News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Metro RTA

Hospice of the Western Reserve

Meaden & Moore

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Arts and Entertainment

An Akron Gen-Xer scrapes off the rust for a fresh look at his home town
Former Akron Beacon Journal reporter David Giffels sees the Rubber City bouncing back in his new book, 'The Hard Way on Purpose'

Mark Urycki
Courtesy of Timothy Fitzwater
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Former Akron Beacon Journal reporter David Giffels' new book, 'The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt,' is an Editors’ Choice in the New York Times Book Review. 

The editors say, "A region on the mend has found its voice."   


LISTEN: Giffels talks to Mark Urycki about his book and the regional experiences that led to it.

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:52)

Growing up in Akron in the late 1970s, David Giffels never saw his hometown's best days. Goodyear, Firestone, and Goodrich had abandoned the Rubber City, but Giffels never has.

That's one way he differs from LeBron James, although they both attended St. Vincent St. Mary's High School and Giffels, too, once worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was a ball boy.

As a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, Giffels never seemed ashamed of his town's history and he fairly bristles with hometown pride in his new book, 'The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt.' 

He says it bothers him that the rest of the country pays little attention to the region unless it's "swing-state" election time. And he thinks there are lessons to be learned from the region's identity crisis and Akron's new focus on "re-invention."

He says he was born "at the beginning of the end" of Akron as an industrial city. And he recalls that, while he was attending the University of Akron, the city's downtown "looked like Beirut." 

Giffels says that in his lifetime Akron has lost a third of its population. "I spent my life, " he says, "watching people leave."

But he notes that Le Bron James still lives here, raises his children here, and "likes being one of us."

Giffels feels the same. He recently turned down a job offer in New York City, and looks to be a permanent resident of what the New York Times review of his book calls "a region on the mend."

(Click image for larger view.)

Listener Comments:

Really tired of hearing from this guy. He sounds like an elitist who spends a lot of time feeling sorry for himself for living in NE Ohio. I've lived here my whole life, as have millions of other people. And my experience is not at all represented by this guy's book. NE Ohio STILL IS a manufacturing powerhouses, and it's something we should be proud of. I have an engineering degree and work in manufacturing. There are tons of good paying jobs (white collar and blue collar) in this area in manufacturing. The tire industry isn't gone. What about Goodyear's huge new headquarters? Everywhere has people that move away. That isn't just something that happens here.

Posted by: seymour (NE Ohio) on May 29, 2014 12:05PM
I also think David is championing Akron and Northeast Ohio. It is true that at its peak, Akron had over 350,000 residents; now the population has dwindled down to less than 200K. I think he is portraying Akron as an underdog, which has been kick and beat, but never gave up. And the people that are still here have never quit believing. I also think the same! We have two great major Universities, excellent health care, and some of the best eateries in the country. If you are into sports-we have all the balls; football, basketball, baseball, and even one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world! If David wanted to leave and live a lucrative life in the big city, I am sure he could. However- he (as I) has chosen to stick around because he loves the area he grew up in. I think that is the crux of what he is saying.

Posted by: Mike (Akron) on May 29, 2014 6:05AM
You have totally misunderstand him. He is not talking against Akron or NE Ohio! He is cheerleading the area and trying to build it up.

Posted by: Richard (Youngstown) on May 29, 2014 2:05AM
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

Great Lakes conference considers a range of threats
Your article states "Studies discovered over half of all PAHs found in the Great Lakes region come from a single source: Coal tar sealants.". I'm curious to whi...

ODOT awards Kent-based Davey Research Group nearly $50,000 to improve highway landscapes
This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer's money. Good for only Davey Tree and their cronies in the State government. It takes $50k to figure out the way to save...

Canton: another Northeast Ohio city is planning its comeback
Historic Ridgewood and the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority have no seats at the table. Very flawed right out of the gate. Ridgewood pays a huge percentage...

Property owners oppose a wind farm in Northern Ohio
Here is a link, exposing the connivance of the fossil fuel industry, in trying to prevent us from moving away from their outdated, filthy, and expensive forms o...

A new industry in Ohio aims to repurpose river sediment
and where do those PCB's end up??the story never says

A safe space: How Northeast Ohio colleges try to fight sexual assault
Very good and thorough job on a very sensitive topic!

Akron police shoot and kill a man following a North Hill robbery
Was on scene when they was trying to bring him back to life he looked dead there before he ever got into ambulance

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University