Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Closing the Books

It was one of my favorite moments of the Christmas season-- the last day of school before Christmas vacation.  It was that time at the end of the school day when you closed your books for the last time, threw them in your locker, and walked away from that soul crushing atmosphere for almost two weeks.  I loved it.  Of course, I would miss my school friends-- a little.  I don't know if you were the same way, but I had school friends, and I had neighborhood friends.  Christmas would be spent with friends on the block, not friends on the cell block we called a school.  As I got older, and we all started driving, the gap disappeared.  One of my high school friends recently reminded me of some of our Christmas break adventures.  It's a story for another time-- maybe.  I think the statute of limitations has run out.

When I got to college, Christmas break would be met with a little sadness.  Yes, it was nice to get another semester under your belt, and take one step closer to graduation.  On the other hand, the dorms cleared out, and some close friends would be gone for a month.  No email.  No Skype.  No texts.  This was in the pre-computer days, so the radio station needed actual bodies.  We townies kept it on the air until the new semester started.  No complaints.  As I have said many times, this is the life we have chosen.  I always enjoyed being behind the microphone, playing some good rock, and it was great to have something to do during Christmas break.  The campus was dead.  It still had its charm.

Today's entry is sort of that "closing the book" thing.  It's slowing down for the holidays.  This space will soon be devoted to the Top Ten Photographs of 2017, with a couple of new twists for the year.

By the way, I've noticed the "closing the books" ritual seems to be in high gear very early this year.  People seem to be in a huge hurry to clear their desks, calendars and to-do lists-- and get on with the holiday season.  December is almost a lost month.

A Christmas photo would be appropriate today.  I took this one in Jessup last week, before the snow, and it really doesn't do justice to the scene on Church Street.  It's red and green from the bottom of the hill to the top.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Voice

I finally got around to watching the "60 Minutes" 50th anniversary special.  Wow!  My only complaint is just one hour didn't do it justice.  You really need two, or three to tell the story.

I've always been amazed that the most successful news broadcast in American television history has the simple mission statement of "Tell me a story."

My favorite part of the anniversary broadcast was hearing Mike Wallace again.  Most people associate Wallace with his ambush interviews and his take no prisoners style.  I'll always remember "the voice."  The man could write a line.  He could also deliver it.  I dare to say it was one of the best broadcast voices in the history of the medium.

From what I understand, Wallace's battles with "60 Minutes" creator and executive producer Don Hewitt were legendary.  They argued over everything.  Regardless of who won, they always produced compelling television.

This is my blog and, as always, it's all about me.

There were frequent debates with a now former manager here.  There were several times he wouldn't like a line I wrote.  I'd counter that it didn't look good on paper (or on the computer screen), but it would all make sense when I delivered it.  My voice and inflection would sell the line.  More often than not, I got my way.  I really respected his opinion, and I especially respected that he listened to reason.  If you could justify it, you got away with it.

I'm not in the Mike Wallace league, but good narration can improve an average script.  I'm lucky that, most of the time, I write for myself.  I hear my voice in my head as I tap out a script on the keyboard.  Good producers and writers know their anchors.  You have to have their voice in mind when you write.  If you write a line they're not comfortable with, it won't be delivered properly.

Mike Wallace died in 2012.  There are still some great writers, reporters and producers out there-- some great voices, too.  Mike Wallace, who helped get "60 Minutes" off the ground, was in a class of his own.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It Gets My Goat

Or in this case, deer...

I haven't written one of these things in a while.  Something is bugging me, and I have to write about it.

Several days ago, I was driving the stretch of Olyphant Avenue in Scranton that runs from Green Ridge to the Throop line.  There was a cluster of five deer standing along the road.  Beautiful animals.  I slowed to take a look, and to be sure they don't run out in front of my car.  They didn't.

A couple of days later, just before 2:00 AM, I was getting in my car to go to the gym, and I heard three shots ring out.  I got sick to my stomach.  I detoured down that way to see if any cars were parked in the area, to see if anyone was dragging carcasses around, spotlights.  Nothing.

If you're not familiar with the spot, it is within city limits, with several houses and an interstate highway in the area.  Penn State and Marywood University are close by.  Firing a gun there, especially at 2:00 AM can't be safe.

I will note two things.  First, the vast majority of hunters are responsible people.  Second, I understand the need for deer population management.  I should add that perhaps we should stop building in their habitat.  Smart growth should be a part of population management.

I've driven through the area several times since I heard those shots.  No deer.  To the "sportsman" who bagged them, I hope you're happy.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Andy's Angles: University Tree Weekend

Today, it's the University of Scranton's turn.

This big tree lights up the center of campus.  I will give the U immense credit for transitioning into a pedestrian friendly campus with a nice dose of green space.  It was something the U was always lacking.
It wasn't easy, and it took several years to accomplish.  The U's urban campus is now a rather pleasant place.
And Christmas at a Jesuit institution isn't complete unless there's a nativity scene.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Andy's Angles: University Tree Weekend

First up, my alma mater, Marywood University.  It was a college back in my day.

The indoor tree tradition started in 1982, which was my senior year.  I wasn't there for the first one.  I started going several years ago, for a nice injection of Christmas spirit.  I've missed only two since I made it part of my holiday routine.

It's a great tree in a spectacular building.  As I've noted here before, Christmas at Marywood really doesn't get rolling until after Thanksgiving, as it should be.  There is one drawback.  Students get to enjoy the tree for a little more than a week.  Finals are coming up, and then, the place clears out for the Christmas break.

There's more-- a nativity scene under the arch that faces Adams Avenue.  It looks like they've increased the wattage in the halo bulbs, and they overwhelmed my camera phone.  It's worth a look if you're in the area.
Before 1982, Marywood decorated one of the outdoor trees in the center of campus.  I spied this one, just to the left of the arch.  It's decorated in school colors of green and white.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Bridge

Today's opening of the Harrison Avenue bridge in Scranton started me thinking about another Scranton bridge-- the one that connects Mulberry Street to the North Scranton Expressway.

An old steel truss bridge was replaced in the 80's with the standard PennDOT design.  Plain.  Nothing fancy.  It gets the job done.

Just before the new bridge opened, someone (I don't know who) suggested a series of colored light tubes over the traffic lanes to welcome passengers and their vehicles into the city.  I remember thinking it was one of the dumbest ideas I ever heard, and a colossal waste of money.  I know there were artists' renderings of the light tubes.  I'm sorry.  A Google search failed to turn up anything.

As I looked at the Mulberry Street bridge on a recent morning, I thought it needs something.  After all, the new Harrison Avenue bridge has some new architectural elements that were copied from the old.

When it comes to road projects and spending money, I'll take patching pot holes over colored light tubes any day of the week, and I still feel that way.

Maybe, some day, someone will figure out a way to dress up the bridge without sticking taxpayers with the bill.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

New, Old Times

The call went out a couple of months ago.  Doc Medek's Froggy 101's co-host, Jessie was going out on maternity leave, and he was looking for TV people to rotate in until her return.

I vacillated.  I left full time radio in 1991.  I did a little morning news fill in work on the now defunct Solid Gold 94 in the months that followed.  It had been a long time since I had done radio.  While I was getting a tour of the new Wilkes University radio and TV building, my new friend, Kristen Rock, suggested I give it a shot, so I threw my name in the hat.

Jessie had her baby, so it was time for Doc's plan.  I volunteered, and yesterday was my day.  I did not promote the appearance in case I bombed.  I could quietly sneak away and never speak of the incident again.

I didn't think I was great.  I wasn't awful either.  It's tough to work with a new partner and Doc made it easy.  We had met, only very briefly a couple of times before, but we know the same people and had the same experiences.  We're about the same age.  I may look older, but Doc has a couple of years on me.

He was warned going in that I know nothing about country music.  We kicked around a couple of topics before we started, so we were in my comfort zone.  The two hours passed like two minutes and I had a wonderful time.

As you can see from the photo, I shaved on a day off-- which is unusual for me.  I should have combed my hair.

TV treats me great and I am very happy there, and if you are a regular reader, you know that radio is my first love.  It was great fun to re-live some of  the old days.  Jessie still has a lot of maternity leave left, and I volunteered to come back, if needed and wanted.

Even if Doc doesn't take me up on the offer, it was enormously entertaining to be back..

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The First

The first election in which I was allowed to participate was the 1980 primary, but this is an entry about that year's general election.

Here were the choices-- Democrat and incumbent Jimmy Carter, a good man who was a Horrible (yes, the capitalization of the H is deliberate) president, Republican Ronald Reagan, who seemed to be a bit extreme-- especially to a youngster such as myself, and independent John Anderson.

I've been covering elections since 1982, and I don't ask people who they voted for.  It's none of my business.  I don't tell people who I voted for.  It's none of your business.

For this blog entry, I will make an exception.  I voted for John Anderson.  Some of his ideas, especially on energy, were out there.  For the most part, he seemed reasonable.  Anderson ran as an independent because he though the Republican party had moved too far to the right.  For me, he seemed like a good and sane choice, as centrist as we were going to get that year.

270 electoral votes wins the presidency.  Reagan won 489.  Carter took just six states, and he conceded shortly after polls closed here in the east.

John Anderson captured seven per cent of the vote, and even though I knew he stood zero chance of winning, I walked out of the voting booth a satisfied young man.

John Anderson died Sunday night.  He was 95.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


It started early this year, and I remember right where I was when I heard it.  I was in my bedroom just after midnight Friday morning.  I was getting dressed for a trip to the gym when I heard the overnight anchor on WCBS AM say it.

Rage suppressed my memory of what the story was about, but I know what triggered it.  It's a phenomenon I've written about before.  Anyone who does anything bad at this time of year is referred to as a "grinch."  The subject of the radio story had stolen something, or vandalized some display when the grinch reference was made.

One day, I will pen a book about news writing-- especially the trite and the cliched that infuriate me.  Grinch is at, or near the top of the list.

Can't we be more creative than that?  We can do better.  Why don't we try this?   Just tell the story.  Silly embellishments aren't necessary.

And, speaking of silly, has the ugly Christmas sweater thing run its course yet?  It was cute and interesting for the first year or two.  Now, it's simply tiresome.

There is a new one on the list this year.  The upside down Christmas tree.  It was cute once, and only once.

Stop it.  Stop it now.

Bah!  Humbug!

Monday, December 4, 2017

When the Dust Settles...

You knew there would be a Matt Lauer blog entry eventually, and here it is...

I was checking my Twitter feed while in a medical waiting room Wednesday morning when the tweets started rolling in.  I thought it was a joke.  NBC fired Matt Lauer.

First and foremost, please don't lose sight of the plight of the victims.

In addition to Lauer's behavior, here's what bugs me the most.  It's apparent from the Variety, New York Post,  and New York Times stories that some in management knew what Matt Lauer was up to.

As noted here before, the most galling thing about Luzerne County's Kids for Ca$h scandal is the number of people who knew kids were going before a judge without legal representation and they did nothing.  It's clear many at NBC knew Matt Lauer was a predator.
Governor Bob Casey often said "What did you do when you had the power?"  At NBC, those with the power looked the other way-- and they allowed Lauer to run amok.  If the victims can prove management protected Lauer, those victims are in for a major pay day.  They deserve every penny-- and more.  However, you can't put a price on dignity.  I sincerely hope they all heal quickly.

It's clear Mr. Lauer needs help, and he realizes that.  There is plenty out there, and I hope he finds what he needs.  Back on TV some day?  Maybe.  Long shot.

I can't say I was ever a Matt Lauer fan.  I always thought he was an average talent who happened to hook on at an established and powerful franchise (sound familiar?)  "Today" will take a hit, but it will survive.  There are some good broadcasters out there and the show will carry on.  It's survived several other blunders in its history.  Yes, this is a big one-- but "Today" has history and tradition, and some strong remaining performers.

The professional demise of Matt Lauer signals the end of the big money, powerful anchor era.  Networks have been burned.  Economics have changed.  We live in a different world.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Square

This is an early morning shot of Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton.

White lights cover the trees on the North Washington Avenue side.  The official county tree, just out of the frame, was lit the other night, and you will eventually see that in this space in the days to come.

Downtown Scranton can be a very dark place.  It's nice to have a little light.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Andy's Angles: Window Shopping

It was a cute moment, and it happened a few years ago.  Volunteers were putting together a Christmas display in the old Globe store on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton.  Brittany Boyer was with Newswatch 16 at the time, and she would be doing the story.  Brittany is a sharp kid, but she was one of our youngest staffers.  Photographer Dave Jones and I had to give her a quick backgrounder on why it was a big deal, and how nice it was to shop in a downtown before the malls arrived.   Brittany was not alone.  People of her era, unfortunately, do not know a world where downtowns were the center of the retail universe.  She picked up the concept rather quickly.

Going back even further, it was a family tradition back in the day.  After Thanksgiving dinner, we'd go downtown to look at all the store windows because Thanksgiving night was traditionally the first night the displays would be lit.

The Scranton of today has bright spots, but it can also be rather bleak.  Most of the stores are gone, and that means the window displays are gone as well.

There is a bank at North Washington and Spruce Streets that does Christmas rather well, and those photos are featured today.

By the way, I wonder if we will eventually have to explain to young people of the future what it was like to shop in a mall.

Friday, December 1, 2017

About the Cover

The December blog header is always a challenge.  I want something that says "Christmas," but the heavy duty displays aren't up until later in the month, as it should be.

This is a tree of lights outside a bank along South Main Avenue in west Scranton.

If I come across something better, you could see a change before the end of the month.

Have a great December.

And, a quick word about yesterday's passing of Jim Nabors...  Great voice, wonderful talent, and he made Gomer Pyle one of television's most unforgettable characters.  Jim Nabors was 87.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Burger Blues

Even though I write about the fast food industry quite a bit, I really don't visit all that often.  Still, the business fascinates me.

Several McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger Kings have been renovated in the last few years.  The look is more boxy, more contemporary, more restaurant like, less clown like.

The common thread, at least where I live, is the removal of those sunroom type add ons.  Really!?!?  I loved those.  Maybe they were maintenance headaches.  Maybe they cost too much to cool and heat, 
but I really liked having my burger and fries in the flood of daylight.  They even had charm at night.

I'm happy to say the fast food joints started eliminating those kiddie play lands long ago.  Who thought that was a good idea?  I guess it looked good on paper until the insurance liability people got involved.

I've read that society is changing.  An increasing amount of business comes from the drive through.  The buildings don't need to be as large.  They just have to be efficient to keep people from waiting in line.

The current trend seems to be ordering through touch screens.  Most of the new mini marts already have it.  I've used of dozens of times, and it works great.  I have yet to experiment in a fast food restaurant.  I'd have to see people lose jobs over this, but if it improves speed and efficiency, it's tough to put up an argument.

The bottom line is I don't choose a fast food restaurant for the architecture.  It's all about the location, and what I'm in the mood for.

Hold the mayonnaise.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

We Can Help

Something happened yesterday.  It really bugged me, and it's something you should know about.

Just before 2:00 am, we started getting reports that there was a lost hunter.  The first job was to confirm and get specifics.

When I called one branch of emergency services, I was quickly referred to a police agency.  During that call, I was brusquely told that the officer in charge would prepare a news release upon his return.  It could be five minutes or it could be five hours.

Imagine, for a moment, that it's your loved one lost in the woods.  Cold.  Frightened.  In a great deal of danger.  I would want first responders and law enforcement to use every tool in their arsenal as quickly as possible.  The lost hunter easily could have been killed.  One of those tools is letting as many people know, as fast as possible.

I will be the first to admit that the news media can get in the way.  We can also help.  Help big time.  In addition to our broadcasts, we have web sites and social media.  The word needed to get out, and in a timely manner.  It didn't happen.  I wish I could give you the people responsible for the disconnect and the reasons.  I cannot because I just don't know why something like that would happen.

Minutes count.

I respect the work of men and women in uniform, police, firefighters, Game Commission, emergency medical...  They do outstanding work, and we couldn't survive without them.  They have the training, equipment and gear.  They also possess something just as valuable:  information that could save a life.

I later learned that when the lost hunter made his way out of the woods and encountered civilization, the first homes he approached wouldn't offer help.  I get that.  If a strange man with a gun came to my door, I'd be reluctant, too.  But, do you think if there was a lost hunter in the area, they'd be on the lookout?  If they only knew...

We did get a photojournalist out there as quickly as possible to find out what was happening.  Still, there was a delay, and it shouldn't have happened.

Again, I will admit there is often an adversarial relationship between the media and police/emergency services.  It's our job to hold people accountable.  It creates friction.  It comes along with the territory and I can understand it.  But, someone's life was at stake here.

After it was over, I politely pleaded my case to a first responder.  It was very similar to what you see above.  The person suggested I speak to an association that covers the lost hunter area.  Great idea!  If it works with my bizarre work and sleep schedule, I'm there.  I handed out business cards.  Let's talk.

This shouldn't have happened.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Media Tuesday

David Cassidy died last week.  67.  He shot to fame in The Partridge Family.  I always liked their music, but I thought the TV show was dreck.  Even back in the day, when it was hot, I couldn't figure out why my little friends liked it.

I don't know if radio stations are playing more Tom Petty music because he died recently, or I'm just noticing it more.  Either way, no complaints.  Tom Petty was always a favorite.

Holiday Mode!  It has been established here that I listen to sports talk radio as an occasional diversion from doom and destruction in the real world.  It's that time of year, when regular hosts start taking time off.  I'm all for giving people time off around the holidays.  Some replacements are very good.  At times, the big networks run "best of" shows.  There is nothing worse than a "best of" canned sports talk show.  Even if it was a good interview, it comes off as stale.

I'm still heartbroken over the horrible things Charlie Rose did.  CBS says it built its morning show around content, but mornings are a different animal.  Mornings are built around personality.  It will be interesting to see who CBS chooses as a replacement.  Anthony Mason is coming off a fill in stint on the Evening News.  He's a safe and logical choice.  Solid, but not much star power.

Listening to big city all news radio traffic reports over the weekend makes me thankful I live in a small town.

Some radio stations have been flipping to an "all Christmas music" format.  Strangely, it usually produces a ratings boost.  My best wishes to the people who work at those stations.  I don't think I could handle it.  For me, a little Christmas music goes a long way.

The New York Post reports that NFL ratings are still sliding.  NBC's Al Michaels got it right in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story.  Michaels said the NFL had been through the roof in recent years, so a decline is natural.  I will add that we saw something similar in NASCAR.  More thoughts:  The NFL really has to get a handle on this national anthem thing, and needless celebrations.  I've seen players celebrate a sack, even though their team is getting hammered on the scoreboard at the time.  On top of that, many of the marquee games this year have been blow outs.

Please, enough with the superhero movies!

The Food Network has ordered some new episodes of "Molto Mario."  The show had been out of production for several years.  Mario batali's food is a little too hard core Italian for me, but I could watch him work, and listen to his take on Italian history and culture for days.

The David Letterman/Mark Twain/Kennedy Center special was outstanding.  It was great hearing Alan Kalter again, and especially great hearing Paul Shaffer and the band play the Letterman theme again.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Santa's Little Helpers

We've already established that I have absolutely no decorating skill.  I will add that I don't need to be in the middle of decorations to make me happy.  The work of others will suffice. 

Seconds after Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning wrapped and I left the set, the production crew went to work putting up the holiday decorations.  The do a great job every year, and it's nice to spend eight hours of my week in a cheery atmosphere.
There will be more that you don't see.  Our newsroom always gets a rather large tree, and people decorate their individual work areas.

The news set will remain decorated well in to the new year.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Andy's Angles: Jonah

Holiday weekend, and time to take it easy and that's just what Jonah is doing in this photo I took last week.  Johan is one of Nathan's friends.  Jonah is one of the most photogenic felines I've ever encountered, very social, and loves being around people.

He's in my spot.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Twinkle, Twinkle, Taylor

I have absolutely no decorating skills, so I admire what others can do.

One of my favorite towns to drive through at this time of year is Taylor in Lackawanna County. The borough started putting up these decorations a few years ago. What puts them ahead of the rest is the twinkling lights. It's a great sight, and drive through if you get the chance.

To all who decorate, thanks for brightening up the season.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday

Today is one of my least favorite days on the calendar, Black Friday.  It's a day dedicated to commercialism, excessiveness, crowds, noise and mayhem.  As a leftover from Thanksgiving, I'm thankful I have nothing to do with it.

I do understand that, despite what the politicians and chamber of commerce types tell us, times are tough.  It's difficult to make ends meet, and some of us will have to battle the mess today to save a few dollars.  I get that.

I also realize that many use Black Friday as family time.  The family that shops together, stays together.  Bravo on that!  Any family time is good time.

My retail experience today will consist of an early morning trip to a mini mart for an out of town newspaper.  That's it.  That's the list.

Please, try to be safe and sane today.  We'll talk tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

I say it every year.  If you look hard enough, we all have something for which to be thankful.  Some years, it's more difficult than others, and this is one of those years.

However, when you sit down and think about it, I'm a fortunate man.

There are a lot of people out there struggling, and those struggles are very real.  My heart breaks for them.  Thanksgiving is just another day.  It might even be worse.

Count your blessings.

If all goes according to plan, I'll try to get out with the camera for a little bit this morning, a Thanksgiving tradition.  Dinner follows.  Maybe some football on TV.  Thanksgiving is usually the time I start putting together my Top Ten Photographs of the year thing.  I'd make an overnight gym visit, but it's closed, not reopening until the morning.  A walk seems like a decent compromise.

I hope your Thanksgiving is a good one.  We'll talk soon.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Follow Up Wednesday

CBS fired Charlie Rose yesterday, and I can't see how it had any other choice.  The allegations, which Rose copped to (for the most part) were exceptionally damaging.  There was no way CBS could put Rose back on the air.

It's a bad situation.  CBS has a decent morning show for the first time in years.  Ratings have been making progress, even though CBS is still in third in the morning, and the network failed to groom a successor.

Pity.  Rose's wounds were self inflicted.

Today is the biggest travel day of the year, and I am thankful I won't be traveling beyond the gym and the mini mart again this year.  Traffic is nuts on a normal day, and multiply that by five, at least, today.

I will renew my theory that most of life's problems can be solved by getting up ten minutes earlier.  I see so many maniacal drivers every day.  They're all in a hurry.  They wouldn't have to rush as much if they had a little more time in the morning.

Tooting our own horn for a second...  So many of us got into the news business because we want to help people.  WNEP and several of my coworkers have been doing stories on places people in need can find help during the holidays.  Still others at WNEP offer the knowledge via phone or email.  We try our best, and if you are in need of assistance, I sincerely hope you can find what you need to get by.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


It's clear Minnesota Senator Al Franken has made some big mistakes, and he's paying the price.

Most people remember Franken from Saturday Night Live, but there's another project on the agenda today.  Franken starred in a 1998 NBC sitcom called "Lateline."  Franken played a reporter for a "Nightline" type broadcast.

I thought it was funny, and I might have been the only one.  It lasted all of 23 episodes.  Yes, they're on DVD, and yes, I have it.

On a similar note, I was always a big Charlie Rose fan, and the news last night hit me like a punch in the gut.  CBS suspended rose, pending the outcome of an investigation.  PBS stopped distributing his show.  Bloomberg will stop airing it.  Eight women came forward to say Rose sexually harassed them.  Rose issued a statement, admitting to much of it and apologizing.  The initial story was in the Washington Post.  The New York Times followed up.  It's devastating stuff.

Franken and Rose are cases where we are forced to say we like their work, even though they made some horrible choices

We're being forced to separate the personal and the professional.  It's easier said than done.  Most experts I heard last night and early this morning say comebacks after things like this are a major uphill battle.

Liking the work doesn't excuse the actions.

I'm not sure it's possible.    You can't ignore the behavior, or lessen its severity,  but if you believe in forgiveness and rehabilitation...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Joe Martin

Joseph Miluszusky died Friday morning.  Listeners to WCDL 1440 in Carbondale knew him as Joe Martin.  He was the morning man there for 20 years.

I first encountered Joe Martin back in the 70's when I was in high school.  Joe traveled from school to school, moderating a student quiz show, "Scholastic," that was recorded and played back on the weekend.  I wasn't involved in the show, but I watched with amazement as Joe set up what looked like archaic and bulky audio taping equipment.  I don't remember a word of the quiz or the broadcast.  It was the production and the equipment that fascinated me.  You know what followed.  I started in college radio just a few months after high school and professional radio followed in my college sophomore year.

I know I had my mind made up to become a broadcaster long before Joe Martin brought that stuff in to my school.  Watching that morning helped cement my choice.

It was apparent that Joe Martin was the right guy at the right time.  He worked in an era when radio was really local.  WCDL didn't have a great signal, and back then, it signed off at sundown.  It's now a whopping 37 watts at night.  WCDL was "THE" radio station of the Carbondale area, the up valley and the mid valley.  There was proof every day.  It was a good time for home town radio.  Local news, that show called "Scholastic," community events, and of course, plenty of sports.  WCDL was what a small town radio station was supposed to be.  Joe Martin was in the middle of it all.

I never really met Joe Martin.  I think I said hello briefly at the school that day.  I auditioned for a job at WCDL shortly after starting college. The news director handed me some wire copy to read and record.  Joe wasn't around that morning.  I didn't get the job.  I don't know who made the decision.  No hard feelings.  I wasn't ready.  I wouldn't have hired me, either.

Local radio was better because Joe Martin contributed to it.  My sympathy to family, friends, and fans.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Andy's Angles: Leaves

As noted earlier, I didn't get much leaf peeping time in this year.  I tried to make up for it on a recent morning by taking some shots from the WNEP backyard.

The building in the middle is the Lackawanna County Visitors' Center.  That's a hotel off to the left.

It was a strange weather summer and fall, and the leaves didn't seem quite as colorful this year.  It was a pretty sight nonetheless.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Butterfly

There is a funny story behind this picture.  I was playing with my camera in my backyard a couple of months ago, trying to get a good butterfly shot.  I took several, not happy with anything, and I moved on to other things.

Then, I was loading pictures from another project in to my computer several weeks later, and I saw this on the monitor.  It wasn't half bad.  I didn't realize I had a pretty picture.

Enjoy a little taste of late summer, during a cold and grey November.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Scrapple

Welcome to this blog's first entry of its 14th year.

Hawaii Five 0 might be the best TV theme ever, and there were some great ones back in the day.

A month ago, people were ready to hand the college national championship trophy to Penn State and the Super Bowl trophy to Kansas City.  Things have changed a bit.

Thanksgiving is less than one week away, and I'm not feeling it.

You can get a forecast from a dozen different places, but I still like listening to National Weather Service radio.

I've been spending much of my work days researching and writing some special projects.  The flood of memories crossing my computer screen still amazes me.

A great pizza makes life worth living.

It's silly, but flash drive technology still fascinates me.  So much data in such a small device.

Raw mushrooms in a salad are great, but once you cook them, I want no part of them.

Yesterday, I was in a supermarket that was selling hot turkey dinners for take out.  You would think, that with Thanksgiving a week away, people wouldn't want to look at turkey.  Yet, those hot turkey dinners were flying out the door.

Why did it take so long for people to get angry about the situation in the Scranton School District?

I am thankful for many of things, and one of the biggest is I don't have to travel next week.

Closing in on 2,100 Twitter followers.  Tell a friend.

Speaking of friends, "The Prospector" from Rock 107 is doing his annual thing and collecting food for people in need.  Help if you can.  I love to see radio stations out and helping in their communities.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


It's anniversary day.  This blog is 13 years old.

Our way back then webmaster Mark Sowers came up with the idea.  The rest was all on me, and  I don't think anyone ever expected it to last this long.  I think the reason I still blog is that I was late to the Facebook game, and Facebook really isn't my favorite social media platform.

This is my own little one page daily newspaper.

Some days are a struggle, but those are few and far between.  The blog is never a chore.  I've always enjoyed writing, even though I'll never be confused with Hemmingway.  I hope it's changed, but a lot of teachers back in my day used writing as a form of punishment.  That was criminal.  It could be why so many people hate it and have problems expressing themselves.

I'm estimating close to 5,000 blog entries.  There is no way to get an accurate number because we've changed input methods and platforms over the years.  That's a lot of entries.  A few were even entertaining.

Thank you for reading and looking at the pictures.

Year 14 begins tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Follow the Money

GQ magazine named protesting and unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick its "Citizen of the Year."

It was all over radio, TV, and the internet yesterday.

Mission accomplished!

When was the last time anyone talked about GQ magazine?

The goal here was not information or presenting an interesting story.  It was heat.  Publicity.  Attention.  MONEY!

Every year, People magazine names its sexiest man alive.  Maxim used to rank the world's hottest women.  Magazines and newspapers list the best cities, the worst cities, the best colleges and universities, the worst colleges and universities, best food, worst food...  The list is endless.

My radio brethren love talking about the sexy lists, and that's great.  It makes for entertaining radio.

But, please don't take your eye off the ball when it comes to this stuff.  Don't take it so seriously because it's all about the money.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

End of Season

I knew the day was coming and I finally did it the other day.  I put my bike away for the winter.

To get you up to speed, I ride at night.  Yes, I'm as safe as I can be.  My bike has lights and reflectors.  I wear a reflector vest, like the one road crews use.  In fact, I think I'm safer during my pre dawn rides because the streets are just about empty.

50 degrees is my cut off point.  If it gets colder than that, the amount of clothing necessary kills some of my fun.  I love those humid summer nights, when I can ride in shorts and tee shirt.  Sweats aren't that bad when there's a slight chill in the air.

After looking at this week's forecast and the long range outlook for next week, it appears my 50 degree mornings are over, so it's time to mothball the bike.  Just a couple of years ago, I had the bike out until the week before Christmas and I loved it.  Riding past decorated and lit homes on a silent night is one of life's great delights.

If the spring is normal, I'll be pedaling away in mid April.  Until them, I'll have to live with the bikes at the gym, but at least I can watch TV at the same time.

Monday, November 13, 2017


What's the deal with charcoal?  It seems like there's an ad for some charcoal related product on television every five minutes-- peels, cleansers, deodorant, tooth powder...

Cooking charcoal has been around for centuries and centuries.  It's a great filter, and it's long been known as a remedy for intestinal distress.

To me, charcoal always meant burgers and dogs on a little grill on the back porch.  I don't know if it's still around, but my favorite product was charcoal that came in bags that looked like cellophane.  You lit the bag, and the flames spread to the briquettes.  Easy.  On the other hand, Lord knows what chemicals you were burning in to your meat.  Bottom line.  It smelled and tasted great.  Nothing like it.  A fire company a few blocks away from me has chicken barbecues a few times a year.  The aroma permeates the town.  Love it.

Now, charcoal is moving up the charts as a health and beauty aid.

I'm not disputing the product's effectiveness, but the red flag goes up when you see it all over the place.

I'll have to admit, it looks tempting.  I've been doing TV for a long time, and anything that does a great job in removing make up gets my attention.  I'll have to ask around the office to see if anyone has experiences with it.

In the meantime, I'll keep looking and waiting to see what's next to come down the 'pike.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Andy's Angles: Decorating

This is another Monday morning photo from Courthouse Square in Scranton.

The trees here are growing nicely and that makes me happy.  It really hurt to see all those big old trees chain sawed during a renovation here several years ago.

In this shot, a county worker is stringing Christmas lights.  It seems strange to be putting up Christmas decorations while leaves are still on the trees, but it's been that kind of fall.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Big Tree

'Tis the season!

A 25 foot tall Christmas tree was delivered to Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton Monday morning.

Below is the way a tree here looked last year.
I don't believe this year's lighting date has been set, but when the tree is decorated and lit, you can be sure to find a picture here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day

It's become a Veterans Day week tradition at my alma Mater, Marywood-- a flag, planted in a field, representing every service member killed in recent conflicts.

I remember the first time I saw something similar.  It was at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre.  When I first read about it, I didn't think a bunch of flags in the grass could be moving.  I was wrong.  It's an emotional sight, and stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

Thank a veteran today, and every day.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


It's that time of year.  As I noted in a recent blog entry, most of my Christmas shopping is done on-line.  I like supporting local businesses, but I work all night and sleep all day.  Getting out to stores is difficult.

Still, there are things that I don't get on line-- food, things for around the house.  This is the time of year I buy more than I immediately need.  The reason is simple.  Stock up now so I don't have to battle the Christmas rush later.

It's double everything, and when I get strange looks from cashiers, I explain that it's nothing personal.  I don't want to be in their store around Christmas.  Just about all who hear my tale agree.

I consider it a public service.  Leave the parking lot spaces and places in line for the people who really HAVE to be there.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Numbers

For the most part, the ballots have been counted.  Let's take a look and try to explain what it all means.

>>>SCRANTON MAYOR:  Four years ago, Bill Courtright defeated Jim Mulligan by ten points.  This year, the margin was just two.  I expected a Courtright win, and for Mulligan to close the gap.  Two points is smaller than I expected.  I believed Courtright would take a second term in City Hall by about five.  It's clear Scranton voters have a Courtright problem, and his win really doesn't signal a mandate.  But a win is a win.  He's worked with a generally friendly city council.  It will be interesting to see if that continues amidst speculation at least one city council member is eyeing the mayor's office.

>>>LACKAWANNA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  A Mark Powell win is not a shocker, given the Democratic party's big registration edge in the county.  A four point margin seems in line with what I expected.  Gene Talerico had the credentials and he worked hard.  It's clear the voters wanted change.  Republicans have controlled the Lackawanna County DA's office for decades.

>>>SCHUYLKILL COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mike O'Pake over incumbent Christine Holman by ten points.  I'll lever with you.  I don't get to Schuylkill County much, so I didn't have a feel for this race.  However, I will make this note:  Both Holman and Talerico, in their commercials, attempted to make being a defense attorney a crime.  They tried to taint their opponents by saying they represented drug dealers and child molesters.  It's all true.  However, being a defense attorney is a noble profession and the last time I checked the United States Constitution, people charged with crimes have the right to a lawyer.

>>>LUPAS RETENTION:  Speaking of the right to representation, David Lupas breezes to retention on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.  Lupas was district attorney during the Kids for Cash scandal.  A big part of that was thousands of juveniles going before a judge without a lawyer.  No assistant under Lupas uttered a peep.  It's clear that Kids for Cash is an ancient and nasty memory, and Lupas isn't being held responsible.  There appeared to be no organized effort to battle his retention.

>>LUZERNE COUNTY CONTROLLER:  Michelle Bednar easily gets a second term, defeating Walter Griffith.  He used to have the job.  Griffith was forced to resign four years ago after admitting to secretly recording telephone conversations.  Voters do remember some things.

>>>MONROE COUNTY CORONER:  Bob Allen defeated and it wasn't even close.  There have been allegations of inappropriate behavior by Allen's assistants.  Voters held their boss responsible and Allen is out.

>>>ALLENTOWN MAYOR: A criminal indictment didn't matter.  Ed Pawlowski breezes to a second term.  Innocent until proven guilty.

>>>SHAMOKIN MAYOR:  William Milbrand loses to John Brown.  Milbrand faced criminal charges relating to operation of a cemetery.  The charges later disappeared, withdrawn by the district attorney.  Again, I don't get to Shamokin much these days.  I don't know how large a role the criminal charges played.

>>>LACKAWANNA COUNTY REASSESSMENT:  It went down in flames, even though the results won't count.  There has to be a better way.

>>>VOTER TURNOUT:  It looked good in parts of Lackawanna County, thanks to some hotly contested races.  I understand it was dismal elsewhere.  It makes me sad.

Congratulations to all the candidates-- those who won, and those who did not.  Politics is a brutal game, and my hat is off to anyone who participates.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Election Day

It's finally here.  It's Election Day!

I'm looking for the standard procedure today.

My day starts with an unhealthy fast food breakfast.  I'll get to the office early for one last look at some preview stories I've been working on.  It's out to a polling place to be live on Newswatch 16 This Morning beginning at 4:30 AM.  The polls open at 7:00 AM, and that's when I'll start working on an issues, trends, and turnout piece for Newswatch 16 at Noon.

I'll vote on the way home, take a mega nap, and be up in the evening to watch my friends and colleagues at WNEP  report on the winners.  Note, I try to avoid the word "loser."  Someone brave enough to make a run at an elected office is never a loser.

Look for updates in this space throughout the day, and some analysis tomorrow morning.

Please, get out and vote.

>>>12:30 AM UPDATE:  Before my Election Day narrative really gets cranked up, I have to note the passing of Norm Hill.  He and I worked together at WARM 590 in the late 80's and early 90's.  Norm stayed for a few years after I left.  He could do it all-- DJ, news, traffic...  He knew his stuff and had one of the best radio voices I ever heard.  More importantly, he was simply a very nice man.  My friend, WBT 1110's John Hancock informed me Norm died back on October 29.  He was 69.  My sympathy to his family and friends.

This Lackawanna County reassessment referendum is turning in to a nightmare.  To make a long story short, a panel of Lackawanna County judges knocked it out because of unclear wording.  It was appealed to Commonwealth Court, a body that rarely overturns decisions like this.  Just about everyone involved believed there would be a ruling Monday.  It never happened. It will be interesting to see what happens at the polls.

It's off to work!

>>>2:45 AM UPDATE:  It was the standard election morning ritual on the way to work-- a spicy chicken sandwich from what could be the worst fast food outlet in the country.  The chain is great.  This particular store is awful, but it's open 24 hours, so it gets my business.  The fries were outstanding.  Staying with our election day theme, it appears the chicken sandwich was cooked during the Eisenhower administration.

When I hit the office, it was time to re-tweak some scripts and add some late information.  It wasn't extensive.  When I'm writing these things, I design them to be adaptable to whatever happens, right up until the moment the polls open.

I have that Election Day feeling.  It's a sense of anticipation, a sense of wonder, a sense of change.  It's not quite as extensive as it was for last year's election, but it's still there.  The people we elect today will have a big impact on your life, and it's a shame more people don't get out and vote.

I just caucused with morning producer Kim and morning photographer Jason.  We're all on the same page.  It'll soon be time to hit the road for Newswatch 16 This Morning.
>>>4:30 AM UPDATE:  We picked Isaac Trip Elementary in Scranton for our morning live shot location.  It's a first for us, and we like to show all parts of our area some love.  Plus, it's nicely lit and you can actually see something behind me.  A long day is just beginning.

>>>11:00 AM UPDATE:  Sorry.  I've been away from the keyboard for a while.  Here's some of what we learned.  Scranton turnout is solid.  I talked with both mayoral candidates and some random voters.  People are really engaged with this election.  I just finished writing a story for Newswatch 16 at Noon.  Photographer Lou is editing, and we'll be live at a polling place in an hour.  See you then.

>>>2:00 PM UPDATE:  The noon broadcast was fine.  We got some good information out there, and I'm sure the viewers learned something new.  It's tough to think about the election when you have a Pennsylvania State Trooper shot.  After the broadcast, it was a few errands-- including a supermarket run, voting, and a hair cut.  I finally have a few minutes to sit down and do a little writing.  I was voter 99 in my precinct a little before 1 this afternoon.  Disappointing, but I can understand it.  Most of the local races were decided in the primary.

It's time to unwind for a bit, take a nap, and watch the returns come in tonight.  I have some thoughts on what might happen.  We'll see if I was right.  Look for the information in tomorrow's blog entry.

Have a good afternoon and evening.  Thanks to all the people at various polling places I encountered today.  You provided valuable information.

Watch the team tonight, and witness democracy in action.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Almost Here

There are some aspects of my life where I am unashamedly old school.

Today's topic is Christmas.  I don't like looking at it or thinking about it until mid December.  I do understand there are economic realities and logistical issues.  For example, we had a discussion at the office, weeks ago, about the Christmas week schedule.  I am fortunate that I'm not a big celebration guy, and I don't have to travel, so I took a couple of extra Christmas week shifts to give others a little time off.

I took the photo above in a shopping mall Thursday morning.  They are all set for Santa's arrival this weekend.  Yes, this weekend!  I think it's a little early.  What made the scene even more strange was a late week burst of warmth.  It's tough to think about snow, cold, and Christmas when you're running around without a jacket.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Andy's Angles: Another View

This photo has appeared here before, but it's worth another look.  It's the steeple of St. John the Baptist Church in Throop.  I took it in the summer of 2013, with my old flip camera phone, just minutes after a lightning strike.

I was on my home from the dentist when I saw the commotion and looked up.  The church was closed by the diocese, so the solution was simply to remove the steeple.  There was no sense in rebuilding it.

Now, the entire building is gone.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Andy's Angles: Demolition

This is a picture I took one week ago.  St. John the Baptist Church on Sanderson Street in Throop is gone by the time you see this.  The diocese closed it nearly ten years ago.  Throop Borough bought it , but no developer became interested in doing something here.  I get that.  A conversion would have been costly.  There isn't any parking.  In the end, demolition seemed to be the only option.
I grew up several blocks away, and I think I was inside this church only twice.  My family belonged to a church just down the block.  By the way, it's closed too.  So many were sorry to see St. John's go, and I get that, too.

As I walked around the site last week, I thought of all the services, the baptisms, the weddings, the funerals that took place here.  It's sad.