Friday, July 10, 2020

Andy's Angles: The First

I was going through a box of old stuff the other day when I stumbled across my very first digital camera.  It was an Olympus D-380, a whopping two megapixel, and I recall it cost me a decent amount at Target.

Curiosity got the better of me.  I cleaned out some internal corrosion and popped in some fresh batteries.  It fired up nicely.  It takes a memory card the size of a floppy disc, so there was no way I could play the card in any contemporary device.  The camera came with its own software, on a CD.  I took my chances and plugged it in to my PC, to see if it would download.  It did!

Olympus still has a copy of the manual on its web site, but a lot of the operation came back to me.  This is a fun and easy to use camera.

The above photo was taken just before Christmas in 2005.  It's the old Lackawanna County Stadium, with a temporary skating rink in right field.  The county did this for a couple of years, and it was rather popular.  New ownership.  New commissioners.  New stadium.  Real grass rather than artificial turf, and the rink is a distant memory.  Still, it was a nice thing to do, and it was a decent break from our area's long, cold and boring winters.

Kep in mind, these were not the first photographs with the first camera.  They are the last photographs still on the card of my first camera.

The card didn't contain many photographs.  There are a few others of interest, and look for those on the Fridays to come.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Once Upon a Time...

Skycam 16/WNEP
If you grew up in the mid valley of Lackawanna County, Specialty Records in Olyphant was the cat's pajamas.  If you got a job there right out of high school, you were set.  You made it.

Decent pay.  Decent benefits.  Stability.

The company transitioned nicely from vinyl to dvd's and cd's.

New owners, several times.  Digital media and downloads emerged.  The market for its products evaporated.  Layoffs.  Out of business.  Empty.

Hundreds, including some friends, lost their jobs.

The big plant on the hill in Olyphant is coming down.  Sad, but times change.

With any luck, a new business will be established here and we'll put people back to work.  Unfortunately, nothing will match Specialty Records in the hearts and minds of those in the mid valley.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Media Notes

Les Crystal died last month.  85.  He ran NBC News, and later NewsHour on PBS.  He was the guy in charge when the broadcast went to 60 minutes.  ABC, CBS and NBC have been talking about going to an hour for years, although the project is now on the back burner.  It makes so much sense.  Unfortunately, the local stations around the country are hesitant to give 30 minutes back to the network.  They all should revisit the idea.  The time is ripe.

FOX is getting out of the golf business, turning over its USGA contract to NBC.  Mixed feelings on this one.  NBC does a nice job, but it's nothing I would call outstanding.  FOX tried to innovate.  Some things worked.  Others flopped.  With only a couple of tournaments a year, FOX was never really able to find its footing.

Many all news and news/talk radio stations saw a nice bump in listenership when the pandemic hit.  Recent surveys show things have returned to normal.  It's nice to know people know where to turn when they need to learn something.  It's sad the bump didn't last longer.  Some radio stations really rose to the occasion.

It's sad to say, but some of the best stuff on radio, you have to pay for.  I hate saying that because I grew up in and am a believer in live and local.

Carl Reiner died last week.  98.  He is perhaps best known for creating "The Dick van Dyke Show."  He also had a role as Dick's boss, Alan Brady.  I can't say I was a fan of the show.  I was too young to get its humor during its original run.  Reruns never really worked for me.  Dick's wife and son whined a bit too much.  Morey Amsterday made the same bald jokes to Richard Deacon every week.  It just wasn't my thing.  That doesn't dimish Reiner's contribution to comedy.  The movies and TV shows, including dramas are too long to list here, but here is why I loved Carl Reiner.  He was the ultimate talk show guest.  He was warm and charming, and he had the best old showbiz stories to share.  I could listen to him for hours.  The word "legend" is overused.  Not here.

Hugh Downs also died last week.  He had that rare gift of a combination of incredible gravitas and spectacular warmth.  99.  "Today," "Tonight" "Concentration" "20/20."  He loved science and contributed to ABC's coverage of the early shuttle missions.  A broadcaster's broadcaster.  Another legend.

American Top 40 turned 50 on Independence Day.  It started with all of nine stations and grew into a major hit.  I caught a little of that first show's replay this past weekend on satellite radio.  Host with great pipes, the top music in the country, big hit.  As I've said here before, it might have been the best produced show in radio.

The Howard Stern movie, "Private Parts" was on television recently.  Of course, I watch it on two levels-- for the story and for the radio stuff.  I'm happy to say the movie gets most, but not all,  of the radio things right.  Plus, it's just an interesting story.

ESPN Radio announced yesterday it's blowing up its line-up.  I found it unappealing before and the changes do nothing for me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Bill Cullen died 30 years ago today.

The man was a genius-- hosting dozens of game shows over the years, appearing as a panelist on countless others.  Lightning fast wit.  He had fun, but never at the expense of a contestant.  He had a charm that made people feel at ease, and that includes viewers.

Pyramid host Dick Clark paid Bill Cullen the ultimate compliment when he said the only time he became nervous behind the Pyramid podium was when Bill Cullen was a guest, because he was so good.

Fellow game show host Peter Marshall said Cullen's skills kept shows on the air that should have been canceled long ago.

Like all the great ones, Bill Cullen made it look easy.  In April of 1980, Allen Ludden was in the hospital and Cullen stepped in to host "Password Plus" for a month.  He did a great job and ran the show flawlessly.

Bill Cullen was also able to draw a big audience on New York City radio.

I won't go in to a lot of history here.  You can read it on the internet.  I just thought I'd mention it because we should remember one of the industry's giants.

Monday, July 6, 2020

There's Something About Meri

It's a visit to the Follow Up File today!

One of the reasons I love doing the blog, and keep doing the blog is it occasionally inspires something that knocks my socks off.

Case in point, last week.

I opened up my email to find a note from Meri Morrow.  I met Meri when I was working down the street and she was working for a television station in Elmira.  We were both covering a trial in Towanda in the mid 90's

As we were all standing in front of the courthouse, her photographer whispered to me, "That's Cousin Brucie's daughter."  I lost my stuff.  I've always been a radio freak, and even today, I listen to radio much more than I watch television.  Cousin Brucie was a legendary New York DJ, with very successful stints on WABC and WNBC.  He still can be heard on the Sirus/XM 60's channel.  Bruce Morrow has raised millions for charity over the decades.  Big voice.  Big personality.  Huge following.

I told Meri how much I loved her dad, and I even read his book.  Meri could not have been more kind and gracious.  She added that there is a picture of her in the book, as a two year old.  That family picture is below.
Meri recently stumbled across a blog entry I wrote nine years ago, telling the story of our meeting in Towanda, and how encountering a radio legend's daughter kicked off a rare episode of "starstruck" for me.

She had a long career in radio and television, and is now married and living in Florida.

Even though it was email rather than face to face, it was still a thrill communicating with Cousin Brucie's daughter, and a nice individual in her own right.

Meri, thank you.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Andy's Angles: St. Casimir

I was playing around with my camera on the campus of Marywood University, my alma mater, last month.

By the way, I never know what to call the place.  It was Marywood College when I was there.  That's what my diploma says.

I've always liked this often overlooked statue of St. Casimir, and I used it to work on my depth of field skills.  Statue in focus, background blurred.  Bokeh, as the Japanese call it.

As I told a friend, next time, I'll park my car somewhere else.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Andy's Angles: Towers

I've been experimenting with the slow shutter speed thing for a while now, and it's always a pleasant surprise to see how well radio and tv towers show up.

This shot looks north on Route 315 at the Pittston Exit. Interstate 81 is on my left. The ginormous business park is on my right.

As you can see, there is a radio tower off to my right, near the turnpike and behind the old hotel.

There are more radio and TV towers in the Scranton area on top of the mountain at the far left.  I shot this with a prime lens, known for letting in a lot of light.  This photo is proof of that.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Andy's Angles: Andy's Angles

Someone who recently discovered the blog asked me about the weekend photography and the name "Andy's Angles."

It's the first weekend of the second half of the year, and it has been a while since I've offered an explanation, so here goes.

I originally started doing photographs on weekends as a sort of Hamburger Helper-- a way to stretch out resources so I wouldn't have to come up with something thoughtful every day.  It was also a nice way to have a place to show off my photography hobby.

The original headings were "Bad Photography Weekend, "Bad Photography Saturday," and "Bad Photography Sunday."  It fit.  Most of the pictures weren't very good, but I have improved, just a little,  over the years.

One day, several months ago, co-worker Mindi Ramsey was taking a look, and said the name had to go because the photographs weren't bad at all.  I punted the ball back to her and asked for a new name.  Mindi came up with "Andy's Angles," and the rest is history.

I hope you enjoy them.

Some have suggested more cross pollinating between the blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for increased exposure, pardon the photographic pun.  While I have done a limited amount of that, especially during a recent week off,  I prefer to keep them separate.  The blog is the oldest and biggest pig in the litter, and it gets priority, even though there can be a wider reach on other platforms.

I've been watching plenty of YouTube videos, trying to get better.  There are a few new lenses in my bag to help with creativity.  I'm thinking more about composure.  Some videos offer contradictory advice.  One guy hates kit lenses.  Another says they're fine.  There is "manual" shaming, like it's a major sin to let your camera handle some of the settings.  Even the pros tweak in post production.  I keep that to a minimum.  I do crop on occasion, a little straightening, and the rare color adjustment.  For the most part, what you see here is exactly what I shot.

There has been plenty of curiosity and experimenting.  Some things have worked.  Others haven't.  Just about everything inspires me to keep trying.

A photograph doesn't have to be great to make you happy.  Better gear doesn't make you a better photographer.  Most of the comments have been positive.  Thank you.  Some have been critical.  Thank you for that, too.  I learn from your critiques and suggestions.

Also, this will be the 11th year for my year end "Top Ten" photo review.  I put aside favorites during the year and usually assemble them around Thanksgiving.  It gives me something to do while the turkey is in the oven, and it's material for when things slow down toward the end of the year.

More photos are on the way for the weekend.  As always, thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Big Bang Theory

If I have a least favorite holiday, it's Independence Day.  It's hot and noisy, sticky and humid.  Did I say it was noisy?

A network radio talk show guy a few years ago called Independence Day the "holiday of bad choices."  Invariably, there are fireworks accidents, auto crashes, swimming accidents, grill fires and camp fires that grow out of control, sunburns, and problems caused by too much drinking...  The list is endless.

There is a growing call to roll back the legalization of fireworks.  It cuts across party lines.  Mayors hate the complaints.  It ties up police departments.  It's more work for fire departments.  Pet owners hate it.  Having said all that, I'd be shocked if it happened.  Follow the money.

On top of that, if there is a holiday where the true meaning of the day gets lost in all the hoopla, this is it.

It's been a bad year and we can all use a break, a chance to be good to ourselves and our families.

Please, do it safely, sanely, and quietly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

This month's blog header features Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

Long story short:  He was a Polish general who helped the colonists win the Revolutionary War.  This is the month we celebrate Independence Day.  It makes sense.

I have mixed feelings on today's picture of  the general's statue on the Spruce Street side of Courthouse Square.  The statue is dwarfed by the tall clock tower.  On the other hand, it's possible to appreciate both the statue and the courthouse architecture.

However, I really do like the header shot.

I deliberately kept in some of the courthouse, trees, and flag.  There were clean shots of the general and the sky, but I liked the other items.  It gives the shot a little more depth, dimension, and visual interest.

Read up on the general.  Fascinating story.