‘Hoosier Curiosities’ profiles the offbeat Dick Wolfsie has an eye for the unusual. In the course of a long broadcasting career, including the last 12 years on WISH-TV’s Daybreak program, he’s profiled some of the more interesting and offbeat denizens of Indiana. He’s collected hundreds of those people and things into a new book, Indiana Curiosities, which is part travel guide and part collection of humorous essays. You can either sit in your living room and read about these places, or you can hop in your car and visit them. He writes about Myrtle Young of Fort Wayne who collects potato chips that resemble celebrities. She herself became a celeb when Johnny Carson had her as a guest on The Tonight Show and pulled a prank on her. There’s the giant pink elephant sculpture in Fortville, inviting people to patronize the liquor store. There’s the RV museum in Elkhart and the 2 million-strong cork collection. Wolfsie said he spent 18 months and logged between 5,000 and 6,000 miles visiting the places in Indiana Curiosities. Along the way, he visited 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties. “I usually had a lead to something somewhere,” he said. “Somebody would tell me about a goofy thing somewhere, and I’d go. When I was gone, I’d usually drive until I was lost. I would ask bartenders and truck drivers, people at stoplights, cafes and bars if there was anything goofy around there. A lot of times they wouldn’t know, but other times they’d say, ‘Well, if you go down the road …’ And I’d go down the road and there’d be rosary beads made of bowling balls in the front lawn.” It’s hard for Wolfsie to name a favorite of all of the interesting profiles in the book. But, he says, he has a special affection for Mike Carmichael of Alexandria. Carmichael painted a baseball in 1977. More than 16,000 coats of paint later, the baseball weighs 550 pounds and is as large as a beachball. “I also like collections,” Wolfsie said. “There’s a guy with a mousetrap collection. There’s the John Wayne Museum. And there’s the guy with 7 million business cards in his basement.” The book came out in mid-April and is already in its second printing. It’s Wolfsie’s third book after two collections of his syndicated humor column. “I love to write,” he said. “When I get an idea, I can’t wait to get home and get in front of the typewriter.” While Wolfsie likes to have fun with his subjects, he never makes fun of them, no matter how ridiculous their feat. “Hey, if it wasn’t for these people, I wouldn’t have a TV show, or a book,” he said. “I have fun with the ideas but I never make fun of the people. When I had the guy with the paintball on, I kidded him a little but I wasn’t mocking him. One of the things about television that’s important is that if people like you and trust you, they’ll take the ribbing. If they don’t like you, they’ll assume you’re making fun of them.” Indiana Curiosities is published by The Globe Pequot Press and is available for $13.95 at most major booksellers in the Indianapolis area. An autographed version is for sale through www.wish-tv.com. While researching the book, Wolfsie came across the subject of his next book: multimillionaire media titan and famed escape artist Bill Shirk. The book, which will detail how Shirk pulled off some of his more outrageous stunts, has been completed and will be published in October. Shirk has a reputation for being sometimes difficult to work with, but that’s not what Wolfsie experienced. “He was an absolute pussycat,” he said. “I bet that’s not what you thought I’d say. I say in the book that he’s conceited and self-centered. But he’s a genius and he was easy to work with.” Shirk, who sold his share of Hoosier 96 and other stations some years ago for millions of dollars, now lives in a luxurious Zionsville home, tools around on his Segway scooter and tends to his two classical-music FM stations. In the book, Shirk and Wolfsie share secrets that magicians normally never reveal. “He tells things in the book that he’s never told before,” he said. As for Wolfsie himself, he’s still excited about the job he does on TV, after 3,500 Daybreak segments, most of them with his ubiquitous beagle, Barney. “I still truly cannot wait to get up in the morning,” he said. “I meet somebody different every day. I’m not saying every day is a gem, or that I create Pulitzer Prize-winning stories every day. But I get to do things that have never been done before, meet people and put them on television for the first time. I’ve been very lucky in this city. It’s been a blast.”

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