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Online DJs tune out corporate playlists

By Tyler Landis
Metro Monthly Staff Writer

With a motto like “Blasting forth with complete disregard for the mainstream!” you’d think the minds behind Rukus Radio were a pack of crusaders looking to liberate Internet listeners everywhere.

Quite the contrary. Moe Angelo, Trevor Quillan, and Chris Rutushin have their own sense of style, but seem content with being ordinary guys with a huge passion for music.

While their listeners may know them as Trevor Q and Moestrodamus, it was acoustic performer Trevor Quillan and Kelleys bassist Moe Angelo who got the ball rolling for Rukus Radio back in 2007 during a chance encounter at “Vex Fest IV,” an annual musical festival in downtown Youngstown.

Shortly after, the two were recording podcasts and brewing an idea for a radio show. The result is a Youngstown-based Internet radio station that has been broadcasting free of FCC regulation for a few years now.

The station has a singular identity. Each D.J. has a distinctive style and sound, but everything played on the station is categorized under the umbrella of independent music.

However, listeners won’t hear what is being played on most radio stations. Rukus’ mission is to expose listeners to an eclectic variety of bands and musical genres. Quillan and Angelo take pride in the fact that the station can say or do whatever it wants.

Because they are unencumbered by FCC regulation that means just about anything goes.

“We’re like the extended home show,” Quillan says. Angelo’s free spirited demeanor is what best embodies the themes and tropes of Rukus. “All these stations get playlists from above, we don’t have that,” Angelo says. Each show doesn’t consist of a tidy script or checklist of topics; it’s all very loose with its on-the-go approach.

D.J. Rutushin’s show “Happy Hours,” airs every Monday from 9 to 11 p.m. and features interviews and music from indie artists who Rutushin has had shows with or met during his travels. “It’s about having fun and strays away from sad bastardly music,” Rutushin said.

Angelo’s show, “Notes from the Underground,” is a multi-genre live program that features new releases. It airs every Wednesday from 9 to 11 p.m.

“The Jam Band Breakfast,” hosted by Trevor Q, is the station’s daily morning show and primarily focuses on all aspects of the “jamband” genre. It airs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.

In addition, “The Rukus Roundtable” airs every Sunday from 9 to 11p.m. and features a discussion forum and a revolving cast of characters.

“Chris [Rutushin] does a fantastic job of knowing what he’s doing the entire show, where I tend to wing it a little more often. It all goes to show the acceptance that anything and everything is O.K.,” Angelo said. Quillan’s on-air style is similar to Angelo’s: He lets the vibe of the day lead the show.
“When I get up, I sit in the captain’s chair and just go from there. The first song I choose dictates the rest of the show,” Quillan said.

Sitting with these guys is like getting a musical and a geek education all at once. “Star Wars” references are spat from all three at a dizzying speed. True to their indie-music focus, each dons a T-shirt with the name of a less-realized band. Their laid-back chemistry and keen insight into each other’s refined taste is what makes one believe that Rukus will be around as long as these guys are friends.

In terms of where Rukus can go in the future, signs point upward. “We definitely have plans to make it grow; we’re constantly adding people and content,” said Angelo.

Quillan said they were definitely not running at full capacity, describing the station as a “duct-tape operation.” “If we wanted to full out blast this thing, it’d probably cost us a couple thousand a month,” Quillan said.

For now, running the station and having other jobs keeps the guys busy. “We’re working jobs to try to build a job,” Quillan said.

With future plans to expand the station, the men behind Rukus realize that it’ll get more expensive. However, Quillan is tickled by the idea that they’re able to run the station for very little right now, prompting Rutushin to jump in and advise Quillan not to pull back the curtain.

Still, Rukus boasts a modest – but increasing – following on their site.” It’s our own social network, our version of MySpace or Facebook,” Quinlan said. “People can be a member for free which gives them the freedom to create a profile, chat, post blog entries, and upload music or videos.”

The site had gone from zero members last May, to approximately 600. Although Rukus enjoys exposing listeners to their favorite bands, the guys remain snake-bitten over the lack of support they’ve received from some local bands. “We’ve done our fair share of promoting Youngstown,” Angelo says, but admits that the response could be a lot better.

To hear Rukus Radio, visit http://www.rukusradio.com. You can listen live and most shows are available for downloading after their original air date.

© 2010, The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

The crew at Rukus Radio. Electronic image by Jack Hughes.


Warren’s Courthouse Square has roots in Northern Ireland

Courthouse Square in downtown Warren. Electronic image courtesy of Ron Flaviano. 

 

Courthouse Square in downtown Warren. Electronic image courtesy of Ron Flaviano.

The following article originally appeared in the December 2001 issue of The Metro Monthly.

By Mark C. Peyko

Warren’s Courthouse Square – like Lancaster, Pa. and Shelbyville, Tenn. – has its roots in European town planning.

Dr. Marshall McLennan, retired director of the historic preservation program at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., said the original American courthouse square plan reflected the “influence of the Scots-Irish on settlement in the Pennsylvania region.”

The plan, which typically features a courthouse building as a focal point of a downtown, ultimately had its roots in Ulster, Northern Ireland.

McLennan said the British put government buildings in the center of town to assert their power and dominance. These buildings were centrally located to allow “a field of fire in all directions.”

Although the European model had political implications, the American plan simply sought to create a pleasant parklike setting in the center of town.

Bobbie Brown, director of the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County, agreed.

“In the midst of all these tall buildings and concrete, there’s this lovely green space. It’s a nice place for people to come together.”

McLennan said Lancaster, dating from the 1700s, is the earliest known existing courthouse square plan in America. Besides Warren, other courthouse square plans in the region include Lisbon, Ohio and Butler, Pa.

© 2009, The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.


Warren’s Courthouse Square dates to 1801

This image from the 1940s depicts the Robins Theater in downtown Warren

This image from the 1940s depicts the Robins Theater in downtown Warren

This article originally appeared in the December 2001 issue of The Metro Monthly.

By Marie Shellock

Downtown Warren has both hisorical and contemporary qualities that have drawn in visitors for more than two centuries.

The downtown’s beauty – which can be traced back to the original layout designed by early settler Ephriam Quinby – charms visitors and workers as they go about their business. Some lovers of downtown find its so beguiling that they decide to make their homes of the upper floors of some of the buildings.

The centerpiece of downtown is the Trumbull County Courthouse and the oasis of greenery on the structure’s south side – Courthouse Square, the site of several festivals. Built in the late 1800s, the courthouse was restored  in 1999.

Downtown Warren gives the visitor a sense of the history that traces back to the earliest years of the young United States. Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwestern Territory, selected Warren as the county seat of all of the Western Reserve. That meant that Warren was the center of the territory for all political, judicial and business activity. A comparison of the populations of several cities in 1810 demonstrates the importance of Warren: Cleveland had 547 residents, and Youngstown had 773. Meanwhile, Warren was the largest township in the Western Reserve with a population of 875.

The four-acre site of public square, which provides the focal point of downtown to this day, was part of the original plat plan designed by Quinby in 1801, said Wendell Lauth, past president of the Trumbull County Historical Society. Its sidewalks – a grid that crisscrosses the park – came from the Austin Stone Quarry, which is behind the first Wal-Mart store in Warren, he said. The grid was in place at the time of the second courthouse, which was destroyed by fire. The first courthouse also was destroyed by fire. The current courthouse, the third structure, was restored at a cost of $12 million before Warren’s bicentennial celebration in 1999.

 Although it is a county structure, it is sited on ground – Courthouse Square – that belongs to the city.

Warren Timeline

 1798 – Ephriam Quinby and Richard Storer arrive from Washington County, Pa., to examine land that is part of a 120-mile area known as the Connecticut Western Reserve.

 1800 – Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, names Warren the capital of the Western Reserve.

 1801 – The first schoolhouse and post office are established.

 1812 – The first newspaper of the Western Reserve is published. It is called The Trump of Fame and publishes until 1816, when it becomes the Western Reserve Chronicle.

 1815 – The first Trumbull County Courthouse is constructed.

 1861 – William Dowd Packard is born.

 1869 – Dana School of Music is established by William H. Dana.

 1876 – The Warren Tribune is established as a weekly newspaper. It becomes a daily newspaper in 1891.

 1884 – Earl Derr Biggers, author of novels featuring the Chinese detective Charlie Chan, is born.

 1899 – The first Packard automobile is manufactured in the shops of the New York & Ohio Co., which is owned by brothers James Ward and William Dowd Packard and the Packard Electric Co.

 1912 – Jonathan Warner II and others organize the Trumbull Steel Co. with an initial capital investment of $20 million. In 1930, the Republic Steel Co. acquires it.

 1918 – The Hippodrome Theatre opens.

 1924 – The Warren Tribune acquires the Warren Daily Chronicle, creating The Warren Tribune Chronicle.

 1939 – Copperweld Steel Co. of Glassport, Pa., announces plans for a $2 million plant.

 1946 – El Rio, a landmark Italian restaurant, opens on The Strip.

 1953 – Richard’s a longtime women’s shoe store in downtown Warren, is established. The Warren Plaza opens.

 1999 – Warren celebrates its bicentennial.

 – Compiled by Marie Shellock. 

© 2009, The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.


Downtown from the 7th floor of the Realty Building: Recalling life in 1940s Youngstown

This vintage postcard depicts the Realty Building in downtown Youngstown.

This vintage postcard depicts the Realty Building in downtown Youngstown.

The following article appeared in the April 2001 edition of The Metro Monthly.

By Lee Meadows

The year is 1946. I am on the seventh floor of the Realty Building, where I worked as a receptionist in the Department of Industrial Relations.

I’m looking out the window to the hustle and bustle of downtown Youngstown. Traffic is circling around Central Square and up and down Federal Street, which was open to traffic at the time. As I watched all this, I had no idea that the downtown area would some day give way to progress.

My memories are many. Some of the most vivid are when downtown Youngstown was where it all was happening – the office buildings, the department stores, the five and dimes, and the specialty shops for men and women. The many restaurants, movie houses and banks. It was a very special place at that time.

We had the most beautiful and unique theaters. The Palace, Paramount, State and the Warner (Powers Auditorium). Each theater had remarkable interiors, ornate and grand. But of all the theaters, the Palace stands out in my mind because as a young girl I went there to see Frank Sinatra, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and others. There were many musicals – like “Annie Get Your Gun.” It was all so exciting, and everyone went! We were known to sit in the theater aisles because it was so packed.  I doubt that I could ever forget those special moments.

After the performance, we went next door for sodas at Friedman’s. When we went to the Paramount Theater, we always stopped at Fanny Farmer Candies before the movie. Such delectables!

Of course, the shopping was great. Strouss-Hirschberg’s and McKelvey’s were the major department stores, and, for the women, Livingston’s was the place.

Livingston’s had beautiful selections and a beautiful decor. I remember buying all my clothes for my honeymoon there. And a frosted malt was a must when shopping at Strouss-Hirschberg’s. We never missed an opportunity to have a malt; it was part of our shopping experience.

Let’s talk about dining. The Italian Restaurant was a must. On the lighter side, there was the Purple Cow. And last, but not least, the elegant Mural Room – where we went to dinner before going to see Mantavoni at Stambaugh Auditorium.

In those days, “going downtown” meant getting dressed up in your Sunday finest. We sometimes wore hats and gloves, which seems formal compared to today’s casual attire. And there was always a roving photographer snapping your picture as you walked along Federal Street – a memento of a lovely day downtown.

My most vivid memory of downtown was the day World War II ended. The town went wild and we all tried to get to downtown Youngstown to celebrate. Most of us walked, no matter where we lived in town because the busses had stopped running – they just couldn’t keep up with the crowds. The downtown area became our own Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Everyone was hugging, kissing and crying. The emotion was electric. We cheered for our victory and our boys who would be coming home, and we cried for so many of our boys that had fought so bravely and died for our country.

 For those too young to remember, downtown Youngstown was part of another time, in a bustling place … sadly missed.

© 2009, The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.


Excerpts from a Brier Hill diary

A group of young men in Brier Hill, circa 1945. The author is not among the group.

A group of young men in Brier Hill, circa 1945. The author is not among the group.

The complete article appeared in the November 2001 edition of The Metro Monthly.

By John Severino

The Early Years – The house we lived in on West Federal Street had two rooms upstairs, two downstairs, and a cellar. No gas, no furnace, no electricity. We had water at the sink, but generally used pump water to save money.

We lived in the cellar of our home, where the cook stove was, and then upstairs there was a dining room and a living room where the principal occupant was a large leather couch. There was a pot-bellied stove upstairs for heat, but none in the two bedrooms, one for my parents and one for Grandpa.

When I started Tod Elementary School on Robinwood Avenue I hardly knew any English because Ma and Pa and Grandma always spoke Italian, so I learned the language thoroughly.

I can remember running home from school, down Robinwood Avenue and waiting at Federal for Ma to cross over and get me. There were horses and streetcars to watch out for, and occasionally a car or truck, usually with a chain drive, which clanked and rattled very fearfully.

I used to love to run down the long hill and look over my shoulder at the sun, and it always seemed to be running right along with me. Sometimes, at the corner of Robinwood and Federal, in the empty field, I’d pick daisies or mayflowers for my mother. We also used to go there to pick chamomile, an herb used for tea.

The garden was always a thorn in my adolescent side. I used to accompany Pa there. We had to walk down the path, cross the street to the nearest house where Pa’s cousin, Mr. Marsico lived. He had a pump there where we pumped out water and carried it back up to the garden.

I would put about one-half a can of water on each plant and pretty soon, Pa would spy me and would say ‘put more water,’ and then he’d grab the bucket and show me how – four tomato plants to the bucket – and he planted hundreds of them. I think he had a special variety of tomato, crossed with sponges, and he invented them to torment me.

 Another thing we had was an outside oven. My Dad liked old-fashioned homemade bread – and so did we. We had very little store bread, and when we did get store bread, we thought it was cake. Besides, if you have six kids, you need at least three loaves of bread per meal the way we used to eat it with our beans and soup and greens.

 The oven was made of stone and brick and needed lots of wood to heat it up. You could cook about two dozen loaves at once, besides pizza by the dozen. I have mixed many a batch of bread for my mother – about half a sack (a big 94-pound sack) in a great tub with just salt, water and yeast – no sugar or milk or shortening and 47 vitamins like they advertise now.

When the dough was formed into loaves, my mother would put the loaves into the oven with a long-handled wooden shovel. She would put the iron door in place, and, with a last look, check if the draft holes were just right. She would go away, and when she came back, the bread was baked – a huge basket full of large loaves, enough to last us kids about six or seven days.

When I was eight or nine years old, my father sold the house on Federal Street. The old Brier Hill Steel bought up the land, and it was upon this spot that the [Youngstown] Sheet & Tube Co. built its large office building. 

© 2009, The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.



Oak Park: The Youngstown Housing Experiment

The Oak Park development was an early 20th century experiment in progressive housing.

Oak Park on the lower North Side of Youngstown

By Mark C. Peyko

Oak Park looked like a little Spanish colonial settlement – more fitting in the American southwest than on the North Side of Youngstown.

However, that wasn’t what the Modern Homes Co. was trying to recreate when it organized in 1909 to build inexpensive “modern, sanitary and semi-fire proof” rental housing for Youngstown’s working class.

The company constructed rows of unattached houses and one terrace apartment, using hollow concrete tile finished with a stucco-like facing. Oak Park originally was sited on a diagonal from Andrews Avenue and continued southwest toward Walnut Street. The development enclosed a large, open green space, which was landscaped with oak trees, shrubbery and grass. 

According to the 1913 publication “Youngstown: City of Progress,” each house in Oak Park was designed to include modern conveniences like bathrooms, hot air furnaces and laundries. Depending on family needs, units ranged from three to seven rooms. Rent was $10 to $25 per month.

In 1909, J.M. Hanson, a charter member and secretary of the newly formed Modern Homes Corp., cited the need for modern, inexpensive housing in the city: “Two and three families are crowded in houses not fit for one family . . . and the congested condition is rapidly increasing.”  H.M. Garlick, president of the Dollar Savings and Trust Co., served as president and treasurer of the quasi-philanthropic housing company.

According to a 1913 Youngstown Chamber of Commerce report, Modern Homes had constructed 110 housing units in the city between 1909 and 1913. 

By 1915, the Youngstown City Directory listed 62 Oak Park addresses and all tenants were identified as blue-collar laborers. Louis Smith, a machinist, lived at 1 Oak Park, and Samuel Dudley (a laborer) and his wife, Amy, occupied 3 Oak Park. Crane and motor operators, conductors and the like occupied other units. 

Youngstown City Directories list the company’s years of existence as spanning from 1910 through 1918.

Construction of the Madison Avenue Expressway in the mid-1960s sheared off many of the houses in the Oak Park development, leaving the settlement without much of its southwestern enclosure. Today, the original plantings in the commons area are mature, making the remnants of Oak Park seem like a small residential campus.

© 2009, The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.


The power of music and food memories

Soft serve, who can resist?  

Soft serve, who can resist?

 

By Mark C. Peyko

Why are music and food memories so potent? Recollections of both will stir up things that conjure almost complete environments. The weather, the time of year, what other people were wearing. Although the memory may be just a flicker, food and music can transport you back to a time and place.

Look at those people on the Doo-Wop specials on PBS. You can see it in their faces – they’re transported back to their teen-age years. No other information is necessary.

I still remember where I was the first time I heard Prince’s “When Doves Cry” or the hordes of teen-age girls on the boardwalk emulating Madonna’s look when she broke with “Borderline.”

With food, the memories are sometimes attached to special occasions or special environments. I have very potent memories of the jelly doughnuts my dad would get at the Marine Bakery in Wildwood after a day at the beach. The doughnuts were the genuine article. Light and airy and obviously homemade. Raspberry was a favorite of mine. (The filling wasn’t that overly sweet, gelatinous red crap that everyone seems to use nowadays.)  That memory is probably 40 years old, but it spurs recollections of many other things: How clean the bakery was, the color of the floor tile, the side screen door that ventilated the shop.

I think most of my food memories are attached to special experiences and people, and, sometimes, mishaps. French toast reminds me of going home for lunch in grade school. Mom, the crunchy egg-dipped white bread, and lots of Mrs. Butterworth’s. Whenever I see a tomato-based vegetable soup, it reminds me of when I dropped my Thermos on the way to school. I still can hear how the broken glass sounded swishing around the canister. Glass and cubed vegetables.

Whenever Aretha Franklin is asked about favorite memories, she invariably mentions food. In one newspaper article, she recalled the turkey dinners at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Detroit. I guess food is a universal comfort – along with music.