#004 The Shelmar Opry Podcast

Dan Starcher, a staff photographer for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio, is always messing around with the cameras, video cameras and audio equipment. He loves gadgets. Dan’s latest adventure is recording audio.

Dan Starcher serves as guest host of the Zest for Life Podcast and interviews Bobby Warren.

Dan Starcher serves as guest host of the Zest for Life Podcast and interviews Bobby Warren. Photo by Steven F. Huszai

Dan purchased an Olympus PCM Linear recorder, which is designed to capture live music. While he will be sharing live music in the future, we decided we would do a podcast.

I had just written a story about a group of musicians who assemble every Thursday in the Shelmar Mobile Home Park in Wooster and jam, opry style. In fact, someone made Virgil Briggs a sign that reads: The Shelmar Opry.

While I was shooting video, taking photographs and working on the story, Virgil made it known I played bass guitar. So, Beverly Carathers, the group’s bassist, asked me to play on a couple of songs.

I had a fun time at The Shelmar Opry (you can see the videos I shot here), and I had fun being interviewed by Dan. Normally, I serve as host of The Zest for Life podcast, but this week I took a back seat to Dan, who ran the show.

Give it a listen below.

Testing out live blogging plugin

I am checking out 24liveblog’s WordPress plugin for live blogging. We shall see how it goes.


‘Wash me, Savior, or I die’

By Thomas Doohan

“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”


Thomas at Jail

Thomas Doohan listens to Wayne County Sheriff Thomas Hutchinson as he speaks about restoration.

Those words from Augustus M. Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages,” are pretty much all I can remember of my trip to the Wayne County Jail with my colleague Bobby Warren on April 11, 2015.

Bobby is a member of Parkview Christian Church and on that April day he was filling in for his friend, Jeff Terwilliger, who heads up the congregation’s prison ministry.

Apparently, Jeff was unable to lead that weekend, and Bobby stepped up. He was tasked with bringing the word to the jail and sharing with those wanted to hear it.

On Friday, Bobby asked me to come along and I did, for which I’m glad. It was an honor to listen to him preach and to hear my friend share what is so clearly the passion of his life — the Gospel.

Bobby’s preaching was rich, the worship was fine and it was a gift to be asked partner in the work Parkview is doing in the jail. I won’t soon forget it.

I was asked to handle prayer requests from the inmates and to pray for them. But, I have to say, beyond that I don’t remember many details from the morning other than the words of the song running through my head.

As Bobby preached, the words kept ringing in my head, and I started thinking of who I was and who the inmates were.

The inmates listening to Bobby were in a low spot. Gathered in three separate groups (men who were in jail; women who were in jail; and men who were being transferred to prison), they were all dressed in colored jumpsuits and orange, plastic Croc-like sandals. Deputies stood in the back of the gym, listening to Bobby and watching the inmates.

From what I could tell, things were easier for our crew. I am pretty sure we all picked out our own clothes that morning. We chose to be there and nobody was watching our actions. They were in bondage, and we were free.

Despite our stark differences, the words of “Rock of Ages” reminded me everyone in that room was the same: Broken.

I was reminded that in front of a perfect God, all is stripped away. Jumpsuit or button-down, it doesn’t matter, man’s filth is exposed in front of God. Naked, in front of the Lord, with nothing to offer, we can only ask for his cross, his clothing and his grace.

“Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

This guest blog is by Thomas Doohan, a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio.

Reliving Boston Marathon Memories (Re-Post)

April 19, 2013, was the last time I uploaded a blog entry to The Z Section. It was around the time of the Boston Marathon bombings. At the time, whatever I had to say did not seem important.

So, The Z Section went silent, and remained silent until now.

Finish Line

The motivation to begin again was the new year. You know, new year, new things, set goals, make resolutions, and change. New year = blank page. Go for it.

What’s kind of ironic is that in December, my wife, Wendi, and me went to Boston area to visit my side of the family. On one of our trips into the city, we ended up at Copley Square, the site of the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When we got there, Wendi said, “I bet you want to get in the middle of the street and take a photo.”

Of course, she was right. She always is.

I took the photo you see above, and then we said a short prayer. Normally, the finish line would have been cleaned from the road’s surface, but a decision was made to leave it.

When I started this blog, I was all over the place. I wrote about leadership, technology, faith, social media, family and other things.

However, when I originally started a blog called The Z Section, is was a take on newspaper sections. Since 1988, I have been a journalist. When I first started the blog, which was hosted on a blogging site, it was designed to be a place where I could empty out my reporter’s notebooks, so to speak.

Whenever I am at an event or an interview, I always take down more notes and quotes than what appears in the news stories in The Daily Record, where I write. Some of it is interesting stuff, but just does not fit in the story I am writing at the time.

As I embark, again, on this blog, I feel compelled to return to the original intent. As a blogger, you want to offer readers something they cannot get anywhere else, and the notes in my notebook fit the bill.

Thanks for joining me, again.

Originally published Jan. 2, 2014


This past March, I had the honor of receiving a fellowship from the Association of Health Care Journalists to study health care reporting at the group’s annual conference. This year, it was in Boston.


I had the opportunity to attend a presentation in which Seth Mnookin shared insights into how to turn complex topics into compelling stories. Here is one of the things I wrote down:

Seth says to think of what you write as a detective story. Tension and drama is not what happens, but how you get there.

I was shocked to learn this morning on Twitter how Mnookin became intricately tied to the events unfolding at MIT and Watertown, Mass., late Thursday/early Friday involving the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

I was so intrigued by Mnookin’s adventure on Twitter that I wanted to capture it. You can read it here (via Storify):

Originally published  April 29, 2013

A Look at Linda Hall’s Saturday, You Won’t Believe It

There is no telling what will happen when The Daily Record reporter Linda Hall is assigned to work the weekend.

True Story: I am Going to Jail This Sunday

Come Sunday, I am headed for the Wayne County Jail. My charge? To preach the Word of God. I will be filling in for Jeff Terwilliger, who leads Parkview Christian Church’s jail ministry, and preaching this week’s sermon.


Because Jeff has a previous engagement, he asked me to preach for him. I will be preaching on verse 3 of Psalm 23: “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

This will be my third time preaching this year, so, for me, it has been busy. I appreciate every opportunity to share God’s Word.

Normally, I would invite you to come listen to me. However, you will forgive me for not asking you this time, right?

(Audio) The Triumphal Entry and Good Friday: What Changed?

I recently had the opportunity to preach at my home church, Parkview Christian Church. Lead minister Brian White asked me to preach about Palm Sunday, which I was glad to do. As soon as he presented the topic, I knew instantly what I wanted to talk about.

Wendi and Bobby

Wendi and Bobby

Something that has always intrigued me was how much changed in just a week. Some people went from praising Jesus to turning their backs on him when they shouted, “Give us Barabbas!”

A funny thing happened on the way to the sermon, so to speak.

My wife, Wendi, and I have been married for 20 years. One thing she has become used to is me getting called out to do something for work at the last minute. This time would be no exception.

We were planning to go on a date the Saturday before I was scheduled to preach. Because of our schedules, I was planning on finishing the sermon on Thursday and Friday nights.

Thanks to Angie Smith, I had my outline finished early, which aided in the writing of the sermon. Friday night as I worked on it, I received a text about a meth lab bust in Rittman, Ohio. I ran out, headed for Rittman, where I was there for a few hours. By the time I finished the story and video, it was midnight.

Oh, well.

Saturday morning, I started working on the sermon, and I finished it earlier than I thought. Wendi and I went on our date, and as she drove, I read her my sermon. I did not get my normal reaction, in that she tells me how much she likes it. Just silence.

“What’s it missing,” I asked.

“How did you know I was thinking something?” she asked.

Her silence told me everything I needed to know. She told me she was expecting to talk more about the Second Coming and what causes us to move away God’s grace.

Thanks to Wendi’s valuable input, I was able to add to the sermon and make it, in her eyes, a good sermon. You can listen to it below. (Thank you Ron Maxwell for reading Scripture and praying for the sermon.)

Listen to the sermon:

Expectations and Emotions: Be Careful

This morning, I have the privilege of sharing God’s word with my home congregation at Parkview Christian Church. I will be talking about the Triumphal Entry of Jesus, and I will focus on the reactions of the people who came out to line the road and toss down their cloaks and palm branches in front of Jesus.


The Triumphal Entry is found in all four Gospels. It focuses on Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey, a beast of burden. He is not coming to announce his kingship, rather to claim it.

The reason I want to focus on the people is because of how their expectations related to their reactions. They perceived Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of David, a divine King and a performer of miracles. They praised God for Jesus and his ministry and the work he had done.

However, the Gospel accounts do not end with Jesus riding triumphantly into Jerusalem to the praise of all the people. No, there are some who do not like what they see.

About a week later, everything changes. Jesus is no longer the triumphant king, rather a common criminal. Pilate finds nothing wrong in Jesus, but to accommodate the wishes of the people before him, he releases a real criminal named Barabbas.

So, what happened in a week’s time? People went from shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” to “Give us Barabbas.”

What came of those expectations of the Messiah coming to deliver liberty to God’s people? What happpened to their emotions? Did they get caught up in a mob mentality and that is why they cried “Give us Barabbas”?

Be careful how you deal with expectations and emotions, the price you pay can be costly.

Below is the sermon I am preaching. Please take time to read it. Thank you.

Triumphal Entry Sermon

Friday Funnies: Cuckoo Clocks Say the Darndest Things (Video)

During an interview with Wayne County Health Commissioner Nick Cascarelli, my cell phone (a Samsung Galaxy S3, not an iPhone) started ringing. I am normally pretty good at silencing the phone during interviews and meetings, but not this time. And, boy, am I glad this was the case.

Hunter Smiling

In looking at my phone, I noticed Sheriff Travis Hutchinson was calling me. Hutch, as he is known to most, does not call just to shoot the breeze. I knew it had to be something important, so I asked Cascarelli if he would mind me answering the sheriff’s call. He said go ahead.

Hutch informed me a body had been found off an oil well access road in Wayne Township, north of Wooster. Cascarelli and I had pretty much ended our interview, and I excused myself. As I was heading back to The Daily Record office to grab the video camera, I called reporter Steve Huszai, who hands cops and courts.

Huszai shot back a text informing me he was in court. I let him know about the body that was found, to which he replied, “Ah. Well sounds like I’m leaving court then.”

We met up at the office and headed out to talk with Hutch and Capt. Doug Hunter at the Wayne County Justice Center. Huszai interviewed Hunter while I shot video and snapped some pictures.

Just as Hunter was answering a question about whether drugs were involved, something funny happened that caught all of us by surprise. Check out the video and see for yourself.

The $500,000 Agricultural Conundrum

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dave Daniels stopped in Wayne County Tuesday to talk about the importance of agriculture, and he shared a couple of stories from the Ohio State Fair to demonstrate how little people know about what it takes to be a farmer.


Daniels, who spoke at the Wooster Kiwanis Club meeting, said his agency has large farming equipment on display at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. One time, a woman was looking at a combine and asked how much it cost. Daniels told her $500,000. Because of the cost, the woman said the government must purchase them and allow the farmers to use them. No, Daniels replied, the farmers purchase the combines themselves, and some of the larger operations might buy two or three. What would you do if your livelihood required this kind of investment and commitment?

Another woman saw how big the combine was and asked what purpose it served during wartime because anything that big has to be used to the destroy an enemy.

Daniels went on to say combines might be used only three or four weeks out of the year.

Many years ago, Frank Sollers, a farmer from Washington Courth House, Ohio, told me when he was a boy farming was labor intensive, but now it is capital intensive.

The cost of farmland continues to rise, as does equipment and other inputs.

I was born in a city, but I know from where milk and meat come, and it is not the grocery store. Farming is a demanding lifestyle, and I am glad there are people out there who do it. I have long said there are two groups of people I really appreciate: Those serving in the military and farmers. Because of what our servicemen and servicewomen do, I am free to do what I want, like be a journalist. Because of what our farmers do, I am not required to work the land all day everyday to provide food for my family.

(Subscribers to The Daily Record can read my story about Daniels’ visit here.)

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