Saturday, October 21, 2017

Andy's Angles: Breakfast

There are some areas in which I am unashamedly old school.  I still believe the airwaves belong to the public.  Radio and television stations need to earn their keep.

One of the ways WNEP does that is through the Feed a Friend program.  You donate food and cash.  It all stays in our area to help families in need just before Thanksgiving.  Feed a Friend is now 33 years old.  It works.

There was a kick off breakfast Thursday morning.  We borrowed the Coaches 'Corner studio for donuts, bagels, muffins, etc.  It was a nice chance to meet the people in the organizations that distribute the food, and the businesses that help collect it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Passing and a Vacation

Passion.  The great ones have it.  Dr. Tony Mussari was a man of passion, and it's a long list-- a passion for government and politics, for news and information, for education and learning., for justice. Hundreds, maybe thousands of college students have better and more rewarding lives because Dr. Tony Mussari was one of their professors, their teachers, and their friend.

Dr. Tony Mussari died this week.  He was 75.

My sympathy goes out to his family, friends, and former King's College students.

By the way, Dr. Mussari was married to Kitch Loftus, a woman who showed me the ropes when I was a WARM 590 newbie.  She was a great help on a news series I worked on.  It won a Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters award, and it was my first award ever.  I still have the trophy.  Her kindness and professionalism were a big part of my early days, and I will be forever grateful.

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It's sleeping Homer's last appearance of 2017, and that means I'm burning off my last vacation week of the year.

You've heard it before-- no plans other than gym visits, bike rides, maybe some photography and a lot of sleep.  I visited KMart on my last vacation, and there's no need to stop by again-- unless I learn of a big sale.

It's funny.  Technically, my vacation began at noon Monday, and I've already been back to the office twice this week.  No worries.  It was for important stuff, and you'll read about one tomorrow.

I still have a few scattered days off before we ring in 2018, but this really is the last "block" of time I have to use.

It will be a full agenda when I return, including election day and several holiday related stories.  I know everyone says it, and it really is true.  The year has flown by.

The weekend morning broadcasts, once again, will be in the very capable hands of Stacy Lange.

I hope to see you soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unfinished Thursday


David Letterman's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Tuesday night was an absolute delight.  It was a reminder of Letterman's quick wit and story telling ability.  Plus, it was nice to see Letterman and Paul Shaffer together again.  I was afraid the interview would be twenty minutes of politics and bashing the usual suspects.  There was one quick Trump reference, and that was it.  Good television!  I especially liked Letterman's entrance, and hearing the old  Late Show theme again.

I've noted here that even though, through the internet, I can listen to just about any radio station in the country, I still enjoy driving early in the morning, playing with the car radio, and picking up distant stations.  WBBM 780, an all news blow torch in Chicago is among my favorites.  Excellent product.  There are areas in and around Scranton where WBBM booms in like the tower is next door.  Anyway, WBBM is in the process of moving its transmitter.  The new tower is higher than the old, so there will be a drop from the 50,000 watts WBBM currently puts out.  The owner, currently CBS, says there should be no drop in signal strength.  I hope they are right.  That shot of news is always appreciated overnight, especially so on the drive to work.

I was web surfing and shopping for a new clock radio.  I saw a model I liked from a well known manufacturer.  I read the description.  FM, but no AM radio.  Pass.  Those in the radio business should be worried.  Clock radios go now. Are cars next?

According to its Facebook page, the SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Motorcycle Ride had planned on fading out after ten years.  Organizers now say they plan to keep it going.  Money raised goes to veterans' charities.  Great people doing great things.  I'm happy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Equal Time

A woman called Talkback 16 to complain "the weekend guy" is no longer giving out the Cash 5 payout, and she was going to discontinue watching unless the Cash 5 payout announcement was restored.

I'm assuming I'm "the weekend guy".  The name is Andy.

I am genuinely sorry I have a dissatisfied customer.  I really am.  We're not in the business to upset viewers.

Here's the story.  I dropped the Cash 5 payout announcement when the Pennsylvania Lottery turned Match 6 into a "seven days a week" game.  The lottery segment of the weekend morning broadcasts became too long, and it was too many numbers coming at you too fast.  I didn't think it was good television.  You still get the lottery numbers, including the biggest payouts of the bunch--MegaMillions and PowerBall.  The payouts for all the games, including Cash 5, scroll by on the "ticker" several times during the broadcast.

There is a reason for everything.  Angry woman, please give "the weekend guy" another chance.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Scrapple

NBC's Al Michaels made a stupid joke during Sunday night's game.  He apologized.  Drop it.  Look at the body of the man's work.  Everyone should be allowed to make a mistake once in a while.

I get way too much joy out of refilling my pepper mill.

Whatever happened to vanilla flavored toothpaste?

I work with several dog lovers, and many of their pets came from shelters.  That makes me happy.

Fellow blogger David DeCosmo pointed out that yesterday was "Department Store Day."  I'm glad I grew up in an era when these places existed.  It's only a matter of time before the remaining few disappear.

Eddie Rabbit said it first, and I agree.  I love a rainy night.

Why aren't more people taking about the Lackawanna County reassessment ballot question?  Is there resignation to its failure?

David Letterman is on Jimmy Kimmel's show tonight.  I expect it to get political, and I expect to hit the "off" button.  Can we simply have fun for just one night?

Twitter hasn't put me on its 280 character list.  No worries.  I rarely Tweet.

I like municipal election years.  Taxes remain steady.  Streets get paved.

Why are gasoline prices still so high?

Too warm to too cold too fast.

I wouldn't mind seeing the Houston Astros in the World Series, but I'm also happy the American League Championship Series won't be a sweep.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sorry I Couldn't Stay

the 4th annual BlogCon was held Saturday at the Penn State campus in Dunmore.  It was a day long conference about for for bloggers.

The above shot was taken in a mingle area, before the thing really got rolling, in another room.

When you work all night and sleep all day, something has to give, so my stay at BlogCon was a very short one.  I had a bagel, shook a few hands, exchanged pleasantries with a few people.

The parking lot was filling up as I was leaving, and id made me happy to see so many people who care about the craft.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Old Days

Whether those old days were good or bad is up to you.

Some rail cars that were once part of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus now call Scranton home.  I caught them in the space between the Steamtown National Historic Site and the Electric City Trolley Museum a few weeks ago.

A Newswatch 16 story reported the cars were acquired by the Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society.  It grabbed two sleeping cars and an animal car.  They will preserved so future generations can get a taste of circus life.
When you look at the cars, you can't help but think about all the people and animals that traveled from city to city, entertaining millions.  The circus was a big part of American life.

One thought dominated my thinking.  Even if the animals were well cared for, boxing them up and sticking them on a train was really no way to live.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Andy's Angles: Progress

September 2017
October 2016

A recent photographic expedition took me to Archbald.    Love it or hate it, a new power plant is going up, just off the Casey Highway.  It's an impressive sight in the day, and even more so at night.  It's all lit up, with aircraft warning beacons dotting the cranes.

These two photos were taken roughly one year apart.  You can see how far the project has moved along.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Follow Up Friday

Call Ripley!

As I said yesterday, I needed a new driver's license photo.  I pulled in to a nearly full parking lot at 9:45 in the morning, and I feared the worst.  A receptionist handed me a number print out, like you get at the supermarket deli counter.  My number was called before I had a chance to sit down, and I was out the door in six minutes.  I don't know what all those other people were doing there.  I suspect it was some sort of test day.

Some people at New York University did a study and predicted the death of traditional AM/FM radio.  The reason:  radio isn't connecting with those born after 1995.  I get that.

This lesson was taught to be my one of my favorite TV news directors, but it also applies to radio:  The stations that survive and prosper are the ones that do the best job of reflecting their communities.  So many radio stations these days are the broadcast equivalent of an MP3 player.  Still others take syndicated talk shows off the satellite, and offer amazingly little local content.  There is no audience engagement. 

A radio station in Philadelphia is offering a free webinar on how to produce better radio commercials.  There is a catch.  You have to spend some advertising dollars with the station.

Bad radio commercials are really nothing new.  On top of that, when I hear a radio station say "commercial free," it drives me insane.  You're teaching the audience that commercials are bad.

I'm a broadcaster and a believer.  Good things can happen, but they don't come easy.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday Scrapple

It's nice to see the New England Patriots are mortal, and the Pittsburgh Steelers seem out of control.

I'd rather spend my day with the radio, Drew Carey, Night Court, Barney Miller, and Scrubs reruns rather than most new things on TV.

Burger King is introducing spicy chicken nuggets because Wendy's dropped its spicy chicken nuggets.  I'll probably try them, even though to most fast food chains, "spicy" translates into "salt."

A fall chill has its charm, but it will be here soon enough.  Enjoy the warmth.

I need to get my driver's license picture taken, and I dread it-- even though my last couple of visits have been quick ones.

Hurricanes, fires...  I will forever be in awe of nature.

Part of my work Monday was dedicated to getting election preview stories ready.  Where has the year gone?  It seems like the primary was yesterday.

I'll be meeting with my accountant to do income tax returns before you know it.

Keeping a schedule in my phone isn't my thing.  I find Post Its and Sharpies more effective.  Both are marvelous inventions.

Fall foliage colors don't quite seem right this year.

Still at 140 characters on Twitters, and I'm still okay with that.

I know a lot of roads need to be paved, but do we have to do them all at once?

The U.S. soccer team won't participate in the World Cup this year.  Sorry.  I just can't get interested in soccer.

Perhaps I'd be watching the MLB playoffs if I could find them on TV.

The Yankees' story is proving to be, by far, the most interesting of the post season.

Say it isn't so!  Dunkin' Donuts is considering reducing the variety of donuts it offers.

You don't appreciate how important they are until you grab a jacket without a tech pocket.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Giveth and Taketh

It's change of season time, and that means more than different temperatures and earlier sunsets.

I will really miss the aroma of a freshly mown lawn. It's one of the scents of summer.  Loved it as a kid.  Love it as an adult.  It's magic.

It's only early October.  There is still some lawn mowing left to do.  There is also some bike riding time in there, and I know those days are numbered as well.

While bikes and lawns go away, something returns.  I've written about this before, and it's not the easiest thing to put in to words.  You really have to experience it.

It seems to be more pronounced in the fall and winter.  There's a cemetery around the corner from me, and it features several tall evergreens.  The wind makes an ominous wooshing sound when it whips through those trees, and it takes me back to the similar sound the wind and a tree made outside my bedroom window as a kid.

The bedroom window tree is long gone, and the cemetery recently reduced its number of evergreens.  During a recent walk, I recently discovered there are still enough to make that spooky woosh, a sound that takes me back to stormy nights and windy winter days.

 There is that youthful innocence of the smell of freshly cut grass.  There is that windy sound that takes you back to childhood, and the charm of going for a walk on a grey fall day.

The bottom line is that every season has its charm, and it might not be something that jumps right out at you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fast and Hungry

Thankfully, situations like this are rare.

It's been a while, so my doctor and I agreed I should get some bloodwork.  Fear not.  It's just routine.

I'm sure most of you have been  though this before, but you fast ten to twelve hours before the lab draws the blood.  I usually go a few extra hours to be on the safe side.  My last food was at 1:00 PM.  I arrived at the lab at 7:00 the next morning.  No food in all that time.  Just water-- and a lot of it.  

Some gym time helped take my mind off my hunger.  The lack of food really wasn't the issue.  I really missed my morning diet colas.

I was in and out of the lab in about twenty minutes.

I then had a choice.  Where should I go to break the fast.  My lab is in the middle of fast food and chain restaurant heaven, but I really didn't feel like breakfast.  

I decided on that big hoagie sandwich chain.  It opens at 7:00 AM.  I'll repeat one of my fast food gripes.  McDonald's has made a big thing of "breakfast all day."  I'd rather have a burger in the morning than an egg sandwich in the evening.

I zipped down the North Scranton Expressway, and I arrived at the front door of the sandwich shop a few minutes after opening time.  Let me correct that.  It what was "supposed" to be opening time.  The door was locked.  As I was walking back to the car, a worker came out and apologized, saying there was a water leak in the dining room and she couldn't open on time.

No worries.

One plus of this chain is there is almost one on every corner.  I traveled down the road a few miles and found an open shop.  Turkey and swiss, piled high with every vegetable in the bins.  A quick shot of oil vinegar.  Bag of corn chips on the side, plus a nice sized diet cola.  All were inhaled in record time.

As the "sandwich artist" was preparing my breakfast, I told her the story of why I was so ravenously hungry, so early in the day.  As I was cleaning my table and getting ready to leave, she asked how everything was.  I told her that I was tempted to have another.  I didn't.

The fast was difficult, but the celebratory sandwich almost made it worthwhile.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Web Notes

It looks like Twitter is expanding its capacity for entries from 140 characters to 280.  The way I see it, it's another nail in the blogging coffin.  Twitter was sort of a mini blog.  Now, it's even closer to an actual blog entry.  I will admit, it makes me sad.  There are some great blogs out there.  There used to be more.

As I've said before, if you're considering a blog, go for it.  Writing is a great outlet, and it's even more fun if you add a photo or two.  This blog turns 13 in November.  More on that as the day approaches.

I am occasionally surprised at how my brain works.  I've already written how I keep the same overnight schedule on my days off.  It's easier on my body than bouncing around sleep and wake times.  I do most of my writing in those overnight hours.  Maybe the quiet makes it easier to focus.

The 6th annual NEPA BlogCon is set for October 14th at the Penn State campus in Dunmore.  I'll try to stop by for a few minutes.  Save a bagel for me.  Awards are not part of the BlogCon agenda this year, so there goes my chance at a Blog of the Year in the news and politics category threepeat.  I'm honored to have two, and yes, the framed certificates are still on my wall.

I've been assembling my Top Ten Photos of 2017 in bits and pieces during the year, and I already have ten photos that I really like.  There are two choices-- weed out a few, or, what is more likely, do a Top Ten with some honorable mentions.  If all goes as planned, you'll see them in this space beginning in mid December.

Legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg has started a podcast.  He was always one of my favorites.  Enberg retired at the end of last baseball season, as play by play guy for the San Diego Padres.  He was the voice of NBC Sports for a long time, calling eight Super Bowls.  CBS was his last network.  He was one of the NFL and NCAA basketball broadcasters.  I'll give you a review someday soon.

I'm a big fan of the old Drew Carey sitcom.  Drew and his friends were such losers, and much easier to relate to than, for example, the whiners on Friends.  I've never been able to make it through an entire Friends episode.  Anyway, Drew worked in the office of a department store.  Office desks frequently held the latest Apple products.  State of the art at the time.  Watching now, those multi colored products look so archaic.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Ride

I've had the rare opportunity to snap a lot of pictures lately, so there has been a back up in the queue.

This one was from September 10th, at the 10th annual SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride.  SGT Argonish lost his life in Afghanistan 10 years ago.  Since then, motorcycle riders have been raising money for veterans' charities in Jan's name.

Hundreds of bikes, and the people who love them show up every year.  It's an impressive sight.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Andy's Angles: My Happy Place

I always refer to Blakely Park, along the Lackawanna River as my "happy place" even though I spent a lot of time during an unhappy time in my life.  I walked the park just about every morning, several years ago, when I was "between jobs."  I'd frequently cross the pedestrian bridge over the river, follow the path, and venture into Olyphant.  Great scenery, and the fresh air and exercise did me good.

The park hasn't changed over the years and that's a good thing.  Keep it simple.  Water, trees, walking path, portable bathroom.  That's just about all you need.  I occasionally walk the park for fun-- even though I can't help but think of all the mornings I spent here while pondering my future.

Every town should be lucky to have an asset like this, and develop it into something really nice.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Unfinished Friday

I know it fits the definition, and I have yet to hear any objection to its use.  However, I cringe when I hear the word "massacre."  It just sounds so insensitive to me.  Words are powerful tools, and "massacre" does have quite the impact.  I'm sure it will be in my news copy, but I will try to avoid writing it.

I was on the air during the Orlando Pulse nightclub shootings in June of 2016, and I was on the air again during the Las Vegas shootings Monday morning.  It was sickeningly familiar.  First, you hear about the incident.  Then the numbers of victims start coming in.  In both cases-- the numbers were small at first.  Then, there was a drastic and sickening jump.  I wasn't anchoring that day, but I was in the newsroom during the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.  It was the same thing.  Small numbers at first, and then a gasp inducing jump.

I do make a habit of watching TV and listening to radio shows across the political spectrum-- liberal, conservative, moderate.  I've always believed it makes me a better journalist.  You have to know what everyone is thinking.

As I've said here before, beware of those who think they have all the answers.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I Feel Better Already

It's been a yearly ritual for years-- getting a flu shot, and I got stuck last week.

For the past several years, there hasn't been much planning.  If the personnel in the drug store didn't look busy, I got my shot.  This year, I made an appointment with my doctor, and was in and out in minutes.

By the way, one of the best advancements in recent years was getting the flu shot into pharmacies and big stores.  Those roving clinics you see at fairs and farmers markets are great, too. Make the vaccine easily available to as many people as possible.

Does a flu shot guarantee I won't get sick this winter?  No, but it does give you a fighting chance.

I've heard all the excuses-- I don't like needles, the vaccine will make me sick, etc...  Forget those!  Just go and do it.  Insurance covers it, and even if you don't have insurance, it doesn't cost that do much.  Do it for yourself.  More importantly, do it for the people around you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Need to Know

Tom Petty's passing this week triggered a memory, and even though it's something only old radio people would get, I'll pass it along anyway.

Once upon a time, disc jockeys were allowed to pick their own music.  I know, that's unbelievable by today's standards.  The home office gives you a play list, and that's what you have to adhere to.  If not, there will be consequences.  Severe consequences.

There's a thing in radio called the "segue."  It can be defined as the transition between programming elements.  In this case, it is the transition between songs.  Some jocks liked to find a song that begins on the same note as its predecessor, or songs that easily flowed in to each other.

If I remember right, there was a music publication that printed segues suggested by radio people and readers.  I'm sure if you do a web search, something similar will show up.

My favorite segue was something drastically different, and it involved one of my favorite Tom Petty songs, "I Need to Know."   It wasn't a major hit.  It peaked at number 41 on the Billboard magazine chart in 1978.  Regardless, I loved it.

If you're not familiar with "I Need to Know," it has a rather abrupt ending-- a cold ending as we say in the biz.  I loved to pair it with a song that has a really strong, cold open.  More often than not, it was Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart."  I think I played the pair just about every week during my WVMW FM days-- such a long time ago.  It's tough to describe.  You had to hear it.  Springsteen isn't among my favorites, but I am a huge fan of "Hungry Heart."

The segue wasn't as easy as it sounds.  We were playing vinyl on old turntables, and you had to time it just right.  I was really good at it by the time I stepped away from college radio in January of 1983.

Tom Petty left us far too soon, but he leaves behind a great body of work.  I'm very sorry he's gone.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday Scrapple

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died last week.  91.  Say what you want about the guy, but he had a profound impact on American culture.  Not many people can say that.

It's now official.  California is moving its presidential primary to March.  That's a game changer.

I watched "Late Late Show" with James Corden for the first time, in a long time, last week.  Charming personality, but the show hasn't evolved much in its first two years.

I've grown fond of needle point gel pens.  There are some exceptionally "fine" ones out there, pardon the pun.

Fall weather is back, and I'm happy-- even though I see the end of cycling season approaching.

OJ Simpson was paroled Sunday morning.  he played by the rules and got out early.  Still, it is difficult to separate him from that double homicide case.

More proof last week that college sports, especially basketball,  can be dirty.  I can't see a simple way of fixing it.

One of life's great joys is plain Cheerios.

Let's Make a Deal's Monty Hall died Saturday.  96 years old.  Not a huge fan of the show, but Hall performed masterfully for more than 5,000 episodes.  In the Allen Ludden biography I read recently, I learned Hall played a role in developing Password.  He received zero compensation for his work.

My cell phone, not an iPhone, is about two years old, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

Once again, nothing on the new fall TV schedule jumps out at me as "must watch."

I haven't been watching much live NFL this season, and I don't miss it.  I did catch an NFL Network replay of a game CBS analyst Tony Romo did, and he is very good.  Still, I wouldn't have handed him the #1 team job.

Monday, October 2, 2017

About the Cover

The Pittston Christopher Columbus has been in space before, but the statue is back, with some photos taken last week.

The statue, first placed here in 1969, was knocked off its pedestal in December.  It was repaired and re-placed back in August.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Feed a Friend

The collection barrels were delivered to the station last week, so that means WNEP's annual Feed a Friend food drive will begin soon.

Of all the charities, of all the times we ask you for help, Feed a Friend is at the top of my list.  You have the ability to help your neighbors, and it's exceptionally easy to do.  It's also a kick because so many school students get involved.
You'll see the information on WNEP and WNEP.com in the days to come.

Thanks for helping.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Train

I finally saw it!

The John Oliver WNEP train was trucked in town on a day when I had to be asleep at noon because I was working an overnight shift.  The same goes for the unveiling and the "free" grand opening weekend.

Even though I had seen it on TV, I just had to see it in person, so I stopped by the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton for an up close look.

To say the least, it's interesting-- and massive.  Unfortunately, due to it's size, we can't take it on tour.  That would have been great.  Also, it's made of cardboard and foam-- not the most durable materials.  It needed a permanent home, and the Trolley Museum is a great solution.

There is an admission charge.  Take comfort in knowing that your dollars will go toward preserving our trolley heritage for years to come, and you'll have a great time looking around the museum.  The trolley system looked like a great one, and I'm sorry it went away.  Trolleys disappeared when cars became affordable and the rest is history.

Friday, September 29, 2017


This really is a third rail issue, so I will tread carefully.  There is a difference between opinion and analysis.  This is analysis.

President Trump weighed in on NFL player protests last weekend, kicking off a new wave.  There will be likely more protests, and more presidential comments this weekend.

No one is denying a player's right to protest.  That is what makes America great.  Here is what's setting some people off-- the protests take place during the Star Spangled Banner, and many view that as un-American.

The players aren't protesting against America.  They are protesting racial inequality.  

I've heard a lot of people saying there is a better time and place to do this.  You can't deny there is maximum impact.  The protests and the reaction are all over news and sports television shows, news radio, talk radio, sports talk radio, the corner bar, the donut shop down the street, the water cooler at the office...  It cannot be avoided.   This is an issue that really needs to be discussed.

Sports is usually a great escape.  No matter how bad things are, it's a relief to turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and forget about your problems for a little while.  As we've now learned, sports can be a conduit for exposing a problem.  One can only hope that it's also a conduit for a solution.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Joe & Me

Former congressman Joe McDade died Sunday.  He was 85.  I send my sympathy to family and friends.

Let me tell you about a few encounters with the 18 termer.

The very first was on a Saturday afternoon in 1982.  I was a radio pup at WARM 590.  The congressman ventured up from his Virginia home to tour a tank plant in Lackawanna County.  During the tour, I asked if all those tanks were really necessary, and if we were building a local economy that was too dependent on the military.

McDade spun around, glared at me, and gave me a long lecture on the importance of jobs.  He finished what was an answer and a dressing down at the same time.  McDade then spun on his heels and continued the tour.  I should have been more aggressive, because I really wanted to ask about adding to the national debt and saddling future generations with the bill.

The congressman had a great thing going with radio for a long time.  Every week, there would be some recorded announcement from his Washington press office, usually about some local project that had secured funding.  We'd cut the recording up in to sound bites and use them in newscasts.  It was effective.  We took the recording.  There was no opportunity for questions, and there were really some things that needed to be asked.

Joe McDade announced his own indictment, which was sheer genius.  It also led to a tiff between my radio news director and I.  Not long after the indictment, McDade's people were offering actual telephone interviews with the congressman about something  The topic escapes my memory.  There was one condition:  we couldn't ask about the indictment.  The news director agreed to the condition.  I objected.  Someone else on the staff did the interview.  Years have not mellowed my opinion.  I respected my radio boss, but I still think he was very, very wrong on that one.

The Congressman appeared to have a great relationship with the local media.  I don't remember much critical reporting.  He was a popular figure, winning reelection by huge margins, and there was a reluctance to take on someone so  popular and allegedly powerful.  I never set out to take the guy down, just hold his feet to the fire.  Genuflecting was never one of my strong suits.

Let's talk about Steamtown for a moment.  I will always love Jim McNulty.  He was one of the few elected people around here who actually displayed vision.  He was a showman.  I could only imagine what would have happened if McNulty was still Scranton mayor when the John Oliver train thing rolled in to town.  Anyway, McNulty knew Scranton had a future in tourism, and he helped engineer (pardon the pun) bringing that rusting, bankrupt  pile of junk known as Steamtown USA from Vermont to Scranton.  Good idea.  Bad execution.  It was going under-- until Joe McDade had the National Park Service assume control.  I love Steamtown.  I worked on a special live TV broadcast for the grand opening.  It is among my career highlights.  In fact, I was at Steamtown just the other day.  I visit several times a year.  You can't escape the fact that Steamtown is more diesel than steam and most of its collection has absolutely no connection to Scranton.  Is it a plus for the area?  Yes!  A huge one!  Did it deserve a federal bail out? The project had its share of critics.

That's the problem, and I don't have the answer.  If it's in your congressional district, it's economic development.   If it's in someone else's, it's pork.  You wonder what worthy project somewhere else didn't get money because Steamtown did.

For years, McDade had people convinced that if he went away, the Tobyhanna Army Depot would disappear the next day.   Democrats were in control during most of Republican McDade's 18 terms.  Democrats determined Tobyhanna's fate, but you cannot deny that McDade had influence.  Was his importance over-stated?  Probably.  Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Who can forget McDade handing a local college a big check to study military families?  It was an effort that produced very little.  Your money was wasted.

Joe McDade went on trial in federal court for bribery, and the case was laughingly weak.  While McDade was found not guilty, it was clear he was leading the good life.  But then again, show me a congressman or congresswoman who isn't.

I was in Philadelphia for one of McDade's pre trial hearings the day the television station I was working for at the time was sold.  The congressman and I were chatting in the hallway, and we were talking about the sale.  I will never forget his words:  "Please tell me it's (the buyer) someone local."  It wasn't.  You know the rest.  It wasn't a happy ending.

I covered one of Joe McDade's last election nights, in 1996.  He seemed very relieved that he won, because the reputation had been tarnished by the indictment and trial.  My questioning was delicate, and probably way too long.  I started off by saying he was through a lot (veiled reference to bribery trial) and he was "at an age when many people retire."  I then asked if this was his last election night.  I can't recall his exact words, but in great McDade style, he avoided a direct answer.

Joe McDade wasn't broken.  The system is.  By most accounts, he was a decent individual.

So, how will history remember Joe McDade?  It depends who you speak with and where they live.  To those outside the region, McDade was the epitome of pork barrel and needless government spending.  If you live here, you will likely remember Joe McDade as the guy who put food on a lot of tables.

It's up to you to decide what is more important.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


It seems like people are talking about four big things these days-- the NFL protests, the raid on government in Lackawanna County, the John Oliver train, and the heat.

While all four topics will likely see some space here, today, it's the heat.

I have this fear we'll go directly from summer to winter, depriving us of the great autumn season.  Noreen Clark and I touched on this briefly on a recent weekend, but there is a charm to wearing a jacket and going for a walk on a brisk fall day, climbing under a blanket in the evening, sleeping without a fan or air conditioner in the background (even though I'm now used to the noise and will miss it a bit when it's gone).  I still find it strange to watch the leaves on my chestnut tree brown and drop while the temperature approaches 90 degrees.

At least we don't have that summer-like high humidity, and temperatures should return to normal levels in a day or two.  Those extreme long range forecasts, which I never believe, indicate a warmer and drier than normal fall.

There are some plusses.  My pre dawn bike rides are comfortable, and it's not difficult to work up a good sweat.  I do enjoy looking at Halloween decorations and lights while hearing the crunch of leaves beneath my tires-- and not freezing when I coast down hills.

I'm reminded of that saying that you might hate the weather, but you can't change it.

I usually don't promote the next day's entry here, but tomorrow, there will be some thoughts on the passing of former Congressman Joe McDade.  There are some stories you won't see and hear anywhere else.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taste Test

Apologies to friend and co-worker Kerry Brazen, who does the Taste Test on Newswatch 16 Tuesday evenings.

I saw this on the supermarket shelf, and I had to have it.

I like hot and spicy, but not the insane stuff

This salsa is hot and the heat stays with you for a while.  You can also taste the other ingredients.  There are times when the heat can overwhelm everything else, but not here.

The main plus was the texture.  Tostitos salsa can be watery, but this stuff was thick and chunky.

It's not the freshest tasting stuff,.  However, it's good enough.

Thumbs up!

Monday, September 25, 2017


A Newswatch 16 story by Carolyn Blackburne a few weeks ago got me interested.

Wilkes University just moved its communications program into a new building along South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, and I had to see it.  An e-mail to the radio station manager made it happen, and I thank Kristen Rock for her hospitality.

I didn't want to appear to be the wide eyed tourist that I was, so I didn't take any photos during my visit.  I lifted this one from the WCLH Facebook page.  This is the radio station.  The windows on then left look onto South Main.  The one on the right has a view of a very nice courtyard that connects the newer sections of the campus to what was already there.  There's a speaker outside to people outside can hear what's going on.  It's light and bright and airy, and being so visible affords the chance to build a connection to the community.

A television operation is down the hall, along with the student newspaper, The Beacon.

They have all the technology, and they have all the toys.  More importantly, I had the chance to talk with a few students-- and they're all thrilled with the opportunities presented in the new building.

Thanks to the Wilkes faculty I met during the tour.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Andy's Angles: Another View

Yesterday, it was the Wyoming Valley.  Today, the Lackawanna Valley gets its turn.

This is the view from the office/business park on top of the mountain in Jessup.  That's the Casey Highway in the foreground.  Jessup is on the left.  The shot looks to the south and west.  Scranton is off to the left.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Andy's Angles: Up High

Admittedly, this weekend's photos are far from great, but I hope you look past the shortcomings to see the nice parts.

This is the view from the 8th floor of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Plains Township.  The day will come when I will write about my adventures here, and believe me, I have a lot to say.

This is the view to the north and west.  The Kidder Street commercial corridor is on the left.  Downtown Wilkes-Barre is just out of frame, to the left.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I've written about this before, but it's been a while.

WalMart founder Sam Walton had a concept.  If you looked carefully, you could see an MBWA sign near the office area in his stores.  It stood for Management By Walking Around.  Walton didn't want his managers in the office.  He wanted them out on the floor, looking around, seeing what worked, what didn't, talking to customers, talking to employees...

I don't manage anything, but I do walk around, ride my bike, and observe...

Some recent mental notes include the following:

We love pizza.  It seems there's a constant stream of pizza delivery cars patrolling the streets, and the big boxes in the trash afterward.

An internet pet supply company appears to be exploding.  The package companies are always dropping off those boxes with the blue logo.  They are a frequent sight on area porches.

All my evidence is anecdotal, but it appears there's an uptick in homes for sale.

And if you're selling a house, off street parking is surely a plus.  Parking is at a premium in most neighborhoods.

We still haven't gotten a handle on the pothole problem.  There are some really rough streets out there.

Is fracking on the upswing?  A local hotel used to be filled with gas industry workers.  It was quiet for a long time.  Now, the parking lot is filled again.

I never get tired of seeing skunks and bunnies.  I can do without possums.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pleasant Surprise

I landed a fun assignment Tuesday morning-- preview the Triple A Championship Game at Lackawanna County Stadium.  Yes, I know it has a "paid for" name.

Photographer Jason and I pulled in at 4:00 AM.  The overnight clean up crew was on duty.  They had no problem with out presence.  The lights were on.  So were the sprinklers.

I was back for another report at noon, and for the first time, I had the time and the opportunity to wander up to the club level.  Impressive.  In fact, the stadium appears to be holding up well.  It's clean and well maintained.  From what I understand, the finances are being to hit that danger zone, putting it out of reach of some families.  That's another story for another time.

I'll level with you.  I didn't expect much of a crowd for the game Tuesday night, and that's where the "Pleasant Surprise" title for today's blog entry comes in.  9000+ to watch the Durham Bulls defeat the Memphis Redbirds for the AAA championship.  They did it right-- especially the Fan Fest before the game.

It tickles me to see our area support big events, and that means more down the road.

Enjoy the off season.  Baseball's back in April.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Scrapple

I saw 2018 calendars in the dollar store last week, and I understand Christmas decorations are going up in some stores.  I know that's not unusual, but the year really has flown by.

Why can't I keep the inside of my car windshield clean?

A business in Luzerne County is having a Middleswarth potato chip eating contest in November.  Big fan.

The only time I don't like above normal temperatures is in the summer.

Fall is a great time of year, but it does make me sad to see trees drop their leaves.

Sunday night's Emmy awards broadcast was full of political stuff.  Ratings were awful.  Connection?

One teachers' strike underway.  More to follow.  Not taking sides, but there has to be a better way.

Circle of Life:  Toys R US put the mom and pop stores out of business.  Now, WalMart and Amazon are crushing Toys R Us.  The company has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and it will remain in business, at least for a while.

Walgreens is swallowing up half the Rite Aid chain.  Can someone explain how life will be better?

Apple's new product announcements fail to excite me.

Major League Baseball set a home run record this season.  It's not hard to see why.  Stronger players, smaller ballparks, and there are those who swear the baseballs are wound tighter.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Food Fads

As I wandered through the supermarket, looking at pumpkin spice everything, I started thinking about food fads.  Before I move along, pumpkin spice does absolutely nothing for me.  I guess it triggers warm fall thoughts, and it's a nice comfort flavor.  Personally, I think it's overdone.

Then, a coworker and I were having an on-line conversation about bagel sandwiches.  We were both in agreement.  Bagels make every sandwich better.  Yes, a bagel is calorie laden and not necessarily the most nutritious thing-- especially when you throw in a fried egg, a slice of cheese, and a few pieces of bacon.  You can't deny the delicious.
There used to be a bagel shop in Kingston, near the site of the old Price Chopper.  I don't remember the name, but I do remember what I always ordered there-- chicken salad on an onion bagel.  The bagel, in and of itself, was awesome.  The chicken salad contained the standard ingredients, but the chicken was diced rather than shredded.  I had never seen anything like it before, and I have yet to find it anywhere else.  It was a tremendous combination.

Speaking of sandwiches and breads, whatever happened to the pretzel bun fad?  That one came and went quickly.  I remember having a ham and cheese with spicy mustard on a pretzel bun from a mini mart.  Words could not express my glee.  The ingredients worked so well with the pretzel bun.  I don't even know if the option is available these days.  I do know the advertising has stopped, and that's sad.  It was nice for a change.

Again, bread isn't the best thing for you, but I always believed the best part of the pizza is the crust and the most important part of the sandwich-- especially a submarine, is the bread or roll.

Food fads come and go.  That's why they call them fads, and once in a while, it gives me material for a blog entry.

Monday, September 18, 2017


One of the local newspapers that's having trouble getting its issues out on the streets has a new circulation manager.  I sincerely hope things improve.

While I envy young people, and all the technology they have available to them, I'm sorry they missed out on the newspaper glory days.  It was such a thrill to hear the thump on the front porch, signaling the arrival of the morning paper, or the one that used to publish in the afternoon.  The world was on your doorstep, plus the comics!

On a similar note, ABC's overnight broadcast, during Hurricane Harvey, played clips of its broadcasts from Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago.  Peter Jennings anchored World News Tonight.  Ted Koppel was the face of Nightline.  Pardon the pun, it blew me away.

First, the theme music.  Heavy on horns, and that signature four note opening that let you know ABC was on the air.  I'm so sorry the network has drifted away from that.  WNT and Nightline were big on solid story telling and light on theatrics.

How I miss those days.

I also miss going to the big box office supply stores and wandering through the software aisle.  Graphics programs, games, assorted other utilities...  Most of that, except for anti virus software is gone.  No more dvd's.  Everything is a download.  Much more efficient.  Much less fun.

By the way, Reminiscing has always been one of my favorite songs.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Andy's Angles: Boots

I'll give the organizers of the annual SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride credit for trying to do something a little different every year.  It takes it from a three hour event on a Sunday afternoon to a weekend filled with tributes and memories.

This year, it was this-- a memorial boot garden.  The boots came from veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The names on the boots represent men who served in Korea, and never made it home.

And, there was more-- a life sized tribute to those who served in Korea, called the forgotten war.

Admittedly, it's tough to be objective here.  My dad is a Korean War veteran and I know the Argonish family.  Even without the connections, it was a powerful weekend.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Ride

It's something I've been doing for the past five years-- stopping by the SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride.  SGT Argonish was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.  Sunday's ride was the 10th annual.

I first met Jan's father when a park was dedicated in Jan's name several years ago.  Mike Argonish was already a member of the gym I joined in 2012.  We were frequently there at the same time-- the middle of the night.  I always looked forward to our conversations.  It was amazing that a man who had endured so much pain could always bring a smile to my face with a little story, or even something as mundane as small talk.

I put Mike on TV a few times over the years.  It was clear he didn't like the spotlight, and wasn't comfortable with it.  Yet, Mike knew the value of publicizing the cause.  He didn't go on TV for me.  He did it for Jan and all those helped by the charity.  Mike was more than kind and generous with his time.  The yearly ride raises thousands to help veterans.  This year's take was about $30,000.  That's impressive.

I didn't meet Jan's mother, Nancy, until late last year.  I was in the hospital with my father, who was having a procedure.  To say the least, it was an exceptionally difficult day, and a very long day.  Nancy's kindness and professionalism made it much easier on my father and I.  Like her husband, Nancy isn't fond of the spotlight, but fate had other plans.  I can feel the family's pride.  I can also see their pain.

I always remember something my old friend Kevin Jordan said close to twenty years ago.  A co-worker lost a son in a crash.  We were at the funeral home.   Kevin said something that horrible shouldn't happen to a family so nice.  The same could be said of the Argonish  family.

Although I'm sorry about the circumstances that brought me in to their orbit, I'm happy I know them.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Last Day

Another vacation is coming to an end...

Status report:  I slept a little, rode my bike, went to the gym, went for some walks, took some photos, and visited KMart.

I also read the book you see above.  Regular blog readers will know Allen Ludden, who died in 1981, is a hero.  The reason is simple.  Every time Allen Ludden walked out on stage, he looked like he was having the time of his life.  I admire the enthusiasm.  He also treated every contestant with dignity and respect-- having fun at the right times, always moving the game along, never forgetting the game was the star.

After reading the book, my assessment is correct.

Yes, he was exacting, fussy, and flashed temper at times (remind you of anyone?)  The positives far outweigh the negatives.  Ludden was a huge advocate for education, listening to young people, and he loved animals.

I consider myself an old game show geek.  Yet, I learned quite a bit by reading the book.

The book was enjoyable, even though you knew it wouldn't have a happy ending.

By the way, October 5 is the 100th anniversary of Allen Ludden's birth.

Hope to see you soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Take 2

Wow!  It's been a long time since I've done one of these.  So long, I couldn't find the old Take 2 logo, and I had to make a new one.

To get you up to speed, it's a little like "Unfinished Business" and "Follow Up File."  It's a revised opinion on a previous topic.  More often than not, I will admit when I'm wrong.

Today, it's Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys' quarterback retired last year and took a job with CBS Sports.  The head of the sports division took the gutsy move and installed a rookie as part of the #1 NFL team.  Back when it happened, I said it was an unwise move.  Groom the guy.  Give him lesser games.  Learn the craft.  In a few years, he'll be ready for the top.

While I didn't see and hear Romo's regular season debut, I have read the reviews.  They are all consistently very good.  The head of CBS Sports now looks like a genius, and the hesitant crowd, including me, appear to be ninnies.

I was wrong-- to a limited extent.  Even though Romo's first game was good, I still would have taken the conservative route.

Although, I'm reminded of something Larry King once said about risk takers:  They're hurt more, but they're also rewarded more.

Bottom line:  CBS seems to have found itself a new star, and former #1 analyst Phil Simms has a nice new home in the studio.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crazy Train

There is a lot about pop culture and social media I don't understand now, and probably never will understand.

I'll write what I believe is a thoughtful and interesting piece here, or on Facebook.  It won't move the needle.  Do something goofy, and hits go through the roof.

That's OK.  I've learned that's how things work.  While there is plenty of information available via social media, it's generally used for fun and entertainment.

There is a parallel to be drawn here.

I don't know when the WNEP Backyard train first appeared.  I don't know why it was put there.  I suspect it was a fun way to dress up the hill behind the waterfall.  Retired Chief Meteorologist Tom Clark likes trains, and so do I.  My desk is near the windows looking out in to the backyard.  In times of stress, I do glance out there and watch the train circle again and again.  Even in the middle of summer, a toy train takes you back to Christmas as a child.  I can still see it in my mind.  Part of it makes me sad because those days are long, long gone, never to return.  The majority, though, makes me smile.  Great times.  I was so lucky.  Still am.

That brings us to 2017.

We've provided accurate forecasts from the backyard for years, but once in a while, something flares up-- like decorations, or a plant.  We had a great debate over a weepy looking evergreen out there.  It all pales in comparison to the train.

Talkback callers apparently caught the eye and the ear of John Oliver and his HBO staff.  It's been a running joke for a while.  Oliver took it to the next level by building a fantastic train display, and offering to give it to the station.  Even though I'm on vacation, my Twitter and e-mail lit up.  Will the station accept the gift?  What will we do with it?

I can't speak for management, but we will take it.  One of our managers solicited staff suggestions, and it seems just about all of us are on the same page.   I can't go into detail because plans aren't in concrete.  All I can say is I believe a lot of good will come from this.

There is one other issue that needs to be addressed.  Many feel Oliver is making fun of our viewers for caring so much about the backyard train.  I stopped subscribing to HBO when "The Newsroom" ended production, but I have seen the clips from Oliver's show.  I can't mike up my mind.  Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Yes, there might be an edge to Oliver's comments.  I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal.  We've been through worse.

John Oliver, thank you for the train.  I'm looking forward to its arrival here in our area.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Clowning Around

Like the turning leaves, colder weather and pumpkin spice everything...  there is another sure sign of fall-- horror movies.  The latest new one, "It," set box office records over the weekend.

America loves to be frightened.

Not me.

Real life is scary enough.

More than enough.

As I type this, images of damage from Hurricane Irma fill the television screen just off to my right.  Many of the cable channels have programs related to the 9/11 anniversary.  The head of North Korea is playing with atomic bombs.  Parts of the middle east are still under the influence of terrorist groups.  We can't get along with Russia, and vice versa.  Parts of Mexico have been devastated by an earthquake.  Big parts of the west are on fire.  It costs a fortune to fill your gas tank.  Sectors of the retail industry are collapsing.

I won't even begin writing about personal problems.  We all have them.  Some, more than most.

You can keep you horror movies.  At least, the fright is over when you leave the theater or turn off the television.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Unfinished Monday

When I was recently whining about the seemingly slow progress of some local construction projects, I forgot to include Blakely Street in Dunmore.  Traveling through the borough is never easy, even on a good day.  Close one of the lanes of the main thoroughfare, and you have a nightmare.  On the bright side, it looks like it's almost complete.

By now, you've read another story on how Joe Paterno knew Jerry Sandusky was up to no good, long before his crimes were made public.  I really can't see how the pro Paterno forces can mitigate this.  There are two sides to every story, and Joe isn't around to tell his.  Still, you can't avoid the evidence.

Another NFL season is here, and that's always fun.  I still don't get "fantasy football" and my eyes glaze over when the topic comes up.  National radio networks devote a lot of time to it, so I dive for the dial.  However, if you enjoy it, have a great season.

Most of the Hurricane Irma reporting was responsible.  A few grandstanders were out with their "Hey, look at me" antics.  The storm had to hit the U.S. when some commentators tried to spin the recent rash of hurricanes into something political.  There is a time for that.  It's not now.

I do have to note that the networks have some fantastic big screens to help with their maps and their story telling.  Great technology.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Andy's Angles: Remembering and Helping

It's another pre dawn Friday photo from the traveling Korean War memorial set up behind Jessup Hose Company #2 in Jessup.

Today, the 10th annual SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride is set to begin at noon.  SGT Argonish was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.  I never met him, but I do know his father, and I'm proud of that fact.  I can see his pride, and I can also see his pain.

There is food and entertainment before and after, so you don't need a motorcycle to help.

All the information you need is right here.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Andy's Angles: Remembering

A memorial to the Korean War is up this weekend behind the Jessup Hose Company # 2 in Lackawanna County.

This is a photo from well before sunrise yesterday morning.  It's moving, and if you're in the area, I strongly recommend stopping by for a few minutes.  It's open around the clock, until 5 tomorrow afternoon.