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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why Not Here?


A photographer and I were driving through Dunmore Corners Monday morning. He's not from around here, and I told him about the famous New Year's Eve Dunmore Buck Drop. The Buck Drop went away several years ago. The official line is that the Dunmoreans didn't want to compete with First Night Scranton. That's unfortunate. Hokey little events like the Buck Drop give a town character.

I took the following paragraphs from the web site www.pennlive.com. It lists all the events going on in midstate. If all those small towns aren't afraid of competing with the big New Year's Eve event in downtown Harrisburg, what are we afraid of? Let's celebrate all those small towns that make our region special. First Night Scranton will live or die on its own. Drop the buck!

DAUPHIN COUNTY

HARRISBURG: M&T Bank New Year's Eve Celebration, 9 p.m.-midnight. Strawberry drop from the top of the Hilton Harrisburg at midnight followed by a fireworks display. Parking is available in the Walnut Street garage, Chestnut Street garage and River Street garage at regular rates, in the Market Square garage for an event rate or for free on City Island or city streets. Activities are free. Information: 717-255-3020 or www.harrisburgevents.com.

HERSHEY: New Year's Eve in Hershey, 9 p.m.-midnight. Hershey Kiss raised at 11:59 p.m. at Chocolate Avenue and Park Avenue, followed by fireworks. Street parking is available. Activities are free. Information: www.hersheynewyears.org.

HUMMELSTOWN: Lollipop drop, 9 p.m.-midnight. Lollipop drop at the Hummelstown Square, Hanover and Main streets, at midnight followed by a fireworks display. Street parking is available. Activities are free. Information: 717-566-2555.

MIDDLETOWN: New Year's Celebration Train, departing from Middletown at 9 p.m. The train travels to Hummelstown for the lollipop drop and fireworks at midnight. Parking is available at the station. Adults $50, children ages 6-11 $30, children 5 and under are free. Information: 944-4435 or www.mhrailroad.com.

HALIFAX: New Year's Eve Celebration at Camp Hebron, 957 Camp Hebron Road, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Registration begins at 3:30 p.m. Hemlock tree drop at midnight. Adults $37, children ages 5-12 $18.50, adults staying overnight $77, children staying overnight $38.50. Free for ages 4 and under. Info: 717-896-3441 or www.camphebron.org.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY

CARLISLE: First Night Carlisle , 5:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Indy race car drop and fireworks at High and West streets at midnight. Street and garage parking is available. First Night buttons are $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the event and are required for most activities and performances. Free for children ages 5 and under. Information: 717-258-0666 or www.firstnightcarlisle.org.

MECHANICSBURG: Wrench drop, 9 p.m.-midnight. Wrench drop in front of the Washington Fire Company on the first block of East Main Street at midnight. Street and municipal lot parking is available. All events are free. Information: 717-796-0811 or www.mechanicsburgchamber.org.

SHIPPENSBURG: Drop the Anchor New Year's Eve Celebration. Activities, including some for children, 8 p.m.-midnight. Ship anchor drop at King and Earl streets at midnight. Street parking is available. All events are free. Information: 717-532-5509 or www.shippensburg.org.

LEBANON COUNTY

LEBANON: Lebanon City bologna drop , 10:30 p.m.-midnight. Bologna drop at midnight in the parking lot at Ninth and Cumberland streets. Street parking is available. The event is free. Information: 717-273-6711 or www.Lebanonpa.com.

PERRY COUNTY

BLAIN: Wooden cow drop , midnight at 1861 Big Spring Road. Free parking is available off Big Spring Road near the barn. The event is free. Information: 717-536-3333

DUNCANNON: Duncannon sled drop, 10 p.m.-midnight. Sled drop at midnight at the Old Sled Works on North Market Street. Parking is available in its parking lot. The event is free. Information: 717-834-4311.

LIVERPOOL: Canal boat drop, midnight at the Liverpool Square on Market Street. Street parking is available. Event is free.

NEW BLOOMFIELD: Huckleberry drop, 10 p.m.-midnight. Huckleberry drop at midnight at the courthouse at Main and Carlisle streets. Street parking is available. Event is free. Information: 717-582-2038.

YORK COUNTY

DILLSBURG: Pickle drop, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Pickle drop and fireworks in front of the Dillsburg Public Library on Baltimore Street at midnight. Street parking is available. The event is free. Information: 717-432-7865 or www.dillsburgbusiness.org.

RED LION: Red Lion New Year's Eve, 5 p.m.-midnight. A lion holding a cigar will be dropped at midnight at Broadway and Main Street, followed by fireworks. Street and municipal parking is available, and parking also is available in church lots. The activities are free. Information: www.redlionpa.org.

YORK: New Year's Revolution, 7 p.m.-midnight. White rose drop at midnight at Sovereign Bank Stadium followed by fireworks. Street parking and city lot parking is available for free; paid parking is available in the Market Street garage, Philadelphia Street garage and King Street garage. Admission buttons are required to attend the activities and cost $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-12 in advance. On New Year's Eve, admission buttons cost $12 for adults and $8 for children. Children ages 4 and under are admitted free. Information: www.yorkcity.org or 717-849-2217.

LANCASTER COUNTY

LANCASTER: Countdown Lancaster, 5:15 p.m.-midnight. The red rose ascends at Binns Park at midnight, followed by a fireworks display. Parking is $3 for the night at the Prince Street parking garage and Penn Square parking garage. Buttons are required for admission to activities. Buttons cost $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 before New Year's Eve. On New Year's Eve buttons will be $15 for adults. Free for children ages 5 and under. Information: www.lancasterrec.org.

ELIZABETHTOWN: Let E-Town Ring -- Letterkenney Time!, 5-8 p.m. M&M lowering at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the community center on Poplar Street. Free street parking is available. Buttons are required for admission to all activities and cost $5. Information: 717-361-7188. Elizabethtown lowers an M&M at 7 p.m. to correspond with midnight in its sister city of Letterkenney, Ireland, which operates five hours ahead of Eastern time.

MANHEIM: Manheim's Dancin' in the Streets, 9 p.m.-midnight. Orb raising at midnight at the flagpole in Manheim's square. Street and municipal lot parking is available. The event is free. Information: 717-665-1762 or www.manheimdowntown.org.

Music will begin by 9 p.m. and live music will start at approximately 10. Carriage rides will be available starting at 9:30 p.m. and vendors will sell a variety of snacks and hot drinks.


ADAMS COUNTY

GETTYSBURG

Gettysburg New Year's Eve Celebration, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Fireworks display in Lincoln Square at midnight . Street parking and garage parking are available. All events are free. Information: 334-5006 or www.adams arts.org.

Several activities and performances are planned for Lincoln Square. DJ Denny White will play music and Audacity will perform classic rock. A strolling magician and a fire performance group will be in the square. At 11:30 p.m., the countdown to midnight will begin on the Gettysburg Hotel porch.

In the Christ Lutheran Church on Chambersburg Street the Herb Sell Trio will perform jazz with guest vocalist Roxie Schloyer from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. John Wolfe will demonstrate magic starting at 8:45 p.m. Children ages 4-12 can make jewelry or hats at the Imagination Station on Carlisle Street. Free hot cider and refreshments will be available throughout the evening.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

MERCERSBURG

New Year's Eve Midnight Carillon Recital, midnight . At the chapel on the Mercersburg Academy campus. Parking is available on the campus. The concert is free. Information: www.mercersburg.edu.

James W. Smith will perform on the Carillon, a large, multibelled instrument, beginning at midnight . Smith will play Christmas carols and other seasonal music including Auld Lang Syne.

CENTRE COUNTY

STATE COLLEGE

First Night State College, 10 a.m.-midnight . Fireworks display at Community Field at South Atherton Street and Hamilton Avenue at midnight . Street parking is available. First Night buttons cost $8 and are required for admission to most performances. Free for children ages 5 and under. Information: 814-237-3082 or www.firstnightstatecollege.com.

See the state's largest display of ice sculptures starting at 10 a.m. More than 30 musical performances will take place in churches and public buildings in downtown State College from noon to midnight .

Children ages 3-10 can take part in the Chinese New Year's party from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. at the State College Municipal Building Plaza. Everyone is welcome to join the Grand Procession, which is made up of large paper puppets, at 6:30 p.m. Anyone who wants to control a puppet should meet at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at 208 W. Foster Ave. by 6 p.m.

Carriage rides and ice skating will be available for an extra charge. Runners can compete in a costume-optional 5K run. The run requires a separate registration fee and is scheduled so runners will finish at Community Field just before the fireworks display at midnight .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Rose Bowl


Yesterday was one of those rare days when the bulk of my work was done by 4:30 AM.

A photographer and I were dispatched to Peckville, to meet with a bus load of people headed to the Rose Bowl. We got there a little after 4:00 AM, about 15 minutes before the bus was to pull out. After a few interviews, and some video, we were on our way back to the office to begin the assembly process.

It was a nice story, filled with happy people on the first leg of their trip to the west coast. I got their flight information to pass along to our west coast crews. With any luck, our people will meet up the the tour group somewhere in Pasadena.

Someone who posted to Talkback Online at WNEP.com asked if the reporters who stay behind are jealous of Newswatch 16's Jon Meyer, who got the assignment to go to Pasadena. Yes, and no. It's always nice to get a hunk of a big story. On the other hand, road trips, like the one to the Rose Bowl, are not vacations. There's a lot of work to be done, involving some tricky travel on unfamiliar highways, the logistics of getting the story back to home base, and the host of issues caused by America's often inefficient air transportation system. There's another big thing to be considered-- the time difference. Evening news time here is mid afternoon in California. Your deadline is moved up considerably, and you're always rushing to get things done on time.

I wouldn't have turned down the assignment, but a stop at the drug store for a case of Aleve would have been a must for me.

Something that cushions the blow is the fact that a very deserving Jon Meyer got the gig. Jon has been doing a great job so far. There's no doubt that will continue the rest of the week.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Crime and Punishment


I've always had a soft spot for the Salvation Army. When I was a kid, on pre Christmas shopping trips with my mom, she always made sure I had a few coins to toss into the red kettle. It's important to remember the less fortunate. That's why last week's crime in West Pittston was particularly disgusting. Someone broke onto a Salvation Army building on Luzerne Avenue and stole $2,000 from a safe. The money came from the red kettle collection. A Salvation Army volunteer told us the loss of the money really hurts, and it might force the organization to cut back on services. Absolutely nauseating.

It will be interesting to see who did it. Is it someone who really needs the money? Is it a drug addict, looking for cash to feed a habit? Is it just a case of greed.

Stealing from a charity reminds me of the case of Jessica Hardy, the former Make-a-Wish head who stole money meant for children with life threatening illnesses. While she was robbing them blind, the local Make-a-Wish board kept giving Hardy raises. It was a huge case of theft, compounded by incompetence. A web search shows Ms Hardy spent the holiday at the prison at Cambridge Springs in Crawford County, the northwest part of the state. The state's web site describes Cambridge Springs as "a minimum-security facility for women, the majority of whom are nearing their release from prison."

I truly believe in second chances, but dealing with people who steal from those in need make it really difficult.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It Wasn't That Bad


Once again, I worked Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. A couple years ago, I blogged about how awful the night was, filled with violence and mayhem, just another night in the life of northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

I'm happy to report that this year wasn't that bad.

I feared the worst on the drive down the interstate at 10:00 PM. There appeared to be a lot more traffic than usual for a holiday night. That's never a good sign. All we had was a Turkey Hill robbery, a bunch of domestics, a scattering of car crashes, several overdoses and a few suicide attempts. It was the quietest Christmas in several years.

I don't know if the violent spurt of the last few years was a fluke, or if this calm year is the abnormal one. Let's hope the comfort and joy continues next year.

One other note-- some monster, and I do mean massive, potholes have opened up on 81 North, just past the Central Scranton Expressway exit. PennDOT was on the ball and got them patched Christmas Eve, but you know how patches are in the winter. They never last. Be careful. This is an area that's been plagued by potholes. It's apparent it's not the surface, but rather what lies beneath that causes the problem year after year after year. Maybe this will be the construction season where we get a long term solution.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


I hope Santa was good to you this year.

It's been a tough few months. I don't think any of us are worth what we were when the year started. The new year will bring a new set of worries.

I don't know who established the concept first, but some believe this year's financial issues place more of an emphasis on what money can't buy-- family, friendship, spirit, love...

This might be one of the worst Christmases ever for a lot of people. For others, it might be one of the best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Courthouse Square Tree


One of the things I really like about Christmas is you can find beauty just about everywhere, including that soulless sea of concrete and granite called Lackawanna County Courthouse Square. This is the big tree on the North Washington Avenue side of the building.

Be aware of some parking issues in downtown Scranton. The city and state have done their usual stellar job of curb-to-curb snow plowing. The remnants of Friday's storm are now large and solid glaciers of dirty ice along the sides of the street. Good luck finding a safe and easy place to park. You might want to consider ditching the car in one of the city's garages if you're going to spend any time downtown.

In spite of it all, have a happy and safe Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowy Travel


As you know, I'm not a "snow" person, so I consider myself lucky over the weekend. My trip to work started Friday night, after the snow stopped. The roads were still lousy, especially that part of Interstate 81 in Dunmore, near the 84/380 split. I don't think I topped 30 mph during my drive. However, there wasn't much traffic and the drive was tolerable.

My shift ended Sunday morning, just as the snow was picking up in intensity. I made it home before the roads got really slick.

The snow adds to the Christmas experience. On the other hand, it makes travel a bear. If I had a choice, I'd do without the holiday atmosphere in exchange for a dry road.

This picture was taken in the WNEP backyard early Saturday morning, when not a creature was stirring.

Monday, December 22, 2008

There Has to be a Better Way


At one time, radio owned the school/business/church/social group cancellation business. Then, television got into the act. The public was well served.

Times change. Most radio stations no longer do cancellations. It's a combination of factors. Cheapness is one. Emerging technology is another. Most radio stations refer you to their web sites, and that's okay. Cancellations can be a challenge. If you don't care about the weather, listening to several minutes of cancellations can be mind numbing. That's where TV has a distinct advantage. You can still watch your show while the cancellations take up a small portion of the screen.

Of course, it's possible to bypass broadcasting and cable altogether. Many organizations are like WNEP, and offer cancellations via cell phone. We're happy to help.

Let's take it a step further. Weekend snow brings a flood of phone calls from churches and social groups. Some of these organizations are rather small. I love TV, and it's a great medium, but there's a better way for them to get their message across. Go high tech. Get a web site. It's possible to get one for free. Not everyone has web access. Get their numbers. Set up a phone tree and make a few calls. Control your own destiny, and get the information out fast and the way you want it released.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow


As I write this, late Thursday night, the forecast calls for six to ten inches of snow.

Yuk!

I'm trying to look on the bright side. At least it shifts the bad economic news to the back burner for a little while. It seems to get worse every day. The latest thing is the White House suggesting a bankruptcy filing for the big auto makers as a way to lead them to financial stability. I never thought I'd see the day, but it looks like it's going to happen. It's funny to say, but bankruptcy does have its advantages. It clears the deck for a fresh start. Still, I truly wonder if it really is a fresh start, or the beginning of the same issues that got us here in the first place.

I did my best to help the economy and fight the storm. Christmas shopping is complete. I grabbed a few odds and ends yesterday, after some serious shopping on Monday.

I'm like a lot of people-- putting purchases on a credit card and paying it off at the end of the month. What ever happened to checking signatures on the backs of credit cards to see if they match what you sign in the store? When did we stop doing that? Are retail workers lazy or do they have faith in the electronic system that kicks out a stolen or lost card? Hey, store managers and business owners, have your workers check signatures. I do understand that it might be a waste of time. I can't sign the screen with one of those electronic pens, and produce something that can be read, anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Newspapers


I don't think I'm that old, but I am of an era where people valued the daily newspaper. The afternoon arrival was always a treat when I was a kid, and I still make it a point to look at a few a day.

Here's what's changed. My reading is done on-line rather waiting for the newspaper to be delivered. An entire generation of people gets its news that way, and it means extremely tough times for daily newspapers.

A pair of newspapers in Detroit is trying to stay afloat by cutting home delivery to three days a week, and publishing smaller editions on the other days.

A media analyst, quoted in USA Today, has it nailed. He said "The biggest risk is it breaks the daily newspaper habit for readers and marketers. Newspapers are accelerating their own print demise."

Exactly! Someone has finally figured out. The way to improve circulation is to make the product better and get it into the hands of readers.

It's over in Detroit, and many other newspapers are on their way to failure.

I won't mention the paper's name, but I always thought it was the best in the region. While it's not based in what's called the "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market," it is sold here, and it did a very good job of covering items in the fringe of its core area. The paper recently went through a re-design. Readers are getting a smaller paper with bigger graphics and photos. You know why? It's to disguise the fact that there's less news in the paper. Less news means fewer readers. It's all so simple. Why can't they figure it out?

One other thing: drop the political agendas.

The way we get our information is changing, and that includes those of us in broadcasting. We all have to improve the product and make it relevant if we're to survive.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Little Church


I try to take a walk, early in the morning, on my days off. There's a pretty little church on my route. This church used to have really nice Christmas decorations-- the perfect amount, bright--yet respectful, cheery-- not gaudy. It had a real small town, quaint feeling.

Like a lot of churches here in our area, the parish was merged with another. I think there's only one mass here a week. It happens. If the money's not there, if the parishioners aren't there, if the priests aren't there... Well, you know what happens next.

The church has been void of external Christmas decorations the past few years, and that's sad. It was always so nice. It gave the neighborhood character.

The Diocese of Scranton will be closing churches in the new year. We know that much. There are rumors a lot of churches will be shuttered. I don't know about that. You know how rumors are. When it comes to facts, those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know.

Still, I wonder how many people will be at mass on Christmas and wondering if this will be the last in their church.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Okay Now


As my co-workers will attest, I can be a stickler on some things, to the point of annoying excess on occasion.

I've noted in the past that it was incorrect to call Barack Obama "president elect" until after the Electoral College votes. The Electoral College voted yesterday. It's cool. It's official. Obama's in. He gets the "president elect" title.

Apparently, no one told Mr. Obama and many media members about the intricacies of the law. Reporters started calling Obama "president elect" the night of November 4th. Obama has been conducting news conferences from behind a podium that read "Office of the President Elect" since shortly after the election. Wrong. It drove me insane.

The Electoral College vote yesterday was a mere formality. Yet, it was important. The law is the law.

TV stations have a gizmo called a "character generator." Most of us refer to it by its brand name, "Chyron." It's the thing that puts the letters and titles at the bottom of your screen. Throughout the election, we put "Sen. Barack Obama, (D) Illinois" on the screen during "sound bites" and interviews. We argued what to do after the election. I wanted to continue what we had been doing, while others suggested "president elect." At least on the weekend morning broadcasts, we decided on nothing. Nothing is an honor reserved for the president, the vice president, the pope, and the governor. In a way, we elevated Obama to presidential status, even though he was weeks away from placing his hand on the bible.

If you don't know who he is by now...

It's over. We won't have to re-visit the issue for another four or eight years. My co-workers are thrilled.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What You Don't See


People in the news business deal with calamity and destruction on a daily basis. Don't cry for us. It's the life we chose.

Still, it doesn't hurt to have something nice to look at now and then. This is our newsroom Christmas tree. It helps make those long nights of fires, crashes, shootings, stabbings and domestics almost tolerable.

The tree is out of camera range, so this is likely the only chance you'll get to see it. The tree will be part of our newsroom for the next few weeks, and it's an extremely welcome addition.

It's only a tree, but it means a lot more.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Guest Photography Friday



Let's end the week on a nice note.

As loyal blog readers know, old friend Phil Yacuboski is now working in Baltimore, and he took this picture in Washington on a recent evening. The national Christmas tree is on the left, with the Washington Monument, in the distance, on the right.

Thanks, Phil... and have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Illinois


What is it with you people in Illinois? Why do you keep electing bums to serve as governor? Since the early 70's, three former governors have done jail time, and it looks like you're about to get a fourth.

Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday, charged with, among other things, trying to sell the seat in the U.S. Senate, about to be vacated by Barack Obama.

The evidence against Blagojevich is stunning. As an analyst on WGN put it Tuesday afternoon, you don't need an attorney to figure this out. You need a psychologist.

I was glued to the television Tuesday, watching the news conference, listening to the experts. It was fascinating, and sickening at the same time.

The folks in Illinois would probably be in awe of the shenanigans allegedly taking place around here. Northeastern Pennsylvania can give Illinois a run for its money when it comes to corruption. Some of the dirty deeds are legendary, and it seems like we have more politicians under investigation than we have clean ones. If even half the rumors are true, you'll see some interesting people in handcuffs in the months to come.

It doesn't make me happy. Yes, it's nice to see scoundrels brought to justice. Unfortunately, they shouldn't have been in positions of power in the first place. You get what you pay for.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Christmas Letter


It happens every year. I always get a Christmas card and letter from one of my old college friends. I look forward to it. She has a great life-- nice husband, nice kids, nice job, lots of travel, etc. The woman is as sweet as the day is long.

I feel compelled to write back about my adventures of the year, but I really have nothing to say. Items under consideration include:

I bought a pair of shoes I really like.

Things are going well with my new dentist.

Getting along without digital cable is easier than I thought.

A Magic Jack really isn't magic.

Moe's Southwest Grill is opening a restaurant in the area.

The Steelers are having a good season.

The blog has entered its fifth year and www.andy-palumbo.com launched a few months ago.

Atomic clocks have changed my life.

The new "Tostitos" jalapeno flavor is awesome.

I hope to drink more diet soda in the new year.

That's all.

I need a life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is That Supposed to Make Us Feel Better?


Wilkes-Barre had another shooting Friday night. This time, someone died. What did we hear from police and the district attorney? We shouldn't worry because this was not a random act.

Okay. It might have been "bad guy on bad guy" crime. That doesn't excuse the fact that there's been still another shooting in Wilkes-Barre. Someone's running around out there, presumably with a gun, who doesn't value human life, who's killed once and might kill again. Hey, don't worry. The victim was no saint. Everything's fine.

If you're trying to make me feel better, you're not doing a very good job.

It's clear Wilkes-Barre has a problem. A big one. Unfortunately, Wilkes-Barre isn't alone.

You're losing the war against crime. You've already lost the fight for common sense.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tree


I made my annual trip to Marywood University Wednesday afternoon.

Attending the Christmas tree lighting ceremony is always on my list of things to do, even though I never attended a tree lighting when I was a student there.

This year's tree is a 22 foot Douglas Fir, purchased from a tree farm in Lehighton. It contains 3,500 lights.

Pictures do not do it justice. As I say every year, stop by if you're in the neighborhood. You won't be sorry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

That 70's Theatre


The 70's was a pretty good decade, but far from a perfect decade.

One of the shortcomings was those shoe box style movie theaters that popped up in and around shopping centers.

Most have been, thankfully, torn down. At least one continues to live as a porn theater. And now, a cineplex next to the Dickson City K Mart is on its way out.


The Endless Mountains Theatre, off Business Route 6 has been sold. It will become a non denominational church, after $2 million worth of renovations.

I have to tell you the truth. Endless Mountains had seen better days. The curtains were ripped. The seats and the carpets were stained. Shabby, at best. I occasionally saw films here. Why, you may ask. Well, the people were nice and the theater was rarely crowded. I'll give up cup holders, stadium style seating and booming sound to avoid the crowd.



I'm not the only one who will miss this place. Endless Mountains Theatre often showed independent and locally produced films. There aren't many places that do that.

Those shoe box theaters were huge mistakes, but this one was different. I'm sorry to see it go.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ultimate in Hypocricy


I couldn't believe what I was reading. I had to look at it over and over and over again to make sure I had it right.

"The Weekender" had a short blurb about an upcoming event in downtown Wilkes-Barre. It's set for December 13th, and it's called the "Running of the Santas Pub Crawl." Money raised goes to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

So far, so good.

No problem.

One of the downtown Wilkes-Barre bars involved is the "Hardware Bar." This is the same place that recently held a "smokers' rights night" and gave out free cigarettes!

The victim's age doesn't matter. The type is irrelevant.

Cancer is cancer.

Fighting cancer is great. Encouraging it is something else.

Shame on you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bouncing Around


Many published reports say NBC has decided on David Gregory as the new moderator of "Meet the Press." As Bart Simpson would say, "meh." I don't think it's a great choice. I don't think it's an awful one, either. Gregory seems to be one of those "Hey, look at me!" media types that are all over the place these days. Maybe he'll tone down his approach on Sunday mornings.

Sears/K Mart lost $146 million dollars in the third quarter of the year. The company says it'll likely close some stores next year. It's too early to say when and where. The Chicago Tribune says the company is on thin ice. That's frightening. K Mart would do better if it actually had employees behind all those cash registers.

One of the local newspapers, Monday through Saturday, costs 60 cents at the newsstand. Thanksgiving day, the price shot up to $1.50 for four pages of news and about one thousand pages of ads. Less news, more paid ad space, at nearly triple the price. And people wonder why newspaper circulation is dropping.

I can't wait for Christmas to get here. The biggest reason-- I want all those catalogs out of my mail box.

Gasoline has dipped below the $2 a gallon mark. I can honestly say I never thought I'd see gasoline that low again in my lifetime.

Bill Drake died the other day. Lung cancer. 71. Drake was a radio programmer who formatted radio stations to make sure the personalities didn't overwhelm the music. The man had a huge influence on the business. He was part of a company called "Drake Chenault" that supplied pre recorded music formats to radio stations across the country. For a long time, the old WGBI Stereo 101 was one of the clients. The WGBI execution was awful, but the music was great.

I don't know how I shopped before the internet.

The Pittsburgh Steelers really surprised me Sunday afternoon.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs web site produced a chuckle. A banner proclaims "triple A affiliate of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies." While true, the Pigs really had nothing to do with the Phillies' success this year. Lehigh Valley finished the season with a 55 and 89 record, 33 games out of first place.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deer Season


I did a story on the first day of rifle deer season yesterday.

I read the releases from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. I did some research on the internet and looked at the numbers.

I talked with hunters and spent some time in the woods.

There's a lot of disagreement.

The Game Commission says everything's great. The hunters I spoke with say just the opposite. The deer population has been decimated the last few years, and the deer just aren't there.

During my long morning on the roads and in the woods of the Bear Creek and White Haven areas, I didn't see one successful hunter. I heard only a few shots fired.

I also spoke with some hunters in Lackawanna County after work. Same story. No deer.

On the other hand, it seems like there was an above normal number of deer carcasses along the highways during the past few weeks.

The state public relations machine, and those who serve as mouthpieces for the state paint one picture. The average hunter say things are not as rosy as the state would have you believe.

Something's wrong somewhere.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Specials


Thanksgiving is a memory, so it's time to turn our attention toward Christmas.

I'm not much of a holiday person, but "A Charlie Brown Christmas" always brings a smile to my face. There has never been a better Christmas special. This is the show's 40th anniversary, and you can see it twice on ABC-- December 8th and 16th. Do yourself a favor and watch it again. It never gets old.



A close second is "A Pinky and the Brain Christmas" from back in 1993. It ran on the old WB network. I did a quick search the other morning. You can buy a VHS copy on Amazon.com, and it's also available for on-line viewing. It's a show kids and adults can both enjoy, and the closing never fails to bring a tear to my eye. It is just so well done. "Pinky and the Brain" won Emmys during its time on the air, and I can easily see why.

There are many times the Christmas spirit can be elusive. A good television special can be just what you needed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black and Green


Today is a day filled with crowds, noise, panic, greed, excess, traffic and insanity. It is everything I despise. It is Black Friday. Outside of a mini mart for an out-of-town newspaper or two, you won't find me anywhere near a retail establishment today.


Last week was NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" week. All of the company's properties, including The Weather Channel, had "save the planet" related programming. I do my best to be environmentally responsible, but I resent having it shoved down my throat the way NBC Universal did last week. The icing on the cake was NBC Universal cutting the environmental unit at The Weather Channel. The Washington Post says 60 to 80 people lost their jobs. It seems the only green NBC Universal really cares about is money.

If it wasn't so tragic, it would be funny-- axe the environmental unit during the same week you say how much you love the planet.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Sermon


I usually don't associate Joe Snedeker with philosophy of significance, but he came up with a good one Monday morning.

Joe was congratulating me on this blog's occasional appearance in the weekly ranking of the top 25 visited items at WNEP.com. I told Joe that I was glad people read the blog, but it only gets 250 hits a day, and that really isn't a lot.

Joe responded by saying there are clergy members who would be thrilled to have 250 people in church every day, and I get to preach to a full church of 250 on a daily basis.

That's a nice way to look at it, so let's offer a Thanksgiving day reading from the Book of Andrew.

It might not be staring us in the face, but we all have things for which we are thankful. There are days you have to look hard. Trust me. They're there.

Thanks for being here, and Happy Thanksgiving !

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks, Kids !


I have an extra day off this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so Monday was my last day of work before the observance. I got really lucky, and ended the work week on an up note.

I was sent to Central Columbia Middle School, near Bloomsburg, where students collected more than seven thousand cans and boxes of food for the Columbia County Food Cupboard. The school has been at it for ten years, and in that time, the collection has become the second largest in Columbia County. The letter carriers' annual spring food drive is the largest.

The kids and the teachers were extremely proud of what they've accomplished, as they should be. A volunteer from the food cupboard told us more people are seeking help every week, and the food donation from the students at the school comes at a perfect time.

It always hurts to know there are people in need at this time of year. Knowing there are young people interested in the spirit of giving helps take away the pain. I'm sure the lessons learned here will stay with the kids for the rest of their lives.

Thanks for inviting us to be part of your program.

By the way, the mysterious man in black in the photo is WNEP photographer Cory Lukacs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tie One On


John Roberts anchors "American Morning" on CNN. He appeared without a tie one day last week. I'm a big John Roberts fan. CBS made a mistake letting him get away a few years ago. He should have been given the CBS Evening News anchor job over Katie Couric.

Having said all that, and at the risk of appearing hopelessly old school, I didn't like the tie-less look. "American Morning" is the "newsiest" of the cable and broadcast morning shows. It's a relatively serious broadcast. It's not "Entertainment Tonight." He should have worn a tie. I'm okay with shedding a jacket. I frequently do that myself. Take off the tie if you're doing a feature, or if you're standing in a hurricane or snowstorm. Keep it on the rest of the time.

I may throw caution to the wind one of these mornings and go tie-less myself to see what it feels like. You never know.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been catching some heat recently for not knowing regular season NFL games can end in a tie. I'm not a McNabb fan. Far from it. He's not a winner. However, there have been only two NFL ties in 13 years. I can understand how and why he didn't know the rule. This isn't a big deal to me, and take it easy on the guy. Let the coaches worry about the rules. Let Donovan throw the ball.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Business III


Everyone is talking about money and the economy ad nauseum these days, and I'm no different.

As you know, I'm a big fan of the morning show on FOX Sports Radio, and I heard an interesting conversation Thursday morning. The host said he's like most people and is cutting back expenses. Part of that-- he's not renewing his subscription to Golf Digest. The host, Steve Czaban, wondered how many people would ultimately be impacted by his decision-- the writers, the editors, the office people, the printers, the mail room staff, etc. Yes, he wants to cut back, but he didn't want to hurt other people in the process.

I had an epiphany the other day. I realized I can live without the Oxygen Network, Planet Green, the Reality Channel, and Jewelry TV, so I dumped my digital cable. I have absolutely no sympathy for Big Cable Company. None. It has priced itself out of the market. However, if enough people do cancel (and I'm seeing a lot of satellite dish installation trucks making rounds in the neighborhood), it will have an impact on the installers, the customer service people, the tech staff, and on and on.

Even though the price of gasoline has come down, I'm still driving less. Screw OPEC, big oil, and even the big mini mart chain. I do feel sorry for the person behind the cash register.

I want to save a little money. I don't want to put people out of work. Unfortunately, you can't do one without the other. Sorry.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Business II


The state of Pennsylvania, plus the cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are coming to the aid of Boscov's department store chain. The three are part of a loan package that will help Boscov's emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Boscov's is a Pennsylvania company that employs Pennsylvania people, and if it goes under, at least a few Pennsylvania malls and downtowns would become ghost towns.

The financing plan leaves more questions than answers.

Wilkes-Barre can't afford a pool for its kids. Yet, the city has entered into the department store bail out business. Maybe it has some money left after losing that lawsuit for trampling on the first amendment rights of one of its citizens.

Can the money Scranton is kicking in be put to better use? I'll let you decide.

The Boscov's loan money does not come out of the Scranton or Wilkes-Barre operating budgets. It comes from a federal program. But, how did the money get to the federal government? The answer: your taxes.

Where do you draw the line? If "Fred's Widgets" is in danger of going out of business, will we see a similar charge of the big cash cavalry? I think not.

The cities have watched some good business go bankrupt and close. The state has done the same thing.

I read newspapers from around the state this morning. I didn't see evidence of Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Pottsville, Harrisburg or Philadelphia contributing money. Boscov's has stores in or near those cities. Why are Scranton and Wilkes-Barre the only ones involved?

At least, they're not investing in a movie like Lackawanna County did a few years ago.

A dangerous door has been opened here. The success rate of companies that had been in chapter 11 is not very good. Retail industry analyists predict Boscov's survival is a long shot. A lot of YOUR money is at stake. I pray it's been used wisely. There is no room for error.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Business Report


We have a few business items on our plate today...

A new Arby's on Pierce Street in Kingston opens today. It replaces a store next door that was more than thirty years old. The Pierce Street Arby's was one of the first, if not the first, in the area, and it was of the original design. I'm sorry I didn't get there to take a picture while it was still standing. I remember going there with my parents when I was a wee lad, and being annoyed because Arby's didn't sell hamburgers. I grew to love the roast beef sandwiches, and little kids are not normally roast beef fans. The building had an interesting layout. There were chairs and fold down tables around the perimeter of the inside, almost like school desks. I know it's only a building, a fast food joint, but a lot of memories came tumbling down when that restaurant was demolished last week. It wasn't the food. It wasn't the decor. It was happy times with the family, when piling in a car and driving 45 minutes to a different kind of fast food restaurant was a big deal. Apparently, a lot of you cared because it was one of the highest viewed items of the week on WNEP.com.

Of course, when I think of Arby's, I think of those trips there with the folks, but I also think of an episode of "The Simpsons." It was their "Lord of the Flies" take-off. The kids were stuck on an island after a school bus crash. One of the Terri/Sherri twins says "I'm so hungry, I could eat at Arby's." Hilarious.

A number of newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, report Steve and Barry's is going out of business. I was at the Steamtown Mall store Saturday, during their "liquidation" sale. It smelled a lot like a going out of business sale. I grabbed a couple ties-- two for $15. I'd purchased ties there before-- cheap and well built, nice and beefy.

I liked Steve and Barry's. The clothing was inexpensive. You get what you pay for. The stuff wasn't going to last a lifetime, but it filled a need. Losing the chain means a big blow to a few shopping centers here in our area. Steve and Barry's was a Steamtown Mall anchor. It occupied the bridge that the Globe Store had when the mall opened in 1992. Steve and Barry's is also a big tenant at the Schuylkill Mall and one of the last stores in Wilkes-Barre's East End Center. Friends, this one hurts. I can't think of any other major chains that will come in and take that space, especially during a bad economy.

If that isn't enough to frighten you, consider this. The Chicago Tribune reports that if Sears doesn't have a good Christmas shopping season, it may not make it through 2009. There are few things more "American" than Sears, and if it goes, it really shows how much the nation's economy and buying habits have changed.

PennDOT put out a news release yesterday. It advises driving carefully during snow squalls. Thanks for the information.

And finally, I BELIEVE the people who inhabit the offices of Wilkes-Barre City Hall received a big reminder this week that what happens here IS the people's business. A federal jury awarded a city resident $67,000 because the mayor violated the resident's first amendment rights. That resident was fighting the closing of a fire station. The mayor apparently tried to put the screws to the resident by sticking her with the city's legal fees. The fees were rung up as the city opposed a "keep the fire station" petition. Testimony at the trial was shocking and saddening at the same time. It was clear the city was trying to make it too expensive for the resident to continue the fight. Guess again! I hope the people involved learned a lesson, but as always, the taxpayers will get stuck with the bill.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pay to Play


At one time, I really would have been bent out of shape over this. Now? I just don't care.

ESPN outbid FOX for the rights to the college Bowl Championship Series games beginning in 2011. ESPN offered $125 million for each year of a four year contract. FOX maxed out at $100 million.

It marks the first time a major sport's championship games will NOT be on broadcast television.

If you haven't realized it by now, you will have to pay for anything worth watching in the years to come, especially sports. The World Series will switch eventually. One of these days, it'll be the Super Bowl.

I don't think it will stop at sports. There have been rumors for years that the broadcast networks want out of the news business. I firmly believe local news has a future on free broadcast television. After all, you own the airwaves, and broadcasters are supposed to operate with the public's interest, necessity, and convenience in mind.

The networks are nearly out of the news business now. ABC and CBS do overnight broadcasts, plus the morning shows and the evening news. NBC is a bit further ahead because it has MSNBC and CNBC. Rumors surface from time to time that CBS and CNN will combine. I'm not a big fan of mergers like that, but it makes sense here. CBS spends a lot of money for very little air time.

The internet adds an entire different dimension to the process, and as we all know, the information superhighway is a toll road.

The bottom line is save your money. You'll need it to be entertained and informed in the future.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Strike !


It is THE issue that gets people fired up enough to contact Talkback 16 and its internet cousin: TEACHER STRIKES.

We have another one here in our area. Teachers at Northwest Area walked off the job yesterday, three and a half years after their old contract expired. This is a picture of an empty Garrison Elementary in Shickshinny I took Monday morning.

Most states have banned teacher strikes. Some will say teachers should be able to strike because their rights are the same as the factory worker down the street.

On the other hand, teacher strikes do have a huge impact on the community. But then again, the law mandates that kids get their 180 days of education. A strike might be disruptive, but the minimum classroom time will be fulfilled. Teachers will eventually be back in the classroom, whether or not they have a new agreement. A strike makes a statement. It doesn't solve the problem.

Good teachers should get good money. Our kids should have the best. Paying the bill is another matter. You can no longer tax your way out of economic difficulties. There are limits. If we're not there, we're dangerously close.

Bad teachers should be shown the door. I've encountered a lot of bad teachers in my day. The system seems to protect them.

The state legislature has sought solutions for years. You know their track record for effectiveness. They can do pay raises. They can manipulate the system to piggishly sniff out money for themselves, even on Sundays. Finding a better way for taxpayers and our kids is not the general assembly's strong point.

We could talk about this for days. There is no black and white. There is no right or wrong. There is a strong counter argument for every good argument.

Who wins? Who loses? That part is easy to figure out. Everyone loses.

Monday, November 17, 2008

4


Yesterday was the blog's fourth anniversary, and that means it's time for the annual telling of the story of how we got to this point.

Dennis Fisher was our news director when the blog was born. Dennis was trolling for ideas on how to get more original content on to WNEP.com. I suggested a weekly column. Dennis asked for a sample. In the meantime, Webmaster Mark Sowers noticed the blog thing was beginning to take off around the country. The column idea morphed into the blog, and here we are.

I don't have an exact number, but I suspect we're around the 1,000 post mark. That amazes me in and of itself. The other astounding fact is I've never had a blog called back or censored by management. There was one warning. Miss New Jersey got into a little bit of trouble a couple years ago, and I blogged about it, complete with picture. She's a busty lass, and Dennis suggested less racy fare in the future.

The new powers that be made some changes earlier this year. The current blog system allows for more pictures, more graphics, more of an individual feel, and I really like that.

I added a "sitemeter" counter back in June. My blog averages about 225 hits a day, and while that's a small number, it's a lot higher than other blogs-- where the self inflated writers consider themselves experts in their field. No pomposity here. This is just a fun little diversion for you and I.

The sitemeter shows where you are. Of course, the vast majority of hits come from northeastern and central Pennsylvania. A scattering come from the rest of the state, and some far flung areas of the USA. I've noticed a few daily hits from the "state.pa.us" domain. I suspect some Harrisburg blog readers will be accessing the site from home in the days to come, because they'll have a lot more time on their hands in the new year.

Your likes and dislikes show up through the sitemeter. The "inside TV" stuff gets the most hits. A post about the MSNBC bias issues set the record for hits since I added the counter back in June.

What will year 5 bring? Who knows? Technology is evolving, and there could be even more changes I still don't know about.

Thanks for a good 4 years, and I appreciate you stopping by.

Friday, November 14, 2008

CBK


Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll passed away Wednesday evening. She was 78, and had been battling cancer.

I'm not going to say I knew her, but we did meet several times over the years. The first was in a wooded area of Hanover Township, back in the early 90's, when she was state treasurer. CBK was presiding over the groundbreaking of a new townhouse complex. The neat thing about it was your rent would eventually go toward ownership of the unit. It was a new program, and from what I understand, it worked quite well. Someone I later worked with someone who took advantage of the program. He lived there for many years, and he was quite happy.

A lot of kids will be able to afford college because Catherine Baker Knoll set up a program to help their parents save.

Catherine Baker Knoll wasn't Ed Rendell's choice for a running mate. Under the state system, we vote for governors and lieutenant governors separately in the primary, and that's how the two teamed up.

CBK seemed to be a nice woman, but I get the feeling she stuck around on the stage a bit longer than necessary. There were some famous gaffes while serving as the state's second in command. There was a revolving door in her office, meaning frequent staff changes and turmoil.

When the final history is written, I suspect the positives will far outweigh the negatives, and Pennsylvania is a better state because Catherine Baker Knoll was one of its public servants.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear Santa...


Dear Santa:

I was at the Viewmont Mall the other day, and I saw that they're ready for your arrival this week. How can you pull off setting up shop here in our area so early? I'm impressed. Mrs. Claus, the elves, the reindeer, and your management team at the North Pole must be a crack bunch if they can run the pre-Christmas toy operation in your absence. It's about 40 days 'til Christmas, and that's a long time to be away from home.

Keep an eye out for me. I'll be there one of these days. My list is nearly ready for your approval. Here's what I want so far:

I'd like the stock market to turn around so I can make back what I lost over the last few months.

I'd like gasoline prices to stay on their downward slide.

I want to see someone develop a highway bridge that doesn't fall apart and need emergency repairs every other day.

The ability to develop a tolerance for all those digital television announcements.

I'd like some people to learn the definition of the word "imminent."

More "Entourage" and "Scrubs."

Less "The Office."

Less snow.

Shorter baseball, basketball, hockey, and NASCAR seasons.

Can we quit arguing over a college football playoff system?

A highway bypass for every congested area in the eastern half of the state.

I'd like Tony Kornheiser to forget about Monday Night Football get a new radio show.

A Super Bowl win for the Steelers.

Don Pablo's should reconsider its move to pull out of northeastern Pennsylvania.

I wish Verizon would stop sending me daily mail about its DSL service.

Can we inaugurate a new president before we start taking abut the 2012 campaign?

More State Police speed enforcement on Interstate 81 in the Scranton area.

I wish my cable and internet bill stop going up.

I want kids to learn what cell phones are really for.

Fast food restaurant service should actually be fast.

How about a Christmas season that begins after Thanksgiving?

Everyone home for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Flags and Blogs


We always see flags on utility poles on cities and towns here in our area. We rarely see how they get there. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity Tuesday morning, Veterans Day.

Volunteers from the Mayfield Lions club were up early Tuesday, placing flags on 120 poles throughout the borough. They were back Tuesday evening to take them down.

One simple project means so much. It unites the people of the town and gets some good publicity for the Lions Club. Veterans get a much needed pat on the back. Having a visible Lions Club encourages more people to join and volunteer. It's a source of pride, and it just plain looks nice. Thanks to the Mayfield Lions for inviting Newswatch 16 to be part of their Veterans Day.

We had some major blog discussions at the office yesterday. I'll get to the good news right off the top. Someone new will be joining us in the blogosphere in the near future. Keep checking the blog section of WNEP.com.

The powers that be keep a close eye on what generates hits at WNEP.com. I've been tickled to know that this blog has been placing in the top 25 lately. Thanks. Keen observers will note that there's another way to reach the blog. You can get to it directly by typing in www.andypalumbo.blogspot.com. Bookmark the direct address, and you can use it to check out the blog if you're in a hurry. About five per cent of the blog visitors currently do that, but don't forget to visit WNEP.com for all the other stuff.

I spent part of my Tuesday morning helping Ryan Leckey put a "sitemeter" on his blog. The kid really didn't need my help. I was there for moral support. Ryan is inching up on video blogging, and I'm anxious to see it. I doubt I'll be following in his footsteps, but then again, I never expected to be a blogger, either.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Operation Touch of Home


It's rare to see a military truck backed up to the loading dock of a post office, but that's what we encountered yesterday morning in Brodheadsville, Monroe County. It was called "Operation Touch of Home."

It's a simple concept-- collect comfort items, ship them off to US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and do it in time for Christmas.

We heard it over and over again-- a pack of beef jerky, a container of baby wipes, a tube of lip balm, a deck of cards, a box of crackers... things we take for granted here mean so much to soldiers in a war zone, especially because they're away from home at the holidays.

We did the story last year, and we went back this year, wondering if things would be different. The economy is struggling. People suffer from something called "charity fatigue." There are so many organizations looking for help. It can get to you after a while.

Yes, things were different this year. There were actually more donations than last year. It shows what our area is all about. Even when times are tough, people are willing to help. Many of the volunteers offered to share their stories. Some of the people associated with Operation Touch of Home had or have loved ones in the middle east. That can't be easy.

As I left the post office, I told the volunteers "I hope I don't see you next year." They instantly knew what I meant. It would be nice to see things settled, and everyone home for the Christmas of '09.

Before I go, a word about Veterans Day. It's one of the toughest observances for those of us in the news business. Every city and town has a memorial program today, and that's great. It's part of being an American. We try to get to as many as we can. It's impossible to get to them all, and that leaves some hard feelings. Whether or not you get on TV, you're all equally important, and I'm sure the veterans appreciate your efforts. I know I do.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno


I haven't done a movie review in a while, for a simple reason. It's been ages since I was in a theater. I think my last movie was "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" several months ago.

I ventured out Thursday afternoon to see "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." The title has offended some. Ads were changed to just "Zack and Miri." The woman at the box office was checking ID's to make sure no minors got in. Newsflash: I had no problem passing the age test.

As for the film itself, yes, it was raunchy, but it wasn't much worse than some of those teen "comedies." It was predictable and, at best, mildly amusing.

I'm a tough guy to please, so I take some of my cues from the people in the theater. They weren't laughing much, either.

The supporting cast got the majority of the yuks. Seth Rogen, taking a page out of Will Ferrell's book, seems to play the same character in every movie. He was adequate. Elizabeth Banks really shines. She's not just a pretty woman. She can act, and do comedy.

The movie was set in Monroeville, PA. Much of it was shot in and around Pittsburgh. I even spotted the Monroeville Mall, and a hotel I stayed in a few years ago. Yes, it doesn't take much to thrill me.

Roger Ebert gave "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" three stars. I usually trust Ebert's reviews, but I just didn't see it here. A star and a half for me. It seemed like a few little stories tacked together and some things just didn't make sense.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

President Elect


There are times when the smallest things drive me absolutely insane, and this is one of them.

Barack Obama is not president-elect !!!

According to the law, the designation can be made only after the electoral college meets to vote. That happens on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year, it's December 15th.

The term "president elect" has been bastardized over the years to the point where the winner of the November general election is automatically referred to as the president-elect, even though such references are technically wrong.

The other part of presidential trivia I love occurs on inauguration day. The constitution calls for the term of the current president to expire at noon, January 20th. Inauguration ceremonies always run late, and the new president is usually sworn in a few minutes after noon. It means there is a short time when the nation has no president.

Okay, all of that is off my chest, but I still don't feel better.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?


I spent the first 11 years of my career in radio, and the medium is still very important to me. I love radio, even though it really isn't what is used to be, and I saw something yesterday that made my blood boil.

"Radio & Records" magazine is considered one of the bibles of the industry. R&R is giving Larry King a career excellence award. Larry King-- the man who hasn't done a dedicated radio show since 1994. You can still hear King on the radio, but it's just a rebroadcast of his CNN program.

I wonder if Larry will show up for the ceremony. After all, he's been mailing in his performance for years. This is a guy who's proud that he never uses the internet and never does research. Let me tell you something. Any "journalist" who doesn't use all the tools available to him is a fool.

Is that the best R&R can do?

Maybe it is. Radio's biggest "star" was Howard Stern, but he bolted for satellite nearly three years ago. Paul Harvey was off the air for months due to health problems, and he's curtailed his duties. Syndicated shows by John Tesh and Ryan Seacrest are picking up new cities every day. It's not because these guys are enormous talents. It's just because radio station owners are trying to save a buck by eliminating local people.

Radio is losing, or has lost its giants. It's not developing new talent. If you have to honor man who hasn't done a radio show in 14 years, you're in major trouble.