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Friday, August 18, 2017

The Long Ranger

The National Weather Service's fall outlook is pictured above.

If it's true, look for above normal temperatures with an equal chance of being wetter or drier than normal.

I am a professional skeptic, so I don't put much stock in any forecast more than seven days out.

However, I will admit that the long range forecast did bring a smile to my face.  The only time I don't like above normal temperatures is during the summer.  Average is good enough for me.

I should add that there could be a pair of big storms entering the Gulf of Mexico in the coming week.  Interesting days ahead.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Elvis

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's passing.

Elvis was never my thing, but I do respect his popularity and his ability to draw a crowd.

I remember hearing about the death from my brother.  I was in the living room, watching a Hogan's Heroes rerun.  It wqas between 5:30 and 6:00 PM.  My brother was apparently watching something else in his bedroom.  He emerged with the news that Elvis had died.

The people who run Elvis' home, Graceland, have started charging $30 for the right to file past the grave.  You do get some other considerations for the admission price.

I'm reminded of one thing, and it came from the great Johnny Carson:  "If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead."

Relax.  It's just a joke.  No one wants to see anyone go.  Elvis died at the age of 42, and that's the most unfair thing of all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Riced

We'll fight over anything in this country.  The latest case in point is "riced vegetables."

There's no rice in them.  It refers to the tiny cut.  Cauliflower resembles rice.  Hence, the name.  I should add this is American marketing genius at its best.  Green Giant uses the scraps, cuts them small, and them sells them.  Brilliant!  By the way, I've had them and they're very good.  I'd still prefer big, chunky cauliflower and other vegetables.

That brings us the the rice growers.  CBS News did a report the other night, and the rice people aren't happy.  Apparently, they've never heard of an old hand appliance, called a ricer, that can turn anything into tiny bits.
The real rice people want the vegetable rice people to change the name of the product.

Really?  Are you kidding me?

I know there is frozen rice, but the majority is dried.  You can't confuse it with riced vegetables.  Read the bag.  It says "100 per cent vegetables."

The "Battle of the Side Dish" is on the way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Favorite Year

courtesy:  Variety


Joseph Bologna died Sunday.  Pancreatic cancer.  82.

Bologna had a huge role in my favorite movie, "My Favorite Year."  It chronicles the adventures of a young assistant on a fictional variety show set in the 1950's.  The young assistant, played by mark Linn-Baker is assigned to keep an eye on continuously drunk movie star Alan Swan, played perfectly by Peter O'Toole.  From what I've read about O'Toole, playing a drunk movie star wasn't much of a stretch.  He was nominated for an Academy Award.

Bologna played the host of the fictional TV show, King Kaiser.  The thing I will remember most about Bologna's performance (and O'Toole's) was the swagger.  He was confident and cocky, and he didn't take stuff from anyone-- including the mob boss Kaiser's show poked fun at.

I loved every second of the film.  It often pops up on cable, and do yourself a favor.  Watch it.

As I've noted here before, I think a big reason I enjoyed the movie was I saw it at the old
Ritz Theater in downtown Scranton with a group of college friends..  A good movie.  Good performances.  Great companionship.  Can't be beat.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Scrapple

Why can't the soy sauce in packets taste as good as the stuff that comes out of the bottle?

I can gaze at a full moon for hours.

Old Drew Carey shows still make me laugh out loud.

Can Stephen Colbert do anything in addition to Trump bashing?

Home made pickles are outstanding.

I'm ready for fall, and I really look forward to rainy days.

I must have listened to "Wichita Lineman" 20 times last week.

How did I live without diet peach iced tea?

I've really grown to enjoy wandering around supermarkets in the middle of the night.

Even though just about every Duluth Trading, LL Bean and Land's End catalog looks the same, I still look forward to their arrival in the mail.

Why is The River 104.9 FM still fading "Baker Street" out early?

I'm a huge Letterman fan, but I doubt I'll get a Netflix subscription to watch his new show next year.

Charlottesville.  Why?

I topped 2,000 Twitter followers a few days ago.  Thank you.

Can't believe most schools reopen in just two weeks.  It seems like Memorial Day was yesterday.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Andy's Angles: More Piggies

My name is on the story, but the story also belongs to the photographer.  Corey Burns shot the Monday morning pigs in the blanket making story at St. Mary's Church in Mocanaqua.

Corey came armed-- his usual news camera, plus two wireless microphones and a tiny Go Pro video camera.  Time is usually our enemy, but is actually on our side that morning.  The piggy making operation began early.  All the activity was in one place.  Mocanaqua is an easy drive.

Corey stuck a wireless microphone on one of the volunteers.  She was nervous at first, but eventually loosened up and didn't even remember the microphone was there.  The Go Pro got some tight shots.  Corey's other camera took care of the rest.

I did some interviews and a short on-camera piece.  It was then back to the station to write and edit.  On the way back, we talked about our vision for the piece.  Once we put the video in the computer system for editing, I asked Corey if any "nat sound" popped out.  A couple of pieces did.  Inside baseball:  nat sound is non interview sound-- candid conversations, sound of machines and activities, etc.  Corey played what he had.  I liked one piece.  Corey favored another.  Thankfully, Newswatch 16 at Noon producer Teresa gave us time to include both.

As I've noted earlier, I'm exceptionally critical of all my work.  This one came out great.  Thank you, Corey and the piggy makers of Mocanaqua.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Andy's Angles: Piggies

I will start with a confession:  I don't like stuffed cabbage, or pigs in a blanket.  I like all the components-- beef, rice, cabbage, and tomato sauce.  However, when you combine them all, it really doesn't work for me.

My Monday morning assignment was to head to St. Mary's Church in Mocanaqua.  They were making 1,000 piggies for a Labor Day weekend festival.

It was an amazing operation-- steaming, separating, mixing, rolling, cooking, freezing...

The participants were a little shy at first, but they eventually relaxed and opened up around the cameras and microphones.  After all, they know the value of good advertising.  Thousands and thousands of people would see the story.  Judging from reaction out on the streets this week, the piggies will be in big demand at this year's picnic.  They're huge-- enormous cabbage leaves, and you get a cup of meat in each, with very little rice as filler.  Volunteers were proud to state it's real rice, not Minute Rice.

That's the piggy making process.  Tomorrow, inside TV.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Peachy

It was quite the sight during a Thursday very early morning visit to Walmart in Taylor.  The parking lot was filled with campers, mobile homes, and people sleeping in their cars.  Yes, Peach Fest is in town.  Concert goers were hanging out here until the gates opened.  One of the store's cashiers said they were hopping all night and all morning.  People coming inside to use the bathrooms.  Groceries and assorted other supplies sold and on their way out the door.

Concerts aren't my thing.  I don't like crowds and I don't like noise.

However, when you see things like what's pictured in the photo above, you realize the economic impact of all those parties on the mountain.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Glen Campbell



Glen Campbell died Tuesday. 81. Alzheimer's. An awful end.

Do yourself a favor. Read the obituaries. Listen to the music.

Personal favorites: "Wichita Lineman," and he did a version of "It's only Make Believe" that's simply outstanding. Yes, "Wichita Lineman" was a bit schmaltzy. It came from Jimmy Webb, the man responsible for "MacArthur Park."

The music world owes Glen Campbell a lot. He was one of the first to bridge the gap between country and pop.

This is similar to my recent blog entry on the Kinks, and how music can transport you in place and time. Glen Campbell was a wholesome oasis as the country was changing. He was big in the late 60's and early 70's. Watching the TV show and listening to the music took you away from riots in the streets, Vietnam, Watergate, etc. just for a little while. Plus, the guy had tons of talent.

His songs remind me of family time, AM radio, being a kid, growing up, having fun...

Admittedly, Glen Campbell wasn't so wholesome. He was an alcohol and drug abuser. Thankfully, he was able to defeat the demons.

By the way, if you had a Glen Campbell record, there's a good chance it was pressed at the Capitol Records plant in south Scranton.

Campbell's Alzheimer's was well known, and we all knew this day was coming. It doesn't mitigate the sadness.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Someone Finally Gets It


Below is a story I lifted from an industry web site.  Ms Burdine understands my reason for doing this.  It's a creative outlet.  I don't do all the things she recommends, but she's figured out that a blog is an opportunity to share the things I don't have time for on television.

Blogs were all the rage several years ago.  A handful of my coworkers had them.  Just about all have disappeared.  I understand why.  Some see Facebook as a more effective way of connecting with viewers, and I get that.  I've found the blog works better for me, so that's why it's coming up on its 13th anniversary this fall.

Read the story when you get a chance.  It gives you some insight into the business and why we do what we do.

As always, thanks for stopping by.




By Nikki Burdine, RTDNA Contributor
 
As a reporter, you write more in one day than most people do in an entire month. You write two versions of your package, a web story, a tweet promoting your story, a VO/SOT version and then another shortened piece for a later newscast. You write. A lot. But most of us are writing to feed the beast, am I right? Your words are quick and to the point, nothing flowery or unnecessary. That package better not go over 1:20 and that VO needs to stay under :30. So that probably doesn't leave a lot of room for creativity, does it? 
 
Those feature packages are few and far between, unless you're lucky enough to get a sweet assignment like the one-and-only Boyd Huppert. So when you do get a feel-good story, you might be a little out of practice. 
 
These are just a few of the reasons you, busy reporter, should have a blog. 
 
I often say my blog is more for me than it is for my readers - it helps me stay creative by writing about subjects other than spot news. If I find something that tickles my fancy and would not be an acceptable pitch for the morning meeting, I write about it on my blog. There's no pressure, it's just whatever you want to write about. No deadlines or criteria to meet. 
 
Here's another reason you should have a blog: it's an online resume. Your blog can be a place where you highlight your feature writing and also your work from your 9-to-5. Bonus points for saving the video that aired and embedding it into YouTube. Your resume tape can only be so long, your blog can be where you post those extra stories. The work you're still proud of but didn't make the cut. Its a great follow-up email after an interview, "Just in case you'd like to see more of my work, here's a link." Bosses love a socially-savvy reporter, so if you can work WordPress, that's another resume-booster. Many station websites are actually hosted through WordPress, so you'd be ahead of the game! 
 
I love posting my work on my blog because it's a good diary of what I've done. So many times I can't find my actual story on my station's website, it's been archived or updated and only the newest version is posted. I go to my blog and there it is - a quick reminder. 
 
Your blog can be as in-depth or simple as you like. If you want it simply for work, consider a professional theme and just using your name as the domain. If you want to write more feature work and eventually have it be more than just for you, find something fun and quirky. 
 
Finally, having a blog is FREE and easy. I use WordPress to host my site. It's really user-friendly and you can customize it as much as you like. 
 
So like I said, my blog is more for me than it is for my readers. Because, to be honest, I don't know if I actually have any in the first place.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Warped Perspective

It started on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning.  Meteorologist Noreen Clark said we'd have an all day rain Monday.  My eyes lit up and my heart started to flutter.

It got worse when meteorologist Joe Snedeker also called for an all day Monday rain.

All I could think about was getting home from work, crawling in to bed, and sleeping away a rainy day.  No screaming children playing in the street.  No teens bouncing a basketball on the way to the playground down the block.  No lawn mowers.  No weed whackers.  No leaf blowers.  Just the sound of rain on the roof.  Bliss!

I love my job, and I'm not complaining about the hours I work.  It's my choice.  But, it does put a premium on quality sleep, which is harder to come by in the summer.  I'm one of those people who actually looks forward to the earlier sunsets when Standard Time arrives.

If you had outdoor plans yesterday, I'm sorry.  Look on the bright side.  I slept great.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Out of Touch

I am a television journalist, and therefore it is my job to know a little bit about a lot of different things.  No worries.  I enjoy it.

However, there are times I'm blind sided.  Pop culture is an Achilles' Heel.  I thought I was pretty good at consumer issues-- until last week.

I was at a mini mart and parked in front of the outdoor ice freezer.  Let me back up for a moment.  I don't camp.  No parties.  No picnics.  No reason to buy bagged ice cubes.

I was shocked to see a large bag of ice cubes cost $ 4.29.  Are you kidding me?!?!

I realize you're not just paying for frozen water.  You're also footing the bill for labor, transportation, electricity, freezers, etc., but $ 4.29?  Really?

I really don't have a clever way to end this, other than to say the 99 cent bag of ice days are long gone.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

About the Cover

This is the home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders in Moosic.  If the bank that paid for the naming rights wants a plug, it knows where to send the check.

The place underwent a major renovation a few years ago, and it still looks good, at least from a distance.

We were talking about it at the office last week.  I was there for the groundbreaking, the construction, the opening day, and several other season openers over the years.  While I haven't attended a game in years, it's still a cool thing that we have Triple A baseball here in our area.

It's also a reminder that we're in August-- the last month of the regular minor league season.  It seems like the first pitch was yesterday.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Andy's Angles: Bank

Downtown Wilkes-Barre is filled with some great buildings, and some boring ones, too.  This one is among my favorites.  It's the old First National Bank on Public Square.

The place has been empty for quite a while.  There have been a lot of ideas floated over the years-- like a museum and a business incubator.  I just hope something goes in there.  The building is too beautiful to sit idle.

By the way, they really did know how to build banks back in the day.  This design just screams "confidence and safety."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Good Times, Great Oldies


I was on one of my midnight adventures recently, driving down Interstate 81, when "Come Dancing" by the Kinks came on the radio.

I'm not a huge Kinks fan, but who doesn't love "Lola" and "Catch Me Now, I'm Falling" is an all time favorite.

Music has the power to take you to a place and time, and "Come Dancing" always does that.  The year was 1983.  At various times during my early years at WARM, I was the overnight DJ.  I did it for several weeks at a time-- usually because someone quit, was fired, or was out on sick leave.

When Steve St. John was the music director, he added "Come Dancing" to the "current rotation."  It was like a breath of fresh air-- a contemporary, bouncy, fun tune.  Steve was great at his job, and he really tried to freshen up the sound of a fading radio station.  For a long time, in the late 70's and early 80's, WARM played some of the most tired, stale songs out there.  Yes, people listened to WARM for the news, information, and personality-- but prior to the talk radio days, music was the big part of the product.

I remember playing "Come Dancing" toward the end of my shift.  One of the morning news people, Kitch Loftus, walked into the control room to ask about the strange music that was coming out of her radio.  Kitch, like many others, was used to the dreck.

I should add that "Come Dancing" was a DJ's dream.  It was almost exactly four minutes long, making it a great song to sue to backtime in to the top of the hour newscasts.  Yes, young broadcasters, there was a time when you picked your own music, and a computer didn't do all the timing for you.  We were all experts at doing 60 based math.

To make a long story sad, Steve eventually left.  I moved over into full time news.  The music became dull again, until program director John Hancock arrived in the mid 80's.  Management way back then made some horrible decisions, and now WARM is barely a blip on the radar screen.

WARM hasn't played a song in years.  Yet, any time I hear "Come Dancing," I'm transported back to early 80's Avoca, and spinning the hits on the Mighty 590.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Media Notes

I never listed to Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio/TV, but I was a captive audience last week.  It was on at my barber shop.  The topic was an NFL player who had a nipple ring ripped out during practice.  I was treated to 15 minutes, at least, of the most juvenile banter imaginable.  Actually, I shouldn't insult the 12 year olds.  It was simply awful.  All I could think of was "grow up."  ESPN is splitting up the Mikes.  One goes to a new TV show while the other will remain with radio.  Moot point.  I won't be listening-- or watching.

Staying with sports, it seems all the networks have scrambled their college and professional football announce and studio teams for the upcoming season.  I hope the changes are for the better.  After looking at the names, I'm really not sure.

CBS News has yet to announce a new Evening News anchor.  There has to be some talent out there, somewhere.  Anthony Mason is doing a solid job, but I'm sure CBS wants big star power.

Can someone please explain Mo Rocca to me, and why he has a network job?

June Foray died last week.  99.  She was the voice of several cartoon characters, including Bullwinkle's friend, Rocky.  Believe it or not, Foray and I have a mutual friend.  He always spoke very highly of her.

Former Rock 107 midday personality DC Day passed away this week.  I'm not going to say I knew her, but our paths crossed a couple of times.  She seemed like a lovely woman.  My sympathy to family, friends and fans.

The New York Post and Daily News sports media writers have been writing about the hideous John Sterling for years, and yet the Yankees' play by play radio announcer keeps his job.  I can't listen.  It's that bad.  The newspaper stories say Sterling, in addition to his "me first" calls, is making a lot of mistakes.  I wonder if retirement is near.

"The Big Bang Theory" creator thinks season 12 could be the last.  I used to love that show, but the last several years have been rather weak.

A television network in Great Britain is set to broadcast some video and audio of Princess Diana-- things she never intended to be made public.  It's some intimate stuff.  The whole thing comes off as slimey to me.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Another List

I had another one of those horrible, sleepless nights recently.

Last time, as I stared at the ceiling, tossed and turned, I made a mental list of regrets, and it was a long one.

This time, it was people I always want to talk to and/or interview.

Jesus.

Christopher Columbus

Every Founding Father, especially Benjamin Franklin.

Every president, especially FDR, Truman, JFK, Johnson and Nixon.  I have a million WWII questions for FDR.  I'd like to talk to Truman about the atomic bomb and always being underestimated.  You can spend years talking with Kennedy.  Johnson needs to do some explaining about Vietnam.  Nixon always fascinated me-- foreign policy genius but a personal wreck.

Dick Cheney.  I want to know about that moment he gave the OK to shoot down civilian jets over the United States.  No one is arguing about the call, but I'd love to know about having the guts to do it.

Vladimir Putin.

Every pope.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nelson Mandela

Susan B. Anthony

Lewis & Clark

Martin & Lewis

Barney Clark

Every astronaut, especially Armstrong, Glenn, and Shepard.

Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Peter Jennings, Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes creator /news producer Don Hewitt, Linda Ellerbee, Paul Harvey, Tom Snyder

Bill Cullen, Ed Sullivan, Captain Kangaroo, Groucho, Casey Kasem., Cousin Brucie (I did meet his daughter once), Chuck Barris, Mark Goodson, Gene Rayburn, Allen Ludden, Charles Nelson Reilly, Tony Randall, Bob Vila, Dick Clark, Tom Kennedy

Larry, Curley, Moe and Shemp.  Especially Larry.  He was always my favorite.

Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and Lucy

Johnny Carson and David Letterman.  I'm sure Dick Cavett would be entertaining as heck.  I did interview Cavett, very briefly, once.  George Carlin, Drew Carey, Craig Ferguson, Robert Klein, Steve Martin

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron

Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein

Beethoven

Sinatra

Charles Schultz

SGT Schultz

Various killers and dictators-- because I'd like to know what turned them evil.

All the Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Harry Chapin, Elvis

Peter O'Toole, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts

Woodward and Bernstein

Orville and Wilbur

Julia Child and Graham Kerr

Jon Miller, Pat Summerall, Bryant Gumbel, Hugh Downs, Roone Arledge, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Dick Enberg, Jack Buck, Howard Cosell

Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe

Ernie Pyle

I never knew any of my grandparents particularly well.  One was gone before I was born.    Two passed when I was very young.  The last didn't speak much English.

I'm sure there have some I missed.  They will have to wait for the next bout of insomnia.

I'm Not the Only One

I recently used this space to while about the sorry state of newspaper delivery-- both to homes and stores.  It's sporadic service. Papers arrive late, if at all.

Well, a recent Facebook thread I stumbled across added more fuel to the fire.  It seems a lot of people are having problems.  I really feel like mentioning the papers, but I won't.

Newspaper delivery is a tough job.  You have to get up in the middle of the night, in all sorts of weather.

If you look in the classifieds, it seems like every paper is looking for carriers.  So, what does that tell us?  First, it affirms that it's a tough job.  Second, it appears papers' pay is lousy.  Well paid people tend to stick around.  Just judging by the turnover in my neighborhood, my hometown paper can't keep good people.

Is this a moot point?  Some papers have given up on home delivery.  It's stores/newsstand and internet only.  I hope not.  I still view the thud of the paper landing on the porch as a major daily treat.

I just have a hard time believing that such an integral part of the operation, like getting your product in the hands of readers, is treated so sloppily.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Again?

A bunch of public officials in the Lehigh Valley and Reading areas were charged with corruption last week.  It looks like your classic pay to play scheme-- government contracts in exchange for campaign contributions.

Our area has seen more than its share of scandals.

I know the latest batch is innocent until proven guilty, but here is my point.

Could you imagine all the positive things investigators and prosecutors could do if the people we elected to public office were actually honest, decent and did their jobs?  It would really be nice if those in law enforcement didn't have to worry about thievery and corruption.

I know it's a lot to ask for and it will never happen, but it's nice to dream.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Follow Up Monday


Flash flooding last week brought me to Bradford County for the first time in a long time.

It brought back plenty of memories.  Back in the day, I really enjoyed going to Erie by taking Route 6 just about all the way.  I also freelanced for a great television station in Corning, NY, and if I had some extra time, I took Route 6 to get there.  It is one of America's great roads.  Great scenery, pretty small towns, nice people.

Much of my flash flooding visit was spent off the Route 6 corridor, and cell phone service was absolutely horrible.  I know no one wants a big, ugly cell phone tower for a neighbor, but it's 2017.  There has to be a better way to have better communications.

The next part of this entry might be a little too inside baseball, but here goes.  If you write for a living, you can relate to this.  If not, I hope I do a good job of explaining the phenomenon.

Photographer Jason Wolf and I had great material for our flash flooding story-- amazing video, compelling interviews.  Then, it was all on my plate.  I fired my laptop and talked to Jason about our best video.  Note to kids:  write to the video, best video first.

It happens every once in a while.  My fingers danced on the keyboard.  The words went from my head to the laptop.  They flowed and they flowed fast.  It's like a pitcher working on a perfect game or a bowler on his way to a 300 game.  OK, maybe that's a little overly dramatic.  As I sent the script to the station for approval, I know I had a good piece. 

Approval was swift.  I recorded my voice track and handed it off to Jason for editing.  We were on the same wavelength and he did a fantastic job of putting it all together.

I do tend to drive myself crazy.  If I had to do it all over again, I would have made a couple of minor changes to what I wrote.  Overall, it was darned solid.

Sometimes, you just get in the zone.



Saturday, July 29, 2017

Andy's Angles: Farewell

I've blogged about the old terminal at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport before.  Long story short.  As a kid, it was an occasional Sunday afternoon destination with the family.  It was a burger, or apple pie with ice cream in the restaurant.  Then, a trip upstairs to the observation deck to watch arrivals and departures.  Mom, Dad, my brother, my sister, and I.  There was always a Sunday drive somewhere.  Yes, there were days when airports actually encouraged you to watch what was happening on the runway.  And yes, I understand the need for contemporary security.

The building has outlived its usefulness, and it's time for it to go.  I get that.  It still makes me sad.

I was bringing my father home from a medical appointment at the Veterans Association Medical Center in Plains Township Wednesday morning.  I made a little detour to swing through the airport to show my father an up close look at the demolition he had seen on Newswatch 16 the night before.  We talked a little bit about those Sundays, probably 45 years ago.

Even though the site is destined to become a parking lot, I will always see that old terminal in my mind.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Vacation

Sleeping Homer is making his second appearance of the year, and that means another vacation week is near.

It's time.  I'm a little tired.

You should be used to hearing this by now.  I have no plans, other than sleep, reading, a few gym visits, a few bike rides, some photography, and a visit to KMart if it's still around.

I promised some friends I'd make some time for them this week.  That wasn't meant to sound uppity.  They know my schedule, and they understand I'm normally awake when they're asleep and vice versa.

The weekend morning broadcasts are in the capable hands of Jim Hamill.

I'll still be posting here.

See you soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jim and David

As I noted here the other day, Jim Vance died Saturday.  Cancer.  75.  He anchored at the NBC station in Washington for nearly 40 years, and we'll never see anything like that ever again.

The Washington Post obituary was fascinating.  The local Washington station and the NBC station are in the building.  Vance frequently had lunch with the legendary David Brinkley, and Brinkley became a mentor.

The Post obituary contained a quote from a Vance interview in Washingtonian magazine.

“I learned that, I swear to God, from David Brinkley,” Mr. Vance added. “Brinkley’s notion was if somebody sees you on the street and you’re pleasant to that person, he’s going to tell 10 people that the encounter worked out well. If you’re unpleasant, he’s going to tell at least 25. It just mathematically works out for you to be a nice guy."

I really can see Brinkley saying that.

I grew up in a Walter Cronkite household.  Brinkley was on NBC, and the local NBC station was viewed as the Wilkes-Barre station, so I didn't get in to Brinkley until he moved to ABC in 1981.  However, I have watched a lot of old Brinkley stuff on YouTube.  He is one of the all time greats.

Brinkley's last job at NBC was to anchor "NBC Magazine."  It was opposite "Dallas" on Friday nights for much of its run, so no one watched.  The show had one of the best themes ever.  I'm amazed it wasn't recycled somewhere after "NBC Magazine" ended its run.




Keen observers will note the name Kathleen Ankers on the closing credits.  She worked on David Letterman's morning and Late Night shows.  She jumped to CBS when Letterman moved over there, and helped design the new look of the Ed Sullivan Theater.

So I got to thinking, have I been nice to everyone?  No.  Not by a long shot.  I'm not a bad guy, but there are times people want to talk when I'm trying to get my story together or my mind is on something work related.  I'm nice.  Really.  Tell a friend.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nature's Power

I spent my Monday covering flash flooding in the northeastern corner of Bradford County, near the New York line.


They really do call it flash flooding for a reason.  Five inches of rain during only a few hours.  The water came up fast.  It went down fast.  People were trapped in their homes.  A lot of damage left behind.
Creeks and streams will be high and muddy for days.


There are so many people who need to be acknowledged.  I'll start with first responders, who put their own lives at risk to pluck flood victims out of their homes.  Penndot crews gave us plenty of room to operate, and they made sure we had clear paths to get a look at the damage.  Photographer Jason Wolf worked a 14 hour day to get the first video on the air and edit an outstanding piece for our noon broadcast.  Noon producer Teresa Psolka gave me extra time to tell the story because she knew we had great pictures and solid interviews.


Above all, thanks to the flood victims who offered to tell their stories, who let us in to their homes to see the damage.  It's not easy.  Their kindness will not be forgotten.  I hope the clean up is swift and efficient-- and I also hope you never have to go through this again.





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday Scrapple

When will the backyard fire pit craze end?  Gas fired is OK.  The wood ones stink up the neighborhood.

It's the yearly ritual of out of contention major league baseball teams selling off their best players to the contenders, and I'll never like it.

The SWB Railriders are averaging 6,000 a game.  That's not too shabby.

I bet Sean Spicer is sleeping better these days.

The casino in Plains Township is opening an Irish pub.  In this area, it's either a sports bar or an Irish pub.  Can't anyone come up with something different?

Your heart really goes out to Arizona Senator John McCain.

You can't look at OJ Simpson without thinking of the Brentwood murders.

The USS Gerald Ford is amazingly impressive aircraft carrier.  It should be for $ 11 billion.

Jim Vance died Saturday.  He was at the NBC station in Washington since 1969.  Vance anchored most of that time.  It was a great run, and I doubt it will ever be equaled.  Cancer.  75.

I'm ready for fall.

I can't envision any scenario that has me in a theater and watching a Planet of the Apes movie.  Atomic Blonde intrigues me, but it looks a little too violent and bloody for my tastes.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Go Joe 20

Go Joe 20 kicks off today.  Joe Snedeker is pedaling around our coverage area and raising money for St. Joseph's Center in Scranton.  It's a place that helps children and adults with developmental disabilities.

The whole thing ends Saturday night, when Joe pedals in to the annual St. Joseph's Festival at my alma mater, Marywood University, in Scranton.

Joe asked several of his co workers to pedal along this year.  I was flattered to be on the list, but I declined.  I felt my leisurely biking style would hold Joe back and that's the last thing I want to do.  Joe offered to slow it down a bit, but he's a man on a mission and I couldn't ask him to do that.

There is plenty of information on how to give on our web site, WNEP.com.  Donate what you can.  Every dollar helps, and it is those small individual donations that really are the heart of this whole thing.

Look for reports this week on Newswatch 16, and I'm sure Joe will be active on Facebook during his breaks.  Look for Joe in your neighborhood, too.

If you're in the Scranton area, stop by the festival this week.  A great time is guaranteed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Andy"s Angles: Nathan

Admittedly not the greatest picture, but it's cute.

There is nothing like a cat competing for your attention.  In this case, Nathan was interfering with my Friday morning viewing of Quick Pitch on the MLB Network.

Jumping on the TV stand is unusual behavior for the little scamp.  In this case, he was chasing a moth that had wandered in to the house.  Nathan never did get the moth.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Andy's Angles: Market Street Bridge

I know I'll get an argument from some people, but there are few structures here in our area prettier than the Market Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River, between Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Don't Get It

I will admit that I'm out of the mainstream on several topics.  Food is one of them.

I'm happy with the simple things.  Case in point, I had some time to kill before an appointment last week.  I found myself near a Burger King, so I treated myself to a time killing, but delicious Whopper (no mayonnaise).  It was my first Whopper in a long time, and I loved it.  It will be tough to resist the temptation to try another.

CBS News did a piece on lobsters last week.  There is a record supply.  There is also a record demand, so prices stay high.  No matter.  I'm not a lobster guy.  In fact, I think it's one of the planet's most over rated foods.  I tried it.  It wasn't bad.  I found no reason to have more.

I do enjoy shrimp, which is similar to lobster, and also very expensive.  Unlike lobster, shrimp doesn't need to be dunked in butter.

And while I'm on the food thing, what's the deal with salt?   There is sea salt, kosher salt, and a dozen other variations.  It all tastes the same to me.  I know the cheap stuff has needless iodine and anti clumping additives.  It's supposed to taste metallic when compared to the pure stuff.  I don't detect a difference.  Maybe all those years of drinking diet cola has burned off my taste buds.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

TomatoWatch

I've been hearing a lot of people complain this summer that their backyard gardens are behind schedule.  I'm not surprised.  We had a lackluster spring.  However, it seems like a recent spell of hot and sunny days should make up for it.  It's the curse of the tomato.  They all seem to ripen at once.  No complaints there.  It means a better chance at getting free ones from friends and coworkers.  That excess had to go somewhere.

I know I yammered on about the weather Monday, so apologies for revisiting the topic too soon.

Farmers' markets are popping up all over the place.  While I have yet to visit one, I have seen the video on Newswatch 16.  It looks like there's a nice selection, so maybe the weather isn't as awful as we believed.

Another summer phenomenon is the lawn getting dry and brown.  Again, no complaints there.  A brown lawn doesn't need to be mowed as often.  Less mowing means a quieter neighborhood.  If you have to sleep during the day, as I do, you know what I'm writing about.

In spite of it all, there's something about the zucchini.  They seem to grow exceptionally well in our area.  I've long suggested a Zucchini Festival to go along with the Pittston Tomato Festival.  It's a tourist event, ripe for the picking.

Strange to say, but I smell fall.  Shorter days have become more noticeable, especially if you're an early riser.  The first of the county fairs, Lycoming, is underway-- and that's a sure sign fall is approaching.

Before all of that, the next highly anticipated event-- the yearly sweet corn explosion.  Increased supply.  Decreased price.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Text Book Case

If you want a perfect and shining example of why American brick and mortar retail is failing, and why people are flocking to the internet, this is it.

I stopped at a big box store at 2:00 AM Monday for a couple of cases of water.  Personally, I like tap.  The chlorine makes me feel clean inside.  I have family members who won't touch the stuff.

I grabbed a cart and wheeled it to the back of the store, threw in two cases, and headed for the self serve check out in the front.  I zapped the bar codes with the gun at the register, jammed my credit card in the slot, and headed for the door.

Before I got to the exit, a security guard stopped me and asked to see my receipt.  I replied that I checked out six feet in front of him, ten seconds ago!  He replied that he has to check everyone as they leave.  I supplied my receipt, but I wasn't done with the store yet.  

I told the guard there should be  security personnel in the parking lot because the place was crawling with shady characters.

That will never happen.  Here's why.

If someone steals from your car in the parking lot of the store, that's your problem.

If someone steals from the store, that hurts the company-- and the company feels it's more important than you, your shopping experience, and more importantly, your safety.

By the way, the security guard could not have cared less about my concerns.  Next time, the manager gets a visit.

I guess I can avoid those 2:00 AM shopping trips, but that's when I have time available.  I'm sorry the store cares more about loss prevention than safety preservation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

First Person: Theater Fire

I consult WNEP.com before I begin my short drive to the office every day, so I have a decent idea of what I'll face when I hit the door.  Yesterday, I knew I'd be working on the Middle Smithfield Township theater complex fire.  It doesn't mean the day was cut and dried.

We had a crew at the fire just after it broke out Sunday night, so I had some solid material with which to work, but the story was far from over.  There was a logistical challenge.  I could handle the newest details from our newsroom, or we could race the clock and drive to Monroe County.  Producer Kim and I weighed our options.  I always say "You miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take."  Photographer Jeff and I piled in a satellite truck for the trip to the Marshalls Creek area.  We made it with about 15 minutes to spare.
Today's photos were taken after sunrise, so let me describe the scene at 4:00 AM.  No fire trucks.  No firefighters.  Just a fair amount of smoke and a few small pockets of fire burning in the rubble.  Eerie is an understatement.  The smoke hung low to the ground, and I ate enough of it during my shift.  More on that later.

We spent the morning showing video from the height of the fire, plus live pictures of the aftermath.  Nearby residents started showing up to take a look, as well as a vendor.  They all shared their stories of the movie theater/shopping center/flea market complex.  Thank you.
The fire chief arrived with some new nuggets of information.  A fire truck followed to put out the hot spots.   Photographer Jeff and I took what we had gathered and headed back to the office.  My fingers hit the keyboard.  Editor Erich assembled the piece.  My friend and co-worker Carmella Mataloni was live at the scene on Newswatch 16 at Noon to introduce my piece and add what she had learned.  My day was finished.

I should really add how sad it is to watch a theater burn, even one that had seen better days.  I bored Photographer Jeff in the truck with tales of growing up with places like the Center, the Strand and the Comerford in downtown Scranton.  There were summertime trips to the drive in in Dupont and Dickson City.  I rarely see movies these days.  The family memories are awesome.

Now, some side notes.  I skipped lunch when I got home.  The smoke played games with my stomach.  I headed right for the shower.  I couldn't wait to get out of those smokey clothes.  As I write this, the stench of the smoke is still lodged in my sinuses.  I've been covering fires for a long time.  Some hit you harder than others and this was one of those cases.

I'm very sorry for the people who lost jobs and businesses in the fire.  It would be nice to see the theater complex rebuilt.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Half

I play this silly little game late in the year that helps get me through the long, hard, dark Pennsylvania winters.  The three coldest months of the year are December, January and February.  It means each week is eight per cent of the coldest season of the year.  Temperatures bottom out during the last week in January.  Then, it's the slow climb to something moderate.

I've found winter goes a little faster when you can tick off the time in manageable little bites.

Today, the summer version.  I don't enjoy the heat as much as I once did, and I can't wait for September.

The way I see it, summer is more than half over.  The hottest time of the year, according to records and averages, is July 13 to August 4.  The average highs and lows start slipping after that, but we have had some brutal Augusts.

If you like summer, relax.  There is plenty left.

If you don't, more comfortable temperatures are only a few weeks out.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Tower

Murgas and Marconi knew their stuff.  I've been in broadcasting for decades and I'm still fascinated how pictures get to your TV, and how sound gets to your radio.

This is the radio tower atop the Scranton Times building.  AM 630 and AM 910 come off this tower.

Sometimes, photography is dumb luck.  This is a camera phone shot, and I caught the flash of the aircraft warning strobes.  Neat!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Andy's Angles: Tranquility

I took this one just after sunrise on Independence Day.  It's the Bicentennial Building on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, with one of our mobile newsrooms parked out front.  Our Wyoming Valley Newsroom is on the first floor.

I love how sunrise is reflected off the windows-- a quiet morning with Independence Day mayhem only hours away.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Media Friday

The NBA is eliminating some late game time outs.  It should take the final minutes of an NBA game merely awful, rather than hideous.

Whether or not you agree with it, it was a great line.  Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway and CNN's Chris Cuomo got into a verbal sparring match the other morning.  Conway shot back that CNN has made a conscious business decision to be an anti Trump network.  Cuomo responded with his standard shocked, surprised, stunned, deer in the headlights look.

I read something fascinating the other day.  There will be fewer erectile dysfunction drugs advertised on NFL games because patents are running out, and generic forms will be available before the end of the year.  I'm sure there will be other ads, so networks need not worry.

Former NBC anchor Tamron Hall has hired people to get her a daytime talk show.  Many have tried and failed.  Hall has the charisma to pull it off.

The FCC is considering loosening up the rules for the way radio stations identify themselves at the top of the hour.  Why?  It's necessary and the current system works just fine.

I haven't been watching them, but it's nice to know that game shows are back on network TV for the summer.

My former co-worker, Raegan Medgie, is now working for the local FOX station in New York City.  "The Medge" is one of the good ones.

A while back, I mentioned WECK in Buffalo, an AM station that has returned to full service radio-- news, weather, information, music, disc jockeys, etc.  I've been listening, and I like what I hear.  Several bodies have been hired to make the format work.  Let's hope there is a positive listener and advertiser response to justify the expense.

Peyton Manning was very funny reading a TelePrompter at the ESPY's the other night.  I wonder if he'd be as good adlibbing as a color commentator during a football game.  The guy can write his own ticket.




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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Making Sense

My job is not to second guess juries, but I've been reading and hearing a lot about the jury's decision in the Jessie Con-ui case in federal court at Scranton.  Con-ui murdered a correctional officer four years ago.  There is no question.  There is video to prove it.  The defense did not contest that part of the trial.

The defense did put its muscle into the penalty phase, and an effort to keep the killer from getting the death penalty.  It worked.  A juror told us it was 11 to 1 for death, but the decision has to be unanimous.  Con-ui gets life in prison.  He was already serving a life sentence for a murder in Arizona.

Never forget, it's a court of law.  It's not a court of justice.  Big difference.

Continuing our law and order theme today...

Governor Wolf recently signed a law stiffening the penalties for animal abuse.  Bravo!  An animal welfare worker told me years ago that there are some people out there who view animals as disposable.  They are not.  That thinking has to change.  It seems like the new law doesn't go far enough.

One more note...

Governor Wolf made a big deal about signing the animal abuse law.  Another law was signed quietly and behind closed doors.  It deals with police body cameras.  The law makes it exceptionally difficult for the public to get a look.  The burden has shifted from the police to the public.  According to the American Civil Liberties Union:  "Now, the requester has to justify why it should be a public record as opposed to the burden being on an agency to explain why it is not."

Yes, not everything should be public record, especially if it would jeopardize an investigation or put officers at risk.  This is all about accountability and keeping everyone honest.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled you have the right to see body cameras.  The new law essentially reverses the court decision.

As I've said here many times before, bad things happen in the dark.

Remember, Pennsylvania is the state where many counties ban cameras in polling places.  Iraq doesn't even do that.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday Scrapple

Fireworks:  Either you love them, or you hate them.  As someone who needs and values his sleep, you know what side I come down on.


I can't remember an NBA off-season when the sport has received so much attention.


Two homicides in less than one hour Sunday morning in Luzerne County.  Not connected, but still terrifying.


Listen to a police radio on your average weekend.  The number of overdoses is nothing short of alarming.

I know the Penn State frat house hazing death kids are innocent until proven guilty, but I'm simply stunned by the cruelty of their alleged actions.

The Giant's Despair Hill climb is one of our area's underrated spectacles.


The Scranton Farmers' Market, the one off Albright Avenue, opens Friday.  It's a magical place.  While it's synonymous with summer, the place has great charm in the fall.


Rumor has it soon to be former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is on line for a radio sports talk job.  It would be a waste.  He'd be great on a news talk radio show.  Christie is interesting, smart, and he can handle himself in a fight.


Watching dysfunctional Pennsylvania government in action, or inaction, is a constant source of frustration.


Speaking of things that bug me... people who start blogs, Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages, etc-- and then pay absolutely no attention to them.

Amazon Prime Day:  Interesting, but nothing jumped out at me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tough Call

The Weis market in Eaton Township, near Tunkhannock, is scheduled to reopen later this week.  Three people were murdered there last month.

The reopening has touched off a huge debate.  Some feel the building should be demolished, and a new Weis built elsewhere.  Others look forward to the reopening.

I totally understand the feelings on both sides.  It must be horrible for victims' families to drive by and think about what happened there.

If this Weis closes, even for months, people will be out of work, shoppers lose an option, and the killer wins.  He wanted a disruption.  He got it.

Honor the victims with trees, plaques, scholarships in their memories, donations to charities...  There are dozens of ways to do it.  It's important they live on in our memories and our deeds.

Perhaps the greatest tribute is not letting a disturbed young man affect our lives even more.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The List

I couldn't sleep the other afternoon (yes, my bedtime is in the afternoon), and my mind started to wander.

Don't ask me why, but I started making a mental list of regrets.

By the way, I never believe people who say they go through life without regrets.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Some, more than others.  Remorse is natural.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been, but I was shocked at the length of the list.

No, I'm not a bad person.  Average, I guess.

Most of the missteps involve me and only me, so there is some relief there.

I have no desire to go back and do things over.  What's done is done.  Some people deserved better from me-- and vice versa.  Especially vice versa.

Next time i can't sleep, I hope my mind wanders over to a list of good things.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Andy's Angles: Jonah

This is Nathan's friend Jonah.

I've always envied a cat's ability to bed down anywhere and sleep peacefully for hours at a time.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Andy's Angles: Gone Fishin'

Independence Day morning was as close to perfect as you ever get.

Sunny.  Blue skies.  Comfortable temperatures.

I found myself on South River Street in Wilkes-Barre, looking down in to the Susquehanna River.  A couple of guys were out fishing, and appeared to be having a spectacular time.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Inevitable

The last Independence Day sparkler was still warm when this arrived in my mail box, the day after the holiday.

I'm not picking on Boscov's.  It's a fine store.  I drop in once in a while.

But, isn't it a little early for back to school sales?

I have to add that I don't have a dog in this fight.  No kids.

If I was school age, I'd likely get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It seems like summer just got started, and now it's time to plan for the end.

I can't say I'm surprised.  The passing of Independence Day is seen as the start of back to school season, much like the end of August begins Christmas shopping time.

The way I see it, we have two months of summer.  Plus a September that's always comfortable.

Enjoy-- and don't forget about the sales.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Peg

I've seen your picture
Your name in lights above it
This is your big debut
It's like a dream come true
And when you smile for the camera
I know they're love it.
-- Steely Dan, "Peg"

I've noticed something recently, and it mostly deals with non controversial stories.  Fewer people are declining on-camera interviews.

Once again, you can trace it back to social media and the internet.  More and more people, especially young people are used to being on camera.  It's not just still pictures.  It's video and even live video.  What's the difference if it's a smart phone or a tv news video camera?

I don't mind because we're always looking for people to tell their stories.  Keep it up.

As for me, I'm glad this stuff wasn't around when I was growing up.  First, it's the potential for even more incriminating evidence.  Secondly, I enjoy my privacy.

Smile!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Labor Day

On snowy days, we do a thing at WNEP called "Travels with APAL."  A photographer and I just wander around a designated area, and we do a story with whoever we see.  We never fail to find something unusual, something different, people coping with the snow and cold.

We did an Independence Day edition Monday.  On Newswatch 16 This Morning, it was a preview of the Scrantastic Spectacular.  The thing didn't get rolling until 4 PM, long after I was off duty.  Set up didn't start until the tail end of my shift, so photographer Jeff and I set out on a warm weather "Travels with APAL."

Our hook would be people who work hard to make sure you have a nice Independence Day.  This year was strange.  Independence Day fell on a Tuesday, so Monday was a semi holiday for a lot of people.  So many took the day off, but the rest of us worked.

We visited workers grinding down St. Ann's Street in Scranton so it could get a coat of fresh pavement.  It was then on to a fireworks tent, where the worker was just coming off an all night shift.  We caught the early risers at a roadside produce stand, and the owner of a beer store.

What did we learn?  People really love their corn on Independence Day and the beer to wash it down.  Sitting along a busy highway and selling produce doesn't seem like a fun job to me, but the young people at the stand made the best of it, and they didn't do it alone.

As for the beer store, sales started picking up at the beginning of the weekend and they stayed strong throughout the holiday.  Beer store visits are always an adventure.  I can't believe all the brands and varieties out there.  When I was growing up, it was Genessee, Budweiser, Miller and Pabst.  That's it.  That's the list.

The fireworks tent was perhaps the most unusal stop on our journey.  It's tough to a secure a tent, so someone has to stay there all night to keep an eye on the place.  They either sleep in their car or in the tent.  The variety amazed me, and so did the prices.  The stuff isn't cheap, but deals were available.  Most tents were cutting prices and throwing in some freebies.

The bottom line is the holiday, any holiday, isn't for everyone.  Some people work twice as hard while you get the day off, and I'm glad they're around.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

As I always say on holidays, please remember what the day is all about.

The Revolutionary War always fascinated me, and I still get a thrill walking around Philadelphia.  One of the first "real" books I read as a kid was a Benjamin Franklin biography.  I'm still amazed by the foresight of the founding fathers and how documents crafted nearly 250 years still hold up today.

Picnics, barbecues and fireworks are great, but Independence Day is so much more than that.

Monday, July 3, 2017

About the Cover









I love this building.  It's the Northumberland County Courthouse in Sunbury, built in 1865.  An addition was completed in 1911.




The style is called Italianate, and the copper covered clock tower dominates this section of Market Street.




1865 was the year congress passed the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery, President Lincoln was murdered, the Secret Service was formed, Cornell University was chartered, and "Alice in Wonderland" was published.