale reports:

“I tripped, fell while changing TVs. Tripped into City Hospital for a total knee replacement. All is going well. I was just told that I am getting out of hospital today to begin therapy and healing. Moral of story: Don't shop on black Friday.”

Later, Dale corrected himself. It was his hip, not his knee, that was replaced. You know, the bone higher up than the knee.

Dale blamed the error on being drugged out. I find that a completely justifiable excuse.
I still remember my first experience with Black Friday, in Dayton when I was at the Dayton Daily News. I was lined up outside the door before opening time, prepared to get the bargain of a lifetime. The doors flew open, and octogenarian ladies with bluish white hair damn near took me down as if they were Steelers defensive lineman and I was the latest Cleveland Browns quarterback on the sacrificial altar.

Lesson learned. I’ve avoid Black Friday mob openings ever since. Perhaps I should have told Dale about this before he went for the TV.

Dale, Jim Holan and I were the midwives for Channels’ birth in 1980. A few years later, Dale had me slow down the BJ computers while Knight-Ridder representatives were in the building to determine if Ol’ Blue Walls needed more mainframe power. I did. KR folks went back to Miami and the BJ got its upgrade to superpower mainframe.

Who says management and labor can’t work together for the good of the company?
As for Dale's store-bought hip, I've had my right knee for years and it's improved my golf game by 6 strokes for 9 holes. Dale's a fisherman so I'm not sure what that will do for the trout as his target. Plus, it's his hip -- got that! -- and not his knee.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Katie Byard fusion ‘going well’

Retired BJ reporter and occasional radio talk show sub host Jim Carney reports that wife and BJ reporter Katie Byard’s spinal fusion surgeries on her neck are going well. She’s had three – in April, May and June.

Jim reports that KT “should be in the hospital tonight and home by tomorrow. She'll be updating folks on her status later. Thanks for all the prayers and love.”

Former BJ features writer Bill O’Connor has published his third novel, “The Era of Long Thoughts” ($21 for paperback version via
He went to his experience well for this one since it’s set in an Akron newspaper with a troubled reporter, although, Bill insists, “I’d like to stress that the novel is not autobiographical.”

Well, with one exception.

Quips Bill:

All the characters are creations, except for one minor one. BJ colleagues might guess who Guy Daynor is.”

The blurb about Bill’s novel:

“Matthew Fox is a veteran newspaper reporter. The year is 1990. He sees a trend in favor of softer reporting and he resists efforts to write such stories. His own life is in crisis. He is a loner, with no real friends. His only close contact is sexual and fleeting. Now, in his 50s, his own unhappiness leads him to consider a damning story about the origins of an obscure chapel at a mental hospital. The consequences of such a story would bring unhappiness to a gentle group of idealists.”

As for Bill in real life: He joined the BJ in the spring of 1979.

The blurb about author Bill:

“Bill O'Connor was born and raised in South Philadelphia. He's been a Franciscan friar, a college professor and a reporter with John S. Knight's flagship newspaper, The Akron Beacon Journal. He's also unloaded ketchup cases from a conveyor belt, been chained to a stamping press, delivered furniture and failed miserably as a door-to-door salesman. He is the father of four children. He and his wife Elsbeth live at the edge of a woods and sometimes drink wine in the Alps.”

Bill and Elsbeth throw some Gatsbyesque parties at their 1108 Ramling Way home in Bath Township, too. I know because I’ve been to some.

Bill married his Swiss miss in 2002. They both have four grown children from previous marriages.

Bill was at a momentous BJ reunion in Primo’s Deli in Akron in 2010. At the same table were BJ television critics whose Ol’ Blue Walls efforts spanned three decades: David Bianculli (1980-83), David’s successor, Mark Dawidziak, who slinked off to the PD for even greater success; and Rich Heldenfels, who replaced Mark and eventually dropped his insistence on keeping the off-putting R.D. byline.

Also at the lunch were the late Joan Rice, super nova food writer Jane Snow, former PD and BJ classical music critic Don Rosenberg and John Olesky, who was TV Editor for Bianculli, Dawidziak and Heldenfels and made them all better writers for it. Yeah, right.

Bianculli lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, which is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, where O'Connor once lived.

Bill did his undergraduate work at St. Francis College and got his Master's degree at Bowling Green University. He spent 10 years as an instructor of English and drama with Montana University.
His previous novels are “Bums and Hershey Bars,” which began as a master’s thesis at Bowling Green, published in 1965, and “The Legend of Horn Mountain,” an adventure story written for those in their early teen years, set in Montana where Bill lived for eight years. Bill’s email address is interesting.
I don’t think it’s a comment on his mental condition, but his clever way of slicing up BillO’Connor in the middle to get “loco.”
Whimsy does not escape Bill. Or my 84-year-old editor eyes.

After reading this article, Bill explained why he is “loco”:

“You're right about my email name - loco2732. But remember when we had to sign on at the paper with the section we worked followed by the beginning of our last name? Being in Lifestyle at that time, I signed on as loco so often that when I got email for the first time I used loco. By then I had forgotten what loco meant to people who weren't signing on as we did back then.

“Maybe it's appropriate, the loco thing for me. A lot of people think so, especially my wife.

"Thanks again. Reading your blog is like hearing about family.”

Family, indeed, is what we are, Bill, no matter how long ago we put out that fine newspaper together.
And thanks for explaining why working in
L ifestyle and being named
O'CO nnor made you loco. I'm caused a few people to go loco in my time, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Barbara Galloway Mudrak, a reporter for nearly two dozen years at the BJ till her 2001 buyout, is celebrating her 41st wedding anniversary to Pete Mudrak, a Columbiana County farmer.

The Mount Union College graduate from Garfield Heights, who grew up in the home her parents built in 1948, teaches English and Journalism at Alliance High School in Stark County.

 Barb also is the adviser for the Red and Blue Flyer at Alliance High. Barb and Pete have two sons who got their educations at Kent State and Auburn.

Barb’s grandfather, sculpture Andrew Galloway, left evidence of his talent in churches all over the Cleveland area.

Barb is a movie star, albeit in a local film, “Minerva Monsters,” about the creatures reportedly roaming the Minerva area. The movie premiered appropriately at a Bigfoot Convention, in Salt Fork State Park.

I hope that Barb and Pete didn’t celebrate at Bricco’s Restaurant on Exchange Street at Main in Akron. A waitress who “looked sick” handled the food before Barb and other BJers came down with the flu or something akin to it after eating there in March.

Barb's email address:  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We sat side by side for 16 years. Eventually, we'll do that again.