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.