-

-

Friday, April 20, 2018

Week 1

It's sleeping Homer's first appearance of 2018, and regular blog readers know that signals a vacation.  I'm off for the next few days.  Newswatch 16 Saturday and Sunday Morning will be in the very capable hands of Jim Hamill.

Plans?  No, not really.  Maybe catch with some friends, definitely catch on some sleep, a little shopping, a little photography.  Nothing major.

I had some scattered days off in January, but this is my first full week off since October.  While I enjoy my job, it's nice to get a little time off to recharge the battery.

I'll still be updating the blog.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Unfinished Thursday

In a recent discussion of radio greats, I neglected to mention Jack Buck.  He did St. Louis Cardinals baseball games on radio for decades.  Plus, he was CBS Radio's Monday night football guy for twenty years.  Buck called 17 Super Bowls.

I also mentioned Larry King.  He jumped on to the national stage with an all night radio show on the Mutual network.  It ran from midnight to 5:30.  The first half of the show would feature a guest and call-ins.  The second half was open phones.  The last half hour, which very few stations carried, was just Larry talking with the morning Mutual news person and a meteorologist.  Very informal, and a lot of fun.

For a while, King did both radio and CNN.  Eventually, the radio show was cut to 11 pm to 2 am, and it was repeated at 2 am.  It was awful.  Stale, canned, boring, and tired.

Even so, Larry was the guy who kept the lights on at Mutual for a long time.  If you wanted King's show, the network forced stations to take a lot of its other programming and it wasn't very good.  Mutual went away shortly after King left the stage.

Late March marked the 45th anniversary of the $10,000 Pyramid on CBS.  Very few of those early shows remain.  The Game Show Network runs the $25,000 Pyramid weekday mornings.  It's amazing how well those old shows hold up.  Dick Clark was a great host.  He moved the game along without getting in the way.

Walmart is renovating several of its Pennsylvania stores.  It's something KMart and Sears didn't do.  Who is on the verge of closing, and who dominates American retailing?  Bon Ton is done.  I'll have more on that soon.

Even though this next entry doesn't belong here...  I was very sorry Barbara Bush passed away.  She supported and championed literacy programs for decades.  Bravo!  I read where the Bush family spent millions of its own money helping libraries wrecked by Hurricane Harvey.  
A great person and a great cause.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Buck Rogers

It was odd that I was tweaking my Art Bell blog entry as Ray Bradbury was on an old Johnny Carson, playing on WNEP2.

I like science.  Always have.  As I've noted here before, being a kid in the late 60's and early 70's was great.  We were going to the moon and exploring space.  There was a new technological advance just about every day.

However, I was never interested in science fiction.  Star Trek and Star Wars bore me.  Fans will counter that both series are rich in characters.  The "space" thing is almost secondary.

Do I think there is life on other planets?  Yes.  Look up at night, especially if you can get out of the cities.  All those stars.  All those planets.  Odds are, there is something out there, even if it is microscopic.

Do I believe in UFO's?  No.  I can list one thousand reasons.

What about conspiracy theories?  Being a professional skeptic, I do think there are many areas in which the government has withheld information, on a variety of topics.

Science fiction might only be a matter of dreaming what is someday possible, and I see a great need for that.  Dreams can come true.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First Person: Pot and Wind


Let me tell you about my Monday.

The day started with a preview of a new medical marijuana dispensary opening in Scranton, the first in the city.
For me, the jury is still out.  Some, but not all, think marijuana works in pain management and seizure control, and pot is better than opioids.

The skeptic in me sees this is the first step toward legalization of marijuana for recreational use.  I'm sure it will be a very nice cash cow for the marijuana industry-- and the state, which is running out of things to tax.

It's like alcohol.  If you can safely use it in the privacy of your own home, fine.  But, the last thing we need is more impaired people behind the wheel.  Some experts view marijuana as a gateway drug.  There is conflicting research in that area.  Check the states with legal marijuana.  They had to hire more police officers to deal with marijuana related crimes.

We were lucky.  It was breezy and misty during our stay at Keyser Oak Plaza.  The big rain was holding off, and I was very relieved when we finished our last report at 6:30.

Photographer Erich and I were on our way to another story when my phone rang.  Assignment editor Mary was sending us to Lutherwood apartments, off Lake Scranton Road in Scranton.  There was a problem with the roof.  We were about ten minutes away.  The building looked okay from the road.
The view from the parking lot was a different story.  The wind peeled the rubber membrane off the roof.  The parking lot was littered with particle board and insulation.  Amazing.  Erich maneuvered through the minefield and found a place to put the truck.  He shot video.  I sent photos back to the station and did a little social media.

Crisis management tip:  An assistant Scranton fire chief got to us right away, and made sure we knew no one was hurt.  I can imagine the panic of friends and relatives of residents here.  In a story like this, seconds count.  It was smart to get to the media fast.

Our luck rain out.  Heavy rain arrived.  A cold rain.  The wind was sending it sideways, so an umbrella would have been useless.  We got soaked, but our discomfort was nothing compared to what the building's residents were experiencing.  It took about two hours, but we got everything we needed for a noon story.  Assignment editor Mary granted us permission to do our editing at the station rather than in the truck.  We needed the chance to dry ourselves and our equipment.  Thank you, Mary.

I'm going to tell you something strange.  I've been writing news since college in 1979.  I started receiving a paycheck as a professional broadcaster in 1981.  When there is a big story, and this was big, I still have a twinge of self doubt.  I wonder if I have the skill to do the story justice.  After looking at the video and picking out the best parts of the interviews, I sat down at a computer and started banging away on the keyboard.  It didn't take long.  The video was outstanding.  Several of the building's residents gladly told us about their experiences.  The story came together nicely.  As always, I worry far too much.

News director Carl and I discussed the script.  I recorded the audio and handed it back to photographer Erich.  He matched audio and video.  Great job, and it was back in the truck to go back to the scene.  There were peeks and breaks of sunshine over Scranton.  It didn't last long.  the rain returned.  The wind kicked up, the rain returned, and our noon live report was quite a challenge.

By the way, Carl, thank you for the new and dry cap.

It was then back to the office to tie up some loose ends before leaving for the day, and handing the story off to the daytime Scranton crew.  I hit the office door at 2:30 am.  It was out at 12:30 pm.  No complaints.  I was heading out to a warm home, not an evacuation shelter like the Lutherwood residents.

So much could have gone wrong.  I am thankful we got the job done.

One other note by hitting the "publish" button for the day.  Harry Anderson died yesterday.  65.  Judge Harry Stone on "Night Court."  Great character.  I'm really not in to magic, but he made it interesting with some really cool "Tonight" show appearances during the Carson days.  This makes me very sad.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Art of Radio

It is with mixed feelings that I discuss the death of Art Bell.  The radio talk show host died Friday at the age of 72.


Bell trolled the overnight hours, and for a while he was big.  500+ radio stations, 15 million listeners per week.  There wasn't a UFO or conspiracy theory he didn't like and embrace.


I tried listening several times, to see what the buzz was about.  I just didn't get it.  To be brutally honest with you, he seemed nuts.  Every theory got on the air, most unquestioned by the host.  You could say anything, assert anything, and get away with it.


I love the First Amendment.  There is no bigger defender.  Bell had the absolute right to do his thing. Radio stations had the right to point their satellite dishes to the signal coming from to Art Bell's Nevada trailer.


On the other hand, there is a big part of me that thought it was irresponsible for so many radio stations to give so much time to someone I really viewed as unstable.


The overnight hours are currently filled with radio shows of a similar genre.  They are popular.  I get that.  Radio is still a "mass" medium.  You program what believes gets the most listeners and makes the most money.  Me?  I'm listening to news, classic rock or sports talk.


Even though Art Bell wasn't my thing, my sympathy goes out to his family, friends, and fans.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Avenue

Looks can be deceiving.

I intended for this to be a blog entry on the darkness of Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton, but my camera phone really overcompensated.  The street looks much brighter than it actually is.

Downtowns can't survive unless people feel safe, and people are apparently okay with the way things are.  It's not uncommon to see people walking to early buses, taking an early morning jog on downtown streets...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Andty's Angles: Samters

I always enjoy seeing old buildings being adapted for new use.  Samters in downtown Scranton is getting its third lease on life.  It first was a clothing store.  Then offices, mostly occupied by the state.
Now, the building is being turned into apartments.  I had a chance to peer through the first floor windows Tuesday morning.  It seems the building is fairly gutted.  Not pictured here are the blueprints of the available units, displayed in the windows.

It's fairly clear that retail is not the answer to a downtown's problems.  Apartments are and it's nice to see more people will eventually call downtown Scranton "home."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Education Week

I do apologize for the lack of variety on topics this week.  I'm like a dog with a bone.  Once I get a hold of something...

It's another entry on education to close the week.  There are a few other education ideas I'm mulling over, but they can wait.

As I was prattling on the other day about how junior high can be just as influential, possibly even more so than high school, I left something out.

I had a 9th grade Civics course taught by Hyman Markowitz.  Loved it, and Mr. Markowitz was such a kind and patient man.  He left us several years ago.  I know his relatives check in here on occasion.  Mr. Markowitz was a great guy who taught me a lot.  It was a great foundation for a jobh in the news business.

Again, the other day, I lamented how I run in to so many young people who have problems forming complete and coherent sentences.  I also encounter so many young people, and adults, who know very little about how their government works.  Let's fix that.

Most afternoons, I manage to catch John Hancock's show on WBT in Charlotte.  John spent a couple of years at WARM in the mid 80's and working for him was a great time.  Anyway, John kicked off a discussion on influential teachers recently.  

It's tough to explain, but there were so many times I felt a teacher's influence long after I left school.  I'll remember words spoken, lessons learned, years ago.  Education doesn't end the day you receive the diploma.  The good teachers leave something with you that lasts a lifetime.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday Scrapple

I know airlines ship hundreds of animals every day, without a problem.  I still wouldn't put a pet on a plane.

It's 2018.  You have to wonder how problems like Syria can still exist.

KMart in the Pittston Plaza closed for good Sunday.  You have to wonder how much time the entire Sears/KMart company has left.  And, you have to wonder what chain is next.

I know the reasons behind the increase in gasoline prices, but something about the whole system makes no sense to me.

There is no defense of his alleged behavior, but watching the fall of Bill Cosby is such a tragic story.

Chuck McCann passed away the other day.  83.  Funny man.

I loved seeing so many people participate in Sunday's Scranton Half Marathon.

The Wilkes-Barre Police report shows one or two people really can make a difference in a big organization-- positively or negatively.

I have a dental check up next week, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The NFL is ditching "color rush" uniforms on Thursday Night Football.  Most people seemed to hate them.  I really didn't mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

And Another Thing...

My internet friend, Joseph Peter Klapatch, wrote a book a couple of years ago.  It's called "The Old School," and it deals with the history of Olyphant Schools and the start of the Mid Valley School District.

Regular blog readers know I hated just about every second I spent in two schools in Olyphant.  The building you see on the book's cover was condemned in 1976.  It should have happened a lot sooner.  You don't see the building just across the street, with all the warmth and charm of a state prison.  While a few faculty members were outstanding, there were so many who were lazy, angry, and burned out.  I questioned why they chose teaching as a profession.

I learned something by reading the book shortly after its publication.  Back in the day, towns put the big money into junior high schools-- not the high schools.  The reason was that a big percentage of the boys quit after junior high because they had to help support their families.  Junior high was their last schooling.

Don't ask me how, but I did manage to graduate.

As I was prattling on about education yesterday, I gave some additional thought to Joe's book.  While I had a few great teachers at the senior high level, some really influential ones were at the junior high.  That's good and bad.  Two out of my three math teachers were simply awful.  It's not the only reason, but it's a factor why I'm not a fan of math.

On the other hand, I had three great English teachers at the junior high, then located in Dickson City.  Guess who writes for a living?  I have no idea where to find one teacher.  Another passed away.  I tried contacting the third late last year.  It didn't work.  I'll try again.  A "thank you" is long overdue.

To review, I'm a single and childless individual.  I don't know what's going on in junior highs and middle schools.  I do see so much "career oriented" activities in high schools, and that's great.  I wonder what's happening in the earlier grades, and I hope it's starting the nudge toward jobs, careers, and dreams.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

STEMming the Tide

For a single and childless individual, I sure have a lot of opinions on education.

Here's one.

There's been a huge STEM push in recent years.  It stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Wonderful!  That's where the jobs are.  Many STEM programs aim at leveling the playing field for young women.  After all, men dominated those fields for a very long time.

Please, think about this.

While you're balancing your equations and trying to build a better mouse trap, don't leave English behind.

I run in to so many young people who cannot construct a decent basic sentence, written or verbal.  They have problems expressing thoughts.  It makes me sad.

I was lucky to have some great junior high and high school English teachers.   My parents never said no, during my early years, when I asked them to buy me a book.  I proudly attended a liberal arts college.

Please, never lose sight of the fact that you can have a head full of great technical knowledge, but you are lost unless you can transmit and translate what you know to someone else.  In science, there are trends and fads.  Great communication never goes out of style.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Follow Up Monday

For the first time in months,  I'm late with a blog entry.  Sorry.  There was an unexpected early start at work.

The Major League Baseball season began in late March.  The minor leagues followed a few days later.  I've been noticing a lot of empty seats.  It's time to face facts.  The season is too long, it starts too early, and there are too many teams.  League contraction and shorter seasons will never happen.  There is too much money to be made.

The NFL has been toying with shortening the pre season and expanding the regular season to 18 games.  No, please.

Even though I haven't been to a theater in years, I do look at what's doing well at the box office.  It seems we like monsters, space and raunch.  No judgement zone.

I try to avoid letting the weather affect me, but I'm really tired of the cold.  I'm not looking forward to broiling either.  That's why I like the moderate fall.

All fires frighten me.  The Saturday evening New York high rise fire was particularly disturbing.

KMart in the Pittston Plaza closed for good yesterday.  Watching the chain spiral into the history books is just plain sad.  Stores were old and tired.  There was no investment in the product.  It's no wonder shoppers stayed away.






Sunday, April 8, 2018

Andy's Angles: Hazleton Snow

Even though I'm really itching to get back out on my bike, I'm trying not to let the long winter get me down.

The picture you see above was taken around 4 AM Monday, at Broad and Church in downtown Hazleton.  Heavy snow.  It would have been a prettier picture if it was January-- not April.

Joe Snedeker's long range forecast calls for a warm up beginning late this week.  I have a vacation beginning at noon, April 17th.  Maybe I'll be able to bike on my time off.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

About the Cover: The Anthracite

This month's blog header is the Anthracite Center in the middle of downtown Carbondale.

Below is a cut and paste from the Anthracite Center's web site.  Clearly, it needs updating.

Anthracite Center Holdings and Hospitality Services both became the anchor tenants in the former NBT Bank Building (formerly First National, Pioneer American, and PENNSTAR Banks) which has been helping define the downtown Carbondale skyline since its construction in 1928. The new owners of the building transformed the beautiful main lobby of the bank, including the impressive York Safe & Lock Company vault, meticulously maintained original marble tile floors, ornate ceiling architecture and lighting fixtures, while updating and modernizing the space – molding it into a unique community and private event space, with a large, open mezzanine, able to be enjoyed by all.

Downtowns can be dark and uninviting places.  It's nice to see something to light up Carbondale.

Overlooking the main lobby is a fully restored turn of the century style board room, ready to provide your meetings and presentations a professional space with vintage charm and classic styling. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the building include multiple professional office suites filled with vintage charm and modern amenities – perfectly suited for a single professional start-up company or a full team ready to relocate and grow.

Construction plans are in full-swing for converting the lower-level into Breaker Boys Cigar Club & Lounge, an up-scale bar/restaurant, featuring a walk-in humidor and separate smoking room located in a records vault.  Phase 2 of the Anthracite Center master plan involves a Roof-Top Lounge, atop the nearly 100 foot tall building, with breath-taking views of the entire City, which should be complete in late 2017.
Anthracite Center Holdings and Hospitality Services both became the anchor tenants in the former NBT Bank Building (formerly First National, Pioneer American, and PENNSTAR Banks) which has been helping define the downtown Carbondale skyline since its construction in 1928. The new owners of the building transformed the beautiful main lobby of the bank, including the impressive York Safe & Lock Company vault, meticulously maintained original marble tile floors, ornate ceiling architecture and lighting fixtures, while updating and modernizing the space – molding it into a unique community and private event space, with a large, open mezzanine, able to be enjoyed by all.

Overlooking the main lobby is a fully restored turn of the century style board room, ready to provide your meetings and presentations a professional space with vintage charm and classic styling. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the building include multiple professional office suites filled with vintage charm and modern amenities – perfectly suited for a single professional start-up company or a full team ready to relocate and grow.

Construction plans are in full-swing for converting the lower-level into Breaker Boys Cigar Club & Lounge, an up-scale bar/restaurant, featuring a walk-in humidor and separate smoking room located in a records vault.  Phase 2 of the Anthracite Center master plan involves a Roof-Top Lounge, atop the nearly 100 foot tall building, with breath-taking views of the entire City, which should be complete in late 2017.

Friday, April 6, 2018

EMK

A new movie, titled "Chappaquiddick" opens today.  Clearly, it deals with Edward Moore Kennedy's crash that killed a young woman with Luzerne County roots.

It doesn't rise to the level of obsession, but I think I'm like the rest of America.   The Kennedys are always of interest.  When channel surfing lands me on a JFK assassination documentary of History of National Geographic, I linger to watch.  For the record, I don't believe in a massive conspiracy.  However, I do think tons of information has been withheld from the American people.

It's the Kennedy way.

ABC and NBC great David Brinkley was once asked why every Bill Clinton scandal, and there were many, made page one...  and it was hands off Kennedy, Brinkley said he didn't have a good answer.  It simply wasn't done back in the 60's.  Pity.  We deserved to know what JFK was really like.

I have mixed feelings on the family.  I respect their sacrifice.  Few families have given more.  Two public murders.  Absolutely horrible.  On the other hand, I resent how there was two sets of rules.  One for them.  One for everybody else.

Ted Kennedy got away with homicide in 1969.  Much of the legal activity that followed was done behind closed doors.  It was embarrassing to watch his presidential candidacy implode in 1990.  Roger Mudd of CBS asked Kennedy why he wanted to be president.  Teddy didn't have a good answer.

The privilege carried to 1999.  JFK, Jr. and two others died in a plane crash.  The autopsy was rushed.  Established procedures not followed.  We'll never know what was in JFK, Jr's blood.  If there was something present, the deaths of the other two would be homicides.

Will I see the movie?  No.  I've ready plenty about Chappaquiddick, and I'm sure the movie will prompt another wave of television shows and magazine articles.  49 years has not dimmed the curiosity.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Media Notes

Dan Patrick isn't coming back to NBC's Sunday Night Football.  His call.  Too bad.  Patrick is one of the good ones.  It means more Mike Tirico, and you know how I feel about that.

Number of Baltimore Orioles games on free TV this season:  0.  Awful.  The same goes for the Washington Nationals.

I caught Imus' last show last week.  He dropped the mic very early, at 7:20 am and didn't do a full show.  That last broadcast was rambling and disjointed-- a tough listen.  After some nasty remarks about Rev. Sharpton and Howard Stern, it was over-- but not before proclaiming himself as one of the best ever.  Classless.

Watching "Roseanne" is not in my plans.  I'm not surprised it did well, but the numbers exceeded my expectations.

The Indianapolis 500 jumps to NBC next year, after more than 50 years on ABC.  Even though the race doesn't generate the interest it once did, this makes me sad.  Tradition.

Why are people so surprised that Facebook involves no privacy, whatsoever?

Because of "Scrubs,: I'm a huge Zach Braff fan.  "Garden State" was also excellent.  New sitcom, "Alex, Inc."  Ugh!  Likeable character.  Nice, overly sassy wife.  Precocious children!  Why does every sitcom have precocious children!?!?!?!?  There is potential for a really good show here, but this one will have a hard time winning me over.

Happy baseball season is back.  Not happy John Sterling is back.

Brockmire returns to IFC April 25.  Great series!  Not for the kids.

Stephen Bochco died over the weekend.  74.  Bochco is responsible for "Hill Street Blues."  I'm not one for police shows, but I do respect the man and the show had on the industry.

The TBS ratings for Monday night's NCAA basketball championship were off quite a bit.  I sort of understand it.  Villanova/Michigan really wasn't a great story.  The game was tight for a while, but a lot of people lost interest when Villanova built up a lead.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

50

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  For me, it was not a "where were you when..." event.  I was six years old, and I don't remember it.

Here is what I do remember about that week.  At my home, it was a ritual.  CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite at 6:30 PM.  WDAU News at 7.  Every night.  No exception.  In the morning, it was the CBS Morning News at 7, and Captain Kangaroo at 8.  Why?  Quality programs, and the other stations didn't come in well.

Back to the point...  I don't remember actual coverage of the King murder, but I do remember, vividly, watching the riots that followed.  Cities were on fire.  Back then, my family had several relatives in Bridgeport, Connecticut and surrounding areas.  While it has made significant progress, Bridgeport was a rough town back them, and my family was worried.

As those black and white images flickered on the screen, I wondered what made people so angry, and why they would burn their own cities, their own homes.  Race relations, inequality, and the loss of a hero are tough concepts for a six year old grasp.  My parents tried to explain.  So did Cronkite.  It was frightening.  It still is.  50 years have passed.  It still hurts to watch that film  It also hurts to realize that, in some areas, we haven't made a lot of progress in the last fifty years.

There will be a few other "50 year" blog entries in the days and the weeks to come.  I decided to make a logo.  As always, my goal is to keep it simple.  The memories are not happy ones, so I chose grey tones, black, and a bold 1968, because it really is a year that shaped American culture.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Five

In his CBS News interview, the now-retired Don Imus listed his top 5 radio people of all time.  Of course, he included himself.  The other four are Arthur Godfrey, Jack Benny, Howard Stern and Wolfman Jack.

That started me thinking.  Of course, any "top" lists are extremely subjective.

My top five, in no particular order are:

*Edward R. Murrow:  He brought War World II into American living rooms.

*Paul Harvey:  compelling radio on 1200 stations for 60 years.  It was all him.  No interviews.  No sound bites.  The power of the spoken word.

*Rush Limbaugh:  a skilled broadcaster who saved AM radio.  He proved syndicated talk can work in mid day.

*Howard Stern:  not the first shock jock, but he defined the genre.  Fearless interviewer.  He put satellite radio on the map.

*Casey Kasem:  the legend of American Top 40.  He was the voice of Sunday afternoons.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:  Imus, Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell, Dan Ingram, Wolfman Jack, Cousin Brucie, Howard Cosell

I'm sure I'm missing dozens more.  There are some local legends-- like Robert W. Morgan in LA, Wally Phillips in Chicago, the Ganbling family dynasty in NY-- but they are just that.  Local.
There was a quick thought of adding Larry King to the list, but he mailed that show in for years.  Jim Bohannon has been putting in a solid overnight effort for a long time, but when was the last time you heard anyone talk about it.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Howard 100

Last week, March 25, was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Howard Cosell.

Few sports broadcasters have had such a huge impact on American culture.  He might be at the very top.  Every impressionist did Cosell.  He made Monday Night Football must-see-tv.

I always felt Cosell's biggest contribution wasn't Monday Night Football.  It was ABC SportsBeat.  It was like a TV news magazine, but devoted to sports.  it was the serious journalism the sports world needed.  Unfortunately, it didn't last long.

The man is a legend.  for years, Cosell did an afternoon radio commentary for the ABC networks.  I read where he would walk in to the booth, without a script, deliver the commentary, and bring it in exactly on time.

In a fascinating biography, I learned Cosell was motivated by looking for approval from an absentee father, which he never received.  There was also a huge desire to be known as more than just a sports guy.  There was a short lived variety show on ABC.  He also talked with ABC News and Sports president Roone Arledge about anchoring news broadcasts.  It never happened.

Was I fan?  Yes, partially.  There were many times when Howard Cosell was hard to take.  He was angry, bitter, and cynical at the end of his run.  You can't deny his talent.

Most of all, Howard Cosell was a man of courage and conviction.  He took unpopular stands and didn't back off.  I admire that.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

Easter was always one of my favorite days, and times of year...  Springtime, new clothes, eggs, chocolate, ham, home made bread, warmer weather...

Of course, the day is more than bunnies and eggs.  If you are inclined to do so, please remember what the day is all about.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Andy's Angles: Free Parking


The policy started Monday.  Free parking remains at the Marketplace at Steamtown, but you do have to get your ticket validated.  You don't have to buy anything.

Reaction on social media has been overwhelmingly negative.  I was surprised at the response.

I don't think the new policy makes much of a difference.

There is only one Boscov's in the Scranton area.  If you want Boscov's, you have to go to this mall.  There are a few other things that make the Marketplace unique.  For the most part, however, you can get what you need without stopping here.

I do realize that most people, including myself, take the path of least resistance.  If it's a choice between two shopping centers, and one makes you jump through a minor hoop to park for free, I'll chose the other.

I also realize the marketplace had to boot the freeloaders.  It's a business, not a charity.

Bottom line.  This might hurt-- a little.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Funny

Dozens of news releases from police enter my "in box" every week.  Even more are on Facebook.  Some police departments are very good about letting the public know what's going on.  Others, not so much.  I guess if they don't talk about it, it doesn't exist.  But, that's not the topic of today's blog entry.

Today's subject is money.

It seems there's been an alarming spike in the number of counterfeiting cases recently.  Funny money is passed in the big stores and shopping centers every day.

Wait a second!  Haven't we redesigned our currency, several times, to stop this sort of thing?

I know computers and printers get more sophisticated by the day, but something is wrong here.  It seems like counterfeiters like 20's and 100's best.

It reminds me of the satellite escapades of the late 80's and early 90's.  Television networks grew weary of people stealing their video feeds.  They came up with fancy scrambling and encryption.  Someone would always find a way to defeat the safeguards.  Counterfeiting appears to be no different.  As soon as you redesign a bill, someone will find a way to duplicate it.

What's in your wallet?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Imus

Don Imus retires from radio today, and you know what?  It's time.  Imus is 77.  His cranky old man radio show has become unlistenable.  Apparently, a lot of people agree.  WABC's ratings are in the tank.

I've seen him in action.  While Imus has a ranch for children with cancer, he simply does not appear to be a nice person.  He demeans staff.  He talks down to visitors.  Enough.

I will give Imus all the credit in the world for being a break through shock jock, and there were many, many times he was outrageously funny.  None better.  I will offer even more credit for transitioning from that Top 40 jock in to a very good political talk show host.  Imus proved politics and news doesn't have to be deadly dull.  He asked good questions and he succeeded in getting quite a bit out of his guests.  for years, it was "must listen" radio.  Very few shows are in that category.

Imus was fired from WFAN and MSNBC for an attempt at humor that inflected hurt on a bunch of college kids.  He returned to radio several months later, but it was a different Imus.  Most big name guests stayed away.  He just wasn't funny.  The joy was gone.  The show became a chore.

I hope you had a chance to see the Imus piece Anthony Mason did on "Sunday Morning.".   It was a well done profile, showing the softer side of Imus.  By the way, Mason is one of TV's underrated talents.


Imus did irritate me when be belittled Paul Harvey's Marconi awards because he was only on three minutes a day.  for the record, Harvey did a 15 minute midday broadcast, and he was always outstanding.

As I said at the top of this piece, it's time to go.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Proud Voter

It's happened again.

I like Jeff Glor.  He is the new anchor of the CBS Evening News, and does a very good job.  In an interview with "Watch!," Glor said he doesn't vote.

I hate to hear that.  ABC's Charlie Gibson said he didn't vote until after he retired, and that broke my heart.

I have never missed an election in which I have been eligible to vote.  Being an independent severely limits my participation in primaries.  I fully believe it's possible to have opinions, but leave them at home.  Once I walk in the station door, neutrality rules.  I read a long time ago that you can't be objective, but you can be fair.

What about all those kids who marched Saturday?  Whether or not you agree with them, they all stressed the importance of voting.  It was moving.  How can you watch that and still stay home on election day?  Or walk past the polling place on your way to work?

Voting is a privilege and I do not take it lightly.  I also love my job.  Voting and journalism can co-exist.  You just have to build a wall between the two.  It can be done.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday Scrapple

When people are listing the world's greatest inventions, scoop shaped tortilla chips have to be included.

We all say it every year, but roads this year seem to be in the worst shape-- ever.

The Loyola Chicago basketball story, with Sister Jean, is among the best sports sagas we've seen in quite a while.

I'm really itching to get back on my bicycle.

I've been going to my gym for nearly six years, and we must have been through two dozen staffers on the overnight shift.  Incredible turnover.   Why?

The Wilson sisters might be the best female voices in rock and roll.

A comedian bought The Weather Channel.  Fitting.  Maybe he can stop the dopey winter storm names.

I really enjoy watching skunks and bunnies scamper through the yard.

Easter season is a great time of year.

Even though I know what it is...  even if it is a mundane purchase, I still enjoy watching the UPS or FedEx truck pull up in front of the house.

I know the company was loaded with debt, but Toys R Us had 12 per cent of the American toy market.  How does it fail?

Monday, March 26, 2018

45

It happened 45 years ago today.  The $10,000 Pyramid made its debut on CBS.

I didn't watch the first show.  Something called elementary school got in the way, but I do remember being home from school, sick, later that week.  I stumbled across the Pyramid, and I was blown away.  It was unlike any other game show on the air at the time. 

The theme music was bold, brassy, and funky.  The set was spectacular-- giant pyramid at the back of the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater, a massive amount of light bulbs, spinning boxes, and the great Dick Clark.  It was a feast for the senses.  There were game shows offering big money in the 50's, but this was one of the first, if not THE first of the modern era to offer a large cash prize.  The $10,000 Pyramid was a game changer, pardon the pun.

As for the game itself, blessedly simple, and very easy to play along with at home.  It's stood the test of time, and I'm still a fan.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Andy's Angles: Churches

A church adds so much to a town's look.  Honesdale is lucky, in that it has two beauties on the same street.

I know we need electricity, telephones, and cable tv... but, how those wires can ruin a shot.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Snow, the Park, and Other Things

Today, it's another shot from the recent snowstorm in Honesdale.  This is the pre dawn view of the park across from the Wayne County Courthouse.

When you look at a scene like this, it's difficult to believe that in just a few weeks, the grass will be green and the park will be filled with people enjoying warm, sunny days.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Password

It's something that's been happening for the past several years-- the company forces us to change our computer passwords every few months.  I'm not complaining.  The importance of computer security cannot be underestimated.

My current password is nearing its expiration date, and I really can't think of a new one that's memorable and means something to me.  I know. First world, modern problems.

If that's my biggest current issue, then it's going to be a good week.

I still have two more days to figure it out.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Shocking Behavior

A few of us were in the office the other day, talking about the approaching snow storm.  Remember, this was when snowfall amounts were much higher than what the storm actually delivered.  Everyone was complaining about the potential for ton of snow on the first day of spring.  When it was my turn, I said I didn't care.

Really?

Are you kidding me?

The guy who complains about snow, all the time?

I explained that I was lucky.  The storm was hitting on one of my days off, and for a change, I had nothing scheduled.  No broker, no accountant, no auto service, no family medical appointments, nothing I needed from the store, no veterinarian., no dry cleaner, no place to go, 

I had the luxury of reading, surfing the internet, watching TV, and napping... and watching it snow.

Plus, while spring snows can get you down, remember that warm weather will soon be here.  It melts quickly.  The grass will return.

I do understand the struggles of people in parts of our area.  They were hit with quite a bit of snow.  I also understand the issues involved in being reporters and photographers during a big storm.

As it turned out, my area received only a few snow showers.  It melted when it hit the road.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The New Normal?

It happened with amazing and delightful swiftness.  A major storm in the forecast, and the order came down from Harrisburg-- get the big trucks off the roads.

As has been established here, trucking is a tough business and our economy depends upon it.  I feel sorry for truckers and their families affected by any current or future ban.  Many drivers don't make money unless the wheels are rolling.

On the other hand, trucks are awful in heavy snow.  A stuck truck clogging an interstate or the Pennsylvania Turnpike doesn't help anyone.  The state had to learn this the hard way.  After repeated problems over the years, leaving drivers and passengers stranded for hours, state government is finally getting smart.

Truck bans in big storms appears to be the new normal.  Let's see how it works.  I'm already inclined to say it's a great idea.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Gamble

It's part of my weekend morning producing ritual-- go to the lottery web sites to check the payouts.They are usually updated around 2 AM, unless there is a big jackpot.  That usually slows things down a bit.

I had to look twice Sunday morning, when I saw that a Powerball ticket worth $ 457 million was sold here in Pennsylvania.  That's news!  I put lottery stories in the "local news" segments of the broadcast.  The lottery is huge here in our area.  There is usually a line at the mini mart machines, even when the jackpots aren't enormous.

So, where do I fall in this whole thing?  I'm thrilled a Pennsylvanian knocked off a big Powerball jackpot, but it's not going to change my view.  If you enjoy playing the lottery, outstanding!  I wish you all the luck in the world.  It's just not for me.  The odds aren't very good, and I'd rather spend my money on other things.

I've tried the casinos a few times over the years.  It's really not all that difficult to break even on the slots.  However, after just a few minutes of pushing buttons, I get bored.  I really don't know how people can do it hour after hour.  Again, if you enjoy it, keep doing it.

Table games?  While I'm a smart person and know the rules, I still find them rather intimidating.  They're not for me.

It's odd because I loved dice games as a kid-- studying potential rolls, odds and possibilities.  I'm still fascinated, in a way, but my money stays in my pocket.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Behind My Back

Of course, this blog has been very personal during its 13.5 years of existence, but it was never really intimate.  That's by design.  Don't be offended.  There are some things that are simply none of your business, and I'm sure you have some of the same feelings with your personal life.

However, I have to share a couple of fast stories, both of which took place last week.  One incident was to my face.  The other was behind my back.

I received a phone call from an old friend, who was touched by a blog entry several months ago.  She called to let me know.  I nearly cried, and I could sense she was holding back some tears.  It was great to hear her voice again, even though it was under awful circumstances.  The phone call meant a lot to me.

On a happier note, one broadcaster told a friend that she thought I was a very good news writer.  It made my day.  In fact, it made my week, and then some.

I was taught a long time ago, that the best question is the direct one.  The best sentence is the simple one.

I was so lucky, in that I trained under some great radio news people.  You learned to write basic and fast.  I'm sorry there isn't much radio news around these days.  It was a great place for young people to get a feel for the business.

My first television station had a message board that popped up on the screen when you fired up your computer.  Apologies for telling this story again, but it's been a while.  On the message board, it said "TIGHT WRITING = TOP CASTS."  It is true for producers.  It is true for reporters.  It is true for anyone who site behind the keyboard.  The news director responsible for that message board remains a good friend, nearly thirty years after he hired me.  I am forever grateful.

Two of my coworkers back in the day should be singled out.  David DeCosmo and Kevin Jordan had different styles, but both wrote some great copy.  You clearly understood the story when their pieces were over, and that is an exceptionally high compliment.  David is retired.  We lost Kevin a few years ago.

I later worked for an assistant news director, who really didn't like me.  He suggested that when I finish a script, I should walk away for a few minutes and return to take another look.  Chances are, I could find a few words that could be removed to tighten up the script and make it move along a little faster.  He was right.

Unfortunately, the clock is not our friend.  The faster I get the script in to the hands of a video editor, the better it will be.  I write, take a proofreading look, and ship it off to a manager for approval.  There isn't much time to tinker.

There are times I get what I call "lyrical."  The story demands it on occasion.  No one does it better than Mike Stevens.  He puts words to the pictures.  Yet, the whole comes out greater than the sum of the parts.  I envy that.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Andy's Angles: Trees

This is another pre dawn photo from Tuesday morning's snow in Honesdale.

It wasn't a windy morning, so the heavy, wet snow stuck to everything.  Yes, we're anxious for spring, but you can't deny the snow improved just about everything it touched.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Courthouse

It's been established here that Honesdale is one of my favorite places.

This is the Wayne County Courthouse Tuesday morning.  the borough was hit with about four inches of snow.  This photo was taken just before sunrise.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Farewell

By now, you've heard the news.  Toys R Us is closing nearly 800 stores.  It's over.

I have no reason to buy toys, and I haven't been in a Toys R Us store in many years.  I think I made a total of three visits since the chain appeared here in our area.  I can't tell you if it was good or bad, but I've done some reading.

It seems like a case of too much debt, not enough sales, and bad decisions by management.  Someone else is doing it better.  In this case, it's Walmart and Amazon.

When I was growing up, Toys means The Globe in Scranton, Sears, Sugerman's and Mermelsteins.  As I grew a little older, I loved exploring a mall store called "Kids."  It had a great hobby and craft section.  My the time Kay Bee came in, I was out of the toy stage.

I do have to note something else.  An overnight network news anchor had a great deal of fun yesterday morning, wondering if Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey Giraffe was going to fit into an unemployment office.  What an insensitive idiot!  31,000 people are losing their jobs, and he tries to be funny.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fair Weather

It looks like Lackawanna County is getting a county fair next year.  An announcement comes today.  It will happen at Montage, so one can assume that's where the fair will be located.

Are there more pressing county issues?  Certainly!  Quality of life and entertainment are important.  Top of the list?  Not even close.

If it can be done at break even, or a slight profit-- wonderful.

There is already a long list of fairs from spring through fall.  People have a finite amount of disposable income.  I fear a county fair will take business away from fire department carnivals and church bazaars.  That remains to be seen.

Let's keep an open mind and see how this all plays out.  You never know.  It could be a rousing success.

While I'm on the subject, I was so happy to see a number of communities here in our area hold ice festivals and winterfests this year.  Winter goes by so much faster when there is something to do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I'm Touched

A couple of my coworkers put together an occasional feature for our Facebook page.  It's called "Get to Know."  Staffers, on and off camera, answer 16 questions.  It's cute, informative, and very well done.

By the way, the grumpy old man declined to participate.  I've had the blog for more than 13 years.  If  you don't know me by now...

Anyway, this week's subject is 6 PM news producer Brian Holmes.  One of the questions was "Who is your favorite person at WNEP?"  I was shocked when the answer was me.

I am truly flattered.

Brian and I go back to the old days, when we both worked across the street.  We parted company in 1998, when I moved to WNEP.  Brian stayed, but eventually took a couple of jobs in upstate New York, before joining WNEP eleven years ago.

The memory is exceptionally fuzzy, but I think we were part of the same group that sampled local night life.

One of the things that gives me great joy is when people you met as broadcasting and journalism pups move on to bigger things.  Please note, I didn't say "better things."  I still hear from a few.  It makes my day when they note something they picked up from me, a long time ago.

Do yourself a favor.  Check out this week's "Get to Know."  Look at old ones, and keep an eye out for new ones.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Media Tuesday

I'm getting really tired of certain celebrities telling me how to live my life.  Enjoy your billions.  Please, leave me alone.

Ron Allen and Mike Remish were great at celebrating the work of local high school athletes.  Both are no longer with us.  John Mendola's Saturday morning radio show carries on the tradition, and it's refreshing to hear someone talk about local kids doing good things.  Of course, this is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.  I hope there are similar efforts in the rest of northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

The NCAA basketball tournament doesn't interest me-- unless there is a team exceeding expectations.  Everyone loves a Cinderella story.

Back in the day, all the games were on CBS, and network management always found a way to switch you to the most interesting games.  Now, the games are split up on several networks.  It's great that you can watch the game of your choice in its entirety, but some of the magic is gone.

I spent several years at a CBS station, and the first two days of the NCAA tournament were always the worst for our telephone operators.  They would field tons of calls from people upset that the soap operas were preempted.  As hard as they tried, they just couldn't convey that it was a network decision, not a local one, and the soaps would pick up where they left off.

By the way, it might be a good couple of weeks to avoid sports talk radio.  Nothing bores me more than hearing people talk about their brackets.

ESPN dumped Sean McDonough from the Monday Night Football both.  Joe Tessitore is in.  ESPN is still looking for a Jon Gruden replacement.  Monday Night Football struggles because the games are bad, not the announcers.  McDonough is very good.  He'll be ESPN's number two guy on college football.

FOX wants NBC's Mike Tirico to do its new package of Thursday night NFL games.  Why?  There are a dozen, at least, who can do a better job than Tirico.

There is a web site that features network news music.  I really miss the old version of the ABC News theme.

Saturday Night Live's ratings hit a season low this past weekend.  It might be time to do something other than bash the president.



Monday, March 12, 2018

Wonder

Part of my sense of wonder is how some very simple things give me great joy.  Here is a partial list.

I still get a major kick when Bucknell University's basketball team makes it to the NCAA tournament, even though it's happened many times before.

I still feel excitement when I see Johnny Carson walk through the rainbow curtain.

People make my day when they remember the work I did in radio.

I love it when water from melting snow forms a tunnel beneath snow banks on the curb.

Seeing a rainbow.

Eating a really good chocolate chip cookie.

Hearing people I worked with or against on big radio and tv stations and networks makes me happy.

I've seen some old tv sitcoms so many times that I can recite the dialog, and I still love watching them.

My Amazon Echo plays "Paperback Writer" any time I want.

I can track packages I ordered.

Slide belts.

Bacon.

I still get up every day and wonder what new things I will learn.

I am friends with some people, who, in a million years, I never thought I would like.

More to come.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Time

It's time for my twice yearly rant on switching from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time and vice versa

Studies show it doesn't accomplish anything.  Daylight Saving Time doesn't save energy.  We are no longer an economy dominated by agriculture.

Some big states are considering staying on one time all year round.  Once that happens, the rest will fall in line.

The only drawback I can see is kids going to school in the morning in the dark.  I went through that when we switched time during the 70's energy crisis.  We survived.  Kids are coming home in the dark anyway, because parents try to cram too many after school activities in to their lives.  I've written about this before, but I'm still shocked by the children in line at the mini mart in the morning, buying giant coffees and energy drinks.  Something is wrong somewhere.

To be honest with you, it doesn't bother me.  I'm up all night anyway, and that really lessens the adjustment period.



Saturday, March 10, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Rest of the Story

I shared the photo you see above on social media Tuesday.  It does need a little bit of an explanation.

First, Joe and I occasionally do something slightly humorous on Facebook.  It's an attempt to show that I do have a lighter side, which many people still don't believe exists.

Second, I really do have an interest in the weather.  My desk is near the weather office and I often stop by to see what's going on and ask questions, especially if there is a storm in the forecast.

There was a time, in my high school days, when I seriously considered meteorology as a career. I used to love watching J. Kristopher do the WNEP weather back in the day.  J. wasn't a meteorologist, but he was a gifted communicator.  I'm glad our time at WNEP had a slight overlap.  It was a kick working with someone I really admired as a kid, and as an adult.

So, what derailed the meteorology train?  Math.  As I looked in to it, I discovered you had to take a lot of math courses.  I was never fond of math, and some horrible experiences with a couple of awful junior high school math teachers cemented my opinion.

I strongly admire those who can do it, but I wasn't cut out to be a number cruncher.  I'm a writer, and a liberal arts college like Marywood was a much better fit for me than a science based school.  By the way,  Joe has been teaching a meteorology course at Marywood for the past several years.  He added oceanography this year.  I've offered to be a guest lecturer when the chapter on mermaids comes around.

As the great Paul Harvey used to say... And now you know, the rest of the story.

Friday, March 9, 2018

They Still Don't Get It

Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast was down 20 per cent from last year.

I'm sure horrible weather in the northeast played a role, but you can't turn back on what is likely the major factor.  Entertainment is supposed to be a diversion.  An escape.  No one wants to hear what some star or starlet thinks about politics.  I saw clips.  Despite Jimmy Kimmel's best efforts, it didn't appear to be a fun broadcast.

Yes, there should be discussions on harassment and inequality.

Time and place.

And once you delve in to politics, you automatically know that half of the country agrees with you.  The rest disagrees.  Can you afford to turn off half of your audience?

Other awards shows saw the drop.  The NFL took a hit this year, although it is by far the most popular televised sport.

Bring back the fun.

And, Papa John's is no longer the official pizza of the NFL.  In the fall, Papa John's owner said his sales were down because of the whole NFL player/National Anthem controversy, so the end of the relationship is really no surprise.

The NFL's new official pizza is Pizza Hut.

I know there is a glow attached to being the NFL's official pizza, but I chose my pies based on taste and location.  In my book, the NFL is oh-for-two.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bust

Yesterday's forecast, as far as my little corner of the valley is concerned, was a bust.  What was supposed to be 16 inches turned out to be little more than a coating.

I'm not complaining, even though I did rearrange some aspects of my life to suit the forecast.

Yes, I did follow the masses to the supermarket.  My run took place at 3:30 AM Wednesday.  There were only two other shoppers in the store.  One checkout was open.  I breezed through.  Diet soda, eggs, frozen pizza, fruit, Chex Mix, and one of the last bags of ice melt left on the planet.

We have whiz bang satellites and computers, but Mother Nature has a mind of her own.  It turns out, the storm was kicked out to see a little faster than expected.  Parts of Pennsylvania were nailed.  My part wasn't.  Again, no complaints.

The state appeared to be ready this time.  Brine went down Tuesday afternoon.  Exit ramps were salted Wednesday morning.  The governor declared a state of emergency.  Trucks were ordered off the roads.  I hope we see more of this in the future.

While it will be tempting to needle the folks in the weather department, I will resist.  Once in a while, you get a bust.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

After the Horse Has Left the Barn

Trucks were a big part of my father's business when I was growing up.    Many of my friends had family members in the trucking business.  I have a great deal of respect for the profession and the people in it.

I love ordering something from Amazon or Chewy, and having it delivered to my front door in only two days.  Trucks make that happen.  Trucks make America work, and they are a hugely important part of the economy.

Having established that foundation, they should be ordered off the roads when big snow comes.  Jackknifed tractor trailers helped clog the interstates last week, causing highways to be closed for hours.  Thousands of people were stranded and that's just plain wrong.  It shouldn't have happened.

Hours before the first snowflakes fell today, Governor Wolf ordered a list of trucking restrictions.  It's like locking the door after the horse has run out of the barn.


PennDOT will impose a ban on empty straight trucks, large combination vehicles (tandem trailers and double trailers), tractors hauling empty trailers, trailers pulled by passenger vehicles, motorcycles and recreational vehicles, or RVs, on:
  • Interstate 78 from the junction with Interstate 81 in Lebanon County to the New Jersey line.
  • I-80 from the junction with Interstate 81 to the New Jersey line.
  • I-81 from the Maryland line to the New York State line.
  • I-84 from the junction with Interstate 81 to the New York State line.
  • I-380 from the junction with Interstate 80 to the junction with Interstate 81.
At the same time, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will prohibit these vehicles from traveling the northeastern extension between the Lehigh Tunnel and Clarks Summit.
Additionally, at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, all commercial vehicles will be banned on I-380 and I-84 within Pennsylvania.
Restrictions will remain in place as long as warranted through the storm. As conditions develop, speed restrictions and wider truck and vehicle bans will be considered on these routes.