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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Honest, but Sad

My Monday Newswatch 16 assignment took me to Tamaqua in Schuylkill County.  About 30 people were being rounded up on drug charges.  I've done stories like this many, many times over the years, but this one really cried out for more attention.

First, when you whack 30 people on drug charges, in a small town, on the same morning, that's news.

Second, it was something the police chief said.  His honesty was refreshing.  It also illustrated a really sad state of affairs in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, and eastern Pennsylvania.  The chief actually said we're losing the war on drugs.  I'm sure most in law enforcement feel the same way.  The chief had the onions to admit it.

Meth and heroin seem to be the new drugs of choice.  They're cheap and available.

The chief also said Tamaqua had a dozen overdoses in a month, and one was fatal.

And, it was a seemingly endless parade of suspects-- out of the police cars, into the police station for processing, out of the police station to an adjacent magistrate's office, back to the police station to await a trip to jail.

Another bit of honesty from the chief-- the drug trade will slow down for about a week.  It will pick up again, the drug bust just a tiny blip on the drug radar.

The chief vows to keep making arrests, as it should be.  Sisyphus came to mind.

Drug cases are a tough call.  It's an illness and a crime at the same time.  There are no easy answers-- treat the abusers, reduce the demand, try to cut off the supply.

Just keep pushing that rock up the hill.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Uniformly Speaking

I'm not a sports uniform geek, and I'm not as big a sports fan as I once was...

But, I like it when the Milwaukee brewers wear their 70's uniforms with what was called the dog paw logo.  It's actually an M and B positioned to form a baseball glove.  The current uniforms are sharp.  however, a little nostalgia never hurts.

The same goes for the San Diego Padres.  the team switched to a blue and yellow color scheme several years ago.  Once in a while, they pull out the old brown and gold, and I really like it.  It's refreshing.  Outside of Some Mariners teal, and Oakland green, most of baseball is red, white and blue.

A something different is never a bad thing.

Some teams have gone back to pale blue for road uniforms, like the Phillies once had.  I like that, too.  It's a break from the sea of grey.

I also miss the Pirates 1876 cap, the one that celebrated the league's centennial.  A lot of teams wore them.  the Pirates were the last to go traditional again.

Some things should never change-- like the brilliant white of the Dodgers and Orioles home uniforms.

And, one last thing.  It deals with football.  I really wish the Steelers would dump the rounded uniform numbers and go back to the blocky, square style.  The team looked much more menacing.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Media Notes

ABC is looking at a summertime Sunday night game show block, including Match Game, Family Feud, and the $ 100,000 Pyramid.  To Tell the Truth might get thrown in there.  Great idea!  Game shows are cheap to produce, and if they take off, it could spawn more prime time games, and a jump in to syndication.

Was Kelly Ripa treated badly?   Absolutely!  Should she have made a public and federal case about it?  Absolutely not!  It does show a lot about respect in the workplace, and I hope managers far and wide got the message.

ESPN canned Curt Schilling for some strange and offensive comments.  You have to understand that free speech has its limits.  If you represent a company or a brand, you have to limit what you say.

NBC appears to have hired Mike Tirico.  Don't ask me why.  He has,  what we call in the business, a "thin voice."  Sean McDonough looks to have the Monday Night Football inside track.  I'm okay with that.  I'm better than okay with that.

I rarely find the White House Correspondents' Association dinner interesting or entertaining.

Former network news anchor Campbell Brown blames the media for the rise of Donald Trump.  I always say that the media reflects society.  It doesn't influence it.  People are angry.  Along comes Trump.  The man knows how to get noticed.  Unfortunately, Ms Brown never found that formula.

Listening to a rock solid all news radio station is one of the joys of life.

I was watching Sam Donaldson on an old Johnny Carson show the other night.  I marvel at the stable Roone Arledge assembled in the late 70's and 80's, and many of them were holdovers from the previous regime.  Arledge knew how to put the right person in the right place.

It's inside baseball, but I still get a rush from looking at big satellite TV trucks.  new technology means the same gear can be put in a smaller vehicle.  Some of those big trucks are still on the road, and I hope it stays that way.

I recently caught Tim McCarver on an MLB Network broadcast.  I really miss him.

For the second consecutive year, Craig Ferguson has captured the daytime Emmy for best game show host.  Celebrity Name Game is an average show, but Ferguson makes it entertaining.  I wish he hung around at the Late Late Show.

Monday, May 2, 2016

About the Cover

I have mixed feelings about this month's blog header.

I love animals.

I don't love watching them crammed into trailers and dragged from city to city.

The circus people claim they are well cared for, and I hope there are independent inspections on a regular basis.

Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey ended its elephant acts yesterday.  It's a good thing.  We've moved beyond tiny, inadequate zoos, and now we've moved beyond elephants in the world's largest circus.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Andy's Angles: Trump

One of the reasons I love my job is the constant opportunity to see and do things that are off limits to the general public.

Monday, I was covering the set up of that night's Donald Trump rally at the arena in Wilkes-Barre Township.  I walked out onto the floor of the empty arena.  The podium is in the lower middle, just off to the left.  The media corral is off to the right.  A Trump video was looping on the scoreboard screen above.

I looked up at row after row of empty blue seats.  Remember, Luzerne County is a Democratic strong hold.  The arena was charging $ 10 for parking.  I thought to myself that Trump would never fill this place.  I was very wrong.  he could have filled it-- twice.

TV technicians were dropping cable everywhere.  Speakers and lights were tested.  Political operatives were making sure everything was perfect.  It really was something to see, and I'm thrilled I was there for a look.

This photo is already penciled in as one of this year's Top Ten.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Andy's Angles: The Building

One last view of the former WARM Building in Avoca before I move on to other things.  I worked here from 1981 to 1991.

Clearly, the old girl has seen better days.

Back in my day, I remember writing a note to the general manager, asking for better security lighting.  Nothing happened.  Even though WARM moved out a long time ago, it appears the lighting situation is the same.  It's just one lonely and useless street light screwed on to the side of the building.

One of our program directors wanted a better sign out front.  All we had were some barely visible call letters on the canopy.  The sign never happened.  I think there was some push back by the guy who owned the building at the time.  Thousands of cars passed this building every day.  It was a wasted opportunity.

I'm not sure when Lite 94 moved in, and moved out.  The circular sign is for a wrestling club.  It wasn't around during my era.

Not many people know, but this is actually a four story building.  It's built in to the side of a hill, so there are two floors below ground level, and one above.  The Economic Development Council and the Northeast Philharmonic used to call this place home.  Both are long gone.

The canopy used to be shiny metal.  It's tarnished now-- much like the radio station that called this home.

Here's the topper.  While I was snooping around last month, a worker at the construction company leasing the place told me he heard that the building will be turned in to apartments once the construction company moves out.  They are scheduled to leave when the Avoca/airport interchange reconstruction is finished.

Friday, April 29, 2016

One More Thing...

Tomorrow is the last of my pictures and rambling concerning WARM and the Avoca building it called home.  I'm sure I'll revisit the topic some time down the road.

It was a kick Election Day morning.  I was at a polling place in Taylor, and a woman remembered that I was on the radio for a while.  She has a great memory.  I left full time radio in 1991.

You might ask why I spent so much time yammering on about WARM.  First all, I grew up listening to the Mighty 590.  I was lucky enough to hook on there in 1981.  It was my first paying job, and it was the experience of a lifetime.  I learned things there I still use today.

As I've noted here countless times before, it was one bad decision after another and the station was bungled into irrelevance.  There was a brief uptick in the mid 80's, but it went down the slippery slope again.  The station is a CBS Sports Radio affiliate now, and no one listens.

I'm a realist.  WARM was an AM in an FM world.  It's "big audience" days were coming to an end no matter what happened.  However, if managed the right way, the station could have carved out a nice niche for itself and it could have remained the news and information leader in the market.  There's currently a void around here you could drive a truck through.

I vividly remember the line up the day I walked in the door in 1981.  Other than Harry West in the morning, I cannot remember who was on the air when I left ten and a half years later.  It was that forgettable.

I am a broadcaster and a journalist, and I am proud of it.  It's a great profession-- a science and an art.  Let's lean to the artsy side.  I truly believe there's a place for a traditional full service radio station, AM or FM.  Hire a good morning personality, and one for the afternoon.  You can go satellite or voice tracking the rest of the time.  Find a couple of solid news reporters.  Be active in your community.  Aggressively cover news and issues.  Your overhead will probably be a little higher than you'd like, but you would still make a few dollars and have a station of which you can be proud.

It will never happen, but I can dream.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Year Late

As noted here last week, I was down with a really bad cold during my recent vacation.

As luck would have it, my cable company made a bunch of relatively new movies available through its "On Demand" feature.

I haven't been to a theater since the first "Ted" was released in 2012.  There were a few movies I wanted to see, but they didn't provide enough motivation to drag my tired arse to a theater.

As I was going through the On Demand list, I saw "Entourage."  I was a fan of the series, so watching the movie was a no brainer.

 It got horrible reviews, but  my cable company was giving it to me, for free, so I thought, why not?  "Entourage" wasn't a great movie, but I liked it.  Once again, Jeremy Piven's performance saved the day.  Ari Gold is a great character, and Piven nails it every time.

I was saddened when the credits rolled.  "Entourage" was not a big critical or financial success, so it was the end of the line for all those characters.

Perhaps I expected too much out of "Trainwreck."  I didn't like it, and I really didn't care if the characters got together or stayed apart.  Amy Schumer was cute and funny, and she has a big career in film ahead.  Unfortunately, her character was so unlikable, I really didn't care what happened.

I watched the "unrated" version.  It's possible the rated version was edited tighter and was more enjoyable.

Long story short, Schumer plays a trampy, drunk pothead who finally finds love, but it takes her a while to realize it.

The big treat for me was seeing Norman Lloyd, one of the stars of one of the best TV series ever, St. Elsewhere.

As far as "Trainwreck" goes, at least I didn't have to pay to see it.

And a special thanks goes to my cable company-- now offering two fewer channels, but still charging the same price.  YES was voluntarily dropped last year, and al Jazeera recently went out of business.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Day After

Some post election thoughts...

As I said in this space months ago, underestimate Donald Trump at your own peril.  He swept five states last night.  Trump took Pennsylvania, and it wasn't even close.  Rather than finding ways to deny Trump the nomination, it might be time to figure out how to make Trump a stronger candidate in November.

Hillary Clinton took four out of five states last night.  Bernie Sanders vows to stay in the race right up until the convention in Philadelphia this summer.  Sanders has earned a big voice in the party, and some influence in the party platform.  It looks like it's time to step aside.  I admired his power of inspiration, which is rare in politics these days.  It's likely Sanders brought some new people to the polls yesterday.  I sincerely hope they stay involved.

I believed there was upset potential in the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.  Some early polls had Joe Sestak leading Katie McGinty.  McGinty came on strong and topped Sestak easily.  An early crunch of the numbers leads me to believe John Fetterman really hurt Sestak more than McGinty.  Republican incumbent Pat Toomey had no opposition in yesterday's primary.  This is the big race to watch as we head toward November.  Will the Sestak people fold in to the McGinty camp?  Will the presidential candidates help or hurt?  Coattails?  Liberal Democrat against conservative Republican.

Voters in the Riverside school district shot down a referendum on increasing their taxes four per cent.  Is anyone surprised?  92 per cent voted "no."  If that isn't a message for school districts to live within their means, I don't know what is.  The difficult thing is a quality education isn't cheap.  Pennsylvania has a pension problem.  I fear a lot of school districts will feel a severe money crunch in the near future.

Josh Shapiro and John Rafferty won their party's nominations for attorney general last night.  Thanks to four years of the Kane administration, a lot of people will be keeping an eye on this race.

Kevin Haggerty wins the re-match in the 112th.  He captured the Democratic nomination last night, beating incumbent Frank Farina.  Once again, an incumbent proves to be his own worst enemy.  Haggerty was handed the race on a silver platter when it was revealed Farina took free Penn State football tickets for he and his family, and then billed taxpayers for the mileage.  It was not a crime, but a sin in the eyes of those who live paycheck to paycheck.  Farina apologized, and returned the money to the state.  Too late.  the 112th gets a new/old representative next year.

A huge number of state representatives ran without opposition.  Why?

A look at the final percentages will be interesting.  We saw pockets of heavy turnout, and areas of intense indifference.  The influx and change of registrations that were supposed to benefit Kasich and Sanders apparently never really materialized.  I visited several polling places yesterday, and there were very few volunteers handing out cards.  I didn't mind.  It was nice to walk through the door without the bombardment.  I talked with a few friends, and they had similar experiences.  There were very few contested races.  The Clinton people though they had the Scranton area in the bag, and the Sanders people weren't organized enough.

Our friends at the Citizens Voice report this morning that Luzerne County voter turnout was 41 per cent.  County officials consider that high.  Isn't it sad when 41 per cent is considered high?

If you voted, thank you for participating in your democracy.  If you didn't it, please think about it in November.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Primary Day

It's finally here.  It's "Primary Election Day."  For the first time in a long time, you have a say.

I'll never forget the first time I voted.  It was in the 1980 primary.  My dad accompanied me into the booth.  The candidate I really liked had dropped out of the race.  I voted for him anyway.  Principle.  I thought my father was going to clobber me.

This has been a most unusual election year.  Pennsylvania, as always, votes late.  As you know, the presidential contests are not decided.  There's also a hot race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination and state attorney general.

Gov. Ed Rendell wanted to move up election day.  Could you imagine the influence a big state like Pennsylvania would have if we voted in February?  The plan died, and that's a good thing.  It really wasn't fair to rural Pennsylvanians.  I've long felt the solution is to stop the Iowa and New Hampshire lunacy and have a series of regional primaries in the spring, not the dead of winter.

My plans for today?  Of course, cover the vote.  Vote.  Sleep.  Get up in the evening and watch the numbers come in.  I'm envious of colleague Scott Schaffer.  He gets two hours to talk "vote" on WNEP2, and there are some great races going on.

I have my own ideas as to what will happen.  Watch this space tomorrow.  I'll tell you if I was right.

I'm an independent, so I can't vote for candidates in the primary, but I can vote on ballot questions.  There is one:  amending the state constitution to eliminate Philadelphia traffic court.

I spent my Monday covering the events leading up to the Trump rally at the arena in Wilkes-Barre Township.  It was the most fun I've had in a long time.  In addition to seeing some old friends in the business, there was simply a lot of interesting things going on.  A photo of the inside of the arena set a personal "re-Tweet" record.  Thank you.

Look for blog and Twitter updates throughout the day.  Twitter:  @andypalumbo_

See you on tv.

>>>1:10 PM UPDATE:

Just before 1 PM, I became the first independent to vote in my district.  Take that, Anderson Cooper.  It wasn't easy.  Poll workers couldn't find the "non partisan" ballots.  They kept confusing them with provisional ballots, and I nearly flipped out.  A free, impartial and professionally run election is vital to a functioning democracy.  I go crazy when procedures aren't followed.  Even worse, when procedures are unknown.  I can almost overlook candidates and their surrogates blocking the entry door and getting too close for comfort.  Elections cost a lot of money.  They're important.  We deserve better.

Nap time.  I'll be up tonight to watch the numbers roll in.  Vote.  Please.

>>>11:10 AM UPDATE:  Editing went smoothly.  Time to get back out on the road to see what else is going on, and wrap it all up on Newswatch 16 @ Noon.  After that, voting, lunch, a nap, then up to watch election returns.  By the way, we're hearing reports of heavy turnout in the Back Mountain of Luzerne County.  Also heavy in the Dunmore/Mid Valley area thanks to a hotly contested state representative race.

>>>10:20 AM UPDATE:  A strange morning.  Places I expected to find light turnout were heavy, and vice versa.  Some feel rain had an impact, keeping people at home.  I did some interviews, wandered about, asked questions, etc.  It was then back to the office to bang out a script and hand it off to a video editor.  We'll head back out for a live report at noon.

>>>7:15 AM UPDATE:  An initial flurrie at West Scranton Intermediate School on Fellows Avenue, and now a lull.  There is no one here passing out cards, and that's a bit surprising, considering the hotly contested senate and attorney general campaigns.  This is Hillary Country.  Have the Sanders people thrown in the towel?  Now, it's on to see what's happening in other parts of the county.

>>>4:15 AM UPDATE:  We picked West Scranton Intermediate School for our live shot location.  There is plenty of parking for our van.  The big plus is an overhang outside the front doors.  It'll keep us dry if and when it rains.  Viewed the preview pieces before we headed out.  Good stuff, even if I do say so myself.  I love election day.

>>>3:15 AM UPDATE:  The tradition continues.  I had my usual Election morning breakfast of a spicy chicken sandwich and fries.  There is only one 24 hour restaurant that sells it, and I considered hitting another chain.  Service and attitude at this particular restaurant are horrible.  I decided to give it one more try.  There was a new worker behind the counter.  She was great.  Unfortunately, they got my order wrong.  The sandwich was pleasantly exchanged.  I still might go elsewhere in the fall.

Once I got to the office, plans were discussed.  Scripts were tweaked.  Holy Cow!  So much material from which to choose.  Pennsylvania really matters this time around, and that's great.