Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Phone calls from attorneys are rarely good news. A lawyer from Cleveland wanted to talk with me. I returned the call, got his secretary, then the lawyer. He won a judgement against an Andrew Palumbo from Buffalo, NY, but couldn't find him to collect. The lawyer said he knew I wasn't the deadbeat, and we weren't related. He was just taking a shot in the dark to ask if I knew the man from Buffalo.
The answer was "no." The lawyer and I exchanged some pleasantries and small talk, and he said he was off to continue his quest for the guy who owed him money.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Harrisburg has a new scandal. This time, it's e-mail and pornography. A big list of movers and shakers is involved, and it's a lot of people who should know better. As if state government's image wasn't tarnished enough.
I don't care if the iPhone6+ bends. I wasn't getting one, anyway.
Giant video boards are going up on a downtown Philadelphia building, as an intersection tries to become a mini Times Square. Would something like that work around here? It might be a way to liven up dark places, like Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton, an extra source of revenue for a struggling mall.
Firefighters in Shenandoah and surrounding areas had a tough Sunday morning, with four fires going at the same time. It looks like arson. Luckily, no one was hurt. A tip of the cap to the men and women who kept it from becoming even worse.
It's nice to see King's College and Wilkes University expanding. College towns have a vibrancy coal towns cannot match. It's time we kick the transition in to high gear.
George Clooney got married over the weekend. I never thought I'd see the day.
Here's something different-- NEPA had Quaker Steak & Lube restaurants before the Lehigh Valley. One opens just over the river, in NJ, this week.
YouTube never fails to fascinate. It contains things I never thought I'd see again, like old news clips and game shows.
Thank you, PennDOT, for finally fixing that pothole along Interstate 81 South, near the Davis Street Exit. It only took four months.
The joy of animation is the characters never age and they live forever. We should all be so lucky. That's why it bugs me when shows like "The Simpsons" kill off a character.
The Pittsburgh Steelers need to look hard and fast about coaching staff changes next season.
It was a classy final weekend for Derek Jeter, and that made me happy. I looked at his numbers-- more than 3400 hits, .310 average, 0 times tossed out of a game. Take that, haters.
5:30 am temperature in the Poconos: 59 degrees. Outstanding for this time of year!
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Never skied, and I have no desire to. I admire those who do it and do it well.
It got me to thinking how quickly seasons change. Green today. White tomorrow.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Friday, September 26, 2014
The Yankee shortstop is getting some heat for a prolonged series of farewells and tributes, across the league. The complainers say Jeter is an average player who doesn't deserve that level of attention.
I'm not a Yankee fan, and therefore not a Jeter fan, but I think he deserves everything he receives-- and then some.
All he did in his 20 year career is pile up decent numbers, and he was a good ambassador for the game, a role model.
Jeter was never in trouble. He seems like a nice guy-- a credit to a MLB uniform, unlike many of his steroid using contemporaries.
There are people still fawning over Pete Rose, and he was one of the biggest bums ever to set foot on a baseball diamond. Rose had more hits. Jeter has more class. The latter is more important.
Former Yankee manager Joe Torre called Jeter the best player he ever managed, but not the best athlete. He didn't hesitate when asked the question. I'd rather have someone who tries hard and makes the most of the talent he has. It looks like that was Derek Jeter.
Plus, what a way to end Thursday night's game-- the last home game, a walk-off single in front of a full house.
Derek, enjoy the tributes, and have a happy retirement.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
1. America's largest soft drink manufacturers say they will help cut consumption of sugary and fattening drinks, by among other things, reducing container sizes.
TRANSLATION: We'll give you smaller cans and bottles, but we won't cut the price. In fact, we'll probably charge you more. We'll get away with it by pretending to be concerned about your health.
2. Comedian (word used loosely) Kathy Griffin lashed out at the major television networks because late night talk shows are still a man's world.
TRANSLATION: I'm not funny or talented enough to be considered by the major networks, so I'll hide behind the gender card. If I'm lucky, the best I can do is be heir to the Joan Rivers throne, and say excessively nasty things about people more talented than I.
3. Alaska TV reporter Charlo Greene quit on the air the other night, and dropped the F bomb for good measure.
TRANSLATION: If I resigned in a professional manner, they would forget about me and my lackluster performances before my car left the parking lot. It's better to be despised than forgotten.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Let's take Monday, for example.
Wallenpaupack Area schools re-opened after being closed for three days due to the Eric Frein search. 30 per cent of the students stayed home, and I assume they did that with the okay of their parents.
Police seem to believe Frein is in a small, but wooded area at the Pike/Monroe County line. Those police also believe Wallenpaupack Area students are safe. The school district brought in extra security as a precaution.
I was there. It looked safe to me.
But, you never know.
Would I want my children there? If I was a student, would I want to stay home?
I tried to put myself in their shoes when I was doing the story Monday. I have to admit, it would have been a tough call.
Speaking of tough calls, to do the Wallenpaupack Area story Monday, a photographer and I had to leave the immediate search zone. We drove around the Canadensis area. I just didn't get the feeling that anything big was about to pop. I was comfortable leaving town for a little while, and the Wallenpaupack Area story was an important one-- one I really wanted to do. If Frein was captured while I was away, I really would have heard about it. You weigh the options and make your choice. In this case, it was the right one.
Tuesday, I was about to leave Barrett Township to do the re-opening of most Pocono Mountain schools, another story I lobbied to do. Again, we made the rounds in the area before departing, and noticed a lot more police activity. Plus, it was happening much earlier in the day. It didn't feel right in the gut. I called producers and the WNEP assignment desk and said I shouldn't leave the area. Ryan Leckey and Corey Burns handled the school story. It worked out well. We got everything covered and hit all the right notes on our Tuesday noon broadcast.
Some risks are worth taking, while others require pumping the brakes a bit.
The trick is to know the difference.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Back in my radio days, I worked with an intensely funny and creative man, Terry McNulty. Terry was taken from us way too early.
When I was working at WARM, Terry said it seemed like out lead story on holidays always was an accident involving someone from Canadensis.
I cannot hear the name Canadensis without thinking of Terry, and thinking of Terry never fails to bring a smile to my face. It brings a little relief during a difficult time and a painful story.
Monday, September 22, 2014
It's well scripted, well acted, has a great story, and James Spader jumps off the screen.
Unfortunately, it's very dark, creepy, violent and disturbing.
I cringed my way through a lot of scenes last season, the first season.
Even though there's a lot of good here, I won't be watching the second season, which begins tonight.
It's too bad. The Blacklist is clever enough that it doesn't need the violence, the gore, the beheadings, the shootings, the chopped off limbs, the poisonings...
If you're able to stomach it, enjoy season two.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
I will not dispute the need for a new one. However, I'm still not sold on the design and location.
I will be very interested to see the finished product next year, and how it relates to the rest of the campus.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
But, I'm a fair man. I'm also the first to praise my alma mater when it does something right.
Marywood handled the public visitation for murdered State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson with a great deal of dignity, honor and professionalism.
I was proud.
Friday, September 19, 2014
All week long, at the mall, at the gym, at the drug store, at the office... I'm asked to shed some light on what happened one week ago at the State Police barracks at Blooming Grove. People want to make some sense out of a senseless act.
As you know by now, Cpl. Bryon Dickson was shot to death. Tpr. Alex Douglass was wounded and left for dead.
Investigators believe a disgruntled and disturbed man from Canadensis pulled the trigger. We may never know why, but that hasn't stopped us from trying to learn the truth.
I wish I had the answers.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
The store has been updated since my last visit, and some things jumped out at me.
The store had just three desktop computers on display. Three. And, they were hard to find. We now live in a laptop and tablet world.
The software area has shrunk considerably. All the store had was some anti virus software and a few business productivity items. No one buys dvd software any more. It's all downloaded.
The hard wired telephone department is shrinking, again. Copper land lines are on the way out.
It looks like the cell phone/smart phone case, charger and accessory area has a lot more room.
It was nice to see the store still sells a lot of pens and paper. I hope pen to paper never goes away.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I'm sorry. There's no other way to say it.
Peterson has been charged with child abuse. It's alleged he whipped his four year old son with a stick until the child bled. Four years old. What could have a four year old have done to deserve that? He bled.
What makes it worse is Peterson has admitted to and is defending his behavior.
Okay, I will admit that a lot of kids could benefit from a swat to the behind once in a while, but whipping a four year old until he bleeds is criminal behavior.
Once upon a time, there was a sadistic teacher at one of my elementary schools. He used to paddle kids, on the hand, with a thick and massive board. I saw it happen. It wasn't pleasant. The punishment was doled out in a public ritual of humiliation and tears. This teacher appeared to derive some pleasure out of it.
He wasn't my teacher, and he never got me, but after witnessing one of his sick rituals I vowed that if he ever tried that with me, I'd make a grab for that paddle and crease his skull with it.
It wasn't discipline. It was child abuse, and he should have been jailed for it. But, it was a different time, and no one really seemed to care. I did.
Watching this twisted individual inflict horrible punishment wasn't incentive for me to behave. It was incentive to make sure no child of mine was ever treated that way. I always said to myself that every teacher would get the same lecture from me. If my child misbehaves, put him in a room and call me. I'll deal with it. You are to never, ever lay a hand on him.
The point is moot. I never had kids.
Still, there's a lesson here. Stop the hitting.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
My Monday morning was spent in Pike County, doing updates on Friday night's shooting at Blooming Grove that killed one state trooper and badly injured another.
We were making the rounds when we stopped by a gas station/mini mart. The truck needed gas and I needed to use the "porcelain conveniences" as radio DJ Doug "Greaseman" Tracht was fond of saying. The newspaper rack was near the front door, and as I was exiting the store, I noticed a lot of people clustered around the rack and buying newspapers.
OK. The problems of newspapers in the modern age are well documented. Many have had massive problems transitioning to digital. By the time the ink hits the paper, the news is old. Many newspapers are printed miles and miles away from the cities in which they are distributed. It's a tough business.
But, on the other hand, newspapers can provide context and depth. It's something we broadcasters, in this fast moving headline era, can't do.
I've known a lot of print people during my time in the business. I've respected most. Some were horribly incompetent. Others were deceitful. They were in the minority. I guess the print people can say the same about broadcasters.
It hurts when I see newspapers struggle. We're all brethren in the information business. With any luck, the Pike County story will drive people back to print, they'll stick around for a while, and realize what they've been missing.
Monday, September 15, 2014
To say the individual has no regard for human life is an understatement. Cop killers hold a special place in society, and it's not a highly regarded one.
The theories are out there, but no one who really knows is talking, at least not right now.
We'll eventually learn why all of this happened. Was it a random act, or did the shooter have a grudge against a specific officer? Did the shooter hate everyone in uniform?
What will we learn here? Do officers have to wear bullet proof vests constantly? I've been in a lot State Police barracks over the years. They all have features that separate the public from the secure areas. Do we now need more protection, more security outside?
I'm sure all the answers will come, eventually. I'm not sure we'll like what we hear.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
There was one worthwhile activity during my time off. I stopped by the annual motorcycle ride in honor of SGT Jan Argonish. He's the Lackawanna County man killed in Afghanistan seven years ago.
No, I don't ride. I just watch, and marvel at the outpouring of support. Money raised goes to veterans charities here in our area. All the info is at JansRide.com
More than 500 motorcycles, and their riders and passengers, were here Sunday morning. That translates into thousands of dollars for people who really need it.
I'll share another photo tomorrow.
Friday, September 12, 2014
McDonald's is considering something called "McBrunch." Really? Isn't the McD's menu large enough, and employees seem to struggle with the current slate of offerings.
Intrigued by the big iPhone, but not enough to pull the trigger. I'll have to check it out when it's in stores and the crowds die down.
I hear a lot of people complaining about FaceBook lately, making me glad I never signed up.
More stores are opening along the 611 corridor in Bartonsville. Shouldn't they get a handle on the traffic problems there first?
There aren't enough Ray Charles songs on the radio.
Radio Shack says it's considering bankruptcy. As I noted before, RS used to be a fun place to explore and the yearly catalog release was eagerly anticipated. Sad.
MSN.com had a list of 10 things dirtier than a toilet seat. Sorry. I didn't read it.
I take a September vacation because I like cooler weather. It just didn't happen this year. Another vacation week is set for late October. I'm assuming it will be cooler then.
Back to work tonight after 11 days off.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
President Obama ordered air strikes in Syria. Target: ISIS. It's the first time there will be U.S. military action in that middle eastern nation. There is no option. If the ISIS threat is to be neutralized, you have to hit them where they live, and that's Syria.
The president had to do something. ISIS is a big threat. Americans have been killed. On top of that, the president's popularity is plunging. The majority of people surveyed in an ABC News poll view the Obama presidency as a failure.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is the second on today's "no choice" list. Late last night, he appointed a special investigator to look in to the way the league handled the Ray Rice video. Goodell originally suspended Rice for two games for punching his fiance (now wife) unconscious in an Atlantic City hotel. Rice was kicked out of the league and cut from the Baltimore Ravens after a second video surfaced, showing the actual punch. There are allegations the league had the "punch" video months ago, but it did nothing.
A special, independent investigator is the only way to go. It's better than the dreaded "internal investigation." As Larry King once said, only one question is asked at an "internal investigation," and that's "How are we going to cover this up?"
As many people are saying, including your blog author, why did they need the punch video to bounce Rice? Wasn't an unconscious woman, being dragged from an elevator enough?
At least, the Rice story has ignited discussions aimed at ways to curb domestic violence and help its victims.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
To get you up to speed, Rice hit his fiance (now his wife) in an Atlantic City hotel. The Baltimore Ravens star was suspended for two games.
Earlier this week, TMZ got its hands on the video of the actual strike. We had already seen Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of the elevator.
Rice was suspended for two games. That switched to a ban, plus a release from contract, after video of the punch became public.
Two things: There are allegations the NFL never made an effort to find the video of the punch. Also, did we really need it? We saw the video of Rice dragging a limp body out of the elevator. We could all come to the conclusion that something really bad happened in there because she was UNCONSCIOUS!
Systemic failure: from the punch itself, to the investigation, to the way the NFL and the Ravens handled the punishment.
And, the NCAA lifted some of the post Sandusky sanctions against Penn State. Judging by the reaction, it looks like the "football first" mentality is still alive and well.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
A while back I wondered how states will make money now that the bloom is off the gambling rose. Atlantic City, NJ is on the verge of collapse, with three casinos closing and 2,000 people out of work. I don't see it getting any better. Competition from New York and Maryland is on the way. My guess was more states would the Colorado model and try to make money off marijuana. NBA commissioner Adam Silver seems to have it figured out. He sees legalized sports betting as "inevitable" and he's probably right. I still think you'll see legal marijuana sooner rather than later.
NOAA, how's that hurricane forecast working out? Not so good? I thought so.
Scranton's former "Moonshine Theater" will be re-named "The Leonard." It's to honor the old hardware store that once occupied the building. The other name under consideration was "The Anthracite." "The Leonard" was the smart choice. In case you haven't noticed, the mines closed decades ago, and they left a legacy of scarred earth and scarred bodies.
Monday, September 8, 2014
This is the old school, and a neighbor tells me it housed just about every grade over the year. That's nice.
Who doesn't love neighborhood schools, although I'm sure this one drew students from a wide area.
Personally, it's mixed feelings. It's so nice to be able to walk to school and have a sense of community. Unfortunately, some of the neighborhood schools I was in were awful. No facilities. Fire traps. They were sad and dangerous places.
A lot of neighborhood schools are gone. It's a matter of economics, and they offer great gyms, libraries and labs. I get that. Still, it was nice to walk out the door, walk a few blocks, and be seated in your classroom.
This month's header carries on a tradition. I've been trying to do something with an education theme for the past few Septembers. While most colleges, universities and school districts go back in late August, I always considered September to be THE back to school month.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
It looked rather low to me, but I read that the water here is usually kept low because its primary purpose is flood control.
It's good to know there's plenty of room. Hurricane season runs until the end of November.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Friday, September 5, 2014
September is a great month. The weather cools off (except this year), kids are back in school, everything is quiet. It's that beautiful period that mixes the best of summer and fall.
As always, no plans. A little wandering. A lot of sleeping. I already have my extra short vacation hair cut.
Something new this time around-- Jackie DeTore gets fill duty on the weekend morning anchor desk. She was in last weekend, learning the ropes. She'll be great. Buy stock in coffee companies this weekend. Staying up all night is a challenge for those not used to it.
Be well. I'll see you soon.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
I finally got to see Keith Olbermann's special on the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose getting kicked out of baseball.
At the end, Olbermann made his argument for reinstating Rose. He said Rose already appeared in some baseball sanctioned events because sponsors were willing to pay big bucks. Olbermann also reasoned that those who cheated by using performing enhancing drugs did more damage to the game than Pete Rose.
The steroid people used their drugs before baseball started testing and made them illegal. Yes, they did wrong, but it wasn't as bad as the things Pete Rose did. Gambling is baseball's equivalent of homicide.
The day Pete Rose is allowed back in baseball is the day I become a soccer fan.
ABC News has returned the word "tonight" to the title of its evening news broadcast. It's just like it started in 1978: "World News Tonight." I saw the reason for dropping it in 2006. ABC management reasoned back then that it was a 24/7 product, thanks to the internet. I'm leaning toward liking "tonight." It gives the impression that it's a destination broadcast, something you seek out and watch.
CVS has stopped selling cigarettes a month early. I always found it odd that stores focused on health sold cancer causing products.
I was looking over a list of network NFL broadcasting announcer assignments-- some changes, a few new names. The game is the star, but a bad set of announcers can detract from it. A good set of announcers can make a bad game tolerable. Other than the top two or three teams on each network, I don't sense that a lot of compelling television is in the offing this year.
Mandalay has sold its half of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. I wonder if the nbew bunch can turn around lackluster attendance. There are 14 teams in the International League. We finished 11th in attendance.
USA Today reports people are already lining up outside Apple stores for the new iPhone 6, which is still weeks away. Really? Priorities? I wonder if Apple pays people to stand in line to drum up publicity and media coverage.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Regular readers know I feel long range weather forecasting is a waste of time and a scam. Weather patterns change every month. Anyone who thinks they know what the upcoming winter will be like is taking a guess.
Regular readers know I do an entry every late winter about skunks. Active skunks show spring is right around the corner.
Well, the skunks are busy beavers once again, fattening up for the winter. It seems like they're scurrying about a bit earlier than normal. That would seem to indicate winter will be here soon, it will be colder and snowier than normal, and it will be a long one.
I trust the skunks more than the people trying to convince you that they know what will happen four months from now.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
I do remember switching to ABC when it tried the three anchor format in the late 70's. Frank Reynolds handled the Washington stories. Max Robinson had the domestic stories from Chicago, and Peter Jennings handled the international stories from London. Critics hated the format. I thought their view was myopic. ABC News president Roone Arledge changed the story telling and production techniques at the time, and the critics didn't get that part of the equation.
Frank Reynolds got sick and died. Max Robinson had some issues and he also passed away. Peter Jennings became sole anchor, and I went back to CBS, where Dan Rather was now in the anchor chair.
My schedule changed, and the network evening news became after my bedtime.
Our focus is on ABC today. After Peter Jennings died, the anchor chairs were occupied by Elizabeth Vargas, Bob Woodruff, Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer, and as of today, David Muir.
Sawyer and her team took the broadcast in a different direction: more lifestyle. It will be interesting to see if ABC continues down that road. Efforts to reinvent the evening news have failed. Katie Couric and CBS discovered that. It's now more of a traditional broadcast, and a very good one at that. David Muir seems to have the credentials, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the months to come.
Monday, September 1, 2014
We had similar career tracks. Kevin spent several years in radio before moving to TV. I did the same thing.
I first met Kevin when I was on WARM. I don't believe Kevin had made the move to WYOU at the time, so he would have been at WBRE. Most of the time, we bumped in to each other at the Luzerne County Courthouse. It can be an intimidating place. Kevin was kind to the newbie, always pointing me in the right direction.
Later, beginning in 1990, we worked together at WYOU. I didn't make a conscious effort to copy Kevin's style, but a lot of it crept in to my reporting because it was so good. It was a clean, crisp style, with an occasional clever turn of phrase.
Kevin offered me advice that I still pass along to kids in the business. Kevin once told me he became a better reporter when he stopped trying to impress the others in the media, and started trying to impress the viewers. What they want is the information. Clean and simple.
I first stepped in front of a microphone when I was 17, and I've been doing this nearly 35 years. I don't think I've met anyone as efficient as Kevin Jordan. He knew how to get the story down to its essence and do it quickly. He knew how to write it so you understood it. He delivered it live and flawlessly. Kevin always made sure he was never bigger than the story.
Kevin will always be remembered for holding presidential candidate Ted Kennedy's feet to the fire during a 1980 radio interview, and the way he covered the George Banks case-- from crime to trial and conviction.
Dealing with Kevin had its challenges. He was an expert needler. At times, he went a little too far, drawing a little blood. It hurt and you wanted to put him through a wall. Eventually, you forgave. It was just Kevin being Kevin.
The man was more than a news reporter. He did sidelines at our broadcasts of high school football games on Saturday afternoons, a role I eventually assumed when Kevin cut back. He knew sports. His questions went beyond the cliches, and was one of the best ad libbers I ever met.
Then, there was politics. The old WYOU used Kevin and former Scranton mayor Jim McNulty on election nights. Kevin knew his stuff, and he was the perfect guy to bring McNulty's vast political knowledge to the surface. No one could do it better. It was a solid team, and I was proud to be a very small part of it. Before heading out on election night assignments, a short session with Jim and Kevin was always in order. I picked their brains, learning what to watch for. It never failed to pay off.
I did five Scranton St. Patrick's Parades with Kevin. We were co-street reporters. It showed he had an added dimension, a side you didn't see a lot. He could be extremely funny. The man could shift gears-- hard news to live parade reporting, and still retain credibility.
There are times, when I'm wrapping up a live shot on a "hard news" story, and it's going well, and there's momentum, and I can hear Kevin's delivery creeping in to mine. That's when I know I've done well.
Kevin left broadcasting for a county job around 1996. The business was never the same. That's Kevin and I in the photo above, taken in the old WYOU newsroom in the early 90's.
By now, it's likely you know where this is going. Kevin had a series of health problems over the years. In and out of hospitals.
Kevin died late Sunday afternoon.
I was lucky to work with him. I was luckier to have him as a friend.
AT 12:20 AM
I hated it as a kid because it signaled "back to school."
Now, in addition to being a celebration of the American worker, Labor Day marks cooler weather, less crowded vacation areas, new shows on TV, and comfortable balance of light versus night.
It's a great day. Enjoy it, and I sincerely hope we're all working at this time next year.