Youngstown Press Club to Induct Inaugural Hall of Fame Class, First Amendment Award Recipient

Youngstown Press Club to Induct Inaugural Hall of Fame Class, First Amendment Award Recipient

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Community, Lifestyle, News | 0 comments

The Youngstown Press Club is pleased to announce its inaugural Hall of Fame class and First Amendment award honoree.

The inaugural class to be inducted next month includes local media icons the late Robert “Bob” Black, Stan Boney, and Ralph Zerbonia. Also receiving the first-ever Youngstown Press Club First Amendment Award is The Vindicator Printing Company.

The awards ceremony and dinner will take place Wednesday, September 29, 2021 at 6 P.M. at Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Ave., Youngstown. Ticket information can be found at Tickets for the event are $40, while tables of eight are $300. Farmers National Bank is the presenting sponsor.

“The Press Club established the Hall of Fame and awards to celebrate members of our local communication, media and advertising community who have had long and distinguished careers,” said Adam Earnheardt, executive director.

Nominees for the Hall of Fame must have a minimum of 20 years professional media experience including journalism, public relations, advertising, and/or writing. “In other words, they must have made notable contributions in the Valley media markets,” Earnheardt added.
The First Amendment Award is given to honor a person or organization who has taken a stand with the risk of personal or professional harm. “It was created to honor those who have staunchly defended the freedoms protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Earnheardt added.

The nominee must have a connection to the Mahoning Valley region. This award will only be given in instances where the actions of the awardee are exceptional. The action meriting this award must have happened in the past five years.

Contact Youngstown Press Club executive director Adam Earnheardt at 330-941-1845 or email at with questions.

Bob Black’s interest in broadcasting began as a teenager when he was an announcer for WEDA-FM radio in Grove City, Pa. While attending Penn State University he continued working as an announcer and news editor at the college radio station WDFM. Black first worked as a Grove City Junior High School teacher for nine years after college until he scored a job in journalism in 1978 as a part-time weekend sports announcer WKBN-TV. He was named anchor of WKBN-TV News at Noon in 1979, anchoring the show for 17 years until 1996 when the station was sold. In 1997 he was hired by WFMJ-TV and became co-anchor of their 6 P.M. and 11 P.M. newscasts until his retirement in 2015. Black received three Cleveland Emmy Awards as well as various accolades for his coverage of Congressman James Traficant; of political corruption in the Valley; of General Motors Lordstown plant; and of the United Autoworkers Union among many other important topics. He continued contributing even after his retirement in 2015 with coverage of the 2016 Presidential election while serving on the 21 News political team. Black died in 2017.

Stan Boney is a 40-year-plus veteran of television news in Youngstown, joining WKBN-27 First News in 2015 after 36 years with 33-WYTV. He was born and raised in Findlay, Ohio and is a graduate of Ohio University. After a brief stint in Dayton, Boney arrived in Youngstown in 1979 and began his career at 33-WYTV. His first job at 33-WYTV was as the weekend sports anchor, later covering Trumbull County. In 1981, he took over weather duties, a position he held for 30 years. In 2008, Boney became the co-anchor of 33-WYTV News, and in 2011 he moved on from his weather job after being named anchor of the 33-WYTV News at 5:30, 6 and 11 P.M. His enthusiasm for writing and story-telling is evident through his coverage of major news such as Lordstown’s closing, local and national politics, and of hundreds of human-interest stories.

For 47 years, Youngstown native Ralph R. Zerbonia has been an entrepreneur and start-up launch specialist, starting numerous new media companies in the Valley. Most notably, he formed the Youngstown Publishing Company in 1983, creating the Youngstown Business Journal in 1984, serving as its first president. Zerbonia left the Business Journal to become assistant editor of Sysop News, a monthly print publication, and editor of “Money With Your Modem,” an online edition of the print publication. In 1993, his philatelic website publication, “The United States Museum of Essays and Proofs” won a top global prize – The Gold Medal at The International Stamp Show in Beijing, China. In 1994, Ralph wrote a white paper, “Community Based Online Service Systems,” which became the foundation for CBOSS, an early internet programming and web publishing company. In 1995, he began publishing election results online through his ElectionOhio site, providing Mahoning County with election results directly from ballot accumulators to web-reporting pages. In addition, he founded Aquaponitech, an aquaponic technology company; Institutional Memories, A Microsoft Partner Company selling Microsoft Cloud Products and Services; Virtual Scholars, Inc. and General Spatial Computing Corp.
The Vindicator Printing Company, along with the Brown Family, provided a family-run newspaper to the Mahoning Valley for 150 years. The paper began in 1869 when it launched as The Mahoning Vindicator. It became the Youngstown Vindicator shortly after. Its reporting on the mafia, political corruption, and big business matters garnered the paper a reputation of fearlessness. In 1984, the paper became The Vindicator. The paper provided a heritage of reporting to uncover corruption and to be the watchdog for a community, the importance of good story-telling, and the celebration of the past while emphasizing the importance for future First Amendment rights through journalistic freedom and longevity.