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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Harry McClintock


The people we don't see are the ones who have the biggest influence on what makes it to our television screens. Someone you never saw had a big impact on me, personally and professionally.

I worked with a man named Harry McClintock at the old channel 22. He left the station in 1996, a few weeks before I did. Harry was the program director. I'm not sure what program directors actually do. Harry had additional responsibilites that made him unforgettable.

During my time, Harry McClintock produced the Scranton St. Patrick's Day Parade. I had the pleasure and honor of working five of those parades under Harry. Every year, he put together a meticulous rundown of every unit that marched, every float, every group, every politician, every band-- a huge binder filled with information. There was no such thing as going in to a project unprepared when Harry was around.

He also produced the station's live coverage of what we called "The Great Implosion." A cluster of buildings on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton was blown up on April 5th of 1992 to make way for the Mall at Steamtown. It was one of the most rewarding days I've spent in the business.

A man can be judged by more than his work. I worked with Harry's daughter, Shannon, for a while. The kid is sharp, just like her dad. That says a lot.

Harry McClintock died Saturday. He was 75. It's an over-used phrase, but it really fits here. Harry was a nice, nice man. I'm glad I knew him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Palin


I lost track of the number of times I saw Joe Biden on television Friday night, after the Obama/McCain debate. Sarah Palin appearances were easy to count. Zero.

Some may say the Republicans are trying to shield Palin from reporters because she is unable to handle the glare of the national spotlight. CNN's Campbell Brown, on Tuesday night, called on the McCain campaign to "stop treating Palin like she is a delicate flower who can wilt at any moment." Governor Palin has done only three major interviews since she became the Republican vice presidential nominee. She came across as good in one, mediocre in the second, and unsure of herself in the third. Access to the media is severely limited during campaign stops.

Former television news reporter and current talent coach Randy Tatano looks at it this way:
"If you're wondering why so many politicians might be giving you the cold shoulder these days, it's because of the perception of media bias. And let's be honest, it's not even a perception anymore. It's very real. You may be the most objective reporter in the world with a big "J" on your head, but politicians might not trust you. They think we're all playing the gotcha game, waiting in the bushes to spring out with obscure questions."


The quote came from Tatano's blog. I know a lot of newsies look at my blog. Check out Tatano's daily offering. It's always interesting. By the way, Randy Tatano co-authored a book about the television news business with Al Primo. I got it last week, and I'm loving every page.

Is Sarah Palin hiding, or is she just being smart?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Almost Equal Time


Last week, Yankee Stadium closed for good. Today, It's Shea Stadium, the home of the New York Mets.

I visited Shea several times in 74 and 75 to see the Yankees. The Yankees played at Shea for two seasons while Yankee Stadium was being renovated.

With all due respect to Shea and Mets fans, if that stadium had any charm, it was lost on me-- lots of concrete and asphalt, void of character. I think the thing that detracted from the experience the most was the location-- near LaGuardia Airport. Jets passed just beyond the outfield every few minutes. Noisy. Distracting. No atmosphere whatsoever.

The new ballpark looks great. Unfortunately, it's in the same location. They never learn.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What Took You So Long?


The Detroit Lions fired Matt Millen as president and general manager Wednesday. Millen was hired to run the team in 2001. His record was 31 wins and 84 losses.

I'm not a Lions fan, but it was sad to see the team deteriorate to the point where it was the laughing stock of the league. I posted a similar blog about baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates several months ago. Once great teams, with great histories and loyal fans-- allowed to fall apart.

A lot of people blame Millen for Detroit's problems. The owners picked someone with no managerial experience to run the team. Stupid move? Bold decision? Evidence points to the former, but you have to admire the Ford family for taking the chance. Experience is good. It's not everything. They tried something. It didn't work. Let's move on.

As for the Pirates, ownership there doesn't seven seem to be trying. That's criminal. There's always next year. It doesn't look good.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Selling Out


The country's current economic crisis is frightening and fascinating at the same time.

It's clear the government has to step in. I'm not sure if it should be in the form of a bail-out or increased regulation, or both. And then, there's the matter of degree.

I'm not looking for my pound of flesh here, but I haven't seen or read much about punishing the people responsible for the mess, or at least keeping them to some degree of accountability.

Maybe I'm being overly cynical, but another concern of mine is a fear politics is the primary concern-- not the economic health of the middle and lower class.

John McCain wants to delay Friday night's planned debate so he and the rest of congress can focus on the fix. I can see where he's coming from, but I'd really like to hear more of McCain's ideas, as well as those of Barack Obama. A debate would be the prefect place to do it. Yes, the first debate topic is foreign policy and national security. America's economic health affects both.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ron


Ron Allen died yesterday.

He worked at WARM radio for decades, as a disc jockey, sportscaster, and program director. Ron was my first boss in broadcasting. He hired me in 1981 to run the Sunday morning religion and public affairs shows from 1 am to 9 am. All it entailed was putting tape reels on a machine and pushing the "play" button every half-hour, but I was thrilled to have it.

I have to level with you. Ron was not an easy man to like. I worked at WARM for nearly eleven years. Ron and I had our moments. He went up one side of me and down the other after I had worked my first shift, and there were several other reamings through the years. One stands out. I was invited to Mr. and Mrs. Allen's anniversary party. Don't ask me why, but I didn't RSVP that I couldn't come. Of course, it was followed by several minutes of yelling a couple days later. During the tirade, I started to think "I'm getting yelled at for missing his party. Maybe he likes me." Way deep down, I think Ron did like me, and I'm sorry things didn't end on an "up" note between us.

A short time after I left the station, I ran into Ron at Lackawanna County Stadium. He was WARM's elder statesman, a link to the glory days. I let Ron know that I thought the station was treating another long time employee in a shabby fashion. Of course, Ron didn't agree and he let me know it, quite vocally. I saw him at a Turkey Hill a few years later, and he walked right past me. It hurt.

Ron never really yelled at you. He did raise his voice a bit, but it was the words that mattered. Cutting. Biting. Ripping you to shreds. I deserved it most of the time. He had quite a command of the language. His reamings were works of art, almost entertaining.

Ron Allen was one of the most talented broadcasters I've ever worked with. His recall of facts, figures, and stories was absolutely amazing. I always got the impression that Ron felt something was missing. He was THE sports guy, but I believed Ron wanted to be known for something more than that. He did a general interest talk show for a while, and it was good. He was a genius when it came to movies, and he really could do an interview.

Ron may have come along too soon. He did most of his radio work before the days of all-sports stations. Listening to the "talent" out there today, Ron could blow them away. I ran the board for Ron's evening Sportsline show for a few years. That's radio talk for keeping track of the time, answering the phone, and making sure all the commercials got played. I also had control over something called the "dump" button. If someone said something inapporpriate, the "dump" button would trigger the delay system, and the offensive comments would be zapped before they made it on air. There was many an evening when I had my finger poised to hit the button when Ron started fighting with one of his callers. I never used it because at the end of the call, Ron would skillfully manipulate and convince the caller that his (Ron's) opinion was the right one. He was the master. Angry callers were whipped.

You might remember Turkey Trot. It was a yearly WARM promotion, just before Thanksgiving. Each air personality had a turkey, like "West's Wishbone." If you bet on the right turkey, you won a bird. It was like a horse race, except with mythical turkeys. Ron recorded the call of the race as "Tommy Feathers." He would go into the production room, armed with nothing more than a list of turkeys, and ad lib several races. It's almost imposible to describe. I've never seen anything like it.

The Friday Night Sportsline was groundbreaking radio. The station would position reporters at four or five high school football games. The reporters would phone in updates. Ron would skillfully switch from reporter to reporter, from game to game, throw in a few other callers and sports news. On top of that, there were breaks for news, weather, and commercials. He made it look and sound easy. It wasn't. Believe me.

If memory serves, the Sportsline actually began on a Sunday night. Remember, this was long before ESPN, so WARM (and Ron) was the place to turn for the latest scores, sports news, and it was the place to talk about it.

I don't think Ron ever took me aside to teach me anything, but I learned so much just by watching, and listening. I was lucky.

Some of my favorite days at WARM were spent listening to Ron "hold court" in the production room that doubled as a talk studio and Ron's office. The man could tell a story and be wickedly funny. Always highly opinionated, and that was part of his charm. You always knew where Ron stood.

Ron suffered a stroke several years ago, losing much of his ability speak. It was so sad. Such a gifted communicator was silenced.

This is a picture I took at Lackawanna County Stadium on opening night, in April of 1989. I don't remember what was happening at the time. Ron was likely yelling at me for something. I'm okay with that. That was Ron.

Good night, Mother Fletcher.

My sympathy to Ron's wife, daughter, friends, and fans.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the Campaign Trail



I did something yesterday I hadn't done in quite a while-- cover the visit of a presidential candidate. I've been on a streak. Local candidate campaign appearances either fell on one of my days off, or after my shift was over.

Yesterday, John McCain was at the Scranton Cultural Center. The theater seats about two thousand and it was filled. It was nice to see so many people interested in the process, many not old enough to vote. Apathy took a holiday, at least for one day.

On the positive side, our area received some national attention, even if some of it came from a cliche ridden network news story. I ran in to some people, old friends, competitors, newspaper people, radio reporters, political types, neighbors, I hadn't seen in quite a while. There is something about covering a campaign and the logistical challenges that get the juices flowing.

It does have its negatives. The candidates, REGARDLESS OF PARTY, have a tendency to say the same things they've said a hundred times before. Complaints of bias always pop up. We get those from both sides, so I guess that shows we're being fair. We're always fighting the clock and political handlers who go above and beyond to restrict access. I know security is a must. Unfortunately, it insulates a candidate from the people he or she wants to serve. You don't deal with the system you want. You deal with the system you have.

The bottom line is that the day was a lot of fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who Pays?


A fascinating case has entered the state court system.

A Lackawanna County man is suing his state representative. The issue is a series of "official" mailings from the representative.

The constituent claims the mailings are nothing more than campaign literature, poorly disguised as something "official" because the representative is up for re-election. He wants the representative to pay back the state for the cost of the literature and the postage.

We've all received mailings like that. They're common on the federal and state levels. Mine go in the trash because they're usually nothing more than exercises in self aggrandizement.

The issue is where does "official" and important information end, and politicking begin? It reminds me of what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about hard core pornography. Stewart opined that porn was hard to define, but "I know it when I see it." Commonwealth Court faces a similar issue when Wednesday's hearing comes around.

We may see the issue kicked back to the legislature to establish a set of standards for mailings, but you know how good that bunch is about policing themselves. Ethics? Maybe for you and I, but not them.

The right thing would be to take the issue off the table once and for all. End useless mailings and potential abuse of the system.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New York, New York



Yankee Stadium closes, for good, after tonight's game with the Baltimore Orioles.

I can't figure it out, but it's not bothering me as much as I thought it would.

History and nostalgia are my things. Ask anyone in the newsroom about my continuous stream of boring stories, detailing the way radio and television used to be around here.

I'm not a Yankee fan, but I am a follower. It's hard to live in this area and not be a follower. The Yankees are on the radio, on television, and there are more than a few Yankee fans in our newsroom. The Yankees are always in the news, and you can't avoid them.

I have to admit, visiting Yankee Stadium for the first time was a kick. It was April of 76. I saw the third game in the newly renovated stadium. You could feel the history, almost touch it. I spent my first moments there terrified because of all the horrible stories I heard about the south Bronx. After a little while, you realize it's not as bad as legend has it, and it's actually a pretty nice place to watch a ballgame.

Times change. Yankee Stadium has outlived its usefulness. The infrastructure is shot. Nothing is forever. It's time to move on. Sad, but true. There are new memories to be made.

By the way, an old friend is celebrating a birthday today. If you're out there, best wishes.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vote 08


Republican presidential candidate John McCain is coming to Scranton Monday morning. There's a 10:30 AM "town meeting" set for the Scranton Cultural Center.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was in Luzerne County two weeks ago.

At least for the time being, Pennsylvania is viewed as a "battleground" state-- a state that can go either way November 4th.

The New York Times views Pennsylvania as "leaning Obama." The Zogby poll says it's too close to call. MSNBC has all 50 states solidly going for Obama. Only kidding. MSNBC really has Pennsylvania as a toss up.

While there's some disagreement as to the course Pennsylvanians will follow in six weeks, enjoy the fact that we're important for a little while longer. I'm sure polls will show the state falling into the Obama or McCain camp well before election day, so have fun while it lasts. Watch the candidate visits. Read about them. Think about what they have to say. Think hard. Make your choice.

I've read where a lot of important, learned people are saying this election is historic and extremely important. Nonsense! They all are.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Honesty Is Such a Lonely Word


We were all shocked when she said it.

Let me back up a moment. A Metrolink commuter train and a freight train collided, head on, Friday afternoon near Los Angeles. 25 people died.

The next day, Metrolink spokesperson Denise Tyrrell released a statement to the media, saying a Metrolink engineer was responsible for the crash. A "sound bite" from Tyrrell was included in an ABC News report that was part of Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning.

Those of us in the newsroom here at WNEP were surprised that Metrolink accepted responsibility so quickly. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's just so rare in this "cover your backside" world in which we live. We in the media usually get the "it's still under investigation" line. Translated, it means "we're desperately looking for the way to put the best face on this to avoid getting sued."

Well, maybe Tyrrell was a bit too honest, too quickly. She resigned Monday, after being criticized by her supervisors. They thought she said too much, too fast.

Too bad.

Tyrrell should be applauded for being a straight shooter. If you had to deal with "spokespersons" on a regular basis, you'd know what I'm talking about.

I don't think the story will end well for Ms. Tyrrell. She might have a tough time finding a new job in public relations because a big section of the business no longer values honesty.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Winter's Coming


I don't need a calendar of a meteorologist to tell me winter's coming. All I have to do is look out the window. The neighborhood squirrels are going nuts, pardon the pun. There seems to be a population explosion, they're gathering food like crazy, and their brown furry tails have turned a snowy white.

All the activity concerns me. They seem busier than usual, and I hope that doesn't indicate a more severe than normal winter.

As I've written before, the skunk is the animal of spring, even more so than the robin. When the skunks come out, looking for food and looking for love, not necessarily in that order, warmer weather is on the way.

Squirrels tell us just the opposite.

Fall is a great time of year. Unfortunately, it doesn't last long enough, and it's always followed by winter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Guns


Where it was said is not important. I was talking with a police officer yesterday about the recent rash of violence here in our area, and he commented how quick people are these days to settle arguments with guns. When we were younger, a fight meant a bloody lip and a black eye. Now, it's a hole in your body.

This is not an argument for or against gun control. That's not my job. I should also point out that fists, feet, and knives were used in some rather gruesome homicides lately.

It goes beyond guns. This is an education issue, a society issue, a legal issue, a family issue. Maybe, more appropriately, a lack of family issue.

A life apparently has little meaning, little importance, to an ever growing number of people. It is both sad and alarming.

What is even more tragic-- I can't see the trend reversing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

When Did We Stop Caring?


Congratulations to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, International League champions.

The first two games of the Governors' Cup were played in Moosic, where attendance was around 3,000 each night. That's awful.

I do realize that attendance peaks in the summer-- when the nights are warm and the kids are out of school. Local baseball doesn't do well in the spring and the fall. Still, 3,000 for championship series baseball games is embarrassing.

Now, there's talk of building a new stadium for the local AAA team. Lackawanna County Stadium (I dislike using the corporate name) is 19 years old, and it clearly has some problems. I honestly don't know if the stadium is shot, so let's look at the new stadium as a concept, not a necessity.

Yankees attendance this year failed to crack the 500,000 mark. Local attendance is at the lower end of the middle of the International League pack. Please remember that the attendance numbers reflect tickets told, not the actual number of people who came through the turnstiles. Real attendance is lower than the numbers released to the public. The new Yankees affiliation was good for an attendance bounce lasting exactly one year. One.

A new stadium will likely produce a similar bounce, hopefully lasting longer than one year. The trend is to build smaller ballparks, with more luxury boxes and amenities. Tickets will cost more. Guaranteed.

Allentown's new stadium has around 8,000 seats. Another 2,000 can fit beyond the outfield and in party decks. The new stadium that opens in Columbus, OH in the spring has only 7,600 "fixed" seats. The Richmond Braves will re-locate to Gwinnett County, GA in the spring. The new stadium there seats just over 10,000.

A new affiliation and a new stadium are only window dressing. You have to look at the core issue. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is the smallest metropolitan area in the International League. Can this area support AAA baseball? Do we want to support AAA baseball? If you look at the attendance and interest in the team, there's significant evidence to indicate the answer is "no."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jim Thorpe


We'll wrap up Bad Photography Weekend with a shot of the Inn at Jim Thorpe. The view is looking down Broadway, toward Route 209. The Carbon County Courthouse is on the left. The Inn was built in 1849.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Asa Packer Mansion


Part two of Bad Photography Weekend: Jim Thorpe Style features the Asa Packer Mansion, near the Carbon County Courthouse.

Asa Packer was a philanthropist, railroad magnate, and founder of Lehigh University, according to the mansion's web site.

The mansion, with a cast iron frame, was built in 1861. Construction took two years and cost $14,000

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bad Photography Weekend

Welcome to another Bad Photography Weekend.

Perhaps I should have waited a few weeks, when fall foliage season kicks in, but I had the rare combination of time on my hands and ambition the other morning, so I decided to explore Jim Thorpe in Carbon County.

I talked about it a few weeks ago-- how I drop in to a town, do a story fast, then get out, without having the chance to look around. Jim Thorpe was always one of those places that begged for a closer look.

This picture was taken from the top of Flagstaff Mountain. The building with the red roof is the Asa Packer Mansion. The Carbon County Courthouse is in the middle. The train station is at the lower right. Train tracks and the Lehigh River are at the far right.

With any luck, the photo reflects the view. Spectacular.

As always, you can "click" on the photo to make it larger.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fresh Air


The smoking ban kicks in today, and a lot of people are in the full "freak out" mode.

Relax.

It's not the end of the world. It's not the end of democracy as we know it. The republic will not fall. More than thirty other states have anti smoking laws, most more strict than the weak effort that made it through the Pennsylvania house and senate. There has been no economic collapse of the bar and restaurant industry in those other states.

A man interviewed by Newswatch 16's Bob Reynolds said the following yesterday: "You have men and women---dying--fighting for our freedom---they come home---you're going to tell them--after what they have been through---that they don't have the right to smoke?"

Please! Isn't that a bit extreme?

You can still smoke. You just can't do it where other people will be harmed by it.

It's not a freedom issue. It's a health and safety issue. Municipalities all have something called the building code. It mandates things like safe wiring and proper construction. Clean air should be no different.

A few pubs in and around Scranton have already gone smoke-free. It's tough to get a seat most evenings. Some bars and restaurants might see a drop off in business at first, but evidence shows they will rebound nicely, and do even better than they did before.

This should have happened a long time ago.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

People


At the risk of incurring the wrath of Time, Inc., here's a photo from the September 8 edition of People magazine. I'm in the background, in the middle, the guy in the blue shirt.

It was taken a few weeks ago in Pottsville, at the preliminary hearing for two of the suspects charged in the beating death of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah.

The suspects had a bail hearing several days later, and the Washington Post sent a photographer. I don't look at the Post's web site every day, so I can't tell you if a story has been published.

There will be even more national attention if and when the case comes to trial.

My "career" in journalism began in 1981, and this is one of the most emotional stories I've ever covered. Everyone has an opinion. Some make sense. Others don't. The outcome will be interesting, no matter what happens.

Schuylkill County and northeastern Pennsylvania-- get used to the national spotlight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gone Too Far


Gone too far, I don't know how I did it
Gone too far and I hate to admit it
But I spend all my time thinking of you
Gone too far, there's nothing I can do now
Gone too far, it'll work out somehow
But I spend all my time thinking of you.

I should be running a network. Just last week, I said the 4:00 PM hour on MSNBC was the best one on the network during the conventions. Tom Brokaw anchored, and it was delightfully old school. Interesting. Fair. Responsible.

Late Sunday night, MSNBC announced Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann were being dumped as presidential debate and election night anchors. The pair would remain part of the coverage as "commentators." David Gregory anchors.

There were too many complaints, inside and outside the network, that Matthews and Olbermann had gone too far left-- too much Republican bashing, too many pro-Obama sentiments. Apparently, network brass agreed, so Matthews and Olbermann are off the anchor desk.

I have to admit, some of Matthews and Olbermann's early work together was pretty good. Their coverage wasn't dry. It had a bit of an attitude, a spark. It was refreshingly different.

Unfortunately, here's that phrase again, they went too far.

Many, many years ago, while I was a radio news reporter and anchor, I used to fill in as a talk show host. As I was getting ready to walk into the studio for my first try, the program director said the words that have stuck with me to this day: "Remember, there's a difference between opinion and analysis." He was concerned a news reporter would be spouting off his opinions, a potential credibility damaging move.

The talk shows were forgettable, but I remembered the lesson.

Yes, I dance around the line here on the blog.

As for Matthews and Olbermann, it might be too late for more analysis and less opinion.

Matthews suffers from a horrible ailment. He talks too much and listens too little. However, when Matthews tones it down a bit, as he does on his weekly syndicated show, he's very watchable.

Olbermann is an entirely different story. I've talked about "Hey, look at me!" reporters here in the past. Olbermann is more "Hey, listen to how clever I can be." It gets old-- fast. Olbermann has been through more jobs than I have-- and that says a lot.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Time Is Not On My Side


I saw something in the newspaper yesterday that really irritated me.

The Scranton Times reported an increasing number of local doctors and dentists are charging patients for missed appointments.

That would be okay in my book-- IF doctors and dentists actually saw you at the time of your appointment.

I dumped a health care professional last year because I got tired of sitting in the waiting room. Let me tell you a little secret: many doctors and dentists deliberately over-book to make up for last minute cancellations. That's all well and good. I also understand that doctors and dentists sometimes underestimate the time a patient needs once they're in the office, and emergencies arise.

The last straw with the health care provider I mentioned earlier came when I had a 9:00 AM appointment, and I was still cooling my heels in the waiting room at 9:30 AM. No explanation. No apology. Nothing. Running late and getting backed up as the day drags on is understandable, but at 9:00 AM? I walked out the door and never looked back. A relationship that lasted about 25 years came to an end. Loyalty is a two way street, and I felt my business was no longer appreciated. On top of that, it wasn't the first time happened. As the years passed, there was an ever increasing difference in the appointment time, and the time you actually were helped. I don't expect special treatment. I do expect to be treated fairly. It's too bad. I really liked that health care provider and his work. We'd been together a very long time, but I do have my limits.

The newspaper story made my blood boil. Maybe I should see a doctor.

Friday, September 5, 2008

TV Reflections


I've had the opportunity to watch quite a bit of television this week, and that was a mistake.

I'll start with Hurricane Gustav. The storm was nasty, but not quite as bad as first feared. I saw some cable television news reporters who seemed disappointed the hurricane wasn't worse. Once again, there was way too much "Hey, look at me!" journalism.

Both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions have come to an end. I have mixed feelings here. Some of the reporting and commentary was enlightening, fair and responsible, but a lot of it was embarrassing and silly.

One of my least favorite moments came the day after Hillary Clinton's speech. One of the cable networks featured a "body language" expert to analyze Mrs. Clinton's address to the delegates. The anchor seemed rather annoyed when the "body language" expert concluded Clinton was sincere.

CNN, FOX, and MSNBC apparently spent a ton of money on sets and remote locations in Denver and St. Paul. Does anyone really care? Save the money on furniture and pretty surroundings. Spend it on putting quality reporters and photographers on the streets (and hiring good producers, too), and your coverage will shine.

Tom Brokaw did the 4:00 PM hour on MSNBC during both conventions, and it was perhaps the best hour of the day. Old school.

When it comes to coverage of political families, I agree with Tony Soprano and the Mafia code. Families are off limits. The pregnancy of 17 year old Bristol Palin presents some interesting issues. If you want to talk about family values, as the Republicans have, then the Republicans are the ones who put the pregnancy issue on the table-- not the media.

It's the same thing with the Democrats. The so-called party of change put a 35 year Senate veteran on the ticket. Don't be surprised when "sincerity of the message" questions arise.

Switching to radio for a moment, Paul Harvey turned 90 yesterday. Harvey was off the air for months due to pneumonia, an eye ailment, and the death of his beloved wife, Angel. He's gradually resuming his duties, and that's fantastic. The man uses the medium as well as anyone has ever done. Paul Harvey is a giant.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hate


I like my cable company. It offers just about all the channels I want. The internet service is fast and generally trouble-free. My only beef is the price, and if Verizon ever gets around to installing Fios in my town, I'd strongly consider a switch.

I had to visit the cable company's office Tuesday morning to swap out a bad cable box remote. Walking into the customer service area was like walking into Fort Knox. The customer service representatives were behind thick glass. I had to put the bad remote into a cube made of similar material, with an electronic door. The customer service rep removed the bad remote from the other side, and put the new one in the cube. There was no human contact. None. Zero.

Do people really hate the cable company that much? Banks don't have that much security, and they handle a lot more money. I understand the need to keep employees safe, but I was shocked at what I encountered. It reminded me of the opening scene from the TV series "Get Smart," where Max has to go through several gates to reach the offices of Control.

I assume the super security wouldn't be there unless there was a need, and I also assume the customer service representatives encounter their share of unhappy customers. Maybe the cable company wouldn't need the glass walls if it could keep its customers satisfied.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It Never Fails


It always happens. I spend days, maybe weeks, looking forward to a vacation. Then, the big day arrives, and I don't want to go.

I was straightening up my desk and locking up early Monday morning-- as a potential vice president was coming to town, as the weather was turning bad, as teachers threatened to strike, as court cases were beginning-- and I was actually a little disappointed I wasn't going to be part of the coverage.

9/11 found me on vacation in Baltimore. I called the office from my hotel and volunteered to come back. The acting news director at the time thanked me for my offer, but he said ABC News was taking up most of the time, and the WNEP staff on hand was more than adequate. I cut the vacation short, drove home, and called again the next day. I still wasn't needed, and that was okay.

There are more than enough projects and "adventures" to keep me busy this week, but it's tough to watch from a distance when something big happens.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day II


Labor Day used to me my least favorite holiday of the year.

It signaled back-to-school, shorter days, cooler weather, the end of vacation time...

Now, it's among my favorite holidays. Why? Because it signals back-to-school time, cooler weather, and the start of a vacation.

Ever since my first full time job, I've been taking vacation time in September. It's a great time of year. Opressive summer heat is gone. The kids are back in school. Nothing's crowded. Clear, comfortable days. Delightfully cool nights.

As is the norm with my vacations-- no plans. I'll go where and when the wind takes me. I might miss a day or two, but there will be blog updates. I'm addicted, and the new system allows for posting in advance, and from remote locations.

Speaking of norms, Norm Jones has the anchor desk this weekend.

Good Lord willing, I'll see you on the 13th.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day


On this Labor Day, a picture of labor leader John Mitchell. It's on the Adams Avenue side of the Lackawana County Courthouse in downtown Scranton.