An all-night sidewalk party heralded the Tom Joyner Sky Show.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The mood was festive, the crowd was good-natured, and the comfortably cool weather was great for an all-night sidewalk celebration in downtown Youngstown.
Several hundred people had already lined up outside Edward W. Powers Auditorium before 11 p.m. with folding lounge chairs and recliners, blankets, warm clothing, portable radios and TVs, and food and beverage-filled bags and coolers.
The euphoric, well-behaved crowd had been gathering since Marva Parker of Youngstown arrived under the marquee to be first in line at 3:10 p.m. Thursday, even though the auditorium doors weren't scheduled to open until 5 a.m. today for the Tom Joyner "Sky Show."
Parker said she admires Joyner's advocacy of voter registration, health and wellness awareness and fund-raising to help students at historically black colleges. Parker said she had heard stories of people being shut out of Joyner's shows in other cities after spending 12 or more hours in line.
"They always advertise that the show that you hear on the radio is not the show that you see live, and I've always wanted to see the show live. The party with a purpose -- that's their motto," she observed.
"I think this is one of the greatest things that's hit Youngstown in a long time. It's just fun. You meet people that you haven't seen in awhile. It's a nice event, and we need to sponsor more things like this with a purpose," she said.
About the program
The program, for which admission was free and on a first-come, first-served basis, was broadcast live from 6 to 10 a.m. to a national radio audience of 8 million, with James Brown, the legendary soul and rhythm and blues singer, as a guest. The broadcast from Powers was sponsored locally by WRBP-FM radio 101.9, which airs Joyner's show daily.
"I couldn't miss this for anything. This is my birthday present," said Charlotte Smith of Hubbard, who celebrates her 58th birthday today. Smith, who listens to Joyner's program daily, recalled that, during the late 1950s, she attended a James Brown concert at the New Elms Ballroom on the city's North Side.
Having arrived about 10 p.m., she got the added bonus of being able to enjoy from her sidewalk seat the dazzling fireworks display after the football game at Youngstown State University, in which YSU beat Clarion 27-14.
Praise for Joyner
A foursome was engrossed in a card game at a table on the sidewalk in front of the Voinovich Center at 10:30 p.m.
"Tom Joyner's for the black man. He's speaking out for us," said Rita Jennings of Youngstown, one of the card players. "They let us know what's going on politically. They keep us abreast of what's happening in the black world," she said of Joyner and his assistants.
Her husband, Clarence, enjoyed playing cards late Thursday, even though he would miss the broadcast because had to go to work today.
"He keeps you enlightened and informed, and he works for good causes,'' Barbara Heath of Youngstown, said. She also recalled going to a James Brown concert at Packard Music Hall in Warren on her first date at the age of 17. "That was 35 years ago, and I've never forgotten it, so I don't mind staying out all night," she added.
Near the auditorium stage door, a satellite truck and two trailers were already in place Thursday evening, with cables running from one of the trailers into the backstage area. There, Youngstown police and Mahoning County deputy sheriffs were performing security duty.
Little Jimmy's Pizza of nearby Lincoln Avenue made several pizza deliveries to the people in line outside the auditorium.