Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: The Media People produces '9/11 and the Heroes of Flight 93' DVD

Alburtis, Lehigh County, resident Scott Stoneback of The Media People was editing in his home studio on the cool, crisp morning of September 11, 2001, when two hijacked flights slammed into New York City's World Trade Center towers and a third flight struck the Pentagon. In western Pennsylvania, his brother-in-law, Mahlon "Mal" Fuller, was on the day shift as watch supervisor of the control tower and radar room at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport when hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 was heading toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. It never made it, with its 40 passengers deciding not to stay seated and die but to stand up as one and take over control. The flight crashed over a rural area near Shanksville, Somerset County.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Fuller, of Lancaster County, still goes back to the Flight 93 crash site and mourns.

"There's a piece of me there," he said.

Fuller's detailed research, as well as his views and understanding of the day, have been captured in a DVD documentary, "9/11 and the Heroes of Flight 93: As told by an air traffic controller who helped shut down the nation's airspace."

The DVD was produced and directed by Stoneback, founder and executive producer of The Media People, for the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, of which Fuller is a founding member. The Friends are an adjunct to the National Park Service (NPS), which maintains and administers the memorial. The organization's mission is to assist the NPS and to ensure future generations learn about 9/11 and what the heroes of Flight 93 did. The DVD is available at the 9/11 National Memorial book store and online through the Friends of Flight 93.

The DVD, 49 minutes in length, took some 80 hours of editing by Greg Roth, editor and videographer. It opens with footage of the Flight 93 National Memorial, as well as the Wall of Names of those 40 heroes. In a presentation before an audience in Hershey last October, Fuller explained who those "40 ordinary passengers" and crew were, ranging in age from 20 to 79, in a series of headshots. Many of the men on board were former athletes in their hometowns.

He describes the scene in the control tower and radar room when the plane was spotted on the radar screens and how it plummeted to earth, inverted, at a speed of 563 miles per hour. He tells how 37 phone calls were made by passengers saying goodbye to their families back home. He recalls how flight attendants on board were filling pitchers with hot water and using whatever else to attack the hijackers, and then the decisive action of the passengers with the 'let's roll' call.

"Anything that was impossible was happening," Fuller said. With the attacks of that day, "We were either at war or going to war, but with whom?"

Fuller retired on September 30, 2001, after nearly 40 years with the Federal Aviation Administration. He now spends much of his time touring the country and speaking on his experiences on 9/11 and remembering those who died there. He requests an honorarium payable to the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial to support their continued work.

Most recently, the DVD has garnered two awards for The Media People from the Hermes Creative Awards in Dallas, Texas, an international competition. It received the Platinum Award, the highest, in the educational category and a Gold Award, in the documentary category, recognizing outstanding work in the industry while promoting the philanthropic nature of marketing and communications professionals.

The DVD also was recognized with a Bronze Telly Award, which honors outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, web commercials, videos and films.

"It is important to document history because without the people telling their stories, we forget the details of what happened," said Stoneback who, along with his son Ellis, videotaped the Flight 93 Memorial service and interment held in Stonycreek Township on September 11, 2011, a day which he recalled as "very emotional."

Documenting history is something Scott Stoneback knows all too well, having produced and directed his hometown's historical documentary, "Alburtis... A Stroll Through the Past," and an oral history series, "Reflections on Alburtis," for the borough's centennial celebration, both projects for the Alburtis Lockridge Historical Society. He also has preserved more than 100 oral histories of those who have lived in the borough with "Alburtis, A Wonderful Hometown," and "Alburtis, Over 100 Years of Memories." Historical documentaries also have been produced for Dorney Park, Emmaus Historical Society, Macungie Historical Society, and Kalmbach Trust.

Stoneback, a 1962 graduate of Emmaus High School and Temple University, is a former Lehigh County commissioner and former mayor of Alburtis. He is married to Francee Fuller, who served on the school board of the East Penn School District. They have twin sons, Ellis and Robert Stoneback.

The Media People, now in its 42nd year, is recognized as the Lehigh Valley's oldest independent film and broadcast video production company, with more than 2,000 film and broadcast productions and more than 60 national and international awards for its work.

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Baseball fans will marvel at the exhibition, "Making America's Pastime," which explores the industrial history of America's favorite sport. It's all at the National Museum of Industrial History, 602 East Second Street, Bethlehem, through October 31.

Today, Major League Baseball is recognized as a $9.5 billion industry. The exhibition delves into the evolution and current production of the bats, balls, gloves, and uniforms that make the game. Items range from Civil War-era lathes used to make bats in the 1800s to uniform textiles from the Majestic Athletic facility in Palmer Township, Northampton County. It also tracks the history of the Bethlehem Steel League and includes 100-year-old uniforms worn by company teams.

The Lehigh Valley also has a rich baseball history, with early teams such as the Allentown Cardinals and the Allentown Ambassadors to present-day IronPigs.

Upcoming events relevant to the exhibition include patrons making their own baseballs; a behind-the-scenes account of the construction of Allentown's Coca Cola Park from Alvin H. Butz, Inc., and a meet the experts talk with Bonsall Bat Company on how professional-grade bats are manufactured.

For further info:


The Parkland Festival of the Arts – "Artists on the Quad" – is hosting a showcase of visual and performing arts from within the school district and community on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Parkland High School, 2700 North Cedar Crest Boulevard, South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County.

An artists' marketplace will have craft designers and fine artists, with art ranging from watercolors, prints, hand-blown glass, and ceramic sculpture to floral wreaths and jewelry.

A performers showcase will include the schools' jazz bands and chorales, plus local dance studios and more, every 30 minutes beginning at 10 a.m., on the main stage, pavilion stage, and auditorium. Hands-on experiences include making pin wheels, 3D butterflies, sand art, and spin art. The school’s Rotunda will feature art work from students in the district’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

Parkland's "Got Talent" competition will be held Friday at 7 p.m., in the Parkland High School auditorium.

For further info: 610-351-5665


Tap Ties at Cedar Crest College in Allentown is celebrating "National Tap Dance Day" in the Lehigh Valley on Saturday and Sunday with its 12th annual two-day festival of master tap dancers teaching and performing in honor of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and the great American tradition of tap dance. The event partners the college's performing arts with the Good Shepherd Performing Arts Rehabilitation Center.

Guest faculty includes Germaine Salsberg, Barbara Duffy, Corinne Karon, Karen Callaway Williams, Robert F. Burden Jr., Rochelle Haynes, and Susan Hebach.

A performance showcase will be held on Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., in the Samuels Theater in Tompkins College Center on campus. The Tap Ties Company also will perform. Guest artist is Justin Ballasy.

For further info:


RiverJazz at SteelStacks in Bethlehem begins Tuesday and runs through June 21, with headliners including jazz bass guitarist Gerald Veasley (June 1) and Steely Dan tribute band The Royal Scam (June 9). They join Aaron Neville (June 16), the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (May 26), Cherry Poppin' Daddies (Tuesday), and the Robert Glasper Experiment (June 21).

The North Penn High School Navy Jazz Band, under the direction of David DiValentino, will open for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The school band was named winner of the 2017 SteelStacks High School Band Jazz Showcase, held in March at the ArtsQuest Center.

Upper Moreland High School Jazz Band, named showcase runner-up, will open for the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Quakertown Community High School placed third and will open for Gerald Veasley.

RiverJazz also will showcase local and regional jazz acts on SteelStacks’ free TD Bank Community Stage.

For further info:


Don't forget to tune in to the 15th annual Freddy Awards ceremony on May 25 at 7 p.m., broadcast live from the State Theatre in Easton on 69-WFMZ-TV and

The event recognizes and rewards exceptional accomplishments in the production and performance of musical theater in high schools in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and Warren County, New Jersey.

But happening before this is the airing of "Most Valuable Players," the documentary film shot during the 2008 Freddy Awards program by Canyonback Films, this Saturday on 69-WFMZ-TV. It follows local schools from rehearsal of their own productions through awards ceremony night. There's also footage of Freddy production staff and members of the extended "Freddy" community of the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

For further info:


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