By Bob Dyer, Akron Beacon Journal

Early in my journalism career, friends and acquaintances would occasionally ask me which columnists I thought were the best in the business.

They no doubt expected to hear national names, such as Mike Royko, Jimmy Breslin, George Will or Jim Murray.

My first answer would always be, “Dick Feagler.”

In his prime, nobody was better.

The Cleveland native was never nationally syndicated, but he certainly could have been. He didn’t go national simply because he preferred to write about local topics, stuff that wouldn’t necessarily translate well to folks who lived outside of Northeast Ohio.

Over the years, our paths crossed often, and I got to know him well. He is a good man, a kind, thoughtful man with a remarkable spirit.

I have been a guest on his PBS talk show, Feagler & Friends, probably 50 times, dating back to the days when it was staged at the old, decrepit WVIZ (Channel 25) studios on Brookpark Road, right next to an adult video store.

The show’s last hurrah was taped Monday night at the bright and shiny Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare. It will air Friday night (Sept. 27) at 8:30.

If you miss the finale, never fear: It will be given more replays than footage of the Hindenburg disaster. (Which, for the record, is not even close to the number of installments Channel 8 devoted to the retirement of Wilma Smith.)

Friday’s program brings down the curtain on a career that spanned 50 years, a run of excellence unparalleled in the history of Northeast Ohio journalism. Feagler has been the rarest of birds: a first-class writer who was also a first-class broadcaster.

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