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Book Review: “Tragedy to Triumph – The Story of Tom’s Heart,” by Janet W. Mauk and Pete Radigan

Beyond His Years
by Gene Siudut

In the mid-‘90s, Pete Radigan had a big heart.
Too big, in fact. His severe cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart, developed into Stage 4 heart failure. Pete had two options – a heart transplant or death.
Pete, like me, is a New Jersey guy. Also like me, he is a volunteer basketball coach at the New Tampa YMCA. I’ve been coaching against Pete for a few seasons. Mostly to his benefit, as I had a run of consecutive defeats to his teams until the past year or so, when my teams started coming into their own.
I remember the first time I coached against him. He walked with a bit of a limp and was bent over as if he had back problems. He certainly had a frail demeanor, but once the game started, his voice boomed across the court toward his players, the refs and anyone who would listen.
Immediately, I knew this was no frail man. He didn’t have a surplus of physical energy but whatever emanated from his insides was that of a man half his age. I didn’t like that Pete was making a good living off beating my teams at the onset. There weren’t many coaches who had a winning record against me, and Pete was making me look like a novice.
The problem was I couldn’t help but like him.
A coach needs to be an example of sportsmanship, dignity, respect and all those other wonderful coach-speak terms. And in this developmental league, winning is not as important as developing youth, but there are some coaches you just want to beat. Pete was one of those guys because he seemed to know the game so well. I liked him personally, but I wanted to shake his hand after a game and wish him better luck next time.
I think out of our first nine meetings, I only beat him twice, which irked me, but I knew my guys were developing nicely and I’d be ready for him in the near future. But that chance appeared lost when Pete disappeared for a while.
What I discovered was Pete became very sick. I knew he had general bad health, but I never knew exactly what his ailments were, only that they seemed to debilitate him.
There was even a point when we were told his situation was dire and did not know if he would make it through. Before that, all I wanted was for him to return so I could beat him. My thoughts quickly evolved to just wanting him to be able to leave the hospital.
By grace, doctors and good fortune, Pete made it out of the hospital and eventually was able to return to the sideline. I didn’t know a whole lot about his physical ordeals, but soon after his return, I was made aware of a book written by him and Janet Mauk called “Tragedy to Triumph, The Story of Tom’s Heart.”
Immediately, I was intrigued and again, a little jealous. There I was, a writer for a newspaper for 15 years who always wanted to write a book. And there was Pete. Not only was he a better basketball coach then me. He was also a published writer. I had to get to the bottom of this.
Well, you can forget about me writing any kind of book because whatever stupid observations I have in this world are insignificant compared to the life lived by Pete, his co-author Janet, and through both of them, Janet’s son, Tom.
“Tragedy to Triumph” is the story of a big heart, but not the one enlarged by Pete’s disease. The heart given to him through the tragedy of the death of 16-year-old Tom Mauk.
And it was given.
A motorcycle accident robbed Tom of his life, but through organ donation, he was able to help seven other people survive. The question of organ donation was asked of Tom’s parents, who gave that permission. They would find out that six months before he passed, Tom had remarked to his friends that if anything ever happened to him, he would want to be an organ donor.
Thankfully for Pete, who was very near to the end of his life without a transplant, the gift of life arose from Tom’s tragedy. However, that tragedy and transplant are just the beginning of this tale.
“Tom displayed perception beyond his years …”
On the surface, the sentence reads as complimentary. A deeper look, however, is the soul of the bitter-sweet story of Tom Mauk, who literally and figuratively lived beyond his years.
As a child of divorced parents, Tom lived the back-and-forth life many children in his situation experience who take residence in two homes. He lived with his mother most of the time but felt he needed his father in his life and made the decision, unprovoked, to pack his bags and tell his mother he was moving in with his dad.
While it was just 34 miles away, Janet was not going to take this lying down. She wanted to fight the decision, but her legal counsel let her know that a judge would likely abide by the wishes of a 13-year-old unless there was something egregious that could be proven in court.
Being a God-fearing woman, Janet trusted the Lord in the process and granted Tom his wish. Tom sensed his mother’s pain over the decision and on the way to church one Sunday, Tom told his mother, “Mom, I’m going to my father’s because I need to be with him, not because you are a bad mother.”
As readers, we know Tom’s physical life would meet with a tragic end just three years later. But this is how the book starts. It grabs you and lets you know this isn’t some sappy story about a kid who had no idea how his decisions affected people positively or negatively.
The gift of Tom’s organs brought beauty to a tragedy and his mother’s recollections of him gave that gift a face. There is a brutal honesty when discussing his struggles as a teenager and her struggles as a parent. And not to be forgotten is the simultaneous dire consequences that were assuaged when Pete received Tom’s heart.
When I first met my wife almost 15 years ago, one of the attractions we had to each other was our love of reading. She was an English/literature teacher at the time and we talked for hours about writers and books we loved and hated.
Since then, I’ve barely read a book. I read so much at La Gaceta, I want to get away from the written word during my free time, but I still make the attempt when the mood strikes. This has led me to start at least five books simultaneously that I haven’t made it past the first 20 pages.
This book, however, is not one of those. For the first time in my adult life, I read a book cover-to-cover in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down and for anyone who knows me, that should be endorsement enough.
I don’t want to give too much of the book away, but worth noting is the mandate this book carries. The obligation not just to register as an organ donor, but to make those wishes known.
As with anything people don’t fully understand, there is a lot of bad information out there about organ donation. Some common misconceptions include:
1. Doctors don’t work as hard to save the lives of organ donors
2. People believe they are too old/young to register to be a donor
3. Can’t have an open-casket funeral
4. People in bad health should not register to be a donor
5. Rich/famous people go to the top of the national transplant waiting list
Naturally, none of the above statements are true. When speaking with Pete about the misconceptions, he felt that a lot of it comes from the lack of conversations people have about death.
“Talking about organ, eye, and tissue donation is hard because it’s a discussion about what you want to happen if you die,” Pete told me. “My answer to that is simple. Seventeen people die each day waiting for an organ transplant, and one organ, eye and tissue donor can save and heal more than 75 lives. Federal law says, any eligible death, anywhere in the country, your family is going to be asked about organ, eye and tissue donation. At the worst moment of any family’s life, wouldn’t you want to know what that one last wish was? So I would say to everyone, whether you decide to be an organ, eye or tissue donor, make the decision and share the decision”
I asked Pete if he felt any obligation to Tom for the gift of his heart, as in taking care of it while also making the most of his life. He said he lives his life to the fullest every day but added he doesn’t dwell on if he’s doing too much or if he needs rest, nor does he worry about how much time he has left. “You can’t really live life that way. I truly live for the day and live, truly live each moment, each day,” he said.
But not far from his thoughts are Janet and he knows she already appreciates the good care he takes of Tom’s heart and through that care, Tom lives on.
There is a lot of good information about how to approach conversations about organ, eye and tissue donation, how to get registered and pretty much everything else you would want to know. Two good places to start, however are Donate Life America’s websites, DonateLife.net and RegisterMe.org.
Janet and Pete are especially thankful to their sponsor Biomatrix, a specialty transplant pharmacy, Donate Life America and many others who supported them through this journey.
In basketball, all I want to do is beat Pete every chance I get. In life, however, I want nothing but success for Pete, which means getting as many people to become registered donors as possible. It would also be nice to see his and Janet’s book on every coffee table in America. To make that happen, please go to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or right to the source at www.tragedytotriumph.net.
Gene Siudut can be emailed at gsiudut@lagacetanewspaper.com

Lectors Return to Ybor City at J.C. Newman Factory

From “As We Heard It” by Patrick Manteiga in the April 2, 2021 edition

Eric Newman reads about his family’s history at the J.C. Newman Cigar Factory.

The J.C. Newman El Reloj Cigar Factory turned 111 years old on Wednesday, March 31. When it opened in 1910, the Tampa Tribune described it as the “largest and finest cigar factory in the world.”
As part of the celebration, the Newman family invited several people to be lectors and read to the workers in the hand-rolling section of the factory.
The lectors of old were hired by a committee of workers to read news and literature during the work day as a form of entertainment.
The lectors were as vital a part of the cigar factory as the tobacco. The lector system was a hard-won workers’ right and strikes would ensue if that right was challenged. In 1931, after a bitter strike, the lector system in Tampa was finally dismantled as manufacturers blamed them for inciting workers to strike.
My grandfather, Victoriano Manteiga, came to America from Cuba in 1914 to accepted a job as the lector for the Morgan Cigar Factory and remained there until 1920 or 1921.
In a moment that could only happen in Tampa, on Wednesday, when I was reading at El Reloj, Maura Barrios was sitting in the audience listening to my voice. Her family – grandfather and grandmother – worked at the Morgan Cigar Factory during the period when my grandfather was lector. It gave me goosebumps to think as I was reading to her in a cigar factory over 100 years after my grandfather Victoriano read to her ancestors in the Morgan Cigar Factory. Once again, only in Tampa and only within Tampa’s Latin community could this happen.
We appreciate the Newman family for giving us the opportunity to participate and, at least for a moment, stand in my grandfather’s shoes.
The other guest lectors were Eric and Bobby Newman, Mario Nuñez from the “Tampa Natives Show,” Manny Leto from Tampa Bay History Center, historian Maura Barrios, Ybor City Museum Society President Chantal Hevia and Columbia Restaurant Group patron Richard Gonzmart.
The Newmans have done a fantastic job of restoring the building. It’s a working museum with a beautiful gift shop. If you haven’t made it there yet, you should take one of the guided tours, which are offered Monday, Tuesday Thursday and Friday mornings at 9:30 and 11:30. The hour-and-15-minute tour is $15 for adults and $12 for seniors, students and veterans and can be booked at jcnewman.com.

In Context by Doris Weatherford 9/13/19


Except for jokes about presidential Sharpies, things are relatively quiet in the political world, so I’m continuing the mental break from contemporary news that I began last week. I quoted then from “Olivia’s African Diary,” the day-to-day journal of a six-month trip through southern and eastern Africa in 1932. The writer was Oliva Stokes (later Hatch), and the photographs that accompany the published diary were by Mary Marvin Breckinridge (later Patterson).
And yes, women’s history is much harder to do than standard history because it was (and is) routine for women to change their surnames at least once in their lifetimes — with remarriages, even several times. Can you imagine tracing Thomas Jefferson if his surname were “Franklin” or “Washington” or “Hamilton” at different points in his life? And no one called him “Tom” or “Tommy,” unlike Mary Marvin Breckinridge, a woman called “Marvin.”
Olivia and Marvin were young college graduates who traveled with Olivia’s parents; they were checking on progressive projects in Africa, some of which were funded by the Phelps-Stokes family. They began their trek after landing at South Africa’s Cape Town in August, the weather equivalent of February in the Southern Hemisphere; when we left them last week, it was October, the equivalent of April. They were in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, and we will pick them up again at the southern edge of what then was the Belgian Congo and now is Zaire.
Belgians (at least most of them) speak French, and the broad area was called “French Equatorial Africa.” Globalism is further reflected in that their destination here was the new village of Elisabethville. As its English name denotes, it was a company town built by Britons who mined its copper, which “is supposed to be the richest ore in the world. It was started only five years ago and seems amazingly well run,” Olivia wrote:
“We visited the attractive village where the Natives are given little houses with one room and a kitchen, their food, and the men their working clothes, besides from ten to twenty-five francs a day. It is all very clean and trees have been planted, which adds a lot. The Natives are a cheery group… The women are stunning. Many tribes have very becoming tattoo marks, made by rubbing juice from the rubber tree into scratches made on their faces… Their dress is…gaily printed cotton worn off the shoulders… They twist a bandana of the same color about their foreheads and it hangs down the back of their heads.
“We visited the baby welfare center where every day the babies are brought in and bathed…. On Sundays, they all bring their tables and chairs outside, spread their best tablecloth, and sit about in their best… Many of the men, it seems, wear dinner jackets. We asked one woman to open up her trunk. She said she was very poor, but it contained a fine hat, several silk dresses, and in a notebook, four or five hundred franc notes… We went down into the mine and noticed several Natives in positions of responsibility.”


This community was strongly influenced by a Belgian Catholic physician who had been there for twenty-five years. He also had overseen the creation of other such communities, and at Pandar, “they have a Camp d’Acclimatation just outside the town where all recruited labor, wives, and children, have to stay for one month, undergoing physical examination [and] vaccination…before they can go to one of the mines.”
When they took the railroad further north, she commented, “the Belgian Congo trains are quite grand and even have showers.” The railroad tracks ended at Bukama, however, where she said “the shopkeepers were mostly Greek.” From there, they took a tri-level boat that featured “good food” supervised by the captain’s wife. This family had their home on the upper deck, and because the captain needed his sleep, the boat docked at sunset. Then, she said, the 162 “Native passengers who crowded the lower deck got off and lit their little fires all along the bank.”
The Lualaba River, however, promoted mosquitoes, and brief trips ashore led them to conclude that “half of the Natives have sleeping sickness.” The river connects to Lake Tanganyika, a huge north-south waterway that looks on the map more like a river than a lake. The town where they stayed waiting for the next boat was Albertville, even though “of the 250 Europeans here now, only two are English.” Again it was a global mix, with many from Cypress, “a few Mohammedans, and the rest Belgians… The place seems very active and bustling with even white-robed priests dashing about on motorcycles… They say that about five Natives a month are eaten by crocs, so we resisted the temptation to swim in the lake.”
Kigoma, one of the next towns, is in modern Tanzania, and at its hospital, she reported “distressing cases of leprosy, sleeping sickness, and awful yaws” — a serious tropical skin infection that can penetrate to the bones. Yet she described the town as “quaint, with its thatched roofs and trees planted by the Germans.” They also witnessed a trial in Kigoma, in which a Muslim woman accused two Christian Natives of having stolen her cassava. “A group of older ones seemed to serve as a sort of jury. Witnesses were called in. The men were proved guilty and marched off to the lock-up.”
As they approached Dar-es-Salaam, on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, she said “we saw several giraffes from the train window.” While the parents took a plane to Mombasa, the young women stayed at the palatial “Government House.” Diplomats there were glad to squire them around “through groves of cocoa palms, bananas, breadfruit trees, and endless clove trees with their perfume pervading everything.” The minister of agriculture told them that they had experimented with raising silk worms, but it was not a success because “a fat and healthy silk worm was too much of a temptation for the Natives, who ate them.”
To the north of Dar-es-Salaam, in Zanzibar, they began to encounter more Muslim culture, and she wrote: “Mrs. Johnston took Mother, Marvin, and me to an Arab wedding, or one part of the three-day ceremonies, the one for women only. Mrs. Johnston runs a school for Arab women. Most of the teachers are twelve, thirteen, or fourteen years old – the ages at which they usually marry… We were shown into a room downstairs where were the young unmarried girls who were not permitted to see the performance, or those who, though married, were still in their “period of modesty,’ which lasts for a year or more after marriage… An Arab will always take a pure-blooded Arab for his first wife, while others were Natives or mixed who tried to plaster their kinky hair down to conform to Arab fashion.”
Nairobi is a big modern city today, but then, she said that its Kikuyu natives “wear skins.” They had seen skin-wearing elsewhere, though, and what they found “most amazing” here were the huge earrings. Women wore “loops of them, stuck all up and down the ear,” while “men have distended ears with different sorts of rings.” She added, without explanation of what we understand today is the tradition of genital mutilation: “The women seldom get very far in their studies because apparently the Kikuyu ceremonies for women are so horrible and the operation so cruel that they are dulled thereafter.”
North of there, they stayed at a hotel in the coffee-growing area of Kenya, and she reported: “although only twenty miles from the equator, it is about 7,000 feet up and quite cold at night… Some Native men came around selling monkey skins.” In Uganda, they found the best roads in all of Africa. “Under Native law,” she explained, “each petty chief has to maintain a road… They are fine and wide…and really park-like. Beyond them are forests of mahogany trees…, with their owners’ huts hidden among the banana trees.”
At Kampala, they toured “a very good maternity hospital where they train midwives. They have reduced the death rate…so that of every pregnancy, now only 7.6% of the babies die within the year…, while before it was 74%.” An earlier hospital in Zimbabwe had given them a glimpse of brutal traditions associated with childbirth: This “small hospital” featured “a special place for twins where the mother can bring them as soon as they are born to prevent them from being killed according to tribal custom.”
Also at Kampala, they observed “a parliament… efficiently run entirely by Natives. The only European we saw there was an electrician mending one of their telephones.” On the other hand, when they peered into a tomb for the latest king: “We could see a couple of his widows sitting on the floor and moaning. Some widow has to keep up this lament and vigil all the time… Now the leading widow is a young woman of eighteen who, according to their custom, was married to the corpse!”


Because of Marvin’s interest in photography, Olivia spent ink on movies that were being made in Africa. I won’t try to summarize this topic, but she remarked that one – a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film – “was banned in Uganda because of the fact that a Native carries a white girl.” It was a land of contrasts, as on the same day that she recorded this Hollywood presence, she also wrote: “We passed a herd of about forty elephants going in single file up a hill.” Later, in Sudan, she said that natives told them elephants sometimes “committed suicide by curling their trunks into their mouths and blowing their brains out.”
Uganda is home to pygmies, and she wrote of “the really saintly Apolo, a Native minster who works among them.” Although an African, Apolo was not a pygmy, and she said that because adults were not allowed to learn the language, he had some small boys go and live with them and learn it… Most of the Pygmies live in grass and leaf shelters on the ground, while some tribes still live in little leaf shelters in the trees. If a Pygmy is hungry, he will cut a chunk off the leg of a passing elephant, while if he really wishes to kill an elephant, he sneaks between his legs and spears him in the stomach…. They steal grain and fruit from the Forest people, but always leave a piece of meat hanging outside the village in payment.”
In contrast to pygmies, the people in Sudan were “very tall,” with some estimated at seven feet. They were “practically naked, and “all carry at least one spear and many also a bow and arrows.” Modern technology was being introduced, however, as they saw “a large Raleigh bicycle advertisement of a Native thumbing his nose at a pursuing lion.” The most surprising thing about Sudan, though, was that “there is no color bar.” Natives who could afford it sat with them (and Australians) on the train to the White Nile branch of the huge Nile River.


On the boat north, they met a Miss Wolf “who has charge of all the midwifery work in the Southern Sudan.” Again, they learned interesting things: “This lady said that the Shilluks have an old custom which makes it necessary for their king to be speared – he cannot die in his bed. The present one has managed to live fifteen years, but they tried to kill him a couple of months ago.” Stokes described the Shilluks as “very tall,” but statistics were hard to come by because they refused to be measured – for valid reasons, from their point of view, as the only time they were measured was when their graves were dug. “They have to give a cow to the gravedigger and he cannot return to his home until he has passed through a purification ceremony… The Presbyterians have not tried to clothe the Shilluks, so Dr. McLenahan said it was a wonderful sight to see the stark naked choirboys march up to their place in the church on Sundays!”
Khartoum, a city on the Nile about midway between modern Eritrea and Chad, was the only place where they spoke directly about slavery. They asked the Headman if “there were any slaves in the town,” and he replied, “No, but there were several Negro women, unveiled, walking about [who] were practically, though not technically, slaves. He knew one man who had gained his freedom who was still paying ten piasters a month to his former owner. Theoretically, everyone can get his freedom through applying to an official, but inherited slaves are married off to other slaves and thus a sort of domestic slave class has arisen. In Abyssinia there is supposed to be still actual slave raiding going on.”
Abyssinia was another terms for Ethiopia — and very soon, the practice of raiding enemy villages for war captives to sell as slaves would be abandoned, as in 1935, all natives faced bombs from Italian airplanes during the first incidents of World War II. Just as an aside from the diary and for your information, historically most slaves were captured by enemy tribes and brought to the western coast of Africa. The biggest slave markets were in ports controlled by Portugal, especially Ghana and Senegal, which were closest to the Western Hemisphere. The east coast had less slave trading, but the unfortunate point is that virtually all Africans initially were sold by other Africans. The question of how much slavery still goes on, both there and on other continents, is worthy of more attention.
The last places that the diary details were in Sudan and some of the lower regions of Egypt. Stokes had seen Cairo and other aspects of the Nile Valley, including Luxor and Karnak, earlier in her life and understandably found it less noteworthy. Her December summary of two schools at Khartoum was the last to focus on women and girls. With a big Muslim population, she said, “the teaching has to be largely in English as there are few books in modern Arabic… Miss Grove gets all shades and colors, and mixtures of French, Egyptian, Greek, English, Arab, and Negro, among others. The girls receive a certificate…, but there seems to be little for them to do with their education, and they aren’t often wanted as wives.”


A Tale of Two Cities

This article originally appeared in the March. 23, 2018 edition of La Gaceta
Chairman of the Bored
A Tale of Two Cities
By: Gene Siudut
The prospect of the Rays coming to Ybor City is very exciting and may be the most significant move here since Vicente Martinez-Ybor left Key West. The groundswell is significant and all throughout Ybor City, signs welcome the Rays and proclaim “RaYbor City” the team’s new home.
But there are some who are not happy. Their unhappiness is not about the potential move, possible public funding nor the location of the stadium. It’s about the marketing.
First, a little history.
A little over a decade ago, a few community leaders, such as Carrie West, started the GaYBOR District Coalition in support of the LGBTA community in Ybor City and served as a way for business owners to express their support of equality for all, to paraphrase its mission.
There was a lot of blowback at the time because of the name choice. Many interested parties, including this newspaper, were not in favor of renaming a piece of the district. There wasn’t a problem with its mission, at least as far as La Gaceta was concerned, but changing the name of a piece of the district seemed a bridge too far.
Over a decade later, GaYBOR is still here, and while the coalition is not as visible as it was 10 years ago, it is still strong and relevant. There was never an official name change, but the hub around the corner of 7th Avenue and 15th Street is known as GaYBOR and is marketed as such.
That fact rubs some people the wrong way. They feel that the village in which they grew up has been renamed to serve one group when Ybor was, and is, representative of all cultures.
And now we have the RaYbor issue. There are those who don’t want the team here, don’t want public dollars spent and don’t want Ybor to become subservient to Major League Baseball.
Those are all relevant concerns, but without a funding plan, stadium design, choice of vendors, sponsorships or any other plans save for a site designation, people are trying to split up a pie that has yet to be baked.
Actually, it’s worse. They have no idea what flavor the pie will be, but they know they don’t want it, like a toddler who who’s never tasted broccoli but knows not to eat it.
The Rays chose Ybor City as the team’s future home and in turn, our community is showing the team love. Part of that love is marketing to locals that we are in support of the move. Tampa Bay Rays 2020 was founded to help facilitate that support and several locals have come up with ways to express that support.
One form of support has been with banners throughout the historic district with “RaYbor” emblazoned upon the welcoming messages.
Where RaYbor and GaYBOR diverge in terms of naming is that there is no movement to change the name of any part of Ybor City. They Rays haven’t asked for a change and the creators of the RaYbor name have no desire for any such change. It is just marketing and not meant to insult anyone.
La Gaceta is what some would call a liberal-leaning newspaper. With that moniker, we are often accused of being too sensitive and easily offended by slights that most people would not consider. Being the voice for the voiceless when we can, we take that as a compliment to inform the masses but this is different.
La Gaceta has Ybor’s past, present and future at heart. I hope people out there believe that if we are for this marketing term, the rest of you should take no offense to it as well. It’s no different than hearing people call the Hillsborough River the O’Hillsborough when it was dyed green over the weekend. It’s a fun play on words meant to drive discussion.
So please discuss.
Gene Siudut can be contacted by emailing gsiudut@lagacetanewspaper.com

WFLA’s Tedd Webb: Radio Then and Now

Tedd Webb in 1973

Tedd Webb in 1973

Tedd Webb now

Tedd Webb now

Published Dec. 30, 2016

By: Mike Merino

Over the years, the Tampa Bay radio scene has had its share of great ones who have come and gone. But amidst the sea of countless music and talk show personalities that permeate that magical box on the dashboard of our cars and home stereo systems, few have stood the test of time as successfully as WFLA 970 radio host Tedd Webb. His name and voice have been a mainstay in Tampa`s nationally recognized, and always growing, entertainment market. His social and intellectual impact on our community is immeasurable. This talented media star has been shinning strong for over 53 years, and there`s no glimpse of retirement in his future. I sat down with Tedd to get some of his thoughts on his illustrious media career and the state of radio`s future.
Why did you choose a career in radio?
I was singing with a band for two years, but my voice started cracking and they kicked me out. I was 14 years old at the time. A friend, John Madiedo, told me WALT radio station was having a “contest” and if you won, you could be a disc jockey on weekends. I went to the station for the so-called “contest,” which turned out to be an audition for a weekend slot. I didn’t get the job. I was pitted against a bunch of 20- and 21-year old guys with experience. I saw the guy on the air working in an air-conditioned room – we didn’t have AC at my house growing up. He had 10 phones loaded with young ladies calling in requests, AND there was no heavy lifting: BINGO! I found what I wanted to do for life. I hung around the station and Paige Kinsey, one of their weekend guys, gave me “hi time” and instructed me on how to run the board [controls] and how to ready commercials. He would tape me after the station went off the air and allowed me the chance to learn. Before long, I became one of their high school correspondents [Jesuit High], and from there to a weekend slot. The rest is history. Here I am 53 years later.
What’s been your most significant radio accomplishment?
In 1986 I was awarded the Toastmasters International Communicator of the Year. I took a nun, Sister Rosalie, as my date that night to receive the award. She inspired me to be a public speaker when I was going to school at St Joseph’s. She forced me to give five-minute speeches, while others were only given a two-minute assignment. I owe everything to her!
Who was the craziest celebrity you ever interviewed? What did he/she do that was so memorable?
National Football League bad boy John Matuzak, who is now deceased but was 6’8” and 275 pounds, showed up at the radio station with a girl whom my mom used to babysit. Her name was Eileen, but she was going by Candy then. When he found out we knew each other he got jealous and threatened to kick my ass. Because of the massive amounts of steroids he was taking, he thought she was an ex-girlfriend of mine. We went to commercial break for eight minutes before the situation was settled. WOW, that was a close one!
Has social media changed radio?
We at the station are doing a great job with social media. It has become the focus of what we do; the on- air stuff is secondary nowadays. Our streaming numbers are through the roof and we utilize the Internet as much as possible. We have adapted rather well and use Twitter and Facebook a lot to promote the show and other interests that I have.
Where do you see radio in 20 years?
I think radio is shrinking in influence. Young kids don’t rely on the radio to determine what is hip – they get that from social media and other sources. They download their music from the Internet; they don’t sit around waiting for the same seven songs to be played every 63 minutes. Radio is a compacting business, not expanding. When Rush Limbaugh is heard on 600-plus radio stations, it means he’s put 600-plus announcers out of work. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, etc. – do the math, that’s a lot of announcers replaced by syndication. On the music end, there are voice-over DJs. One guy gets off the air, goes into another studio and does voice tracking for four or five other stations across the country. There goes another four or five jobs. Not a good sign for the future if you are starting out in the biz.
What is your advice for young people entering the industry?
I tell them not to get in the business. Why? It’s like pro athletes. Only a handful of the many who try are going to make it. Go to school. Earn a degree in a profitable field with a future. I warned my son Lee eight years ago NOT to get into the biz. He didn’t listen. Here he is eight years later, still working part-time, with little chance of promotion. He is reconsidering his career choice right now. Go to school or learn a trade, but broadcasting is not one of those fields I would recommend to anyone.

Silhouettes presents Copeland Moré

By: Tiffany Razzano

Originally appeared in the July 15, 2016 edition of La Gaceta Newspaper

It’s not often that a business survives 100 years. It’s even less likely that a company with such vast history will remain in the hands of a single family the entire time.
This is part of what makes the story of Ybor City’s La Segunda Bakery, which celebrated its centennial anniversary last year, so amazing.
“I’ve read about this. I’ve heard that the third generation is the one that usually fails,” said Copeland Moré, the fourth-generation owner of the bakery known for its authentic Cuban bread. “So I have to give a lot of credit to my dad, [Tony,] and his cousin, [Raymond.] They were really just hard workers. There’s really no other way to put it.”
Copeland said the driving force that has kept the family bakery in business is a shared passion for the bread that has continued from generation to generation. Even today, his father, who is now 74 and co-owns La Segunda, comes into work every morning and often puts in a full work day. “He loves it. He doesn’t ever want to retire. He doesn’t want to just go home and lay around, just sit there,” Copeland said. “He wants to stay active and be involved in the business.”
Copeland added, “And there’s part of that in me too. I love it. I love talking about it. That’s how the business carries on and becomes a family legacy.”
La Segunda was founded by Copeland’s great-grandfather, Juan Moré. Hailing from Spain’s Catalan region, he traveled to Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century. This was where he fell in love with authentic Cuban bread and learned how to make it himself.
After the war, like many others, he was drawn to Ybor City during its cigar boom, with one goal in mind: opening a bakery. At the onset of World War I, he joined a small baking cooperative that opened three bakeries: La Primera, La Segunda and La Tercera. When the other two folded, Juan purchased La Segunda in 1915. He made a name for himself supplying local restaurants, such as the Columbia, with bread, and residents of the district knew La Segunda was where they could purchase authentic Cuban bread.
Over the years, the business passed on to other family members, first to Copeland’s grandfather, and then to his father and his father’s cousin. It was Tony and Raymond who started the company’s wholesale operations in the mid-1990s.
The Columbia Restaurant Group began making its wholesale food purchases through food distributor Sysco. When the Columbia made the change, they told Sysco: “We need La Segunda bread.” So Tony and Raymond figured out a way to freeze and ship the bread, which opened up opportunities to get their product to new customers.
Meanwhile, Copeland, who worked in the bakery as a child and teenager, doing everything from delivering bread to packing cookie boxes, never thought he’d enter the family business. “I grew up in the bakery,” he said. “It was always a big part of our family … But I never thought I’d run it one day.”
His father never pressured him to feel like he had to enter the family business and instead encouraged Copeland to pursue his own interests. His father had a PhD in chemistry, teaching for a while and even had an offer with a chemical company. But his father felt compelled to take over La Segunda. “It was a business that I don’t think my dad really wanted me to be exposed to,” Copeland said. “He was there long hours. We are open 24 hours a day.”
After graduating from Berkeley Preparatory School, Copeland headed to Ohio, where he studied business at Miami University. He returned to Tampa and began working at his friend’s company, Franklin Street Financial, a real estate financing company. Then the real estate bubble burst in 2008. The company hung out – and today is doing well, Copeland said – but he began to rethink what he wanted to do for a living.
At the time, Raymond was ready to retire from La Segunda. So Copeland decided to step up and become co-owner of the family business. “The opportunity happened really organically,” he said. “I weighed all the options, looked at the numbers, met with everyone and made a decision. It was a big opportunity. I felt we had a great brand and a great product.”
He also saw the chance to modernize the company, a bit, while retaining its old-world charm that is such a draw for customers. The first thing he did was build a website for La Segunda.
Next, the father-son team looked to rebrand the company. “If you say ‘La Segunda’ to people, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, great bread,’ but they don’t come here,” Copeland said. “They know our bread from the Columbia and other local restaurants.”
There had always been a large divide between La Segunda’s wholesale business and its café business, where they sold bread, sandwiches, pastries and coffee. So they looked to improve the café side of the business. “It was just about rebranding it a little bit so people were aware of it being a destination and show them that it’s a different concept than Panera Bread or wherever else you might get a sandwich,” Copeland said.
They renovated the building, making it more trendy and appealing, while still offering an old-school feel of a century-old business. “I feel the most important part of marketing is making sure the internal stuff looks good and is functioning,” he said.
He also brought in a digital register, allowing the café to accept credit cards for the first time. He also focused on customer service. “We wanted people to come in and feel like they’re part of the family and also get served quickly,” he said. While the café doesn’t offer seating, “we want people to come in and out fast without being rushed. We want families to see what an old-world bakery is like and take their time. But once they make their decision, we get them out fast.”
Café sales improved drastically with the changes. Though wholesale sales still make up the bulk of La Segunda’s business – wholesale accounts for 75 percent of all business for the bakery – café sales tripled, Copeland said.
He also brought a pair of fresh eyes to the wholesale end of the business. His father and cousin had done a great deal to grow that side of the company. But as La Segunda began to provide bread to national chains – World of Beer, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Larry’s Giant Subs – Copeland saw an opportunity. “We market towards the markets that already have distribution established” thanks to these chains, he said. “We have sales reps that really hammer those markets and work on expanding our distribution.”
Today, La Segunda Cuban bread is used by restaurants from Seattle to Texas and throughout the East Coast, he added. As the Cuban sandwich gains popularity throughout the country, more and more restaurants are offering it on their menu. “But they put it on hoagie bread of Italian bread because they don’t know any better,” Copeland said. “They don’t know that they can get handmade Ybor City bread. Now we can get it to them.”
Despite the growth and changes, La Segunda retains its family feel, Copeland said. Many employees have worked for the bakery for decades. Sheila, who works up front, has been with the company for 44 years. Many of the master bakers have worked for the bakery for 20 or 30 years. “We’re fortunate a lot of the staff has stayed with us,” Copeland said. “Making Cuban bread way we make it is difficult. There’s no air conditioning in the back of bakery. So they’re really at the mercy of the elements and the weather. Being able to adjust and know this flour is different from that flour and today there’s more humidity and it’s hotter out and making all those adjustments takes years and years of experience of working with the dough and touching the dough. Without those guys there wouldn’t be Cuban bread the way people taste it.”
Copeland has also become involved with the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. In May, he was inducted as chair of the chamber board. He started out as a board member five years ago, before becoming treasurer and then incoming chair.
He has a big year planned for the chamber. He plans to create a small business council, which would offer resources and information to small business owners. “I feel like what a chamber should be to a district is to really help small businesses and I think it’s something we’ve lost focus on a little bit over the years,” he said.
He added, “Big businesses move in and the government gives them tax incentives, and this and that, and small businesses don’t really get anything. We want to help them get into business and stay successful.”
The chamber will also rebrand some of its seminal events to make them more family friendly. “We want Ybor City to be thought of as family friendly and not just night clubs and bars and a part district,” Copeland said. “There’s a lot of history here and people should know about it.”
He added, “It’s an important organization for me and our family, so I definitely want to give back. It’s important to give back to the district that has done so much for us over the years.”

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