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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Andy's Angles: Scranton Intermodal

I haven't done a total turnaround on the Intermodal Center on Lackawanna Avenue, but I have refined my thinking a bit. It's nice to have local buses, long distance buses and taxis in the same place. My beef always was with the location. It's on the low end of Lackawanna Avenue, and there isn't much around it.

However, the buses do stop where the people are-- the courthouse, Wyoming Avenue, the Marketplace at Steamtown, etc.

I did stop by for a moment this week. I was doing a story near by and needed a bathroom break. A lot of people were using the place, and that's a good thing.

The Intermodal Center did eat up some of Steamtown's sign space, and that's something that really needs to be fixed. The Steamtown entrance is nearly invisible.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Andy's Angles: The State of the State

I spent a good part of my Monday here, in front of the Scranton State Office Building on Lackawanna Avenue.  We were previewing a potential budget mess-- the fiscal year beginning today without a new spending plan.  That's nothing new.  It seems to happen most years, a sign of Pennsylvania's dysfunctional state government.

The general assembly approved a budget Friday, without much consideration as to how to pay for it all.

As noted here before, this was never one of my favorite buildings.  It's functional on the inside, but a boring and sterile brown brick box on the outside.  The trees have grown nicely to soften the look, but I never felt this building did much for the neighborhood.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Media Friday

As you know by now, WNEP launched some new graphics Tuesday afternoon.  The debut was smooth, but there will be some tweaks and enhancements in the days to come.

A lot of people have said nice things about the LA Tarone obituary that ran on Newswatch 16 Monday.  Thank you.  Two things really made it work-- the talents of photographer and editor Corey Burns, and the vision of producer Tanya Cleary, who recognized we needed more than 90 seconds to tell the story.  That extra minute meant a lot.

I'm a week and a half in to my Sirius XM free trial through Amazon Echo, and I love it.  Do I love it enough to pay $20 a month?  I don't see it going in that direction.

CNN had to pull back a web story on Trump and the Russians.  If there was ever a time to double and triple check a story like that, now is the time.  The media can be its own worst enemy.

A picture of Clay LePard and I generated dozens of hits on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Clay moved on to Orlando, Florida this week.  He's a good kid and a solid journalist.  Big things are in his future.

In spite of all the recent talent changes and controversies, FOX News still dominates cable.  That's a testament to consistent branding.

Stephen Colbert's 18 week winning streak over Jimmy Fallon was broken last week.  Colbert was in reruns for two days, but I sense some of it could be fatigue from the one note nature of Colbert's broadcast.

Independence Day approaches, and apologies for a geezer moment, but I don't think anything will ever top the tall ships that dominated TV that day in 1976.

Greta Van Susteren is out after six months at MSNBC.  In previous stops, she always delivered a decent broadcast.  I don't know what went wrong here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

First Person: Tarone

I fired up my computer Sunday night and learned WILK's LA Tarone had died.  Lung cancer.  58.  We did a short piece Sunday night and on the Monday edition of Newswatch 16 This Morning.  My assignment for that broadcast was a preview of the last minute state budget negotiations.

When the broadcast was over, it was time to shift gears.  There would be no new budget news until the afternoon, so I suggested a piece on Tarone's passing.  He was in your home, and rode along with you in your car for a very long time.  Before his WILK days, Tarone was on WYLN, a Hazleton TV station, and he wrote for the Hazleton Standard~Speaker newspaper.

I texted program director Nancy Kman for permission to stop by and talk.  Granted.  Photographer Corey and I arrived a little after 7 AM.  We recorded some phone calls, got our hands on some of LA's old radio shows and Facebook photos.  I interviewed Nancy and morning co host John Webster during commercial breaks.  We had more than enough material.  We also had some time, so Corey and I waited for mid day host Sue Henry to arrive.  She knew LA for more than thirty years, and was with him when he passed.

Sue came in a little after 8.  I asked if she wanted to talk.  She agreed, and Sue shared some nice memories.  We should all be so lucky to have someone say such nice things about us when we pass.

It was then time to head back to the station to put together a piece for our noon broadcast.  I never met LA Tarone.  When you are doing an obituary, there are times personal knowledge is a huge help.  Thankfully, the WILK staff was generous with their memories, and the piece came together rather nicely.

I've known most of the WILK staff for a very long time.  I have to note that I love my job and WNEP treats me very well.  However, I love being in radio stations.   Radio was my first job.  I'm fascinated by how things work, how the equipment and procedures have changed.  Regardless, watching people communicate, the intimacy, the immediacy, is always a draw.  Plus, the WILK staff are good people.

When Corey and I got back to the station, I reviewed the interviews and chose the best parts.  It wasn't easy because there were so many interesting answers to my questions.  It didn't take long to write the story, but I did take some time arranging the elements into the order I felt worked best.  There were three versions before I settled on the final one.  As I was doing that, Corey was listening to the sound of the WILK callers, and the archived material from Tarone's shows.  He picked some great segments that illustrated what LA Tarone was all about.

I should also note that our noon producer Monday, Tanya, afforded me a little extra time to tell the story.  It really helped.  You really couldn't sum up LA Tarone in 90 seconds.

Thanks to the WILK staff for their help and the kind words on Facebook.  My sympathy to LA Tarone's family, friends, and fans.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Professional Skeptic

Jack Smurl died last week.  75.  My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Mr. Smurl first came on the scene in the mid 80's when he and his family claimed their West Pittston home was haunted.

I do not mean to be offensive, but I never bought it.  Not then.  Not now.  Too many things didn't add up.  Too many things didn't make sense.

I do feel very sorry for the Smurl family.  They were constantly harassed during this ordeal.  A Scranton bar even organized a bus trip to the Smurl home.  That was simply mean and insensitive.

The so called paranormal investigators at the Smurl home, who had access, seemed more intent on furthering their own fame than finding out what was really going on in there.  Below is a picture of my hand, holding a WARM microphone, as the investigators held a mini news conference on the Smurl's back porch.  It's from Robert Curran's book, "The Haunted."  Mr. Curran died in February.

The Smurl saga is now local legend.  It was fascinating at the time, and it remains of interest.  I will forever have the feeling that something just wasn't right.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Print It

I've used this space to complain about sloppy newspaper delivery before.  In spite of a few emails, the situation hasn't improved.  In fact, a clerk at a mini mart tells me it's gotten even worse.

My emails have been respectful and diplomatic.  The newspaper didn't even have the courtesy to reply.

Another newspaper is now on the "sloppy" list.  Three calls on the 18th failed to produce a Sunday newspaper.  The one time I was able to reach a human rather than a machine, I was told they were having "issues."  There were follow up emails to circulation, and even upper management.  Like the other paper, there was no response.

First, you can crow about all your awards and quality journalism, but if you can't get the product into the reader's hands, it's worthless.  And, yes, there are still some people who prefer the print edition.

Second, mistakes happen.  I get that.  It's tough to find good people, who will get up in the middle of the night, in all kinds of weather, to deliver your product.  I get that, too.  The least you can do is say "I'm sorry."

Monday, June 26, 2017


I haven't blogged, yet about the 45th anniversary of the Tropical Storm Agnes flood.

There's a good reason why I've avoided the topic.  Everything that can be said has already been said.

Yes, there is still a need to inform those who weren't here at the time as to what went on, and that's the theme of today's blog.

I'm afraid we really haven't learned very much.  I do you know you couldn't abandon everything in the Susquehanna flood zone, but we've built up, again, in places that should be left alone.

The flood walls and levees are great, but all it takes is one weak spot, and it's Agnes all over again.

Let's remember all those who struggled in the days after the water went down.  Let's pray it never happens again.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Andy's Angles: Daybreak

Admittedly, a quickie camera phone photo, but here's what I like about this one.

It's the Lackawanna County Courthouse from the Spruce Street side..  Upper left, night sky, lower right, dawn approaches.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Andy's Angles: Sheridan

I've featured the General Philip Sheridan monument here before, but never the night time view.

The white stone really stands out in the dark night.  The monument, which is one of my favorites, always reminded me of a giant chess piece.  It makes a nice statement at the corner of Adams and Spruce.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Business Friday

Food and media today...

Subway thinks the way to reverse a slide is to install self service touch screen ordering stations and video menu boards.  Touch screens work elsewhere, but Subway is one of those places where you can guide the "sandwich artist" through the customization and creation process.  I'm not sure how touch screens will work with that.  As I see it, here's the reason for the decrease in sales:  Subway used to be a place to get a fast and reasonably priced lunch.  Service speed is still okay, but Subway isn't the value it used to be.

McDonalds is experimenting with fresh, rather than frozen beef.  Great idea.  On the other hand, it slows down the process because the burgers have to be cooked to order, rather than in advance.  McDonald's service is already slow.  This can't be good.

Sirius XM announced a deal where it streams through Amazon's Echo.  Very smart.  I used to have a home Sirius XM radio and loved it.  Unfortunately, it became lass of a value after some talk channels were dropped and the price went up.  I'm not in a one month free trial.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm watching an experiment in Buffalo, NY.  WECK 1230/102.9 has switched to a "full service" format.  It's like those AM radio stations of the past-- disc jockeys, plenty of news and weather, community involvement, etc.  Music is for adults.  I've been listening a lot lately, and it brings back some pleasant memories.  Whether it's financially feasible and commercially viable is a different story.  My fingers are crossed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

There Goes the Sun

The summer solstice has come and gone.  The days are getting shorter, and I'm not complaining.

I've always found it strange when you get up to work an overnight shift and it's still daylight.  It's easier to sleep in the dark, and shrinking daylight doesn't bother me.

I will admit to loving early sunrises.  Those November, December and January short days can be depressing.

June and July are the tough months for those of us who work on the other side of the clock.

As I have said here many times before, don't cry for me.  This is the life I have chosen, and if a little too much daylight is my biggest problem, I'm darned lucky.

I do realize I'm in the minority here, so enjoy the bright.  Enjoy the light.  Enjoy the heat.  Summer can fade rather quickly.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Wasn't Kidding

Let's take you back to Sunday morning.  I was doing my standard Sunday morning broadcast, but Joe Snedeker was filling in for Noreen Clark.  As I introduced Joe at the top of one of our four hours, I made a sweeping hand gestures.  Joe took note of it, and I explained that was my Allen Ludden impression, and I occasionally do it as an homage to the great Password and Password Plus host.

I should have made a screen grab of my thing, but here is Ludden in action from 1980, making the hand and arm gesture I occasionally copy.
So, why do I offer the occasional homage to Allen Ludden?

He brought life to a rather tame and dry game show, but the biggest reason is, and I've prattled on about this before, but it's been a while, the guy looked like he was having the time of his life every time he stepped on stage.  It appeared there was no place he'd rather be.  I always admired that.

Allen Ludden loved his work, and so do I.

By the way, there is another impression in my anchoring repertoire.  If you see my left arm way out, that's Steve Bosh, who anchored on WPIX in the late 70's and 80's.  He was always a favorite.

Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday Scrapple

Scott Pelley's last broadcast as CBS Evening News anchor was last Friday.  It was a classy sign off.

Katy Perry has become the first Twitter user with 100 million followers.  Not surprised.  major entertainer.  World wide audience.

I spent some time at my alma mater, Marywood University, last week.  Believe it or not, I was in a building I had not visited before-- and it's an old building.

Will Amazon and Walmart eventually own everything?

There are multiple reports Bill O'Reilly is planning a comeback.  It looks to be a subscription web site.  I'm not surprised, again.  The trend in the business is for entertainers and journalists to own their content, like podcasts and web sites.

The British never gave me the warm fuzzies, but it's been one heartbreak after another for the people on the other side of the pond.

A few different teams find themselves in first place in Major league Baseball, and it's nice to see things turned around.

14 teams in the International League and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders are 10th in attendance.  In all fairness, things don't pick up here until schools are out.  Thanks to the blizzard, schools were in session late this year.  Also, the spring weather has been lousy.

There aren't many things better than a well made submarine sandwich on a great roll.

Stephen Furst's passing over the weekend inspired me to look at some "Animal House" clips on YouTube.  A hilarious movie, from beginning to end.  Hearing things like "zero point zero" and "double secret probation" can still make me laugh.   Furst was also in 97 "St. Elsewhere" episodes, one of the best series of all time.

How does a four year old get his hands on a gun?  A loaded gun?

Not saddened by the demise of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, but I'm tickled that three of its old rail cars will stay here in our area.

My hand reaches for the radio any time an ELO song comes on, but only to crank up the volume.

Monday, June 19, 2017


I was at the supermarket last week.  It was a chain that actually seems to value your time because they manage to have more than one cash register open at a time.

In my hand held basket, four items.  Four.  Quatro.  Quatre.  I headed for a line that clearly said "15 items or less."  As I turned the corner, I clearly saw more than 15 items on the belt before more.  Much more than 15.  The cashier looked embarrassed.  The offending customer saw my eyes pop out of my head and started apologizing profusely, saying a store employee told her to get in that line, which I do not doubt.

Most of her purchase was already scanned.  The cashier was quick and efficient.  The undue extra wait wouldn't be that long.  After the offender's transaction was completed, she apologized again.  I replied that if waiting in line an extra minute was the worst thing that was going to happen to me, it was a good day.

I paid for my four items and left.

Fast forward a couple of hours.  This popped up in a massage on my WNEP Facebook page"

Hi! I'm the woman you were behind at ----------  today (green sundress, more than 15 items!!!😁). Just wanted to tell you, because I didn't want to draw too much attention, you are much more handsome in person than on tv! I mean, who doesn't love a compliment?! Hope you enjoy the beautiful day!!

It was worth the wait, and yes, it was the worst thing that happened to me on that particular day.

I'm a lucky guy.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Andy's Angles: Downstream

Outside of a few industrial areas, the Susquehanna River looks good just about everyplace if flows.

One of the best examples is right here, in Sunbury.  This is the Monday morning view, looking downstream from the gazebo near Market Street.

As I noted here yesterday, it had been a long time since I had a chance to visit Sunbury.  My stay was a short one, but I did enjoy it. 

I took the walk from the river over to the police station.  Yes, empty storefronts-- but some occupied ones, too.  It looks like the city realizes the Susquehanna is its greatest asset-- and downtown can benefit from the tourist traffic.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Andy's Angles: Sunbury

Trips out of the metropolitan area are rare these days.  My news assignments usually keep me close to home.  Monday was a rare treat-- a ride to Sunbury.

There wasn't much time for photography, but I did manage to get to the gazebo overlooking the Susquehanna River.

Today, the upstream view.  After a rather mediocre spring, featuring more than enough cloudy, cool, rainy days, it was great to get out into the sunshine, and get a great view of the Susquehanna.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hey, 19!

Tomorrow is my 19th anniversary at WNEP.

I know I say it every year, but the time has flown by and I've been lucky beyond belief.

The job is still fun.  I work with some great people.  The learning never ends, and I've really enjoyed watching some young people come through the doors and evolve into fine young broadcasters.

Thanks for watching and reading.  Let's keep it going.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Do We Really Need This?

A contractor has been fixing Blakely Street and the O'Neill Highway in Dunmore for the last couple of years.  The project, thankfully, is nearing an end.

New sidewalks, new pavement, new signals, and as you can see above-- new signs.

Signs noting cross streets is a great idea...  but, do we really need this one?  If you can't see there's a shopping center on the right and a cemetery on the left, you are in major trouble.  By the way, this is the view looking north.  There is an identical sign over the southbound lanes.

Your tax dollars, hard at work.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Media Wednesday

It didn't take Megyn Kelly long to step in it, did it?

I'm impressed with how the major networks have been quick to dump regular programming to air the latest from Washington, and around the world.  That stuff costs money, but broadcasters do have the responsibility to inform.  The airwaves belong to the public, and all to often, some lose sight of that.

I'm a fan of JT the Brick, who does 8 to 11 PM on FOX Sports Radio.  When the local station is doing play by play, I usually ask my Amazon Echo to play WSAI AM 1360 in Cincinnati.  What a mess!  Two commercials often play at once, network rejoins are sloppy.  It's clear that the people who run the place don't listen to their own station.

Can any Gong Show revival come close to the original?  I understand the Chuck Barris version went off the air decades ago, so this is the Gong Show for the new generation.  I'm sure I'll give it a few minutes-- the curiosity factor.

The Scott Pelley replacement sweepstakes fascinates me.  I stand by my prediction.  Jeff Glor gets the CBS Evening News, but Norah O'Donnell, who now does the morning broadcast,  becomes chief anchor.  It will be very similar to the ABC arrangement.  I'm sure CBS is looking for some star power, but I don't see many stars available at the moment.

A recent study shows small town radio stations, that are part of local groups, owned by big companies, have been adding news.  Yay.  Radio is a spectacular medium for news.

The NFL has okayed hard liquor ads during its games.  We're used to them.  I doubt anyone will notice.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday Scrapple

Will there ever be an awards show without political overtones?  Winners, just go on stage, say thank you, and depart.  We'll all be much happier.

It seems like there's a "Sears/KMart imminent demise" story in the news every day.  Is there anything new here?  It seems like it's the same doom and gloom over and over again.  Wake me when it finally happens.

Adam West, TV's Batman died over the weekend.  88.  He was perfect, one of the best voices ever on TV.  What made the show was the villains.  Personal favorite:  King Tut.

Spring is a great time of year.  Unfortunately, in our area, it doesn't last long enough.

Is there anything better on a broiling afternoon than cold iced tea?

I spent a little time in Sunbury yesterday, first time in a long time.  That area along the river is nothing short of spectacular.

I don't like Instagram and Snapchat because every other customer has a more interesting life.

I'm glad that stuff wasn't around when I was growing up.  I don't think I'd like having every moment of my life documented.  Remember The Truman Show?

How did society exist without Sharpies and Post-Its?

I know it has a major political slant, but the New York Post manages to be entertaining day after day after day.

The just concluded NBA season seemed interminable.  The NHL wasn't far behind, but I admit it was a kick to see the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup.

Please don't forget that tomorrow is Flag Day.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Let's review a few things already established here in past entries.

I liked learning.  I hated school.

I always wanted to be in news and broadcasting.  However, I could never come up with a "moment" or a great reason.  I do remember always playing with a radio as a kid-- not for the music, but for the news, the jingles, the disc jockeys.  I was parked in front of Walter Cronkite every night at 6:30.

I was at the car dealer for service the other day.  One of my favorite high school teachers walked in a few minutes behind me.  I'd see this gentleman a few times a year, usually walking through the mall.  We'd exchange pleasantries and go on our separate ways.  This was the first extended conversation as adults, ever.  By the way, I had this person for a consumer economics course.  I think it was the most valuable elective my high school ever offered.  I understand it's been discontinued.

If what I've read about mental health therapy is true, they'll let you yammer on for a while, and usually you come to your own conclusions.  That's exactly what happened last week.

I got to talking about my favorite teachers back in the day, the ones with enthusiasm, the ones who actually seemed interested in their jobs, the ones who actually had something to say, the ones who could involve me.  As I verbally ticked off my list, I realized that the vast majority were in the English department.  I did enjoy some social studies courses and maybe one science.  Otherwise, it was all English, all the time.  The written word.  The spoken word.  And look what I've been doing for a living for the past few decades.

I guess some people were a bigger influence than I believed.  The man at the top of the list died several years ago.  I think the rest are still around.  If you're reading this, and you remember me, thank you for all you've done.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Founder

An early morning shot of the George Washington statue at the coroner of North Washington and Linden , at Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton-- one of my favorites.

It was a foggy, misty morning, and the statue looked that much brighter on a dismal, chilly June morning.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Andy's Angles: Fix It!

I should have gotten to this one sooner. 

We needed a backdrop to introduce some Memorial Day pieces, so one of my go-to locations is part of Nay Aug Park in Scranton dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in recent wars.

I was lucky, in that there's a gazebo type structure at the head of Davis Trail, just to the right of this photo.  it kept me out of the rain.

On the other hand, I was supremely disappointed with this section of the park.  It was dark.  It was trashy.  It was weedy, and the trees are badly in need of a trim.  There are lights on a flagpole near by.  Running a line just an extra few feet to light the memorial wouldn't be that difficult.  I know the area, so I made sure photographer Erich loaded some extra lights into the truck.

As for the overgrown trees, weeds, and trash...  that's up to the city.  soldiers who gave their lives deserve better.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Taste Test: Pepsi Fire

Let's establish some things right off the top.

My colleague and friend, Kerry Brazen, does a great job with the Taste Test franchise.  She took it over several months ago, and has really made it her own.  Watch every Tuesday.

Once in a while, a product comes along to pique my curiosity, so I yammer on about it here.  Kerry's job is safe.

I've never been a coffee drinker, and I really don't get the high end coffee culture.  I don't see the value, but if you enjoy it, go nuts.

It has been established that I bleed diet cola.  Diet iced tea is a close second.  Diet Pepsi is my drink of choice, and I won't turn down an icy Diet Coke.

Pepsi is out with a limited time only flavor-- Pepsi Fire.  The can calls it "cinnamon flavored cola."

I do like cinnamon, but only in sweet things.  Some cultures and cuisines use cinnamon in savory dishes, and I just don't get that.  To each, his own.

Getting back to Pepsi Fire, there is only one fly in the ointment.  It doesn't come in diet.  In spite of that, I bought a 12 pack anyway.

So, how is it?  It has a nice cinnamon bite.  Sweet, but not as syrupy sweet as I expected.  A lot of cinnamon things have a chemical after-taste, and that's missing here.  It's pretty good, and I'm really sorry it doesn't come in a diet version.

I believe Pepsi Fire is on Kerry's list of things to test.  Keep watching for what her test reveals.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Unfinished Thursday


I've been doing this a long time, and it continually amazes me at how many times government bodies feel it's okay to keep you out of its business.  The latest case is the Scranton Sewer Authorities.  It appears if the authority spent a ton on legal fees.  Look, I have no problem with making money-- as long as it's done ethically and honestly.  If all is above board, open the books and do it now.  So far, efforts to get the state's auditor general involved have been rebuffed.  Now, Scranton council wants the attorney general to step in.  There's nothing to indicate crimes have been committed, so I'm not sure if Harrisburg will take a look.   Scranton taxpayers have been put through the wringer in recent years.  They deserve to know what's going on.

Cellular phones have been around for decades.  I remember my first-- bolted in to my news car at WARM radio.  It was cutting edge at the time, and it really helped us put news on the air faster.  Smaller units were just coming in as I was exiting.  I could imagine what we could have done with those.  Anyway, it still irritates me to no end to watch people talk and drive at the same time.  On top of that, it's downright dangerous.  Stop it.  Stop it now.

Testimony in the Jessie Con-ui murder trial has been nothing short of tragic, sad, and disgusting.  On day one, as expected, we learned the defense wouldn't fight the conviction, but it would oppose, strongly, the death penalty.  As I noted on my Facebook page, it was shades of Eric Frein.

The trees around Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton have grown up nicely, and they have really helped soften the harshness of all that granite and concrete.  As hard as I've tried, I still can't warm up to that big wall that does nothing for the square.

Newspaper headline this week:  "Popular Restaurant Closes."  Newsflash:  the body of the story had a line from the owner, saying his customer base has dwindled.  That doesn't sound like a popular restaurant to me.

Tuesday was the D Day anniversary, and I say it every year.  Why isn't the D Day anniversary a bigger deal in this country?

I find the priest in Luzerne County, who allegedly misappropriated $130,000 one of the most fascinating stories to come down the pike in a long time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

House Cleaning

It was long overdue.

I finally took the time the other day to get rid some e-mail accounts I rarely used.

For the ones I kept, there was a cleaning out of my "SAVED" folder.

I wasn't in danger of running out of storage space.  It was just time for a house cleaning.

I couldn't believe the stuff that was in there...  old and worthless photos, e-mails from people long departed from the friend zone, an e-mail or two from people who have passed away, benefits notices from companies that I used to work for, credit card statements from accounts long cancelled.  Plus, tons and tons of receipts from on-line purchases.

Wow!  Did I buy a lot on-line.  Do I even go into brick and mortar stores any more?

The "delete" key got quite the work out.  Yes, I did keep quite a few things, items of sentimental value.  I will admit to being an old softie.

And, I did make a vow for regular e-mail reviews.  The folders will never get that cluttered again.