Press Club Honors for Wood, Brown, Gabriel, Holden

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Dateline, Youngstown. Those are familiar words for four journalists and broadcasters who were inducted into the Youngstown Press Club Hall of Fame.

Business Journal co-founder and publisher Andrea Wood, retired Vindicator reporter and regional editor Ernie Brown, the late radio broadcaster Peter Gabriel, and the WKBN Channel 27 anchorman Tom Holden were honored Sept. 28

Wood repeatedly injected the “dateline Youngstown” reference during her acceptance speech, underscoring the rich material for news in the Mahoning Valley that she quickly recognized after she joined WYTV Channel 33 as a reporter in 1974.

“This being Youngstown, I soon learned there was plenty to investigate,” Wood said to laughter.  “Youngstown was and is a great news town.”

She credits The Business Journal’s success to the vision of early investors in the venture, as well as the company’s employees. In 2019, Wood was inducted into the Press Club of Cleveland Hall of Fame.

Born and reared in Pittsburgh and a graduate of Penn State University, Wood recalled her early days in television, when WYTV was “fifth in a three-station market” with a single studio camera and still shooting with black and white film.

She subsequently worked for TV stations in South Bend, Ind., and Pittsburgh before returning to Channel 33 in 1979 to pursue a story about a missing woman, 21-year-old Joanne Coughlin.

In accepting his honor, Brown thanked his three families – his wife, children and siblings; his church; and his Vindicator colleagues – as the major drivers in his professional and personal life.

Initially, Brown said he envisioned becoming a broadcaster and working alongside legendary Black journalists such as Ed Bradley. His career took a turn in 1976 when he joined The Vindicator as one of its first Black reporters. In 1986, Brown became a regional editor of the newspaper.

Among the stories he recalls covering were the tornadoes that devastated the region in 1985 and run-ins with the bombastic Jim Traficant.

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

Brown has been active and honored by numerous groups throughout the region. He has served as the publicity co-chairman for the Youngstown Chapter of the United Negro College Fund, 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 also serves as an elder.

Accepting the honor for her father, Peter Gabriel, Lori McGlone recalled her family relocating to Youngstown when she was about five years old, not knowing much about the community.

Acknowledging her siblings had already moved several times, it was Youngstown that Peter, affectionately known as “Pete,” would call home for the rest of his life.

In 1978, Gabriel joined 570 WKBN. His career with the station included introducing the talk radio format in 1984, and hiring some of the best-known voices in the Mahoning Valley.

She recounted his commitment to the community and love for his family.

Gabriel’s broadcasting career began with Armed Force Radio and Television while serving as an air policeman in the Azores.  His career then took him to stations in Pennsylvania, Kansas City, and eventually Youngstown. He was inducted into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1996.

Gabriel retired from broadcasting in 2005 at local station WNIO after 48 years in the industry. He died in August 2021.

Among his most enduring legacies is the establishment of the annual Mahoning Valley St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is in its 45th year.

Accepting the honor for the late Tom Holden was his grandson, Kevin Holden.

Holden said his grandfather would have been proud to receive the recognition from his peers. Tom Holden, he related, became a broadcast legend in the Mahoning Valley.

Holden began his career in radio at WBBW before joining WKBN-TV in 1972 as a news reporter. He was named anchor in 1974 and quickly emerged as a respected voice in local television news.

Holden was also an esteemed instructor at Youngstown State University, where he trained new generations of broadcasters and journalists.

“Many of us met Tom at Youngstown State University, where for decades he was a favorite adjunct broadcast journalism professor,” said Michele Gatts, Tricia Perry and Gina Marinelli in a nomination letter to the selection committee.

Holden died in June 2005.

Pictured at top: Andrea Wood and her husband, Dennis LaRue, have worked side-by-side for 30 years.