Friday, September 30, 2016

Day of Reckoning

Ever since I changed dentists a few years ago, my guy issued the warning:  I had some very old fillings that were deteriorating and would eventually need replacement.

Yesterday was the day.

Let me back up.  I've only had three dentists in my long life.  The first was the one who put in those filings when I was a lad.  He didn't believe in Novocaine.  Every visit was an experience in terror.  You went to this guy only when you had a big problem because he put you through such misery.  Why go?  Well, he was the small town dentist, within walking distance, and everyone in town went to him.

The experience there was such a turn off that I avoided dentists altogether.  I finally found a really good guy who, after several visits, corrected all the problems of the past.  Competent.  Painless.  Great preventative care.   Unfortunately, we had a falling out over a failure to get me in the chair at the appointed hour.

Dentist number three has a very gentle touch.  He knows I don't mind needles, but I do dislike pain.  A drill and fill session yesterday morning was a piece of cake.  There is one more to go, and I'll return in a couple of weeks.

Having said all that, I'm an old radio guy.  Audio is a big part of what I do in television.  The noise of the drill still gets to me.  I can't stand it.  I've considered headphones.  But, the drill noise would make it in to my head anyway.  Solid substances conduct sound rather well, and tooth, to jawbone, to skull to inner ear is a short path.

It could be a lot worse.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Scrapple

Delta Medix has announced plans to move in to the Marketplace at Steamtown next year.  it has to be better than some of its current set ups-- long walks, bad parking, cramped spaces...

I'd really like to know some of what led up to the sale of The Commonwealth Medical College.

Mold...  crumbling sports facilities...  falling cement...  It seems we're putting our kids into some lousy buildings and stadiums these days.

Arnold Palmer had a great run, and I am saddened at his passing.

I don't want to be mean, but it seems the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was preventable.  Speeding boats in the middle of the night doesn't make any sense, and I can't get that picture of his pregnant girlfriend out of my mind.  This store is tragic on so many levels.

The post presidential debate spin and polling has become tedious.  I'm thrilled that more than 84 million people are concerned enough about their government to have tuned in.

Please, no more Brad and Angelina.

Wells Fargo was really quite the enterprise.  There are some industries that really have to be held to the higher "trust" standard.  Banks and financial services have to be at or near the top of the list.

The Chicago Cubs story this season has been amazing.

Who expected the New England Patriots to be 3-0 ?

My schedule keeps me away from the Bloomsburg Fair.  I really have to return one of these years.

I've tried watching some of the new fall shows, and I've yet to make it through an entire episode of any of them.

My former coworker, Lara Greenberg, won a regional Emmy over the weekend.  It couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

I'm dipping my toe into the "videos on Facebook" water.  Patience, please.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


There it was, beneath Luzerne Street in West Pittston since 1890.

It was installed when Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States.  It performed day and night.  Flawlessly.  Trouble free for 126 years.  Delivering drinking water, bath water, toilet water...

It was the 20 inch main that supplied water to a big section of the west side of the Wyoming Valley.

It was going so well until Monday afternoon.  That's when a contractor installing a sewer line dug in the wrong place and cracked it open.  Water spewed everywhere for more than 24 hours.  According to Pennsylvania American Water, it took the turning of 60 valves to shut off the flow here.

Some homes and businesses had no water.  Others had discolored water and low pressure.  It was a noisy, chlorine scented mess right in the middle of the borough.

How did it happen?  According to the water company, it is "under investigation."  That's code for "We're trying to come up with a plausible explanation while still leaving the door open for possible litigation and avoiding responsibility."

It simply could have been a careless contractor.  Maybe the maps of buried water lines were old, outdated and faulty.  I'm sure there will be finger pointing eventually.  I'm a little less sure we'll ever get to the bottom of this, pardon the pun.

Thanks to Antonio's Pizza, who let us use a parking space for our mobile newsroom all morning long.  Thanks to the man who runs the BBQ restaurant just off the Fort Jenkins Bridge.  I offered to buy a soda in exchange for a bathroom visit.  He said it wasn't necessary.  We compromised on a discount for the bottle of soda.  West Pittston is full of nice people.  May your taps always be flowing and your old mains always be undisturbed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Only in Scranton

This is the traffic light at Boulevard Avenue and East Market Street in Scranton.  In case you're not familiar with the neighborhood, the photo is taken on Boulevard Avenue, looking toward downtown.  Robert Morris Elementary is off to my left.  East Market Street is off to my right.

This intersection forbids right turns on red.  Great idea.  Visibility isn't the greatest.  There's a school and businesses in the neighborhood.  That means there's a lot of pedestrian traffic.

So where is the "no right turns on red" sign?  Is it near the traffic light, where it should be?


It's on a pole, off to the right, hidden behind a tree.

The intersection is about to become safer.  It's fall.  Leaves will be falling off the tree, exposing the sign.

Let's not wait for a disaster.  Move the sign to next to the traffic light, where it should be.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Last Monday in September

It was September 23rd, 1991... the last Monday of the month. It was my first day as a full time television reporter.

I had been part time, down the street, for a year and a half prior, so I knew my way around the operation. Still, there was a lot to learn. The learning continues. That's the big thing about broadcasting and journalism. The basics are constant, but there is always a new situation, and of course, the ever evolving technology.

There was a little vacation time between the end of radio and the beginning of full time TV.  I worked a scattering of days in there, but there was still an opportunity to get out of town for a few days.

I remember the days leading to the jump.  I debated the move for quite a while, and I still wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.

The full time newbie was dispatched to the Bloomsburg Fair on that first day. Photographer John, who moved to WNEP with me several years ago, and I did two stories and we headed back to the office. I don't remember what else was happening that day, but we weren't "live." I didn't complain. It was a nice way to get my feet wet.

The big adjustment was having some free time. Full time on the radio, plus part time on television meant I worked every day of the week for a year and a half. Of course, there was some vacation time, so I did get a break once in a while. Moving to only one job meant weekends off. I didn't know what to do with myself. The adjustment didn't take long. A little mall on Saturday mornings, a little wandering on Saturday night. Newspapers and a big jug of iced tea took up Sunday mornings.

Things eventually changed. Again, no complaints.

It's been a great ride.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Andy's Angles: Dennison House

This is a late summer shot of the Dennison House in Forty Fort.

There is a fascinating story here at www.luzernehistory.org.

It's tucked onto a side street, and not the easiest thing to find, but it's well worth the trip.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Andy's Angles: The River

This photo was not doctored in any way.  The sky was perfectly blue.  The vegetation was brilliant green.

This photo was taken along the Pittston side of the Susquehanna River earlier this month.

When the river is within its banks, it's quite the asset.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Media Friday

The ratings for Sunday night's Emmy telecast were down.  It's not hard to see why.  The Emmy's were opened up to services like Amazon, Crackle, and Netflix a few years ago.  Quality shows, but a small audience.  Unknown "stars."  Emmy viewers want to see people they know.

An addendum to yesterday's podcast blog:  A couple of coworkers and I have kicked around doing one.  It's still a long way from reality.  While I love what I'm doing now, the radio bug never really left me.  It would be a nice way to dip a toe back in the water.  Yes, I wrote yesterday that a podcast is not radio.

FOX Business used to get hammered by CNBC.  FOX is now squeaking out some wins.  It took a long time.  CNBC lost its way.  We'll see if it can get back on track.

There was an interesting discussion of media bias on Brit Hume's FOX News Channel show Tuesday night.  That's a topic for an entire blog entry soon.

A local company, Bold Gold, has picked up three more radio stations.  They're in the Catskills.  It's nice to see stations in local hands.

I listened to WBT 1110 in Charlotte during an outbreak of protests following a police involved shooting.  Well done.

I still can't warm up to some of the things CNN does, but a recent special, "Almost President," was outstanding.

The Weather Channel crew still seems so disappointed the U.S. hasn't been slammed with a category 5 hurricane.

SB Nation Radio, formerly Yahoo Sports Radio, formerly Sporting News Radio, has dumped Steve Czaban's morning show.  Mistake.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Almost Live

Tony Kornheiser gave up his show on a Washington, DC radio station just before Independence Day.  He dumped it in favor of a podcast.  Kornheiser admits he left a lot of money on the table at the radio station, WTEM, but he wanted to own and control his product.

I get that.

The podcast made its debut the day after Labor Day.  I've listened most days.

Kornheiser and company give you a little more than an hour of content.  The old radio show was two hours.  But, if you factor in a smaller commercial load and no sports news updates, you are getting just about the same amount of program time.

Kornheiser hasn't fallen in to the trap of a lot of podcasters.  No FCC restrictions, so he can say anything he wants.  The content is still PG rated.  He hasn't gone dirty, and that's always nice.  The show has the same cast of characters, the same contributors.  They haven't missed a beat.

Having said all that, there's something missing.  It's not live.  I'm old school.  A podcast is audio, not radio.  Entertaining?  Yes.  Special?  No.  Not really.

A former coworker tried to get me interested in the myriad of podcasts out there.  I'm sure there's some great stuff.  I passed.

Yes, I'll still download Kornheiser's show when I get the chance, which is quite often.  And, I'll still spend a lot of my time listening to real radio.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Less Than 50

The presidential election is less than fifty days away.

I'm leaning toward the conventional wisdom that the popular vote will be close, but Hillary Clinton has an easier path to 270 electoral votes than Donald Trump.  Even with a solid south and Texas, it's tough to overcome Clinton having California and New York in her pocket.

While 48 days might not seem like a lot, we still have the debates ahead...  as well as lingering issues about Mrs. Clinton's health.

As far as Pennsylvania goes, it appears Clinton will do extremely well in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.  It will be tough for Trump to make up those votes in the rest of the state.  67 counties.  I'm sure Trump will win most.  The problem for Trump is he is popular in rural counties, not the big cities.

I should note that I'm seeing signs for Republican candidates in areas where I hadn't seen them before.  This one could get very interesting.

Right now, it appears the Toomey vs McGinty will be a nail biter.  In Monday column, George Will called in "this year's most consequential senate race."  You can look it up.  The reasoning is solid.  A lot of money is being spent, and I'm betting even more mud (on both sides) will fly before November 8.  The Republicans hold 54 seats.  The Democrats have 44.  There are two Independents, but they caucus with the Democrats.  It's very easy to see how control can flip.  The senate thing might hold more intrigue than the presidential race as we head toward the finish line.

Still, there is a wild card.  Terrorism.  It was a frightening weekend.  There is a perception that Trump is the stronger anti terrorism candidate.  On the other hand, a lot of people see Clinton's secretary of state experience as a big plus.  I can see how the whole terrorism issue can sway some voters.  Some independents are up for grabs, as well as the undecideds.

48 days leaves plenty of room for change.