Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Murphy Oppenheim

CBS announced last week that Murphy Brown is coming back for a limited run late this year or early next year.


I'm sure it will be 13 weeks of anti Trump jokes.  That's unfortunate.  I'm sure they can go for more  than the low hanging fruit.

Overall, it was a great series, and I hope that, in spite of going for the obvious, it's a good new run.

For me, Murphy Brown and the Oppenheim Building at Lackawanna and Wyoming in downtown Scranton will forever be intertwined.  Let me explain.

I was working for the CBS station in town back in May of 1992, when it actually had a news department..  I finished my shift at 6 pm, went home, had dinner, and was beginning to unwind.  Then, the phone rang.  It was Joe the assignment editor, asking me to come back to work because the Oppenheim Building, right next door to the TV station, was on fire!

I jumped back in the car and pointed it toward Scranton.  At the apex of the O'Neill Highway in Dunmore, near the cemetery, I looked toward Scranton and saw a plume of black smoke rising over the city.  I got sick.  This was big.

Time flew.  I was given the task of doing an 8:59 PM live report.  We were flying blind.  The station was evacuated.  We were running the operation from the transmitter, on top of a mountain in Hanover Township.  We could go live, but I would have no time cues, no communication with the person pushing the buttons.

This was the night of Murphy Brown's baby shower-- one of television's big events, and it was starting at 9:00 PM.  I was to go live, while standing on top of a truck, in the South Washington Avenue parking lot where Scranton Police later built its headquarters.

Just before going live, our general manager walked over to me.  He's a man I am still in touch with, a greatly respected, dear and trusted friend and adviser.  In his stern, but calm and quiet way, he said the following:  "You will not run over in to Murphy Brown."

My guardian angel was with me that night and the angel enlisted some extra help.  I brought in the special report at exactly one minute! Our audience was not deprived of one second of Murphy Brown's baby shower.

After the special report, I worked on a story for our 11 pm newscast, along with several other staffers.  The show was anchored from the sidewalk in front of the station.

The station had some smoke damage.  We were OK.  The overnighters reassambled the operation, and it was back to normal the next morning.

Even though it was more than 25 years ago, I can't think of, or watch Murphy Brown without thinking of that night.