Monday, February 20, 2017

Holding On To Yesterday

I admit there are times when I live in the past, especially when it comes to broadcasting.

I miss the days when every radio station in town did at least a little news, and some did a lot of news.

I miss the days my college radio station trained the broadcasters of tomorrow, rather than just played endless music.

I miss the days I wrote out out my scripts on a legal pad or a steno pad, and I was a radio pup running from story to story.

I miss the days before network news people labeled everything as "breaking news."

I miss the days when CNN actually did news.

I miss the days when TV shows had opening themes and credits.

I miss the days when The Big Bang Theory was funny.

I miss all those daytime game shows on the networks.

Thank heaven for YouTube, so I can watch old Tom Snyder shows.

Here is what really triggered today's blog entry.  The NFL Network recently played a bunch of old Super Bowls.  Many were broadcast by the team of Pat Summerall and John Madden.  Holy Cow!  those guys were good.  I knew it then.  I appreciate them more now because most of today's broadcast teams leave a lot to be desired.  Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are very good.  The same goes for Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.  The rest?  Meh.

Summerall had the voice and the delivery.  He didn't talk a lot and made every word count.  Plus, he knew exactly how to set up Madden.  John Madden did talk a lot, and he made it entertaining.  Enthusiasm, without going over the top.  No hype.  They celebrated the game, and called out those who came up short.  Summerall and Madden might have been the best team ever, and I miss them.

You can look it up.  A web site called AwfulAnnouncing.com listed all the legends who have recently stepped aside or who are lessening their workload.  There are some big names, and they seem to be exiting the stage all at once.  Yes, there is some fine young talent on the way up., and I'm keeping an open mind.

However, I can't help but look back and marvel at what we had.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Classic Andy's Angles: The Breaker

I was going through some old photo files the other day, and I saw this.  It's one of my favorite photos of the old Huber Breaker in Ashley.

There was always mixed feelings about this place.  It was the last of the standing Wyoming Valley breakers.  It was big and ugly, and an image of the bad old days.

On the other hand, the breaker, and mining in general, is a huge part of our area's history.  We out to remember the good and the bad.

It became a moot point.  the photo was taken in 2013.  The breaker was demolished a couple of years later.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Classic Andy's Angles: Grease

I haven't had a lot of time to take pictures recently, so it's a couple from the archives this weekend-- and the stories to go along with them.

This photo was taken in December of 2013.  It was a snowy morning.  I was on road report duty.  Our location that morning was in the back parking lot of a chain restaurant outside the Columbia Mall in Hemlock Township.  We chose that location because it offered a great view of Interstate 80 below.  We could show the interstate, and be safely out of the way.

The location came with a bonus.  The restaurant had a grease dumpster out back, and a bicycle, chain locked to a light pole.  When you're on road duty, there are a finite number of things you can say about snow.  So you start looking for what I call "color."  I described the scene, including the grease dumpster.  Eventually, someone who said he spoke for restaurant management came by to say we were no longer welcome at that location.  I guess he wanted the fact the restaurant served greasy food to be a surprise.  I know a lot of places have these, and I never mentioned the name of the restaurant on the air.

We have been blessed with a couple of mild winters recently, so I haven't broadcast from that location in years.  I'm assuming the grease dumpster is still there because the restaurant is still in business.  I'm not sure about the bike.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Inside Snowflake

An entry on radio school cancellations prompted a few questions from readers, so today, a history lesson.

I started at WARM 590 in 1981, and for years, WARM was the king of cancellations.  Posters went up on school bulletin boards.  The audience took a huge jump on snowy mornings.  Extra advertisers came on board during storms, just so they could latch on to that big audience.

Cancellations on WARM had the catchy name of "Operation Snowflake."

Our morning man, the legendary Harry West really loved those snowy days.  I dare to say, millions over the years, learned whether or not they had school from Uncle Harry.

When I got to WARM, I was shocked at how simple the whole process was.

Each school had a code number, and it was in alphabetical order.  The a's had the low numbers.  The z's had the high numbers.   Each school had an index card in a huge file.  A superintendent would call in.  We'd put the information on a paper label, and stick it to the card.  That way, we didn't need a new card for every storm.  We'd just stick a new label, on the card, over the old label.  Alphabetizing was easy because each school's code number was on the upper right corner of the card.  Put the numbers in order, and you had an alphabetical list of closings and cancellations.  Blessedly simple.  Hugely effective.

Eventually, computers came in.  WARM added a sister station, WMGS.  The first computer system we used was bulky and balky and buggy.  We'd enter the information, then do a huge paper print out a few times an hour.  It took an eternity.  We used wide paper, and the printer was the original tractor feed type.  The system wasn't user friendly.  Even though I did the news on Harry's show during the last six months of my time at WARM, handling the cancellations went to others on the staff.   There was plenty of frustration, and I gladly watched it all from a distance.

It is with mixed feelings that I note how radio has abandoned doing school cancellations and delays.  Radio used to own the process, but times change.  TV, the internet and direct messaging now do a better and more efficient job.  It was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unfinished Thursday


Rosie O'Donnell seems in a desperate bid to make herself relevant again.  The lack of respect on both sides is not letting up, and it might never end.  The media, who got the election wrong last year, is going down the same path and ignoring all those people who voted for Donald Trump.

While I was off during last week's storm, I did not escape its wrath.  I had to travel to a medical appointment 25 miles away, right as the storm was at its peak.  The roads weren't great, but much better than I expected.  Road crews did a nice job.

Last week's blog entry, where I eviscerated my old school district touched a mini firestorm.  Via Facebook messaging, I heard from a few old classmates, who reminded me of the laughs we had and the mischief we found ourselves in.  Points taken.

Bob Costas steps aside as NBC's main Olympic host.  Costas has upped the sanctimonious level in recent years, injecting political commentary into his stuff.  It looks like Costas will do more with the MLB Network, and he's great there.  Replacement:  the thin voiced Mike Tirico.  Dan Patrick would have been a better choice.  I really don't care for NBC's "plausibly live" Olympics coverage, so it's a moot point for me.  I won't watch, no matter who is in the host's chair.

If there's a state that needs streamlining, it's Pennsylvania.   I could never understand why there's a Fish & Boat Commission and a Game Commission, for example.  The governor proposed some consolidation.  Not enough.

I watched a replay of the end of the Super Bowl.  It looked like the Falcons weren't even trying.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Professor

Before Russell Johnson was The Professor on Gilligan's Island, there was another professor-- Professor Irwin Corey.

It was an odd comedy act.  He's appear on stage with hair askew and in a ratty tuxedo.  Professor Corey was billed as the world's foremost authority on everything.  Corey didn't have a memorable catch phrase or a signature joke.  He's wander around stage aimlessly and ramble on a series of funny, often hilarious thoughts.

Professor Corey was a fixture on the old Mike Douglas Show, back when it was based in Philadelphia.  He was always a scream.  He was always a favorite.

Professor Irwin Corey died last week.  He was 102.  The course was laughter, and I'm happy I took his class.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I. Me. Mine.

While I am a blogging pioneer, I'm overall late to the internet game.  I was always a consumer of news and information, but I wasn't a generator of content until relatively recently.

By the time I decided it was time to do something, AndyPalumbo.com was taken.  I grabbed Andy-Palumbo.com and AndyPalumbo.net.  I had a couple of other similar domains and I let them expire.  AndyPalumbo.com belonged to a real estate agent in Australia for a long time.  He wasn't giving it up.

Then, it became available, but at a price I wasn't willing to pay.  Don't ask me how and why.  The price began to trickle down.  Last week, AndyPalumbo.com became available at a fraction of the original asking price, so I grabbed it.  It now points to my web site, which has been on line for several years.  Yes, it needs updating.  One thing at a time, please.

Okay, now what?  It will evolve in time, maybe even becoming the location for more original content, including that podcast I've been considering for eons.  For the time being, it's status quo.  Blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are still around.  I wish the person who has AndyPalumbo on Twitter, who never uses it, will contact me and give it up.  It's not that big of a deal.  However, it would be nice.

Welcome to AndyPalumbo.com.

Monday, February 13, 2017


You can always tell a reporter who's been working in this market for a long time.  Our eyes roll when we hear "The Mall at Steamtown."

It took years to get the thing built, and many of us covered it every tedious step of the way-- from the announcement, to the planning, to the endless court fights over getting the land, to the implosion, to the construction, to the opening, to the defection of stores, to the sale, the the renaming, to today.  The early days were especially frustrating.  It was delay on top of delay.  Nothing was happening.  No progress.  It seemed to be the same story over and over again.  We counted the number of times we said "the proposed mall has cleared another hurdle."  There were lots of hurdles back then, more than any athlete ever encountered.

Al Boscov was there with us.  I admire Boscov for sticking with it, even though most people would have walked away.  I don't live in a fairy tale world.  There was money to be made in Scranton and Al Boscov was a good businessman.  He had patience.  There were also a lot of reasons to stay.

Boscov went in to a sort of retirement several years ago.  His successors expanded too much, too fast, and in to areas that really didn't get what a Boscov's was all about.  Chapter 11 bankruptcy followed.  Boscov returned and steered the ship away from the iceberg.

One of the first times I met Al Boscov back in the mid 80's.  I was working at WARM.  We were doing an all day remote broadcast at the Paramount Theater on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.  WARM was publicizing the effort to save the theater from demolition, renovate it, and turn it into a center for  the performing arts.  Yes, that was back in the day when radio stations tried to help their communities.  Al Boscov was one of the people behind the project.  It was the right thing to do, and it was another example of why he was a smart businessman.  A renovated theater meant traffic.  More people in downtown Wilkes-Barre translated in to more people walking through his South Main Street store.

The same goes for the Northampton St., Wilkes-Barre movies.  Boscov is given credit for helping to attract a theater operator to Wilkes-Barre.  It was the right thing to do, again, and I'm sure it translated to more shoppers at his store.

Al Boscov was a charming man, and he loved running his stores.  Shoppers adored him.  Employees revered him.  It was a joy to watch him travel through aisles and displays, shaking hands, checking out merchandise.  He was kind, and friendly, and approachable.  Again-- a smart businessman.

By now, you probably know Al Boscov died Friday night.  87.  Pancreatic cancer.

I'm guessing I interviewed him more than a dozen times over the years.  It was always entertaining.  Al Boscov was always a gentleman, even when my questions were annoying.  You couldn't ask for a better face for a big company.

Perfect?  Not really.  The Scranton store has some gaps where appliances used to be.  There's a lot of "dollar store" type merchandise.  The store looks a little tired, occasionally cluttered and unorganized.   Wilkes-Barre was a wreck until the company finally threw some money in to it.

He couldn't stop stores from deserting the Mall at Steamtown in droves.  He remained committed to the mall concept, even though it was failing in so many places.  Default.  Sheriff's sale.  An attempt to buy the property at auction failed.

Boscov's company also controlled the old Oppenheim building in Scranton for a while.  That's the place Scranton mayor Jim McNulty originally wanted Boscov to locate.  Boscov saw the building as too old, too small, and with a lousy parking situation.  Oppenheim's was turned in to offices, and I don't think the place was ever close to being filled.

Overall, and it's not even close-- we're much better off because Al Boscov chose to do business here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Andy's Angles: More Nathan

My last few pictures of Nathan featured him in the napping mode.  He does that rather well.

I'm not sure what caught his attention here, but I had my phone in hand at the time, and I snapped off a picture of the relaxing cat.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Andy's Angles: Valentine Weekend

It's really become a gem and an asset to its neighborhood.

This is the old North Scranton Junior High School.  It's now apartments for the elderly run by Goodwill.

I had a picture here in December, with the building decorated for Christmas.

The building has turned red for Valentine's Day, and it's really something to see.

Valentine's day falls on a Tuesday this year, so I'm assuming most "lovely" activities will happen this weekend.  I hope you and your significant other have a great time.

I'll keep checking to see if the building turns green for St. Patrick's Day.