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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Factor

I've always thought Bill O'Reilly is a tremendously talented broadcaster.

After reading a book by a former producer, I learned O'Reilly is responsible for every word of his now former FOX News Channel broadcast.  He either wrote it at a computer, scribbled it out on a note pad, or dictated it to a secretary of producer.

If you read a transcript of his show, and didn't know the author, you would think it was coming from a moderate, reasonable individual.

He is smart, and informed, and he knew how to draw an audience.  For 20 years, O'Reilly was the signature voice and face of the network.

Unfortunately, good broadcaster doesn't translate into being a good person.  O'Reilly denies all the harassment allegations and I get that.  You have to admit there's an awful lot of evidence against him.  You can forgive a mistake.  Overlooking a distinct and long standing  pattern is an entirely different story.

FOX News let O'Reilly go last week.

He doesn't need the money, but I'm sure Bill O'Reilly will re-surface somewhere.  I think his network days are done, at least for a while.  He could sign with a TV station group, or syndicate a show on his own.  He'd be perfect on Sunday mornings.

There was a radio version of the O'Reilly Factor.  It didn't last long.  O'Reilly went up against Rush Limbaugh, a tough time slot.  For the most part, Limbaugh had all the decent stations locked up.  That has changed, so the climate is right for O'Reilly to take another shot at it.  Podcasting to the masses is always an option.  There is already a subscription only podcast.

There is a place in the media world for Bill O'Reilly.  There has to be some serious image rehabilitation, responsibility taking,  and some daring sponsors first.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Andy's Angles: St. Nicholas

This is St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Scranton, almost next door to St. Matthew's, which was in this space yesterday.  They are separated only by Vine Street.

The sun wasn't my friend when I took this recent photo, but I think you get the idea.  It's a beautiful building.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Andy's Angles: Blessed

Our area is blessed, pardon the pun, to have so many historic and beautiful places of worship.

This is St. Matthew's on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The First

It's sleeping Homer's first appearance of 2017, and it means I'm taking my first vacation week of the year.  There were a few scattered days off in January, but I haven't had a full week off since October.

I'm a little tired.  It's time.

Now, the standards:  no plans other than the gym, some bike rides, reading, photography, and possibly Kmart.

I have yet to decide on a vacation beard, which has been the standard the last several years.  I haven't touched a razor since Tuesday morning, so I'm on my way.

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

See you soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Getting Personal

I really don't get super personal here, but today will be an exception.

Let's go back a few months.  An old friend from junior high and high school called me out of the blue and suggested we get together.  I agreed to the concept, but I kept delaying the actual event.  My old friend knows the hours and days I work.  He was completely understanding and forgiving, even though I kept blowing him off.

I sent him a text the other day, saying I'm sorry for the delay.  I'm on vacation.  If you're still interested, name a time, day and location, and I'll make it happen.

It happened Tuesday night.

Part of me looked forward to it.  Another part dreaded it.  He suggested a little corner bar in Scranton.  I agreed, as long as it was non smoking.  It is.  By the way, Diet Cokes were exceptionally reasonable.  It's amazing how many bars soak you for a soda.  Responsible behavior is important, but it can be very expensive.  The food looked great.  However, I wasn't hungry.

The meeting went well.  We had some laughs about the old days, and caught up to current times.  I heard some stories about classmates that I didn't know before, and I'm sort of sorry I learned what I learned.  Be that as it may.

I don't know what my friend expected.  I assured him that I might have grown a bit, but I am essentially the same guy he last saw in a cap and gown nearly forty years ago.

Okay, here is some more personal stuff.  When I'm off duty, Mr. Television goes away.  The TV job is like a coat.  I like it a great deal, but I wear it only when I'm working.  When my shift ends, I enjoy and savor fading in to the background.  I talk for a living.  I don't do much when I'm away from the office.

Take a look at the photos you see here.  You see landscapes, buildings, rivers and a cat.  You almost never see me.  The same goes with Facebook and Instagram.  There is no need to be the center of attention.

What occasionally scares me, is I fear some people mistake retiring for arrogant, because I don't really say much when I'm off duty.  It's happened before.  If you have been offended, I'm sorry.  It wasn't intentional.  Thankfully, my friend "got it" and the night went well.

He suggested doing it again, and possibly adding another friend or two.  I left the door open.  Small steps.  I was one of those high schoolers who had a small, but close circle of friends.  That was more than enough.  There was no desire to be class president.  One of the best feelings ever was when I took off the cap and gown, and walked into the fresh, post-graduation air of an early summer evening.  As I have said here before, I liked learning.  I didn't like high school.

As for my friend, good times and bad.  That's typical.  We've all been there.  Back in the day, he was one of the funnier people at that soul crushing school of mine.  The laughs were important back then.  They still are, and he is still capable of delivering.

I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere.  Maybe, a moral of the story.  You may take what you please from the above paragraphs.  Looking ahead is important, but there are times it can be equally important to see where you came from.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Scrapple

Do people still care about Hatchimals?

The price of Donald Trump ties has skyrocketed on E-Bay.

The Frein trial moved faster than expected.  We learned a few new things, not a lot.  More than anything, it seems like a defense exercise to avoid the death penalty.

I was in a Burlington store the other day, and all but one of the front doors was locked.  There was no panic hardware on the inside.  It looks like an attempt to curb shoplifting, but it's a clear violation of fire safety laws.  Why am I the only one who noticed this?

"Quick Pitch" on the MLB Network remains one of the best shows on television.  No silly ESPN style schtick.  Just the highlights.  Outstanding!

The speed in which we went from a blizzard and two feet of snow, to flooding, to brush fires is amazing.

I found some very nice Easter flowers this year, but man, did the price go up!

Brian Williams can't seem to stay out of trouble.  He has been harshly criticized for remarks made during coverage of the U.S missile strike on Syria.  Williams talked about the beauty of American weapons, and many on social media let his have it.  Williams isn't my favorite guy, but look at intent.  I don't think he meant to diminish the importance and significance of human life.  It was just a poor choice of words.  Let's leave it at that.

I can't wait for the primary season to really heat up.

It looks like Bill O'Reilly is in some serious trouble at FOX News.

It seems like a lot of criminals come to our area to hide, and it seems like an awful lot get caught.

It was chilly and breezy yesterday, but I actually managed to get a little sunburn.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fly United

The dust hasn't totally settled on this one, but it's settled enough for me to yammer about it.

United recently came under fire for bumping a man from a flight.  The passenger didn't want to go, so they dragged him off.

It's disgusting behavior on United's part, and perfectly legal.  On the ticket, it says the airline has the right to bump you.

That's simply a lousy practice, and it should have been outlawed long ago.

Airlines claim their profit margins are slim, so they have to maximize every flight.  In this case, United said it needed the seat to get a full in crew in place for another flight at another airport.

Often, passengers book and never show.

I don't care.

Don't make your passengers suffer just because you have a hard time making money.  Figure out how to do it right, or go out of business.

Grampa Stroehmann doesn't reserve the right to take his bread back.  Ronald McDonald doesn't tell you he can snatch a Big Mac out of your hand if he feels like it.  Airlines shouldn't be any different.  Buy the ticket.  Take your seat.  Get your flight.  Receive what you paid for.  It's time for the government to step in.
The head of United said an incident like this will never happen again.  I hope he's right, and I hope other airlines follow suit.

Yes, there has always been financial consideration for those who voluntarily give up their seat.  It shouldn't come to a situation like that in the first place.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Alive

I hope you had a chance to see Jimmy Kimmel's Don Rickles tribute.

One part really jumped out at me.  Kimmel related a conversation with Rickles when Don asked "Keep my name alive."

Apologies for yammering on again about my old radio days.  I was very proud of what we accomplished there, even though the station was in decline when I arrived in 1981.

Even though its dominance ended a long time ago, people are keeping the legend of WARM alive.  There's at least one blog and one Facebook page that I know of.  That's great.

Here is what prompted this blog entry.

We went through a few program directors during my time at WARM.  John Hancock was the best.  He repaired a lot o damage and got the place humming again.  We were aggressive, we got out in to the community more, and we had a great time doing it.  It was fun to go to work.

For the last 25 years or so, John has been at WBT 1110, a blowtorch in Charlotte, NC.  He does 3 to 6 PM.  Thanks to my C. Crane internet radio and my Amazon Echo, I listen at least a few days a week.  John occasionally tells a WARM story, especially when it comes to the talents and the antics of the late, great Terry McNulty.  I've been mentioned in a few of those tales, and it's always a kick.

I've been on national TV and radio, and in a couple of movies.  However, my greatest delight is being mentioned on the radio in Charlotte, and someone keeping WARM, and what we did there, alive.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Andy's Angles: Pike County Courthouse

Milford is one of my favorite places, even though it's in the spotlight this month for a horrible event.

This is a dawn shot of the Pike County Courthouse.  On the right, you can see the steel skeleton of an addition.  They tried to tuck it into the back, much less obtrusive than an earlier design.

I can't say I'm a fan.  It will detract from the beauty and the historical nature of the building.

The need for space and security is acknowledged.  I would have built a totally new structure near by and used the old courthouse for something else.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Andy's Angles: Milford

History along Route 6 in Milford...

The building on the left is the old jail, now the sheriff's office.  Love the pike wind vane at the top.  the other structure is a county administration building.  Great style.  It really fits in with the old buildings in Milford.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Needle and the Damage Done

I couldn't believe what I was reading, and it seems like I'm using the phrase "Are you kidding me!?" far too often.

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders plan to erect a seven foot statue of Roger Clemens at the ballpark in Moosic.  There will be a Roger Clemens night, complete with free bobbleheads to the fans.

It bears repeating.  Are you kidding me?

Clemens pitched here.  Once.  That's it.  Once.  One and done.  Six innings.  Granted, he did draw the largest crowd in the remodeled stadium's short history.

Roger Clemens was a great pitcher.  354 wins.  He is third in all time strike outs.

While Clemens never  failed a drug test, he remains under the performance enhancing drug cloud.  He's not in the Hall of Fame.  It might never happen.  I'd certainly vote "no."  Without a doubt.

Clemens was named in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user.  His former trainer ratted him out.  That former trainer may or may not be reliable.  Clemens was tried for perjury and lying to congress.  The first trial ended in a mistrial.  He was acquitted in the second.

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders are now a private entity.  Lackawanna County sold control years ago.  The new owners can do as they please.  I can't help but question the thought process that went into the Clemens statue.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Up

Many years ago, I worked at a radio station with excellent ratings.  When the latest batch would come in, showing us dominating the rest of the market, one of the jocks would always say "Could you imagine what would happen if we did it right?"  The implication was that even a flawed radio station was drawing a good audience.  Getting rid of the flaws would have resulted in a phenomenal audience share.

I thought of those radio episodes when a saw a recent news release from the National Park Service.  It showed Steamtown's 2016 attendance was up 11.2 % from the year before.  Nearly 100,000 people came to Steamtown in 2016.

Could you imagine if they did it right?

First, the entrance is nearly impossible to find-- and it's gotten even worse since a new bus station was built at Lackawanna Avenue and Cliff Street.

Second, Steamtown doesn't change much.  There are occasional new displays, and the yearly RailFest.  Other than that, Steamtown in January still looks like Steamtown in July, minus the snow.

Third, Steamtown really doesn't seem to have integrated itself into the community.  Yes, there is some involvement in Scranton projects.  It's not enough.  Its semi secluded location has a lot to do with that.

Steamtown is a federal government entity, so it has a ready stream of revenue.  There's no major need to compete for the tourist dollar.  In a way, that's a good thing.  That's stability.  On the other hand, it encourages complacency.  Why go the extra mile?  We get money from the government.

I know there are other priorities.  However, could you imagine the people who would flock here if Steamtown did it right?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Mall Talk

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the implosion along Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton that made way for the Mall at Steamtown, now the Marketplace at Steamtown.

Above are two photos I took that morning, as I broadcast from what used to be the First Eastern Bank building at Lackawanna and Washington.  I've been doing this a long time.  it was terrifying at the time because our broadcast had some technical issues.  Looking back, it was one of the most fun and rewarding days of my career.

I cannot walk through that mall without thinking of implosion morning, the grand opening, all the stores, and all the promise that mall once held.  Things have changed a lot over the last 25 years.  should the mall have been built?  Hindsight says no, but at the time, it was the best idea on the table.  Sadly, no one was interested in restoring those buildings and no one wanted to come up with the money to do it.

Thanks to those of you who responded to last week's query about the name of the original toy store in the Viewmont Mall.  It was "Kids" before it was "Kay Bee."  "Kids" packed a lot in to a small space.  It seems there was something for everyone-- science to fun, and all ages.  I haven't been in a toy store in years.  I'll have to check out one of the big boxes to see how things have changed.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Media Tuesday

Don Rickles died last week.  90.  Big fan, in short bursts.  He nailed every appearance with Johnny Carson.  A Rickles and Howard Stern appearance on one of David Letterman's last shows was a classic.  Stern was so gracious and reverential.  Anyway, his comedy routine success could never translate to a successful sitcom.  Getting lost in all of this is Don Rickles had serious acting chops.  Read a list of his work.  There is some quality stuff.

If you can find it, watch Jimmy Kimmel's Don Rickles tribute.  It was fantastic.  It rivaled David Letterman's tribute to Robin Williams.  Kimmel might not match the numbers generated by Fallon and Colbert, but he could be the new King of Late Night.

CBS kicked Phil Simms to the curb in favor of untested rookie Tony Romo.  Giving a newcomer the "A" game every week is insane.  FOX was smart enough to put Troy Aikman on some European League games before he was moved up to the top team.  And, even when he did make it to the "A" team, Aikman was part of a three man booth.  CBS is taking a big gamble, and this one could bite it on the butt.

Note to the people who program The River 104.9:  Please stop fading "Baker Street" out early.

"Brockmire" on IFC, at least the first episode, is outrageously funny.  Long story short, Jim Brockmire is a major league baseball announcer who has an on air meltdown over a cheating wife.  He winds up in Morrisville, PA, as the public address announcer for the  Morristown Frackers.  The fracking references are hilarious, and Amanda Peet as the team owner is a delight.  Advice:  "Brockmire" is not for the kids.

Our friends at the Times~Leader print restaurant inspections every week, and that's a great idea.  You wonder how some of these places continue to function.  I worry about abuse of power, but some filthy establishments should be padlocked immediately.

Congratulations to former WARM 590 program director John Hancock.  Yesterday, he was named to the hall of fame at WBT 1110 in Charlotte, NC.  We still swap occasional texts and emails.  John was a great guy to work for, and he's become a legend in Charlotte.  It's a well deserved honor.

I topped 1,900 Twitter followers last week, and Facebook "likes" are steadily climbing.  Thank you.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Scrapple

I will never understand why people don't grind their own pepper.  The pre-ground stuff has absolutely no flavor.

It's about time professional sports leagues stop being afraid of Las Vegas.

I know everyone says it all the time, but the year really is flying by.

Change is natural.  However, it's startling to watch the upheaval in American retail.  Some big names are gone, or are going.  It seems like just about everyone, except the discounters, are downsizing.

It has a clear political agenda, and there are times it goes too far, but the NY Post is always an entertaining read.

You have to wonder how the greats, like Chancellor, Smith, Cronkite, Reasoner, Murrow, Reynolds, and Jennings would handle the current political climate in Washington.

Even though most of the time I buy nothing more than a soft pretzel, I still enjoy walking around a mall.

I know how it works, but USPS, UPS and FedEx package tracking still fascinates me.

Crayola changes one color and gets billions in free publicity.  Genius.  The same goes for Monopoly tokens.  By the way, how has Monopoly survived all these years.  I always found it to be long and boring.

The circus has entertained millions over the years, but big cats and other animals shouldn't be crammed into cages and hauled around the country via train.

I'm not a pierogi fan.  However, I recently noticed pizza flavored ones.  Meh.  The ricotta was rather chalky.

Every town and every street has potholes, but there are some monsters on Olyphant Avenue in Scranton and the city should jump on this right away.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Lackawanna

We've been showing and talking a lot about rivers lately.  Outside of hurricane and tropical storm visits, this is the rainiest period we've had in quite a while.

Luckily and thankfully, the Lackawanna has behaved itself.  It does have the capability to do a lot of damage.  Ask the people who live in the Plot section of Scranton.

These pictures were taken on a recent morning in Old Forge.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Andy's Angles: Biscuits


I'm always tickled when old buildings get a new use and a new life.  I do realize that it's not always feasible. 

The Hitchner Biscuit Company bakery in West Pittston is one of the success stories.  The building is now 18 apartments for the elderly and the handicapped.  WNEP's Jim Murdoch did the story when the building was dedicated, and I was jealous.  I would have loved to get a good look at the inside.

 You'd really love to see more of this.  I've put North Scranton Junior High in this space before.  That building is also apartments, plus a theater.

It would have been nice to see Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton in Scranton fixed up rather than imploded.  Unfortunately, the money wasn't there.  No one was stepping up to do it, and some of those buildings were beyond repair.
They even repainted the signs on the building, a perfect touch.

Friday, April 7, 2017

About the Cover

This month's blog header contains two of my loves-- water and railroads.

I like looking at water, not getting in it.  This is a shot of the rain and snow melt swollen Susquehanna River at West Pittston.  I took the shot the morning of March 30.
You just have to wonder how many trains crossed the Susquehanna over the years, all that cargo.  Somebody figured out a long time ago that trucks can do it better, and I get that.  It's not nearly as much fun.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Judge

He served Lackawanna County and the federal government.  Judge Edwin Kosik was an outstanding member of the bench.  I'm thrilled and relieved that he was found safe Thursday evening.

My first encounter with Judge Kosik was on my last day of high school.  He spoke at the commencement.  I remember he was funny and charming.  Unfortunately, I can't come up with any quotes.  Commencement addresses are vastly overrated.  All everyone wants is to get their diplomas and get out of there.  Nothing personal.

Kosik was a no nonsense, get it done judge.  He had a sense of humor, but there was no fooling around.  I vividly remember a proceeding for accused killer William Dean Christiansen back in the 80's.  I was on the radio at the time.  Christiansen was a suspected serial killer who went by a number of aliases.  During that hearing before Judge Kosik, Christiansen insisted on calling himself something else.  Kosik said, and this is a quote I can remember "You can call yourself Rose for all I care."  It made for an entertaining radio report.  It's too bad cameras and microphones are forbidden in Pennsylvania courtrooms. Christiansen was found guilty.  He died in prison.

I was almost a little disappointed when Kosik was appointed to the federal bench.  When you had a Kosik hearing, you know it would be done on time, quickly, and efficiently.  Law students should study his work-- and learn.  Other judges should adopt the Kosik style.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tornadoes and Floods

Three storm chasers were killed last week in a crash in Texas.  They were following a tornado at the time.  Dash cam video shows they were running stop signs and generally acting reckless.  My sympathy to their families.  I've railed against this practice in the past.  These expeditions seem less about science and more about thrill seeking, plus getting on TV.  In this case, it was the Weather Channel.  If there is some consolation in this, the storm chasers killed each other.  They didn't kill some innocent parent, rushing to get their children to safety.  This really has to stop.


I've been mentioning Susquehanna River levels a lot lately-- here, Facebook, Twitter, and on our weekend morning broadcasts.  Let me tell you why.  By the way, the shot above was taken last week, as the Susquehanna was on the way up.  I'm on the Pittston side of the Water Street bridge.

Born and raised here.  Thankfully, I've always lived out of the flood plain.  There was a change in this area after the Tropical Storm Agnes flood of 1972.  We became hyper sensitive to storm, river and flooding issues.    With every storm and flood, it's become even more intense.  I get that.  I read your emails and take your telephone calls.  It doesn't take much of a storm to trigger a round of concern.

Another way in which I consider myself lucky is that I watched river reporting veterans David DeCosmo and Kevin Jordan as a young radio reporter, and I eventually had the honor of working with them.  They knew how the Susquehanna, and every creek flowing in to it, behaved.  Kevin left us a few years ago.  David is retired.  I hope I carry on a wee bit of the knowledge.

I made several references to river levels, even though the Susquehanna at Wilkes-Barre stayed below flood stage for one simple reason.  There are times you need to know you don't have to worry.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mall Talk

It looks like an aquarium and reptile display is on the way to the Marketplace at Steamtown in Scranton.  According to the press release, it's going to be big-- 17,000 square feet.

On the surface, it seems like a great idea.  No one is falling over themselves to lease the space.  If you believe the experts, big retail and malls are on life support-- even though Viewmont and Wyoming Valley appear to be doing OK.

On the other hand, if the aquarium/reptile display is poorly done, rinky dink or ill maintained, it will do more than harm than good.  Admission has to be priced right-- enough to make the place an experience, reasonable for families.
Management had better tread, or slither, carefully.  There has already some blow back from the animal rights people.  The fish and reptiles need to be treated well, or this could be a public relations fiasco.

Speaking of malls, Joe Snedeker and I were having one of our patented serendipitous conversations in the weather office last week.  I asked when he knew his career would be in science.  Joe said it was during trips to the old Viewmont Mall.  He used to hang out in the back corner of the toy store, where the science kits and experiments were kept.  I knew exactly what he was talking about.  The toy store was on the Grant's, later Kaufmann's end.  Left side as you walked out of Grant's.  The science stuff was at the back of the store.  I never bought anything, but I looked and I knew where it was.

Here's the big question:  I have a few years on Snedeker.  I remember the original name of the toy store as "Kids."  It later was taken over by Kay Bee.  Kay Bee is not questioned.  Was I right on Kids?

I'll copy this entry to Facebook and Twitter.  Drop me a line.  Thanks.

Monday, April 3, 2017

John Perry

courtesy:  Paul Lowry
John Perry died Friday.  92.

For a long time, John Perry WAS television news in Scranton.  He appeared, every night at 7 and 11 PM.  Looking back, it was so primitive-- but it got the job done.  You had the fires, plus the constant bickering at Scranton Council meetings, the weekly Luzerne County commissioners' controversy and a lot of assorted other government news.  The technology has changed.  The stories haven't.

It was all on film back then.  Field crews had to be done by around 3 PM to allow for enough time to process and edit the film.  People in the business now have to work fast because we have so many newscasts, plus social media and the internet to feed.  TV news pioneers had to work a different kind of fast because of those early deadlines.

If memory serves, John left to work in Binghamton for a while.  He came back to Scranton and WDAU.  Our paths crossed once in a while.  I was a radio pup in the early 80's, just as John was approaching retirement and an eventual move to Florida.    We exchanged some very basic pleasantries when we were both at the same stories.  I think I was too in awe to say anything else.

One of our photographers, Dave Jones, broke in under John Perry.  From the stories Dave tells, John was more than a co-worker.  He was also a teacher.

The man was a legend.  I'm lucky I had a chance to watch him work.

My sympathy to family, friends, and former colleagues.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Andy's Angles: Beavers


I've been meaning to get to these photos for a while.  They're from my recent trip to Dunmore Reservoir # 1.  The area apparently has an active and a busy beaver population.
I didn't see any on my visit, but I knew they were here.  Simply fascinating creatures.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Andy's Angles: April Fool!


No, I'm still a very happy employee of WNEP-TV.

I was playing around and did a selfie on the side of an NBC truck while then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was in town back in November.

Have a great weekend, and don't fall for any pranks.