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A Man for All Reasons: Legacy Omaha Investor John Webster Was a Go-To Guy for The Reader

March 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The Reader newspaper is celebrating 25 years with a special anniversary March 2019 issue. This is one of two articles I have in that milestone edition. In commemorating the paper’s quarter century serving the community, we’re noting some behind the scenes figures and events that helped get the paper this far. This piece profiles legacy Omaha investor John Webster, whose capital allowed publisher John Heaston to reacquire the paper and whose money and advice helped Heaston stabilize the operation through the economic downturn and the changing landscape for print media. Another Omaha investor who stepped up at the same time as Webster to aid The Reader was John Blazek, a social entrepreneur I profile in the second article. It takes a lot of talents and resources to put out a paper and it’s good to recognize some of the untold stories and unsung heroes who have a hand in making it reality. I didn’t know of Webster until I got the assignment to interview him. His role was eye-opening to me and I personally appreciate the way he assisted Heaston and bailed out the paper because I have been a Reader contributing writer for 23 of its 25 years. The bulk of my wide-ranging work as a journalist has been with the publication, where I have had something like a thousand or so pieces appear in its pages, including hundreds of cover stories. It’s been an eventful marriage filled with highs, lows, opportunities, adventures and all the usual stuff that attends a relationship that long-standing. I am glad to have some presence in this landmark edition and I look forward to being part of The Reader reaching new milestones over time.

 

A Man for All Reasons

Legacy Omaha Investor John Webster Was a Go-To Guy for The Reader

by Leo Adam Biga

Originally appeared in The Reader (www.thereaer.com)

 

Being from a legacy family carries expectations. Retired broadcaster John Webster, 70, grew up knowing he was part of a historical line. Even though making his own mark as a Webster was expected, it wasn’t a given.

“I’m a fifth generation in Omaha on my dad’s side and sixth generation on my mother’s, so we’ve been around for a while. I come from a great family. It’s one thing to come out of a good family, but if you don’t have the desire to do something with yourself, it’s just not going to happen,” said Webster, whose family was successful in investments and transportation.

Blessed with creative and enterprising genes, he made his biggest imprint as owner of Omaha radio station KEFM. He was also a director of Ash Grove Cement Company, a cement and cement kiln dust provider to the construction industry. Additionally, he’s served on numerous community boards and committees.

“I was heavily involved in the masonic organizations in Omaha. I got to meet people from all walks of life. That was a big part of how I formed myself.”

When Reader publisher John Heaston needed capital to buy back the paper and stabilize it in this disruptive media space, Webster became an investor. He kept a low profile doing it, which is the Webster way.

“My grandfather and father were big influences on me. As a family we’ve always been pretty private and quiet as to what we do with investments or philanthropy. I’ve followed suit.”

Webster attended Shattuck, a private boarding school in Faribault, Minnesota, when it was a military academy. He earned a business administration degree from Menlo College in Menlo Park, California. His interest in the radio business was stoked visiting a West Coast station.

“I became fascinated with the broadcast side of things. I thought it was terribly creative.”

Back in Omaha, the licenses of radio stations KEFM and KOIL were suspended after owner Don Burden ran afoul of the FCC in 1976.

“When the properties came up I thought this would be a thing I would enjoy doing for a living and I might be pretty good at,” Webster said. “My father and I and Joe Baker formed a small company to go after the licenses.

We thought nobody would want to file against us but

11 other groups did. We went through a seven-year comparative hearing process I wouldn’t wish on anybody. We thought we could serve the community as well as anyone else given our strong Omaha history.

“After seven years the FCC finally decided the same thing. We went on the air officially in 1983. We started from scratch and we built it. Joe Baker left and my father and I continued on and I basically ran the thing.”

He said a lesson he learned is that “you can’t be a broadcaster and be thin-skinned.”

After a nearly two-decade run as a local independent, Webster saw the competitive landscape change when the FCC opened ownership to unlimited stations and markets.

“I could see the writing on the wall that I wasn’t going to be able to compete with somebody that had many more stations and resources. I called a friend of mine who was a license station broker and said, ‘It’s time for me to get out.’ And I got out at the right time.”

Webster made a cool $10 million selling his profitable stations to Clear Channel.

“I think if I had waited six months it would have been a totally different game.”

He added, “If the FCC hadn’t changed things, I’d probably still be in broadcasting.”

He misses it, especially the people.

“When it’s all gone, there’s a vacuum.”

Other business opportunities have popped up, he said,

“but broadcasting was my bread and butter,” adding, “Being in the business and being able to grow the business through creativity and drive meant a lot to me.”

He served as president of the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and was instrumental in creating its charitable foundation. In 2001, he was inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame.

Besides owning his own specialty advertising company, his only other media foray was The Reader.

“I met John Heaston and I liked him, and I liked what he was doing. John Blazek and I got involved as investors.

It was interesting.”

Webster appreciates the publisher’s entrepreneurial zeal. “I think a lot of John Heaston. He’s creative. He has worthwhile ideas. He pursues stories that maybe mainstream publishers wouldn’t lay a hand on. I think there’s something to be said for an alternative newspaper. It adds a different viewpoint.

“The Reader may not be the biggest operation, but I think it serves a very vital part in providing information to the Omaha community.”

Webster and Blazek’s infusion of cash helped The Reader through some tough times.

“It hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been a real struggle. It’s a real compliment to John Heaston that he stuck with it.”

Webster’s been there himself.

“When you own your own business the buck always stops at your desk,” he said. “You can’t blame it on anybody else.”

Satisfaction, he said, comes in direct proportion “to the degree that you can work things out and solve problems and continue to grow.”

Webster, who’s married with three adult children (a fourth died in 2015), keeps a wintertime residence in South Carolina, but Omaha remains home.

“I’ve always loved Omaha. I don’t think I could ever really cut my ties with the city or Nebraska.”

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.com.

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More Bang for His Buck: Social Entrepreneur John Blazek Helped Reset The Reader’s Course

March 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The Reader newspaper is celebrating 25 years with a special anniversary March 2019 issue. This is one of two articles I have in that milestone edition. In commemorating the paper’s quarter century serving the community, we’re noting some behind the scenes figures and events that helped get the paper this far. This piece profiles social entrepreneur John Blazek, an Omaha investor whose capital allowed publisher John Heaston to reacquire the paper and whose money and advice helped Heaston stabilize the operation through the economic downturn and the changing landscape for print media. Another Omaha investor who stepped up at the same time as Blazek to aid The Reader was John Webster, a former broadcast radio owner I profile in the second article. It takes a lot of talents and resources to put out a paper and it’s good to recognize some of the untold stories and unsung heroes who have a hand in making it reality. I didn’t know of Blazek until I got the assignment to interview him. His role was eye-opening to me and I personally appreciate the way he assisted Heaston and bailed out the paper because I have been a Reader contributing writer for 23 of its 25 years. The bulk of my wide-ranging work as a journalist has been with the publication, where I have had something like a thousand or so pieces appear in its pages, including hundreds of cover stories. It’s been an eventful marriage filled with highs, lows, opportunities, adventures and all the usual stuff that attends a relationship that long-standing. I am glad to have some presence in this landmark edition and I look forward to being part of The Reader reaching new milestones over time.

 

More Bang for His Buck

Social Entrepreneur John Blazek Helped Reset The Reader’s Course

©by Leo Adam Biga

Originally appeared in The Reader (www.thereader.com)

 

Omaha investor John Blazek likes getting “a two-fer” when putting his money to work.

“I always figured why do something for just one reason when you can do things for more than one reason. It’s what I really enjoy. That’s why I’ve done everything I have in my career,” he said.

“I’m a really big believer that to whom much is given, much is required. You’ve got an obligation to try to help the other guy. That’s what makes life enriching.”

As a social entrepreneur, he’s started, acquired and sold businesses with this two-for-one goal in play. At some critical junctures in its history, even The Reader benefited from his strategy, as Blazek infused capital that allowed the paper to remain a viable alternative voice while netting him a return on investment.

“I like to leverage the things I do so it’s not just about me but also provides service to others.”

The Creighton University graduate is Entrepreneur in Residence at his alma mater, where he teaches entrepreneurship and real estate.

His multi-faceted career has encompassed being a pharmacist, executive, educator, real estate developer, philanthropist and mayoral cabinet member.

He served patients as a Kohll’s and Clarkson Hospital pharmacist. He created jobs as a home (Total HomeCare) and workplace healthcare provider (Wellcom). His Old Market and downtown real estate projects have reactivated old buildings, He, Mark Keffeler and Mike Moylan redeveloped the historic Paxton Hotel. Blazek’s an investor in The Jewell jazz club in Moylan’s Capitol District and a partner in the Prairie Hills residential-commercial real estate development.

Reared in a midtown Omaha working-class family, he learned early about leveraging resources. His World War II veteran father was a Union Pacific machinist. His homemaker mother worked part time as a Walgreens cashier. His immigrant grandparents laid a foundation anchored in high aspirations and strong values.

“I think every generation wants the next generation to better themselves,” he said, “but maintain the same values. I think lots of times as people better themselves, they lose some of those core values, which are what got them there.

“Probably the biggest thing I took from my growing upwas a really good work ethic. There’s plenty of people way smarter than me, but I will outwork anyone.”

This practicing Catholic’s faith is central to his life.

“I served as board president of Skutt Catholic High School and Catholic Charities. My wife and I sent our three daughters to Catholic grade schools, high schools and colleges.”

Blazek champions Omaha and its many opportunities.

“It’s all here. You’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and go after it.”

In the late 1990s, then-Omaha Mayor Hal Daub appointed Blazek to the city planning board. Later, as director of economic development, Blazek led the city’s charge to demolish the old Asarco lead refinery plant, whose decades of contamination resulted in East Omaha being declared a Superfund site. A public bond issue paved the way for construction of the convention center-arena and the creation of the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), which he served on the first board of directors.

“That was a great experience,” Blazek said. “The convention center-arena has been a game-changer for the city in the entertainment and development it’s generated.”

An encounter with Reader publisher John Heaston, who was investigating the Asarco site, forged a bond.

“I thought he did a good job and was a fair journalist,” Blazek said of Heaston. “I gained a lot of respect for him and I enjoyed our relationship.”

By the early 2000s, Heaston, who had been bought out, was looking to buy The Reader back from then-owner Alan Baer. Heaston approached Blazek and another local investor, John Webster, to assist him.

“We put up the capital in order for John to do that,” Blazek said.

The investors also helped Heaston acquire El Perico newspaper.

In The Reader, Blazek saw an opportunity to make a profit and stabilize a struggling media entity.

“I thought the survival of the paper was important to the community. Certain things would not be covered if not for The Reader. It often brings up a social-justice voice that I think is healthy. If it were gone, I do think there would be a void.”

His estimation of Heaston has only grown.

“We all know the pressures on print media but John’s a survivor. He works his tail off. He’s a trencher who hung in there through the tough times. He added a digital imprint. He downsized the paper to a monthly. He changed as the times changed. Yet he’s kept the same journalistic principles in place.”

Blazek’s ownership interest was “more from a board-seat standpoint” offering “business advice and mentorship.” Despite the paper not always reflecting his views, he kept involved.

“John and I certainly didn’t agree on everything. I disagreed with a lot of the positions the paper took. But I never interfered with any editorial content.”

All along, the idea was to let Heaston eventually have the paper again all to himself.

“We negotiated an exit strategy where John acquired our interests back. We sold it back to him on an installment basis. John’s done a great job and we wanted to see him continue to do that. It’s kept the paper going and allowed him to stay on as publisher.”

The paper fully became Heaston’s again in 2017.

“I think John had a good year last year,” Blazek said, “so mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned.”

As for Blazek, he intends to finish a self-help book he’s writing and to pursue a doctorate in education.

“I’m open to other ventures as long as they support my direction of moving from ambition to meaning.”

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.com.

Life Itself II: Eight years of Reader stories about people, their passions and their magnificent obsessions

April 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Life Itself II: Eight years of Reader stories about people, their passions and their magnificent obsessions

©by Leo Adam Biga

Author-Journalist-Blogger

 

Dec 5, 2017
Dec 4, 2017
Nov 2, 2017
Oct 9, 2017 5:00 PM
Oct 10, 2017
Oct 9, 2017
Sep 13, 2017

Photo courtesy of OPS

Sep 11, 2017
Aug 8, 2017

Terry Sanders_Posing at the entrance of the Fair Deal Grocery_Photo by Kevin Lytle

Food insecurity in northeast Omaha is a question of access, education and poverty. more
Jul 7, 2017
Jul 5, 2017
“I’ve been in a hundred struggles in my life, lost almost all of ’em, but I was never afraid, and that’s what I want people to understand.” more
Jun 2, 2017
May 31, 2017
A new approach to addressing community needs is taking root as the public sector stumbles. more
May 16, 2017
May 10, 2017
Payne’s ‘Downsizing’ may be next big thing on world cinema landscape more
Apr 27, 2017
With the end of Obamacare at the top of the national conversation, The Reader talked to the major stakeholders about life before and potentially after the Affordable Care Act. more
Mar 14, 2017 1

Debra Kaplan

Some 700,000 young Americans, including 3,000-plus in Nebraska, enjoy protections under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, but under Trump the work permits and other benefits could end. A diverse coalition supports their retainment. more
Feb 7, 2017

Lectrr

America’s welcomed newcomers escaping dangers and threats for as long as it’s been a nation. Refugees and asylees continue coming and a broad array of community support coalesces to make their resettlement and ultimate self-sufficiency a reality. more
Feb 1, 2017
Dec 7, 2016
Breaking the cycle of poverty in Omaha more
Dec 7, 2016

Debra S Kaplan

Don Curry banks on his “healthy” version of soul food catching on at his niche Omaha Rockets Kanteen and Southern Pitch food truck. His niche concept is wed to a Negro Leagues baseball passion that permeates his brick and mortar and mobile eateries. more
Nov 2, 2016
Exploring interfaith realities isn’t always the provence of groups or unrelated individuals. Interfaith couples such as Sharif Liwaru, who is Muslim, and Gabrielle Gaines Liwari, who is a follower of Jeuss, must find ways to navigate their journey. more
Nov 2, 2016
A force of nature named Dick Holland died at 95 on August 9. The philanthropist’s passing triggered warm, appreciative tributes from leaders of organizations he supported as well as individuals who worked with him or just admired his frank… more
Aug 18, 2016
Borne from outrage over violent African-American deaths, the grassroots Black Lives Matter movement espouses a social action platform to end systemic violence against and mass incarceration of a people. BLM’s loose-knit activists advocate d… more
Aug 11, 2016
When family owners of the Bohemian Cafe announced in May the restaurant was for sale and would close September 24, it marked another casualty among classic eateries calling it quits. An eventual surge in customers wanting to indulge Czech-G… more
Aug 11, 2016
If there is an Omaha Cinema Culture, it cuts across consumer, exhibitor, artist and aspirational experiences. Being far from traditional film centers poses certain barriers, but rich offerings and showplaces exist. Natives pursue and some a… more
Jul 15, 2016
The private doodles Ciara Fortun used to make have evolved into working sketches for collections she now produces for Omaha Fashion Week shows. After debuting at OFW with a formal women’s wear show in March, she’s unveiling a new collectio… more
Jul 11, 2016 5:48 PM Leo Adam Biga Art
Summer Miller’s New Prairie Kitchen Finding Meaning at the Table by Leo A, Biga Omaha author Summer Miller came to write her Gourmand World Cookbook Awards finalist New Prairie Kitchen in the midst of a life reset.  More than a recipe b… more
Jun 22, 2016
A poor inner city North Omaha neighborhood recently gained a $15 million new investment in its at-risk youth. The Girls Inc. of Omaha center at 2811 North 45th Street long ago outgrew its digs in the former Clifton Hill Elementary School b… more
May 19, 2016
When Mondo we Langa died at age 68 in the Nebraska State Penitentiary last month, he’d served 45 years for a crime he always maintained he did not commit. The former David Rice, a poet and artist, was found guilty, along with fellow Black P… more
Apr 25, 2016
As North Omaha Neighborhood Tapestries returns for the Great Plains Theatre Conference’s free PlayFest bill, two community icons take center stage as subject and setting. En route to making her Omaha Star newspaper an institution in the Af… more
Apr 15, 2016
Omaha native Ann Schatz swears she never meant to be a pioneer. She became one as her hometown’s first female sportscaster in the late 1970s, repeating the feat in Portland, Oregon in 1989. From that Pacific Northwest base she’s traveled to… more
Mar 16, 2016
The high concept behind Alexander Payne’s soon to shoot new feature, Downsizing, unfolds in a near future world where humans can opt to be miniaturized. Everything about the story, from the title to the characters to the plot-lines, gives P… more
Mar 4, 2016
It used to be conversations about local filmmakers doing relevant work here began and ended with Alexander Payne and Nik Fackler. That’s changing now and the March 8-13 Omaha Film Festival (OFF) is evidence of it. The 11-year-old fest, bac… more
Mar 4, 2016
Omaha is the adopted home of veteran Hollywood screenwriter and literary novelist John Kaye, 74, whose memoirs are published by the Los Angeles Review of Books.  The mercurial Kaye came 17-months ago from northern California to work on a n… more
Jan 22, 2016
Last August Stuart Chittenden traversed Neb. to test drive the idea that interpersonal communication is intrinsic to building community.  He called the project “A Couple of 830 Mile Long Conversations.” With support from Humanities Nebrask… more
Jan 12, 2016
Omaha’s philanthropic community is known for its unusual generosity. Some attribute this largess to the small town feel of a city where relationships still matter and where it’s possible to rally people around a good idea or cause. Others … more
Nov 24, 2015
Omaha’s philanthropic heavyweights are generally male, old-monied Great White Fathers whose wealth and influence support health, human services, education and the arts. A veteran of this deep-pocketed fraternity is Richard D. Holland. The … more
Nov 24, 2015
The Omaha Star has given African-Americans a voice for 77 years. The newspaper is not only a vital mouthpiece for locals, but a valued hometown connection for natives living elsewhere.  It became an institution under the late Mildred D. Br… more
Nov 24, 2015
The Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol has long haunted actor-writer-director John Hardy. Though ghosts have yet to visit him ala Scrooge, the story’s held an enchanted place in Hardy’s heart ever since he got his Equity card acting … more
Nov 10, 2015
With America in the throes of the 1960s civil rights movement, few whites publicly conceded their own prejudice, much less tried seeing things from a black point of view. Lois Mark Stalvey was that exception as she shared her journey from n… more
Nov 9, 2015
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid   Of people whose eyes are oddly made,  … more
Nov 9, 2015
Muddying Omaha’s high quality of life rankings are pockets of chronic poverty and growing new poor populations. Identifiable impoverished sections, homeless communities and shelters exist, but most poverty here is insidious and invisible. … more
Oct 16, 2015
The 2015 downtown Omaha Lit Fest, whose theme is “Nervosa: Science, Psych & Story,” celebrates the reflective power of literature to explore human vulnerability. Worry over terrorism, the economy, climate change, the singularity, genet… more
Sep 19, 2015
Since Sam Meisels arrived in 2013 to head the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, he’s become the academic-based advocate ally to the socially conscious philanthropist who hired him, Susan A. Buffett. The dynastic wealth of the Buffetts has… more
Sep 19, 2015
Until now the Blue Barn Theatre has been like Omaha’s many other small stage companies by operating on a shoestring in makeshift spaces. This grassroots passion project was born of a band of New York drama school transplants afire with the … more
Sep 8, 2015
If you’re an Omaha foodie who believes as many do the local dining out experience has never been better, then you can thank an infusion of original chef-driven and chef-owned eateries for it.   Not coincidentally, many of these places are… more
Sep 4, 2015
Quality-of-life metrics assessing the state of African-American northeast Omaha paint a stark picture. Pockets experience some of America’s worst poverty and gun violence. Disparities contradict Omaha’s high best-place-to-live rankings. Ri… more
Jul 23, 2015
EDITOR’S NOTE:  Senior contributing writer Leo Adam Biga, winner of the 2015 Andy Award for international journalism from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, chronicles recent travels he made in Africa with two-time world boxing champion … more
Jun 27, 2015
Last month State Sen. Ernie Chambers finally got enough fellow legislators to support repealing the death penalty in Nebraska. Capital punishment foes welcome the news, among them Omaha filmmaker Patty Dillon. Her new documentary There Will… more
May 27, 2015
NorthStar Foundation nurtures the dreams of young inner city males. The area’s lone boys-only after school program and summer camp at 4242 North 49th Avenue doesn’t put limits on students, regardless of socio-economic, family or environmen… more
May 18, 2015
Perhaps more than any geographic quadrant of the city, South Omaha owns the richest legacy as a livestock-meatpacking industry hub and historic home to new arrivals fixated on the American Dream. Everyone with South O ties has a story. Whe… more
Apr 16, 2015
Social justice champion Tommie Wilson experienced the civil rights movement as it happened. For her, the good fight has never stopped. While president of the local NAACP she brought a lawsuit against then-Gov. Dave Heineman over redistrict… more
Apr 16, 2015
The 1959 gender-bending film farce Some Like It Hot came at an interesting juncture in the careers of writer-director Billy Wilder and stars Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.  For each legend it marked a career boost. It reaffir… more
Mar 20, 2015
R&B and soul singer-songwriter Dominique Morgan, 33, has emerged as an urban music force with multiple Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards nominations for his Love Chronicles album. His tunes of love and loss come from personal experie… more
Mar 20, 2015
Three-time Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards poet nominee Zedeka Poindexter envies the performing outlets high school-age poets have today. The March 17-April 20 Louder Than a Bomb is a case in point. There wasn’t anything like it when sh… more
Mar 10, 2015
The metro’s work-in-progress cinema culture has lately come of age due to a montage of things. Alexander Payne making movies and bringing world-class film artists here. A surge of indigenous indie filmmakers. The advent of Film Streams. The… more
Mar 10, 2015
Since launching hockey in 1997 to subsidize its non-revenue generating sports UNO’s netted a nice return on investment. Maverick hockey crowds rank among the best nationally, with annual ticket revenues of $2 million. When the school droppe… more
Feb 20, 2015
South Omaha native Frank Horejsi doesn’t care if he’s called caretaker, curator, historian, picker, salvager, architectural remnants archeologist or his favorite, urban miner.  Just don’t call him late to a salvage site.  For 30-some year… more
Feb 20, 2015
As an adoptee whose identity quest has shaped his life and as a research specialist investigating people’s family trees, Max Sparber perfectly embodies his “history detective” tagline. His Douglas Country Historical Society fact-finding du… more
Feb 15, 2015
America’s schizophrenic about sex. Images and hookups abound, yet in this information age many folks don’t know, follow or discuss safe practices. That incongruity explains why sexually transmitted diseases are at epidemic levels and why … more
Jan 22, 2015
My, how time flies. It seems only yesterday Omaha’s own Gabrielle Monique Union first caught our attention on the big screen with her scene-stealing turn as the diva rival to Kirsten Dunst in the wickedly funny high school cheerleader comed… more
Dec 5, 2014
Art often expresses culturally-specific stories but until the Omaha-based African Culture Connection surfaced in 2006 West African tales were rarely if ever explored here.  Led by Benin, West Africa native and veteran dancer-choreographer … more
Nov 20, 2014
Former Bellevue West hoops star and Creighton University point guard Josh Dotzler has lived through the saga of Abide, the northeast Omaha ministry his parents started in 1989. Twenty-five years ago Ron and Twany Dotzler stepped out on fai… more
Nov 19, 2014
Alexander Payne is in a position to ask any world class film figure to be his guest of honor at the Film Streams Feature event, the art cinema’s annual big fundraiser. Laura Dern, Debra Winger, Steven Soderbergh, Jane Fonda and the principa… more
Oct 31, 2014
At the end of the day, voters want a choice. If nothing else, the tight Nebraska 2nd Congressional District race pitting incumbent Lee Terry against challenger Brad Ashford gives voters a distinct option.  Pre-election surveys indicate a n… more
Oct 29, 2014
Leah McNary has been there for much of Creighton volleyball’s ascendancy from weak little sister program in the shadow of Big Red to all-grown-up competitor holding its own. “It’s exciting being a part of a process of building a program,” … more
Oct 16, 2014
In the Gloria Gaynor anthem “I Will Survive” a woman declares her personal autonomy. Not needing to find validation in another is a liberating thing worth celebrating in song.  Life imitates art whenever a poor single mother breaks free of… more
Oct 16, 2014
When Jill Anderson made Bram Stoker’s dark transmutation novel Dracula the theme for the 2014 Joslyn Castle Literary Festival she never imagined her own life would be marked by fear-inducing, life-altering transformation. In February the f… more
Oct 1, 2014
Experts say mental illness affects millions of lives each year and yet it often goes ignored and untreated. There’s no national mental health campaign urging people to be screened or to seek help. Accessing needed care can be hard due to a … more
Sep 25, 2014
Photographer Janette Beckman made a name for herself in the 1970s and 1980s capturing the punk scene in her native London and the hip-hop scene in her adopted New York City.  Dubbed “the queen of rock photographers,” her images appeared in… more
Sep 16, 2014
Award-winning filmmaker Maria Agui Carter has much to say about her new film Rebel, the story of a Latina who posed as a man to fight and spy in the American Civil War. Agui Carter will discuss the film, which recently aired as a PBS specia… more
Sep 15, 2014
The downtown Omaha Lit Fest this Friday and Saturday offers a compendium of writing topics and events around the theme Warped: Historical In/Accuracy, Navigating Fact and Fiction, Past and Present. Writing about the past is foremost on the… more
Sep 3, 2014
Omaha artist Watie White’s humanist public art projects reveal the narratives of transitional urban neighborhoods. The dynamics of locations and the people living there shape his site-specific works. Three 2014 projects, one completed and … more
Sep 3, 2014
Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Omaha’s Temple Israel Synagogue builds bridges between people of different backgrounds and persuasions. Take for example his driving force work with the Tri-Faith Initiative, the project that intends creating a local c… more
Aug 27, 2014
Omaha North running back sensation and recent South Dakota verbal commit Calvin Strong put up sick numbers last season leading his school to its first state football title in the playoff era. His 3,008 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns set st… more
Aug 24, 2014
When the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy happened Ferial Pearson searched for answers and hope. Her bullied young son provided both when he revealed being comforted by her felt better than staying mad.  That got Pearson, an award-winning local edu… more
Aug 20, 2014
Omaha Fashion Week, the Midwest couture festival that pops up twice a year in the most unexpected places, is one of those signifier events that confirms this isn’t your parents’ city anymore.  It has returned to the much ballyhooed but sil… more
Aug 13, 2014
When Mark Evans accepted the job of Omaha Public Schools superintendent in December 2012, he knew the mission would be immense in this sprawling urban district facing myriad challenges.  With 51,000 students spread out over 86 schools loca… more
Aug 8, 2014
With impresario Gordon Cantiello’s new tribute show The Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash at The Waiting Room, it’s only natural to consider what makes the singer-songwriter of the title so enduring. The king of hard-scrabble, honky-t… more
Aug 1, 2014
If redevelopment plans for northeast Omaha come to full fruition then that long depressed district will see progress at-scale after years of patchwork promises. Old and new leaders from largely African-American North Omaha will be the drivi… more
Jul 20, 2014
Before a Feb. 27 packed house at the Holland Performing Arts Center a woman strode on stage to introduce playwright-poet-performance artist Daniel Beaty. Schalisha Walker, 25, was unknown to all but a few in the audience. She was there to … more
Jul 14, 2014
Entrepreneurial African missionary Aisha Okudi, 37, laid the foundation for her thriving business and ambitious humanitarian work during a period when she and her children were sometimes homeless. She’d been through worse.  Regardless of h… more
Jul 6, 2014
When Terence “Bud” Crawford defends his WBO lightweight title June 28 at the CenturyLink Center, he’ll fight for himself, his tight-knit family and a boxing community that’s not seen anything like this since 1972. Forty-two years ago heavy… more
Jun 24, 2014
When Terence “Bud” Crawford defends his WBO lightweight title June 28 at the CenturyLink Center, he’ll fight for himself, his tight-knit family and a boxing community that’s not seen anything like this since 1972. Forty-two years ago heavy… more
Jun 23, 2014
Sunday, June 8 Douglas County Historical Society Second Sunday Talk Metropolitan Community College, Fort Omaha Campus, Bldg. 21 (Mule Barn) 2 p.m., Free for members; suggested $5 donation for nonmembers Reservations required at: members@dou… more
Jun 1, 2014
“We’re kindred spirits with respect to the creation of performance and the creation of events to share with an audience,” says Plourde, a New York director. “We create performance, we create live events, we work with groups of artists we co… more
May 21, 2014
The University of Nebraska at Omaha has a veritable folk-hero in its midst in hard-throwing senior softball ace Dana Elsasser, who’s overcame serious challenges to become a pitching phenom. With her near legendary career fast nearing its … more
Apr 28, 2014
In the hybrid realm of slam poetry, where free verse, theater, oral storytelling and forensics converge to make a verbal gumbo, personal expression rules. Impassioned teen anguish stirs the pot to create a heady brew during the Louder T… more
Apr 27, 2014
Credit Omaha writer-director Jason Levering for possessing the temerity to not only consider adapting Stephen King’s meta horror novel The Shining to the stage but to follow through and actually get the master’s approval. Now he’s only ho… more
Mar 14, 2014
Ella, the dramatic musical revue of the life of American songbook diva Ella Fitzgerald at the Omaha Community Playhouse, reveals the anguish behind the legendary performer’s sweet voice and carefree persona. Call it kismet or karma, but… more
Mar 4, 2014
The March 5-9 Omaha Film Festival has gone all digital with its move from Regal Omaha Stadium 16 to Marcus Village Pointe Cinema at 304 No. 174th Street. Besides the sharper projection offered, OFF Program director Marc Longbrake says t… more
Mar 1, 2014
  Omaha ex-pat James Marshall Crotty, co-creator of the underground Monk magazine and author of alternative city guides, gained a cult following for his irreverent dashboard reporting about America’s fringes. His arch leanings are on di… more
Mar 1, 2014
As Omaha glories in Creighton Bluejays hoops superstar Doug McDermott’s historic season, another local sports figure going for greatness flies under the radar. Top Rank boxer Terence “Bud” Crawford challenges for the WBO lightweight tit… more
Feb 21, 2014
Two bodies in the mirror:
one’s me, the other’s you,
 with two far different cultures
some say will bring just strife.
… more
Feb 9, 2014
Filmmaker, musician and psychedelia aficionado Nik Fackler is a millennial seeker. It’s no surprise then he followed his well-crafted made-in-Omaha feature debut Lovely, Still (2008) with documentaries exploring cultures half-a-world away… more
Jan 28, 2014
Art imitates life when siblings Camille Metoyer Moten and Lanette Metoyer Moore evoke the Delany sisters in the African-American oral-history show Having Our Say at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Just as the play’s real-life Sadie and B… more
Jan 27, 2014
The recently launched Omaha Culinary Tours looks to capture foodies and urban explorers alike. Owners Jim Trebbien, Jen Valandra and Suzanne Allen are banking this town’s rich culinary scene is destination worthy enough to support the… more
Jan 14, 2014
  Dreamers from Neb., as from everywhere else, have flocked to Hollywood since the motion picture industry’s start. Softening the harsh realities of making it in Tinsel Town’s dog-eat-dog world, where who you know is often more vital … more
Jan 4, 2014
Sam’s Leon Mexican Foods and Tortilleria is one of this word-of-mouth joints that doesn’t really advertise. This combination dine-in and take-out restaurant, catering service and tortilla factory at 5014 South 20th Street has churned ou… more
Dec 14, 2013
Whether preparing and preserving food or discussing neighborhood concerns, bountiful activity goes on at this clubhouse meets social settlement house at 2737 Mary Street in northeast Omaha. An endeavor at sustainability and community … more
Dec 10, 2013
Addressing the food insecurity problems that nag poverty-stricken northeast Omaha, where access to fresh, organic produce, dairy and bread products is limited, are an array of individuals, organizations, projects and initiatives. Many eff… more
Nov 27, 2013
Organizations serving at-risk kids come and go but few stay the course the way the CW Youth Resource Center, 1510 Cass Street, has since opening in 1978. Founder-director Carl Washington hosts a Nov. 29 open house at CW from 4 to 8 p.m…. more
Nov 18, 2013
Local color, of the achingly human variety, is where Alexander Payne’s new black and white film Nebraska most deeply comes to life. After fall festival premieres abroad and across the U.S., Payne’s coming home to show off the film named… more
Nov 13, 2013
  When the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Latino and Latin American Studies holds its Nov. 8-9 Cumbre event, it will mark 10 years for this center dedicated to community engagement, applied research and teaching inside and … more
Nov 5, 2013
Long before the Food Network or even television’s start, long before our cult of celebrity, a certain French chef attained such fame that he became a culinary star concocting meals for socialites and royals. Georges Auguste Escoffier li… more
Nov 4, 2013
With words like justice, security, healthy and sustainable increasingly attached to food in America, two Omaha filmmakers with an undisguised POV have plugged into the sustainable edibles culture with a new documentary. In Growing Citie… more
Oct 21, 2013
On a sweltering Sunday afternoon in early July Omaha music guru Nils Anders Erickson takes me for a ride in his PT Cruiser to opine about his magnificent obsession with old things. The singer-songwriter-musician owns Rainbow Music, a co… more
Oct 15, 2013
Writer predilections take precedence at the October 18-19 (downtown) Omaha Lit Fest, an annual orgy of the written word organized by acclaimed resident author Timothy Schaffert (The Coffins of Little Hope). Nine years running Schaffert’… more
Oct 14, 2013
Two years since the U.S. pulled troops out of Iraq Americans still slog it out in Afghanistan — a full 12 years since its start. The dual wars for which so many paid a heavy price will forever be analyzed by the likes of Omaha native Joh… more
Sep 29, 2013
One of Omaha’s oldest brands, Storz beer, is back after nearly a half-century absence and locals are lapping up the suds with gusto. Two Storz family relatives, cousins Tom and John Markel, are reviving the brand as a beer and as the … more
Sep 16, 2013
Sometimes a work of art so well captures the spirit of a people and time that it becomes an enduring cultural talking point. Such is the case with Rudolfo Anaya’s 1972 coming-of-age novel Bless Me, Ultima, widely considered a seminal piec… more
Sep 12, 2013
After wrapping Nebraska the end of 2012 Alexander Payne holed up with editor Kevin Tent in L.A. to edit the film starting Jan. 7 and finally put the project to bed in early August. When I caught up with Payne and a small post crew in mid-… more
Sep 3, 2013
Jim Trebbien has been knocking around the Omaha food scene awhile, the last 25-plus years as dean of culinary arts, hospitality and horticulture at Metropolitan Community College. During that time he’s seen the local food culture evolve f… more
Aug 20, 2013
More than 600 folks turned out Saturday for the 16th Annual Community Block Party hosted by Apostle Vanessa Ward and her husband Keith Ward. As usual this multi-generational celebration of community in a northeast Omaha neighborhood once … more
Aug 12, 2013

BRYCE BRIDGES

Special to The New York Times If you’re a devotee of public television then chances are you saw the work of the late nonfiction filmmaker Gail Levin. The Omaha native and longtime New York City resident died July 31 in a NYC hospice car… more
Aug 10, 2013
Addressing the food insecurity problems that nag poverty-stricken northeast Omaha, where access to fresh, organic produce, dairy and bread products is limited, are an array of individuals, organizations, projects and initiatives. Many eff… more
Aug 5, 2013
When Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s turn to speak came at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it was near the end of a long program on a hot August day featuring addresses by civil rights leaders and performances by musician… more
Aug 5, 2013
Pamela Jo Berry saw a need for more art offerings in the section of northeast Omaha where she resides and decided to do something about it. With the help of friends and venues the photographer and mixed media artist created North Omaha … more
Jul 29, 2013
Theater gypsy Gordon Cantiello is back in town again. The stage veteran and former full-time Omaha resident teaches speech and theater at a private school in San Diego, Calif. When he lived here he put on dozens of plays from the early … more
Jul 29, 2013
Father Roy Bourgeois is a troublemaker. The 74-year-old has been roiling the waters for four decades as a social justice activist. Having the courage of his convictions has cost him dearly, including prison and ostracism. During an Au… more
Jul 29, 2013
The July 31-August 5 Native Omaha Days will feature metro-wide black heritage celebrations that on the surface don’t seem to have much to do with the American South. But when local African American families gather for the biennial Days most… more
Jul 22, 2013
Once dubbed a “cheerful subversive” by The New York Times, indie filmmaker Dan Mirvish uses his skills as a provocateur and promoter to get his obscure work noticed by the very mainstream whose noses he sometimes tweaks.  He’s in rare c… more
Jul 19, 2013
Johnny Carson wasn’t called the King of Late Night for nothing. In the days when television ruled American mass media culture the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson averaged 15 million nightly viewers. That’s three or four times the au… more
Jul 2, 2013
In a state with few destination attractions, Omaha’s Old Market arts-entertainment district packs them in. The draw is not any one or two venues, but a collective of shops, restaurants, bars, galleries and creative spaces, along with the … more
Jun 18, 2013
Compassion in Action’s move to the former Wesley House campus at 2001 North 35th Street is symbolic for CIA founder-executive director Teela Mickles. Her nonprofit serving men, women and children touched by the judicial and penal system… more
Jun 11, 2013
Identical twin brothers from Jewish suburbia, Ezra and Adeev Potash, are Omaha’s unlikely gift to the jazz world. Their soul and funk-infused horn playing has everyone from Big Sam Williams to Wynton Marsalis singing their praises. Ezra… more
Jun 3, 2013
The play’s still the thing with the Great Plains Theatre Conference but organizers are making a concerted effort to expand theater’s definition in order to connect more people to it. The May 26-29 PlayFest is the Metropolitan Community … more
May 11, 2013
The inaugural resident artists at the Carver Bank cultural center couldn’t be more unalike in some ways and more congruent in others.  Carver is the new Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Rebuild Foundation endeavor at 2416 Lake Str… more
May 1, 2013
Everything about one of Omaha’s bright new playwrights bespeaks exotica, starting with her name, Beaufield Berry. This biracial, bicoastal creative with model good looks has worked as an actor, a singer, a VIP dancer, a burlesque performe… more
Apr 19, 2013
Journalist and author Stew Magnuson’s new book Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding finds virtually every survivor of that 71-day occupation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in S.D. sullied in some way. The book by this Omaha native, w… more
Apr 19, 2013
State Sen. Brad Ashford’s poor showing in the April 2 Omaha mayoral primary isn’t deterring him from future elected office bids. The one-time Democrat and long-time Republican ignored advisors and ran as an independent against major par… more
Apr 15, 2013
As the Louder Than a Bomb Omaha Youth Poetry Festival draws to a close after weeks of preliminary bouts and last Sunday’s semi-finals, it appears slam poetry is a new outlet for that rite-of-passage known as adolescence. The 2013 team f… more
Apr 8, 2013
The woman behind the successful media enterprise of the Omaha Star helped inspire two of today’s leading women in media — Chicago Crusader publisher-editor Dorothy Leavell and Radio One chairperson and Omaha native Cathy Hughes. In thi… more
Apr 8, 2013
The civil rights and black power movements seem distant from Omaha until noting that Whitney Young Jr. cut his teeth as an advocate-organizer here and future activst Malcolm X was born here. While Malcolm X moved with his family from Om… more
Mar 17, 2013
You may not know the name but for more than a decade now Omaha native Yolonda Ross has been a stalwart actress in American independent cinema and quality television movies and episodic dramas. Before recently working with a pair of star… more
Mar 5, 2013
With gay marriage being assailed during an Iowa House Judiciary Committee public hearing in 2011 Zach Wahls offered counter testimony that not only charged the proceedings but the national dialogue about the issue. Raised by same sex partn… more
Mar 4, 2013
Four years ago Ruth Marimo sat in the Cass County Jail contemplating suicide. The mother of two and then-undocumented immigrant from Zimbabwe, Africa was there because her estranged husband, whom she says verbally and physically abused he… more
Feb 11, 2013
When writer-actor-composer Daniel Beaty conjures the 25-plus characters he portrays in his provocative one-man show, Emergency, it’s well to remember his riffs on the African-American experience are informed by his own life. His award-w… more
Feb 8, 2013
Soul sister poetesses Michelle Troxclair and Felicia “WithLove” Webster stir the pot to make the spicy mix of Verbal Gumbo, the spoken word series throwing down the third Thursday of every month at House of Loom. The artists launched th… more
Feb 8, 2013
Alberto “Beto” Gonzales believes working one-on-one with youths is the best way to reach them. His work as a mentor and gang prevention-intervention specialist has earned him much recognition, most recently the Martin Luther King Jr. Lega… more
Feb 6, 2013
On its face Watie White’s new public art project at an abandoned North Omaha house could be construed as a privileged white guy coming into the black community to impose his perceptions on that place and its people. But that’s not the c… more
Jan 28, 2013
The much-feted 2012 documentary The House I Live In provokes dialogue wherever it plays for its critique of America’s domestic War on Drugs. Following a January 22 Film Streams screening before a full house, a local panel discussed the fi… more
Jan 28, 2013
When she dreamed of rap stardom back in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas, Tunette Powell went by Short Stack. Today, Tunette will do. After years of search and struggle and a need for attention she fed with men, the 26-year-old Bellevue… more
Jan 23, 2013
It took the civil rights movement to bring segregation in the United States into sharp relief. The South was the epicenter of the racial equality battle but American-style apartheid as well as attempts to dismantle it were everywhere, inc… more
Jan 17, 2013
Signature Old Market spot M’s Pub celebrates 40 years in business this year. It’s a milestone for any independently owned restaurant. But reaching four decades takes on added meaning because when M’s opened in 1973 (a planned 1972 opening… more
Jan 15, 2013
Nebraska’s favorite film son has not shot a single frame here since About Schmidt in 2002. Alexander Payne’s decision to make Nebraska in his home state brought into sharp relief some realities with large implications for his own work a… more
Jan 9, 2013
The subtle twang in the voice of stringed instrument-maker and roots musician John Hargiss betrays his southern Missouri Ozarks origins. As a boy he learned acoustic guitar under his musician-craftsman-woodsman father’s instruction. As a … more
Dec 14, 2012
It’s fitting a new book taking the measure of Nebraska politico legend Ernie Chambers is out just as this old social justice warhorse has proven he still owns the people’s will. In the Nov. 6 general election the 75-year-old Chambers de… more
Dec 7, 2012
A once prominent but long vacant building in Omaha’s African-American hub is now reborn thanks to catalysts bridging the divide between need and opportunity. The former Carver Savings and Loan Association at 2416 Lake St. was Omaha’s fi… more
Nov 28, 2012
In 1968 Francis Ford Coppola led a small cinema caravan to Ogallala, Neb. for the final weeks shooting on his independent road picture The Rain People starring Shirley Knight. Joining them were future fellow film legends George Lucas, Bil… more
Oct 22, 2012
Among the first things you notice at Sage Student Bistro is the staff’s earnestness. Greeters, servers and cooks are all students in Metropolitan Community College’s respected Institute for Culinary Arts, whose sleek building is the face … more
Oct 6, 2012
Beth Seldin Dotan has shepherded the Institute for Holocaust Education in Omaha since its 2000 inception. Before she leaves this fall for a new position in Israel she’ll witness the organization she grew from nothing into the state’s prim… more
Oct 5, 2012
Don’t look now but Michael Beasley is carving out a film-television career rivaling that of his powerhouse father John Beasley (Rudy, The Apostle). The nearly 20 feature and made-for-TV pics he’s booked the last few years have him on th… more
Sep 28, 2012
It should be no surprise the author of languidly paced satirical novels (The Coffins of Little Hope) that delight in peculiar, piquant details should fashion a literary happening along the same lines. Novelist Timothy Schaffert has done… more
Sep 28, 2012
Public television was a dream when Ron Hull joined what became the Nebraska Educational Television network in Lincoln. It was 1955 and the broadcast school graduate arrived inflamed with the possibilities of the fledgling medium. Fifty-… more
Sep 28, 2012
Gabrielle Union has reached a point in her film and television career where she’s doing more meaningful projects. Not by accident either. The maturing actress known for her assertive persona and frank views has been ever more deliberate a… more
Sep 26, 2012
Year two of the Great Omaha Chocolate Festival at UNO celebrates one of popular culture’s great food indulgences. Organizers of the September 30 event, which benefits the Omaha Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, say choc… more
Sep 25, 2012
Freddie Gray knows being second-guessed and scrutinized comes with the job of Omaha Public School Board President. But when she came under fire over her handling of the Nancy Sebring scandal she got more than she bargained for, including … more
Aug 13, 2012
With his new novel True Believers (Random House) Kurt Andersen takes stock of the roiling 1960s through the eyes of a fictional woman whose coming-of-age then unfolded in predictable and inexplicable ways. Through his narrator, attorney… more
Aug 6, 2012
Just as Omaha’s come of age with performing arts venues, nightlife attractions, community events and public spaces, so it’s matured in cinema. This maturation first bloomed when Alexander Payne made features here. Then the local indie f… more
Jul 18, 2012
Omaha’s not always embraced diversity but the local Tri-Faith Initiative may be a history-making model of interfaith cooperation. It’s proceeding with an audacious plan to locate a church, a synagogue a mosque and an ecumenical center on … more
Jul 10, 2012
Participants in girls and women’s sports today should be forgiven if they take for granted the bounty of athletic scholarships, competitive opportunities, training facilities and playing venues afforded them. After all, they’ve never kn… more
Jun 19, 2012
In his notable screen acting career John Beasley has done his share of television both as a one-off guest star (Detroit 1-8-7, Boston Legal, CSI: Miami, NCIS) and recurring player (Everwood, Treme). But in the new TVLand series The Soul… more
Jun 7, 2012
One-liners and nonsequiturs will fly at the June 13-17 Viareo Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, Neb., where the late comic great Johnny Carson grew up. This annual celebration of the funny side is equal parts competition, works… more
May 23, 2012
Three traveling baseball exhibitions on view in the metro this spring chart a history with local overtones and signals a comeback for a local organization. The exhibits are courtesy of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Omaha’s own Great … more
May 16, 2012
By now America’s accustomed to King of Comedy Bill Cosby turning serious about topics he usually mines humor from. Expressing his celebrity opinions he sometimes touches a nerve, as when he asserted “parenting is not going on” in poor inn… more
May 16, 2012
Self-determination by any means necessary. The sentiment is by Malcolm X, whose incongruous beginnings were in this conservative, white-bread city. Not where you’d expect a revolutionary to originate. Then again, his narrative would be … more
May 3, 2012
Poetry slams pit individuals and teams in bouts of spoken word street soliloquies that bring performers and spectators to tears and cheers the way arts and sports events do. Omaha’s long been home to a thriving adult slam scene, thanks … more
Apr 9, 2012
The 20th century migration African-Americans made from the South to the North and West expanded black enclaves across the nation. While Omaha didn’t experience a huge influx like Chicago or Los Angeles, it was enough to alter the cultural… more
Mar 31, 2012
After weeks of public testimony and closed door meetings on the hotly contested equal employment ordinance giving legal protection to gay and transgender residents, the Omaha City Council decided the issue March 13. Three-term District … more
Mar 26, 2012
Indigenous themes take center stage for a March 24 Omaha Conservatory of Music concert that culminates the school’s “Nebraska Roots: Native American Music of the Omaha Indian Tribe” curriculum. Original Native music handed down through th… more
Mar 21, 2012
Hawk Ostby, one half of the scriptwriting team of Children of Men and Iron Man, will provide an insider’s take on the screenwriting trade at the Omaha Film Festival’s Filmmaking Conference. Speaking by phone from his Vermont home, Ostby… more
Mar 7, 2012
In the 1990s Omaha native Jaime King’s fresh face and lithe body graced the runway fantastic for the likes of Gucci and Alexander McQueen in New York and around the globe. She did provocative shoots for Vogue, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Cosmo… more
Mar 7, 2012
The obvious and not so obvious came into focus when native son Alexander Payne accepted his second Oscar in front of a live audience of his peers and a television viewing audience estimated at 1.2 billion during Sunday’s Academy Awards. … more
Feb 29, 2012
The unpretentious, homey American GI Forum restaurant at 2002 N Street is a Tex-Mex bargain whose popular specials make this a busy joint. But unless you’re a South Omahan or get tipped off to the place by someone, this best-kept-secret… more
Jan 25, 2012
When Alexander Payne’s turn came to speak in the glow of The Descendants winning best motion picture drama at the Golden Globes, he made sure to thank the people of Hawaii and author Kaui Hart Hemmings. He did something few directors do… more
Jan 25, 2012
Brigitte McQueen is hell-bent on revolution. The entrepreneurial arts maven first made a splash with Pulp in Benson. Then she revived the Bemis Underground in the Old Market. Now she’s about to shake up North Omaha via The Union for Con… more
Dec 8, 2011
The annual Renaissance Madrigal Christmas Feast at the Omaha Marriott is equal parts Tony and Tina’s Wedding, Shakespeare, Knights of the Round Table and Food Network theme show. That is if the theme is a Saxon bacchanal. A food orgy all … more
Nov 19, 2011
Singer-songwriter-turntable artist SA Martinez is a cog in the successful rock band 311 that started in Omaha 21 years ago and is still going strong today from its Southern Calif.-base. Recordings and national tours keep the group, whose … more
Nov 16, 2011
In his well-reviewed new film The Descendants Alexander Payne reframes the Hawaiian idyll as gritty American terrain where history and culture intersect with human aspirations and failings. The festival favorite follows an island clan s… more
Nov 11, 2011
South Omaha native son David Krajicek’s crime writing has branded him Mr. Murder, so it’s only apt he looks the heavy with his bearded mug, bouncer glare and imposing size. This tabloid poet and rebel, who hails from a long line of barkee… more
Oct 27, 2011
Brigitte McQueen is hell-bent on revolution. The entrepreneurial arts maven first made a splash with Pulp in Benson. Then she revived the Bemis Underground in the Old Market. Now she’s about to shake up North Omaha via the Union for Con… more
Oct 22, 2011
John Beasley got tired of being tired. You’ve likely learned the John Beasley Theater & Workshop’s urgent appeal for funds to relieve its financial distress has been answered, and the once-endangered 2011-2012 season saved. But yo… more
Oct 19, 2011
When Alexander Payne cast locals Nicholas D’Agosto and Chris Klein in Election, he opened doors for the two dreamy, boy-next-door types. Klein burned hot and bright before flaming out. D’Agosto’s gradual rise may reach new heights with … more
Oct 11, 2011
In his capsule of the 2011 (downtown) Omaha Lit Fest, founder-director and novelist Timothy Schaffert draws a parallel with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Specifically, to the humbug Wizard’s endowing the Tin Woodman with a heart made of sil… more
Oct 11, 2011
Last month a New York City audience embraced the world premiere of the multimedia concert piece, Portals, and now the work’s come back to its other home, Omaha’s KANEKO, for performances October 5-6. As creative director, acclaimed viol… more
Oct 4, 2011
John Sorensen is like many Nebraska creatives who left to pursue a passion. The Grand Island native and longtime New York City resident worked with master filmmaker Alexander MacKendrick (The Sweet Smell of Success) and Broadway legends… more
Sep 30, 2011
The uneasy place which race inhabits in the collective American psyche leaves most discussions of the subject to academics, activists or attorneys. But its reality permeates much of the social-cultural fabric.  Rhetoric about race is co… more
Sep 29, 2011
However you feel about Alexander Payne’s work, the cinema landscape is richer now that he’s back with his first feature since Sideways. That’s certainly the consensus among reviewers who’ve seen his The Descendants. The September 10 pre… more
Sep 17, 2011

Jason McClaren

Early in his life as a brother in the Society of Jesus, his superiors asked Mike Willmot what kind of work he wanted to do. The former Marquette (Milwaukee, Wis.) University High School three-sport athlete said he wanted to coach. Perhaps… more
Sep 8, 2011
Ferial (Mohamed) Pearson’s work with GLBT and other high-risk youths at South High Magnet School earned her the 2010 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s National Educator of the Year award and the 2011 National Education Associa… more
Aug 25, 2011
A small town Nebraska son who cut his teeth on the movies is living his cinema dream producing an independent feature starring Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine in the title role of The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez. The film, … more
Aug 15, 2011
Public radio’s popular Whad’Ya Know?, headlined by creator-producer-host Michael Feldman, comes to the Holland Performing Arts Center for a live, two-hour road show Aug. 13. Produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by Public Rad… more
Aug 12, 2011
Fresh off the warm reception given his debut feature, Lovely, Still, Omaha’s Film Dude, Nik Fackler, says his next two film projects will be documentaries. Following the path of cinema adventurer Werner Herzog, Fackler’s tramping off to… more
Aug 10, 2011
With Native Omaha Days over, another traditional African-American summer gathering, the Bryant-Fisher Family Reunion, begins. The biennial Native Omaha Days began in 1977. But it’s a newbie compared to the historic annual reunion that d… more
Aug 3, 2011
Through August 1 Native Omaha Days Various sites, venues Hours, prices vary www.nativeomahans.com Let’s get this out of the way right now: Native Omaha Days is not just for “black folk.” Yes, this biennial community reunion is a lar… more
Jul 23, 2011
Recent adoption of the North Omaha Village Revitalization Plan into the city master plan gives direction and impetus to energizing a stagnated, disinvested area never fully recovered from decades-ago civil disturbance and urban renewal. … more
Jul 22, 2011
Rev. Everett Reynolds was not from Nebraska but he’s remembered as someone who made a significant mark here.  The St. Louis, Mo. native passed earlier this week in Omaha at age 83.  As a United Methodist minister and community leader … more
Jul 21, 2011
Make no mistake about it, filmmaker Omowale Akintunde intends for his 2010 racially-charged Omaha-made feature, Wigger, to provoke a strong response. After premiering here last year, and in limited theatrical release around the country,… more
Jul 21, 2011
Omaha’s oldest social service agency closed earlier this year with a whimper, not a bang. The Wesley House Community Center, a United Methodist Church mission since 1872, has ended 139 years of service, confirmed Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, … more
May 20, 2011
Four years ago Daniel Mayorga-Alvarez and Treasure Anderson took the challenge of enrolling in a new high school with strict disciplinary codes, high academic standards and the requirement of working a paid internship. The teens signed on … more
May 12, 2011
Rumors about the impending demise of a north Omaha cultural institution began flying last fall when Loves Jazz & Arts Center, 2510 N. 24th St., took an extended break from normal operations. Even the hint of trouble alarmed the Africa… more
May 5, 2011
With all the fabulous things Alice Kim ‘s done in New York City and now her entrepreneurial foray in Omaha, she says what she’s proudest of is helping people. At InStyle she says she found great satisfaction “helping small designers get nat… more
May 5, 2011

BRYCE BRIDGES

Read More: Kim helps locals realize NYC dream Alice Kim’s story of leaving New York City for Omaha has gotten much play. In 2007, the then- InStyle magazine accessories editor acted on her admittedly “weird,” long-held preoccupation with … more
May 5, 2011

ADAM BRUBAKER

If you go to Sons of Italy expecting a “Jersey Shore” or Goodfellas scene, you’ll leave disappointed. If you anticipate a square meal and a fair deal, minus any drama, you’ll leave satisfied, and probably stuffed. The Nebraska chapter of t… more
Apr 28, 2011

PROVIDED BY RANDY BROWN

See also: Tax form led Sun to Boys Town’s ‘hidden’ assets When readers picked up their March 30, 1972 issue of the weekly Sun Newspaper , they could hardly believe their eyes. The small but enterprising paper with multiple neighborhood … more
Apr 27, 2011
Timothy Schaffert’s new novel The Coffins of Little Hope (Unbridled) takes its elegiac tone from Essie, the elderly obit writer and sage of a fading ag town. Her inquisitiveness and intuition make her the apt narrator for relating this rura… more
Apr 13, 2011
Storytellers drawn to boxing’s inherent drama invariably find redemption at its soul and conflict as its heart. Ring tales are on a roll thanks to Mark Wahlberg’s Oscar-winning film The Fighter and FX’s series, “Lights Out,” (the series fi… more
Mar 31, 2011
In the space of a few years Charles Fairbanks has gone from conventional prep and collegiate wrestler to one of the few gringo performers of Lucha Libre, Mexico’s equivalent of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Amid a world of masked f… more
Mar 3, 2011
Film festivals are the brothels of cinema. High-end ones offer uniform quality. Low-rent ones are enter-at-your-own-risk propositions. In its sixth year, the Omaha Film Festival, showing now through March 6 at the Great Escape Theatre, is … more
Mar 2, 2011
Steven Soderbergh may not generate the snobby, effete buzz of some name directors, yet he’s arguably the most prolific and accomplished American filmmaker of the past 20 years. As special guest for the Feb. 20 Film Streams Feature Event III… more
Feb 10, 2011
Omaha Symphony Orchestra music director Thomas Wilkins was first inspired to be a conductor at age 8 during a Virginia Symphony Orchestra pops performance in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. From the opening rendition of “The Star Spangle… more
Jan 13, 2011
Omaha native and Emmy Award-winning documentarian Gail Levin profiles actor Jeff Bridges in a new film kicking off the 25th season of “American Masters,” a series produced for PBS by New York Public Media THIRTEEN in association with WNET. … more
Jan 11, 2011
Coming soon. The words on the hand-printed sign affixed to the glass doors of the rebuilt Bagel Bin, at 1215 S. 119th St., seem benign enough. But behind the hopeful words is the bittersweet story of a family-owned kosher bakery that went… more
Dec 2, 2010
Bill Maher gets real Acerbic television host and political comic Bill Maher views the 60-70 stand-up gigs he does each year as opportunities to connect with the American gestalt. His Oct. 24 Omaha Music Hall show will be among them. “W… more
Oct 21, 2010
Oct. 26 An Inaugural Ride to Freedom Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater 1340 Mike Fahey St. Screening and post-show Q & A w/ director Akintunde $9, $7 seniors/students/teachers/military 7 p.m., 933.0259, filmstreams.org Get on the bu… more
Oct 21, 2010
Lovely, Still enjoys wide release When Martin Landau spins anecdotes about icons he’s worked with during a celebrated acting career, it is a Who’s Who of Hollywood. James Dean, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton,… more
Oct 1, 2010
Omaha’s desired brand as a progressive, livable, eco-friendly burg with enhanced mobility options took a step forward with city government’s recent hiring of Carlos Morales as the city’s first bicycle pedestrian coordinator. Morales start… more
Sep 24, 2010

 

A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF MY COVER STORIES IN THE READER (WWW.THEREADER.COM) OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS; AS YOU CAN SEE, DIVERSITY IS THE NAME OF MY GAME

November 9, 2015 2 comments

 A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF MY COVER STORIES IN THE READER (WWW.THEREADER.COM) OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS; AS YOU CAN SEE, DIVERSITY IS THE NAME OF MY GAME

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