Former Ram Editor Earns Art McGinley Honor



Fordham University alumnus Bob Ehalt, FCRH ’78, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Art McGinley award, which is given each year to a member of the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance for their contributions to the organization and to the craft of journalism itself.

Ehalt, who has been working in the competitive field of journalism for over 40 years, grew up in Queens, N.Y., but spent the latter half of his teenage years in the Bronx, receiving his high school education in the newly-renovated Hughes Hall, then the home of Fordham Preparatory School.

After graduating from “the Prep,” Ehalt went on to attend Fordham University, a new school in a not-so-new environment.

His first impulse was to join the radio station, WFUV, but after being told that there were no available positions, he found his way into the offices of The Fordham Ram.

His illustrious career as a member of The Ram lasted from 1976 to 1978, during which time he acted as the political affairs editor.

While his senior year was marked by greater duties as an editor and contributor to the school paper, Ehalt would also intern with The Trib, an opportunity he was given by the University itself.

“For me, it was very educational,” Ehalt said. “I was able to work with real professionals who really taught me a lot of stuff about the craft. I may not have gotten the name exposure of working for the Times, but I had real stories on a daily basis.”

Unfortunately, this opportunity was short-lived.  The Trib arose in response to the threat of the newspaper union strike that was rampant in 1978. As a non-Union paper, The Trib, whose sports section (of which Ehalt was a part) consisted of only five writers to the 75 or 80 of the Daily News, hoped to stay in business while all the union papers closed up their print shops.

Despite the tumultuous relationship between the unions and executives, however, the newspaper strike never occurred, and The Trib closed shop that year.

It is not his internship with The Trib, however, that stands out most prominently in Ehalt’s scrapbook of senior year memories. Rather, at the forefront of these memories is another short-lived paper: The Lam.

In 1978, the administration was afflicted by misappropriation of student funds, which inevitably caused the treasury of the student activity board to be completely exhausted. Shortly afterwards, it was discovered that one of the assistant deans was taking loans from one of the workers in the student deli, but when the time came to pay back these loans, the University was unable to do so. As a result, all student activities were cancelled for the remainder of the semester. This was, of course, a great problem for The Ram, which relied on the University to fund its printing.

Luckily for The Ram, a friend of Ehalt’s, a Fordham Prep alumnus, had raised a substantial sum of money to go towards student activities the year before, and no one had yet claimed any of it.

In typical “man for others” fashion, he offered to fund the printing of another issue of The Ram on the basis that students deserved to know what was going on.

Despite this generous offer, the editors of The Ram had reached an impasse: The print shop, in accordance with the withholding of student activities, was to be locked up until student activities were reinstated the following semester.

After consulting the Student Handbook for inspiration, the editors came up with an idea: because the University controlled the rights to and means for printing The Ram, the editors would print a new paper. Thus, The Lam (a play on the phrase “to be on the lam”) was born.

When the administration began to grow suspicious of the editors, one of the assistant deans, with whom Ehalt had a good relationship, warned him that the administration planned to expel each and every one of them should a new copy of The Ram be printed.

“I swear to you,” Ehalt told him, “you will not see The Ram on this campus for the rest of the semester.”

He did not. Because the print shop was locked up, however, the editors had to figure out how to print The Lam. One of them ended up working out a deal with The Guardian, a communist daily newspaper in New York, and they were able to print the paper free of charge. The issue in question featured a comical picture of the assistant dean dressed up as the Fonz, pockets empty, on its cover.

“Let’s just say there was quite a reaction when The Lam appeared on campus,” Ehalt said with a chuckle. This story would soon reach numerous news outlets, including The New York Times, for whom one of the editors of The Ram was an intern.

Despite being undoubtedly nerve-wracking, it is this “incident” that Ehalt cites as a defining moment in his writing career.

“I mean, once you go through something like that…” Ehalt said, letting his sentence trail off.

With such a powerful start to his career as a journalist, it is little surprise that he would go on to win five “Top 5” awards in the national Associated Press Sports Editor writing competition.

On the way to these awards, Ehalt would spend six years at The Norwalk Hour immediately out of college, where he would cover high school, college and some professional sports. This experience, according to Ehalt, gave him “a good foundation” for the rest of his career.

He was later hired at the Stanford Advocate, where he would spend the bulk (about 23 years) of his long career covering the New York Jets and horse racing. After being laid off in 2007, Ehalt was hired by the New Haven Register, where he currently works as a copy-editor.

In addition to this position, he also covers professional horse racing for ESPN Sports and America’s Best Racing.

It is because of his numerous contributions across his impressive career that he was named the recipient of the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance’s Art McGinley Award.

The Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance also sponsors the Bohdan “Bo” Kolinsky Memorial Journalism Scholarship, which offers financial aid each year to one Connecticut high school senior who has established him or herself as an up and coming.

Current Fordham University student Daniel Sixsmith, FCRH ‘15, of Staples High School in Westport was the 2011 recipient of this award.

“You really need to have a love for the craft of writing, researching and creating something, and meeting people and doing something that has a value to society,” Ehalt said, when asked what advice he would give to college students who aspire to be journalists.

“You need to get personal satisfaction out of the fact that you’re doing something with a purpose.