Just in time for the state's bicentennial celebration, a Toledo producer of documentaries has boiled down Ohio's history to a 70-minute audio presentation on compact disc.
Michael Drew Shaw previously re-created the Apollo 11 moon landing on a record album in 1979. He produced an audio history of Toledo for the city's sesquicentennial in 1987. And in 1995, he put together a radio special and CD commemorating the 20th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
His latest work, sanctioned by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, takes a mostly upbeat, sometimes irreverent look at the state's history, starting more than 2 million years ago.
In “Ohio, A Sentimental Journey,” listeners will hear about the eight U.S. presidents who came from Ohio. They'll learn about the state's contribution to the oil, steel, and glass industries and hear about Ohioans who made it big in Hollywood.
But darker moments, such as the shooting death of four Vietnam War protesters at Kent State University in 1970, are left out.
“Because it's a celebration, we chose not to dwell on negatives,” Mr. Shaw said. “Certainly, they're part of the history. Certainly, if I was doing a serious historic documentary, I would not have left out Kent State. But that's not what this is. I took the position of being a storyteller, and my creative license allows me to take certain liberties.”
Rather than being comprehensive, Mr. Shaw said the goal of his CD was to trigger listeners' interest in the state's past. “We tried to give people a really broad view, a vision of Ohio's history from 10,000 feet, and whet their appetites,” he said.
Mr. Shaw, a longtime radio disc jockey in Toledo, narrates the audio documentary, which he wrote. He spent more than a year doing research for the project, much of it with the aid of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system. The Ohio Historical Society review the disc for accuracy.
The disc opens with a medley of sound bites from more than two dozen famous Ohioans, including comedian Jonathan Winters, actor Paul Newman, astronaut Neil Armstrong, broadcaster Lowell Thomas, and soul singer Anita Baker.
Following is an introduction by Garry Ness, executive director of the Ohio Historical Society, and a discussion of Ohio's history before it became a state in 1803 - starting with prehistoric times, when what became the Buckeye State emerged as giant glaciers slowly melted.
Three other sections cover Ohio's first century as a state, the 20th century, and a list of Ohio firsts.
The disc ends with a new rendition of the official state song, “Beautiful Ohio.”
Janis Weber, the executive producer of the disc, said the audio documentary cost about $20,000 to make.
Copies should be widely available by the end of next month. American Retrospects LLC, a Toledo-based production company, plans to issue at least 25,000 discs at $19.95 apiece.
“They can walk in and buy it at Thackeray's right now,” she said. “We will be in all the book and record stores. It'll be in the Media Plays and the Boogies.”
Also selling the disc is the Ohio Historical Society.
“We're very pleased with the quality of this production,” said Kathy Hoke, a spokesman for the society. “Anything that gets people interested in history is something we're very happy about.”
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