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Thursday, August 31, 2017

5

Like the Johnny Carson/Ed Ames tomahawk throw, this yearly story never fails to get a response.

Today is the 5th anniversary of my bicycle purchase.  I had been considering it for a long time, shopping at the big box discount stores and the big box sporting goods store.  I saw a model I liked at a price I liked at the big chain sporting goods store.  Unfortunately,  customer service was lousy and I walked out.

A few days later, I headed to a well known local bicycle shop.  I knew I'd pay a little more, but I'd rather do it right, and get the bike at a place that is also known for its service.

I walked in, told the employee what I was looking for and what I intended to do with it-- nothing hard core, just a little tooling around town at a leisurely pace.  He wheeled out a model I could live with.  Minutes later, and a credit card swipe later, it was in the back of my SUV.

On the way home, I stopped for one of my favorite late lunches-- Whopper, no mayonnaise, fries, diet Coke.

When I got home, I took the bike out of the back of the SUV, and wasted no time taking it for a shake down cruise.

Remember, this was the last Thursday before Labor Day 2012, a blazingly hot and humid day.

I took off like I was Lance Armstrong, or I was 14 years old again.  I went three blocks away from home, and three blocks back.  I got home, sweating profusely, a little dizzy, major nausea.  I leaned the bike against the house, staggered inside, headed for the bathroom, stuck my head in the toilet, and lost my lunch.  As I was on my back, on the bathroom floor, I wondered what I had done.  I knew I was out of shape.  The degree of that was alarming.  Plus, I'm no kid.  Too much, too fast.  Imagine the worst flu you've ever had in your life.  Multiply it by ten.  Instead of chills, you're sweating out all the fluid left in your body after the vomit.  I can laugh about it now.  Five years ago, it was frightening.

I eventually got it figured out, riding during the cooler nighttime hours, going every night, extending the ride a little longer every week.  I settled on a rather nice route-- just enough for a good work out, and a good sweat without passing out.

As I've said before, if you're considering getting a bike, go for it.  It's great fun.  I don't ride with a radio or music.  It's "me" time, a chance to be alone with my thoughts.  Well, I'm not really alone.  My route is filled with stray cats, skunks, and bunnies.

Yes, it's not as interesting and fun as the tomahawk to the crotch on the Carson show, but it's the best I can do.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Vote 18

I didn't think I'd be making a Vote 18 graphic so quickly, but Lou Barletta's entry into the race for the Republican nomination for United States Senate prompted today's entry.

Barletta made his announcement yesterday via internet video, and that seems to be the thing to do these days.  Regardless of candidate, political race and party, I miss the old days of ballrooms and balloons, and bunting and music.  Internet announcements are effective.  They're not fun-- and we don't get to ask questions.

It's too early to handicap the race.

Barletta's plusses include a loyal base, and a base that votes.  His attachment to President Trump could help.  It could hurt.  Assuming Barletta gets past the primary, the general election is still more than a year away.  The Trump factor is an unknown right now.

The incumbent, Bob Casey is a proven vote getter and a proven money raiser.  Expect to see a lot of money pumped into this race-- on both sides.  This one will be costly.  Casey sits on a big base of votes in Philadelphia-- but he has to find a way to make sure those people go to the polls.

Conventional wisdom has mid term elections favoring the party that isn't in power-- and that's the Democrats.  However, it's a different ballgame these days, and conventional wisdom is out the window.

The only thing safe to say is it will be an interesting 435 days until we go to the polls.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tag It

Here we go again.  There are allegations of shenanigans in another county coroner's office.  This time, it's Monroe.  I hasten to add that the mere filing of a suit is not indication of guilt-- not by a long shot.  It's some strange stuff, and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Issues with coroners are nothing new around here.  Coroners in Lackawanna and Lycoming Counties were accused of stealing from the dead.  It was a sad story, especially in Lackawanna, where the coroner was one of the most media friendly I've ever encountered.  Translation:  he answered the phone and gave you the basic information you needed in a timely basis.  Note that this was long before email and the internet.

Being a coroner is a 24/7 job and yet, I've been amazed at how many in the position don't understand that.  I desperately try to avoid phone calls in the dead of night, pardon the pun.  There are times it's unavoidable.

We recently received an email from a county coroner, complaining about a late night phone call that woke the kids.  No, the call didn't come from me or my station.  When I read the email, one thought popped in to my head.  Sorry.  Late night calls are part of the job.  I later learned the subject of the call.  It could have waited until the morning.

As most of you know, the news business has changed over the years.  It's no longer just the morning paper, the afternoon paper, and the 6 O'Clock News.  To quote a famous radio station, the newswatch never stops.

We have a few county coroners around here who seem to get it.  They put out an email as soon as there is information to release.  Therefore, no phone calls at odd hours.  Some are really good at scenes where bodies turn up.  If it's a suicide, they tell us right away.  We don't do suicides.  We leave quickly, sparing the family additional grief.

I remember speaking with a coroner who was relatively new to the job.  There is a state association of coroners.  He suggested the association hold a class or seminar on how to deal with the media.  He was afraid he'd say something that would jeopardize the investigation and/or prosecution.  I don't think the association ever took him up on the suggestion.

Coroner is an important job.  You have to deal with several constituencies-- the public, police, prosecutors, media...  In Luzerne County, it's now an appointed, rather than an elected position.  Most of these men and women are great, but like most things, all it takes is a few bad apples to ruin everyone's reputation.

One Year

My Facebook page launched one year ago today.  I admit, it wasn't my idea.  Twitter and this blog were more than enough for me, but when the boss makes a reasoned request, you don't say no.

It got off to a fast start, mostly due to coworkers Joe Snedeker and Mindi Ramsey plugging it on their Facebook pages.  I think I jumped from zero to 1,500 likes in a matter of minutes.

For the most part, I keep the Facebook page to professional and work related exploits.  There's been a little fun along the way.  It's been a healthy mix.

If you've liked and visited the page, thank you.  Tell a friend.  If you haven't been there, please stop by and take a look.

Now, on to year two.



Monday, August 28, 2017

Unfinished Monday



Actor and radio personality Jay Thomas died last week.  Cancer.  69.  He won well deserved Emmys for his portrayal of Jerry Gold on "Murphy Brown."  I'll always fondly remember Thomas for his yearly appearances on David Letterman's Christmas show.  Thomas told the same story every year, about getting in a crash with Clayton Moore, aka The Lone Ranger, in the back seat.  Several versions are on YouTube.  Listen to the story.  More importantly, watch Letterman's reaction.  He loved every second of it.  Letterman called it "the greatest talk show story of all time."

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast Friday night.  Much of the reporting was responsible.  Some, unfortunately, included hysterics, drama, and needless showboating.  You know who you are.  If you're a regular blog reader, it's the usual suspects.

Harvey was going to trigger an entry on Sandy, but I'll save that for the 5th anniversary later this year.

I've been whining about poor newspaper delivery lately.  Have you noticed that your morning newspaper seems to be thinner than ever?  Mondays and Saturdays used to be the skinny days.  Now, it's spread to the rest of the week.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Andy's Angles: Former Food Court

This is a Thursday morning shot from what used to be the food court inside the Marketplace at Steamtown.  Work is underway to turn it into a market featuring locally made food and other items.

It appears faux rustic is the theme here.  This photo appears to have been taken inside an old factory rather than a 25 year old, mostly empty shopping mall.

Many of the stalls featured "leased" signs, so it appears the revamped food court will get off to a decent start.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Andy's Angles: An Experiment




Today, an experiment.

I've put videos here before, but they were made by others and linked from YouTube or WNEP.com.

Now, for something completely different-- a quick video I shot Thursday morning from the bridge linking the Market Place at Steamtown to the Steamtown National Historic Site.  It's a trolley rolling in to the yard.

Small steps.  If this works, and I can figure out how to do it better, there might be an occasional video thrown in to the mix.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lottery

I'm glad it's over, at least for a little while.

Someone in Massachusetts has a winning ticket for Wednesday night's $758 million Powerball game.

I will admit it makes for good television-- nice sound and pretty pictures of a terminal spitting out tickets, sound bites from people saying what they would do if they win the jackpot.

I dream too, but I don't play.  Yes, it's harmless fun.  The state can use the money.  It's not my thing.  My lottery purchases are confined to scratchers for gifts.

The part I really don't like is how mini marts clog up with lottery ticket purchasers when the jackpots grow.  Hey, all I want to do is get a newspaper and a soda, maybe a sandwich.  A two minute transaction becomes a 15 minute odyssey.

No worries.  Both Mega Millions and Powerball are back down to less than $100 million, but it won't be long before the crowds are back and the TV cameras are there to capture it all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

More Eclipse

Some parting thoughts on Monday afternoon's eclipse...

Did it live up to the massive hype?  No, but it was pretty darn cool, especially in the areas that had near total darkness.  I did watch a little bit of the television coverage.  It was solid.  In most of what I saw, anchors and reporters were having fun with it, enjoying the moments.  They didn't take it too seriously, and that's a good thing.
Me?  I do admit to taking a couple of peeks-- one when it was starting, one when the eclipse over the Scranton area was at its peak.  Yes, it was fascinating.  I thought the better show was on the ground.  Everything took on a strange glow, strange colors as most of the sun was blacked out.

It wasn't my first eclipse, and I pray it won't be my last.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Radio

I rarely note any National (fill in the blank) Day in this space.  Most are silly and tedious.  There is a day dedicated to just about anything under the sun.  I've had enough.


Today is the exception, and noting it is personal.  Sunday was National Radio Day, a dedicated to noting the invention of radio.  I'm sorry I missed it.

While I've been a television creature for a long time now, I started in radio, and I'm proud of it.

My first time behind a microphone was December of 1979, at Marywood College's radio station, WVMW 91.5.  Ten watts of power, beamed to you from the below sea level top of the Learning Resources Center.  Marywood College is now Marywood University.  The radio station is now much more powerful, and sits on 91.7 on your dial.  By the way, are their dials any more?

I started at WARM 590 when I was a sophomore at Marywood.  My job was to play the religion and public affairs shows between 1 and 9 am Sunday mornings.  You never heard me.  The money was slightly above minimum wage, and I didn't care.  It was a foot in the door and I was a tiny cog in the Mighty 590 machine.

I eventually weaseled my way on the air, and when I left 10.5 years after I started, I was doing news during morning drive time, one of the prestige slots.

While I love my job and the WNEP treats me great, I've always considered myself the radio guy who is working in TV, not the TV guy who started in radio.  Yes, there is a difference.  It was great experience, a great training ground.  We did some wonderful things there and I am extremely fortunate.

That brings me to something that happened Friday afternoon on WILK radio.  Afternoon hose Rob Neyhard brought together two of his old radio buddies.  I didn't hear the show, but I did see the most entertaining news story WNEP's Ally Gallo produced.  The show consisted of Neyhard and two former co-workers from the now defunct WMJW 92.1, David DeCosmo and Bob Reynolds.  You may remember, this was an unusual FM station in the 70's.  MJ92 played a lot of music, but it also had an exceptionally strong news department.  Unfortunately, it didn't last long.

I was lucky to work with Rob in the early 90's at WARM, David at WYOU in the early and mid 90's, and Bob for several years at WNEP beginning in 1998.

I've lost touch with most, but not all, coworkers and competitors from my radio time.  Some are very happy about not being in touch.  Sadly, many have left us.

The bottom line is that radio was a spectacular medium then.  Even though it's changed quite a bit since my day, there's still some great stuff out there.  Think of the men and women who make ht happen when you hit the "on" button.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jerry Lewis

Like everyone else in America, I was saddened to learn of the death of Jerry Lewis.

I can't say I was a fan of his movies of his slapstick, but there was much more to Jerry Lewis.  I'll bring out two things here.

The first is Lewis' acting chops.  He had talent.  I simply point to Lewis' performance as Jerry Langford in 1982's "The King of Comedy."

The second is Jerry Lewis' work for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  He was there, every Labor Day for weekend, for decades.  The telethon lost a lot of its luster, its fun, when Lewis cut back.  There was great enjoyment in watching how Jerry held up during the Sunday night to Monday afternoon marathon.

I will admit to something that really bugged me.  There was a span of years when Jerry Lewis would make a pre telethon appearance on Larry King's TV show.  I can quote one appearance exactly, and he said basically the same thing in others:  "Larry, we're close."  Lewis meant scientists were close to finding a cure for muscular dystrophy.  King, one of American broadcasting's most overrated interviewers, would never challenge him, never ask a follow up question.  The truth is,  tremendous strides have been made.  Close?  Sadly, not yet.  I pray that changes soon.  I suspect Lewis said the "close" thing to generate telethon interest and goose donations.  You can decide if the end justifies the means.

Lewis' critics claim he was condescending to muscular dystrophy patients.  I didn't see it, but then I'm again, patients would have a different perspective on Lewis' behavior.

Jerry Lewis helped raise $ 2 billion during his 40 years of telethons.  History will be exceptionally kind to him, as it should be.

Jerry Lewis was 91.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day



I have to admit I'm sick of the eclipse hype.

Let's go back to 1979. This is ABC's coverage of the last big eclipse to be seen over the United States.

It's only ten minutes. Watch it.

I love the sense of wonder and excitement in Frank Reynolds' voice.

Frank Reynolds is one of the underrated anchors in TV news history.

It's all on YouTube. Search for Reynolds' last commentary before being removed as ABC Evening News anchor in December 1970.   It's great for two reasons. Reynolds makes no secret that he's not happy with the demotion. Second, he makes no apologies for his commentaries irritating some people.

Frank Reynolds returned to the ABC desk as one of the original World News Tonight anchors. A big part of the reason for the return was ABC News president Roone Arledge couldn't lure Tom Brokaw away from NBC or Dan Rather away from CBS. No matter. Frank Reynolds did an outstanding job until his death in 1983.

Enjoy the video, and enjoy the eclipse. Safe viewing, and let's hope the clouds stay away.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Kirby

One of the happiest and most satisfying days of my career was the day my old radio station spent the day broadcasting live from a decrepit old building that was eventually turned into the FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

I don't remember how much money we raised that day, but we brought something much more valuable to the table-- publicity.

It's always a tickle to see old buildings repurposed and saved.  yes, it takes a fortune and it can't always be done.  There has to be a vision and a purpose.

There are two gems a short distance from this building on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre-- the Irem Temple and an old train station.  It looks like the train station will be saved.  The temple is still in the study phase.  It would be a tragedy to lose it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Andy's Angles: RR8

I shared this photo on my Facebook page the other day, but I really didn't have much to say about it.

This is a rare photo of the morning team, in the same place, at the same time.

It's an interesting dynamic after the broadcast ends each day.

Tom and Mindi are usually at their desks, going over the past broadcast and thinking about the next day's effort.

Joe is over in the weather office, either working on the noon forecast, or making some graphics for the next day.

I'm usually at my desk, or out on the road.

Ryan is either still out on the road, or camped in an edit room.  He's always putting together a piece for the afternoon broadcasts and thinking about how the next day's morning news will work.

Tuesday was an off day.  The planets aligned.

I was over in the Tom and Mindi area, talking with them about some of the news stories we'd been covering.  Ryan approached.  He grabbed Joe.  We all headed out into the backyard and Corey Burns snapped the photo.  I was originally in the middle, but I thought the key slot should go to Mindi.  I should have nudged closer to the rest.  I seem rather aloof on the side, which was not my intent.

You see, we all work in the same place, and at the same time.  Getting us together isn't as simple as it might seem.

By the way, it's a great shirt.  I wore mine to the gym Wednesday morning.

Good luck to Ryan and everyone else involved in this year's run.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Long Ranger

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Elvis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Riced

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

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

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

Really?  Are you kidding me?

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Favorite Year

courtesy:  Variety


Joseph Bologna died Sunday.  Pancreatic cancer.  82.

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Scrapple

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

I can gaze at a full moon for hours.

Old Drew Carey shows still make me laugh out loud.

Can Stephen Colbert do anything in addition to Trump bashing?

Home made pickles are outstanding.

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

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

How did I live without diet peach iced tea?

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

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

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

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

Charlottesville.  Why?

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Andy's Angles: More Piggies

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Andy's Angles: Piggies

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, August 11, 2017

Peachy

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

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

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Glen Campbell



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Someone Finally Gets It


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

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

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

As always, thanks for stopping by.




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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Warped Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 7, 2017

Out of Touch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

About the Cover

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Andy's Angles: Bank

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

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

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Good Times, Great Oldies


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Media Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Another List

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

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

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

Jesus.

Christopher Columbus

Every Founding Father, especially Benjamin Franklin.

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

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

Vladimir Putin.

Every pope.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nelson Mandela

Susan B. Anthony

Lewis & Clark

Martin & Lewis

Barney Clark

Every astronaut, especially Armstrong, Glenn, and Shepard.

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

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

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

Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and Lucy

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

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron

Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein

Beethoven

Sinatra

Charles Schultz

SGT Schultz

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

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

Peter O'Toole, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts

Woodward and Bernstein

Orville and Wilbur

Julia Child and Graham Kerr

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

Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe

Ernie Pyle

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

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

I'm Not the Only One

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Again?

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

Our area has seen more than its share of scandals.

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

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

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