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Reporter, Meredith Moss, finds inspiration for stories in family and local community

Meredith Moss
Meredith Moss
Moss has been reporting on the Dayton area community for decades.

According to the Pew Research Center, 2020 and the COVID pandemic sent people packing - moving out of cities and places they felt were unsafe or could no longer afford, and to be closer to family.

That’s the information presented in a recent article by Dayton Daily News reporter Meredith Moss. WYSO’s Jerry Kenney recently spoke to her about her profile of several new residents to the Miami Valley and their reasons for relocating in the Dayton area.

Meredith Moss: It's such a positive, hopeful part of the pandemic. We've all had the sad parts and the tragic parts of the pandemic, but this is a happy, hopeful, cheery part of the pandemic. People were reunited with families. They rethought their priorities. I think that's something we should talk about to the fact that a pandemic made people sort of stop and think about their lives and what was important to them and what was less important to them.

Jerry Kenney: Meredith, you feature quite a few stories of people who have moved to the city of Dayton and the surrounding areas. What struck you about them and how did you find the people that you talked to?

Moss: The psychologists I interviewed talked about how when we get, when we're fearful about something because of a threat like the pandemic, we kind of want to protect ourselves and our families, and we start asking ourselves these hard questions. Would I rather be in a place where I can take a walk in a park rather than a city? Where would I rather be near my parents.

The woman who was the lead in my story, the picture on the cover of the life section was a family, a military family. They had decided to stay in Dayton, but they were shocked when the grandparents, who were not in Dayton were, they were rethinking their priorities as a result of the kinds of things we're talking about. And they decided, you know, we want to be there when that next grandchild is born and now, they're, well, I think they just finished the house that they are building here. And now they're all one big happy family in the Miami Valley. And the kids were thrilled that their parents decided to come here. So, I just kept asking around.

There was one couple in New York in the story John Capobianco and Mike Rogers, and they were in Manhattan in a small space, and they looked at each other one day and said, 'We just, this is not fun anymore to be here. There's nothing funny about it.' And they had one of them had roots in Dayton, and they had come here for holidays, and they bought a house in Kettering. They had not seen it. So, it's for sure one of the reasons was inexpensive housing here, people got so much help for their money.

Kenney: Housing and family are just some of the reasons that people moved to the Dayton area, but you talked to people who came here with no connection at all, correct?

Moss: One example of that is Dylan Champion, who I met one day at the neon movie theater. I went down to see a movie, and I tend to talk to people which sometimes embarrasses my family. But I was talking to Dylan, and he said he was new in town, and he had just gotten a job at the neon. He came from a Los Angeles entertainment family. His dad is a director. His grandparents were very famous choreographers and dancers, Marge and Gower champion, and he just was looking for a place to make movies. He had never loved the Los Angeles life in terms of the values there. He said that he always felt like people wanted to know what connections he has or what he could do for them. And he was looking for a different kind of a values, a different kind of environment. And he said Dayton, because he wants to make small, independent movies, and he knew there was an Ohio tax credit for people who wanted to make movies here. And so, he picked eight. Dayton was just right.

Meredith Moss: Well, I've always loved people's stories, Jerry. I've written for the paper for many years. I've always been what I call a features writer, which is that I'm interested in people's stories, what they're doing, what they're passionate about, what they love. And so, I've had many, many beats over the years, from shopping and fashion to, I've had the religion beat. I've done a lot. I used to lead the women's breast cancer section of the paper that we did every year in October, and I was a shopping columnist for a long time. That's how I started. And usually for me, it was about the people. It wasn't so much about what the shop was selling, but it was about why that shopkeeper decided that he or she wanted to collect and sell buttons, let's say. What they loved about buttons, and it was always fascinating to me how people find something they care so much about. And and often it can turn into a career.

Meredith Moss Part. 2
In part two of this interview, Meredith Moss, talks about her reporting on the Dayton area community for decades and her personal inspiration for the story, From New York and L.A. to Dayton.

Jerry Kenney: In one of your most recent features, entitled from New York City and L.A. to Dayton, you feature quite a few people. I understand that you had some personal inspiration for writing this story.

Moss: You know, the question I get most through the years is where do you get ideas for a story? And that has never been a problem, because wherever I go, I get ideas from a story. If I'm out to dinner with my husband and start talking to the people at the next table, somehow something comes up that I say to my husband, That's a that's a great story. And that's the case with this particular story that you're talking about.

Because during the pandemic, both of my sons, one was living in New York with his wife and their two kids, and the other living in Los Angeles with his wife and their two kids. And both of them got caught in a situation where they were in very small places. It was a bad time in the pandemic when people were afraid to walk on the streets in those big cities. And my older son, Steven asked us one day, ‘Do you think there would be anybody in Dayton who would rent us or loan us a house and, just to get away from the city, we would spend the summer in Dayton?’ And we have some lovely friends who are going to be away for the summer, and they said, Sure, your kids can stay at our house.

Well, the kids came. They're not kids. I shouldn't, I shouldn't call them kids. My son and his wife and their children came, and they lived not far from us. And they couldn't believe the dramatic difference. And this is what I found with a lot of the people I interviewed for this story. The kids could ride their bikes on a cul-de-sac. They could take a walk without wearing masks. They could, they fell in love with the parks, the Metro Parks in our area, and a lot of people mentioned the green space in the Miami Valley. And then in the winter, they came back when these friends went away to Florida for a week. They came back again, and then they said, maybe we'll move to Dayton, and they were ready to leave the city. And a lot of people I talked to wanted to get out of big cities.

Kenney: What is your outlook for the city of Dayton and the Miami Valley? Where do you think we're headed?

Moss: I think Dayton is really doing well right now. I know my son said to me yesterday, he said, 'Dayton just feels so exciting right now.' My children have moved back here are finding all kinds of new bars and restaurants and things going on and activities. And of course, I cover the arts and the arts have always been a wonderful strength for Dayton. But if you go down to the arcade now and see what, how it's hopping and what's going on, I just think it's a very exciting time for Dayton and I'm glad I'm still I'm getting up there, Jerry, but I'm glad I'm still alive to see the good, the good things that are happening here because I've always felt what Dayton is about for me is community and you don't replace that in a lot of other cities. There's a sense of community. You can get involved here in a way that you can't do in larger cities. It's a very welcoming community.

Kenney: We encourage people to check out the article if they've missed it. It's called From New York and L.A. to Dayton: Pandemic Spurs moves to Ohio. We've been speaking with Meredith Moss of. The Dayton Daily News, Meredith, thanks so much for your time.

Moss: It's a pleasure. Pleasure to talk to you.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.