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Friday, March 31, 2017

Play Ball


It's time for my annual baseball season opener entry/rant.

Beginning Sunday, it counts.

Baseball has its problems, and it seems unable or unwilling to fix them.

Oakland doesn't draw and has a horrible stadium.  Move the team.  Do something!

Right around July 4, teams not in contention will start selling off players.  The annual early season surrender is maddening.

Baseball seems to have a problem attracting young people.

Minor league games are still a decent value.  Take out a loan if you're going to see a big league game.

Palyoff games end late at night and are not fan friendly.

Some people have problems with the pacing of games.  I'm okay with it.

Pardon me for a geezer moment, but I really miss the Game of the Week.  I know cable and satellite (and soon the internet) have made it irrelevant.  It was one of the joys of youth.  Every Saturday afternoon at 2, it was there.  Joe and Tony would give you a look at teams you wouldn't normally get a chance to see in Yankees and Phillies land.

I was a TV and broadcasting geek, even as a kid.  The first Game of the Week of the season was a treat.  I'd check out the pre game show set, the graphics, the music, the presentation.  Above is a video I lifted from YouTube, containing one of the best network sports themes ever.

I think a lot of baseball's decline stemmed from the end of the Game of the Week.  CBS dropped most Saturday games when it landed the baseball contract in 1990.  All CBS was interested in was the playoffs and World Series.  The sport never recovered.  I was never a big fan of the way NBC did things.  However, that Saturday afternoon game was more than a game.  It was a celebration of baseball.  Baseball needs that.

FOX does a great job with baseball.  Good announcers.  Solid production.  Unfortunately, try to find the game of the week.  Time slots change.  Some days, it's on cable.  Other days, the broadcast side gets a crack at it.  Note to FOX and MLB:  Fans love consistency, especially baseball fans.

It seems ESPN's Sunday night game has become the Game of the Week.  My schedule doesn't allow frequent viewing.  From what I've seen, it's good.  The time just doesn't work for a lot of people.

It's possible to get dozens of baseball games piped in to your home every week.  What baseball really needs is one "event" a week-- something you just have to see.  Bring back a really good Game of the Week.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Unfinished Thursday

Revisiting earlier topics...

LED STREET LIGHTS:  I talked to someone in the electricity and lighting business the other day.  He agrees with me.  LED street lights don't seem to be as bright as the ones they replaced.  The light seems to go out rather than down.  I suspect a lot of the issues deal with color temperature, focus, aiming, etc.  The smart thing to do is to go LED, but add more of them.  Some of the neighborhoods in my little town are really dark.

NCAA BASKETBALL:  This year's tournament seems to be a yawn.  America loves a Cinderella.  It looks like Cinderella stayed home this year.  OK, maybe Gonzaga and Oregon-- but both teams have solid records.

THE BLIZZARD OF 17:  Most of it was absolutely horrible.  There were some fun moments.  Historic snowfall, and it was interesting to experience and broadcast a little slice of history.

TEDIUM:   Every day is "National ______ Day."  It used to be cute.  Now, it's just tiresome and tedious.  Stop it.  Stop it now.

MOVIES:    Remakes and super heroes. Enough already!  A CHiPs movie?  Are you kidding me?

CHUCK BARRIS:   I neglected to pay off on a story I started in an entry last week.  Mike Wallace of CBS asked a "Treasure Hunt" (produced by Barris) contestant if she felt humiliated and embarrassed.  The woman replied no, she had the time of her life.  Chuck Barris watched the interview.  He sent the woman a magnum of champagne and two dozen long stemmed roses and signed the card "A Fan."  It bears repeating.

LATE NIGHT:  Colbert and his tired anti Trump routine is still beating Fallon and his silly games.  Do yourself a favor.  Watch Kimmel.  Better yet, watch Carson on Antenna TV.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL:  Congratulations to the winners and all who competed.  The playoffs are way too long.

PSU:  Spanier found guilty.  Curley and Schultz admitted it, and testimony once again proved Paterno knew what was going on very in this whole sorry affair.  You can't un-molest the children, but you can admit what a disaster this was and fix the culture.

RETAIL:  What a horrible year it's been, and the train wreck is only beginning.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Magic

As I was in my hotel room during the blizzard a couple of weeks ago, unable to sleep because I didn't have a radio, my mind wandered.

Are there live overnight local DJ's anywhere in America?  I know there has to be some, somewhere.  Even the major markets have gone to voice tracking overnights.

There are several all night talk shows that are live, but not local.  It doesn't mean they can't be entertaining.  Larry King did a good show before he started mailing it in.  Ben Maller on FOX Sports Radio is my current favorite.

My mind wandered a little more...

Ed Bradley of CBS News came to Wilkes-Barre for a lecture at the Kirby Center.  It was the late 80's or early 90's.  Bradley talked about the magic of being in a radio station for the first time-- the lights, the dials, the meters, the buttons, the microphones.  I get that.

There used to be a lot of media magic.

I remember my first time in the old channel 22, in the basement of Scranton Prep.  Big lights, big cameras. Film cans all over the place. Wow!

It's not just broadcasting.  I made a few visits to the old Scranton Tribune newsroom on North Washington Avenue back in the day.  I can still smell it-- a mix of cigars, cigarettes, newsprint, and ink.  Typewriters clicking away, the teletype machines...  If you ever saw it, you know what I mean.

And then, there's the roar of the press.  If you ever get the chance, watch a newspaper being printed, before they all go away.  Those old presses were an amazing sight.  I'm sure those in the business took it for granted.  To the rest of us, it was simply amazing.  A giant machine, made up of several parts, working in harmony to get the latest news on the street.  That's magic.

Today's radio stations are little more than computers and microphones.  I get that.  Times have changed.  Do more with less.  The same goes for TV.  We have some amazing technology now.  We don't need those big trucks to "go live" any more.  New equipment is about the size of a cell phone.  It takes seconds to get video on the air, rather than hours.

Things are better in so many ways.  Except magic.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Steve Corbett

WILK radio bounced afternoon talk show host Steve Corbett last week.

I'm not going to say I know him well, but I do know him.  We crossed paths at WARM back in the 80's and I thought he produced compelling radio.  I didn't listen to the WILK show, and I'm assuming it was standard Corbett.  The greatest sin of all is to be dull.  There's a lot of dull stuff out there.  Corbett was never dull.

Steve Corbett told the Times~Leader that his anti Trump stance got him fired.  I'll take his word for it.

Having been around radio for a long time, it all comes down to ratings and money.  A manager doesn't care what you say as long as you draw a crowd-- and it's a crowd the sales department can turn into dollars by selling commercials to businesses.

Maybe Steve Corbett's ratings were good, but advertisers didn't want to be associated with the broadcast.  I've seen it happen.  Maybe his ratings were lousy.  I don't know.  Corbett told the newspaper that management said his ratings were low and the company wanted a change.

Steve Corbett first came to the area as a newspaper reporter and columnist.  It is the columns that I will now address.  I give the guy credit for going out and seeing what was going on.  He was at the news conferences, in the courtrooms, and even in the Tunkhannock area  several years ago when there were reports of a real live tiger on the loose.  By the way, the tiger was never found.  It was in interesting story for days.

Steve Corbett was the only newspaper columnist, in the metro area, during my era, who was actually capable of selling newspapers.  You might not have agreed him, but it was entertaining stuff.  For a long time it was "must read."  You bought the newspaper because you wanted to read Corbett's column.

I'm looking forward to seeing Steve's next move, and I hope it involves the printed word.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Let There Be Light

It was inevitable.  The orange glowing streetlight in front of my house has been replaced by one of those LED jobs.

I remember when my childhood neighborhood got the new and brighter street lights.  It meant those evening Frisbee games, and games of catch lasted a little longer because the light was much stronger.  Yes, they gave everything an orange cast, but on the other side of the coin, I loved the brightness.

As noted in this space before, the jury is still out on the LED's.  They are in just about every light and lamp in my home.  Great energy saving, or so they say.  However, I don't think they're bright enough for streetlights.  I've noticed that in some towns, they've added more lights on more poles to compensate.  So far, in my little town, it's just replacements.  No additions.  That should change.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Flagship

I was at WARM from 1981 to 1991.  Some of this was from before my time.  Some wasn't.

The card is from a collection WARM put out prior to my arrival.  All the DJ's had them, and so did the vehicle you see above, "The Flagship."  It was a studio on wheels.  It's tough to see from the pictures, but each of the DJ's had their name on one of the stars.

The Flagship was still around by the time I arrived.  It was painted differently, and it had clearly seen better days.  In fact, I was the last one to drive it.

This wasn't from that last day, but I showed up at the station one weekend afternoon, outside of my normal work hours.  One of the DJ's, Steve St. John asked what brought me to the station.  I replied that I was assigned to take the Flagship to some show at the Kingston Armory.  I will never forget Steve's words:  "Someone is going to get killed in that thing one of these days."  Thankfully, it wasn't me on that particular day.

I do remember pulling an overnight shift, then taking the Flagship home, because I was driving it in the St. Ubaldo parade later that day.  It saved me a trip back to the station, in the opposite direction.  Bill Kimble was the program director at the time.  When I asked for permission to take it home, he said yes and added it was okay "as long as I could guarantee the security of the Flagship."  Are you kidding me?  Who would want it?  It was on its last legs, and most of the equipment inside didn't work.  I live on a hill, and my major fear was having it roll away during the nap I took after my overnight shift and prior to the parade.  I didn't sleep well, fearing the worst.  Luckily, there were no problems on that day.  The only issue was in an Interstate 81 construction zone.  The Flagship didn't handle well, and it was a tight squeeze through the construction barriers.  I made it without a scratch.

And then, there was the end.  I had another Saturday Flagship assignment.  I don't remember where I was, but I was on Interstate 81 north, heading back to the station in Avoca.  Around Dupont, it started making awful noises and the engine stopped.  I had enough momentum to make it over to the shoulder.  I don't know how I got back to the station.  I tried calling managers.  No luck.  This was the era before cell phones and e-mail, so I was stuck-- and so was the Flagship.  It sat along the Interstate all weekend until someone arranged for a tow on Monday.  Embarrassing?  Absolutely.  My hands are clean.  Due diligence, and no one in management said a word to me.

I later learned the engine was missing something important-- oil.  It either all leaked out unexpectedly or no one bothered to check on a regular basis.  I suspect the latter.  The engine was shot.  It would cost a fortune to replace.  The Flagship was old and wasn't worth it.  If memory serves, the carcass was sold to someone in Wyoming County.

It was beautiful while it lasted.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Andy's Angles: Tickets

I recently had to dig for my Social Security card.  Don't worry or celebrate.  I'm not retiring.  I needed it for part of a freelance project.  They needed to see the actual card, even though I know the number.  More on that on a later date.

While I was searching, I came across these two movie ticket stubs in a box of keepsake type material.  Both were from the movie theater complex that used to be behind the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City.  I'm figuring the stubs are around 35 years old, maybe more.

Obviously, I kept them for a reason.  However, the reason escapes me.  They might have been from dates.  They might have been from group movie night with college friends.  They are definitely from the college era.

Because I can't connect the stubs to anything specific, I should have pitched them in the trash.  I just couldn't do it.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Overlooked

A web site named goodcall.com published a list of overlooked dream cities, with a population under 300,000.  Scranton was second.  Erie came in first.

Strange to say, but I used to be a frequent vacationer in Erie.  My first trips there were during Tom Ridge's run for governor in 1994.  My itinerary was the same for each vacation visit.  I'd drive out on Route 6, one of the best rides ever.  Scenery.  Small towns.  beautiful, but long.  I'd get a room at a downtown hotel, indulge in their appetizer specialty called the "basket of fire," walk ten blocks to the lake, watch the water, go back to the hotel, do a little driving and wandering for a couple more days, then go home.  My return trip was on Route 17 (now Route 86) across the southern tier of New York.  There would be a stop in Corning to visit friends on the way back.

Erie has its charm, but # 1?  I don't see it.  It's a great place in the summer and fall.  Winter?  Forget it!  There are attempts at a downtown revival.  Erie has a minor league baseball stadium, a restored theater (like Wilkes-Barre's Kirby Center) and an ice hockey.  There's a downtown park that's filled with a festival just about every weekend.  Some restaurants, not much retail.  Gannon University.  A couple of hospitals.  A bayfront hotel and a casino.  You can't forget about Presque isle State park.

The outskirts of the city look like any other one-- a mall, countless trip malls and other stores.  There are some beautiful vineyards along the lake.

I found the people of Erie to be very nice.  Unfortunately, they've heard the nasty Erie jokes so long, they start to believe them.  Industry has deserted the place, and Erie is the definition of "rust belt."

Overall, it's not a bad place, and I like it there (when the weather cooperates).  Top billing on the list?  Well, I'm not there yet.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The King

Chuck Barris was a genius.  Let me restate that, in no uncertain terms.  CHUCK BARRIS WAS A GENIUS.

Every reality show, past, present, and future, can be traced back to Chuck Barris.

He started as a page at NBC.  Barris moved to ABC where was one of his jobs was to keep an eye on American Bandstand, so Dick Clark didn't take payola.  ABC later allowed Barris to develop game shows.

As stated in his book, and my copy is pictured on the left, Barris wanted to do game shows, but he didn't want what he thought was an overdone and tired question and answer format.  That led to the birth of The Dating Game and The Newlywed game, among many others.

Chuck Barris never intended to appear on camera.   John Barbour was the intended host of The Gong Show. Barbour never grasped the concept of a bad talent show, rather than a good one.  He was replaced and the rest is television history.

I was never a huge fan of The Dating Game and The Newlywed game.  The Gong Show was funny for a while.  I veered away when it went over the top.  However, you'll love Chuck Barris after you read the book.  It's not all about his game shows.  It's about selling it all, moving to France, and looking for meaning in life.  It's a great book, one of my all time favorites.

It's not all laughs.  There were struggles to get shows on the air, battles to be taken seriously, allegations he was ruining television, and he lost a daughter, the pretty little girl who you saw on The Gong Show, to drugs.

Chuck Barris died of natural causes in Pallisades, New York Tuesday.  87 years old.  Writer, composer, television show producer...

You know what bugs me?  Chuck Barris was reviled.  60 Minutes and  Mike Wallace tried to nail his hide to the wall several years ago.  A lot of people thought Chuck Barris was the absolute worst-- degrading television, having fun at the expense of others.  Bunk.

Ryan Seacrest is the toast of the town these days.  He is executive producer of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."  It's one of the worst shows on television.  Ever.  Period.  Full stop, as Shepard Smith would say.  Barris productions were Masterpiece Theatre in compared to that garbage.  People love Ryan Seacrest.  Don't ask me why.  Chuck Barris had an image problem, and it follows him to the grave.  That's wrong.

Chuck Barris was The King.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jimmy Breslin

As someone who makes his living behind a keyboard, I always admired Jimmy Breslin.

Backing up for a moment, I never aspired to be a newspaper reporter, but I have great respect for the profession.  It was always a treat when the morning and afternoon newspapers arrived on the front porch when I was a kid-- and the out of town papers on Sunday.  It was extra special when the NY Daily News and the NY Post started becoming available around here on weekdays.

My early radio days were spent watching, in awe,  the competition among the two Scranton newspapers and the two Wilkes-Barre papers.  We were so lucky around here to have real competition, and the readers benefited.  There were some gifted writers back in the day.

Jimmy Breslin worked for a few different papers in New York, and he was the total package.  Blunt, yet poetic.  His column on JFK's grave digger, the last man to serve the 35th president is viewed as a masterpiece.  Breslin was connected.  He had sources.  Breslin also had that elusive "everyman" quality, and that encouraged people to open up.  His editors knew he could sell papers (something very few columnists can do), and he had the freedom.

If there is one knock, it is that Jimmy Breslin became celebrity journalist, and was often bigger than the stories he covered.  I'm not sure if anyone is at fault.  Sometimes, that's just the way it happens, but there was a wee bit of the despised "It's all about me" in there.

Jimmy Breslin died Sunday.  He was 88.  One of a kind.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First Person: Violence

I barely had time to take my coat off at 2:30 Monday morning.  Shooting and stabbing, East Broad Street, Hazleton.

Photographer Jason loaded up one of our trucks and we headed south.  It was quite the scene as we came down the avenue-- flashing red and blue lights all over the place, a dozen police officers, and a lot of blood on the sidewalk.


We got some quick facts from one of the detectives, and it was time to get on the air, plus update social media.  The chief later arrived and filled in the blanks.

Man and woman fought in club.  Fight moved to sidewalk.  Man stabs woman.  Security guard shoots man who had the knife.  I've been doing this a long time, and this was a new one on me.

There are many days I'm thankful I got my start in radio.  It trained me in quickly spotting the essential elements of the story, boiling it down quickly and efficiently.  Yes, I'm allowed to pat myself on the back once in a while.

After the last units cleared the scene, and I watched the fire department hose the blood off the sidewalk, it was time to return to the office and put together a story for our noon broadcast.

Photograher Dave put it together.  Next thing you knew, a live update was on the air, and it was time to hand off the story to someone else.

Someone once said that, when it comes to bars, nothing good ever happens after midnight.  I'm sure we'll be following this one for a while.  It appears the security guard will not be charged.  It's likely the security guard prevented a homicide.

As it stands now, both the shooting victim and the stabbing victims will survive.  This one could have ended a lot worse.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unfinished Monday: Blizzard Edition

The snow started falling one week ago tonight...

A lot of things impressed me, and here is a partial list:  the volunteers, young and old, who shoveled the area around fire hydrants...  neighbor helping neighbor...  stranger helping stranger...  people stuck at work for extra hours, or even days...  the work of the road crews and first responders...

I spent one night in a hotel, and that was more than enough.  Other than out of town assignments, this is the first time a storm has kept me from getting home.  As I noted last week, I slept poorly.  It wasn't the hotel's fault.  One of the factors was the lack of a radio.  I always sleep with the radio on at home.  I guess the days of clock radios in hotels are over.  There was a very nice clock on the night stand.  No radio.  The hotel had wi fi, and I could have punched something up on my phone, but I didn't want the hassle.  Mistake on my part.

Was the snow removal a perfect operation?  No.  There were things that could have done better, but show me any venture, personal or professional, public or private where there wasn't room for improvement.  I trust the Blizzard of  '17 will be used as a teaching moment.  At least, interstates weren't shut down and drivers stranded, as in past storms.

It seems like most of the problems were in the cities.  As one mayor noted, the snow couldn't be pushed.  It had to be picked up and carried away.  Try to do that on a narrow street with cars parked all over the place.  It's not easy.  Outside of hiring an army, I can't think of a solution.  If you have one, I'd love to hear it.

For a writer, the words for this part are difficult to choose.  The storm was serious business.  People died.  Property damaged.  Crashes.  Injuries.  We haven't heard the last of this.  Schools have to make up days.  Roof damage.  Removal bills.  I don't want to make light of the situation, but working for my little slice of the blizzard was rewarding.  We got some good information out there on a timely basis.  I upped my social media game.  I watched coworkers rise to the occasion.  I got to know some a little better.  I don't want to use the word "fun" when so many were experiencing so many horrible issues.  It reminded me quite a bit of covering flooding back in January of 1996, when I was down the street.

I guess, to sum it up, it was an interesting and fascinating experience.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for spring.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Andy's Angles: Dunmore Snow

There is nothing like a heavy wet snow, and deserted streets.  I took this photo around 4 am on the 10th.  It's Blakely Street in Dunmore.  That's the darkened post office in the background.  Shortly after I took this shot, the snow picked up in intensity and it started sticking to the roads as the temperature dropped.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Andy's Angles: Prep Snow

I generally keep the same schedule on my work days, and my days off.  That means I'm usually prowling about while the rest of America sleeps.

These are early AM photos, from the 10th, mot long after the show started to fall.  The scene in Scranton Prep, on Wyoming Avenue.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Remember When???

I'm trying to end a horrible week on a happy note.

Winter can't last forever.  Warm and sunny days are coming, eventually.  Think good thoughts.  Let's hope for a gradual melt down so rivers, creeks and streams stay within their banks.  We want a speedy return to normal and an end to disaster declarations.

I want my co workers to return to their homes, rather than live at the hotels next door to the office.

I want to hear lawn mowers.  I don't want to hear snow throwers.  I want to smell freshly cut grass.  I'm tired of the odor of desperation.

I want my legs to be tired from riding my bike, not trudging through snow.  I want sore arms from lifting weights at the gym, instead of shoveling snow.

Above, a sunny and warm picture of Carbondale City Hall and the park across the street, taken on a beautiful afternoon in May of last year.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

PS: Blizzard of '17

Some post scripts on the Blizzard of 17...

Adversity often brings out the best in people.  As I noted yesterday, our live van repeatedly got stuck in the deep snow, and there was always someone there to help us out.  Thanks again.  We weren't the only ones.  People helping stranded drives was a scene I saw over and over again.

After a snow event, its traditional to beat up on road crews.  I'm not going to do that here.  The snow was falling fast and furious.  There was no way to keep up with it.  Road crews couldn't thrown down salt and anti skid material at the beginning because it would just get buried under more new snow.  Was there room for improvement?  Most certainly.  Interstate on and off ramps were lousy.  I understand they were concentrating on the main traveling lanes, but cars and trucks had to exit and enter, too.

I think a key to this is getting cars and trucks off the roads.  The state has to pull the trigger on more severe trucking restrictions.  Some of that was done early, before the storm started.  The ban should have been more severe.  There isn't much you can do about cars.  I suspect part of that was business that chose to remain open.  I know you need some essentials in a storm, like drug stores and gas stations.  Of course, there are hospitals, law enforcement, and other emergency services.  As for the rest, one day off in a major emergency wouldn't hurt.

I did enjoy the Newswatch 16 story on the pre blizzard beer rush at distributors.

I had my first experience with the Hampton Inn, next to the station, in Moosic.  I slept poorly, but I always do in hotel rooms.  It wasn't their fault.  Clean place, great staff, good breakfast.  And, having said that, I hope I never stay there, ever again!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Storm Stories

This entry is not coming to you from my home office, so I don't have access to a lot of graphics and photos...

Let me tell you about my day.

I got up about midnight Tuesday morning, shaved, showered, etc, and headed to the office.  There was a couple of inches of snow on the ground and it was coming down pretty hard.  However, the drive to the office was a breeze.

WNEP management made assignments the day before.  Carmella Mataloni got the Poconos.  Ally Gallo was sent to Pottsville.  Photographer Erich and I were designated to be the "metro" crew.  No problem.  I like working in the cities.  That's where the people are.  That's where the stories are.  Cities, as you can see below, even in the middle of the night, are well lit.  There's action.  There's activity.


Producer Kim and I discussed location-- Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, or any of the surrounding communities.  We decided I would work out of our Wyoming Valley Newsroom.  Public Square is pretty in the snow.  The office gave us the chance to get warm and dry between live reports.  We had access to computers to check the latest information, and it was changing by the minute.


The photo above was a real kick.  PEMA, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, was watching several television stations around the state to see what the blizzard was doing.  I was on one of the monitors at PEMA headquarters in Harrisburg.  It was nice to help.  Obviously, our work is held in high regard, and is a trusted source for the decision makers in Harrisburg.

After we finished Newswatch 16 This Morning and Good Morning America duties, it was off to work on a story for our noon broadcast.

The roads were horrible, as expected when you get two feet of snow in a short amount of time.  We got stuck four times!  Thanks to those who shoveled us out, pushed us out, and towed us out.

There was a lot of housekeeping to do when I got back to the office, and some recording for a future project.  More on that down the road.

I finally got a chance to leave at 3 PM, but the roads were still terrible.  It was a short walk next door to the Hampton Inn.  As I write this, every appliance I have is recharging. Jeans and socks are drying on the heater, even though I have extra.  Some other staffers here and I are getting together for a little lobby party, which will be long over by the time you read this.  Joe Snedeker put a group photo on his Facebook page.  In nearly 19 years of working at WNEP, it was the first time I stayed in one of the adjacent hotels.  There were a few times I was out in hotels in Hazleton and Hawley for storm coverage, but this was the first time I couldn't make it home.  Thanks to management for making the offer.

One other thing I should note...  I started doing some social media things very early Tuesday morning and the hits/likes started piling up immediately.  Thank you for the Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blog followers.  Tell your friends.  It means you turn to us for the latest information and some things we don't have the time and opportunity to show you on TV.  I still have my social media reservations, but I will admit it did make me feel good.

I headed back to my hotel room just before 10 pm.  I don't sleep well in hotel rooms.  I miss my radio.  I miss my pillows.  I miss my cat.  This stay was no exception.  I got about three hours sleep, and headed back to the station to see if the staff needed any help.  The situation was well in hand.  I hung around for some computer time anyway.

This will sound weird but I will say it anyway.  Working a blizzard was a lot of fun.  Adverse conditions, technical challenges, travel issues...  It's a long list.

I'm not much of a cheerleader, but even though tensions were high and there was considerable stress, there were no arguments, no raised voices, and a ton of teamwork.  I was proud to be part of it.

Having said all that, let's not have another blizzard for a very long, long time.

I'll have a few days off.  The blog continues.  See you again on TV Saturday morning.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

First Person: CLU Club

It was one of those mornings when I barely had a chance to sit down.  Just about as soon as I walked in, producer Kim said CLU Club in East Stroudsburg was on fire.  Photographer Jason was already there, and I should meet him at the scene to report live for Newswatch 16 This Morning.

I threw my gear in one of the station's SUV's and headed south.

When I got there, the building was still smoking.  Photographer Jason already had done some interviews on his own and had all the information I needed.  I walked around a bit to pick up a few tidbits.  Before you knew it, it was air time.
We had a great parking space, and thanks to some new equipment that allows live broadcasts through a box smaller than a carton of cigarettes, we were right on top of the CLU Club, without getting in anyone's way.

By the way, CLU Club is a membership organization started by the unions.  It's now open to everyone, and there's an adjacent social hall for rent.  It was destroyed as well.

After the morning news and Good Morning America, photographer Jason was replaced with photographer Erich.  Er got another interview, more video, and more facts.  We then headed back to the station to put together a story for our noon broadcast.
It was a sad story.  People passing by shared their memories of the place.  Hanging with friends, wedding receptions, birthday parties, graduation parties...

It appears the building is a total loss.  The fate of CLU Club is uncertain.

AS I write this, there is a blizzard warning in effect.  Please, be careful.  Stay home if you can.  Look for updates here, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Scrapple

I'm not a water park guy, and I've never been to Kalahari, but just looking at the building from the outside is awe inspiring.

Speaking of awe, I've only been in three casinos, and it was just for sightseeing.  Sands in Bethlehem is by far the most interesting and entertaining.  It was just sold to MGM for $1.3 billion.

Some here in Pennsylvania are pushing for legal marijuana.  Yes, it generates revenue, but look at Colorado.  A lot of that marijuana had to go to hiring more police officers.

A new "Game Change" book on the 2016 election is due out next year.  The writers had better hurry up. I'd love to read it right now.  It's a fascinating story.

John Roberts on FOX, who has always been one of my favorites, going back to the CBS days, recently said journalists should just stop whining and do their jobs.  I couldn't agree more, but I should note that Roberts works for FOX, which seems to be enjoying most favored nation status these days.

I'm still amazed at how this country grinds to a halt any time a new video game system is introduced.  Are we really that bored?

I've been a LinkedIn member for several years.  I still can't figure out what it's good for.  I really don't need the inspirational messages.

How could the Houston Texans been so wrong on Brock Osweiller?

I have the Uber app on my phone in case of an emergency.  Never used it.

I respect and encourage your right to have one, and it's really none of my business, but I just don't understand nose rings.

The Pirates and the Cardinals in Williamsport in August is a fantastic idea.  An MLB in a minor league town, once in a while, is great publicity.  It generates fan interest, and it would give a lot of people an opportunity to see an MLB game they otherwise wouldn't have.

There are few things more boring that listening to people talk about their NCAA basketball tournament brackets.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Andy's Angles: More Montage

This is another shot from my post storm tour of Montage mountain in Scranton.

Let me explain what you're looking at.  The February 25th storm brought down a lot of trees.  They are to the front of the excavator, off to the left and the right.

The excavator is here, getting rid of snow and ice, so big trucks can come in, unload stone, and build a road to the damaged areas.  Then the trees tipped, the root balls came up and ripped out the water lines that supply the snow guns.  A road needs to be built to keep the trucks from getting stuck.

The visit was simply fascinating.  I hadn't been to Montage in years.  I'm not a concert guy.  I don't ski.  Water parks don't interest me, and other than a hot tub, I'm not interested in sharing water.

Thanks to the staff for their hospitality and professionalism during a difficult time.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Andy's Angles: Montage

As has been noted here many times in the past, one of the reasons I love my job is the opportunity to see things first, see things other people don't.

A photographer and I were offered an opportunity to see, up close, storm damage at Montage in Scranton last week.  The resort didn't take a direst hit from the tornado, but it was close enough.

What you see here is a cluster of downed trees, and the operation to cut them up and get them out of here.  Montage intends to go on a replanting program this spring.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Naughty

You really have to tip your hat to all the volunteer fire departments here in our area.  They're out at any time of day or night.  They do it for free, and it costs a lot of money to keep the departments up and running.

Fund raising is constant, and we've seen them all-- flower sales, chicken barbecues, wing nights, all you can eat breakfasts...

The Hometown Volunteer Fire Company, in Tamaqua, is trying something different.  A "Naughty Bingo" is set for tomorrow night.  The prizes are adult toys.  From a Newswatch 16 story last month, Hometown has done it before.  It worked.  They'll do it again.  A fire company member told us it was time to try something in addition to the tried and true.  Mix it up.  Spice it up.

Admittedly, Naughty Bingo isn't for everyone, but you have to give Hometown credit for trying something different.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Late Night

Late night TV to me is like Newswatch 16 This Morning and Good Morning America is to the rest of our area-- the first thing I see when I get up.

There have been a few developments lately worthy of note.

Stephen Colbert on CBS has been beating Jimmy Fallon on NBC for the last five weeks.  Industry analysts say it's because Colbert has been beating up on President Trump and Fallon continues on with his sophomoric humor and silly games.

That's all well and good.

All it shows me is Colbert can't do anything beside politics.  He's a one trick pony, and the audience will eventually say, "That's OK, but can you do anything else?"  I grew tired of it pretty fast.

Fallon leads in the younger demographic advertisers desire the most.

Jimmy Kimmel, on ABC, is the only 11:35 PM broadcast coming from Los Angeles, and it shows.  His monolog can be exceptionally funny, but Hollywood really doesn't interest me.

At 12:35, James Corden had the heat for a while, and as I've said here before, he's a charming guy.  I'm still not sure late night TV is his thing.

I started missing Craig Ferguson from the second his Late Late show ended in 2014.

David Letterman is the subject of a new book "The Last Giant of Late Night."  I pre ordered it.  It arrives early next month, and I'll review it here.  I've been a big Letterman fan since the morning show in 1980.

Letterman recently gave a lengthy magazine interview, and it reaffirmed what we knew all along.  Letterman is a grouchy liberal who doesn't like Donald Trump.  The grouchy thing was always part of Letterman's charm, although there were times he took it too far and it got tiresome.  Having said that, Letterman was probably the best broadcaster who ever sat in a late night chair-- quick witted, razor sharp, exceptionally funny.  Johnny Carson was great, in his own easy going way, and I watch Carson most nights on WNEP2, but Dave his him beat.

Speaking of late night, it's time change weekend-- a practice that should have ended a long time ago.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Business Wednesday

Changes in retail are happening at an amazing pace.

HH Gregg is closing nearly 100 stores.  Penney's is closing about 140 stores.  Macy's is closing stores.  Sears and Kmart remain on life support.  Business publications speculate Gander Mountain will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Target is making some changes to win back customers.

Walmart is cutting grocery prices because places like Aldi are taking a bite out of its profits.

Dollar stores, like Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar are expanding.

You can blame some of it on the internet, but not all of it.

I'm a big fan of internet shopping.  In fact, I bought a book just before I started this blog entry.  It's so easy to click a couple of things, and have it at your house in one or two days.

Sears and Kmart stores have gotten run down and shabby.  You can't blame that on the internet.  It's a lack of investment on the part of the owner.

Macy's and Penney's have become boring.

HH Gregg is relatively new to this part of Pennsylvania.  It's tough for any newcomer to crack the hold Home Depot and Lowe's have on appliance sales.

I'm not an outdoorsman, so I can't speculate on what Gander Mountain did wrong.  I've been there to look around.  I don't remember ever buying anything there.

What can you say about Walmart?  They're always open (most stores).  Decent prices.  However, they have a problem getting you in and out in an efficient manner.  Check out lines are always too long.  Hey, Walmart, if you want to increase sales, hire more people.

Target used to be cool.  Now, it's just mundane.  The stores have become plain and bland.  They look the same as everyone else.

The slimmed down Radio Shack is said to be on the way out for good.  As I noted here the last time Radio Shack closed a batch of stores, these stores used to be the neatest place on the planet.  The arrival of the yearly catalog was a major event.  There was something you wanted on just about every page.  Others came along to do it better.

Shifting gears to fast food...

Wendy's will be installing self order kiosks in about 1,000 of its restaurants.  It doesn't appear to be a bad idea.  I've used them in Sheetz and Wawa.  They work well, and it does seem to eliminate error orders.  On the other hand, it just seems like an easy way to eliminate some employees.

McDonald's says it will be experimenting with a lot of things, as it tries to reverse a slide in customer visits.  On the list are self order kiosks, home delivery, ordering and paying through a smart phone app, restaurant renovations and menu tweaks.  I pass by several McDonald's on a daily basis.  There is always a line at the drive through.  That tells me, even though sales have slipped, the places remain popular.  It also says McDonald's needs to work on get its customers in and out faster.  The company admits it lost 500 million customer visits to competitors since 2012.  That's a big problem.

While McDonald's does have a speed and service problem, the chain just can't shake the reputation that its food is bad for you.  I'm a firm believer in the "everything in moderation" school.  You shouldn't eat there every day, but a burger every once in a while isn't going to hurt you.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It Made Me Cry

This information is from the RadioInsight.com newsletter.

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island has a radio station.  The radio board of directors has asked the university to explore a sale.  A vote comes up March 11.

The station manager released the statement you see below.

“We’ve arrived at this point only after exploring a wide range of financial options, yet the challenges we face are more than just financial. We’re also faced with the reality that broadcast radio may not be the most engaging content distribution technology for the student workshop in the 21st century.”

Even people in the radio business are beginning to say traditional broadcast radio is becoming irrelevant.

I will admit that the technology can use some work.  AM is filled with noise and interference.  FM  always had its terrain related challenges.  It's hard to beat the consistency of the internet and satellite.  People have the ability to create their own radio stations on their smart phones.

However, I still believe that good radio, regardless of the band, will still draw listeners.  Terrestrial radio is suffering from some self inflicted wounds.  I've whined about it here before.  To make a long story sad, there's not enough local content, not enough community involvement, no fun...

To the people at Brown:  radio isn't just playing music.  it's talking, adlibbing, entertaining, humor, information, thinking on your feet, timing...  Those are skills your students should have.

I hope Brown University doesn't give up, and I hope you don't, either.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Making Change

I have to admit, it was a first.

A new line of dollar coins was introduced in 2000, and I was actually given one as change the other morning.

A photographer and I were wrapping up an assignment in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  We stopped at a Turkey Hill, the news one-- the Taj Mahal of Turkey Hills, to gas up. Photographer Jason worked the pump and I went inside to visit the porcelain conveniences.  I grabbed a couple of bagel sandwiches and walked to the cash register.  I paid with a $ 10 bill.  The clerk opened the register and realized she was short on $ 1 bills.  She gave me what she had and supplemented with one of those golden dollar coins.  She apologized.  I didn't care.  Paper and metal are worth the same.  I didn't examine it, and dropped it in my pocket.

After 17 years in circulation, it was the first time I had received one in change.  Not a big deal, but odd.

Like most Americans, I prefer the dollar bill over the dollar coin.  I was in another Turkey Hill, in another county, getting an early morning cold drink after a gym visit.  I made sure that dollar coin was the first thing out of my pocket and in to the clerk's hand.

Farewell, dollar coin.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Andy's Angles: More Storm Damage

As I noted yesterday, my Monday assignment was to check out damage from Saturday afternoon's tornado.

The twister was on the ground for 13 miles-- from Plains Township in Luzerne County to the Lake Scranton area in Lackawanna County.  Much of it is forest.  No roads.  The tornado did cross some highways, including Route 502 in Spring Brook Township, not far from Moosic.

In the photo above, I'm standing right next to 502, looking down in to a valley, with a creek at the bottom.  You can see s splintered tree at the left, and another in the top middle.  It's tough to see here, but there are tree trunks scattered on the valley floor.

In the photo below, a PennDOT crew is getting debris off the roadway.  The view is off to the north, and you can see a line of trees mowed down on the left.
The National Weather Service estimated winds of 120 miles per hour, and that's on the weak end of the tornado scale.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Andy's Angles: Storm Damage

On weekends, I produce and anchor the morning editions of Newswatch 16.  The rest of the time, I'm out there to get a first hand look at what's going on.  I like the variety.  My Monday assignment was disturbing and fascinating at the same time.

Several reporters were fanned out to report on the recovery from the Saturday afternoon tornado.  It tore a 13 mile path through Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties.  30 structures were damaged or destroyed.  It could have been worse.  The tornado did not hit densely populated areas.

The National Weather Service estimates the tornado downed 1,000 trees.  After being out for several hours Monday, that number seems low.  This was the scene near Lake Scranton, where the tornado finally lifted and then disappeared.
The first photo was on the lake side of Route 307.    The second is a view of the opposite side of the road.  The photos don't do the scene justice.  Trees-- big trees ripped out of the ground.  Others splintered and broken.

I've seen tornadoes before.  I can do without seeing another.

Friday, March 3, 2017

About the Cover: Dunmore Reservoir

March is one of the tougher months to come up with a blog header.  I always want something that says "spring."  Problem:  Spring doesn't really get rolling until the middle and end of the month.  It's a lot like December.  A Christmas theme would be nice.  The issue there is the big Christmas displays don't get fired up until after the first of the month, as it should be.

Above is a shot of Dunmore Reservoir #1.  I've been here before, but from another access point, on the other side of the lake.  There is better parking at this access point, but to get to the lake, you need to take a muddy trek through some woods.

I enjoyed my short time there.  The water was an odd sort of green color.  I'm guessing the Saturday mega storm stirred things up a bit.  I had to climb over some downed dead trees on the way to the lake.  And, as you can see on the header shot and this picture, there appears to be an active beaver population here.

Enjoy the view.  We'll talk later.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Operation Save a Life and John Harlan

I've been involved in radio and television since 1979, and I've been part of a lot of public service projects.  Most have been great.

Operation Save a Life is in the upper tier.  Kidde and WNEP distribute smoke alarms to fire companies here in our area.  Firefighters make sure they get to people in need, families and individuals who may be unprotected.

We did another distribution, our 14th, Tuesday.  I really had nothing to do with it.  My job was to hang around, say hello, and point visitors in the right direction.  Still, it was nice to watch the process and meet all the firefighters.
We gave away thousands of units.  If you need one, please contact the fire department in your town.  Our friends in Wilkes-Barre say they always have a few smoke alarms on each truck, so they can install them, where needed as soon as possible.

Hope to see you all next year.

I have to note one more thing before I hit the "publish" button.  John Harlan died Monday.  He was the announcer for several game shows and network specials.  Great voice.  Great delivery.  Not over the top as some game show announcers can be.  I will remember him best for the ABC editions of Password in the 1970's.  The great Johnny Olson was my all time favorite game show announcer.  Harlan was a close second.  John Harlan was 91 years old.

Below is a list of Harlan's work I lifted from his LinkedIn profile.  The man was a giant.

GAME SHOWS
50 Thousand Grand Slam
All Star Blitz
Celebrity Sweepstakes
Cross Wits
Face the Music
It Takes Two
It's Your Bet
Jeopardy 78 - 79
Matchmakers
Name That Tune
Password
Relatively Speaking
Surprise Package
Two In a Row
Wipe-out
You Don't Say

OTHER DAYTIME

American Gladiators
Book Of Lists
General Hospital
Hunt For Amazing Treasures
Queen For A Day
Tattletales
The Brighter Day
The Girl In My Life
The Ron Reagan Show
You Asked For It

AWARD SHOWS
Academy Awards
American Dance Awards
Cable Ace Awards
Disney Teacher Award Show
Emmy Awards
Golden Globes
Grammy Awards
Horatio Alger Awards
People's Choice Awards
SAG Award Show
Soap Opera Awards
TV Acadamy Hall of Fame
Victor Awards
World Music Awards

PAGEANTS
Miss America
Miss Universe
Miss U.S.A.
Mrs America
Mrs World
Mother/Daughter Pageant

NIGHT TIME SERIES

All Star Salute Dinners for…..
Billy Crystal Comedy Hour
Bob Hope Specials 
Candid Camera Specials
Captain and Tenniele
Disney's Young Musicians
Flip Wilson
Judy Garland Show
Mac Davis
NBC Follies - Sammy Davis
The Monte Carlo Show
This Is Your Life

NIGHT TIME SPECIALS
Ice Capades with Kirk Cameron
Joan Rivers Salutes Heidi Abromowitz
Joe Piscapo - In Concert
Julie Andrews Christmas
Kathy Lee…Christmas In New York
Muhammad Ali 50th Birthday
Munsters Today
Muppets…A Celebration of 30 Years
Neil Diamond …Hello Again
Opening Night At Rodney's Place
Pavaroti and Friends
Perry Como
Rich Little and Great Pertenders
Ringling Brothers…Clown Collage
Rodney Dangerfield..Nothin' Goes Right
Season Greetings Honnymooners
Super Model Of The World '88
The AFI Salute to ……
The Disneyland Story
The Honeymooners 35 Anniversary
The Knotts Landing Block Party
The Michael Crawford Special
The Mouseketeer Reunion
This Is Rock 'N' Roll
TV Academy Hall of Fame
Young Comedians Special


RADIO
ABC Staff
California Artists Radio Theater
Sears Radio Theater