Sunday, November 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: Welcome to Winter

Don't I look absolutely thrilled to be standing in a cold rain, doing my first winter road report of the season?

My friend and co-worker, Sarah Buynovsky, took the northern tier.  That area was getting the change over from rain to ice, to snow first.  I took the south, where the rain was holding on longer than in the rest of our area, in spite of the 2,000 foot elevation.   It was important to show the contrast.  Sarah had the snow in Montrose.  I had rain, then ice, then snow, in Mount Pocono.

No matter hard you try, it's impossible to stay dry, especially on a windy morning, when the rain was coming at you sideways.  Photographer Jason and I were very fortunate.  A drop of water in the wrong place can put you temporarily out of business.  The gear stayed dry.  We stayed on the air.

And, it's just the beginning.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Marywood Christmas

First, I didn't take this photo.  It's actually a screen grab from a Newswatch 16 story done by reporter Stacy Lange and photographer Mike Cholko.  It's the mailing and printing building.

The architecture students at my alma mater, Marywood University, are decorating the campus for a drive-through Christmas light display.  The switch gets flipped December 4, right after the Christmas tree lighting in the Liberal Arts Building.

Christmas seasons at colleges are tough.  Students are occupied with finals, and they're gone by the middle of the month.  I was one of those people who was around during Christmas break because I was one of the townies who kept the radio station on the air.

Marywood has a big and beautiful campus, and I can't wait to see the finished Christmas project.

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Toast to 15

This blog turns 15 years old today, and I am happy to report that while other blogs have disappeared, this one endures.

Why?  Because I have nothing better to do with my time.

Seriously, it's a nice little creative outlet for me, and it's a chance to let you what's really going on out there.  I get a minute and half to tell my stories on TV.  The blog allows for the occasional perspective and analysis-- and a little fun.

It never had a ton of readers.  There is a solid 200+ hits every day, and I thank those who link it to their Facebook and Twitter pages.  I do that myself, once in a while, if there is an entry I feel deserves wider distribution.

Why the wine glass?  Crystal is the gift for a 15th anniversary, so drink up.

There is still some gas left in the tank.

I'll meet you back here tomorrow.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Say My Name

While I have yet to be a guest on Joe Snedeker's "Mr. Curiosity" podcast, at least I've been mentioned twice.

Let me give you the abridged version.  Norm Jones told the story of how he began working at WNEP, and I played a small role in that.  We had an opening.  Our executive producer at the time was watching tapes of applicants.  Yes, people sent out tapes in those days.   I walked in to the conference room to ask an unrelated question.  Norm's tape from his Ohio station was on the TV screen.  Loved his voice.  Loved the way he constructed a story.  I told the executive producer "There's your guy."  The rest is history.  While Norm is very happy out of the business, it's our loss.  He was a solid reporter an anchor.  More importantly, he's good people.

The same can be said for Kerry Brazen.  Good people.  On the podcast, Kerry told the story of  her internship here at WNEP, and I was around in those days.  We've remained friends, and wound up with adjacent desks here in the newsroom.  She referred to me as her "uncle."  While that made me feel very old, I do take it as a compliment.  I watched Kerry take on additional responsibilities.  She joined us at 4 pm producer.  "Taste Test" and "16 to the Rescue" were added to her corral.  The animal feature was new, and she's made "Taste Test" her very own.

Joe is always asking for me to appear with "Mr. Curiosity."  The jury is still out.  I think it would be as interesting as heck, but I'm still on the fence.

I'd love a podcast of my own, and it's very possible in the days to come.  I've been kicking around a few ideas.  Nothing jumps out at me, at this time.  When it does, you know the rest.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review: "It Shocked Even Us"

Being a broadcaster does have at least one minor down side.  I spend all day with my nose in a computer, reading the news and writing the news.  Recreational reading has taken a back seat, and that troubles me a great deal.  I did try to remedy things during a recent vacation.  I recently reviewed a book on "Match Game."  Today, it's something completely different.

I bought "It Shocked Even Us" by Frank Cipolla several months ago, and I let it sit on a shelf.  Big mistake in litting it sit, unread.  I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and I loved every page.

Frank Cipolla is a New York City kid, who got his start in radio at a tiny, now defunct, radio station in Washington, NJ-- just over the Pennsylvania line.  He went on to work in cable TV news, plus more radio and WWOR TV in Secaucus.  While the stations were different, he and I encountered many of the same types of characters and situations over the years.  Some of what Cipolla mentions is "inside baseball."  For the most part, even people outside of the industry will get what Cipolla writes about.  You'll enjoy it.

In the small world category, Cipolla has pages dedicated to his radio adventures with Jim Bosh.  Cipolla and Bosh worked together in Elizabeth, NJ.  I used to listen to Bosh during his time at WILK in Wilkes-Barre, though we never met.  Cipolla also tells a Joann Pileggi story.  Joann and I worked together for years at WYOU.  There is also a paragraph on Frank Deom, a former WNEP photographer, who did a stint at WWOR

And, one of the biggest kicks of all-- my book came autographed, and Frank enclosed one of his business cards.  I dropped him an email, to say how much I loved the book.  He replied quickly, and that was really neat.

If you really want to know what happens when the cameras are off and the microphones are dead, buy this book!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019



In analyzing last week's election results, I neglected to tell you about my predictions.  The Cognetti win was not a total surprise in Scranton.  The margin was larger than I expected.  That poses a number of issues.  Will Scranton Democrats unite all factions and rally around an obviously popular candidate?  Will the size of her victory scare off challengers in two years?  Much depends on job performance.  In politics, you can attract a crowd quickly and lose it just as fast.  She does seem to be the favorite of the newspaper crowd, so Cognetti will get the benefit of the doubt from some in the media when something goes wrong.  And, no matter how good you are, something always goes wrong.

Debi Domenick's win for Lackawanna County Commissioner was not a total surprise.  I did raise an eyebrow over her strong second place finish.

Last month's World Series between Houston and Washington was the third lowest rated of all time, and that's a shame.  Yes, some games were blow outs, and the games last way too long.  On the other hand, there were some great stories here, with interesting players.  If you missed this series, you missed a good one.

Sears/KMart is closing about 100 more stores.  In our area, Wilkes-Barre Township, Berwick and Williamsport are going early next year.  A chain that once had close to 4,000 is now down to a couple of hundred.  I've said it before, you cannot cut your way to prosperity.  I would not be surprised if the rest of the chain goes belly up after what is likely to be a horrible Christmas season.  It's too bad.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day

There are times I am exceptionally proud of my alma mater, Marywood University.  It was a "college" back in my day.

For the past several years, students have been planting American flags in the field behind the Fine Arts Building.  You can access it from North Washington Avenue.  There is one flag for every soldier's death in the global war against terror, nearly 7,000.

In one hand, it's nice to see the students are aware and active, and that no sacrifice is forgotten.  On the other hand, it makes you sad when you think one flag represents someone who never came home to their family.

One quick story before I go on this Veterans Day.  I was in the Dunmore Sheetz the other morning.  Two soldiers were also in the store.  As I waited for my hot dogs, I could hear several people go up to the soldiers and say five simple words:  "Thank you for your service."

On this Veterans Day, thank you.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Andy's Angles: Election Day

It's my belief that you pay for elections, so you deserve to see how they work.  You can take pictures inside a polling place, stay out of everyone's way, and not be intimidating.  That's always been our goal, and I am proud to say, at least on stories that I've been involved with, there is a 100 per cent success rate.
Thanks to the people in Hazleton.  It was nice meeting so many Newswatch 16 fans.  You have a city where great things can be achieved.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Andy's Angles: Take the Long Way Home

I saw this from the passenger's seat as photographer Jason and I drove north on Interstate 81 near Wilkes-Barre the other morning.

If you look carefully on the blue section on the back of the left side, you'll see the logo for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.  Yes, it's a San Francisco rail car in Luzerne County.  I know there's a place in the region that rehabs subway and rail cars.  I would like think there is some place closer to San Francisco where it can be done.  It's also possible the car was sold and was headed to a new home.

We'll never know and it was a fascinating sight.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Half and Half = All Bad

It was election morning.  A woman walked in to a polling place, dressed in red, white and blue, and sporting an American flag pin.  I complimented her on the patriotic attire.  She replied that she is a social studies teacher.  I told her that, in my view, social studies teachers do noble work.  I meet so many people, especially young people, who have no idea how politics, the government, law, courts, etc work, and it makes me sad.

What I heard next caused me to lose my stuff-- half saddened, half outraged.  The teacher explained that many of her social studies classes are being phased out, in favor of STEM.

Don't get me wrong.  Science, technology, engineering and match are important.  Those are the skills students need to get good jobs, and I am thrilled we are encouraging young women to enter those fields.

All that STEM knowledge can be rendered irrelevant if we don't produce good citizens.  You simply have to know how the world around you works.

Teach STEM.  Leave some room for the rest.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Review: "Match Game 101"

I will readily admit that I have no life.  I read a Gene Rayburn biography a couple of years ago, and buying "Match Game 101" was a no brainer.

It comes down to this-- if you were a Match Game fan, you'll love the book.  The author talked with the people who were there-- the stars, the writers, and all the back stage people who made it happen.

What I particularly liked was there were several chapters on the New York days, the first incarnation of the show that ran from 1962 to 69.

Of course, most of the book was dedicated to the glory days of the 70's.

Be prepared.  "Match Game 101" looks and feels like a text book.  It's huge and it's not cheap.  It will run you around $40.  I enjoyed every page and it was worth the investment.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Day After

A quick take on some of the results of yesterday's election...

Paige Cognetti wins the race for mayor of Scranton, and it wasn't close.  Cognetti racked up 37 per cent of the vote.  Councilman Kyle Donahue finished second, with 23 per cent.  Cognetti has an impressive education, but she had better study for a degree in Scranton politics.  First, the city still has plenty of problems.  Second, and possibly more importantly, the election split the city Democrat party into factions.  There will have to be some serious fence mending and coalition building.  Cognetti finishes out the final two years of felon Bill Courtright's term.  That means "Vote 2010" begins today, and I'm sure there are people already interested in making sure Cognetti doesn't get a full term.

Some poll numbers leaked over the weekend, showing Cognetti with a huge lead and a lot of undecideds.  I was skeptical.  In retrospect, the poll was very close to being totally accurate.

Chris Cullen, the Democratic party's chosen candidate finished third.  It seems the city Democratic party doesn't have the influence it once did.

Derek Slaughter cruises to an easy win over Eric Beiter in Williamsport.  The city has a crime problem.  We saw that over the summer, with a rash of shootings, some fatal.  I suspect Slaughter and Cognetti won't have much of a honeymoon period.  People will expect results on cleaning up Scranton's corruption and fixing Williamsport's crime issues right after they take office in January.

Jeff Cusat gets a second term as mayor of Hazleton.  Police Chief Jerry Speziale was a frequent campaigner for Cusat on social media.  He was apparently a good guy to have in your corner.  As of this writing, Cusat is up by 16 points.

Democrats will still rule Lackawanna County.  The Noratianni Domenick team sweeps to victory.  Republican Chris Chermak will hold the minority spot.  Mike Gianetti finishes out of the money.  He had to hurt by some questional social media posts over the years.  Notarianni is a proven vote getter, and this is the second consecutive election where he finished with the most votes.  There will be two new faces in the commissioners' offices in January.  Pat O'Malley and Laureen Cummings couldn't get past the primary.

One other note, and why do I have to say this after every election?  It's 2019, and some counties still don't have their acts together when it comes to getting out election numbers.  Many counties will be using a new system next year.  I hope it gets better.

Thanks to all the candidates.  There are no losers.  Everyone who has the stones to participate is a winner.

On to 2020.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Election Day

It's finally here.  It's Election Day in Pennsylvania

Use your right.  Use your privilege.  Use your television remote and  punch in WNEP all day, and WNEP2 for wall to wall coverage, beginning when the polls close at 8 PM.

My work plans are up in the air as I begin the day, but a short caucus with the producer, anchors, photographers, and fellow reports should quickly solve that.  We did a lot of the preliminary work yesterday, and there are a few different scenarios that can play out.

I'll be voting after I get out of work at noon.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a larger than normal turnout today, especially in Lackawanna County.  That's where there is a big race for county commissioner and Scranton mayor.

Some quick notes about the race for Scranton mayor...  The winner fills out the last two years of admitted felon Bob Courtright's term.  I know some of the candidates personally.  No matter who wins, the city will be in good hands.  After all, the bar hasn't been set very high.  The last elected mayor was running a criminal enterprise out of his office.

There are seven in the running.  A close race would not be a surprise.  I would not be shocked if we didn't know the winner at the end of the night.  With that many in the race, it's bound to be close, with write ins, recounts and absentee ballots telling the tale.  Stay tuned.

And, when you hear any so called expert say it all comes down to turnout, laugh and turn the dial.  Every election, every race, depends on turnout.

One of the candidates released a poll yesterday, showing that candidate is far in front.  There is a large number of undecideds as we begin this election day.  I have a feeling many voters will not make a choice until they have ballot in hand.

See you at the polls, and look for a little numbers analysis in this space tomorrow morning.

>>>2:30 AM UPDATE:  Already been at the office for a while, going over notes and scripts, recording the audio for my election morning stories.  In a break with tradition, I skipped my usual election morning breakfast of a fast food spicy chicken sandwich and fries.  I just wasn't feeling it.  My choice was unfrosted strawberry Pot Tarts and a granola bar.

>>>4:40 AM UPDATE:  We picked Hazleton City Hall for our live shot location this morning. There is a mayor's race here today, one of four big cities in our area picking  mayor today.  Hazleton City Hall is also a polling place.  I thought I over-dressed this morning, but in retrospect, it was a wise decision.  It's cold up here!

>>>7:20 AM UPDATE:  Two polling places at Hazleton City Hall.  Brisk early morning turnout, but not what I would consider heavy.  Only a couple of people waiting in line as the polls opened at 7.  Several more trickled in during the first few minutes.  Very nice people here.  Met several morning broadcast fans.

>>>8:15 AM UPDATE:   Anecdotal reports of mixed turnout.  Lighter in Luzerne County, heavier in Lackawanna County and Scranton.  There is typically a rush at the beginning and the end, slower in midday.

>>>9:40 AM UPDATE:  Finished writing a story for noon, handed script off to editor and photographer Bonnie, talking with our crews headed out the door for a very long day and night.

>>>11:00 AM UPDATE:   Signed, sealed, delivered.  Noon video piece is completed.  Heading out the door to be live at a polling place at noon.  I'll stop to vote on the way home.  If all goes well, there will be an afternoon nap so I can stay up tonight to watch the election returns.

>>>2:10 PM UPDATE:    The live broadcast at noon went well.  I saw some old friends and a few new ones at a polling place in Scranton.  After work and after the dry cleaner, but before the bank and pizza shop, I voted.  I was number 111 in my precinct.  To be honest with you, that is not really an impressive number.  It's easy to understand.  All the borough races were decided in the primary.  There are only two contested races on the county level.  I get the apathy, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

As I was leaving the office, an army of people was entering.  They're working on our afternoon and evening broadcasts, plus election coverage.  Plenty of people are working double shifts to make sure you get the information you need.  I did come in a little early and spent plenty of time running around, but it wasn't even close to pulling a double.  I appreciate the hard work of my coworkers and I know you do too.

That's it for this day.  There will be an attempt at some analysis in this space tomorrow.  Be well.  As Barry Farber used to say, "I'll call you back later."

Monday, November 4, 2019


The Iran Hostage Crisis began 40 years ago today.

Olyphant native Michael Metrinko was part of the group.  Our hearts ached as we watched his family here at home struggle with 444 days of captivity, and we shared in their joy when Michael finally made it home.

The Iran Hostage Crisis changed international relations, American politics, and television news.

Iran, with the Shah gone, became an enemy.  The middle east was even less stable.  President Jimmy Carter looked incompetent, and the crisis helped Ronald Reagan sweep into office.

And then, there was ABC News.

ABC was making a major push in the late 70's.  The relatively new "World News Tonight" was getting noticed.  News president Roone Arledge was making big hires, spending big money, and he had the news division firing on all aggressive cylinders.

ABC decided to do a 15 minute update at 11:30 every night.  It was anchored by Frank Reynolds and when he need a break, Ted Koppel took the anchor chair.  The broadcast morphed into "Nightline."  It became must see TV, with live reports on breaking news and Koppel's sharp and incisive interview style.

"Nightline" has seen some changes in recent years.  As someone who is around late at night and early in the morning, we frequently receive notices that "Nightline" is reacting to breaking news and bringing in fresh video.  It spawned some imitators.  "NBC News Overnight" was great until the network pulled the plug.  CBS had "Up to the Minute."  It too produced some great stuff, until the network decided to deploy its resources elsewhere.

It's amazing how much those 444 days changed America.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

About the Cover: Color

November can be a dark, cold, and grey month.  No major complaints on my part.  I've had some really good camera expeditions in November.  A lack of color can be as visually interesting at a many hued peacock.

November is not a good leaf peeping month.  Most of the leaves are gone, and the ones that remain are brown.

Let's enjoy a little color while we have it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Andy's Angles: Medical Mall

A huge medical company recently announced plans to locate some of its services inside the Marketplace at Steamtown.  It's a good thing.  Construction.  Jobs.  Vacant space filled.  More people downtown.  Access to medical services.

It also makes me a little sad.  I remember the days when malls, especially this one, were a big deal.  Those days are over and I can't see them ever coming back.  Never ever.

At least, it's better than empty space.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Let's Review

I'm in the last hours of my last vacation week of 2019.  So, what did I accomplish?  Very little-- and proud of it.

As always, I tried to catch up on some sleep.  I also read quite a bit, knocking off a couple of books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while.  The book reviews will be in this space in the days to come.  There was a little shopping, and a ton of errands.

I usually get together with an old high school friend while I'm off.  I slept through his text the other day, and I'm sorry about that.

It's hard to believe that 2019 is drawing to a close.  I still have a scattered couple of days to burn off, and the vacation time bank will be renewed on January 1.