Monday, 17 June 2019 16:50

Sam and Brad Show Podcast 6.17.19

On the Monday edition of the Sam and Brad Show Podcast:

Mandy Bell of spoke about the Indians' sweep of the Tigers. (21.9 seconds) 

Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer spoke about his article regarding the University of Akron's athletic programs (14:13) 

Sam and Brad spoke about the Anthony Davis trade and the NBA.  (24:52) 

Published in Sam and Brad

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jerome"The Bus" Bettis joined the Sam and Brad Show live from Canal Park Tuesday afternoon.

Bettis will be the featured speaker at the 2019 Best of Greater Akron Preps event. beginning at 6pm.

The fellas spoke about tonight's event, the Pittsburgh/Cleveland rivalry, and talked a little golf as well.  The Bus spoke with Bourquin and Russell at the South Course of Firestone a couple of years ago. 

Published in Sam and Brad
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 18:44

The Sam and Brad Show Podcast 03/27/19

On this Wednesday edition of the Sam and Brad Show, the guys give their takes on the NFL expanding replay to review and challenge pass interference calls (00:21). They asked Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal for his take on the change as well (12:44). The guys also talked college basketball with ESPN's Dan Dakich (14:32) and Indians baseball with Zack Meisel of The Athletic (34:29).


Published in Sam and Brad
Tuesday, 29 January 2019 15:20

Jasen Sokol Show Podcast 1.29.19

Jasen and Bobbi's Tuesday edition of the Jasen Sokol Show Podcast. 
1. Doug Livingston from the Akron Beacon Journal spoke about former Akron mayor Don Plusquellic possibly running for office again
2 Jan Leach from Kent State University spoke about a tough week in journalism all across the board 
3. John Nicholas from the University of Akron spoke about the cyber attack on Akron.
Published in Jasen Sokol
Monday, 15 October 2018 10:33

Serious Crash Closes I-71 Sunday

I-71 South was closed for about six hours Sunday afternoon into the evening after a multi-vehicle crash involving a semi near Route 18 in Montville Township.

Reports are the accident started in the Northbound lanes of 71, when the driver of the semi truck swerved to the left and hit a Nissan Rogue. Both vehicles hit the guardrail, entered the median, and then the semi continued Northbound onto 71 South.

The driver of the semi is reportedly in stable condition at Metro Health in Cleveland. The driver of the Rogue, that ended up flipping onto its roof and coming to a stop in the southbound lanes, was taken to Medina Hospital and is in stable condition there. A third driver, who was heading 71 South and was hit by the Rogue that landed in the southbound lanes, is in Critical Condition at Akron City Hospital.

Read more from the Akron Beacon Journal

Published in Local
Thursday, 04 October 2018 10:49

Akron Man Sentenced in Human Trafficking Case

Darren Townsend, 38, of Akron, pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in persons, six counts of promoting prostitution, three counts of compelling prostitution, and one count of corrupting another with drugs. He was facing up to 38 years in prison if he were convicted on all of the charges he was facing, but after his guilty plea, was sentenced to 14 years by Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Amy Corrigall Jones. 

According to the Beacon Journal, Noah Munyer, Townsend's attorney told the paper, "He decided the risk of a jury verdict was too much." 

Pearl Coffey, 35, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted trafficking in persons, compelling prostitution, and one count of corrupting another with drugs. She has not yet been sentenced. 

One of the victims, who was 17-years-old at the time, told the court that Townsend would pick her up from high school and take to several different locations throughout Akron where she would have sex for money. 

Published in Local
This week has shown some uncertain futures for two long-time staples in the Akron area.

Dan Horrigan, the mayor of Akron, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to discuss a few local topics, one of them being the sale of the Akron Beacon Journal to GateHouse Media. Horrigan believes in a strong local newspaper to hold the politicians accountable, and has said the Beacon is part of the fabric of the city. Once the sale goes through, the mayor wants to sit with the new owners to discuss their approach to journalism and the business community.

Horrigan also touched on the Bridgestone Invitational, which will leave town after 2018. The mayor is disappointed that the Bridgestone will not return for 2019, especially with how it affects the local economy and the Northeast Ohio Golf Charities. He says the city will work on bringing a new tournament to town, with the hopes of the top golfers in the world coming back, as well.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

Watch your speed along Akron City streets in the coming months, as APD is starting to crack down on speeders. 

The request is coming from Akron City Council, who will be working with the Police Department's Traffic Commander to decide which areas to target. 

Akron Police Chief Ken Ball tells the Akron Beacon Journal that the department is adding three, four-hour patrols each weekday, to rotate between Akron's 10 wards. Typically, shifts will run late afternoon, which is a high-volume time around the city. 

Published in Local
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 17:11

AUDIO Zips Bowl Eligible, Shooting For More

Akron Beacon Journal sportswriter George Thomas spoke with Sam and Brad to talk about the Akron Zips' 37-34 win over the Ohio Bobcats. 


The Zips control their own destiny in the MAC East Division and if they win over rival Kent State, they will play in Detroit for the MAC Championship December 2nd. 

Published in Sam and Brad

In a memo sent to Summa Health employees Monday morning, interim President and CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny announced that the health system would be eliminating 300 positions and consolidating or otherwise eliminating some services going forward. 

The Akron Beacon Journal reported earlier Monday that Dr. Deveny cited a $60 Million operating loss for 2017 as the reason for the layoffs and cuts in services. In that memo, Dr. Deveny says Summa will continue to reevaluate the company's ongoing capital needs, and that all new projects must be evaluated against their critical strategic goals. That said, Dr. Deveny acknowledged that the $350 Million West Tower project at the Summa main campus in Akron will continue as planned. During a ceremony in May, the company broke ground just last month on the new West Tower. Construction is scheduled to be finished by Spring of 2019.

Summa Health currently employs 8,000 people throughout the area, making it Akron's largest employer. Of the 300 jobs that will be eliminated, Dr. Deveny mentioned in his memo that about half of them are currently filled within the system.  

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan responded to the news, saying, "A successful, independently-owned Summa Health is key to the ongoing economic and physical wellbeing of our city and the region. Just as our community depends on the care and services Summa provides for its health and welfare; Summa cannot succeed without the support and trust of the community. I have pledged to continue to work with Dr. Deveny and the Summa leadership team to do everything necessary to ensure the organization remains a strong and independent pillar for years to come."

Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro also released a statement on the Summa layoffs, saying, "Summa has been an anchor in our community for 125 years, and during that time Summa has provided care at the highest level to hundreds of thousands of Summit County and Northeast Ohio residents. However, the current climate in the health care industry is leading many organizations to re-evaluate their financial and operational models and make difficult decisions to maintain quality care." 

Published in Local
Thursday, 08 June 2017 17:50

AUDIO Nate Ulrich Discusses Browns OTA's

Sam and Brad caught up with Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal to talk a little Browns OTA's on a Thursday afternoon.


Published in Sam and Brad

Clint O'Connor, pop culture/movie writer for the Akron Beacon Journal spoke with Sam and Brad on a "Feel Good Friday" to discuss the blockbusters coming out to the big screen this summer and early fall.


For the full interview click here.


Published in Sam and Brad

Zips' sports beat writer George Thomas from the Akron Beacon Journal spoke about the departure of former University of Akron head coach Keith Dambrot to coach the men's team at Duquesne.


Published in Sam and Brad

Zips' beat writer George Thomas spoke with Sam Bourquin to discuss the Zips' season in 2016-17. Their season came to an end last night at the hands of UT Arlington. 


Published in Sam and Brad
Monday, 06 March 2017 16:10

AUDIO Nate Ulrich Discusses NFL Combine

Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich spoke with Sam and Brad on Monday to talk about the NFL Combine, free agency, and if they would take Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett #1 overall.


For the full interview, click here.


Published in Sam and Brad

High School sports reporter Michael Beaven spoke with Sam and Brad Monday to preview the high school boys' basketball tournament across all divisions.

Some of the notable teams in the area include St. Vincent-St.Mary, Jackson, Hoban, and Copley.


For the full interview, click here.


Published in Sam and Brad

Nate Ulrich, Browns beat reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal joined the Sam and Brad Show to talk about what free agent quarterback could possibly help the Browns moving forward.


For the full interview, click here.

Published in Sam and Brad
Tuesday, 10 January 2017 16:04

AUDIO Jason Lloyd Talking Cavaliers, Korver

Cavaliers beat writer Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal spoke with Sam and Brad Tuesday about the Cleveland Cavaliers, their matchup with the Jazz tonight in Salt Lake City, and the addition of Kyle Korver to the lineup.


For the full interview, click here. 

Published in Sam and Brad

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal discussed the Browns as they head into the offseason and try to rebound from a 1-15 season with WAKR's Brad Russell.


Published in Brad Russell
Monday, 17 October 2016 17:57

AUDIO Beaven: Area HS Teams Making Moves

With Week 8 of the high school football season in the books and teams looking to sew up playoff spots in Week 9, the season has been rolling for a few of our area teams.

Michael Beaven, high school sports reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal spoke with Sam Bourquin Monday to talk about some of the top teams in the City Series, the Federal League, and some of the parochial schools in the area.


For the full interview with Michael Beaven, click here.


Published in Sam and Brad
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 19:58

AUDIO Nate Ulrich Talking Browns

Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal joined the Brad Russell Show Wednesday to talk about the Browns, rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, and some of the growing pains seen in this season thus far.

The Browns take on Washington this Sunday. You can catch the game on 97.5 WONE.

Published in Brad Russell
After 22 years at the Akron Beacon Journal, Rich Heldenfels is calling it a career. And on his 65th birthday, no less.

Heldenfels has been a pop culture writer at the Beacon since 1994, and he joined the Ray Horner Morning Show on his final day on the job. Heldenfels talked about his arrival into Akron by way of Schenectady, New York, and was thrust into work head-first during the OJ Simpson saga in ’94.

The long-time Beacon writer says some of his favorite memories were meeting local celebrities who went national, such as Steve Harvey Drew Carey, and LeBron James, and walking around the set of 25 Hill at Derby Downs.

Heldenfels will still teach at the University of Akron, but now that his wife has also retired, he felt this was a good time to step away from the paper.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Tuesday, 16 August 2016 17:40

AUDIO Indians Prepare To Face ChiSox

The Indians are ready to face the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field tonight to start a three-game series.

Ryan Lewis, Indians beat writer for the Akron Beacon Journal joined Brad Russell from Booth 4 at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario just ahead of tonight's game.

Tonight's pitching matchup will feature the Tribe's Corey Kluber going up against Jose Quintana of the White Sox. Lewis anticipates both of these pitchers making it tough on opposing hitters.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm and pregame starts at 6:37pm on 1590 WAKR. For the full interview with Ryan Lewis and Brad Russell, click right here.

Published in Brad Russell
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 16:53

AUDIO Nate Ulrich Talking Browns Training Camp

The Browns are fully immersed in training camp up in Berea, and with Hue Jackson putting his imprint on the team, you can see a change in the attitude and the intensity on the practice field.

Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal spoke with Sam Bourquin and Brad Russell live from Sluggers and Putters in Canal Fulton.

Nate said that Coach Jackson will name a starter at quarterback in relatively short time, and Robert Griffin III has become more consistent with time.

"He  to continue to rise to the level of competition," Ulrich said. "He's been up and down, but he's made some plays and gotten a little bit better, but there's a lot that remains to be seen in terms of whether or not he's going to revive his career."

For the full interview of Nate and the guys, click here.

Published in Sam and Brad
Thursday, 21 July 2016 16:46

AUDIO Possible Changes For Rolling Acres?

One of the topics that many Akron residents have been thinking about for the last few years is what will be the next use for the former Rolling Acres Mall site on the city's west side.

Akron Beacon Journal writer Rick Armon joined the Sam Bourquin Show to talk about the possibility of the former mall being used as a sports complex to add the city of Akron to the ever-growing youth sports tournament industry.

Armon said that the decision regarding the land is one of the biggest that city leaders will be facing in the months to come, but it certainly won't be an easy one.

"I don't know that I see it going forward," Armon said. "There would be a lot of hoops to jump through."

According to Armon, developers came to Akron City Council with plans of developing the land for a multi-sport complex at the former mall site, which has been vacant since 2008.

For the full interview with Rick Armon and Sam Bourquin, click here.

Published in Sam and Brad
Thursday, 21 April 2016 17:45

AUDIO Raised Expectations For Zips Football

The Zips have wrapped up spring practice, and coming off their bowl win against Utah State, the Akron football team is looking to build off of last year's success.

George Thomas, who covers the Zips for the Akron Beacon Journal joined the Sam Bourquin Show to talk about the team's mindset and strengths after their strong spring.

Thomas said that the wide receivers looked strong, and it wasn't just Jerome Lane who stood out this spring.

"They looked very good," Thomas said. "I'm talking Austin Wolfe, I'm talking Michael Means, Jo Jo Natson, who stands about 5 foot 8, but if you give him daylight, he's gone." 

 There were some other bright spots including the defensive backfield and the offensive line, but one of the key takeaways was that incumbent starter Thomas Woodson must work on his accuracy in order for his playmakers to get the most out of their ability.

  The Blue squad squeaked by the White squad 20-17 last Saturday at Infocision Stadium-Summa Field to wrap up spring practice. 


Published in Sam and Brad
Sunday, 06 March 2016 12:40

The Economy: What Akron Voters Say

With the Ohio primary just a week and a half off, what are the voters thinking behind the "horse race" polls we are treated to on a nightly basis? 
1590 WAKR, The Akron Beacon Journal and other news organizations in Ohio are part of a collaborative effort to share stories and information leading up to the 2016 primary and general elections. In this report, Akron Beacon Journal reporters Doug Livingston and Jim Mackinnon examine the impact of the economy among Akron-area voters and how it shapes their political views ahead of deciding on candidates seeking their respective nominations.
LINKS to the full report "Ohio economy creates stress across all generations and parties" and the Akron Beacon Journal for additional coverage 
- - -
(Akron Beacon Journal Doug Livingston and Jim Mackinnon) The Ohio economy, once one of the most robust in the country, has tanked in the last 15 years.
With it has gone a sense of security, replaced by a palpable anger.
People such as Rick Kepler, a 66-year-old Teamster from suburban Akron, talk of revolution, and 24-year-old Iris Edmondson of Akron works two jobs, worries about student debt and postpones the purchase of a home.
Since 2000, the median household income has dropped from 19th in the nation to 35th — the second-biggest drop among the 50 states. Manufacturing jobs, once the lifeblood of the Buckeye State, have disintegrated.
Wages in the construction industry have tumbled.
Across the country, Gallup, Pew and Associated Press polls have showed Americans concerned about the economy more than anything else this election year, and in Ohio, the concern is no different.
People talk about wages, pensions, health care costs and debt, and they also express anger with the privileged class.
Today, more than 20 Ohio news organizations partner in the first of several joint efforts to explore issues important to the people of the state. The goal is to reflect Ohioans’ concerns in the presidential campaign — and to hold candidates accountable to those concerns.
Today we offer stories of Ohioans. On Monday, Ohio by the numbers, and on Tuesday, how the candidates responded to questions from Ohio media.
Time for revolution?
Rick Kepler may be retiring, but he certainly isn’t shy.
The 66-year-old resident of the small city of Norton, just southwest of Akron, has been a union man for most of his life. His life experiences as a union worker and paid organizer for the Teamsters shaped his world view.
His jobs included driving a beer truck in New Orleans and working for a trucking company in Richfield.
And the stories Kepler says he hears today from Ohio’s working class also shape his outlook.
“I talk to working people. A lot of working people,” Kepler said. “What I’m hearing is, it’s unbelievable what’s going on.”
Companies want workers to have unpaid vacations. Workers tell him their health insurance now comes with $7,000 to $8,000 deductibles. Hourly pay often is $10 to $11 an hour, “poverty wages,” said Kepler, who continues as a union organizer.
“I sit down and I hear, ‘The boss is pushing us, pushing us, pushing us,’” he said. “So, I sit down with the workers and I hear stories I don’t hear coming out of the corporate media.”
Kepler also is among the hundreds of thousands of retired Teamsters facing cuts in monthly pension payments from the financially troubled Central States Pension Fund. A federal law enacted in 2014 made that possible in order to keep plan from collapsing. His check could be reduced 55 percent.
So, Kepler doesn’t want a regular presidential election.
He says the nation now is a plutocracy — run by wealthy elites — and needs a revolution to return it to its democratic roots.
“We’re at an important stage right now,” Kepler said. He hears people telling him that they feel the election system is rigged and that Wall Street is running the show.
“If I had to tell someone to vote for someone, it would be Bernie [Sanders],” Kepler said. Sanders has sponsored legislation to overturn the law allowing multi-employer pension fund cuts, and he is speaking out in favor of the middle class, he said.
Kepler is certainly not a fan of Republicans. But he also doesn’t like how Barack Obama, (“Mr. Hope and Change”) bailed out Wall Street and said “Nah, I ain’t got time for you” to working people. And he does not want Hillary Clinton elected.
“I believe Hillary is a defender of the rich as well,” he said.
Husband Bill Clinton was no friend of working class people while president, Kepler said. “She’s no different. ... She is going to be pro corporate. She is going to be a corporatist.”
Kepler wants candidates to address the economy and to propose changes to health care that benefit people and not corporations.
“You have to protect Social Security,” he said.
Candidates also need to talk about how they will reform a two-tier justice system that favors the wealthy, he said.
“The plutocrats are calling the shots,” Kepler said. “We need a revolution in America.”
Debt fears
Iris Edmondson has multiple jobs, friends working 60-hour weeks, student debt and a grandmother whose pension payments were cut in half.
The 24-year-old, who turns 25 soon, is a recent graduate of the University of Akron, with a degree in communications that focuses on radio and television — but isn’t working in the field.
She has what she calls a fulfilling job at a Canton research facility that helps people with such things as opiate addiction and dementia.
“I feel like I’m kind of making a difference,” she said.
Edmondson and friends also recently created an event planning business, Event Customs. “We do that mostly on the weekends because everybody has a full-time job,” she said. “We do weddings, we do graduation parties, anything, you name it we will come and do it.”
Like others her age who can’t compare the aftermath of the Great Recession with the robust 1990s, she describes the Ohio economy as doing “OK,” but senses the strain.
“I still see a lot of people under the poverty line,” she said.
“A lot of my friends, they have to work 60 hours, long jobs, maybe a couple different jobs, just to make ends meet and get things together, barely making it,” she said. “I think it’s OK because a lot of people can still hold a job, or a couple of jobs.”
Edmondson wants a presidential candidate who speaks to and will address the issues important to her.
“A big thing with me is, graduating last year, I have a lot of student loan debt,” she said. “That limits me to do the kind of things I want to do.”
Edmondson wonders if she will ever pay off the debt, which is tens of thousands of dollars.
“I probably will be stuck paying it forever, pretty much, and I’ll probably have to take a public service job just to get rid of it,” she said. A public service job would let her work a certain number of years and then pay off the debt, she said.
“I’m nervous about that. It’s something I think about a lot,” she said. “I’m trying to make moves, I want to buy a home, you know, my next career, a lot of things come into play with that,” she said.
Edmondson said she is looking at all of the presidential candidates. She listens and watches news programs regularly, and she and her friends also watch candidate debates.
“I’m listening to everybody,” she said. “I’m observing and trying to do research. ... I’m not leaning towards anyone in particular right now.”
Politicians need to address issues important to her generation as well as older people, among them minimum wage, child care, student loan debt and health care, she said.
While she says she has not chosen a favorite candidate, Edmondson said she is listening more to Bernie Sanders.
“As I was looking at what his campaign is all about, he’s trying to raise minimum wage to where people are kind of going above that poverty line,” she said.
She noted that her grandmother worked almost 40 years with delivery service company UPS and then had her pension cut in half after she retired.
“That’s a big issue,” Edmondson said. “That’s crazy, because she had been used to living off a certain income and now they’re going to cut it in half. ... How can they do that if you already gave them all the years?”
Economic slow burn
It was 2003 when George Theodore noticed the economy slipping.
He remembers one client, a jet-truck racer who bought customized memorabilia from Theodore’s Akron print shop, Yellow Jacket T-Shirts. The driver, who traveled the country, talked of customers who were buying T-shirts with $10s and $20s instead of the usual $50s and $100s.
Theodore saw it too. Reliable clients began asking for pricing before placing orders. By 2005, sales fell by half.
It’s his ability to struggle from the brink of ruin and frustration with government that pushes him toward Donald Trump.
Theodore, now 70, opened shop in 1981 and built a clientele of churches, schools and community organizations. He controlled costs by finding deals on ink and shirts. During the summer, he worked from 6 a.m. to midnight, mentally docking himself $50 for every hour he lunched.
He worked alone. No labor costs, minimal overhead. He took less profitable jobs knowing he could clear the expenses.
He could tell something was wrong in the mid-2000s as the area failed to fully recover from the 2001 recession. Then in 2007 — a year before the economy collapsed — he got sick, diagnosed with cancer of the appendix. His insurance covered $55,000 for the surgery. But the chemotherapy, to his surprise, cost $25,000, which he paid out of pocket.
A part-time worker hired to help while he was in treatment was laid off. His brother, Ted, kept the mortgage current on his suburban home. The toughest handout, though, came from government.
“To be honest with you, I really didn’t want the help,” Theodore said, though he can’t imagine where he would be without the $200,000 in donations and government assistance, much for food.
At 70, Theodore doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. His dad lived to be 101. His brother, 80, retired after 54 years as an electrician.
Theodore runs from an ever-ringing cordless phone to a customer behind a counter. Receipts and profits are slightly above their 2002 peak. But the road to recovery carried tough decisions.
That’s all he wants in a leader. He knows his business, from the traffic pattern outside his store to the taxes he pays, may not be directly impacted by the next president.
But with trade deficits and illegal immigrants, who he said get treated better than the American unemployed, the choice rests on who can negotiate a stronger deal for the working middle class.
“Our economy has never been anything more than a big company,” Theodore said. Cut corners. Look for deals. Take advantage of opportunities. Trade wisely.
He doesn’t condone everything Trump says. But on locking up the border and shoring up the national budget, there’s no one he trusts more.
“He’s going to run it like a business. And I think he’s going to eliminate a good portion of the national debt,” he said as the phone rang, again.
Worried about children
Rod Hower lives comfortably in Green, one of the few prospering communities in Summit County. A senior project engineer at Ametek, Hower designs brushless motors for blower fans and city buses at the international company’s branch operation overlooking downtown Kent.
Business is good.
It’s the rest of the country, starting with his three adult children, that concerns him.
His oldest daughter, 28, just bought a house in suburban Wadsworth with her husband. She manages a string of Starbucks coffee shops around the University of Akron, where she received degrees in early childhood development and elementary education.
“She actually makes more money doing that than as a teacher. But with two degrees, she racked up a lot of student loans,” Hower said.
Then there’s his middle child, a 21-year-old daughter with a speech pathology degree. She’s taking on a Ph.D, has a 4.0 GPA and a near-full ride scholarship. So there’s no need to worry there.
But then there’s his youngest. At 18, he entered the University of Toledo as a sophomore studying nuclear engineering and in the first year accumulated $18,000 debt. The bill gave him reason to reconsider his life. He decided, instead, to join the Navy so Uncle Sam, not mom and dad, get the next bill.
“The thought of having that student loan debt is one of the things that pushed him into the Navy,” Hower said.
“Not just for my kids, but I see other people, middle-class people, who make less money than me, and I think about the problems they have getting their kids through school, especially if they don’t have a scholarship,” he said.
Hower, 50, graduated from UA in 1989, when a semester cost about $1,600. He worked throughout college, received a $500 scholarship and had no trouble paying off his debt in a year or two. Jobs were plentiful and pay was good.
“It was March of my last year that I was actually offered a job,” he said. “I didn’t graduate until August.”
Today’s economy — with inflation and the cost of tuition outpacing wages — is less forgiving.
“So I see all these kids without the resources to pay for college racking up this huge amount of debt,” Hower said. “So as soon as they get their degree, if they can get a job then basically all their money is going to pay off that student loan debt. So where’s the money for a mortgage, for a car, for other things that are supposed to be stimulating the economy?”
Adjusted for inflation, he made more in his job the year his oldest daughter was born than he does now. Yet, the candidates talk more about immigration, terrorism and Muslims, he said.
“It seems like the media focuses on the sound bites, the sensational stories. And they give so much airtime to [Donald] Trump, because he gets the ratings up. That’s basically it. Where’s the substance to the conversation that really affects the middle class?” Hower asked.
Hower donated less than $100 to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, the first time he’s ever given to a politician. He likes Sanders laser focus on the middle class, including his push for a single-payer health care system.
“Republicans talk about repealing Obamacare but offer no solutions,” he said. “Or at least I’m not hearing it. It’s like you’re strongly opposed to this, but what’s your alternative? And from Hillary Clinton’s standpoint, she pretty much says there’s no way in hell you’re going to get a single-payer system.”
Which candidate? None
Janece Schaffer-Burbank is working a couple of part-time jobs as she finishes up her bachelor’s degree at Kent State University.
The 23-year-old, who got married in January, expects to graduate this May with a degree that could lead to a career in health administration.
Schaffer-Burbank sees first-hand some of the major political and economic issues of the day.
One part-time job is in career services at Kent State, helping students and alumni on job-related issues.
Another is at the International Institute in Akron, where she has been working since January primarily in refugee resettlement.
“I teach a job-skills class on Thursdays,” she said. She brings in speakers from the community, helping the class learn interview and resume skills and such things as how to better present themselves to employers.
Ohio is “prospering slightly,” Schaffer-Burbank said. “I think some industries are doing well. Other industries are not doing well at all. I think, based on my experience with students at Kent State and my own, I think there’s a lot of part-time possibilities for students and others.”
She said she will graduate with student loan debt.
“I don’t have a huge debt,” she said. “But that’s because I’ve worked three jobs most of the time while I’ve been in college to cover my living expenses. But most people don’t do that. It also harms the ability of a student to succeed academically, I think, doing those part-time jobs.”
“I worry about loans and I worry about obtaining a full-time job to help me cover those,” she said.
She knows people who take multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet.
“It’s hard to find full-time work,” she said. “I find a lot of underemployment from people.”
All of that affects how she thinks about the election.
“But I don’t find it as one of the top issues that is being addressed,” she said. “Maybe John Kasich, because he’s governor here, he’s worried about it.”
She said she wished the candidates talked more about the economy, employment and education.
National security needs to be more of a campaign issue, she said.
“When I say national security, I don’t mean immigration. I work with legal immigrants,” she said. Instead, she means how the nation needs to deal with such things as ISIS, she said.
Schaffer-Burbank also said gun control needs to be talked about more because of the daily shootings.
“I might have some mixture of political parties in me,” she said. “But I identify more with a lower amount of federal intervention in state government, so that’s why I identify as a Republican.”
When it comes to picking a presidential candidate who best speaks best to her issues, “Can I say none?” she said.
Schaffer-Burbank has researched candidates, including going to their web sites and reading biographies. She also watches news programs regularly.
“If I were to pick one, I would say of the top people who have been competitive, I would say [Marco] Rubio and then I would say [Ben] Carson,” Schaffer-Burbank said.
“I don’t believe in Trump at all.”
“I’m more on the Kasich and [Ben] Carson side of things, even though they’re losing,” she said. “Might as well be on the losing team that has some moral grounds rather than others that don’t.”
Coaching mostly white men
It was James Kroeger’s last job to retrain the upper echelon of Summit County’s jobless.
In the decade before he retired last year, Kroeger coached hundreds of managers — mostly white men — who lost their jobs as corporations lightened their payrolls with younger, lower-paid employees.
Most of the displaced hadn’t interviewed for decades. Those in sales or marketing had the charisma to bounce back. Some in manufacturing lacked credentials.
Engineering and information technology bosses knew the lingo but lacked the social and networking skills.
In the training program he co-founded at the Summit County Department Job and Family Services, Kroeger taught them to value and market themselves after being secure in who they were and what they did for most their lives.
“For a lot of them having worked for the same company for decades, that was their identity. And it was a shock then, to be on their own. Not having a place to go each day. I had people about to lose their homes. People who had divorces. I had one suicide in 10 years,” said Kroeger.
The training sessions sometimes turned into support groups. Familiar faces relapsed, returning after losing a second job.
What Kroeger witnessed as mid-level management downsized in Northeast Ohio, and in his 25 years as head of economic and business development at the Akron and Cleveland chambers of commerce, left a profound impact on his view of corporate America and politics.
Kroeger is an Evangelical Christian supporting Hillary Clinton, though he doesn’t like that the former Secretary of State has collected made millions speaking to Wall Street banks or that the Clintons walked out of the White House with more than $100,000 in furniture, cutlery and other trappings, much of it later paid back or returned.
Throughout his career, Kroeger has balanced public policy and private enterprise. He considers himself politically left of center but only because the nation has shifted to the right socially.
“What confounds me is people don’t vote to their economic self interests. Republicans have been very skilled in using these social-wedge issues to get people to vote contrary to their economic well-being,” said Kroeger.
For several reasons, he ranks the economy high on his list of presidential election priorities.
“One is just the slow recovery we had from the last recession. There are structural issues in the economy that weren’t there 15 or 20 years ago. You’ve got a middle class that is stressed. We’ve got real wages that haven’t gone up. And you’ve got corporate behavior that has changed quite a bit in my lifetime,” said Kroeger, 66.
He’s concerned about widening income inequality, driven by what he sees as a paradigm shift in the way American businesses operate. Managers have devalued employees, which can be eliminated to appease stockholders, he said.
The spread between corporation’s lowest and highest paid personnel, maybe a factor of 20 in his father’s day, is now at 200.
“So you’ve got this disconnect between the senior people and the people who are doing the daily work. And it’s an attitude that says that everything is driven by the bottom line. The workforce is a fungible asset,” Kroeger said.
Seated in his modest one-story brick home in Fairlawn, Kroeger has some sage, albeit it dreary, advice for the future workers. Start saving, know the job you want and don’t expect a promotion when you get it or the right to keep it.
“… There is no longer an employment contract.”
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow on Twitter: @ABJDoug. Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or  on Facebook His stories can be found at
This project examining the direction of Ohio’s economy was produced by Ohio  news organizations that have joined together to deliver stories that citizens identify as most important to their lives in 2016. More  than  30  newspapers,  radio  and  television  stations  agreed  in  December  to  cover  the presidential  election  in  a  way  that  best  represents  the  concerns  of  Ohioans,  and  holds  candidates accountable to those concerns.
Published in Local
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 18:56

AUDIO Nate Ulrich Talking Browns Moves

The Cleveland Browns are making lots of moves, and with so many things in play, you want to know what's next.

Browns beat reporter Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal joined the Sam Bourquin Show Tuesday to talk about the firing of Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer and if owner Jimmy Haslam will ever get it right.

"I think it was a good move to turn the page as far as the GM, but I'm not sure about Mike Pettine, he made tough decisions, but the defense was bad and losing 18 out of 21 was bad as well."


Fast forward to the moves made yesterday and today with Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta joining the organization, it leaves a lot of people with a lot of questions.

"It's out of the box thinking," Ulrich said. "Can the Harvard guys work with the football guys and make this thing work?" "It'll be interesting to watch," he added.


Published in Sam and Brad
Sunday, 03 January 2016 10:00

Bottom Line: We're Disgusted With Politics

For politicians who want to win, polls can hold valuable information. But some of the latest polling on politics shows a trend any politician would do well to fear: we are simply fed up with how far down the process seems to have fallen.

The Rubber City Radio Group is part of a statewide consortium of media outlets including the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio Public Radio and Television, the Ohio Newspapers Association, Ohio Association of Broadcasters and other organizations forging a rare alliance in a bid to focus attention on issues facing Ohio voters leading up to the 2016 Presidential primary and general elections. 1590 WAKR and is owned by Rubber City Radio Group.

As part of the coaltion, we've agreed to directly share, with attribution, stories and features on substantive issues regarding the political process and specifically those issues important to Ohio voters focused on the Presidential contests. Such partnerships are not unusual; WAKR and the Beacon Journal, for example, collaborated on a series of video interviews of local County Council candidates in the past and have also worked together on forums and town hall-style meetings.

This is the first of a series of reports planned throughout the year, and features poll results from a survey from the University of Akron's Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. The Beacon Journal has been at the forefront of an effort to encourage more civility in public discourse in conjunction with The Jefferson Foundation 



(Akron Beacon Journal) As she realized what she had in her hands, Andrea Barnes' eyes lit up like she was holding toxicity.

"It's not that Glenn Beck," she said of the author's name on the book.

But, as she turned to the inside jacket cover and saw a portrait of the polarizing, conservative radio and talk show host, she knew otherwise.

"Oh," she said.

Barnes, 44, likens Beck to Rush Limbaugh, another divisive commentator.

"Anger. Everybody is so angry. I guess that leads into fear," she said, referring to the rise of unconventional presidential candidates who rally worried voters by identifying and denigrating a perceived enemy. Preferring that opposing views be respected and not indiscriminately rejected, Barnes took a few minutes to reflect on the state of politics then slipped the book back on a shelf at the Cuyahoga Falls Public Library. "If we're going to solve any problems, we have to have civil discourse and be tolerant of others," Barnes said, feeling better to have released some of her own frustration.

Call it fear. Call it anger. Call it discontent.

As Americans grow unusually interested in a presidential election that is a year away, they come to the party with an unusually high level of disgust, according to a recent poll by the Ray C. Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron. Asked in November to rank their satisfaction with American politics on a scale of one (utter disgust) to 10 (complete satisfaction), 24 percent of Ohioans picked the number one.

The worst.

The bottom.

Only 1 percent picked the highest satisfaction rating of 10.

It was that lopsided.

The poll on political approval found a majority of Ohioans are disgusted, to some degree. What's acutely noticeable is that the response rate for those with absolute disgust (that bottom rating of one) has tripled since 2008.

Is Trump a sign?

The results leave Bliss director John Green contemplating whether Donald Trump is the man of the hour or a sign of the times. His provocations seem to boost his ratings, but for which reason? "It could very well be that when we look back, we'll say, 'well, Trump was a very unique person'," Green said. "But, when I look at it I see that whatever uniqueness he may have in his background, he does sort of capture a lot of the trends in media and the decline of civility and the rise of an adversarial culture that many of us have been talking about for a couple decades."

"And that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Bliss surveyed 600 registered Ohio voters after the November election to find that 57 percent give American politics a negative score, up sharply from 22 percent in 2008. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error. When the poll was done in 2008, the economy had not yet fallen off the cliff and a nation weary of war was watching exciting presidential campaigns begin to solidify. War hero and elder statesman Sen. John McCain had locked up the Republican nomination and Democrats were weighing two historic candidates: An African American and a woman. 

Green noted a groundswell of "hope and change" from both parties at that time.


Could it get worse?

There's much debate about the effects of negative advertising on the emotions of voters, but campaigns increasingly attack opponents because they believe it works. Research shows that campaign advertising hit an all-time high in the 2012 race, and negative ads accounted for more than 60 percent of the air time, also an all-time high. Already in Ohio, a powerful swing state in presidential elections, negative ads have been aired on prime-time television against Hillary Clinton a half year before the Ohio Primary Election and a year before the general.

The question is, does that kind of activity give rise to more angst among voters?

In Ohio, according to an analysis of the Bliss poll, voters most dissatisfied with American politics are more likely to be among these groups: young; white; men; without advanced college degrees; residents of southeast Ohio; regularly attend church; or are more concerned with terrorism, immigration and abortion than the economy or climate change. National polling by the Pew Research Center suggests Republican candidates (reinforced by debates that have broken records for cable viewers) are hitting a sweet spot with angry voters by pounding issues such as national security.

But playing to disgruntled voters has the added effect of souring others.

"The problem is you have so many big issues facing the country in terms of the economy and social issues, but everybody is hung up on the idea of Muslim terrorism and whether we should allow Syrian refugees into the country," said Brian Baker, a 29-year-old chef in Cuyahoga Falls.

Baker rates his satisfaction in American politics a miserable two out of 10 partly because candidates dwell on issues that don't appeal to his more liberal leanings. More importantly, though, he said the issues are blown out of proportion. "They're nice things to talk about but they don't really affect us greatly," said Baker, whose never voted in a presidential election when American troops weren't fighting terrorism.

Baker wouldn't be upset if Gov. John Kasich's message of compassionate conservatism prevailed. But Kasich, too, has called for a pause on some immigration amid fears of terrorism, a move Baker can't condone. 

The young man prefers candidates who address starvation, homelessness or even Planned Parenthood. All, he said, are more manageable than the thoughts of a fanatic who might want to sneak in and hurt America.

In whom can we trust

General disapproval of politics is hurting legacy candidates. Disgusted voters prefer private-sector, anti-establishment newcomers who are believed to be better at understanding ordinary people (even more so than being honest), the UA poll found.

"It is disturbing because it suggests the levels of distrust are so high that voters are unwilling to trust anybody very much," Green said. "They just want someone who is outside the system."

With unemployment rates approaching pre-recession levels, disgusted voters have shifted their attention away from the economy and toward more controversial issues, among them abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration and national security.

The Ohio data mirror a national shift, with the spotlight apparently guided by an angry hand and a souring public opinion of the federal government.

An ongoing survey by the Pew Research Center shows Americans now hold the lowest opinion of the federal government's ability to thwart terrorism since 9/11. Yet, Americans most often say Uncle Sam's top job is keeping them safe. And on immigration, they say the feds do worst. The research also indicates Americans consider the GOP better suited to deal with terrorism and immigration, the only two issues Republican respondents told Pew they would like the federal government more involved in.

Hope and despair

Millennials, ages 18 to 34, are simultaneously the most satisfied, disgusted, opinionated and indifferent voters represented in the Bliss poll.

The youngest (ages 18 to 24) were the most likely to take a neutral position on politics in the poll. The older portion — idealistic, fresh out of college or launching a career — flowed to opposite ends of the spectrum with the highest rates of satisfaction (20.3 percent) and dissatisfaction (62.3 percent), and the lowest neutrality.

With age, the level of dissatisfaction waned. Ohio voters in every older generation consistently moved toward a neutral position on satisfaction. Baby boomers, the second largest generation behind millennials, voiced less disapproval than all but the youngest first- or second-time voters.

Research shows millennials vote less often than prior generations. They're also distrustful of government and the least likely to affiliate with conventional political parties. Couple these suspicions with gridlock in Congress and fighting on the campaign trail and what you get, Green says, is "a recipe for a great deal of dissatisfaction."

Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow on Twitter: @DougLivingstonABJ.

Published in Local