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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

As Memorial Day approached, I tried to think of something I haven't photographed before.  That's when I settled on the memorial at the entrance to Davis Trail at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  There's a steel plate dedicated to Scranton area soldiers who've recently died in action.
It's an interesting memorial, unique in the Scranton area.  It's tough to find.  You really have to look for it.  If you enter the park at the top of Mulberry Street, it's off to the right.  Just follow the sign to Davis Trail.  It's on the CMC side of the park.



Nay Aug Park is full of interesting monuments, including this one, near the Mulberry Street entrance.

As I've noted before, Memorial Day is one of the most challenging observances of the year when it comes to television news.  Every little town has a ceremony.  We get to many.  We can't get to them all.  Unfortunately, that often prompts some hard feelings.  Believe, me, we look at every e-mail that comes in.  We listen to every telephone call.  All the observances are on a list.  We cover as many as we can.  If we don't make it to your town this year, it doesn't mean we don't care.  On the contrary.  All those small town observances is what makes our area special.

Please, remember what the day is all about.



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bad Photography Weekend

This is the view, looking down from the bridge I showed you yesterday.  I took this picture in the early afternoon, after a heavy morning rainfall.  The sun was out, but the brook was still running high and fast.  Beautiful, and dangerous.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bad Photography Weekend

This is the bridge over Roaring Brook at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  I know I've featured this bridge before, but it's always worth another look.

There are no people in this photo, but several were milling about the afternoon I visited.  It's nice to see people using one of our area's underrated resources.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm There in Spirit

There is a reunion for current and former employees of WDAU/WYOU tomorrow night, at a restaurant in Scranton.  My work schedule prevents me from attending, and that troubles me deeply.

This is something only people who've worked there can understand.  We had our "challenges."  We also had some triumphs.  The ratings didn't fall our way, but I thought there were many nights when our look, presentation and story telling were as good, if not better than, the other guys.

By the way, that's really me in the above photo.  The year was 1992.  That was my desk in the old newsroom at 415 Lackawanna Avenue.  Note to my current co-workers:  my desk was exceptionally tidy, even way back when.  I still have that tie.

Below is Melissa Becker on the news set, with the great Derry Bird in the weather office.

Above is a picture from a very good day.  President Bill Clinton was in town.  It was a Sunday afternoon.  We blew out a lot of regularly scheduled programming to follow the president around Scranton.  This photo was taken as the president greeted fans on Court Street.  That's my hand, holding a WYOU microphone.  I had the chance to ask the president a couple questions on live TV.  Our coverage that day was outstanding.

Steve Chenevey took the photo you see above.  I'm not sure where Steve was working at the time, and he's now a big deal in the TV news business.  Steve is morning news anchor at FOX 5 in Washington, DC.  He has two Murrow awards and three Emmys.  On top of that, Steve is a nice guy.

I'm not going to totally sugar coat things.  There were many nights we got killed.  We didn't have the people.  We didn't have the resources, and years of neglect left the station with a horrible reputation.  We were in the process of slowly, slowly turning that around when we were sold.  You know the rest.  There's no need repeating the sad and sorry story.  I hope you're enjoying the infomercials.

Things have turned out well for me.  I've been lucky beyond belief.  It's great fun being on a winning team.  I'd been in radio and TV for 17 years when I started at WNEP, and I've learned so much in my time there.  The professional atmosphere means a lot.

My WYOU co-workers, and management back then were decent folk.  I miss them a great deal.  As the years pass, you still remember the bad stuff, but it seems less important, almost trivial. 

In spite of it all, I'm glad I worked there.  To my former co-workers, enjoy the party!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Super Bowl 48 Degrees

The NFL on Tuesday voted to award Super Bowl XLVIII to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.  The game will be played in the new Meadowlands Stadium in February of 2014.  It will be the first Super Bowl, in a cold weather city, without a dome.

Big mistake.

First and foremost, the weather should not be a factor in a game of this magnitude.  Super Bowls are played at night.  The average night time low in New York City, for February, is 24.1 degrees.  There's also strong potential for snow and ice.  The NFL says it will employ people with shovels and plows to dig out the stadium if there's a storm.  There will be fire pits in the parking lots for fans to keep warm.  Gee, thanks Commissioner Goodell!

The other reasons-- New York is too big, too expensive, and it's a place where it's too difficult to get around.  Super Bowl week is filled with parties for the rich and famous, and fan friendly events for the average family.  Some of these events will be in the city.  Others will be in and around the Meadowlands.  It's tough traveling in the metropolitan area on an average day.  Add Super Bowl crowds, and it will be a logistical nightmare.

Security is tight.  Wait in line to be checked, in 20 degree weather.

What were they thinking?

Being a mild broadcasting history geek, I have to write a few words about yesterday's passing of Art Linkletter at the age of 97.

I remember watching "House Party" after school as a youngster, and being amused, even though I didn't understand a lot of what was going on.

In an interview many years ago, Linkletter said talking wasn't his real talent.  Listening was.

Think about it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please, No Conspiracy Theory Phone Calls Today

NORAD exercise flights planned over parts of New York and Pennsylvania
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct exercise flights May 26 in the skies in the vicinity of Glens Falls and Albany, N.Y. to Scranton, PA. The flights will take place in the late-morning, and people may hear and see NORAD fighter aircraft in close proximity with DOD contracted general aviation aircraft as they practice their intercept and identification procedures.
The exercise has been carefully planned and will be closely controlled to ensure NORAD’s rapid response capability. 
NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. Each exercise flight utilizes a scenario to test NORAD’s response, systems and equipment.  Scenarios could include counter-drug operations, aircraft in distress, aircraft defecting, hijacking, unknown aircraft, Dangerous Military Activity, Temporary Flight Restriction violation or airborne terrorist.

The paragraphs above are from a NORAD news release, and I'm glad it let us know what was going on.

The days immediately after 9/11 were difficult for us all.  Once planes were allowed to fly again, the newsroom would be bombarded with telephone calls any time there was something even slightly unusual in the sky.  Believe me, we understood your anxiety.


I'm actually looking forward to this.  Spotting unusual, but friendly, aircraft is always interesting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Post, Post Mortem

It's been one week since the election, and a few issues are still gnawing at me.

The candidates for state senate in the 22nd district are complaining about a nasty and misleading robo call that went out just before last week's election.  Boo hoo!  In a way, they're getting a taste of their own medicine.  Those calls are a nuisance and unnecessary.  If they want to start on reforming Harrisburg, get political calls added to the "do not call" list.  While I do not advocate someone calling your home to give you a list of lies, this could be a good thing.  Now, maybe candidates will realize how much we all hate those calls.

Pat Toomey began running ads almost before the last votes were counted.   Joe Sestak was in the Wyoming Valley yesterday.   Politics usually took the summer off and kicked up again on Labor Day.  Let's face it.  Running for office is now a 24/7/365 business.

Experts, and wannabe experts are picking over the bones of the Arlen Specter campaign.  The consensus is that hard line Democrats were never comfortable with his party switch.  Just about everyone had problems with Specter's attack on Joe Sestak's Navy record.   The rise and fall of Arlen Specter will be discussed in political science classes for decades to come, and future candidates will learn from Specter's mistakes.

Some candidates have to learn there's a difference between "tough decisions" and "bad decisions."

I realize that mid term elections traditionally go against the party in power.  However, there's five months until the general election.  Anything can happen.  Those willing to hand the races to any party or candidate could be surprised.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Unfinished Business


A group wants McDonalds to dump that red haired clown, Ronald McDonald, as its spokesman.  The group claims Ronald pushes junk food on kids, like the way Joe Camel encouraged kids to smoke.  George Carlin said kids never took up smoking because a cartoon camel told them to.  They did it for stress reduction and peer pressure.  Ronald McDonald is a little different.  The great Julia Child preached "everything in moderation."  A trip to the golden arches every once in a while isn't a bad thing.  If junior wants to over do it, mom and dad have to be there to say "no."

The Tunkhannock sexting case is back in the news.  A now former student and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the district, claiming an invasion of privacy.  The suit claims administrators and law enforcement confiscated the student's phone, and went through the picture file.  I've always believed the district attorney had no choice but to threaten to file criminal charges in the original case.  The law hadn't kept up with technology.  His hands were tied.  The general assembly is now waking steps to remedy the situation.  After reading the suit, the student has a valid point.  Her phone.  Her pictures.  However, there are two sides to every story, and it will be interesting to see how the school district responds.

Campbell Brown has resigned from CNN.  Departure date TBD.  Low ratings.  I know they don't generate numbers, but I really miss a straight hard news prime time broadcast.

Dish Network announced plans to drop The Weather Channel.  Apparently, NBC, which owns TWC wants too much money and someone at Dish realized The Weather Channel no longer does the weather.  Dish is starting its own weather service.  Are you listening, Comcast?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bad Photography Saturday

This is the bandshell at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

I'm not sure exactly when this one was built, but it replaced one, on the same site, that was destroyed in a fire.

If I recall correctly, the original was a bit more elaborate.  The roof was higher, and it was enclosed.  It's funny what you remember.  My dad and mom took me here in 1970 to watch Jim Crowley attempt to break the record for continuous piano playing.  I can still see him in what looked like a navy pea coat.  The date escapes me, but I do remember it was very cold, and there was a small portable heater as Crowley banged away at the keyboard.

I took a lot of pictures during my last park visit, and they'll be sprinkled in during the next several weeks.  If you're looking for a place to stretch your photography legs, the park is it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Logo Watch

Full disclosure:  WGN's parent company, and WNEP's parent company participate in some joint ventures.

The Chicago Tribune did a story yesterday on why WGN News reporters always wear L.L. Bean jackets.  The Tribune says WGN and L.L. Bean have a deal.  The reporters get jackets.  L.L. Bean gets a credit at the end of the broadcast.  Reporters have the option of not wearing the jackets or covering up the L.L. Bean logo.

WGN's news director says it's difficult to find any outerwear these days that doesn't have a logo on it, and he's correct.  One of my favorite rain coats has a Columbia logo on the right side.  I didn't get it for free from Columbia, but it was on sale at Boscov's a couple years ago.  It's a fine jacket.

I dislike being a human billboard.  I hate getting wet even more.

The WGN thing raises some interesting issues, like product placement and blatant commercialism.  However, everyone involved seems fairly up front about it.  No one is trying to hide it from the viewers, as some stations do.  We all know there are pay-to-play scams going on out there, and I sincerely hope someone gets wise to it.  There are certainly more troublesome things going on than a reporter wearing an L.L. Bean jacket.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Science!


I've mentioned the University of Scranton's new science building here in the past.  It appears the steel skeleton is complete.

In these difficult economic times, it seems colleges and universities are the only ones with money to spend.  The U's project is interesting on several levels.  The construction provides jobs.  A new science building makes the U more attractive for students.  Enrollment increases, and all those students spend money in the area.

Something else jumped out at me during a leisurely drive Tuesday evening.  The new building really helps improve the look of the entrance to the city.  It really strikes you when you travel on the Central Scranton Expressway.  I especially noticed it as I headed toward the downtown on Pittston Avenue.  I didn't have my good camera with me, so this shot is from my camera phone, taken at Pittston Avenue and Front Street.

The finished product should be very nice for the university-- and the city.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Results, and Pardon My Lecture

Okay.  The numbers are in, and it's time to tell you what I think.

I felt Arlen Specter would squeak by.  He lost, and it wasn't close.  We all have a "shelf life" and Specter has reached his.  The party switch was a blatant bid to buy more time.  The voters didn't go for it.  Note to future campaigns:   Attacking John Kerry's military record worked for George Bush.  It hurt Specter-- badly when he went on the attack against the Navy service of Joe Sestak.  I never sensed Pennsylvania had a love affair with Arlen Specter, but he was a competent legislator, who we kept sending back to Washington.  There were many close calls over the years.  The Democrats finally found someone who could beat Arlen Specter.  Unfortunately for the Democrats, the guy was in their own party, and it took a bruising primary to do it.  The Democrats could never beat Specter while he was on Team Elephant.

Dan Onorato breezes to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  I never figured out why the Wagner campaign sputtered.  He's done well in state wide races before.  I thought Anthony Williams would make a better showing-- but the ghost of the pay raise vote still haunts a lot of people.

Tom Corbett wins in a walk on the Republican side.

Paul Kanjorski won the Democratic congressional nomination again, and that was expected.  Corey O'Brien campaigned hard, and I thought he'd do better.  The Kanjorski campaign hit the right notes.  It has the thing down to a science-- appeal to seniors and veterans, two groups who always vote.  O'Brien conducted a "nice" campaign.  Kanjorski has some vulnerabilities,  but they weren't attacked.  By the way, the Scranton Times~Tribune astutely pointed out that O'Brien and the third person in the race, Brian Kelly, had more votes, combined, than Kanjorski.  The fall campaign with Lou Barletta should be another bloody affair. 

Dave Argall narrowly won the Republican congressional nomination in the 17th district.  I thought he'd dispatch his opponents by a larger margin.  I'm guessing voters were making Argall pay for the mess in Harrisburg.

John Blake winning the Democratic nomination in the 22nd district is a bit of a surprise.  I thought his campaign commercials were dry and didn't offer much.  Chuck Volpe saturated television, and that was good enough for second place.  Chris Doherty finished third.  I suspect the months where he couldn't pick an office to run for hurt him.   Doherty could be one of those guys whose support is "a mile wide, but an inch deep."  It was a crowded field, and as John Blake proved, anything could happen.

The same "mile wide" thing goes for Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton.  He got crushed by John Yudichak in the race for state senate.  I thought Leighton had it won with the ad attacking Yudichak on his use of per diems in Harrisburg.  Leighton lost points for continually weasling around his response to the Brace letter.  If you remember, Leighton wrote a letter on behalf of Bill Brace, just before the sentencing for that admitted thief.  It took Leighton a long time to admit to what he actually did.  Hey, I have no problem with the letter.  Leighton and Brace were friends for a long time, and I wouldn't want my friends to abandon me in times of need.  However, Leighton handled it poorly, and tried to duck the issue-- much like I'm still waiting for that phone call to discuss Boscov's bankruptcy.  If Leighton was up front and honest, if he manned up, he might be planning for a trip to Harrisburg right now.  There is also a mishandling of the city's fire department staffing issues.  Building parking garages and going to the ribbon cutting for donut shops wasn't enough to get people to like Tom Leighton.

State Representative Ken Smith proved you can skip paying back your loans and taxes, and still win your party's nomination.

Former broadcaster Sid Michaels Kavulich won the Democratic nomination for state house in the 114th.  There is no doubt Sid takes this responsibility seriously, unlike other broadcasters who have soiled the profession after moving into politics.

The Dunmore firefighters tax went down in flames.  There's no surprise there.  That town really needs to get its act together.  There's no need for the parade of controversies and economic catastrophes.

Buckle up.  The general election campaign begins today.

Preliminary figures show that about one third of eligible voters went to the polls yesterday, and that's just sad.

Democracy is a wonderful system, but it will be even better if more people participate.

I spoke with a lot of people at the polls yesterday.  The consensus is that bad weather and apathy kept people away.

That lends fuel to an argument that takes place at television stations across the country.  Some reason that we shouldn't spend a lot of time and money covering politics and elections because no one cares.  I'm not a cheerleader or a company man, but I'm happy WNEP takes its responsibility seriously.  We cover elections.

There were come complaints that Republicans were ignored yesterday, and I will have to say that is, at least partially true.  We cover RACES.  Many of the Republican candidates had little or no opposition  In the primary, you follow the heat.  Things are a little easier in November, when there's a level playing field.  Congressional candidate Lou Barletta had no opponent yesterday, but I did mention him in my reports.  Kanjorski and O'Brien were generating the heat, and most of the coverage fell their way.

Then, there is the story of Action 16 Investigative Reporter Dave Bohman getting to the bottom of a misleading spot launched by Joe Sestak against Arlen Specter.  It's abundantly clear that Specter's words were taken out of context.  We showed that.  No one was happy-- on both sides.  No one was happy because it was a good and fair piece.  Clever editing distorted Specter's meaning.

Let me tell you something about those of us who cover politics.  We have bias.  There are candidates we like, and others we detest...  but it's all neutral when we enter 16 Montage Mountain Road.   There is a safety net.  Before my noon piece on Kanjorski and O'Brien got on the air, it was reviewed by two anchors and a producer. I'm sure one of the higher ups even got into the system to take a look at the script before it aired.  They're the bias busters, but they have a fairly easy job.  We have several veteran journalists on the staff.  They know how to play fair.  It's never in question.

Full disclosure:  I'm a registered independent, so I'm not allowed to vote in the primary. That election is only for the party people, and I'm okay with that.  I still have my opinions now, and especially when I vote in November, but the opinions stay at home.  They're not allowed to go to work with me.

Not everything was bad yesterday.  It was nice to see parents take their kids to the polls.  Get them interested while they're young.  Impress upon them that they have the power to influence our government.

I was also happy with myself.  Even after 28 years, I still enjoy covering elections, and I envy those who had a piece of the action last night.  Plus, FREE food and drink!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Election Day

Even though it's "only" a primary, this is one of the most interesting and most important elections we've had in a while.  You should be part of it.

It's noteable for who "isn't" on the ballot.  Bob Mellow and Ray Musto are retiring.  The state constitution keeps Ed Rendell from seeking a third term. 

Arlen Specter "is" on the ballot, but he's now a Democrat.

Paul Kanjorski is still around.  The only thing standing between Kanjorski and a rematch with Lou Barletta is Corey O'Brien.  Kanjorski hasn't had strong Democratic competition is eons. 

Chris Carney is up for a third term.  There is no Democratic opponent, but three Republicans going for the nomination.

There are some contested state house seats.  Unfortunately, many will waltz back to Harrisburg without opposition.

Vote today.  Watch the returns tonight on WNEP.

The suspense is killing me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moving Fast


I travel through this part of Dickson City on a regular basis.  Either I haven't been observant, or the project has been moving rapidly, or a combination of both.  Above is the 14 screen Great Escape cineplex, under connstruction just off Commerce Boulevard.

One of the screens will be Imax equipped.  That means a bigger screen with higher definition than standard movies.

Looking back through WNEP's files, I see the theaters will provide more than fifty jobs.  It also translates into more businesses for all the stores and restaurants in the area.

Even though I haven't been to a movie in a couple years, it's nice to see some economic development during these difficult times.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bad Photography Saturday

The first post-bumper sticker Bad Photography Saturday features a recent shot from my alma mater, Marywood University in Scranton.  It was a college back in my day.

Even though a lot of the green space has been eaten up by new construction, Marywood still has a considerable amount left.

You can't go wrong with tulips on a spring afternoon.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Parade Day

The annual Armed Forces Day Parade begins in downtown Scranton at 11 tomorrow morning.  It was a kick when this parade was revived, but disappointing because it never really caught fire.  As I've noted in the past, there might be a better way to say "thank you" to the troops.

Organizers promise the biggest parade ever, with special attention being given to the memory of Lt. Carol Ann Drazba of Dunmore, an Army nurse killed in Vietnam back in 1966.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by for a while.  If you're not, at least try to think of people in uniform, past and present, for a moment.

As I write this, tomorrow's forecast calls for sunny, but cool weather.  Let's hope a nice crowd lines the streets.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Enlightening Adventures in Retail

I'm a sucker for new technology, and the bug bit again yesterday.

USA Today on Tuesday did a story on Home Depot's new LED light bulb.  It throws out 40 watts worth of light, but uses only nine watts of electricity.  I stopped by Wednesday morning to buy one.  That's an actual picture on the left.

I've tried LED bulbs before.  I've found they beam more than the glow, and they're just not bright enough.

The Home Depot EcoSmart bulb seems to have solved some of those problems.  It acts like a 40 watt bulb, and the light is a bit warmer than other LED's, maybe even to the point of being too yellow.  Right now, it's in my computer desk lamp, probably the light I use the most.  Not bad so far.  It throws no heat, making it a nice summer bulb.

On the down side, it wasn't cheap, which means I'll be dead before the LED bulb pays for itself.  It's supposed to last 50,000 hours.  I hope my heirs get good use from it.  While the bulb saves energy, the big plastic cube it comes in is simply excessive packaging.  The color takes a bit getting used to.  The last bulb I had in that lamp, a CFL, had more of a daylight feel.

I've managed to become fond of CFL's, so I'll likely stick with those until the price of LED's comes down, and the brightness goes up.  40 watts is barely acceptible for my desk lamp.  I like it bright.

There have been a few posts about McDonald's in this space in recent months, and that kicked off a craving.  I surrendered to it last week.  Other than an occasional Egg McMuffin, I haven't had a McDonald's burger in quite a while.  I walked into a restaurant in Lackawanna County, and ordered a Big Mac and fries.  The fries had more salt than a PennDOT shed in January, almost rendering them inedible, but the Big Mac was rather bland and tastless.  The food was hot and fresh.  The service was fine, and the restaurant was clean.  Ketchup saved the fries.

My craving was satisfied, and I did not catch "fast food fever."  Nothing against McDonald's, but I won't be back for a while.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Dirty Word

pol·i·ti·cian   /ˌpɒlɪˈtɪʃən/ Show Spelled[pol-i-tish-uhn]



–noun


1.a person who is active in party politics.


2.a seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favor or retaining power than about maintaining principles.


3.a person who holds a political office.


4.a person skilled in political government or administration; statesman or stateswoman.


5.an expert in politics or political government.


6.a person who seeks to gain power or advancement within an organization in ways that are generally disapproved.

It seems we have a political theme going this week.  I bet that, at this point, you're beginning to miss Bumper Sticker Saturday.

There's a new batch of political commercials on the air this week.  More than one candidate is leveling the nastiest of charges againsthis opponent, that he's a dreaded politician !!!

Somewhere, we as a society, got off the track.  As you can see by the above http://www.dictionary.com/ entry, a "politician" can be a good thing.  Please see definitions four and five.  Now, being a politician is an extreme negative.  Do you think we'll ever see a candidate get behind a podium and say "I'm a politician and I'm proud of it."?

It appears many of the candidates, politicians and non politicians alike, fit definition number two.

The mudslingers assume you're not smart enough to know the difference between the good aspects of being a politician, and the ones that are not so good.  They are all politicians.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's Getting Ugly

The Pennsylvania Primary is one week from today.  The campaign ads have been flying fast and furious.  Being in television, I have a a front row seat for them all.

The negative ads kicked into high gear over the weekend.  Some actually had a point and are an effort to separate one candidate from the pack.  Others had the smell of desperation.

You can't live by negative ads alone, although some political consultants seem to have made a career out of that.

Running a campaign is like making marinara sauce.  You need the right mix of spices and you have to time it just right.

There has to be some "here's what I'll do for you ads."  An attack on the opponent, true or not, is thrown in.  Attack first.  Don't let your opponent control the agenda.  Don't peak too soon.  Save some of your ad money for the final push.

I find myself chuckling a great deal about those vowing to change Harrisburg or Washington while they were government insiders all along.  There aren't many fresh names on the ballot this time around.  It's mostly people looking to keep their jobs, or hop to another elected position.  Yes, it's disappointing.  You can't be an agent of change when you're part of the problem, and that's true for all levels of government.

We have 50 state senators.  Half the seats are up this year.  All 203 state representatives and all 19 U.S. representatives are on the ballot.  We can't forget about the governor and lieutenant governor contests.

If you're here, it means you already know how to navigate the internet.  Do yourself a favor and research the candidates.  I'm betting there's no one you agree with 100 per cent of the time, but you should find someone you like.  Then, vote one week from today.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bad Photography Monday

Now that my collection of radio station bumper stickers has been exhausted, the photographs will eventually migrate back to Saturday and/or Sunday.

After some early rain Thursday, the skies cleared, so I grabbed my camera and wandered over to Scranton's Nay Aug Park.
Nothing was going on while I was there, but volunteers are working on the old Hanlon's Grove.  They're trying to turn it into the picnic and recreation area it used to be.  It's on the north end of the park, where the summer theater tent was, before it collapsed.
I'll always have a soft spot for Nay Aug Park.  There were many happy family Sunday afternoons here.  It's nice to see efforts to put it back together.  The park will never be what it was.  The zoo is gone, and isn't coming back.  The same goes for the amusement park.  Still, Nay Aug Park can be a destination again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Phillies on WARM

I hold in my hand...  THE LAST BUMPER STICKER.

Bumper Sticker Saturday comes to an end with this WARM 590 entry.

The date of issue is uncertain, and it was after my time at the station.  It was a good looking sticker, apparently from the days when WARM called itself "NewsRadio."

Please.

By the time this sticker came out, the station was little more than syndicated, satellite talk shows and a couple local news readers, who stole their material out of the newspapers.  Sorry.  It had to be said.  NewsRadio was a joke.

WARM's first year with the Phillies was my first year with the station, 1981.  I hated "running the board" for the games.  The network was amateurish.  The pre-game show never started at the time the network sheet said it would.  Commercial breaks were never the right length.  The format called for two local station identification slots per hour.  They never hit the breaks on time.  There was many a night when I gave up on waiting.  I'd be in the bathroom, or at the soda machine at the far end of the building when I'd hear Harry, Richie, or Andy say "We now pause ten seconds for station identification on the Phillies Radio Network."  It was too late to race back to the control room to hit the tape, so listeners got ten seconds of silence, where the ID should have been.

Oh, the joys of radio.

And, we've reached the end of the line.  I started with WARM way back in October, and I end with WARM.  I know Bumper Sticker Saturday was really no big deal to the vast majority of the people who punch up this blog every day, but it was great fun for me, a chance to re-live some old memories.

Thanks for being part of the ride.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Rockets' Red Glare

I can't say I'm surprised.  The Times Square Bomber bought his explosives in Matamoras, Pike County, PA, USA.

I'm not sure if he knew something, or if it was just a wild guess, but New York Michael Bloomberg said it Sunday morning, long before the suspect was in custody-- that the bomb looked like part of it came from those fireworks that you can buy in Pennsylvania.  The story aired on Newswatch 16 Sunday morning.  If Bloomberg came up with a comment like that, I think it's fair to say New York Police have encountered a similar problem in the past.

I preface this next part by saying the Oklahoma City bomb was constructed with diesel fuel and fertilizer, two legal and readily available commodities.  I'm also not one for knee-jerk reactions and hiding behind alleged zero tolerance policies.

It's time Pennsylvania outlaw fireworks.  Many of the items in those stores can't be purchased by Pennsylvania residents, anyway.  Even the lower grade things we can buy are dangerous.  Ask the people who work in the emergency rooms.  There are always several stories, every summer, about stores going too far, and selling things that are more powerful than the legal limit.

The operator of one of the fireworks stores said the system worked-- all the ID checks left a trail that led to the capture of the man who built the bomb.  That's little consolation if the thing went off and killed dozens, maybe hundreds or thousands.  How would that operator have felt if the bomb ignited?  Would he still be proud of his operation?  Would he care?   Would he rationalize that his hands were blood-free because the proper paperwork was filled out?

There are more than enough professional fireworks displays out there.  Leave it to the experts.

Don't make it easy for the terrorists.

And, a follow up to yesterday's blog...  The ad we all expected Joe Sestak to run has finally appeared.  It hits Specter on his switch from Republican to Democrat.  Sestak had a recent surge in the polls.  He's now down only about five per cent, and it hasn't budged in a week.  We'll see if the new had sends voters to the Sestak camp.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Closing In...Fast

A poll this week has Joe Sestak just six points behind Arlen Specter.  Sestak has come an awfully long way.

I love talking campaign strategy.  Specter went negative early and often.  One would suspect he was trying to bury Sestak, who was far behind in the polls at the time, before the Sestak campaign had a chance to gain traction.

The tactic might have backfired.  Specter was seen as picking on a retired U.S. Navy admiral.  People hold the military in high regard, especially in these terror-ridden times.  Specter's ads found other Sestak related targets, in addition to his military record.  Was it too late?  Was the damage to the Specter campaign already done?

I can't wait to see the way this one plays out.  Specter was first elected to the U.S. Senate, as a Republican,  in 1980, but this is his first election since last year's switch to the Democratic party.  Specter has the backing of the party brass.  Vice President Joe Biden made an appearance on Specter's behalf last month.  People at the scene said attendance was low, and enthusiasm was lacking.  Have the Democrats accepted Specter as one of their own?  There's considerable evidence to indicate the answer is "no."

As has been discussed here many times in the past, candidates and their consultants go negative for one simple reason.  It works.  It's not a blanket endorsement of negative ads.  Far from it.  Negativity has to be used selectively and carefully.  Specter does have his share of positive ads.  I think the one where laid off Bethlehem Steel workers talk about Specter saving their pensions is great.

At least right now, Sestak is failing to exploit the biggest thing he has going for him, in the minds of many in the Democratic party:  He's not Arlen Specter.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday Scrapple

Here's why I hate basketball:  The NY Post says the last one minute and 45 seconds of a recent game between Cleveland and Chicago took nearly 15 minutes to play.  That's just insane.

Why do the NY Yankees tolerate such amateurish and annoying radio broadcasts?

What's with all the big fires lately?

Less than two weeks to go before the Pennsylvania Primary.  It's going to be a long couple weeks.  The ads, yard signs, and assorted other campaigning have become overwhelming.

I do not wish ill on others, but it was really nice watching Tiger Woods flub a lot of shots last week.

Sorry for all the sports today.

My drug store of choice has now gotten into the loyalty card business.  How I hate those things!  I keep the little tags on a key chain for when I go shopping.  There are now a dozen...  Best Buy, Staples, Wegman's, Price Chopper, CVS, Rite Aid, Weis, ShurSave, Shop Rite, Giant, Turkey Hill, Joe's Kwik Marts...  I'm sure the list will get longer.  I know it's an important marketing tool, and it might even save consumers a few cents, but I still find all those cards mind numbing.

Another recent survey shows newspaper circulation is down.  Surprised?

After the 60 Minutes interview, my mixed feelings on Conan O'Brien remain.  I do feel sorry for him, a little.  It's tough having sympathy for someone who walked away with a $30 million check.  NBC treated him badly.  He didn't deliver ratings, but the show wasn't given a chance to grow.  He allegedly resisted NBC's attempts to soften the show for an earlier audience.  I've never liked Conan O'Brien because he always tried to be funnier than his guests.  However, he did come across well in the CBS interview.

The O'Brien interview is on line.  Watch it.  Steve Kroft knows his stuff, and it all comes down to the simple fact that he let O'Brien talk.  The "it's all about me" broadcasters out there should view that 60 Minutes piece, and learn from it.

Retired Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died yesterday.  Cancer.  92.  CBS Radio used to have the Major League Baseball contract, and it always hired Harwell to work some of the playoff games.  It was a treat to listen to a true professional.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

McUpdate

Back in February, I lamented the loss of the Dunmore McDonald's, a restaurant near and dear to my heart-- and stomach.  The building was torn down, and replaced with a new one.  While it's still a few weeks away from opening, this photo, taken Friday morning, gives you a good idea of what we have.

This is the new McDonald's standard look.  Hanover Township, in Luzerne County, has the same thing.  That famous double sloped Mansard roof is a thing of the past.

It has all the charm of a stone shoe box.  The golden arches have been replaced, on the building, with what the company calls the "eyebrow swoosh."  I'm fairly certain some sore of red and yellow awning goes over the front windows, softening the look a bit.

Get real.  Yes, I know it's only a burger and fries joint.  As long as the workers can get me in and out fast, I'll be an occasional customer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bad Photography Monday

I hadn't set out to take any photographs Thursday afternoon, but I took my camera, just in case.

As I was driving through Carbondale, I glanced over at Gravity Park-- green grass, pink trees, gazebo, monument.  It jumped out and said "photograph me."

This isn't a big park, but it packs a lot into a small space.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mountain II

 
I referred to it last week, and here it is.  

The Mountain is owned by Entercom Communications, and it's been at 102.3 FM, in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area for quite a while now.

As I've noted in the past-- good music, but a little too much talk.

I'm cheating.  What you see above really isn't a bumper sticker.  It's one of those plastic things that clings to the inside of your car window.  Close enough for me, to qualify for Bumper Sticker Saturday.

Unless I come across another one, Bumper Sticker Saturday ends next week!