Culture Couch

WYSO is exploring the arts scene in our community with a new occasional series. It’s called Culture Couch. Have a seat.

It’s stories about creativity – told through creative audio storytelling.

From Broadway musicals to youth theatre, and graphic novels to graffiti, you’ll meet artists from across the region. We hope you’ll join us for the journey.

Culture Couch is made possible by a generous grant from the Ohio Arts Council.

Dayton flag pre redesign
City of Dayton

The City of Dayton is asking for help designing a new flag to fly over the Gem City.

The flag redesign project started long before the Coronavirus outbreak shut down most of the Miami Valley, but it’s nearing a close now and the city is looking for feedback from the community on three prospective flag designs.

If you want to make a great flag, you might want to start by talking to Ted Kaye. He’s the Secretary of the North American Vexillological Association.

One of the perks of studying flags is that you get to tell people you’re a vexillogist.

Yvette Watson as Alma Spearman (Mamie Till's mother) and Mendu Khanyile as Mamie Till in rehearsal for X*ACT's production of The Face of Emmett Till
Alan King


The Xenia Area Community Theater (X*ACT) is currently producing an Ohio premiere, The Face of Emmett Till. In 1955, Mamie Till put her only son, 14-year-old Emmett on a train from Chicago to visit family in Mississippi.  He was kidnapped and was brutally murdered for allegedly flirting with a white woman.  Decades later, Mamie Till Mobley co-wrote a play about her struggle.  


Axe Throwing Combines Fun, Sport And Technique

Feb 7, 2020
Nelo Hotsuma / Flickr Creative Commons

Someone just hit their target at Wild Axe, an axe throwing bar in Beavercreek. Wild Axe opened this summer, and is one of the newest in a spate of such bars that has popped up over the last several years. Each of Wild Axe’s 11 throwing lanes ends in a large wooden target, where guests can practice hitting their marks during hour-long sessions. As they do so, they can have beer, wine and liquor. It may seem like a misstep to combine alcohol and weaponry, but co-owner Daniel Huiet says that each 15-foot lane is reinforced with steel cages on each side to protect from errant throws.

James Mellick's exhibit of service dogs at the United States Air Force Museum has drawn large crowds. The exhibit closes Friday, January 31st, making this the last week to see these sculptures in their home state this year.
Jason Reynolds / WYSO

Ohio artist James Mellick makes highly detailed, life-size, wooden sculptures of dogs. He’s been doing it for forty years now.

He uses walnut for Chocolate Labs, basswood for Yellow Labs, cedar for Red Dobermans, and sycamore for Malinois.

He’ll work a single sculpture for over a month, crafting it to perfection, and he makes all kinds of canines: surreal dogs that serve as allegories, realistic dogs that are playful and fun, and service dogs that have been injured in combat.

baking supplies
Nathan Yergler / Flickr Creative Commons

Stories mark this season, and that brings us to a Yellow Springs December story that many of us know.

Yellow Springs patron Wheeling Gaunt was born in 1812 on a tobacco plantation in Carrollton Kentucky.  Enslaved by his father and stepmother, Gaunt bought his freedom and then his wife’s freedom with money earned polishing boots and selling apples, and by his industry and frugality, was at the time of his death, considered the wealthiest man of color in Ohio.

The men who participate in Theater of Conviction at Marion Correctional asked their collaborators to stage a performance of Hamilton.
Kyle Long Photography / used with permission

Last month, a prison theater group at Marion Correctional Institution performed The Hamilton Project, 23 songs from the hip hop musical on the life of Alexander Hamilton.  

The men in Theater of Conviction at Marion Correctional have tackled big ideas before, including Hamlet. It was after that performance, that they approached their director Jessie Glover, a theater professor from Otterbein University, and said, “Hey, when are we going to do Hamilton?" 

The William Preston Mayfield Photo Exhibit is on display at the Dayton Art Institute now and runs until January 5, 2020.
Dayton Art Institute. On loan from Cristina and Ren Egbert

William Preston Mayfield led a fantastic life.

He learned to take photos when he was nine, talked the Dayton Daily News into a job at twelve, and, by his early teens, became the first person to take a photograph from an airplane.

Mayfield became famous while the Dayton Art Institute was being built, so it only makes sense that a collection of his work would be on display for DAI’s Centennial.

Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth, the photography curator at DAI, says it took some time for Mayfield to gain the Wright Brothers’ trust.

The entrance to Orange Frazer Press is hard to miss, even though it's tucked in an alley. Wilmington now has beautiful, building-sized murals all over town, but Orange Frazer's mural was one of the first.
Jason Reynolds / WYSO

In the age of Amazon, e-books, and on-demand publishing, small presses have had to make big changes to stay afloat, and Orange Frazer Press in Wilmington has become one of Ohio’s most versatile small publishers. Community Voices Producer Jason Reynolds stopped by their offices to learn how this little press that could continues to thrive after 30 years.

Dayton resident Robert Kahn saw his childhood home of Mannheim, Germany invaded the Nazis during WWII.
Leo DeLuca / WYSO

In November 1938, the Nazi leadership in Germany organized a series of violent actions against Jewish citizens all across the country.  German soldiers attacked the homes, synagogues and businesses of Jews and more than 30 thousand Jewish men were taken to concentration camps. 

Those attacks are known as Kristall Nacht, the night of broken glass, referring to the shattered glass on streets and sidewalks in the aftermath. It’s often seen as the beginning of The Holocaust, the mass genocide of Jews and other minorities in Europe during World War II.

Yellow Springs Actor Brings Audio Books To Life

Nov 5, 2019
Yellow Springs actor Teri Clark Linden in her home studio
Debra Oswald / WYSO

Audio book publishing has exploded in the last several years. More than half of all Americans over the age of 12 say they have listened to an audiobook and there are nearly 50 thousand audio books to choose from.

Every one of those audio books is read out loud and recorded, sometimes by the author, but often times by a professional actor like Yellow Springs resident Teri Clark Linden. She has been narrating audiobooks for the past 10 years. She’s done about 200 of them in that time.