01/20/17 Human Interest
Tampa native Jim O'Connell appeared to be building a resume that would take him away from his hometown. With a White House job sandwiched between his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, and two years at England's Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, O'Connell aimed his sights at joining the Navy.
But through a mutual relationship developed during a trip to Israel, he connected with Jeff and Penny Vinik, owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning....
01/20/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — Jane Castor says she never directly sought leadership roles.
The former Tampa Police chief, a two-sport star during her college days at the University of Tampa, said her ascension into leadership was borne out of a competitive drive that helped her succeed in sports and eventually rise through the ranks of the department.
"I never had to be No. 1, I just couldn't be No. 2," Castor recently said. So I'm a little bit competitive, but I never, ever aspired to be chief of police. I just did the best I could in the positions I held and the best I could on any promotional examinations."...
My local radio dream has come true.
iHeart media launched a Throwback 94.5 (St. Petersburg) and 105.9 (Tampa) station this week, bringing to our local airwaves a blend of hip-hop and R&B from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.
It's not quite the adult R&B mix that I long for, a format featuring Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton and Chaka Khan — to name a few — but delivering Puff Daddy, Arrested Development, old JayZ and DMX adds to the diversity of our airwaves. ...
01/16/17 Human Interest
The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. stood on the dais at the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs' Martin Luther King Leadership Breakfast on Monday, holding a copy of King's book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?
In the book, autographed by his friend King, the civil rights leader wrote, "This may well be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos and community."
Fifty years later, those words strike me as even more prophetic than they were in 1967. As I examine our political discourse, our world views and our concern about the nation, those two extremes are emerging as our only choices....
01/15/17 Human Interest
Someone scrawled neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic symbols on sidewalks outside of Chabad of Clearwater, Temple B'nai Israel and Congregation Beth Shalom recently, reminding us again that the United States' social progress continues to be dogged by those who want to mute our growing evolution of acceptance.
Drunk on Haterade, these inebriated individuals spread their divisiveness through heinous acts and the echo chamber of social media. Those of us hell-bent on combating such hatred have to do more. We need to push beyond Facebook and Twitter, our own comfort zones, embrace our neighbors and stand against bigotry....
01/12/17 Human Interest
Glennon Doyle Melton turned Temple B'Nai Israel into a virtual reality ride Sunday evening.
She didn't need 3D glasses, Disney animatronics or elaborate lighting to pull off the feat. The best-selling author took us through the highs and lows of her life by literally kicking off her heels and guiding us down a path of truth-telling that drew from the crowd warm laughs, knowing nods and roaring applause....
TAMPA — Sage Steele sat outdoors on the ESPN SportsCenter set Monday, a pristine Raymond James field behind her, and dispensed information while handling interviews and waltzing through the adrenaline rush of a one-hour live broadcast.
"I'm having a blast," said Steele, who serves as lead host for SportsCenter on the Road. "When you're on the road, in the elements, with things changing, with potential technical issues, you take a deep breath and you say, 'Here we go' and you talk sports, and you don't try to make it bigger than it is."...
01/08/17 Human Interest
Amid a swirl of reporters, recorders and cameras, Clemson receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain patiently answered all manner of questions during Saturday's media day for the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
But when the name of Ricky Sailor entered the interview mix, a telling smile crept across their faces. Both McCloud, a Sickles High graduate, and Cain, a Tampa Bay Tech graduate, credit Sailor for helping them reach Clemson and tonight's pinnacle....
Dear College Football Playoff Officials:
I'm writing for two reasons: to express confidence that you will enjoy your time in Tampa Bay, and to ask a favor.
How can I be so confident? Well, we live for big events here. No one rolls out the red carpet like Tampa Bay. Our various municipalities and visitors bureaus pull together. Our elected officials morph into a singular team and the hospitality industry revs up the fun....
01/01/17 Human Interest
As we enter 2017 and exit 2016, we leave a teeming number of celebrity deaths in our wake and a bit of backlash from those who can't comprehend the overwrought emotions stemming from "strangers" passing away.
From my view, and I was deeply saddened by the death of Prince, we mourn the creative gifts extended by artists more than the actual person. We express appreciation because they chose to share their art with us, and we choose social media to mourn because it's great for connecting us to others who share our pain....
12/30/16 Human Interest
Every year we celebrate the grandeur of Tampa Bay with a mix of suggested experiences and witty observations.
The obvious — Cuban sandwiches, grouper delicacies, sunsets on the beach — are a given. Add these suggestions to the traditional staples of bay area living.
Remember: Don't just reside here, live here.
You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until you've . . ....
Those two words fill my mind with melodic harmonies and songful comfort. In the '70s, I grooved to her lyrics as she starred as the lead singer of the funk troubadours known as Rufus.
In the '80s, the ballads spawned from her solo work often stirred my youthful yearnings for love and romance. I still remember playing her cover of Michael Jackson's Got To Be There on the jukebox in the old Broward Hall cafeteria at the University of Florida....
12/26/16 Human Interest
From simple notes of news to full-blown symphonies of success, certain newsmakers strike a chord of curiosity with me every year.
In 2016, many contended for a spot on my annual list of Tampa Bay's Most Intriguing People, including Fentrice Driskell, Ken Hagan, Cesar Hernandez, Mickey Jacobs, Jack Mariano, Sean Shaw and Andrew Warren.
But in the end, here are the ones whose performances created the most memorable tunes this year. Let the countdown begin:...
I spent the first 15 years of my career covering sports, including four as an NFL writer.
People ask what I miss most, expecting me to lament about no longer sitting atop megastadiums and watching the game's best stage three-hour real-life dramas.
Yet it's covering high school sports I miss most. The simple charm of a Friday night football game still resonates. I continue to appreciate the wide-eyed players who got excited after the game, knowing I would share their exploits with our readers. And the teammates who stood behind them, calling out to me: "Put my name in the paper. Put my name in the paper."...
BRANDON — The rush of cars whizzing through the intersection of Lumsden Avenue and Bryan Road filled the night air Thursday.
A schnauzer's light barking added to the mix of sounds as many of Brandon's residents rushed to finish their last-minute holiday shopping or headed out to dinner. Slowly, folks gathered on the northwest corner and took their place in steel folding chairs.
But when Whitney Houston singing Do You Hear What I Hear blared from the speaker outside Brandon Christian Church, the rhythm of the traffic gave way to a Christmas spirit. A simple, wood-frame manger strewn with hay and adorned with an eastern star turned into a time machine, transporting church members and visitors back to the humble story from more than 2,000 years ago....