Monday, August 29, 2011

This year, we welcome five talented college journalists into the family of "Murray Scholars." This week we introduce you to the Murray Scholar from St. Bonaventure University, Tyler Diedrich.

Tyler Diedrich was born on June 30, 1990 in Rochester, N.Y. He lives in Hilton, a suburb of Rochester, and graduated from Hilton High School in 2008. Tyler's parents are Jeff and Laurie Diedrich, and he has a brother, Jacob (18), and a sister, Molly (16).
Tyler is a senior journalism and mass communication student at St. Bonaventure University with a 3.73 cumulative GPA. He is the managing editor of The Bona Venture, and a reporter for SBU-TV.  Diedrich is a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honor society for journalism and mass communication students, and Phi Eta Sigma, a national freshman honor society.
His interests include watching football (Miami Dolphins and Notre Dame) and NASCAR, playing basketball, church, the media, food, travel and Christmas. After graduation in May, he hopes to pursue a career as a broadcast or print journalist. You may follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerDiedRich.
 Tyler wrote his essay on Paul Weiland, a professor at St. Bonaventure and former public relations director for the Buffalo Sabres.
Tyler's Winning Essay:
   If you're fortunate enough to converse with Paul Wieland for five minutes, you will quickly realize you're going to need 20 or 30 more.
   Asking Wieland, a lecturer at St. Bonaventure University, one question routinely elicits a response marked by blatant honesty and an amusing anecdote or two.
   In a faculty at St. Bonaventure's Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication that features a former federal prosecutor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, a Franciscan friar and a college geology major turned newspaper reporter, Wieland is perhaps the most intriguing character.
   As the Buffalo Sabres' public relations director for 25 years, beginning in their inaugural 1970-71 season, Wieland gained notoriety for his annual April Fools' Day shenanigans.
   Each year, Wieland performed some sort of hoax — whether it be a press release or an on-air gag — that consistently fooled audiences into believing farfetched innovations.
   An April 1, 1977, press release concocted by Wieland announced the Sabres would be installing plastic "Sliderex" ice, the first of its kind in the NHL, in Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium.
   WGR-TV sports director Ed Kilgore not only fell for the hoax but also made it the lead story on his sportscast the night before the announcement was supposed to be made.
   "He made a complete ass of himself," Wieland said, "which I thought was pretty funny, especially when I called him up on his private line after the telecast and complained that he broke my release date."
   In the early '80s, another April 1 press release got Wieland in hot water with the federal government after he used White House stationery, including a fake signature from President Ronald Reagan, to print fake TIME magazine covers and 200,000 decals declaring the Sabres "America's Hockey Team."
   "I didn't expect to fool anybody. I was just having fun," Wieland said. "So then I get a call from the AP in Washington telling me that I committed a federal crime. (The government was) considering prosecuting me because you're not allowed to use the president's signature on anything as a gag or (use) White House stationery. I had broken two federal laws. I didn't get arrested, though. They didn't want to make me a celeb, I guess."
   Perhaps Wieland's most memorable prank occurred during the phone-in 1974 NHL Amateur Draft.
   "We decided to drive (NHL president Clarence) Campbell crazy," Wieland said. "I came up with the idea, 'Let's draft a Japanese hockey player.'"
   Wieland and general manager Punch Imlach created Taro Tsujimoto from the fictitious Tokyo Katanas (Japanese for "Sabres"). Buffalo drafted Tsujimoto in the 12th round, prompting Campbell to repeat the selection to each NHL team over the phone before each made its picks.
   "All these people in the NHL are going crazy, (asking), 'Who the freak is drafting a Japanese player?'" Wieland said. "(Tsujimoto) was in, until two years ago, the NHL record book. To this day, you can go online and buy Taro Tsujimoto hockey shirts and T-shirts. If you go to a Sabres game in Buffalo and walk around that arena, I'll bet you a nickel that you'll find someone wearing a Taro Tsujimoto shirt. It just became a legend in the NHL. That will probably be in my obit."
   Lee Coppola, dean of the Jandoli school, was the Sabres' press box manager under Wieland from 1970-78. He said most people in the Sabres organization found Wieland's antics strange.
   "They just could not understand why he was doing some of the things he did," Coppola said. "Of course, I thought he was hilarious, but (he was) really pushing the envelope on a lot of the things he did. He just has this wacky sense of humor. He has to do these quirky things that no one would think of anybody doing."
   Wieland, a 1959 St. Bonaventure graduate, heads his alma mater's TV station, SBU-TV. The station features weekly newscasts and owns a remote production truck used to televise live sporting events.
   St. Bonaventure senior Erin Lowry, a student in both courses, said Wieland's personality endears him to his students despite a large generation gap.
   "In his many years, like a well-aged wine, Paul has still kept his sense of humor," Lowry said. "I like that his antics make him like a small schoolboy putting a thumbtack on a teacher's seat before she sits down. I like that he's proud of the goofball things that he does."
   Lowry said she appreciates Wieland's candid honesty.
   "The first story I ever did, he basically told me it was crap," Lowry said. "Just having that from the get-go, it motivated me to go out and find the best possible angle of stories and the right people to interview. He really does a good job of bringing out the best in people and pushing people to find the best stories they can."
   Lowry's classmate Jake Sonner said Wieland's presence inside the production truck during basketball games both entertains and informs.
   "Watching how his mind works around a live television broadcast is really quite interesting. You think it would be a stressful situation, (but) with him directing it was not stressful at all," Sonner said. "The guy knows the ins and outs of just about everything in that truck, so I think he's one of the most knowledgeable — in one particular field — of any professor I've ever had."
   Coppola, a 1964 St. Bonaventure graduate, said Wieland is a much more intelligent man than his childlike psyche suggests.
   "I think the trouble with his intelligence is it's so high that he's got to exhibit it in these strange and quirky, humorous ways," Coppola said. "He's a very competent sports person . . . competent PR guy, competent faculty member, competent in basically everything he's ever done."
   Just how valuable is Wieland to the Jandoli school?"
   On a scale of one to 10 . . . 12," Coppola chuckled. "He's just a talented individual."

Now . . . please enjoy Jim Murray's column from July 22, 1975 . . . titled "Canadian Sunset." 



 Canadian Sunset

   Perhaps you noticed in the papers the other day where the U.S. Department of Labor is on the scent of a major investigation to combat unemployment. They are seeking to find out why there are so many Canadians in professional hockey.
   When they finish that one, I have a few other similar inquiries they might make. They might spend the taxpayers' money to find out why:
   1 — There are so many Catholics in the Vatican.
   2 — There are so many fish in the ocean.
   3 — The Indianapolis 500 has so many cars in it.
   4 — There are so many cows in Texas.
   5 — The Antarctic is full of penguins.
   6 — Zebras have stripes.
   7 — There is so much music in opera.
   8 — There are so many blondes in Sweden.
   9 — There aren't more blue eyes in Japan.
 10 — There's so much sand in the Sahara.
 11 — Trout are fish.
 12 — There are bears in the woods.
 13 — There are so many chickens in Rhode Island.
 14 — There's so much salt in the Pacific.
  15 — Parisians speak French.
  16 — Sharks bite.
  Canadians are good at hockey for the same reason Italians are good at singing, Germans at shooting and the English at acting. They skate before they walk. They can skate backwards faster than Americans can forward. They grow up on ice.
   The Labor Department won't cure unemployment by banning Canadians, they'll increase it. Because, without Canada as a supplier, the National Hockey League will become a series of roller-skating rinks.
   Unless the glaciers come back, you aren't gonna get any Bobby Hulls out of Alabama or Gordie Howes out of San Diego.
   Still, the Immigration and Naturalization Service officials are going to try. They gave the Philadelphia Flyers' Stanley Cup winners four days to get out of the country after their recent NHL championship. They have withdrawn the blanket visa which used to cover hockey players. In a country in which a million or more illegal aliens cross the border every year, they're gonna plug this leak which lets several dozen enter to create jobs for program sellers, ticket takers, ice scrapers, hotdog vendors, taxi drivers, net makers and parking-lot attendants.
   Of course, they can pass a ruling that every hockey team has to hire at least one player born and raised on or near the equator, and make it mandatory that at least one wingman be hired who can't skate on anything but double-runners, and, under no circumstances, can anyone who says "oot" for "out" or "aboot" for "about" be employed.
   Of course, with unemployment running at 9 per cent, it's good to see vigorous, aggressive action like this taken — like sending a pail to fight a flood.
Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

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