YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Wednesday night is the induction ceremony for the Youngstown Press Club Hall of Fame. One of WKBN’s most legendary broadcasters is being honored.
Former WKBN anchorman Tom Holden was the most recognizable name in local TV news during his time. He started anchoring in the mid-1970s and retired in 2005, the same year he died.
Tom started his WKBN career in 1972 as a reporter and two years later, became the anchor.
“Without question, he deserves this honor,” said Gina Marinelli, his co-anchor for 13 years.
“Absolutely. He would be very honored and humbled by this,” said Sean Holden, Tom’s oldest son.
Marinelli first met Tom while taking his broadcast announcing class at Youngstown State University.
“He came around the corner and you could almost hear people gasp. Like, oh my God, that’s Tom Holden. Myself included,” Marinelli said.
“One of the things about my dad is that he was always so approachable and so gracious to everyone. I think that’s one of the things that made him so popular,” Sean said.
Tom was born and raised on Youngstown’s South Side. He was all-city in basketball at Wilson, and served in the military before starting his broadcasting career at WHOT and WBBW Radio. Then it was on to WKBN.
Early in his career, WKBN promoted Tom as the area’s most credible anchorman.
“I want to thank them for just making my younger years a living hell. I heard that from everybody all the way through high school. ‘What’s Tom Holden? What’s a Tom Holden?'” Sean said.
In 1997, Tom produced a series on Youngstown’s mafia, which best defined his journalistic career and which is now one of the most popular exhibits at the Tyler History Center.
“He did a lot of research. He was really proud of that and it was very good,” Marinelli said.
When Tom died in 2005, WKBN broadcast the funeral live. Marinelli gave the eulogy.
“He was very unassuming. He called himself a blue-collar professional. In a profession where egos are notoriously big, Tom was the exception to that rule,” Marinelli said in her eulogy.
“He loved WKBN, he loved being a newsman and he loved Youngstown. So I think this is a great honor for him,” Sean said.
Along with Tom, three other people will be inducted into the Youngstown Press Club Hall of Fame. They are Pete Gabriel, a long-time radio host for 570 WKBN, Andrea Wood, co-founder of The Business Journal and former anchor at WYTV, and Ernie Brown, who spent 43 years with The Vindicator as a reporter and regional editor.