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Love That Local Angle

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 27, 2005

With the availability of information across the Internet, some news organizations across media have become ever more focused on the local angle -- either a story about something in the news organization's backyard, or a local element of a national or international story. It provides a way of giving a story a unique context, as well as connecting with readers. To cite an obvious recent example, I have written a lot about ''Three Wishes'' because it has taped a bunch of segments here.

Which brings me to a collection of highlights from ''The Original Amateur Hour'' coming out on DVD on Nov. 15. I've been working on what keeps turning into a growing piece (or pieces) about it, thanks to local angles right and left.

Given my fascination with old TV, and my frequent writing about TV on DVD, ''Amateur Hour'' was a logical topic for me. And  Pat Boone, who hosts the DVD presentation, was a good person to talk to. For one thing, my newspaper, like many others, has plenty of readers old enough to remember Boone in his heyday -- as well as ''Amateur Hour.''

So I was looking at the DVD, including a telecast from 1953 -- one of the shows where Boone won -- and found that another competitor on the show was from Akron. Ah! The local angle! And while the man in question has passed away, there was enough of a clip file about him at the Beacon Journal to merit a sidebar about the DVD.

Then, today, I talked not only to Boone but to Albert Fisher, the man behind the DVD and a former talent scout for ''Amateur Hour.'' I talked to Fisher first and almost immediately he started talking about his fondness for Northeast Ohio, and his work for a TV station in Cleveland in the '70s. More local angle, and an unsolicited one at that.

After I talked to Fisher, I got on the phone with Pat Boone. Here was a guy who well understood the importance of the local angle. He started with reminiscing about how deejays in Northeast Ohio had helped get his early records played on the radio. Later, he recalled playing a sock hop in Clevelander where Boone was the headliner and Elvis Presley was an opening act. Then, before we were done, he brought up a visit to the Soap Box Derby, participating in the celebrity race -- and how he still had the prize he received for winning the race.

Talk about making my job easier!

I had plenty of other things to talk to Boone about -- he talked in detail about his ''Amateur Hour'' experiences, and even had some kind words for the local man he had competed against. Fisher and I also covered a lot of ground that had nothing to do with Akron. But they both knew that, even if the interview was not great overall, they had nabbed some extra print by bringing up their local connections. And not all media folks are that knowing.

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