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Thursday, January 31, 2019

C-O-L-D COLD!

Wow!  It's been a while since I pulled out the Polar Vortex graphic.

It's cold.  It's been colder.  Relax.  It won't last long.  Don't buy in to the hype.  Cold weather makes great TV pictures, and that's why the networks go nuts.

Use your common sense.  Cover up.  Limit time outdoors.  Don't over-tax your heating and electrical systems.  No open flames to thaw frozen pipes.  Get your pets indoors.

The longest, coldest, snowiest month of the year is hours away from ending.

We'll be complaining about the heat and humidity before you know it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday Scrapple

The air smells a little sweeter today, the colors look much brighter.

It's Super Bowl week.  As always, no plans to watch the game.  The hype was fun for a couple of days.  I've now grown weary.

Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2019:  Mariano Rivera?  Yes!  Everyone else?  No!  It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Numbers or the Hall of Very Good.

It seems like several others have joined me in saying January seems endless.

CNN's Jim Acosta is writing a book about covering the Trump administration.  I will always remember the words of the great David Brinkley:  "Our job is not to love or hate.  It's to tell you what happened."  Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

We just lived through one of the worst weather weeks in a while, and there is more to come.  We'll see what the groundhog has to say Saturday.

Steely Dan was so underrated.

77 year old Socialist Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic presidential nominations.  Anything is possible.

There are security cameras everywhere these days.  Why do people continue to be so stupid?

The state of Washington is dealing with a measles outbreak.  What year is this?

It seems there's been a spurt of restaurant closings and openings lately.  Market over saturation.  It's the circle of life.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Celebrating a Chevy

Every organization, especially news organizations, has its Ferraris and Porches.  Big names, big personalities, often high maintenance.

And then, there are the Chevys.  Steady, dependable, the people who are the foundation, the ones who keep the place going day to day, versatile, team players.

Steve Ball was one of ABC's Chevrolets for many years.  He was everywhere-- Europe, Vietnam, New York, the White House.

Bell was the first Good Morning America news anchor in the mid 70's.  David Hartman was the host back then, a guy with zero news credentials.  I should add that it doesn't take a degree to be prepared, curious, and ask intelligent questions.  Anyway, in those early years, when there was a big and important interview, ABC paired Hartman and Bell.  Hartman was the big name.  Bell was there to make sure the right questions were asked and someone with news gravitas was around.  Eventually, David Hartman emerged as a really sharp guy and a good interviewer.  The ratings took off.  It was morning television's most watchable broadcast.  During a cast change, Hartman thanked Bell and referred to him as "my teacher."  In my book, that is an exceptionally high compliment.

After leaving ABC News, Steve Bell was a local anchor in Philadelphia.  It didn't seem right.  Bell then became a college professor, to rave reviews.

Steve Bell died Friday.  83.

He makes me proud to be a Chevy.

Monday, January 28, 2019

So Long, and Thank You

Frank Cali started working at WARM maybe a year after I did, in the very early 80's.  Frank, under the name of Chris O'Brien, did the overnight shift at first.  Yes, this was the time when real radio stations had real live people working around the clock.  It was called "full service radio."

I was the evening news person at the time, and I'd hang around after my shift ended at 11:30 PM, just shooting the bull with Chris for hours, hearing some old stories and learning about the business.   He loved radio.  Let me repeat:  Chris loved radio.  Before his arrival at WARM, Chris programmed a few radio stations in the market.  I will never forget his advice.  Chris believed radio programming wasn't all that difficult.  All you really had to know was "shut up and play the hits."  Of course, it was a little more than that.  He had one odd accomplishment.  It seems every station Chris joined, excluding WARM, had a polka show, and he always canceled it.

When Chris was "between jobs," he borrowed my typewriter to bang out resumes.  I'd drop it off at whatever place he was renting and pick it up a few days later.

Chris was what we in the business call a "floater."  He changed jobs frequently.  It's usually viewed as a negative.  I didn't see it that way.  He was just constantly looking for something new, a challenge.

Chris might have been the original Dr. Johnny Fever.  I remember when he arrived at WARM, he needed a card in front of him to remember his new air name and the station's call letters.

One of my favorite stories was when Chris worked at a radio station with big windows in the studio, looking out onto a used car lot next door,  run by a shady operator.  As Chris was talking on the air, he watched the used car lot owner get punched in the face by an angry customer.   Yes, I know assault isn't funny, but even after all these years, I still think of the way Chris told the story, and I can get a good laugh out of it.

We stayed in touch long after the WARM days.  He hired me to work with him at WKRZ AM 1340 in Wilkes-Barre.  I almost jumped, but WARM offered me more hours as a counter.   I stayed.  We reconnected a few years back, going out to lunch a few times.  It was good to talk with an old friend.

Chris, and I always called him that rather than his given name (he didn't mind), collected old television memorabilia.  Out of privacy and security concerns, I won't give the list of everything I saw in his most impressive collection, but there was a chair from Al Bundy's "Married with Children" shoe store, one of Johnny Carson's coffee mugs, some of Soupy Sales' old cancelled checks and contracts. plus tons of 3 Stooges stuff.  He was friends with cartoon voices, including June Foray, who brought Rocky the Squirrel to life.  Chris knew Moe Howard's daughter.  He had several autographs of the major movers and shakers from his time at the Voice of America in Washington.


There were plenty of health problems over the years, and that made me sad.  He had a lot left to give.

Chris used to live in a high rise a few miles from my house.  Even though he had moved, I'd pass the high rise and say to myself, "I have to see how he's doing."  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I'm sorry.

Frank Cali, Chris Starr, Chris O'Brien died Friday night.

I lost a teacher.

I lost a friend.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Andy's Angles: My Way or the Highway

Today, it's another shot from the fourth floor of the hotel next to WNEP.  Our building is off to the left.  Interstate 81 and the Davis Street bridge are on the right.

The state barred big trucks and buses from the interstates and the turnpike during last weekend's storm.  I'm sorry if you're a truck driver because, for most, you don't get paid unless your wheels are rolling.  On the other hand, if I had a nickel for every jackknifed tractor trailer on a snowy road I've seen...  And, yes, I will admit that ill prepared auto drivers and 4 wheel vehicle drivers, who think they are bulletproof,  cause their share of crashes.

PennDOT put out a news release after the storm, touting that every interstate stayed open during the storm.  That's like an airline putting out a daily news release saying "we didn't crash today." 

Congratulations!  You actually did your job.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Andy's Angles: Home

This is a shot of the WNEP building from Sunday morning.  The snow had stopped.  The rain had started.  the big chill was on the way, turning that heavy, wet snow into just about solid ice.

The photo was taken from the fourth floor of the hotel next door.  Yes, that's where I spent the weekend.  In 20.5 years at WNEP, it was only the second time I stayed in one of the adjacent hotels.  The first time was during the Blizzard of '17.

Here's how that latest stay came about.  I was tooling around on the internet Friday morning.  A private and well respected forecasting service raised the possibility, not the likelihood of two feet of snow.  My panic button was at the ready.  I went on the hotel web site and saw a notice that rooms were filling up fast.  A few clicks later, and I had a room for two nights.

My situation is different than most because I work funky hours.  The hotel management was kind enough to grant me an early check in, so I could get a few extra hours of sleep.  I took a second night because, according to the original forecast, it was supposed to be snowing hard on my drive home time.

Here is where experience pays off.  When I stayed there in March of 2017, the nightstand had a very nice alarm clock, but no radio.  I slept horribly.  I need my radio. I can't sleep with the television on.  Yes, I could have received audio from my phone, but I was having some wi fi issues.  This time, I came prepared with a trusty transistor.  Worked like a charm.  Great AM reception, and the radio stayed on for more than 12 hours on the same set of two AA batteries.  I was impressed.  Thank you Sony and Duracell. 

I left my SUV in the WNEP parking lot, walking to the hotel and then back to the office.  It was really cool to be able to walk to work.  I needed to time it better because I arrived at the office way too early Saturday night and Monday morning.  The early Saturday night did give me time to have a nice dinner of newsroom pizza.

I can't say enough nice things about the hotel staff, but I hope it will be a very long time before my next stay.

Friday, January 25, 2019

A Cold Week

I'm glad we did it back then, and again Monday night.

One of our neat little Newswatch 16 features, from time to time, is Video Vault.  We go back in to the archives and pull out a story we did years ago, with some relevance to today.  As you saw in this space Monday, it was the 25th anniversary of the coldest day on record at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.  Before my shift was over Monday, I reminded managers and the 7 PM producer that I did a story on the tenth anniversary of that frigid day.  If time allowed, it would make for a great Video Vault.

Yes, that's a a screen grab of me above, shot in 2004.  Was my hair ever that dark?

As I noted on Facebook this week, when the story originally aired, I didn't like it.  It wasn't a grabber.  It was missing something.  To refresh, I dug into the WNEP 1994 archives and attempted to catch up with people we covered.  I found a few, including a heating oil company worker and a letter carrier with a frostbitten finger.  A PPL executive and morning meteorologist Mark Sowers rounded out the piece.

As I watched the video again this week, I realized it was a pretty good story, and I was very hard on myself way back when.  A little humor, a little information, a lot of good video, and some nice editing from now retired WNEP photographer Tom Hovey.

We received an e-mail the day after the Video Vault aired.  It was from the daughter of the heating oil company worker.  He passed away a year after the 10th anniversary piece.  She enjoyed hearing and seeing her dad again.  The e-mail made my day.

As I have said before, we parachute in to people's lives-- sometimes, on great days for them.  At other times, it's an awful day.  And then, we're gone.  It's nice to catch up and relive some memories.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

4 + 1 = 32

Yes.  4 = 1 = 32.  It's the new drug store math.

Let me crunch the numbers for you.  I stopped at an all night drug store the other morning because there was a sale on 2 liter bottles of diet soda.  On top of that, my favorite toothpaste was on sale.  I didn't need a tube, but at that price, what the heck?

Five items.  My register receipt was 32 inches!

Let me back up for a moment.  I get most of my stuff at a big box store.  This particular drug store has two things going for it.  It's open 24 hours, and some of the staff are simply the nicest people.

Let's examine the receipt.

A coupon for $3 off a tooth whitening kit.  Pass.

$4 off a 10 dollar razor and blade purchase.  Maybe.

30 per cent off Maybelline products.  Pass again.

$5 off Gillette products.  Maybe, again.

$5 off a $40 purchase.  Doubtful.

I already have a loyalty card.  Couldn't you just send me an e-mail, noting what discounts are available to me.

Save a tree.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Farewell II

Quinnipiac University owns AM 1220 in Connecticut.  The university operates it as a commercial radio station.  The news came down last week.  Quinnipiac is shutting down the station at the end of May.  The reason?  "A steep decline in students considering a career in radio or wishing to intern at the station."

#SAD

It's part of a self fulfilling prophecy for the industry.  Pull in programming from satellites, voice track, automate, kill local news and community involvement.  When you take the human element out, fewer humans will want to get in to the business.

I can see more college radio stations going off the air.  I can see some colleges and universities dropping broadcasting programs.  I am thankful there are still some vital college programs in this part of the state.  I pray it stays that way.

WQUN was 1,000 watts during the day, 305 at night.  I doubt it had a huge audience.  That's irrelevant.  A voice goes silent, a place to learn what can be a wonderful occupation will disappear.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Farewell

The remnants of the Tappan Zee Bridge were blown up last week.  Good riddance!

It crosses the Hudson River at one of its widest points, about 25 miles north of New York City.  It was replaced last year by a new and wider bridge.

I hated the Tappan Zee Bridge.  Long before Interstate 84, this was the way you got to Connecticut.  Aunt Mary and Uncle Al lived in Bridgeport, and there were occasional visits in the 60's and 70's.

I do not like big bridges over water.  It hasn't risen to the phobia level, because I have crossed the Hudson in other places, like the Newburgh and Poughkeepsie areas.  I've driven the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Key Bridge in Maryland.  I'll do it.  I don't like it.

I'm sure my dislike for the Tappan Zee has something to do with Bridgeport.  It was an awful place way back when.  Dirty.  Crime ridden.  Scary.  I associate the bridge with Sundays in Bridgeport.  I hear the city has improved.  I'll take their word for it.  Uncle Al and Aunt Mary left us many years ago, so there is no reason to ever go back.

Watching those big bridge pieces hit the Hudson last week made me smile.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Brrrr.....

January 21, 1994

21 degrees below zero.

It was the coldest ever in the Scranton area.

I remember it well.

I was working the morning shift, "down the street" as we say in the business.  I was filling in for the usual morning reporter.  I had a 9 AM start back in those days.

Photographer Joe and I had a busy morning.  We talked to pro lifers before dawn, who were headed to Washington for their annual March for Life.  We talked to trash haulers.  They like it cold because garbage smells less in the cold.  We recorded Scranton mayor Jimmy Connors' appearance on "Imus in the Morning.  the big story of the day was a water main break on Penn Avenue, near the veterans' home in downtown Scranton.

We had several technical problems that day.  TV cables tend to get brittle when it hits 21 below zero, and the ends kept breaking off.  We had one cable left, but it was short.  In order to get the angle with the flowing water behind me, in my live shot, I had to stand in a snow bank up to my knees.

The morning broadcast ended.  Joe and I went back to the station to warm up for a few minutes, and it was time to figure out a story for our noon broadcast.  We just jumped in a truck and headed north to see what we could see.

We ran in to a farmer in a field, and plenty of cows.  Farming is a tough business when the weather is nice.  Imagine the difficulty when it's brutally cold.  The farmer told us that yes, cows can get frost bite, and they actually give more milk in the cold.  Cows eat more to keep their body temperature up, and that translates into increased milk output.

I was here at WNEP for the 10th anniversary of that frigid day.  I went back in to the archives to look at the stories from that day, and I retraced the steps of the WNEP reporters from 1994.  I found the heating oil salesman, who was busy beyond belief.  I also found the Honesdale letter carrier who suffered a frost bitten finger that day.

One of the major kicks of being in this business is having a front row seat to history.  It was a great view on January 21st of 1994, as long as you were bundled up.

NFL PICKS:

It was a gutsy and stellar weekend for me.  I picked both road teams, both underdogs, and both won.

It will be a New England versus Los Angeles Super Bowl, and my thoughts on that will be in this space in the days to come.

So far-- 10 playoff games, and I nailed 7 of them.  Not bad.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Andy's Angles: Nathan

It's a while since I've posted a Nathan picture here.

Nathan is doing well, pictured here in one of his favorite activities-- napping.

Not a bad idea.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Andy's Angles: Caught!

You might have to expand the photo.  It's tough to see.  It was taken at 3 AM on a morning this week.

Yes, that is a Turkey Hill tractor trailer, on the far right, parked outside a Sheetz in Dunmore.

The AndyPalumbo.com investigative unit, the "P Team" was called in to take a closer look.  The driver, wearing a Turkey Hill cap,  was at the register, purchasing a coffee and one of those cellophane wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

No harm, no foul.  I assume the guy was hungry and it never hurts to see what the competition is doing.  It reminded me of the time I was in a Wendy's in Owego, NY-- and there was a woman in a McDonald's uniform in line in front of me.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Coat II

I resisted for a long time, but I've finally become a convert.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I've grown to like puffy coats.

My reluctance stemmed from the look.  They can be bulky and not very flattering.  Some of the shiny ones make you look like you're wearing a trash bag.  There are times that Michelin Man look are unavoidable.

Useless trivia:  The Michelin Man has a name.  It's "Bibendum."

Back to the coat...  even though the look isn't the greatest, they are warm.  The big plus, in my book, is the weight.  They are light as a feather, pardon the pun.  I like that.

I do save puffy coat appearances for the really cold weather and it looks like we'll have some of that this week.

As regular readers know, I feel the movie "A Christmas Story" is hugely over-rated.  Yes, it's cute and amusing.  Once.  The part that I do like is watching everyone in their heavy wool winter wear.  That's what we had when we were kids.  It was heavy, uncomfortable, and itchy.  If you encounter a winter hater, chances are they had to wear that stuff when they were kids.  Thank heaven for down, fiberfill, and Thinsulate.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Half

I know I do a similar blog entry every year, but bear with me.  It helps me cope.

The three coldest months of the year are December, January, and February.  Check the calendar.  Winter is now half over!

I can't really complain.  It hasn't been that bad, so far.  No below zero cold.  Only one major storm, and I was lucky to have the day off for that one.  You remember that one-- the week before Thanksgiving.  It was the storm forecasters didn't see coming and Penndot botched, again.

As I write this, there is the potential for a weekend filled with snow and ice.

Let's look forward.  The last two weeks of January are traditionally the coldest of the year, but as of February 1, the daily high and low averages start to inch up, ever so slowly.  This is also the time of year you can feel those later sunsets, and notice the sun getting a little stronger.

We're not out of the woods yet.  We have had cold snaps and monster storms in the tail end of winter, but least a huge section of the season is now behind us.

NFL PICKS:

I'm 5 for 8 in the playoffs so far.  Let's see if I can improve this weekend.

Kansas City is a three point home favorite versus New England.  If KC wins, it will be a close one, so I'm expecting a New England win.  Take the Patriots and the points.  As I've said earlier, I won't become a KC believer until they win a big game.  I'm not there yet.  I will become a KC believer if New England goes home, and that will make me very happy.

New Orleans is giving up 3.5 to the Los Angeles Rams.  I thought the Rams looked good last week.  Take the Rams and the points.  I get the feeling the Rams will win.

I haven't watched a Super Bowl since 1999, so I don't care who plays and who wins.  Even though the Rams and Chiefs are Super Bowl veterans, it's been a while and it seems like and interesting match up.

Anyone but New England, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing the Patriots February 3rd.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Blue Streak 2

Sorry the update's delay has been slow.  There were more pertinent matters.

To get you up to speed, last week, I asked why the first edition of newspapers used to be called the "blue streak."  Researcher extraordinaire Joe Klapatch and a couple of Facebook buddies came to my rescue.

Joe found a book called "Coming of Age in Scranton" by Terry Carden.  The author sold the blue streak editions of the Scranton tribune, and they actually had a blue line up the left margin.

My Facebook friends said it appears blue streak had its origins in lightning.  Those old first editions were put out fast, like lightning, which causes a blue streak across the sky.  Joe also found a column from a newspaper in Michigan, which said basically said the same thing.

I did learn a new newspaper term:  "red ball."  It refers to a story rushed in to print, like a hot red ball shot out of a cannon.

To say the least, newspapers are one of our more colorful industries. 

Thanks to the internet, there are no deadlines.  As soon as a story is good to go, it's thrust out to the masses.  There are advantages.  It's not nearly as much fun.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Coat, Again

I said I wasn't going to do it this year, that it was time to move on.

I fell victim to tradition.


Every January, I pull an old blue winter coat out of the closet and wear it for a few weeks.  I bought the coat in January of 1997, while I was unemployed.  It wasn't an impulse buy.  I saw it in a store, liked it, left it there, went back a few days later and made the purchase.

I hope you never experience unemployment.  It isn't fun.  I had safety nets, but you are still filled with worry and anxiety.  I was watching every penny.  Then, there was that one day, when I saw the coat.  I just needed to be nice to myself for a moment.

The coat was at an outlet.  It wasn't all that expensive.  There were pangs of guilt nonetheless.  After wearing it several times, for 22 years, I would say that I've gotten my money's worth out of it, and it's held up well.

Are there morals to the story?  Of course.  Always remember where you came from.  There is no guarantee that what's here today will still be here tomorrow.  It's okay to splurge once in a while.  Let yourself off the hook when something doesn't go your way.  I know that isn't easy.  Take care of your coats.  You might need them for a while-- for the warmth and the memories.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Law & Order

I have to admit, the intrigue is delicious.

The FBI raided Scranton City Hall and Mayor Bill Courtright's home last week.  As of this writing, the FBI will not say what it is looking for.  The mayor has refused to comment, not returning repeated overtures.

Let's start off that everyone involved is innocent until proven guilty.  No one has been charged.  We don't know if anyone ever will be charged, and just because there's smoke doesn't mean there's fire.

Having established all of that, the people of the city really deserve to know what's going on, at least a little.  This isn't the best crisis management.  I remember when Rep. Joe McDade announced his own indictment.  He got out in front of it, and put his personal spin on the story.  It helped get McDade reelected to congress again and again, in spite of the cloud over him.  At least, Mr. Courtright, issue a statement.  You have to get this story under control.  Rumors are flying and that is never good.  The mayor did tell the Times~Tribune that resignation speculation is false.

Speaking of public disclosure, Wilkes-Barre Police put out a Facebook post last week, warning of a rash of strong armed robberies in the city's east and north ends.  Senior citizens are the targets.  The thieves grab wallets and cell phones.

It's horrible.  A city can't move forward if residents don't feel safe in their own neighborhoods.  It's nice the city issued the warning.  It will be even nicer when those who prey on the elderly are behind bars.

And, then, there was a shooting in a Scranton bar early Saturday morning.  An officer at the scene told us to call back later in the morning for information.  I guess people don't need to know if there's someone with a gun in their neighborhood until several hours after the fact.

And, we can't forget about the continued shenanigans in the Scranton School district, including repeated raids by members of the state attorney general's office.

In both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre stories, doesn't it do wonders for our area's image?   It reinforces a reputation for corruption and crime.

UNRELATED: 

I was partially right on the Kansas City/Indianapolis game.  I predicted KC would win, but not cover.  Well, KC did win AND cover.  It's still a loss for me.  I'm starting to become a Kansas City believer.  I won't be in their corner until they win a big game.  A victory over New England this weekend will do it.

I said to take Dallas and 7 points in the Los Angeles game.  Dallas lost by eight, and another one in the loss column for me.  I will never be a Dallas fan, and I have to admit there is tons of potential on this team.

Sunday was a much better day for me.  New England beat Los Angeles easily, and covered the spread-- as I predicted.  I wouldn't have complained about a Los Angeles win

I predicted New Orleans would win and not cover the nine point spread.  New Orleans won by 6.  Again, I will never be an Eagles fan.  I will give the team credit for a good run at repeating their title.

Overall, 2 for 4 for the weekend.  5 for 8 on the playoffs.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Andy's Angles: Desolation

For a city the size of Scranton, it sure can get quiet.

This is a 4:00 AM Monday photo, looking north on Wyoming Avenue.  No activity, other than a TV crew getting set up for a broadcast.

Landmarks?  Not many in this photo.  There used to be a jewelry store just to the right of the TV truck.  The Ritz Theater building is at the center right.

Looking up Wyoming Avenue, no traffic as far as the eye can see.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

About the Cover

This is the Col. Duffy statue on the Moosic Street side of the Harrison Avenue bridge in Scranton.  This statue replaces an identical one that had to be removed for construction of the new bridge.  That old statue will be restored and displayed at the Steamtown National Historic Site.
I can't say I'm thrilled with the photos.  It was a dark grey day.  I tweaked the colors and lighting for the header photo, but what you see here is the untouched version.

I'm not a kid any more, but this statue always reminds me of Sunday afternoons with my aunt in Avoca.  My father would come to pick us up.  We'd ask him to go home "through the towns" to extend that weekend just a little longer.  Interstate 81 wouldn't have been that much faster, but driving through Moosic, Scranton, and Dunmore seemed longer.  When I saw the Duffy Park statue, I knew I was close to home.  The location might have changed.  The feeling is the same.

I hope I find something on a sunny day for February.

Friday, January 11, 2019

More Predictions

I preface today's entry by saying I have no idea what I'm talking about, but let's take a shot at predicting this weekend's NFL playoff games anyway.  And, a reminder that I had a 75 per cent win rate last weekend.  I'll add to the degree of difficulty this weekend and include the point spreads.

The Chiefs beat the Colts, but they won't cover the 5.5 point spread.  I'm still not sold on KC.  However, I think they are a shade better than Indianapolis.  And, after all these years, I still want to call them the "Baltimore Colts."

The Cowboys are 7 point underdogs versus the Rams.  Take the Cowboys and the points, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas win the game.  In fact, I expect it.  Like Kansas City, I won't be in the Rams' corner until they win a big game.  Dallas hasn't won many big games, either.  There were flashes of brilliance in the Seattle game.

The Patriots are giving 4.5 points to the Chargers.  The Patriots aren't what they used to be, but it's so hard to beat them at home in the playoffs.  New England wins and covers.  They always find a way, and I will be very happy to be wrong about this one.

The Eagles get 9 in their game versus the Saints.  New Orleans wins, but doesn't cover.

That's it.  We'll look at the scoreboard Monday.




Thursday, January 10, 2019

Business Thursday


I really want to write the definitive Sears/KMart blog entry, but the story keeps changing.  Tuesday morning, it looked like the company was dead.  It's hanging on, but by a thread.  Stay tuned.

I saw Easter candy in a store today, and Easter is late this year-- late April.

Broadcasting trade publications say ABC wants to get back in the NFL game, and is considering a bid for the FOX or CBS Sunday afternoon packages.  Yikes!  The current contracts are still a few years away from expiring.  Couple the bidding war with all the money the NFL will get from streaming, and the owners will be making even larger fortunes than they're currently receiving.

The Scranton and Wilkes-Barre areas are getting new discount stores later this year.  A chain from New England is taking over the old Toys R Us buildings.  Just what we need-- more discount stores.  On the other hand, as I always say, in spite of what elected officials and the chambers of commerce tell you, there are a lot of people out there struggling to make ends meet.  Want fewer discount stores?  Improve the economy.

The annual post new year's day influx of newbies at the gym seems smaller this year, and it took longer to develop.

A new Sheetz opens in Scranton next week.  Guaranteed to be a hit.  Those places are gold mines.

Speaking of gold mines, HersheyPark is embarking on a huge expansion.  It should be ready for 2020.  I'm not an amusement park guy, but I do recognize people around here are fortunate to have Hershey and Knoebels so close.

It seems like the major growth industries in the years to come are marijuana and anything dealing with security.

PennDOT has floated a plan to widen Interstate 81 to six lanes from the Maryland line to Interstate 78.  It will take several years and cost $3 billion.  Why not here?  Clearly, there is a need.  We seem to be in the midst of a never ending feasibility study.

We've made a little progress on finding the origin of "blue streak."  See yesterday's blog entry.  There will be an update in the days to come.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Talking a Blue Streak

I am in need of a little bit of help today.

Photographer Jason and I started talking about the ancient newspaper days recently.  It happened as we were getting ready for a 4:30 a.m. broadcast.  I brought up the fact that first editions of morning newspapers were often called "blue streak" or "bulldog."  There are a few on-line entries explaining why those first editions were called "bulldog."  Unfortunately, there isn't much information on "blue streak."

Most of my newspaper contacts who would know have either retired or passed on.  I did appeal to a couple of newspaper contemporaries.  They heard the phrases, but didn't know the origins.

If you can shed some light on the "blue streak", drop me a line via Twitter or Facebook.  I'm curious.

By the way, what a wonderful time it must have been-- before television, before the internet.  You had radio and the glory days of newspapers.  Multiple editions.  Fresh content.  Fierce competition between dailies in the same city.  Content.  Detail.  Columns.  Opinions.  Pictures.

I remember what a kick it was when my parents brought me in to one of those newsstand/variety stories in downtown Scranton.  I can still smell the newsprint, the ink, cigars...  And I can still remember the fascination of looking at all those out of town newspapers.  The internet is fantastic.  It's the world at your fingertips.  Unfortunately, it can't even come close to the romance of newspapers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

First

This is a picture of the Globe in Scranton I took early yesterday morning-- the day the Lackawanna County Commissioners held their first meeting here.

To get you up to speed, the county just spent $ 17 million to turn the empty store into government offices.  Offices and bureaus that were spread about the downtown will be in one central location.  It will be nice to see some activity in this block, even though it isn't for retail-- like it was in the old days.  I know the inside has been renovated, but let's work on the outside.  Downtown Scranton is very dark.  Let's light it up.

I hope it puts some things to rest, once and for all.

There were those who believed the building could one day house a department store again.  No.  Never, ever, ever, ever, ever.  Department stores are a dying breed.  As I write this, Sears/KMart is in danger of closing, and several other big names are struggling.  The Marketplace at Steamtown, just down the street, had ample space and it couldn't find anyone to fill it.

While we're in the never, ever, ever department...  forget about the old restaurant here coming back to life.  There will probably be a snack bar in the Globe one day, and that's it.  That's all this market can support.  There are plenty of other decent places out there-- locally owned, and chains, where you can grab a good meal. 

Time will tell if the Globe was a good investment for the county, but you can't overlook one big fact.  If the county didn't grab the Globe, it likely would have been empty for a long, long, long time.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Monday Scrapple

I hate shaving, but I like taking off a two or three day growth even more.

I had to catch up on a little shopping on January 2.  It was glorious!  The stores were empty and I found what I needed in record time.

Maybe I just wasn't listening in the right places, or I was asleep due to working bizarre shifts...  but I didn't hear any of those tedious "year in review" shows on radio.  By the way, some of the holiday fill in hosts on CBS Sports Radio and FOX Sports Radio were better than the regulars.

Speaking of year enders, this happened for a few of my years at WARM.  A company called SFM Entertainment would give us free "year in review shows."  We just had to play their commercials, with room for some of our own.  I looked forward to it.  The shows were several hours long and they were exceptionally well done.  It was a mix of music and news, good voices.  No, I don't know if the company is still around.

If you consider "winter" to be December, January, and February, like I do...  we've almost made it half way without a major storm or bitter cold. Yes, I vividly remember the foot we had just before Thanksgiving.  Storm-free is nice, but can we see the sun once in a while?

I've tried.  I can't get "in" to hockey, but that New Year's Day outdoor extravaganza certainly looked like fun.

Why does some security camera footage look great and other footage looks like garbage?  I guess you really do get what you pay for.  By the way, why do we still call it footage when there is no film footage.  It's all a digital file.

A Dick Cheney movie was a great idea.  Too bad it's so biased.

I watched the Gilda Radner documentary on CNN the other night.  Funny and sad at the same time.

The Sears downward spiral is nothing short of tragic.

New research shows that ten per cent of Americans have a food allergy, but twenty per cent think they do.  Me?  Plenty of things I don't like.  Zero allergies.

I was right on three out of four NFL playoff predictions over the weekend.  I missed only the Los Angeles/Baltimore game.  I'll try it again this weekend, and this weekend looks tougher to predict than the first round.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Second Half

As promised, it's the second half of WABC's top 77 hits of 1981.

There is some pretty good stuff here, songs that live on in my Amazon Echo, including hits from Springsteen, Fogelberg, Rod Stewart and Steve Winwood.

So where was I at this time in 1981?  I was getting ready to start the second semester of my sophomore year at Marywood in Scranton.  I was still a few months away from drawing my first professional paycheck at WARM.  If I remember correctly, I was doing a couple of shifts a week at the college radio station, and loving every second of it.

Hope you enjoyed this little look back at 38 years ago, and let's pray for a great 2019.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

First Half

I haven't had the opportunity to take many pictures lately.  I came across this as I was looking at some old radio stuff recently, and I thought some of you might get a kick out of it.

WABC 770 in New York City might have been the greatest radio station of all time.  Yes, I know some will argue.  Great music.  Great personalities.  Great presentation.  The station dominated in the 60's and early 70's.  A shift to disco didn't help build an audience in the late 70's.

By the late 70's, FM was making inroads and WABC was faltering.  It became a rather average adult contemporary station.  WABC went to a talk format in 1982, and a lousy talk format at that.  WABC still talks, and it's ratings are down at the bottom of the NYC heap.  It's sad, really.

WABC used to do a yearly survey, and you could get a copy if you sent a self addressed stamped envelope, which I did.  They spent some bucks on this.  The survey was on heavy stock, almost cardboard.  It was really well done.  This is the first half of 1981's survey.  As I am fond of saying, it's the music that killed AM radio.

#34, "Shaddup You Face."  Are you kidding me?

The second half is on the back, and I will post that tomorrow.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Media Notes

I caught "A Charlie Brown Christmas" twice last month.  It never, ever gets old.

I caught about 30 seconds of "A Christmas Story" last month.  It's old.

I miss the old days, when TV stations were allowed to play "It's a Wonderful Life" for free.  I missed its airings last month.

Year end reviews called Megyn Kelley's problems at NBC a "scandal."  It wasn't a scandal.  She said some unkind and unwise things,  and she was fired.  Plain and simple.  No scandal.

FOX Sports Radio has done some boneheaded things over the years.  It hasn't had a decent morning show since it let Steve Czaban go several years ago.  The network dropped JT The Brick's outstanding evening show a few months ago, replacing it with two guys screaming at each other for three hours.  Unlistenable.  JT and his sidekick, Tomm Looney, an Elmira native and Penn State graduate, are starting a podcast soon.  I'm looking forward to it.

Kendis Gibson left ABC's "World News Now" just before Christmas, and I'm not shedding any tears.  Diane Macedo was featured on some clip reels during Gibson's final show, and I really do miss her.  Janai Norman is a really good replacement.  I don't know if ABC has picked a permanent replacement for Gibson.

I read a great article on the 25th anniversary of FOX grabbing the NFC rights away from CBS.  Fascinating story and it really was a transitional moment in broadcast sports.

Every cable and broadcast network morning show looked absolutely the same on new year's day.  Same video.  Same topics.  Same everything.

Ratings for the Orange and Cotton bowls was down 25 per cent from a year ago.  First, they were blow-outs.  Lousy games.  Second, put them back on New Year's Day.

I miss the old days.  NBC had the Fiesta, Rose and Orange Bowls.  They used NFL announcers, who didn't cover college football, at all, during the regular season.  It showed.

The Sugar Bowl was always an ABC property on New Year's Eve.

How I miss Keith Jackson and Brent Musburger.

I have no desire to pay for, or see anything on Netflix.

I received dozens of Christmas, birthday and new year's greetings via social media this year.  It would have taken hours to respond to each, individually.  Thank you.

UNRELATED:   Weekend NFL picks:  Indianapolis, Dallas, Baltimore, Philadelphia.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Unfinished 2018

It is a combination of blog franchises today.  Unfinished Business and Time Passages.

Penny Marshall died last month.  75.  I hated "Laverne & Shirley," but I thought she was a scream as Myrna Turner, Oscar Madison's secretary on ABC's "The Odd Couple."  Marshall directed "Big."  It was simply a fabulous movie and overwhelmingly charming.

Ken Phillips died last month.  88.  He was a meteorologist on WMAR in Baltimore for 20 years.  I used to watch him on my frequent long weekends there.  Smooth.  Credible.  Solid. Dependable.  Phillips was one of those underappreciated people in the media.  You got the weather without the hype. It was about the weather.   It wasn't about him.

Norman Gimbel passed away December 19.  He co-wrote the themes to "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley."  More importantly, Gimbel wrote the 1973 Roberta Flack hit "Killing Me Softly with His Song."  Look him up.  There is a long list of impressive credits.

Daryl Dragon died this week.  He was half of "The Captain & Tenille."  For many of us, those two WERE the 70's.

I try to patronize local businesses and places that employ local people.  However, I just couldn't help it.  So much of my Christmas shopping was on-line this year.  First, stores were understaffed and disorganized.  They didn't have exactly what I wanted.  It was just too easy to go on-line and have the stuff delivered two days later.  American brick and mortar retailers need to wake up, and fast.

The same goes for a regional mini mart chain, one that sells a lot of maid to order food.  I was in there at 3 am New Year's morning.  Understaffed.  Chaos.  Was the start of the new year a surprise?  Didn't you think you would be busy after the bars closed?  Is this your first new year?  I was lucky.  All I wanted was a giant cold soda.  I was in and out in a couple of minutes.  If I ordered food, I'd likely still be in line.

Most, but not all, of this year's college football bowl games were simply dreadful.  I'm not calling for a reduction.  I'm not about to deny some college kid a holiday week vacation to someplace warm.  On top of that, there is national TV exposure, which could help a player in the springtime NFL draft.  More bowl games!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of control, and the responsibility lies at the feet of head coach Mike Tomlin, and his enablers in upper management.  This team used to be the class of the NFL.  It's now a joke.


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Reality

Today is the day reality sets in.

The holidays are over.  The new year has arrived.  Back to work.  Back to school.  Back to the routine.

The biggest hurt of all:  January is here.  It's the longest, darkest, coldest, snowiest month of the year, and the one that really seems to drag.

December can be cold, but it offers the distraction of  Christmas and New Year's Eve.

January offers Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, an increasingly important observance.  Other than that, it's a lot of nothing.  I managed to weasel a couple of days off this month.  I hope it makes the month go by a little faster.

Even though we have had some of our worst snowstorms in February and March, I look forward to the end of the month.  It's when average daily highs and lows bottom out and begin the slow climb to comfortable.

It's going to be a tough 29 days ahead.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019

Well, we have made it through another year.

2018 was like all of its predecessors.  Some good things happened.  Some awful things.  A lot in the middle.

I have to say there was plenty of disappointment in the run up to the new year.  Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were dark.  Those cities are too big not to mark the start of a new year.  Nothing happening in Sunbury.  Not enough volunteers.  It seems to be the trend.  Thank heaven for Williamsport, Pottsville and Shamokin.

I know you don't need to drop something and set off fireworks to start a new year, but it would be nice.  I had an unexpectedly great time at the start of 2018 in Pottsville and it's unfortunate that so many communities lack celebrations.

This blog is now in its 15th year.  Thank you for being along for the ride.

2019 is here.  Let's hope it's a good one, without any fears.