Who's News

Journalist Patrick J. Kiger tells the stories of people who make their mark in ways big and small.

Chester Nez: Last of the Navajo Code-Talkers

When Chester Nez attended boarding school in the 1930s, he risked having his mouth washed out with soap if he spoke in Navajo instead of English. But fortunately for America’s fortunes during World War II, he never forgot the language of his people. Nez, who

Maya Angelou: Memoirist, Poet and Much More

In 1969, at the age of 41, Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86 in Winston-Salem, N.C., published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a memoir of her childhood and adolescent odyssey from Arkansas to California, during which she survived a cascade of traumatic events, including being raped by her mother’s boyfriend at age seven and overcoming prejudice to become, at age 16, San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. It was the first autobiography by an …

‘Stairway to Heaven’ and 5 Other Alleged Song Ripoffs

For boomers who grew up playing air guitar to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” it’s mind-blowing to think that the 1971 classic rock standard might actually have been copied from another song. Lawyers for the estate of the late Spirit guitarist Randy California reportedly are planning to file a suit claiming that the opening riff in “Stairway” was ripped off from Spirit’s considerably less famous 1968 song “Taurus.” Thanks to a helpful YouTuber, you can listen to a comparison between …

Jerry Vale: A Voice Like Velvet

Even in his heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, Jerry Vale was never hip or trendy. Instead of jazz or rock, he stuck to ballads and love songs – the sort that would prompt a guy’s date to rest her head against his shoulder, whether they were out for a drive in the Rambler or having a slow dance in one of the smoky nightclubs where Vale got his start. But it worked, because Vale, who died on May 18 …

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Larry Wilmore

If you watch The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, you already know Larry Wilmore as its “Senior Black Correspondent.” But when Comedy Central picked him to host a new show of his own, The Minority Report With Larry Wilmore, which will replace the departing Stephen Colbert in the 11:30 p.m. slot in January 2015, the 52-year-old actor-writer-producer expressed surprise at getting the opportunity – not because of his race, but because of his age. “I’ve been in the business for a while,” Wilmore …

Lynn Williams: He Fought for Retired Steelworkers

When Lynn Williams took the helm of the United Steelworkers union in 1983, the domestic steel industry seemed to be in a death spiral. From 1981 to 1985 – a period Williams later called a “frightful time” for the union, its members and its retirees – the basic steel industry shed some 350,000 jobs in the United States, triggering a wave of early retirements and, in many cases, putting retiree health benefits and pensions in jeopardy. >> Sign up for …