Tuesday, December 11, 2018

First Person: The Process

It's that time of year-- when people are getting in the last of their vacation and personal days before 2018 leaves us forever.  I wound up producing Newswatch 16 yesterday morning.

The broadcast was essentially done when I heard about a fire in Hanover Township.  It seems like they had the flames knocked down pretty quickly at 2:40 AM, but it was close and overnight photographer/editor Nora had most of her tasks finished.  I asked Nora to drive down and take a look.

Just as Nora made it to Hanover Township, morning reporter Sarah and photographer Dave arrived at the office.  Nora texted me that she saw ambulances with fire victims leave the scene.  Sarah already had another story in the planning stages, but when you hear about people hurt, the scales are tipped toward the fire.  Dave and Sarah were in the truck, heading south, minutes later.

Sarah saw the coroner at the scene.  We later learned three had died.  Awful.  We reported what we knew and showed the video.  Sarah is just the person you want on the scene of early morning breaking news.  She calmly and factually built on Nora's foundation  It's how good journalism works.

There really is no major moral to the story.  I know people like having an inside look at how television news works.  You should also know you have some really good people, like Nora, Sarah, and Dave working hard to get you the information you need.

Monday, December 10, 2018


The Scranton Times ~ Tribune beat me to it.

Last week, I noticed how ugly the Penn Avenue side of the old Globe store, soon to be county office building has become.  I meant to take some pictures and do a blog entry in the near future.  A newspaper editorial Wednesday morning beat me to the punch.  Pardon the pun, the newspaper people and I are on the same page.  We hate this.

The Globe had huge windows looking in to the store and its restaurant on the Penn Avenue side back in the day.  I realize eliminating the huge windows increases security and maximizes internal space, but this is simply hideous.

The goal is to mimic the corrugated metal look of the neighboring Iron Horse Movie Bistro, but that's ugly and uninviting, too.

The Times ~ Tribune editorial compared the look to a warehouse or a jail and the editorial board is absolutely right.  This does nothing for the neighborhood.  The blocks of Penn Avenue closest to Mulberry Street and Linden Street have been redeveloped nicely.  It's almost Scranton's version of restaurant row.  I understand there are some nice bars and there is a ramen shop that's getting plenty of attention.  Let's hope this block of Penn is next to get fixed up.
We can do better.  We should do better.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Andy's Angles: Across the Street

The Lackawanna County Courthouse Square holiday decorations aren't limited to the tree.  There are some snowflakey looking things dotting the lawn-- where there is no concrete or granite to fill it up.
That's the federal building, along North Washington Avenue in the background.
Not much color, but a lot of light, and it's a good thing.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Square

Today, it's the Christmas tree on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton.

As has been noted here many, many, many times in the past, I'm not a fan of the soulless sea of cement and granite that is Courthouse Square, but now that retail is just about gone, the Square is a nice downtown focal point.

It's also nice to see the square all lit up.  It can be rather dark and uninviting.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Elves at Work

A little self analysis here, and a little advice...

Yesterday, I wrote that I wasn't much of a Christmas person, and I'm done apologizing for it.  As the great philosopher Popeye once said, "I am what I am."  Plato said "an unexamined life is not worth living," so let's take a look.

I had great holidays as a kid.  When did it get off the tracks?  I think the light started to flicker as a teen, and I really don't have a good reason for it.

I should establish right now that I truly do appreciate the significance of the day, and I have much for which to be thankful, especially this year.

I've been on the air somewhere since 1979, counting college radio.  I'm guessing that in those 40 years, I must have worked Christmas 30 times, probably more.  No complaints.  As I always say, when you take a job in news and broadcasting, you have to know that working holidays is part of the package.  If you can't accept that, it might be time to think about doing something else.  And, yes, I do realize that some people absolutely hate working holidays.

I am blessed in that I am local and the family is local.  There are no long hours on the road, no frustration of being stuck in an airport.  I could pull a Christmas shift, even if it was an overnighter, get a little sleep, and still have some family time.  And, if my working Christmas gives a Christmas lover an opportunity to have the day off, great!  It's my gift to the universe.

Here is the advice part, and it's for the younger people-- not just in broadcasting, but any business that needs people to work holidays.  Do it.  You might get a chance to attempt something you ordinarily wouldn't do.  Case in point, the first WNEP newscast I ever anchored was on Christmas morning 1998.  It wasn't a great performance, but it wasn't awful either.  It was a foot in the door, a chance to enter the anchor rotation at the top station in town, the station I grew up watching.    It was a dream come true.  I gave up a little time on a Christmas morning and received quite a bit in return.  It was like a gift to myself.

My first Christmas at WARM was 1981.  This was the time before mega conglomerates.  One station.  One building.  One guy working Christmas Eve in to Christmas morning.  Me.  All I did, for hours and hours, was put reels of religious programs and Christmas music on the tape machines, and hit "play" every half hour.  It wounds horrible, and looking back, it probably was.  On the other hand, I had a job at a good station and I was happy to have it.   Working Christmas, I hope, proved to management I had a good attitude and a strong work ethic.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I am working Christmas this year.  I hope it won't be the last.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Tree

I will admit that I'm not a Christmas person.  It is simply a skill set I do not possess, and I've given up kicking myself over it.  I'm just not good at Christmas, and I've learned to deal with it.

There is one tradition that I do keep up.  I visit my alma mater, Marywood University, for the annual Christmas tree lighting in the Liberal Arts Building.

They started decorating a giant tree in here in 1982, which would have been half way through my senior year.  I took a crushing credit load my first two years, and I took classes every summer, so I was barely on campus for my senior year.  In fact, I was no longer considered a full time student.  I just didn't need the credits and I cruised toward graduation.

I am building the foundation for saying that, for the life of me, I don't remember that first tree, and I should have.  I also don't remember when I started going back for the tree lighting.  It's been quite a while.

My routine is always the same-- walk around campus, remember my time here, drop by the radio station, visit with a friend who works there, see a few more old friends who also come back to watch the tree lighting.  The music and atmosphere are difficult to describe.  Well, it's Christmas and let's just leave it at that.  It does give me that warm feeling and I enjoy every second of it.

The rotunda is always packed, so I didn't have the best angle to shoot video.  Enjoy, nonetheless, and an early Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Media Notes

Once again, people are asking a lot of questions I just cannot answer at this time.  In fact, very few have the answers.  The broadcast industry is undergoing a series of huge changes.  It will all play out in the weeks to come.

NBC Sports Radio is giving up 24/7 programming at the end of the year.  It will keep a few hours each day, plus two little updates each hour.  NBC Sports Radio had an affiliate in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area a few years ago.  It didn't last long.  My overall impressions of the network?  It wasn't bad, but no reason to turn a dial.  ESPN Radio is a little too hard core for me.  Other than 2 to 6 am and Dan Patrick's morning show, FOX Sports Radio doesn't have much to offer.  Rich Eisen in the afternoon isn't bad.  CBS Sports Radio is really good on the weekends.  Since FOX Sports Radio dropped JT the Brick in the evenings, I've been spending more time with the New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago all news stations.

I've been looking at the latest batch of radio ratings from across the country, and it warms my heart when I see news stations doing well.  In fact, an all news station is at the top of the heap in Washington, DC.

Speaking of ratings, NFL ratings are recovering from their dip last year.  Some say it's because that whole Star Spangled Banner kneeling controversy has died down.  It might be part of it, but not the whole thing.

I find myself mildly interested in the Deal or No Deal reboot.

I say it every year because it is worth repeating.  Kudos to the agency that produced the Toys for Tots public service announcements.

I'm sorry he was there to discuss the death of an ex president, but it was great to see former ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson Sunday.  Donaldson was interviewed on CNN.  There are those who will argue, but "This Week with David Brinkley," when Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and George Will were on the panel might have been the best show ever of its type.

The Bob Dole salute and Sully the dog are the two unforgettable video moments from the Bush funeral.  I’m sure there’ll be others as Americans say farewell to their 41st president.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tuesday Scrapple

Why is Rutgers in the Big 10?  I know it's to add league interest in the big metropolitan areas, but Rutgers doesn't belong there.   Penn State has a great deal of success in the conference,  I still think the ACC would be a better fit.

November weather wasn't the greatest.  Plenty of us are waiting for a big turnaround.  I have a feeling it's not going to happen.

The cable news channels have really become the cable talk channels, and it's just the same people, saying the same things over and over and over again.

No one will argue that the Green Ridge Street Bridge in Scranton needs to be replaced.  No one will argue that there is no painless way to do it.  Everyone will agree that it will wind up costing twice as much as first expected, and take twice as long.

December is school board and municipality budget season.  Some places are in big trouble, with no relief in sight.

I hate when a famous politician, like George H.W. Bush dies, but I have to admit I love looking at all that historical video.

The Lackawanna Trail Lions is one of the better "feel good" stories of 2018.  Best of luck in Hershey.

Black Christmas trees seem to be the "in" thing this year.  Pass.

Amazing post-earthquake video out of Alaska over the weekend.  Truly frightening.

I said it before:  The Pittsburgh Steelers are a poorly coached, and poorly disciplined team.

Monday, December 3, 2018


I met George H.W. Bush twice, both while he was vice president.  Once was at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.  The other was at a downtown Wilkes-Barre hotel.  Both times, he was campaigning for Republican congressional candidates.  It was a quick handshake and a hello as he worked his way down a media line.  Bush, both times, asked my name and who I worked for.  I was a radio pup at the time, but even I could realize that Bush was a little different than most politicians.  He seemed interested in who you were.

The tributes have been flowing in since the 41st president's death Friday night.  They all have the same tone.  You might not have agreed with his politics, but there were no arguments about his decency.  His humanity.

The thing that strikes me about George H. W. Bush is his public service-- military, congress, the Republican party, the CIA, United Nations, China, vice president, president...  He helped raise millions for charities after he left the White House.  There are few resumes like that left.

I will quote Sen. Bob Dole's line during the Richard Nixon eulogy:  "How American."

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Andy's Angles: Tree at the Corners

Another Christmas tree to make your spirit bright...

This one is at Dunmore Corners, on the sidewalk in front of a bank.

It's a great looking tree.  Unfortunately, Dunmore, like most communities in our area, has utility wires all over the place, marring most photographic opportunities.

I know.  No wires means no phone, internet, cable tv...

It's a beautiful tree.  Let's concentrate on that.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

About the Cover: Christmas Tree

I got lucky this year.  The December header goal is something with a Christmas theme, but some of the big Christmas displays aren't up until after December 1.  I'm okay with that.  If I had my way, you wouldn't see a Christmas decoration until December 15th.

Imagine my surprise when I drove past my alma mater, Marywood in Scranton this week, and a saw a tree up near the main entrance on Adams Avenue.  Marywood holds off on most Christmas things until a few days into the month.  In fact, the giant tree inside the Liberal Arts Building rotunda will be lit December 5th.

Let's establish that I love Christmas trees, even though I have no decorating skill and no interest in having one of my own.

I really like this tree, lit in Marywood's colors of green and white.

I won't mind looking at this one all month.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Broken Promise

Above is former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's Montgomery County booking photo.  It was taken yesterday-- the day she went to jail for leaking secret grand jury information to damage her opponents, and then lying about it.

The Lackawanna County native was the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the state.  She should have known better.

Kane's name was being kicked around for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Senate.  I believe in redemption and second chances, but it's safe to say she will never be elected to anything ever again.

That probably is not a bad thing.

I would really know how this thing derailed so quickly. 

Not ready for the job?  Not qualified?  Bad judgement?  Bad advice?  Naive?  Arrogant?

I don't know. 

It's clear something went wrong-- big time.

I hope one day Kathleen Kane will tell her story.  The people who voted her in to office deserve an explanation.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

First Person: Active Shooter

They are the two words that send a chill through the newsroom"  "active shooter."  The scanners, the internet, the phones and everything else blew up a little after 8 Tuesday morning.  Active shooter, Paradise Township Municipal Building.  Photographer Corey and I jumped in a truck and headed to Monroe County.  Police set up a roadblock miles away from the scene.  A State Trooper directed us to a media staging area, and that's where we went.

Thanks to a bend in the road and some trees, it was impossible to get a good look at the scene from where we were penned in.
Corey launched Skycam 16, so that took care of our video issues.

Eventually, there was a briefing from State Police.  It wasn't much, but it was something.  By now, you know the details, so there is no need to rehash the tragedy here.

After the briefing, it was back to the truck to prepare something for Newswatch 16 at Noon.  I banged out a script on my laptop and sent it back to the station.  I can't say there weren't challenges.  We depend on cell phones quite a bit these days, even transmission of video.  This part of Monroe County does not enjoy strong cellular service.  However, we were in a satellite truck.  The dish found the bird, and we were in business.

By the way, thanks to the staff at the near by Crescent Lodge.  Your men's room was greatly appreciated, and I wasn't the only media member who benefited from your kindness.

Our noon report went off without a hitch.  We even stayed a few minutes late to do something for the new ABC News streaming service, ABC News Live.  That was a first for me.

The day ended with the story being handed over to our Pocono beat reporter, Carmella Mataloni, who did outstanding things during the evening Newswatch 16 editions.

It was a sad story that presented a few challenges.  My sympathy to the victim and his family.  My thanks to my coworkers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A to Z

It's a tough call.

Amazon is building new headquarters in New York and Virginia.  The richest company in the world is getting tons of incentives to do it.

Let's take a closer look.

Amazon will bring thousands of jobs to those areas.

Have you ever been without a job, and really wanted one?  I have.

Have you ever looked into the face of an unemployed person, who really wants to work?   I have.

Have you spoken with someone who fears losing their home because they can't afford the taxes?  I have.

New York and Virginia are giving up quite a bit.  The return on the investment promises to be huge.

Can they afford to say yes?  Can they afford to say no?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

First Person: Resort Fire

It's been a while since I've done one of these.

My Monday morning assignment was a follow up to the massive fire that destroyed the main building at what used to be the Mountain Manor resort, in Smithfield Township, near Marshalls Creek.

Photographer Greg did most of the heavy lifting-- getting great video of the mass of flames, and an interview with the fire chief.  All I had to do was put it together and high tail it to Monroe County with photographer Jason.  Because I'm the first morning reporter to arrive, I usually get sent the longest distance.  Sarah Buynovsky did deer season, and I had the fire.  It made for an informative edition of Newswatch 16 This Morning.

 It was frustrating.  These late sunrises make it tough for photography.  The building was still burning, so it made for some interesting television.  I managed to snap off a few photos after the sun came up.
It was sad.  This must have been an outstanding place at one time, but its time had passed.  Mountain manor was an abandoned eyesore.  From looking at the other buildings, it's clear it's a hangout for vandals and vagrants.
The only things left standing were the fireplace and the chimney.

This was my second Monroe County resort fire of the year.  Sad to say, the county is dotted with these places.  No one was hurt-- this time.  They are tragedies waiting to happen.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Horse Trading

It's a yearly ritual in my office, and the same is likely true in every 24/7 business in the nation.  The yearly scramble to get every shift covered on holidays is underway.  I call it "horse trading."

You get some breaks.  You get some lousy shifts.  It's all part of the game.

Here is the way I approach it.  My family is local.  I don't have to travel.  Holidays aren't a big thing to me.  I'll work while Santa is making his rounds.  It's okay.  As I've said many times, working holidays is part of the package when you take a job in broadcasting.  If you can't accept that, you should find another line of work.  When I was younger, I viewed holidays as an opportunity.  More work.  More money.  More exposure.  In fact, my first time anchoring at Newswatch 16 was on a Christmas morning. 

In exchange for getting some lousy shifts, I acquired some scattered day off in December and January.  It always works out in the end.  No one every gets everything he or she desires.  It's all a matter of flexibility and compromise.

Saddle up.  The holiday season is here.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Andy's Angles: Before We Go...

Not a perfect photo of the Lackawanna River at Blakely, but here is why it works for me.  The river was running high.  The afternoon sun was gleaming off the "rapids."  Still some color on the trees.

Autumn, I will miss you.  Until we meet again...

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Andy's Angles: Farewell to Fall

Last weekend of November, a time when it's time to say farewell to fall.  It's odd this year.  Thanks to some snow and icy temperatures, fall left us long ago.

This is another shot from one of my favorite places-- along the Lackawanna River in Blakely, taken on a recent warm afternoon.  It now seems so long ago.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Black Friday

Today is among my least favorite days on the calendar.  It's Black Friday, a day of noise, crowds, excess, fear, frustration...

In a reversal of recent years, some stores and malls have cut back on their hours.  It's a realization that we are an internet world.

I'm lucky.  I do have a holiday plan in mind.  Some of it involves visiting stores, and that usually happens in the mini lull at the beginning of December.

I like supporting local businesses, and businesses that employ local workers...  but, I do have to go on-line for much of what I need.  My work and sleep schedule dictates that.  I need the convenience.

I also understand the reasons people venture out today.  Some see it as great fun.  I get that.  Money is always tight, and I get that too.  If wading in to a crowd helps you stretch your holiday budget, have at it.

All I ask is be careful on the roads, and be patient in the stores.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I always look forward to this day.  Weather permitting, I'll go out and play with my camera for a little while in the morning.  A nice family dinner.  A little football, then back to the routine.  My holidays are usually low key, and I like it that way.  There will likely be some computer time.  The end of the year is approaching, and I usually start compiling my "Top Ten" photographs blog entries.

I'm lucky and I appreciate that fact every moment of every day.

I've had down times.  We all have.  There are people suffering emotionally, physically, financially..  I know so many people who are having an awful week, and a bad year.  My heart breaks for them.

Just try to find one little nugget that makes you happy, something for which to be thankful.  If you do that, then I will have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


We lost Jack Scannella this week.  He was 90.

You might not have realized it, but Jack Scannella was an important person in your life.  He helped invent television news in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.  Jack was one of the pioneers, starting as a photographer at WGBI TV 22, when the station was new.  WGBI eventually became WDAU, and then WYOU.  As the years went on, Jack became chief photographer, then assignment editor and finally operations manager before his retirement.

Jack was an important person in my life, and I'd like to share some of that with you.

I started at WYOU in 1990.  While I was green when it came to TV, I knew how to do news from my 10+ years in radio.  Plus, I was a local boy.  I knew how to get around, and I think Jack appreciated that.  I was eager, taking some of the lousy shifts, filling in on late notice.  Jack did the scheduling, and I think he appreciated my flexibility, too.

Early on in my stint at WYOU, I was assigned to cover an arrest in a cold murder case.  It had been dormant for years.  Jack told me where to find the film of the original crime.  It was in the station's vast storage area in the basement of our building at 415 Lackawanna Avenue.  Not only did Jack know exactly where the film was, he described it frame by frame-- even though he hadn't seen it for years.  His memory was flawless.

This next story is going to be a long one.  I'll shorten it up and clean it up as best I can.

We caught a certain city with padlocking some of the doors of one of its sports and entertainment buildings while events were going on inside!  The city explained that it had to lock the doors because of a vandalism and theft problem.  That's all well and good, but this reckless behavior would have resulted in multiple fatalities in the event of a fire.  Responsibility for this building, and the locked doors, fell to the city's public works director.  I went to his city hall office for a comment.  He declined.  Okay.  Fine.  The lack of cooperation wasn't going to kill the piece.  We still had an excellent story, and if the city wasn't going to try to spin it, or apologize, that was their own problem.  I asked the photographer to get video of the public work director's office door, to show we were there.  We tried to get the city to respond, and the person in charge wanted no part of us.  As the photographer was getting video of the door, the public works director exited and started screaming at me in the hallway.  It was not pretty.  I should add the photographer, in plain sight, in a public building's hallway, was rolling on the whole thing.

When I got back to the office in Scranton, Jack could see something was bothering me.  Contrary to popular belief, I don't go looking for fights.  I told Jack what had happened, added I felt awful and said this person will never cooperate with us ever again.  I had to put the hallway reaming, where I was drilled several new orifices, on the air.  It became a vital part of the story, and it showed the indifference of city government.  Jack had the magic words:  "#@%* him.! Next time, he'll know better."  It made me feel better, instantly.  Jack, as always, was right.

Jack had some other well known, and much cleaner, phrases.  When Jack was on the assignment desk, he would set up a story for you, and as he was describing it, he would invariably say "Go there.  They will talk to you."  If you balked at a story and didn't like the idea, Jack's advice was "Just do the piece."  Once again, Jack was right.

I remember one day, when I was part time, and up for a full time opening, I walked in to the assignment office.  Jack said to me "I heard cats can get AIDS.  Do a story on that."  I did, and during the production, I thought my full time possibility is going down the tubes with this one.  It turned out surprisingly well, and I was made full time.  I don't think the cat story was much of an influence.  My fate had already been decided.

Here is how Jack remains an inspiration to this day.  Jack started in primitive film.  Film gave way to video tape, and eventually computers.  Jack not only embraced any new technology that came in the door, he excelled at it.  When he retired, Jack was as good with a computer as anyone in that building.  When I struggle with new technology, I think of Jack, and how he was never afraid to learn.

Writing a short Newswatch 16 piece on Jack's passing fell to me Tuesday morning.  Here is how that started.  A close friend messaged me that Jack had died.  I verbally mentioned it to our news director, Carl Abraham.  He had old pictures of Jack and added that we really should say something on the air.  I had enough in my head to bang out a quick story.  Jack deserved more.  The funeral home was kind enough to quickly email me an obituary.  Thanks to our competitors, who kindly provided some video.  The news director called me to make sure we received the computer video file.  Thank you to the people down the street, who know, at a time like this, there is no need to compete.   And, thanks to my boss Carl, who understood you really should know about Jack's passing.

During this quest for information, I called Jack's house, hoping someone could fill in some dates and numbers for me.  Jack's wife, Joan called me back. We had a nice talk, and I was glad to have the opportunity to tell her how much Jack meant to me.  The viewing is on a Friday afternoon.  My work schedule will keep me away, and Joan, a TV wife, understood that.

I will tell you something I told Joan Scannella.  So many of us working in broadcasting right now owe our careers to Jack.  We are better journalists, better people, because we worked with him.  It is an outstanding legacy.

PS:  Great friend and former co-worker David DeCosmo has some thought on Jack on his blog.  Check it out.  There is a link on www.NepaBlogs.org.

1960, Red Skelton and Jack Scannella.
Courtesy:  CarlAbraham.com


It's a great day and a tough day at the same time.  Today is said to the the biggest travel day of the year.  Sunday afternoon and evening should also be nightmare time.  Bars, clubs, and restaurants will be packed tonight.  College kids are home.  Plenty of people will be cooking tomorrow, so no one wants to do it tonight.  It's a time for friends, fun, and holiday season anticipation.

On the other hand, highways will be jammed, airports crowded.

I am fortunate in that I have the next few days off, and there is no major traveling on my agenda.

Be careful.  Be courteous, and we'll talk tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tuesday Scrapple

The NFL pulled the plug on its game in Mexico City because the field was in lousy shape.  Bravo!  I hope the London games are next.  They are not American fan friendly, and we're the ones who pay the freight.  Unfortunately, I see an increasing presence in London, not a smaller one.

In the past three months, I've visited three restaurants for the first time.  It's been a great run.  I apologize for the inside reference.

I can throw together basics in the kitchen.  Cooking is something I have to do, not because I really enjoy it. I will admit, the November parade of turkeys on the Food Network is fun to watch.

USA Today's web site ads have become even more overbearing.  You put up with it because most of the site is still free, and USA Today does put quite a bit out there.

Watching the California wildfires sends one word through my head:  "helpless."

I create many of the graphics you see here, and I've been using the same program for quite a while.  I've finally found the way to more effectively use the program.  How many years did it take me?

FOX Sports extended its Major League Baseball contract to 2028.  Good move.  FOX does a nice job with baseball.

Why does Florida botch every major election?

Roy Clark died last week.  85.  His "Hee Haw" work overshadowed the fact that he was an outstanding musician.

USA Today believes Penn State is headed for the December 29th Peach Bowl in Atlanta.  That's not bad.

It's nice to see gasoline prices coming down for a change.  It will never last.

Speaking of driving, I had to pass through Clarks Summit yesterday afternoon.  Lovely area, but I don't know how people up there deal with all that traffic every day.

Monday, November 19, 2018

November Storm

I was recently telling someone that I really enjoy sitting at the computer, watching the snow fall, and taking it easy-- especially if I have no reason to leave the warmth of my home.  Believe me, I just learned it's not all it's cracked up to me.

I will start by saying that my little storm experience pales in comparison to those who had to be out in, and travel in, Thursday's storm.

Thursday is one of my days off.  I was set on the basic food groups, so this storm wasn't going to bother me.  Hey, it was supposed to be only a few inches.  That's a dusting in our area.  We can handle this.  Easy.

Apologies to my meteorological friends, but you missed this one.  A dusting turned in to a foot pretty fast. I know.  It happens.  Meteorology is an inexact science.  The storm packed a lot of moisture.  It stayed cold longer than anticipated.  The word "outperformed" was mentioned over and over again, on TV, on the internet.

The bad news started to roll in during the late afternoon.  My sister was stuck on interstate 81.  A close, close, close friend was stranded, first on Routes 6 and 11 in the Clarks Summit area, then Keyser Avenue in Scranton.  Newswatch 16 crews were among those on the highway, going nowhere fast.  Texting.  Phone calls.  A major feeling of helplessness.  There wasn't going to be a rescue mission.  The road crews in my little town do a great job, but this was a tough one.  My street was covered, and I live on a hill.  My friend hung out in McDonald's.  My sister was trapped.

Penndot can open all of its command centers and activate its apps.  Consensus is this storm was a major fail.  The state was slow getting big rigs off the road, and the ban only applied to a limited area.  Sleet on top of snow is a plow driver's nightmare.  The storm was heavy and steady.  It was tough to keep ahead of this one.  Having said that, it's 2018.  There is no reason conditions should worsen to the level of shutting major interstates.  The threshold for vehicle bans needs to be lowered.  Penndot is not a nimble organization, and it is very slow to respond to changing conditions.  It is good at making excuses.  This doesn't happen in other places.

As it turns out, my friend and my sister arrived at their respective homes at roughly the same time.

Did we learn anything from this?  Probably not.  This has happened before.  The traffic nightmares continue.  We deserve better.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Andy's Angles: CityScape

There is something about a downtown at dawn.  Quiet.  Twinkly lights.  This is a Monday morning shot of Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.  The lights on the trees that ring the square were on.  The rest of the Christmas decorations had yet to be installed.
As you can see, not a creature was stirring.  WNEP photographer Jason Wolf and I were talking about this the other day.  People who sleep in are missing a great time of day.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Andy's Angles: Christmas Tree

I worked out of WNEP's Wyoming Valley Newsroom on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre early Monday morning, and it is among my favorite things to do here.  It's a nice change of scenery.  The newsroom is well thought out and set up nicely, and downtown Wilkes-Barre has certain charm when it is very quiet at daybreak.

This is Wilkes-Barre's Christmas tree in the center of the square.  It will be lit after a short parade today.  As you can see, it wasn't decorated when I stopped over to take a look just after dawn Monday.  Many cities would envy having such a nice public space in the middle of their downtowns.  Wilkes-Barre is lucky.

As always, there will be several Christmas themed photos here in the weeks to come.  I like looking at decorations.  I don't like putting them up.  I've never been good at that stuff.

Among my favorite childhood Christmas memories would be walking around my little town with my friends, looking at all the decorated houses.  They didn't have to elaborate.  They didn't have to be perfect.  It was just fun.

Friday, November 16, 2018


The blog is 14 years old today, and I've told the story of the blog's genesis several times.  Let's try something a little different this time around-- a quick overview of my social media footprint.

The blog came first, and it still does.

I've been in and out of Twitter for a while.  @AndyPalumbo_  I now have the little blue check mark, so that means I'm a real, actual person.  At least, according to the people who run Twitter.

AndyPalumbo.com has been around for a while now.  I'll have to get in touch with my web guy for an update after the new year.  It's time for a tweak.

I've had a LinkedIn account for years.  I still can't figure out it's purpose.

I was on SnapChat and Instagram for a while.  I enjoyed seeing other people's photos, and I apparently know some skilled photographers who lead great lives.  However, I never had much to offer.  I wasn't getting a lot of enjoyment out of those sites, so they are gone.  It was too many mouths to feed.  I might be back.  Someday.

There are two Facebook accounts.  One is the "professional" page, constructed at the urging of WNEP management a little more than two years ago, and I get that.  I built a personal page a couple of months ago.  That one is for people I actually know.  Friends in the real world, not just on the internet.  I had to do it.  It's the way people communicate these days.  I will grudgingly admit that the personal page has helped me reconnect with some very special people, one in particular.

What's next?  Who knows?  The internet and social media is a brave new world.  I'm sure someone will invent something bigger and better, and become an overnight billionaire.  I have never given any serious thought to ending the blog.  It still gets a healthy number of hits every day.  Thank you, dear readers.  It really means a lot to me.  I'm still having fun doing it.  It's a wonderful creative outlet.

There is an exciting addition coming to WNEP.com.  I don't have a date for it, but I think you will like it.  I'm still not sure if I will be involved in the project.  It does intrigue me, and interest me-- a lot.

Tomorrow, the start of year 15.  Thank you, again.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

About the Cover

Sorry this monthly item is late in arriving.  Other things got in the way.

This is a shot of the relatively new miners memorial in Blakely.

Mining is a significant part of our past.  Miners deserve the recognition.  They helped build the area.  It was horribly hard and dangerous work, and the miners were taken advantage of my managers.
The mine is flanked by the names of the workers, and it's a very nice touch.

Before I close, take note of the gravel to the rear of the monument.  It's coal!  A great touch.  They did this one right.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Big Dance

I've been sitting on this one for a while...

He wasn't the first to say it, but I associate the phrase with my first boss in broadcasting, the legendary Ron Allen at WARM.  Ron was fond of saying "You gotta dance with who brung ya."  It's about loyalty.  Loyalty to another person.  Loyalty to a concept.  Loyalty to skills and abilities.

That brings us to NBC's Megyn Kelly.  She recently lost her 9 AM slot after some bizarre comments.  I won't debate the pros and cons here, but I will write about Kelly's choices.

Regardless of what you think of her ideology, Kelly was an outstanding talent on the FOX News Channel.  She lit up the screen.  Her interviews were sharp, likely because she is a lawyer and knows how to cross examine.  Kelly was a solid news anchor and really good at that news and interview show she had.

There were some bumps in the road at FNC.  That led to a job at NBC for a huge amount of money.  Kelly ditched the news and politics for one of those warm and feely Oprah-esque talk shows.  NBC lost ratings in the 9 AM hour.  It wasn't a very good use to Kelly's talents.  She didn't dance with who brung her.  The New York Post, before the blow up, reported Kelly was interested in going back to politics and government reporting and NBC was okay with moving her back.

Her comments just before Halloween derailed that train, and in a hurry.

I give Kelly all the credit in the world for expanding her horizons and trying something different.  I would assume it's easy to do when someone is dangling $20 million a year in front of you.  On the other hand, well, you gotta dance with who brung you.

Me?  I filled in as a talk show host when I was in radio.  Admittedly, it wasn't the greatest, but I was making progress before I moved over in to television.

When I started working in TV, I worked several parades and other events.  I was sideline reporter for high school football games for the better part of four years.  I dabbled in different, but I always danced with who brung me, never straying far from "news."

Moral of the story?  That is up to every individual, but it is safe to say it's never a bad idea to wander out of your comfort zone from time to time, but you have to remember what got you noticed in the first place.

Megyn Kelly is radioactive right now.  No one will touch her for a while.  However, there is always a place for a skilled broadcaster.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Toy Story

When you are in a place every day, for a long time, you stop noticing some things.

I was giving a friend a WNEP tour a couple of weeks ago.  She was fascinated with all our technical toys, but she was also impressed with all our other toys.

Management has been great in allowing us to freely decorate our work spaces.  Many of us have little toys and trinkets at our desks and in our cubicles.  We have stressful jobs (who doesn't?) and something that makes us laugh or smile helps get you through the day. Your desk needs to be a little comfort zone, a nice place, a safe place, a fun place.

Me?  I do have some photos and a couple of cartoons, and a Fidget Spinner in my desk.  I'm sorry, but I don't have much of a "Toy Story."

Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day

Yesterday was the 11th day of the 11th month, but because it was a Sunday, today is the day recognized as Veterans Day.

It's a tough day in the news business.  Every community has some sort of observance, and that's great.  We get to as many as we can.  Unfortunately, we can't visit them all.

I will resist the temptation to get preachy, so I will say what I always do on occasions like this.  Please, remember what the day is all about.

We'll talk tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Andy's Angles: The River

Today, it's another shot of the Lackawanna River in Blakely.  It was running high during my recent visit, and it was just so pretty.

The river is far from perfect, especially downstream, with the acid mine drainage, but it's always a kick to come out here and see how much it's improved.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Andy's Angles: Baker Street

Some leaf peeping photos have been in the queue for a while.  I finally had the chance to do a little wandering late last month, so let's share them on a cold, damp, November weekend.

This is the shot of the Lackawanna River, from the Blakely Borough recreation area.  Trees.  Water.  Sunshine.  Can't go wrong.  The shot is downstream.  Olyphant is on the left.

Let me explain the "Baker Street" title reference.  It's one of my favorite songs, and each time I listen to it, I hear something different, something I hadn't noticed before.

I've taken dozens of photos at this park, and every time I'm here, every time I look through that viewfinder, every time I load photos in to my computer, I see something different.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Another Surrender

And this one has nothing to do with me.

Below is an excerpt from a story in the "Nashville Scene."  The story has been reported in several other on-line sites across the country.

Editors at the Gannett chain’s papers around the country were informed two weeks ago that deadlines for the print edition could not be extended in order to cover elections. As a result, Wednesday’s editions of The Tennessean, Commercial Appeal and Knoxville News-Sentinel will not have final results for some of the most closely contested statewide races in years.
Gannett had already moved The Tennessean’s deadlines up to 7 p.m. earlier this year, and as a result, the print edition did not have coverage in August of the state’s first execution in a decade. Now, editorial staffs have been told to close their editions within 45 minutes of polls closing, long before any definitive results can be tabulated.
“It is not entirely accurate that we are foregoing election coverage in print — it will be much more limited than in the past — but I understand the point of your questioning,” says Tennessean vice president and editor Michael Anastasi. “We do not believe print is a vehicle for breaking news. Our focus there is on context, analysis and enterprise reporting, as well as, more broadly, watchdog and investigative reporting. 

Gannett is a huge chain, and it owns some big newspapers in major cities.  All papers went to bed at their usual time.  If you want election results, go to a web site or watch television.

I know I am part of a shrinking minority, but I still get a kick out of hearing that newspaper thump on the front porch every morning, even though my newspaper has a lousy delivery system.  I miss the afternoon paper, too.

Pushing back a deadline is something papers did to get the latest numbers.  I can understand focusing on context, but a major chain of American newspapers just did something to make themselves even more dispensable.   What's that hammering I hear?  It's another nail in the coffin.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Atty. Cohen

Attorney Jerry Cohen died Monday at the age of 84.  He was first assistant district attorney under DA Correale Stevens in the late 80's.  Cohen became district attorney after Stevens became a judge.

I used to call Cohen the "best paid fireman in the county."  Back then, there were a bunch of kids in the district attorney's office.  Smart, eager, ambitious-- but inexperienced.  On mornings when there were several trials, pleas, hearings, motions, and other activities, Cohen would be running from courtroom to courtroom, putting out whatever little fires the newbies started.

We had a chat in the courthouse rotunda one day, where Jerry admitted he really enjoyed the job.  His quote was "I always wanted to be district attorney.  I never wanted to run for it."  I get that.  The job is great.  The political minefield you have to maneuver to get there is not.

Cohen was not a publicity hound.  He never ducked me, and would always answer any question I had.  He didn't like going on the radio with me, but he'd do it.

Here is what set Jerry Cohen apart in my book.  During most of my time covering him, I was on the radio.  I was going up against three more experienced and much better known television guys, and two newspaper reporters who were legends in the courthouse.  I was the little unknown.  Remember that Howard Stern once called radio "the bottom rung on the show business ladder."  In spite of that, Jerry Cohen treated me as an equal.  I got the same things the others had-- the same stories, the same information.  More importantly, I received the same respect.  It was mutual.

My sympathy to Atty. Jerry Cohen's family and friends.  People of Luzerne county were fortunate to have him on their side.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


There will be a common theme today, and here it is:  "I'm not surprised at the outcome, but I am surprised at the margin."

It is late Tuesday night as I write this, so there might be some need for modification as we get in to Wednesday.

Let's start at the top.

Tom Wolf cruises to a win over Scott Wagner in the race for Pennsylvania governor.  This was a major Republican misfire.  Wagner was a difficult candidate-- from grabbing cameras to the "stomp" video.  Plus, Wagner made his money in the trash business, and there are times that can be an unpopular way to amass a fortune.  I never sensed any major love affair between Pennsylvanians and Tom Wolf.  Republicans needed better choices in the primary.

It was an easy win for Democratic Senator Bob Casey over Representative Lou Barletta.  The Barletta campaign never gained traction, and the Casey name still holds a lot of weight here in Pennsylvania.  Republican Barletta barely captured 40 per cent of the vote.  I thought it would be a comfortable night for Casey, but the margin wouldn't be quite as big.

I will admit to a "metro area" bias here, because that's where I live and spend most of my working hours...

Democrat Matt Cartwright cruised to a win over Republican John Chrin.  Once again, I expected a better showing out of Chrin.  Cartwright ran a smart campaign, successfully painting Chrin as a millionaire outsider, who parachuted in to the district just to make a run at congress.

I should add that with Democrats taking control of the house...  Cartwright is on the Appropriations Committee.  Will that translate in to more money for his district?

Dan Meuser was one of the few Republican stars yesterday.  It was an easy win over Denny Wolff in the 9th district.  This is a red district, and Meuser benefits from that, earning a trip to Washington.

Tom Marino is another Republican star, and it was an easy win over Democrat Mark Friedenberg.  Marino received his share of negative press over the past two years.  Clearly, it wasn't a factor.

I'm going to group the PA Senate 22nd district and the PA House 121st into one here.  It's because the unsuccessful Republicans, Frank Scavo and Sue Henry, both campaigned heavily on eliminating property taxes.  Both lost, and it wasn't close.  I think it was more a case of the popularity of John Blake and Eddie Day Pashinski.  Again, neither win surprises me.  I thought Henry would do much better.  I've known Sue for years.  If the Luzerne County Republican party ever really gets organized, she has a bright future.

Some other musings...  I was thrilled at the turnout yesterday, and I look forward to seeing the final numbers.

I am still amazed at the lack of access in many polling places, and I don't know why people stand for it.  You pay for these elections and you should be allowed to see the process.

Nationally, Republicans keep the Senate.  Democrats take the House.  Referendum on President Trump?  Partially.  I still remember the words of former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill:  "All politics is local."

It was a fascinating night.  And, as always, there are no losers.  Anyone who participates in this bloody, bruising and expensive process is a winner, as far as I'm concerned.