EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio - The national media spotlight is once again swinging in the direction of the Tri-State Area; this time with the help of a woman who once lived here.
Fresh from unflattering coverage in the New York Times and other national media outlets, East Liverpool is this time getting exposure on MSNBC's new daily show "The Cycle."
The question is: Will the glare cause the city to smile or squint?
AREA VISIT — MSNBC co-host Krystal Ball was shown around Homer Laughlin recently by Ken McElhaney. Ball, a former East Liverpool resident, worked on a segment for her show “The Cycle” featuring East Liverpool and the Tri-State Area. -- Photo courtesy of MSNBC
"I hope it's a positive piece," said local historian Frank Dawson, who was interviewed for the show in front of James Locke Jewelers in downtown East Liverpool.
The four-and-a-half minute segment is scheduled to air on Monday, about 45 minutes into the 3 p.m. program.
Dawson said he was interviewed by co-host Krystal Ball about the rise and fall of the city's potteries and his memories of what the city was like in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.
Ball also interviewed Joe Wells III, president and chief executive officer of the Homer Laughlin China Co. While here, she toured the Newell plant and the downtown area.
Ball, who lived in East Liverpool with her husband, Jonathan Dariyanani, in 2008 and 2009, said she's been mulling the story idea for a while, but recent events prompted her to move it off the back burner.
"I think it's so timely," she said. "To me, the current election, at its core, is about the future of towns like East Liverpool - and also the future of the American dream. If a town like East Liverpool can come back and be OK, then the country's going to be OK."
Ball said she sees the city's erstwhile pottery industry as a window into the local, and national, economy - the promises and perils. She described her story for "The Cycle" as an honest but personal look at the challenges facing the area.
"The thing that really struck me was: Joe Wells talked about how at Homer Laughlin ... the bottom line is creating jobs in the area. I was inspired by that commitment to the community," she said.
Ball, a native of King George County, Va., lived in East Liverpool for about a year-and-a-half while her husband worked for the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland. The couple still has a home here and returns occasionally.
"We were living there during the 2008 presidential election," she said. "The combination of being in a battleground state, becoming a mother, living in a former industrial powerhouse town that was having a tough time of it, made me want to get more involved in politics."
Ball left the area to run for Congress in 2010. She was the Democratic candidate in the race for the 1st Congressional District in Virginia but lost to Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman. She continues to work as a Democratic strategist and commentator.
In addition to Homer Laughlin, the MSNBC segment will touch on Starbucks' recent discovery of East Liverpool-based American Mug & Stein Co., formerly Pioneer Pottery. The company's fulfillment of an order of Starbucks coffee mugs garnered national media attention in the New York Times, on National Public Radio and on TV news programs.
The publicity thrust East Liverpool into the media spotlight, although not always in a complimentary way. One quote in the New York Times story compared the city to a Third World country.
Ball said her impressions of East Liverpool, both from living here and returning earlier this month, are more positive.
"We could have lived anywhere, and we decided to live in East Liverpool," she said. "It meant a lot to me to be able to come back and tell the story of the town."
(Huba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)