NMU alumnus new managing editor of online company; Digital series also continues

NMU alumnus, communications professional Ron Beacom (1982 BA), is the new managing editor for Catalyst Midland, an online media/news company that shares stories of people and their businesses or organizations making positive changes across the region. (Submitted photo)
This is a historical photo of the Alcan Highway. The highway will be the subject of a Nov. 11 virtual talk put on by the Northern Michigan University Alumni Association. (Photo courtesy of NMU)

From Northern Michigan University

MARQUETTE — Communications professional Ron Beacom (’82 BA ) is the new managing editor for Catalyst Midland, an online media/news company that shares stories of people and their businesses or organizations making positive changes across the region.

Beacom is also a freelance writer for the Midland Daily News and the producer/host of “Second Act: Life at 50 Plus” for WDCQ-Delta College Public Media.

This “second act” of his career follows his retirement after 27 years as manager of Midland Community Television and library communications for the city of Midland. Beacom also previously worked as a producer at network TV affiliates in Marquette, Toledo and Rochester, New Yorik.

“I think it’ll be exciting to work in this [way],” he said in a Catalyst Midland Q&A on his managing editor appointment. “It’s still journalism, but our vehicle is the internet. That’s where everything’s been going for a while, so that’ll be interesting just reaching people through that. Because I’ve done television, I freelance for print, I did radio way back when; they all tie into the internet now, but this started as an internet venture. I think that’ll be exciting.”

Beacom was co-producer of the WDCQ documentary “Breached! The Tittabawassee River Disaster.” He has also done some communications work in the mental health area for Creative 360 and the Midland Area Community Foundation.

He has applied his NMU major in broadcasting and minor in general speech throughout his career.

“While I was a student at the high school, I was involved in forensics, high school plays; I started announcing at the football games over the P.A. I’ve always enjoyed writing. […] Like most people in journalism, I think, I just have a natural curiosity — asking a lot of questions to try to learn more about people. So, when it came time to pick a major for college, I went to Northern Michigan University in Marquette. I chose broadcasting, and that’s how it got me on a roll from there.”

Digital series continues

The Northern Michigan University Alumni Association will continue its Northern Now monthly digital event series with a presentation by permafrost expert and alumnus Fritz Nelson (’73 BS).

His talk is titled “Hell of a Highway: Permafrost and the Development of the Alcan Project.” It will begin at 7 p.m. Nov. 11.

Nelson will discuss how the 1,400-mile Alaska-Canada (Alcan) Highway came to be built, the strategic considerations motivating its construction, the monumental problems caused by naive engineering practice in permafrost terrain and how these problems were resolved.

He will also explore the large role played by African-Americans in the road’s construction, and the ironic nature of U.S.-Soviet interactions involving permafrost during the Cold War and beyond.

The World War II military road, developed through nearly uncharted wilderness over only seven months in 1942, was one of the largest engineering projects undertaken in North America to that time. The largest single obstacle to the construction and efficient operation of the initial “pioneer” road was ice-rich frozen ground.

Despite repeated warnings by Arctic experts about the use of mid-latitude engineering procedures in permafrost regions, the U.S. Army initially adopted conventional construction techniques, with disastrous consequences.

Nelson was a 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, in part for his contributions to permafrost research, and a former Alumni Association board member.

Susy Ziegler, professor and department head of Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will host a question-and-answer session immediately after Nelson’s presentation. The event is free and registration is required. Attendees who register at https://nmu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Bi3JsYkZTIyFruQwgBI8Bw will receive the link to access the live stream.

Northern Now is a monthly, digital event series for alumni and friends hosted by the Northern Michigan University Alumni Association. Taking place on the second Wednesday of each month, the series provides a behind-the-scenes look at NMU students, departments, athletics and more on campus with exclusive tours, interviews and interactive events.

To stay connected to NMU and learn more, visit nmu.edu/alumni. The NMU Alumni Association can be contacted at alumni@nmu.edu.


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