(WKBN) – Through the snow, the marquee at Warren’s Robins Theatre Friday afternoon flashed “Youngstown Mob,” promoting Thursday’s show on the city’s mafia past. Today, we talked with the two stars of the show about how they ended up on the Robins stage.
Johnny Chechitelli is a WKBN producer who was also a producer of the podcast “Crooked City” about Youngstown’s mafia past.
“You know, I’ve been trying to tell this story for 20 years,” Chechitelli said.
James Naples, a former WKBN employee, is related to one of Youngstown’s most famous mob families.
“My involvement kind of starts with the Naples brothers. Joey was my great uncle,” Naples said.
After “Crooked City” dropped in August and its popularity rose, Chechitelli and Naples created the “Steel Valley Syndicate.” First, they started a Facebook page called “Youngstown Mob” that in six months has 28,000 followers.
“Actually, it was like every day we were adding 100, 200, 300 people. It got to the point I had to have my wife actually come in and moderate the people asking to be in the group because it just got to be too much,” Naples said.
“So that fueled us to start doing these YouTube chats, these ‘Youngstown Mob’ chats,” Chechitelli said. “And just the organic growth of that, we get a call from the Robins Theater.”
The Robins show will include musical guests and special guests with graphics and pictures, but nothing will be scripted.
“We’ll ask questions with guests, we’ll have some stories from guests, and it’s not going to be a boring kind of lecture. It’s more of a free-wheeling conversation,” Chechitelli said.
But the story of the Youngstown mob is more than just a night at the Robins — Chechitelli and Naples have their sights set on bigger things.
“There’s at least probably six or seven movies in there, probably a couple TV series,” Naples said.
“Youngstown Mob Talk” will take place on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 apiece. Sales have exceeded expectations, so on Friday, tickets for the balcony were made available.