Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Gamble

It's part of my weekend morning producing ritual-- go to the lottery web sites to check the payouts.They are usually updated around 2 AM, unless there is a big jackpot.  That usually slows things down a bit.

I had to look twice Sunday morning, when I saw that a Powerball ticket worth $ 457 million was sold here in Pennsylvania.  That's news!  I put lottery stories in the "local news" segments of the broadcast.  The lottery is huge here in our area.  There is usually a line at the mini mart machines, even when the jackpots aren't enormous.

So, where do I fall in this whole thing?  I'm thrilled a Pennsylvanian knocked off a big Powerball jackpot, but it's not going to change my view.  If you enjoy playing the lottery, outstanding!  I wish you all the luck in the world.  It's just not for me.  The odds aren't very good, and I'd rather spend my money on other things.

I've tried the casinos a few times over the years.  It's really not all that difficult to break even on the slots.  However, after just a few minutes of pushing buttons, I get bored.  I really don't know how people can do it hour after hour.  Again, if you enjoy it, keep doing it.

Table games?  While I'm a smart person and know the rules, I still find them rather intimidating.  They're not for me.

It's odd because I loved dice games as a kid-- studying potential rolls, odds and possibilities.  I'm still fascinated, in a way, but my money stays in my pocket.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Behind My Back

Of course, this blog has been very personal during its 13.5 years of existence, but it was never really intimate.  That's by design.  Don't be offended.  There are some things that are simply none of your business, and I'm sure you have some of the same feelings with your personal life.

However, I have to share a couple of fast stories, both of which took place last week.  One incident was to my face.  The other was behind my back.

I received a phone call from an old friend, who was touched by a blog entry several months ago.  She called to let me know.  I nearly cried, and I could sense she was holding back some tears.  It was great to hear her voice again, even though it was under awful circumstances.  The phone call meant a lot to me.

On a happier note, one broadcaster told a friend that she thought I was a very good news writer.  It made my day.  In fact, it made my week, and then some.

I was taught a long time ago, that the best question is the direct one.  The best sentence is the simple one.

I was so lucky, in that I trained under some great radio news people.  You learned to write basic and fast.  I'm sorry there isn't much radio news around these days.  It was a great place for young people to get a feel for the business.

My first television station had a message board that popped up on the screen when you fired up your computer.  Apologies for telling this story again, but it's been a while.  On the message board, it said "TIGHT WRITING = TOP CASTS."  It is true for producers.  It is true for reporters.  It is true for anyone who site behind the keyboard.  The news director responsible for that message board remains a good friend, nearly thirty years after he hired me.  I am forever grateful.

Two of my coworkers back in the day should be singled out.  David DeCosmo and Kevin Jordan had different styles, but both wrote some great copy.  You clearly understood the story when their pieces were over, and that is an exceptionally high compliment.  David is retired.  We lost Kevin a few years ago.

I later worked for an assistant news director, who really didn't like me.  He suggested that when I finish a script, I should walk away for a few minutes and return to take another look.  Chances are, I could find a few words that could be removed to tighten up the script and make it move along a little faster.  He was right.

Unfortunately, the clock is not our friend.  The faster I get the script in to the hands of a video editor, the better it will be.  I write, take a proofreading look, and ship it off to a manager for approval.  There isn't much time to tinker.

There are times I get what I call "lyrical."  The story demands it on occasion.  No one does it better than Mike Stevens.  He puts words to the pictures.  Yet, the whole comes out greater than the sum of the parts.  I envy that.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Andy's Angles: Trees

This is another pre dawn photo from Tuesday morning's snow in Honesdale.

It wasn't a windy morning, so the heavy, wet snow stuck to everything.  Yes, we're anxious for spring, but you can't deny the snow improved just about everything it touched.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Courthouse

It's been established here that Honesdale is one of my favorite places.

This is the Wayne County Courthouse Tuesday morning.  the borough was hit with about four inches of snow.  This photo was taken just before sunrise.

Friday, March 16, 2018


By now, you've heard the news.  Toys R Us is closing nearly 800 stores.  It's over.

I have no reason to buy toys, and I haven't been in a Toys R Us store in many years.  I think I made a total of three visits since the chain appeared here in our area.  I can't tell you if it was good or bad, but I've done some reading.

It seems like a case of too much debt, not enough sales, and bad decisions by management.  Someone else is doing it better.  In this case, it's Walmart and Amazon.

When I was growing up, Toys means The Globe in Scranton, Sears, Sugerman's and Mermelsteins.  As I grew a little older, I loved exploring a mall store called "Kids."  It had a great hobby and craft section.  My the time Kay Bee came in, I was out of the toy stage.

I do have to note something else.  An overnight network news anchor had a great deal of fun yesterday morning, wondering if Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey Giraffe was going to fit into an unemployment office.  What an insensitive idiot!  31,000 people are losing their jobs, and he tries to be funny.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fair Weather

It looks like Lackawanna County is getting a county fair next year.  An announcement comes today.  It will happen at Montage, so one can assume that's where the fair will be located.

Are there more pressing county issues?  Certainly!  Quality of life and entertainment are important.  Top of the list?  Not even close.

If it can be done at break even, or a slight profit-- wonderful.

There is already a long list of fairs from spring through fall.  People have a finite amount of disposable income.  I fear a county fair will take business away from fire department carnivals and church bazaars.  That remains to be seen.

Let's keep an open mind and see how this all plays out.  You never know.  It could be a rousing success.

While I'm on the subject, I was so happy to see a number of communities here in our area hold ice festivals and winterfests this year.  Winter goes by so much faster when there is something to do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I'm Touched

A couple of my coworkers put together an occasional feature for our Facebook page.  It's called "Get to Know."  Staffers, on and off camera, answer 16 questions.  It's cute, informative, and very well done.

By the way, the grumpy old man declined to participate.  I've had the blog for more than 13 years.  If  you don't know me by now...

Anyway, this week's subject is 6 PM news producer Brian Holmes.  One of the questions was "Who is your favorite person at WNEP?"  I was shocked when the answer was me.

I am truly flattered.

Brian and I go back to the old days, when we both worked across the street.  We parted company in 1998, when I moved to WNEP.  Brian stayed, but eventually took a couple of jobs in upstate New York, before joining WNEP eleven years ago.

The memory is exceptionally fuzzy, but I think we were part of the same group that sampled local night life.

One of the things that gives me great joy is when people you met as broadcasting and journalism pups move on to bigger things.  Please note, I didn't say "better things."  I still hear from a few.  It makes my day when they note something they picked up from me, a long time ago.

Do yourself a favor.  Check out this week's "Get to Know."  Look at old ones, and keep an eye out for new ones.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Media Tuesday

I'm getting really tired of certain celebrities telling me how to live my life.  Enjoy your billions.  Please, leave me alone.

Ron Allen and Mike Remish were great at celebrating the work of local high school athletes.  Both are no longer with us.  John Mendola's Saturday morning radio show carries on the tradition, and it's refreshing to hear someone talk about local kids doing good things.  Of course, this is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.  I hope there are similar efforts in the rest of northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

The NCAA basketball tournament doesn't interest me-- unless there is a team exceeding expectations.  Everyone loves a Cinderella story.

Back in the day, all the games were on CBS, and network management always found a way to switch you to the most interesting games.  Now, the games are split up on several networks.  It's great that you can watch the game of your choice in its entirety, but some of the magic is gone.

I spent several years at a CBS station, and the first two days of the NCAA tournament were always the worst for our telephone operators.  They would field tons of calls from people upset that the soap operas were preempted.  As hard as they tried, they just couldn't convey that it was a network decision, not a local one, and the soaps would pick up where they left off.

By the way, it might be a good couple of weeks to avoid sports talk radio.  Nothing bores me more than hearing people talk about their brackets.

ESPN dumped Sean McDonough from the Monday Night Football both.  Joe Tessitore is in.  ESPN is still looking for a Jon Gruden replacement.  Monday Night Football struggles because the games are bad, not the announcers.  McDonough is very good.  He'll be ESPN's number two guy on college football.

FOX wants NBC's Mike Tirico to do its new package of Thursday night NFL games.  Why?  There are a dozen, at least, who can do a better job than Tirico.

There is a web site that features network news music.  I really miss the old version of the ABC News theme.

Saturday Night Live's ratings hit a season low this past weekend.  It might be time to do something other than bash the president.

Monday, March 12, 2018


Part of my sense of wonder is how some very simple things give me great joy.  Here is a partial list.

I still get a major kick when Bucknell University's basketball team makes it to the NCAA tournament, even though it's happened many times before.

I still feel excitement when I see Johnny Carson walk through the rainbow curtain.

People make my day when they remember the work I did in radio.

I love it when water from melting snow forms a tunnel beneath snow banks on the curb.

Seeing a rainbow.

Eating a really good chocolate chip cookie.

Hearing people I worked with or against on big radio and tv stations and networks makes me happy.

I've seen some old tv sitcoms so many times that I can recite the dialog, and I still love watching them.

My Amazon Echo plays "Paperback Writer" any time I want.

I can track packages I ordered.

Slide belts.


I still get up every day and wonder what new things I will learn.

I am friends with some people, who, in a million years, I never thought I would like.

More to come.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


It's time for my twice yearly rant on switching from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time and vice versa

Studies show it doesn't accomplish anything.  Daylight Saving Time doesn't save energy.  We are no longer an economy dominated by agriculture.

Some big states are considering staying on one time all year round.  Once that happens, the rest will fall in line.

The only drawback I can see is kids going to school in the morning in the dark.  I went through that when we switched time during the 70's energy crisis.  We survived.  Kids are coming home in the dark anyway, because parents try to cram too many after school activities in to their lives.  I've written about this before, but I'm still shocked by the children in line at the mini mart in the morning, buying giant coffees and energy drinks.  Something is wrong somewhere.

To be honest with you, it doesn't bother me.  I'm up all night anyway, and that really lessens the adjustment period.