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Press Club Hall of Fame class set

Press Club honors journalists

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Press Club has announced its 2022 Hall of Fame class, presented by Farmers National Bank.

The 2022 class comprises Mahoning Valley media icons Ernie Brown, Peter Gabriel (posthumous), Tom Holden (posthumous) and Andrea Wood. The awards ceremony and dinner will be Sept. 28 at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown.

“We’re excited to honor another impressive class with induction into the press club’s hall of fame,” said Adam Earnheardt, executive director. “Although the idea for a hall of fame was conceptualized a few years ago, it wasn’t until last year that we had the opportunity to induct our inaugural class.”

That inaugural class was Bob Black, Stan Boney and Ralph Zerbonia.

“The hall of fame ceremony allows us to properly recognize members of our local media who have given so much to our community, professionals with exceptional media careers,” Earnheardt said.

Nominees for the hall of fame must have a minimum of 20 years professional media experience including journalism, public relations, advertising and writing. Nominees must have a connection to the Mahoning Valley.

• Ernie Brown is best known for his tenure as a regional editor for The Vindicator, Ohio’s eighth-largest daily newspaper, from 1986 to 2019, and as a reporter from 1976 to 1985. Before that, Brown was a junior high English teacher and adult basic education teacher with the Youngstown Board of Education, and a student intern and general assignment radio reporter with WTVN Radio in Columbus.

An honors graduate of Youngstown’s East High School in 1970, Brown went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from The Ohio State University in 1974 and, a year later, he earned a teaching certificate in English for grades seven through 12 from Youngstown State University.

Brown always has been service-minded, serving as the former publicity co-chair for the Youngstown Chapter of the United Negro College Fund. He is also a former publicity co-chairman of the Youngstown Area March for Jesus, board member of the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Outreach Program, president of the William Swanston Charitable Fund board and member of Rising Star Baptist Church in Youngstown where he serves as an elder.

Honored in 2016 by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Psi Omicron Chapter as its Person of the Year, Brown has been honored by numerous other groups in the Valley, including Delta Sigma Theta Youngstown Alumnae Chapter for political awareness and involvement in 2015. He was named honorary co-chair of the first African-American Male Wellness Walk / Run and honored in 2012 for community service by the Ebony Lifeline Support Group.

Brown and his wife, Cherrie (Ellis) have two children, Kevin M. Brown and Erin A. Brown. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, golf, fantasy sports, listening to gospel music and smooth jazz.

• Peter “Pete” Gabriel’s broadcasting career began in the Armed Forces Radio and Television, while serving as an air policeman in the Azores. He was honorably discharged in 1959.

His radio career progressed through various stations in Pennsylvania, Columbus and Kansas City before settling in Youngstown in 1978 with WKBN and the Williamson family who operated the station.

His more than 26-year career with 570 WKBN included introducing the talk radio format to the Valley in 1984, hiring some of the best-known voices to Youngstown (Dan Ryan, Dan Rivers, Ron Verb and Rich Morgan) while serving as operations manager. Gabriel also created one of the first mobile radio stations, Rollin’ Radio.

In the world of talk radio, Gabriel was known for his friendly laughter and compassionate approach to callers. He enjoyed being involved in projects that benefited his community. One of his greatest community accomplishments was creating The Mahoning Valley St. Patrick’s Day Parade, now entering its 45th year.

He received many awards and recognition throughout his career including an induction into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1996. He retired from WKBN and WNIO in 2005, completing 48 years in radio broadcasting, radio management and advertising sales.

Gabriel died in August 2021. He is survived by his wife, Sandy; three children, Wynne (Steve) Coleman, David (Missy) Gabriel and Lori (Mike) McGlone; five grandchildren, Gabby and Catie Coleman, and Jack, Maggie and Michael McGlone.

• After whetting his appetite for broadcast news with radio news at WBBW Youngstown, Tom Holden joined WKBN-TV in 1972 as a reporter. He was named an anchor in 1974, where he served until the early 2000s, every weeknight at 6 and 11 p.m.

His ratings were legendary, and he was credible, respected and valued. His special series on the mob in the Mahoning Valley was so popular that people clamored to purchase copies.

When the industry evolved to recognize the importance of women anchors, Holden welcomed the addition of co-anchor, Gina Marinelli. They became the longest-running team in Valley media history.

Many who call Holden a co-worker, mentor, teacher and friend still lament his untimely passing in June 2005 at 67.

An Army veteran, Holden had offers from bigger markets for bigger jobs. But he was a native son — a graduate of Wilson High School and Kent State University — who loved the Mahoning Valley. While people and companies may have abandoned the Valley, he did not. His levity and leadership helped the Valley navigate good times and bad.

• Andrea Wood was born and raised in Pittsburgh and earned a B.A. in political science from Penn State University. In 1974, she became the first newswoman at WYTV Channel 33 in Youngstown when she was hired as a reporter and weekend anchor.

She went on to work as a news anchor, producer and reporter at WSBT-TV in South Bend, Ind., and WPGH-TV in Pittsburgh. In 1979, she returned to WYTV as an investigative reporter and subsequently was promoted to chief anchor and executive producer. Her 1979 documentary and continuing coverage about the disappearance of a 21-year-old Youngstown woman, Joanne Coughlin, earned awards for investigative reporting from the Ohio Associated Press and the Cleveland Press Club.

In August 1984, at the height of the local steel industry’s demise, Wood transitioned from broadcasting and co-founded the Youngstown Business Journal. As the bi-monthly newspaper expanded coverage to the five-county region, its name was modified to The Business Journal. Today the newspaper publishes daily updates, video and webcasts at BusinessJournalDaily.com.

Wood is chair and president of The Youngstown Publishing Co. and publisher of The Business Journal.

Throughout her career, she has served on numerous boards, including the Citizens League of Greater Youngstown, League of Women Voters, Crime Stoppers of Greater Youngstown and the Workforce Investment Board of Mahoning and Columbiana Counties. Today she is secretary of the YMCA of Youngstown board of trustees.

She resides in Poland with her husband, Dennis LaRue.

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