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Stories born out of the storm: Recollections of the Xenia, Wilberforce tornado of 50 years ago.

Jerry Kenney
WYSO Public Radio

In this edition of WYSO Weekend you'll hear first-hand accounts from survivors of the tornado that struck Xenia and Wilberforce, Ohio in 1974.

Hear the Xenia Tornado: Grab some headphones or turn your listening devices up and check out the audio which is said to have been recorded by a Xenia resident near the corner of W. Church and N. West Sts. in an apartment building destroyed by the tornado. Recorded by a Mr. Brokeshoulder of Xenia, April 3rd, 1974. The recording made its way to the Greene Co. Historical society and provided to us through Homer Ramby at XeniaTornado.com.

Survivors Tell Their Stories: While much attention, in the years since, have been paid to the storm’s impact on Xenia. This past week WYSO has been sharing stories from the neighboring town of Wilberforce - home to two HBCUs: Central State and Wilberforce universities. This spring WYSO is working with The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce to gather and broadcast oral histories of the disaster. Our first recollection comes from Lloyd Edwin, who was a freshman at Central State when the tornado hit in 1974. Up Next, this is a look back at the storm from 73 year old Eugenia K. Thornton. And finally, John Gudgel, who was a high schooler in Yellow Springs in 1974.

The Central State Memorial Service: Central State University recognized the 1974 tornado with a memorial service in front of one of the few structures that remained standing after the storm. WYSO’s Kathryn Mobley was there and filed this report. *This month, the Hallie Q. Brown Library at Central State is hosting a special exhibit, 50 Years Since the F5 Tornado Struck. It’s open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Weather Forecasting, Then and Now:
The April 3, 1974, tornado that struck Wilberforce and Xenia injured over 1,000 - 34 people died, including two killed in a fire born out of the storm’s destruction. Now - 50 years later, Tom Johnstone, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, offered us a look back at that storm through the lens of weather forecasting - then and now. He speaks with WYSO’s Mike Frazier.

The Gentler Side of Nature: Our program wraps today with Bird Note and Bill Felker’s Poor Will’s Almanack.

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.<br/>