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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Higher

You really have to wonder what's going on in higher education.

First of all, some schools brought in counselors and cancelled classes because professors and students weren't happy with the outcome of the presidential election.  Students walked out of class, and professors appeared to condone the action.

Then, there is West Chester University.  It's developing a course in media literacy, with the goal of teaching students how to spot fake news stories and media bias.

Really?

If students had a solid foundation in politics, history, geography, english, literature and civics-- beginning in elementary school, there would be no need for that media literacy course.  If you're in college, and you still need help in spotting a fake news story, you're in a lot of trouble.

And there's more.  I've seen schools bring in dogs for the students to cuddle as a way to reduce exam taking related stress.  Want an easy way to reduce stress?  Study.  Study hard.  You walk into that exam room with confidence, and you can't wait to crack into that blue book.

A little advice-- turn off social media.  Read a book.  Learn about your world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

90 Miles

I've always had mixed feelings about Cuba.

For 50 years, it was led by a brutal dictator.  Fidel Castro nearly triggered a nuclear war.  His citizens were willing to risk their lives to sail the 90 miles to freedom in the United States.

On the other hand, the missile crisis was a long time ago, and we are cooperative with other terrible regimes.

You can make solid arguments on both sides of the friends/enemies debate.

Fidel Castro is gone.  Raul Castro still runs the country.  You have to wonder if he'll make changes now that big brother isn't looking over his shoulder.  Plus, Raul is no kid.  It's possible his successor will moderate things a bit, but you never really know.

Fidel Castro's death was announced on my watch, early Saturday morning.  Being in a newsroom when something big breaks is always fascinating.  Closed circuit alarms with the networks start going off.  Email and social media begin to pop.  There was an upcoming broadcast to rip apart and reassemble with the latest information.  To say the least, this was not your usual Thanksgiving weekend.

Speaking of the holiday, I hope you and your family had a good one.  Thank you for all the nice comments over on Facebook.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday Scrapple

Last winter spoiled me.  It hurt to put my bike away for the season, and the Saturday night snow last week was depressing.

I know their relationship was occasionally strained, but it's a joy to watch Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon work together.

Holiday food items are rarely on my list, but it's fun to wander around the supermarket at this time of year.

You get into the most bizarre conversations at work.  last week's major topic was Snoopy's siblings.  I knew he had a few.  I didn't realize he was part of a big litter.

The recent of rash of teachers of having sex with students is disturbing, to say the least.  Can someone come up with a solid way to prevent it?  Tougher penalties?

Efforts to toughen Pennsylvania's animal abuse laws have stalled in the state legislature.  In Harrisburg, if it doesn't deal with beer, it doesn't happen.

Bad Santa 2 is getting some bad reviews, and I'm troubled.  I really looked forward to that one.

Why do smoke alarms always begin their "low battery" chirp in the middle of the night?

It was strange to see the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Santa parades take place in shirt sleeve weather.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish:  stuffing.

I always laugh when i read of hear that Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year.  Far from it.  It's just lazy reporting by people who didn't do their research.

The NY Post reports ABC News is exploring adding a 24 hour digital news channel.  Good move.  I was disappointed it gave up on ABC News Now several years ago.  The CBS news channel, CBSN, is actually very good.  CBS apparently invested heavily in it.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs will wear home uniforms with reflective patches and logos this season, their 10th anniversary.  I've seen still photos, and I'm greatly looking forward to seeing the uniforms in action this season.

I understand the economic reasons Maryland and Rutgers are in the Big 10 conference, but competitively, they don't have much business being there.  I always thought it would be more fun if Penn State was in the ACC.

Kudos to the NBC Sports Radio Network.  It had live shows Thanksgiving and the day after, while the others gave you "best of" broadcasts.  In sports talk and news talk radio, there are few things worse than "best of."  There's a lot of talent out there.  Give them a shot at the holidays.

This could be a "double scrapple" week.

I topped 1,000 Facebook likes November 20.  It mostly to the promotion by Joe Snedeker and Mindi Ramsey.  Thank you, all.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Andy's Angles: More Snow

When I'm out reporting in it, I usually refer to this as "sticky snow."  It's that heavy, wet snow that clings to everything.

There is a major down side.  The snow weighs down trees and power lines.  Hundreds of homes and businesses in our area were in the dark during Sunday morning's storm.

Now that it's over, you can look at the beautiful side.  This is another Sunday morning photo from the WNEP parking lot in Moosic.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Andy's Angles: Snow Scene

I've worked in nondescript buildings along interstate highways.  I've worked downtowns.

Working along an interstate interchange had its advantages.  The biggest was ease in getting anywhere-- fast.

Downtowns are nice with ready access to government offices, banks and shopping.  Parking, however, was a bear.

I have it pretty good at WNEP.  Plenty of free parking, close to the interstate, and a nice atmosphere.

I took this photo early Sunday morning, as a tree near the employee entrance was covered in fresh snow.

It was a scene even a winter hater could appreciate.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday

If I have a "least favorite" day, this is it.  Black Friday.  It's a day dedicated to crowds and excess.

Having laid that foundation, I do realize money is tight.  Standing in line and fighting crowds could be the only avenue to affording items on the gift lists of friends and family.

There were some positive signs this year.  Several stores decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving.  I like that.  You can do without the mall for a day.  There were a few smaller stories, drug stores and mini marts around for last minute emergencies.

It also gives retail workers a little time off.  Underpaid.  Overworked.  However, you do have to understand that when you take a job in retail, working holidays is part of the package.

Be careful, and be patient if you'll be out today.  I plan on sticking close to home.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and your family have an absolutely perfect Thanksgiving.

Usually, in this space, I say something like "We all have something for which to be thankful."

Well, I know too many people who have had simply awful years, and I will be thinking of them today.  I pray they find something that brings a little happiness, a little warmth, maybe a smile.

Me?  No major plans.  If the weather cooperates, I'll do my usual thing of playing with my camera in the morning, dinner in the afternoon.  Maybe some TV football.  This is also the time of the year when I start pondering the Top Ten photos of 2016.  A lot of that preliminary work has already been done.  I'll take another look at my files, jot some notes, think of order and placement.

I had a chance to do a nice and positive story Tuesday. If you didn't catch it on Newswatch 16, please take a look.



No big issues here today.  Enjoy the day.  We'll talk tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

First Snow

I'm not really a snow fan.  A lot of it comes from driving in it.  Timing was on my side Saturday night.  I drove to work just after the change over from rain and sleet.  By the time I drove home, the snow had stopped and the temperature crept back above freezing.

I took this picture in WNEP's parking lot early Sunday morning.  In spring, summer, and fall, this is a perfectly lovely tree.  It took on a tilt under the weight of the heavy wet snow.  It reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, minus the lights and ornaments-- appropriate at this time of year.

I captured a couple of other snowy shots Sunday, and I hope to share them this weekend.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Snow Danger




It's been a pet peeve of mine for some time.

The law says you have to clear your car of snow and ice before you get on the road. Somehow, trucks have been allowed to skate for years. We've seen cases of snow and ice chunks blowing off and causing damage to vehicles behind. There was even a fatality here in our area a few years back.

I'm pragmatic. Shoveling the top of a huge trailer must be a bear, but what is the cost of safety? What is the cost of a human life?

Can someone invent a drive under scraper?  A heater?  I wonder how other states handle it.

The truck you see above scattered snow for several miles, and there is still a big pile on the top, waiting to blow off and land in someone's path-- or in their windshield.

Winter is just beginning. I know there have been efforts in the state legislature to correct the practice.

Below is a PennLive.com story from last year.




By Christian Alexandersen | calexandersen@pennlive.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on February 26, 2015 at 8:45 AM, updated February 26, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Don't feel like cleaning off the snow and ice from your car? That would end up in fine if one Pennsylvania senator gets her way.

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh County, has reintroduced a bill that would require drivers to make "all reasonable efforts" to remove all ice or snow from their vehicles. Drivers would face fines of between $25 and $75 for not clearing off snow from their vehicles, including the roof, hood and trunk.

Currently, drivers can only be fined when dislodged snow or ice falls from their vehicles and causes death or serious bodily injury. Boscola also upped the maximum fines for when those incidents occur from $1,000 to $1,500 in the new bill.

Recently, Boscola reintroduced a similar bill that would fine truck drivers for not clearing the snow and ice from their rigs.
"Many times while driving on our roadways, we have all been the victim of falling snow and ice coming from vehicles in front of us," Boscola said in a memo about her bill. "This is not only extremely dangerous, but can lead to injuries and fatalities."

Boscola has said that she first proposed the bills after one of her constituents was killed in 2005 when an "ice missile" fell off a tractor-trailer and struck her vehicle.

Both bills have been sent to the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee for review. Previously, the bills have died in the same committee.


It seems like we do a good job of making beer available everywhere, but saving a life is another story.
























Monday, November 21, 2016

10

I was there at the beginning.

The casino at Mohegan Sun Pocono celebrated its 10th anniversary back on November 14th.

I remember standing in a chilly drizzle, with thousands of other people, as Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll's grand opening remarks went on way too long.  I was working.  The others were waiting to gamble.

There have been several visits over the years.  Some for stories.   Some has been to spend a few dollars and do a little people watching.  My visits are usually the same-- a few dollars in a slot machine.  I cash out when I break even or come close enough.  I've never won big.  I've never participated in the table games.  They intimidate me.

The casino is a fascinating place.  Management seems to have it running like a well oiled machine.  there is always someone watching you, either in person or on camera.

Our friends at the Times~Tribune did a good story on the casino's impact on the Plains Township area.  Some whined.  Some said it's a good thing.   Some people quoted had credibility.  Others did not.

The casino has succeeded in making itself an island.  Food, entertainment, hotel, a little shopping.  Other than gasoline, there's not much reason to venture off property.  Who didn't see that coming?

Those who complain about the competition likely need to up their games a bit.

The casino does have some advantages.  Scale.  Legally getting away with smoking because the general assembly didn't have the onions to ban it.  I'm really surprised Mohegan Sun and the other Pennsylvania casinos didn't go for those pricey 24 hour liquor licenses.  Perhaps it is waiting for the cost to come down.

So, would I give Pennsylvania gambling a Siskel & Eber-esque thumbs up or thumbs down?  Hard one to decide.  A Newswatch 16 Investigation by my friend Matt Petrillo showed casino tax money really doesn't go where intended.  The smoking thing bothers me.  I wish Mohegan Sun had more overnight and early morning food options.

My thumb points sideways.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Andy's Angles: The Other Side

This is the view looking downstream from the view I showed you here yesterday.

As I have pointed out here before, there is beauty, even on a blustery, grey day.  The red barns in the distance really pop, and I love the tree reflection in the quiet stream.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Andy's Angles: Country Stream

This reminds me of New England, maybe from the opening title sequence of
Newhart."

It's actually in the Varden area of Wayne County. just off the Easton Turnpike.

I first saw this stream when I was covering a fire in the area several months ago, and I vowed to get back with my good camera.  Unfortunately, I found the time on a bleak day, and after the leaves had peaked.

As I snapped away, I expected the stream to be the focal point of the photo.  When I examined the photos in my computer, my eye was drawn to the barn and the brightly colored leaves on the left.

I anticipate being back on an icy morning.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Scrapple

The Pokemon Go craze seems to have flamed out rather quickly.  It needs to take pumpkin spice and salted caramel along with it.

Back when "Newhart" was on the air, I didn't find the Larry, Daryl and Daryl thing rather funny and it was overused.  Watching the shows again on WNEP2, I think it's a scream.

I did a little mall wandering a couple of weeks ago on a day when it was close to 70 degrees.  Christmas carols were playing in the department stores.  It all seemed rather silly.  Christmas comes after Thanksgiving.

I used to be sad when the last out of the World Series was recorded.  Now, I yawn.  I understand this year's contest was spectacular.  I watched about two innings during the seven games.

November can be a long, dark, grey month.  At least we have Election Day to spice up the beginning and Thanksgiving to occupy us toward the end.  January still needs improvement.

It seems like everyone I know has a cold, and I've been feeling lousy myself.

There is no longer a need for this country to switch from Daylight Saving time to Standard Time.

I admire Kate Upton's chutzpah.

Bernie Sanders is running around and making a lot of demands.  Does he realize his side lost?

Above normal temperatures in July and August = bad.  Above normal temperatures in December and January = good.

Tony Kornheiser's daily podcast is a good listen.  I still miss the "live" element.

Major kudos to Bon Jovi for a big donation to save Ben Franklin's grave stone.

Stephen Hawking says humans have 1,000 years left on earth.  I'll be sure to avoid buying the extended warranty on my next TV.


I hope you voted.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dominoes Tumbling

I didn't watch TV early Election Night.  Until the numbers really start to roll in, it's just a lot of time filling, talking heads and poll numbers.  As it turned out, those poll numbers were useless.

Anyway, after a long afternoon nap, I did what I usually do at 8 PM-- turn on FOX Sports Radio.  JT the Brick with Tomm Looney are on 8 until 11.  It's really been my favorite show for a long time.  It's sports talk and it's smart and funny.  You get sports, news, and a little pop culture thrown in.  By the way, Looney is an Elmira native and a Penn State graduate.

Here's where it gets really interesting.  JT is a former stock broker, and he pointed out, early on election night, that futures were beginning to crash.  The red flag was going up the pole.  The financial people sniffed out a Trump victory, earlier than just about everyone else.  JT alerted his listeners, and also turned us on to the NY Times web site.  The Times web site was simply outstanding Tuesday night.  My favorite feature was a dial showing  Trump and Clinton winning probability numbers.  The dial drifted over into Trump territory early and the numbers grew every few minutes.

I've yammered endlessly in this space about the lack of "live and local" radio, but there are times when networks can shine, even at times and in areas where you least expect it.  Sportstalk radio is usually a pleasant diversion from real world problems.  In this case, a sports talk show was miles ahead of everyone else.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

12


Today is this blog's 12th anniversary!

I really don't have an accurate number of postings because we've switched platforms a few times.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's more than 4,000.

In the past, I've told the blog genesis story, and I've re-posted the very first entry.

Let's do something else this year.

Has there been a favorite blog post?  One jumps out.  I took apart my alma mater, Marywood, for the way it treats some graduates.  It was a nice mix of fact and emotion.  I know it was circulated in Marywood's offices, and that was the icing on the cake.  There was a spike in page visits.  I won't tell you what was whispered in my ear when I stopped by that year's Christmas tree lighting.  Unfortunately, the blog didn't change a thing.  The self destructive behavior continues.  There is no effort to reach out to graduates who have drifted away.  At least, it was read, and I see a victory in that.  You can Google it.  It ran December 2, 1981.  Marywood experienced a change in upper management earlier this year.  One hopes for change, but a lot of its continuing mistakes are part of the culture.  It will be nearly impossible to turn around.

In a strange way, I enjoyed writing some of the obituaries that have appeared here.  There were some people you really needed to know. I gave it to you straight, warts and all.  The funny thing is the warts are what make people interesting, special, memorable.  We all have them, and a wart or two isn't really a bad thing.

Have I been tough on some people?  Yes.  There were some "Kids for Cash" blog entries.  I wasn't tough enough.  It's bad enough that families were deprived of their constitutional rights.  Some elected and appointed officials turned a blind eye to the problem.  Maybe they were just incompetent.  They should be held to account.  I don't know how they can show their faces in public.

Penn State got a lot of space here.  There is considerable evidence to indicate the powers that be (or were) had knowledge of what was going on.  It made me sad.  It made me even angrier.

Memorable photo?  Nothing heads to the head of the pack.  While I do favor landscapes, trains, bridges and rivers, some of the historical moments take front and center.  Those include motorcycle runs, flooding, snow storms, etc.

Clearly, some days are better than others.  Hey, they can't all be gems.  I'm just surprised that I actually come up with a thought or two every day, along with the occasionally interesting photograph.

Above all, thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bob Woody

This is another one of those entries I should have posted days ago, but with the election and other things, I was sidetracked.

I'll repeat a line I used on Newswatch 16 Saturday Morning:  When the history of local radio is written, there has to be a Bob Woody chapter.

Woody died recently.  Cancer.  73.

I first remember Woody doing afternoons on WARM 590.  Funny.  Creative.  Big personality.

There was a stop at WBAX, which I don't remember.  AM 1240 didn't come in well where I lived.  I vividly remember his work at WILK in the late 70's.  Back then, it was the "New 98, "and he had the station sounding great.  I don't think it was ever better, before or after.

I also remember his work at WSCR, and some things there defied analysis.  For some reason, management jettisoned the legendary call letters, in favor of a generic WBQW, or "13Q."  From what I understand, Woody wanted to remove the "Scranton station" stigma and go for a regional approach.  Well, there were some problems with that.  First, he didn't have the staff and the money to cover the region.  The big reason it didn't work was AM 1320 didn't have the signal strength to cover the region.  It was a good Scranton station, and they should have been happy with that.

The 13Q thing showed Woody thought big, and that was to be admired.

After his radio days, Woody started "The Ad Agency."  He brought his creativity to the commercial world.  In that period, Woody attempted to get something called the "Twin Valleys" off the ground.  It was an effort to tear down the imaginary wall at Avoca, and get the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre areas thinking and acting as one.  It was a great idea.  It didn't work.  I've heard the stories.  I wasn't directly involved, so I'll keep my mouth shut.

If memory serves, there was a brief involvement with WKQV FM.   I think it was on 95.7.  It didn't lost long, and that's probably why I can't remember much about it.

You can't forget Woody's time at WNEP, hosting the teen dance show "Komotion" and the Saturday evening 3 Stooges show.  He was comfortable in front of a microphone and the camera.

I met Bob Woody a few times.  It was nothing really memorable.  I'm sure he felt the same way about me.

Woody had a reputation for being difficult to handle and deal with.  Again, I've heard the stories.  I have no direct knowledge.

You can't overlook the talent and personality.  You certainly knew Bob Woody was around.

My sympathy to Bob woody's family, friends, and fans.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Occam's Razor

I'm a firm believer in Occam's Razor.  It states the solution to a problem is usually the most simple and obvious.

I've been listening to, and reading, a lot of complicated explanations for Hillary Clinton's loss last week.  It all, simply, comes down to this:  half the country didn't like her and didn't trust her.  Clinton had high negatives from the day she announced, and it only got worse.  That's it.  That's the list.

I don't remember where I read it, but one pundit said the Democrats nominated the one person who could lose to Donald Trump.

The great Charlie Gibson nailed it at the tail end of ABC's coverage Wednesday morning.  Gibson talked about an overheard conversation in a locker room.  One guy told another he's voting for Trump, in spite of everything he's said, because "He's not one of them."

While I'm at it, enough of calling the Trump win an upset.  Nope.  Not at all.  He was leading all along.  The media and the pollsters had their noses in their data and didn't see it.  That's not an upset.  That's a surprise for the so-called experts.

I'm also kicking myself.

Walmart founder Sam Walton had a concept called MBWA.  "MBWA" signs used to hang in his stores.  It stands for Management By Walking Around.  In other words, Walton wanted his managers out on the floor, not in an office.  If the media walked around more, especially in middle America and the rust belt, they would have seen this coming.

Trump drew 9,000 at a rally in the Pittsburgh area the Sunday night before the election.  Another 3,000 couldn't get in.  People were lined up, at sunrise, in the sub freezing cold in Scranton last Monday morning.  Hillary Clinton needed music and movie stars to help her draw a crowd.  Surrogate Joe Biden's November 6th rally was moved to a closet at Johnson College in Scranton.  As I've written here, I saw Trump signs in areas where I had never seen Republican candidate signs before.  Clinton signs were few and far between.  Trump filled the Wilkes-Barre Township arena-- twice, and there were people who couldn't get in.

Trump spent some of the last hours before the election campaigning in Pennsylvania, a state the experts thought he couldn't win.

This wasn't an upset.  This was bad journalism.

On top of failing to see the signs, a lot of alleged reporters crossed the objectivity line and ventured in to advocacy.

Last week, I put print newspapers in my "losers" column.  There was some excellent reporting ( and a lot of crap) during this cycle.  At the very end, it was just bad luck.  Trump was declared a winner around 3 AM Wednesday, too late to get a paper out on the streets for the morning rush.  By the way, once again, it has been proven that newspaper endorsements mean squat.

Television was not immune.  I saw a lot of bad reporting and un-objective material during the last year.  There was even more election night.  It's happened before.  1968 and 1972 election night coverage is on YouTube.  You can tell many of the anchors hated Nixon.  It doesn't excuse the behavior now, and it was unprofessional.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Andy's Angles: More Flags

Today, as we wrap up Veterans Weekend, another perspective on the Marywood  University flag display.

It is my yearly attempt at being creative.  Close flags in focus.  Flags in the distance blurred.

Each flag represents a sacrifice.  Let's never forget.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Andy's Angles: Flags

There are times when I'm very proud of Marywood University, my alma mater.

Above is one of them.

Students plant flags on the lawn behind the Fine Arts Building.  The lot faces North Washington Avenue.  There is one flag for every service member killed in recent wars.

When I was there Monday afternoon, students were still putting together the display.  They took great care to make sure the flags were in neat rows.  The lot is hilly and uneven.  It wasn't an easy job.

I applaud their work.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day


To all veterans:  Thank you.

The photographs above were taken recently at the Veterans Memorial in Jessup.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vote 17

Okay, it doesn't have the glamour of a presidential election, but the Pennsylvania primary is only about seven months away.  Now that Vote 16 is history, it's time to start shifting gears.

The thing that always struck me as strange is the big turnout numbers for a presidential election, but few people are interested in the odd year/off year contests.  That's plain wrong.  You'll be voting for mayors, council members, supervisors, school directors and more next year.  These are the men and women who control your local police departments, your towns and cities, your schools, your children's education, and your taxes.

Let's take a deep breath, enjoy the holidays, watch the inaugurations in January, and starting thinking about Vote 17.

But...

I've been thinking about the winners and losers from Tuesday night.

WINNERS:
Of course, Trump, Twitter, Facebook, Saturday Night Live, Rush Limbaugh (who had it right), the NY Times web site, WikiLeaks and Julian Asange, Sean Hannity

LOSERS:
The media, pollsters, the status quo, print newspapers, certain counties that still can't run an election right, alleged journalists who let bias creep in to their reporting

Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Trevor Noah...  Their comedy should have been clever and satiric.  Instead, it was downright mean.  But then again, this was a mean election, on both sides.

Notice Hillary Clinton isn't on the losers list.  Her handling of the e-mails and other situations was troubling, to say the least.  Clinton and her people did not run a good campaign.  Clinton couldn't draw crowds.  It was too staged, too packaged, too rehearsed.  The "basket of deplorables" line will go down in history as one of the dumbest ever.  However, I will not fault anyone who tries.  We saw too many uncontested races Tuesday, especially at the state  house level.  Anyone who sticks their neck out to run is never a loser.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Numbers

After repeated delays, I think it's finally time to post this thing.

Hillary Clinton's campaign manager says they are through for the night.  They will not concede until every last vote is counted.

As I write this, Donald Trump is closing in on 270 electoral votes, and it looks like he'll be America's 45th president.

Technology has increased by leaps and bounds since the last presidential election, and yet, the pollsters got it wrong.  Very wrong.

On top of that, our newsroom was flooded with telephone calls and e-mails about voting irregularities.

People waited in long lines as the polls opened, and some were in line when the polls closed.  I'm not a fan of it, but perhaps, it's time to look at early voting.

Howard Fineman, a well respected Washington writer, said on Tony Kornheiser's podcast that there has never been an election like this, where both presidential candidates were disliked so much.  The system has served us well, but there are times when it misfires.

As I noted during the primaries, underestimate Donald Trump at your own peril.

A tip off came over the weekend.  Trump and his people decided to make a Monday evening campaign stop in Scranton.  It signaled Pennsylvania was in play, and if Pennsylvania was in play, so were other places thought to be safely in the Clinton camp.

It came down to this.  Donald Trump successfully tapped into American anger.  A lot of people are tired of a kinder and gentler USA.  They want government to get tougher on crime, tougher on illegal immigration, a harder stance with other nations.  Plus, Trump is a businessman and a lot of people simply feel the economy has left them behind.

As for Hillary Clinton, it is clear half of the country doesn't like her and doesn't trust her.  If you have the time, go back to NBC's 1996 election night coverage.  You can find it on YouTube.  Late in the evening, there is a discussion between Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.  Russert notes that the 1996 Bill Clinton reelection campaign kept Hillary out of the spotlight because her negatives were so high. Fast forward to 2016.   Behghazi hurt badly.  She couldn't shake the e-mail thing, which was a disaster of her own making.  There were health questions, and a lot of people I spoke with feared Clinton would make big government even bigger.  There were also fears the other shoe would drop.  We'd learn more about questionable foreign government influence at the State Department and shady activities with the Clinton Foundation.

One of the things that bugged me was Trump repeatedly saying a loss would have been a tremendous waste of time, money, and energy.  I'm a firm believer in "the victory is in the journey, not the destination."  Nelson Mandela once said "I never lose.  I either win or learn."  I often quote the old 70's game show Tattletales.  A question was "Do you learn more from your successes or your failures?"  I've learned more from my failures.

Going in to this, I said that I thought Trump would win more states, and possibly the popular vote.  I went along with conventional wisdom that the electoral vote would tilt Clinton's way.  Ooops!

We saw huge voter turnout yesterday.  Again, that faulty conventional wisdom, pointed to a good day for Democrats.  Another ooops!

Rush Limbaugh had it right.  He believed there were a lot of silent Trump supporters out there.  He compared this year's race to the 1980 contest.  People weren't vocal about their support for Ronald Reagan until the very end.

I should have trusted my gut more.  I saw Trump signs in front of homes and in neighborhoods where I had never seen signs for Republican candidates.  I am not alone.  The signs of this, pardon the pun, were all around us.  We didn't see them.

Otherwise, the election was kind of a yawn.  It was a good night for incumbents, as it is most of the time.  Most of the state row offices remain in Democratic control.  There weren't many surprises.

Kevin Haggerty of Dunmore goes back to the state house of representatives.  The AWOL bombshell likely sent votes to Ernest Lemoncelli, but it wasn't enough.

US Representatives Marino, and Barletta breeze.  It was a little tougher, but still comfortable, for Matt Cartwright.

Pat Toomey squeaks out a US Senate win over Katie McGinty.  It was a nasty and expensive race.  Toomey really seems to have benefited from Trump's Pennsylvania strength.  I thought this would be a close one, with McGinty winning.  She needed more votes out of Philadelphia and its suburbs

Now, on to Vote '17!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day!

Welcome to Election Day 2016.

Today's entry is dedicated to my involvement in this whole thing.  I'll return to the "pin boy" reference I made last month.  I'll set them up.  Someone else gets to knock them down.  It's okay.  That's the way things work on the morning shift.

I anticipate my day going like this...  Preview stories have been written, tweaked, and edited.  We'll pick a polling place and let you know what to expect.

After Newswatch 16 This Morning, we'll make a quick jaunt around to check on turnout, races, etc.  I'm sure something unexpected will pop up, and we'll handle that, too.  A photographer and I will slam it together for Newswatch 16 at Noon.

After that, my day and week are done.  I'll vote, go home, have lunch, take a nap, and watch my friends and coworkers fill in the blanks on WNEP, WNEP2, and WNEP.com.

As always, I'll digest it all for a Tuesday morning blog entry.  I have a feeling as to how things will go.  We'll see if I was right.

I hope to keep you up to date here and on Twitter.  Plus, this is my first Facebook election.  I'll try to put an update or two there this morning.

A lot of people have said the election process has left them burned out.  I get that.  In spite of it all, get out and vote today.  Please.

>>>12:01 AM UPDATE:  I couldn't sleep.  I've been up since 10 PM Monday night, going over a lot of things in my head.  Preview stories have been tweaked and retweaked.  We've picked a location for our live shots this morning.  Even though I've been doing elections for a long time, I still get that nervous feeling in my stomach.  Don't get me wrong.  It's fun.  Election Day is the Super Bowl of the news business.  We show off the strength of our staffs, our knowledge, our equipment, our planning, our technology.  Above all else, it's democracy in action.

>>>2:50 AM UPDATE:  I've been at the office for about 20 minutes, after my traditional morning breakfast of a spicy chicken sandwich (no mayonnaise) and fries.  There is only one 24 hour fast food restaurant that serves the delicacy, and it has to be the worst fast food restaurant in the area.   I've often considered changing to another chain, but tradition keeps calling me back.  The food was good this time.  Hot and fresh.  Service was hideous.  I'm checking scripts and web sites now, boning up before a day on the road.

>>>4:10 AM UPDATE:  We've arrived at our live location for the next few hours.  The mast is up.  The microwave signal is tuned in.  Photographer Jason has set up some lights.  Fresh bottle of Diet Pepsi.  New tie.  New pants.  Let's make some Election Day TV!

>>>10:20 AM UPDATE:  The morning broadcast was trouble free.  After that, it was an election morning story, touching on turnout, vote rigging and more.  Photographer Jason handed off to Photographer Bonnie, and a noon story is being edited right now.  By the way, we're hearing reports and seeing first hand big voter turnout across our area.

>>>1:50 PM UPDATE:  The noon broadcast was smooth.  I went to vote, and expected a line.  None.  I breezed in and out, but the poll workers told me it was busy all day, and they topped 200 voters by lunch.  That rarely happens.  After a snack and a haircut, it's time to relax a bit, and get some sleep.  As noted earlier, I just couldn't sleep last night.  A nap would be nice, and I'll be up in plenty of time to watch my co-workers deliver the numbers and field reports.  The station and I received a lot of compliments during my travels today.  Thank you.  We'll go over the numbers tomorrow.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Media Notes: Election Preview Edition


Another one of my guilty pleasures involves watching old network election night coverage on YouTube.  It seems there has been a flurry of new contributions.

One was recently quickly devoured by yours truly, and thank you to the person who posted it.  It was ABC News in November of 1980.  Two of my favorite broadcasters/journalists anchored that night:  Frank Reynolds and Ted Koppel.  It pains me to say it, but it was absolutely awful.  There was no chemistry, and they seemed to be out of rhythm for the entire evening.  You can't blame it all on the anchors.  There were technical problems.   That was evident.  A bad producer can wreck a broadcast, and the people in front of the camera get the blame.  I don't know what happened behind the scenes that night, but it was not ABC's finest hour.  It was the first presidential election night of a new ABC regime.  ABC stumbled, but later recovered.  I'm still big fans of Reynolds and Koppel.


By the next presidential election cycle, Frank Reynolds had passed away.  Peter Jennings was installed as solo anchor.  ABC welded David Brinkley to his side because Jennings spent so much time overseas.  Jennings really didn't know American politics, and Brinkley was worth his weight in gold.  That's the way it was at ABC until 1996, and it worked rather nicely.

Those stable network days are long gone.

Scott Pelley is anchoring his second presidential election at CBS.  Lester Holt is doing his first as main NBC anchor.  Brian Williams, who self destructed, is in exile at MSNBC.  I grew up with Cronkite and Rather.  John Chancellor was the NBC mainstay for a long time, and he never really received his due.  Looking back at old YouTube video, the man knew politics.

Consider Katie Couric for a moment.  In 2008, she presided, at CBS,  over the night the United States elected its first African American president.  Four years later, she was monitoring Facebook and Twitter over at ABC.  Ugh.  I assume she'll be live on Yahoo! tomorrow night.

ABC has yet another main election night anchor.  Tomorrow, it will be George Stephanopoulous.  Four years ago, it was Diane Sawyer.  In 2008, it was Charlie Gibson.   Peter Jennings did his last in 2004.

I really don't follow the cable networks, with their casts of thousands.

Me?  Being a morning creature, I don't work election nights.  I anchored one, many years ago.  It was great fun-- days of research and planning.  The key is to do the homework, then stick it in the back of your head.  Go with the flow and what is happening NOW.  Use your stored information when you really need it.  Don't spout off facts and history just to show how smart you are.  I've seen that done too many times, and the end result is a lousy broadcast.

Most of my election night reporting was on the radio, and radio can be a great medium on election night.  You're limited to the spoken word-- no whiz bang graphics that the TV people have.  While some may see that as a handicap, it's really an advantage.  There is more of a connection with the audience.  Describe.  Add color.  Take the listener to headquarters and ballrooms.  Talk with people.

One of my favorite election nights ever was the night I covered a congressional race in Luzerne County.  One candidate was at what used to be the Sheraton Crossgates.  The other was at the Sterling.  I spent my night going back and forth across North Franklin Street, getting the latest, phoning in reports on WARM, getting a handle on what was going on.  It timed out perfectly.  I got a concession speech on the air, and made it to the winner's headquarters just before his victory speech.

Winners this time around appear to be Chris Wallace of FOX News Sunday.  He did a great job on the third debate.  I've been a fan for a while.  If you're under the FOX banner, everyone assumes "conservative."  Wallace is tough and fair with people in both liberal and conservative camps.  He's also polite.

Megyn Kelly of FOX News Channel is another winner.  Donald Trump attacked her early in the campaign, and it helped turn her into an even bigger star.  Reports have Kelly signing a new, $ 20 million per year contract with FOX.

Social media did what social media does-- spread a lot of information, much of it false.  I still can't believe how many people take Facebook postings as gospel.

A 2016 loser is Brett Baier of FOX News Channel, who had to walk back a report of a possible Clinton indictment.

So called mainstream and traditional did OK during this cycle.  The true test will come tomorrow night.  I hope we don't have any 2000 Florida style debacles.

It's going to be a fun night, and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Andy's Angles: Bridge Work

The new Harrison Avenue Bridge in Scranton is beginning to take shape.

I have mixed feelings on this project.  The old bridge was a beauty.  The new one forced elimination of a park and the destruction of some homes.  It's a shame the old bridge was allowed to decay to the point it needed replacement, but even maintained structures have to be replaced eventually.

It would have been nice to see the new bridge in the exact location of the old, but that would have required separating the hill section from south side for years.  There are three hospitals in this part of Scranton, and a link had to be maintained.
The new bridge cost $ 20 million.  If all goes according to schedule, it will be open in July.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Half Decked

I was doing a little shopping at the Marketplace at Steamtown the other day, when I spied mall employees decorating a Christmas tree at central court.

There is one advantage to the endless yammering about the presidential election.  It's diverted a certain cable news network from doing its annual "War on Christmas" rants.  Yes, this is a Christmas tree.  It marks the arrival of Christmas.
Speaking of the Marketplace at Steamtown, what's with the Spanish Inquisition when you arrive to do a little bit of shopping before 10 AM?  I know they're trying to keep freeloaders from parking in the garage, and shopping elsewhere, or leaving your car there while you do something else downtown, but there is no need for all the questions.

I arrived at 9:40 AM.  I knew I was early,  Intended to walk around the mall a bit before the stores opened, possibly looking at the Steamtown trains from the food court bridge.  I was greeted with questions and a warning that the garage doesn't open to shoppers until 9:45 AM.  It was five minutes!

Keep annoying paying customers, and they'll find someplace else to shop.  A struggling shopping center should be making things easy for you.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Long Distance

I have a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a smart phone, an internet radio from the C. Crane catalog (amazing appliance) and an Amazon Echo (another amazing appliance).

It's safe to say I can pretty much listen to any radio station in the country at any time.

Yet, I really enjoy getting in my car late at night or early in the morning, going to the AM band, and hitting the "scan" button to see what distant stations I can pull in.    AM signals bounce off the ionosphere at night, enabling them to travel great distances.

It was a lot more fun years ago, when AM radio stations possessed more individuality.  Now, you can hear the loon talking about UFO's and the end of the world on dozens of stations.  The all sports networks take up a lot of space.  Like overnight TV, many radio stations devote time to infomercials.

Still, there is the occasional oasis of good radio.

For some reason, WBBM 780 in Chicago booms in to the Scranton area like the tower is in the middle of Courthouse Square.  There's an old saying in the business that if a station sounds good at 9 AM on a Sunday, it's a quality operation.  Expand that in to the middle of the night.  WBBM is an all news station that sounds good when there isn't much news going on.

The top of the hour news on WLW 700 in Cincinnati and KDKA 1020 in Pittsburgh is also very good.

There is a whole hobby dedicated to long distance listening, or DXing.  I was never that dedicated, just fascinated, especially as a kid with a bedroom portable radio.  I really think that was a factor in career choice.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Steve

I should have gotten to this sooner, but this is the time of year when you can easily get sidetracked by so many other things.  I apologize.

WNEP photographer Steve Smallwood retired last week.   He had been here nearly 40 years, and he is one of those people who helped invent the second era of television news gathering.  The first group put news departments on the air in the 50's.  The second wave, in my view, were the individuals who helped the transition from film to video tape, and now digital.

The mediums have changed, but the basics have not.  Get the pictures.  Edit them so you get a clear understanding of what happened.  Get creative, but stay honest.

Steve had the photographer's eye, and the editor's steady hand.  He could make a bad story good, and a good story great.  We worked together occasionally.  Unfortunately, with my shift, our stories were "run and gun."  They weren't the ones where you had a great deal of time to make them masterpieces.  There was a lot of "Let's get this on the air."  The clock was not our friend.  Still, we got it done, and Steve managed to make it look good.

Our last story was in late August, one of my favorites, freshman move in day at a college or university.  In this case, it was extra special, because we shot it at my alma mater, Marywood in Scranton.  The scene was controlled chaos.  The clock was ticking.  We made our noon slot, with just a few minutes to spare.  Even though it was a rushed story, Steve managed to make it sing.

He was one of those guys you love having in the newsroom.  We worked on a few historical pieces together.  Steve had that veteran journalist's memory.  He knew the names and the faces.  He knew their significance, and most importantly, he knew how to find them in our vast archives.

I had been around the block a few times by the time I arrived at WNEP.  Still, Steve taught me things, and I say that about very few people.

Rides with Steve were never boring, even the long journeys across our coverage area.  You see, Steve and I disagree on just about every political and social issue out there.  We discussed.  We never argued.  I was never able to sway him, and vice versa.  Perhaps, that is the thing I will miss about Steve the most.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

About the Cover: Towering Over the Valley

It's always fun to watch construction crews build great big things.

Regardless of how you feel about the new power plant in Jessup, it is an impressive sight.  Three big cranes are in place, and there's a fourth, off to the left, just out of the shot.

It's even amazing at night, when the aircraft warning lights are flashing on those three cranes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

7 Days

Excluding the states with early voting, Americans go to the polls in one week.

This year's presidential election campaign has been many things, but it has never been dull.  Having said that, I have spoken to a great number of people who want to get it over with.

Yes, there has been a discussion of the issues, but we've gotten sidetracked quite a bit-- emails, health issues, tax returns, groping...  Both sides have given enough ammunition to make this campaign one for the history books, and maybe one for the record books.

The last week of a presidential election campaign brings in a great deal interest...  I remember Bill Clinton, without much of a voice, rasping his way through a fly in at Avoca.  I remember Walter Mondale trying to interest people in a dying campaign, at a Public Square, Wilkes-Barre rally in the closing days of the 1984 contest.

I don't remember what commentator said it in 1984, but he talked about the Mondale campaign, and the candidate flying across the country, looking down on all those people who weren't going to vote for him.

I can't wait to see what this final week brings.  The weekend brought some fascinating developments, including tightening poll numbers and a renewed Hillary Clinton investigation.

Fasten your seatbelts.  It could be a wild ride.