Aug 16 2015

Andy McGinn: Rubbing elbows with the famous

Posted at 3:09 pm under Posts

Andy McGinn (B.S. 1999) returned to Iowa in December 2013 to take over as editor of his hometown newspaper, The Jefferson Herald. Each week his newspaper delivers to his readers a “big picture window on the county.”

[McGinn’s profile story is here.]

Before returning, however, he was an entertainment writer for The Springfield News–Sun in Ohio. His training ground, so–to–speak. For 14 years he shared his gift of gab with a who’s who of celebrities. Some famous, some not.

“Some of my all-time favorite subjects in Springfield were unheralded local guys who had brushes with fame themselves,” McGinn says. “Like the country singer from the ’50s who had a voice like Hank Williams but whose career was doomed by the fact that he was in a wheelchair from polio. By the time I arrived in Springfield, he was a regular on the local karaoke circuit.”

One of the Morningside graduate’s other favorite subjects was Joe “Jody” Parsley. The 80–year–old walked into the News–Sun offices claiming to have invented rap music. Andy was the only person who listened to his story, which was picked up by a number of national media outlets.

Parsley’s story also reveals McGinn’s skills as a videographer. Andy may just be kidding when he refers to himself as “the D. W Griffith of newspapers,” but from 2004 to 2007 he was named Best Videographer by the Ohio Newspaper Association.

More recently, NFL football player and Green County native Bryce Paup graced the Herald’s front page, as has UFC fighter Johnny “Hollywood” Case.

But it is the celebrities he covered for The Springfield News–Sun and later USA Today, that have provided McGinn his best celebrity stories.

USA Today actually reached out to me in 2008 because they needed someone in that part of the country to cover the opening night of a Reba McEntire/Kelly Clarkson joint tour in Dayton, Ohio. Imagine my surprise when I opened up that email. Here’s USA Today asking me to essentially review a concert for them… on deadline. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

“They set me up in a skybox at the arena and I pounded out a piece for them. That assignment turned into me writing a series of short features as part of USA Today’s ongoing coverage of ‘American Idol’ in which I did update stories on previous seasons’ finalists. They were all featured in a special, commemorative magazine, but they also ran the stories over the course of, like, 10 or 11 weeks in the paper.”

McGinn provided a partial list — without stories, unfortunately — of many of the famous folk he has interviewed. How many can you recognize?

  • Jonathan Winters (who was from Springfield)
  • Bob Newhart,
  • Cheech Marin
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Maya Angelou
  • Elie Wiesel
  • Rosemary Clooney
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Percy Sledge
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Charlie Daniels
  • Brian Wilson
  • Peter Frampton
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • Dick Van Patten
  • Little Richard
  • Op-art pioneer Julian Stanczak
  • British pop-artist Derek Boshier (who did the cover of Bowie’s “Lodger”)
  • Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
  • Alice Cooper (yeah, THE Alice)
  • Country legends Ray Price, Mel Tillis and Charley Pride
  • Marvel Comics publisher Stan Lee
  • Comic book greats Joe Kubert, Gene Colan and Al Feldstein
  • “Watchmen” artist Dave Gibbons
  • Cartoonists Bil Keane and Mort Walker
  • Voice artist Paul Soles (the voice of both Hermey the elf in the “Rudolph” holiday special and Spider-Man in the ’67 TV cartoon)
  • Both Luke Duke and Cooter from “Dukes of Hazzard”

One final note: The comic artists and cartoonists listed above reveal one of McGinn’s other interests. In 2010, he and another Morningside graduate, David Neitzke, put together the graphic novel Legacy. Still available from Amazon.

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