Archive for September, 2008

New Cleveland
September 30, 2008

Hi Reader,

That’s the famous Merchandise Mart in Chicago above.  It’s the world’s largest commerical building and it draws more than 3 million visitors each year.

I am off to The Merchandis Mart today to do a story about the owners of The Merchandise Mart who will have the decisive hand in running Cleveland’s proposed Medical Mart.  There are many similarities between the two marts and if the Medical Mart is as successful as many hope, it will redefine Cleveland, hence my slug line about, NEW CLEVELAND.

Stay tuned.  More will be revealed.



Are We Out Of The Woods Yet?
September 29, 2008

Hi Reader,

President Bush is calling all hands on deck to quell the financial turbulence in this country and throughout the world.  The markets are reeling.

Ryan wrote me with his two cents worth on all of this and I am posting it below.  Keep me up to speed with your thoughts and/or worries about the state of our country.  Write me at

Thanks,  Ted



I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.

So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.

That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads

Put away money for college – it’ll be there

Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car – create jobs

Invest in the market – capital drives growth

Pay for your parent’s medical insurance – health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or    else
Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back.
And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it…instead of trickling    out a puny $1000.00 (“vote buy” ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our
candidates for President.

If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG – liquidate it.

Sell off its parts.

Let American General go back to being American General.

Sell off the real estate.

Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.”

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the$85 Billion

We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC .

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh…I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Kindest personal regards,


T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic

PS: Feel free to pass this along to your pals as it’s either good for a laugh or a tear or a very sobering thought on how to best use $85  Billion!!

A Shaker Heights Pistol….Is Gone! Paul Newman
September 27, 2008

Hi Reader,

In every way Paul Newman was a pistol. May he rest in peace.  He had a great life.

Paul grew up on Brighton Road in Shaker Heights not to far from Woodland Ave and Shaker Blvd.

Cute story.  I was a new reporter here in the early 70s and went to the bi-annual Case Western Reserve used book sale in the old Adelbert Hall.  I needed a good dictionary so I picked one out for 75 cents.  The elderly woman taking my money said, “don’t be such a fool, for 50 cents more I could have a much better hard cover dictionary that would last me for years.”

You probably guessed it by now.  A couple of weeks later at work I was looking at the front of my new purchase when right there on page 1 I spotted the name and address of the previous owner.  It was Paul Newman’s dictionary, the one he used in Shaker Heights High School in 1948.  In perfect penmanship he wrote with his fountain pen his name, date and address.

I wanted to sell it at auction to help raise money the Case book sale, but our movie critic took it out to LA with him and returned it to the original owner.  OUCH!  I had never met for that to happen, but then what am I complaining about.  I got to use that old great dictionary for about 30 years.

Email me anything that’s on your mind to

See ya,


FIRST IN OHIO – WEWS Channel 5 – Cleveland
September 25, 2008

Hi Reader,

Here’s where it all began.  I was “two” when TV5 signed on the air, Dec. 17th, 1947, “WEWS – First in Cleveland” as staff announcer Court Stanton used to say.  (Little known fact: I would grow up to be tutored by the very same Court Stanton to be the last staff announcer TV5 ever hired – The year, 1972 – I also worked then as weekend weather guy, evening reporter and sign off news man).

Where TV5 once stood is a parking lot now and a couple of months ago I visited the site for the very first time, just for the fun of it. 

I grew up in Canton and we got our first TV set (a Zenith) in 1952.  I was seven.  And the very first two programs I saw on TV were, “The Cisco Kid”, followed by “Dorothy Fuldheim’s Views On The News”.   This will crack you up.  I wanted to be in TV at a very early age, so much so that a couple of years later during Halloween back in the mid fifties, I went door to door begging for candy dressed as a TV Guy with a cardboard box over my head with a hole cut out of it where the TV screen would go.  There were fake dials on the front of the TV and a twisted hanger serving as a rabbit ears on top of the box.

Little did I know the career path I had chosen for myself…at age nine!

Have any stories about the early days of TV?  Send them to me,

See ya tomorrow,


September 24, 2008

Hi Reader,
Starting today I will begin to take you down memory lane, ala TV5, Eyewitness News, Newsbeat, Newschannel 5, WEWS News and all the other names we have called ourselves over the years.
I have hundreds of photos, so this will be fun.  Let me know if you have any of the station or people who once worked here and I’ll post the pictures here.
Here’s a frightening thought.  Over my 37 years of having worked on this same street corner, E. 30th and Euclid, I’ll bet I’ve worked with more than a thousand people!  Maybe I can find a way to let you know what some of those people are up to, at least those who are “still with us”.
Email me at
PS: Who remembers what stood on the ground at 30th and Euclid prior to our TV station?  Nothing.  That space was part of the massive front yard to one of the old mansions that used to dot Euclid Ave., which was known nationally as Millionaire’s Row.  The old mansion used to stand deep back into the property where our parking lot is now, and where the station is today was just part of the property’s expansive lawn.
PPS:  I was ten when these pictures was taken.  I remember the year well because my dad just bought a new Oldsmobile 88, a classic car in ’55, almost as famous as the ’54 and ’55 Chevys.  Growing up in Canton, cars were a big deal back then, a real big deal.  It was post war, the Fabulous Fifties, as they were called, TV was just coming into its own…life was good.
The new WEWS building

The new WEWS building

Where’s The World Headed?
September 23, 2008

Hi Reader,

Worried about the economy?  Yea, me too.  We’ve been in this mess for a couple of weeks now and still no hint of how we might get out of it.

Earlier today I listened to an award winning writer for the New York Times speak of the U.S. financial disaster we are facing.  She didn’t say it was a disaster we might face, but rather she referred to it as a disaster that’s already here.  But, it’s a disaster about which we don’t yet know it’s true size.

One thing more this economic expert had to say was that life in America won’t be the same for many people.  Her reason is that bank loans will be fewer and fewer and smaller and smaller.

So much for my worries, let’s turn to some of yours.  Here are some recent emails to me that speak of a variety of concerns.  Write me yours when you like and send them to

Thanks, Ted


(about the economy)

 Hi Ted,  I feel that the problem now with this country is the uncertainty of the future.  Whether you are at the car dealership, buying a house, investing in the market, or shopping at Walmart, the decision of if the economy will turn the corner or not is always present.   It certainly doesn’t help that the country is being drained of real dollars to solve problems that also plague the country right now.  Who ever is elected, needs to assure Americans that they will have jobs to pay for future lifestyle purchases.

(gas prices)
When oil was $40 per barrel, gas was $1 per gallon. At $146 a barrel, it was $4.09 a gallon. Now that it is $115 a gallon, it is still $3.65 a gallon. My calculations say it should be down to $3.10 per gallon. Why is congress and our sitting president allowing this price gouging to go on? Please respond.
(Hi Ed…I think it’s something to do with the refinery add-on costs…I’ll check this out, thanks Ted) 

What’s This? Ted’s Talking Football? Can’t be!
September 22, 2008

Hi Class,

Yep.  Whether I need to or not I try to talk football about once every three years.  Usually when the home team stinks.  Such is the case in Cleveland, right here, right now.

I’m a fair weather fan.  Sorry, I’ve been conditioned this way over too many years of rooting for the Browns.  Admittedly I don’t know much, but here is what I do know:

– The Browns are Oh & 3.

– The Browns have never won a Super Bowl, nor have they ever been to a Super Bowl.

– The Browns have magic in a bottle sitting on the bench.  Play Brady, play Brady.

– The Browns fans LOVE Romeo.  I do too. Kick him upstairs with a pay raise and a nice promotion.

– The Browns are Oh & 3

– Play Brady, beat the Bungles this weekend and let’s get this team on the right track.

– I know all of you agree with me.


My Secret Biking (Jogging) Trail…The Best In Ohio!
September 20, 2008

Hi Reader,

I argue with anyone to come up with a more breathtakingly beautiful biking or jogging route in N. E. Ohio. 

It’s a great weekend and once again I’ll have the best bike path in Greater Cleveland to myself (and a tiny handful of others).

It’s Gates Mills!  If you’re new to the area, mapquest it. It’s on the far east side.  Downtown has all of five or six buildings surrounded by beautiful houses.  Right between its main streets meanders the Chagrin River, complete with a foot bridge across it right next to the quaint old Episcopal Church.  The “Greens”, horse paddocks, lush open spaces and beautiful river complete with a water falls still take back seat to this area’s best asset, it’s hills. 

Gates Mills is the closest thing we have to a New England village and it’s ideal for a fall stroll, a run or a bike ride.  It’s also ideal for salmon fishing when the seasons hit.

Folks who live there are a little particular about where you park so the best bet is to head for their park like city hall or post office and park there.  This is ideal for walkers or joggers. 

If you’re a biker, here’s my perfect plan to enjoy a great great ride.  Find yourself to the intersection of Green Road and Shaker Blvd in Beachwood, yes I said Beachwood.  Park there and unload your bike. (I suggest this route because the roads to Gates Mills are all super wide boulevards with lots of trees and this far east of Cleveland there is seldom much traffic, especially on the weekends.  

Then, head east on Shaker Blvd. to Brainard Circle in Pepper Pike.  On the circle turn right onto Gates Mills Blvd and then continue east out Gates Mills Blvd to where it ends, just before Mayfield Road.  Where the Blvd. ends, turn right onto Old Mill Road and this will take you down a spectacular steep and winding road to Gates Mills.  At the church, turn left onto it’s footpath to cross the Chagrin River foot bridge. 

Now, just explore.  You can’t go wrong.  Take each road you come to for a couple of miles in each direction and you’ll find some of the best and quietest streets in the Mid West.

Here’s the rub.  If you’re on a bike and you follow my directions, you’ll eventually have to peddle back up the big hill.  Many roads lead to Gates Mills, so take your pick.  But remember, all roads out require peddling up a big steep hill.  Gates Mills is in a valley and there is no escaping the way out.

Have a great weekend.


The Gathering Place…It’s Sensational
September 19, 2008

 Hi Reader,

 My “Heart and Soul” story on tonight’s 6pm news is about The Gathering Place, one of the premier cancer support systems in America.  It’s located in Beachwood and it offers a wide variety of support programs for cancer patients and their families.

I came across this place when one of my former co-workers with cancer found out about it.  The people there offer outstanding help on a multitude of levels, plus it’s design, decor and eco friendliness is great.

 You should visit the place.  Maybe you should think about helping to support the place, for it is truly that good.

 The Gathering Place is located at 23300 Commerce Park Road in Beachwood, just off of Green and Chagrin.  Their phone number is 216 595-9546 and if you want my advice, contact Kris Austin before visiting the place.  Kris is the director of community outreach for this great program and I know she would love hearing from you.


 Yesterday I blogged about being stopped by the police at midnight and what follows is a response sent to me by a Cleveland resident.  Enjoy..  And, don’t forget to write me at




Hey Ted,
just read your blog about being pulled over by a cop last night.  I love reading your entries, they are so amusing….as far as the political debate..,. I have none and want to keep it that way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

No matter who we have that is president as large of a responsibility it is, it is never going to be what it was when our parents where in the era of 40 or 50 years ago when the presidency meant something….there was seriousness to being president in the white house.  Anyways, i thought I would contribute my 2 cents worth. 

Have a wonderful evening and keep up the delightful reporting on newschannel 5.


Stopped By A Cop at Midnight…What An Experience!
September 18, 2008

It’s like they did a make-over on Euclid Avenue just for me.  After work every night I leave the station at midnight for my drive home to the East Side.  Euclid Avenue is always all mine.  Normally there won’t be more than another car or two in either direction from downtown to University Circle.  But last night there was.  A cop car.

This guy pulls me over and is thinking about giving me a ticket for scooting through the yellow light at Euclid and 55th.  For a minute or so Officer “Bill” (I’ll call him) and I debated the actual color of the light as I passed beneath it, and then for the next 40 minutes we debated the issues of the world.  Nothing was excluded, the need to get out the vote, the merits of the two presidential contenders, racism in America, why Lehman Brothers bit the dust, how Cleveland can be saved, why people are more interested in culture than issues this historic election year, etc. etc.

My window was down, the night air was warm and after awhile it became apparent to me that I was less in the presence of a police officer than a mystic.  This man was like talking to the Dalai Lama.  I was on the receiving end of a personal audience with this font of insight, compassion and wisdom. 

What a delight.  The hour was late, I was getting tired and the still road before me was calling me to come home.  The two of us parted by shaking hands and confering warm blessings upon one another and our families.

Oh yea.  And then there was the matter of the “yellow” light.  Maybe I’ll share that part of the story at another time.