Sunday, April 30, 2017

Andy's Angles: Flashback

On a weekend when summer-like temperatures are expected, a flashback to the morning of March 14.

This is Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre, as the Blizzard of '17 was just getting wound up.  A few inches of snow on the ground, and two feet more on the way.

Enjoy the heat and the weekend.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Andy's Angles: Do Not Disturb

It's been a while since Nathan made an appearance here.

I took this as he was napping the other day, obviously annoyed that I disturbed his mid day snooze.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Let's Review

The first vacation week of the year is in its final hours.

Let's review.

I got a hair cut, went to the gym, rode my bike, took some pictures, shopped, had a reunion with a high school friend I hadn't seen in nearly 40 years, worked on the blog and other social media, read a couple of books, watched some baseball on TV, and I caught up on some sleep.

Except for the reunion thing, it was your average week off.  I'm okay with that.

Thanks to Jim Hamill for filling in for me.  I understand it was a very busy weekend.

See you in the morning.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Given the circumstances of the case and the way the law is written, there could be no other outcome.

Eric Frein:  guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

The evidence for the first degree murder conviction, and the case for the death penalty were overwhelming.  The prosecution had written and taped confessions.  Mitigating factors during the penalty phase were weak, at best.  That's not the fault of the defense attorneys.  They did the best with what they had.  They didn't have a much.  A victory would have been keeping Eric Frein off death row.

There is an automatic appeal of death penalty cases.  Some legal experts believe errors were made during the trial.  We could go through this again.

I won't get in to a death penalty debate.  The death penalty is still on the books here in Pennsylvania.  An inmate hasn't been executed in two decades.  Governor Wolf is against the death penalty.  This will be a court and legislative battle for a long time to come.

There are still unanswered questions.  As I am fond of saying (not an original thought), a trial is not a search for the truth.  It is a judgement of evidence.

We know what Eric Frein did, beyond a reasonable doubt.  We don't know why.  The prosecution doesn't have to establish a motive.  It was shown Eric Frein didn't like authority and he favored a revolution.  Still, there has to be some reason why he chose those troopers, at that barracks, on that night.  I like to think we'll know some day.  Someone will talk, eventually.  It could be and should be Eric Frein.  Remember, there are laws that prohibit criminals from profiting from their acts.  He cannot sell his story.  He does owe everyone an explanation-- the police, the people who paid for the search and trial, the people who lived in fear during his weeks on the run...

Someone will talk, someday.

Until then, this is a book without a final chapter.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Scrapple

There was a reunion of the people who used to work at one of my old television stations last weekend-- a great bunch, and I was lucky to work with them.  Thanks for the invite, but I'm not much of a social butterfly these days and I didn't attend.  There were many familiar faces on David DeCosmo's blog.  I hope my teachers, and my friends are all doing well.

As noted here before, a guilty pleasure is watching old game shows and old newscasts on You Tube.  Scrabble was a darn fine show, and I wish someone would bring it back.

Joanie from Happy Days, Erin Moran, died last week.  56.   That's way too young, and I'm sorry.  I know I'm about to offend a lot of people, but I never thought Happy Days was very good and was one of the most over-rated TV shows in history.

Even though I was off last weekend, I was up all night anyway.

Earth Day has become so political, and it was a trend that started lone before Donald Trump became president.  Unfortunately, it reminds me of the Great American Smoke Out in the fall.  It's forgotten about the day after.

What's on the internet now that April the Giraffe has given birth?

NYTimes.com is one of my favorite web sites.  It's clean and easy to use.  It has the character of the newspaper, but a distinct web identity.  Some newspaper web sites are a total mess.

President Trump is coming back to Pennsylvania this weekend.  Harrisburg.  Luzerne County is one of the places credited with putting the Trump campaign over the top.  There have been two recent visits to south central Pennsylvania.  None here.  Why?

I haven't touched vinyl in years, but I'm still very happy there is a National Record Store Day.

The apparent and admitted misbehavior of the lieutenant governor is just sad.  If that happened in the private sector...

CVS is eliminating most candy in its stores.  It doesn't bother me.  For some reason, a drug store was never my "sweet" destination.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Start

The Eric Frein homicide trial in Milford brought back a lot of memories.  I was on the duty the night of the shootings.  It was my job to make sure we had our people in the right places to cover the story.  I produced, wrote and anchored the first newscast after the incident, Newswatch 16 Saturday Morning.  My coworkers stepped up, and I was very proud of our product that weekend.

The trial also reminded me of my first venture into street reporting, and let me tell you what brought back those memories.

My job on opening day of the Frein trial was to do reaction from people in the Milford.  Things like this are few and far between.  The town was filled with media and the curious.  Newswatch 16's Jim Hamill covered the opening arguments.  I was the street guy.

Photographer Bonnie and I surveyed the landscape.  The first few people we approached for interviews turned us down.  We then spied a young woman across the street.  I discovered her name was Brenna Cavallaro.  We talked, on camera.  She said she comes from a law enforcement family, and she was there with the goal of writing something for her high school newspaper at Delaware Valley.  That story is at the top of today's blog entry.

Not only did Brenna provide some interesting comments, she was "the hook."  She wasn't just a random person in the perk.  Brenna had a special reason for being there, and a beyond run of the mill perspective.  I did get another interview, but Brenna was the focus of the story.

As Bonnie and I went back to our truck to write and edit a story for Newswatch 16 at Noon, I handed Brenna a business card.  I asked her to send me a copy of the story if she was successful in getting some space in the paper.  The story was in my WNEP mail box when I made a special trip back to the office, during a vacation, to check.  It's good work, and that's why I'm sharing it here.

I should note that the entire newspaper "Del Aware" looks great and has solid content.  It rivals some college newspapers I've seen.  The students and faculty should be proud.

Now, me.

I was just a pup at WARM 590 in March of 1982, having been on staff for less than a year.  Our news director, the great Jerry Heller thought there was a story in Honesdale we should be covering.  A man was on trial for killing a child.  Jerry asked if a couple days of coverage would fit in to my college schedule.  It did.  He asked me to come to the station, pick up a news car, and then go to Honesdale.  I deferred, saying it would be easier for me to go to the courthouse directly.  I was too embarrassed to say I couldn't drive a car with a standard transmission.  Thanks to coworker Brian Francis Roche, I later learned.  Thank you, Brian.

I arrived at the Wayne County courthouse on that first morning and was totally lost.  This wasn't "Matlock."  It's nothing like what you see on television.  I took notes on the testimony and phoned back an hourly report.  The first ones weren't very good.  The legendary Terry McNulty was doing afternoon news on WARM back then.  He suggested ways to make my reporting better, more clear, and more concise.  Terry got me through, and I owe him a lot.  I still remember and use some of Terry's first day lessons.  Most people remember terry for his zany DJ antics as "The Big Fella."  In my early years at WARM, Terry was one of the afternoon news anchors.  We had disagreements and a battle or two.  You have to give the man credit for knowing how to present a news story with a sense of immediacy and urgency.  I owe Terry a lot.

After a while, I got the hang of it.  I could almost predict when the district attorney and defense attorney would object to something.  Even a newbie like me could see there were some big holes in the case.  Trials move very slowly.  I was able to pick my opportunities to get out of the courtroom to hit the pay phone in the lobby.  Again, it's a skill I use to this day.

I wasn't there for the very end, but the defendant was found "not guilty."  I wasn't surprised.  Simply, it was not a solid case.  Remember that a trial is not a search for the truth.  It's a judgement of evidence.  Also, it's a court of law, not a court of justice.

I should add that the district attorney was Ray Hamill.  I have the pleasure of working with his son, Jim.  Small world.

As I've said here before, It's rewarding to have "the big story."  However, as the years add up, I get just as much satisfaction from seeing young people blossom in to solid journalists and broadcasters.  I have a feeling Brenna Cavallaro will be added to the list.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Factor

I've always thought Bill O'Reilly is a tremendously talented broadcaster.

After reading a book by a former producer, I learned O'Reilly is responsible for every word of his now former FOX News Channel broadcast.  He either wrote it at a computer, scribbled it out on a note pad, or dictated it to a secretary of producer.

If you read a transcript of his show, and didn't know the author, you would think it was coming from a moderate, reasonable individual.

He is smart, and informed, and he knew how to draw an audience.  For 20 years, O'Reilly was the signature voice and face of the network.

Unfortunately, good broadcaster doesn't translate into being a good person.  O'Reilly denies all the harassment allegations and I get that.  You have to admit there's an awful lot of evidence against him.  You can forgive a mistake.  Overlooking a distinct and long standing  pattern is an entirely different story.

FOX News let O'Reilly go last week.

He doesn't need the money, but I'm sure Bill O'Reilly will re-surface somewhere.  I think his network days are done, at least for a while.  He could sign with a TV station group, or syndicate a show on his own.  He'd be perfect on Sunday mornings.

There was a radio version of the O'Reilly Factor.  It didn't last long.  O'Reilly went up against Rush Limbaugh, a tough time slot.  For the most part, Limbaugh had all the decent stations locked up.  That has changed, so the climate is right for O'Reilly to take another shot at it.  Podcasting to the masses is always an option.  There is already a subscription only podcast.

There is a place in the media world for Bill O'Reilly.  There has to be some serious image rehabilitation, responsibility taking,  and some daring sponsors first.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Andy's Angles: St. Nicholas

This is St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Scranton, almost next door to St. Matthew's, which was in this space yesterday.  They are separated only by Vine Street.

The sun wasn't my friend when I took this recent photo, but I think you get the idea.  It's a beautiful building.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Andy's Angles: Blessed

Our area is blessed, pardon the pun, to have so many historic and beautiful places of worship.

This is St. Matthew's on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The First

It's sleeping Homer's first appearance of 2017, and it means I'm taking my first vacation week of the year.  There were a few scattered days off in January, but I haven't had a full week off since October.

I'm a little tired.  It's time.

Now, the standards:  no plans other than the gym, some bike rides, reading, photography, and possibly Kmart.

I have yet to decide on a vacation beard, which has been the standard the last several years.  I haven't touched a razor since Tuesday morning, so I'm on my way.

The weekend morning broadcasts are in the capable hands of Jim Hamill.

See you soon.