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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top Ten: Tornado Alley



The top photo is a screen grab of me walking through a field of tornado debris on Harrison Avenue in Scranton the morning of April 15th.  A small and weak tornado swept through Scranton and Dunmore just before 2:00 AM.  Weak, yes, but strong enough to make a major mess.  Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The photo below is part of a row of trees toppled at Sherwood Park in Dunmore.


I've seen storm damage tons of times in the decades I've been working.  It never fails to frighten and amaze.
I hate to end the year on a destructive note, but as I remembered the events of the year, this one really jumped out at me.

Thanks for reading the blog and looking at the photos.  On to 2020!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Top Ten: Night Train

Yes, I like trains.  That has been well established in the 15+ year history of this blog.  You know I couldn't make it through the Top Ten without another train photo.

This was a shot at the Taylor yards in the middle of the night.  Black sky.  Black train.

This one might not appear all that special to you, but it really worked for me.

Tomorrow, the top photo of 2019.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Top Ten: Chestnut Tree

We had a light snowfall in March, only about 3 inches.

This is the big, old chestnut tree in my front yard.  It was one of those snows that stuck to everything-- the limbs and the wires.  A street light is directly behind the tree in this shot, giving an eerie glow to the tree and the snow.

This shot even received  a "like" from the National Weather Service office in Binghamton.

Winter does have its charm, but I will be happy when it's over.

We'll get on track tomorrow.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Top Ten: Derailed

It's odd that I choose a train wreck photo for my birthday.  Maybe it isn't?  Who knows?

A train derailed in Dickson City the afternoon of April 9th.  Four cars jumped the tracks.  They were carrying sand and lumber.  No hazardous materials involved, and no one was hurt.

I stopped by the morning after, about 2:00 AM.  They were still working.  A crane at the left was pulling one of the flipped cars back on to its wheels.  It was a fascinating operation.

Tomorrow, a little bit of snow.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Top Ten: Snow Day

We had a snow storm on a mid January weekend.  The final total at our station in Moosic was 5 inches.

There were predictions it would be much worse.  I hit the panic button and hunkered down at one of the hotels next to the station for the weekend.  Great room.  Nice staff.  I still slept horribly and I was so happy to come home to my own bed.

This shot of the WNEP building was taken from the fourth floor of the hotel on a Sunday morning.

Tomorrow, a train wreck.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Top Ten: Puffy Coats

This one was from mid February.  I spent the morning making fun of Joe's robin's egg blue puffy coat.  Nice jacket.  Nice style.  I didn't think the color worked for Joe, and as you can see above, it doesn't work for me.  Yes, that is Joe wearing my black puffy coat.  You can't go wrong with basic black.

I have really become a fan of the genre.  Yes, a tad bulky, but exceptionally light, and I love that.

Tomorrow, a cold weekend.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

The Top Ten countdown plus other issues of the day are taking the day off.  It's Christmas.  The other things can wait.

I am thankful for each and every reader, each and every day.

Here's hoping it's a great, peaceful, and safe holiday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Top Ten: Implosion

The shot you see above is a screen grab from WNEP photographer Dan Turnasky's video.  It happened just after 7 am on May 19th. 

The implosion of the Martin Tower in Bethlehem was broadcast live on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning, so I'm taking license to use it here.

This used to be the tallest building in the Lehigh Valley, the one time headquarters of Bethlehem Steel.  It's been empty for years.  No one wanted it, so boom goes the dynamite.

It made me sad.  As I wrote in a blog entry the week of the implosion, Martin Tower was a symbol of a time, not so long ago, when America made things.   Martin Tower stood for something.

It stands no more.

We'll pause for a Christmas break tomorrow.  The countdown resumes Thursday with a little warmth.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Top Ten: Diner

The Moosic Diner had been closed for quite a while.  It operated under a few different names in recent years.  Back in early April, it was separated from the rest of the building, jacked up, and hauled away.  You can't erase the memories of this place, and other wonderful diners just like it.

It didn't go far.  We will see what the new year brings.

Tomorrow, the big bang.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Top Ten: Anchor Duty

I anchor newscasts quite a bit, and I've been doing it for some time.  Most of the time, it's a solo effort.

I always jump at the chance to co-anchor a broadcast.  It's a different skill set and it needs a little exercise once in a while.

I was filling in for Tom Williams on a September morning when Mindi Ramsey took a photo.

It was a fun morning.  Mindi makes the job easy and fun.  More importantly, she's a great friend.

Tomorrow, take out!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Top Ten: Kitties

I should have placed this photo higher in the Top Ten, but I wanted to start off the countdown on a happy note.

It's Jimmy on the left and his sister Melissa on the right.  They are strays, rescued from the streets of a near by borough several years ago, and they've turned out to be two wonderful cats.

Jimmy pulls attitude once in a while, and Melissa is one of the most vocal cats I've ever encountered.  You really know when she enters a room. I'm glad I know them.

Tomorrow, on the desk.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Top Ten of 2019

It's nearly time to put a wrap on 2019, so that means it's my annual look back on the Top Ten Photographs of 2019.

This is the 11th edition, and like the others, it's really nothing spectacular.  As I am fond of saying, they are not necessarily the best photos of the year, but they are ones that mean something to me.

Some were taken by others, but I'm in some way connected to them.  Some are screen grabs.  The rest are photos from my phones or my cameras.

It's nice to look back.  Some good times.  Some, not so good.

The countdown begins tomorrow.

If the news of the day requires a little comment, I'll toss that in, too.  I might even bounce it over to Twitter and/or Facebook.

In many ways, I'm glad camera phones and digital photography wasn't around when I was younger.  Still, I would have loved to capture some moments from college, my radio days, and my start in TV.

Thanks for looking.  See you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Year End Scrapple

OK.  The holidays are on the way.  Things are slowing down.  Let's do one more edition of "Scrapple" before we hit 2020.

If I never hear the term "mixed bag" again, I'd be okay.

Why can't ESPN attract top talent to "Monday Night Football?"

It's still fun to receive a Christmas card, and even more fun if there is a personalized note inside.

There have been several recent articles in trade publications about the newspaper industry struggling.  It makes me sad.

Pizzelles are an under rated cookie.

I really miss David Letterman's Christmas shows.

On my list of things to do in 2020:  pancakes.  I haven't had them in ages.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" never gets old.

I can look at Christmas decorations and model trains until the cows come home.  Yet, I never had the desire to decorate or get involved in model railroading.

Dick Clark is missed.

What happened to the Los Angeles Rams?

I love it when people refer to New Year's Eve as "amateur night."  It really is.

Solidly produced top of the hour network radio newscasts will always make me happy.

I don't hate "My Sharona."  I still turn it up and sing along when it comes on the car radio.

NFL quarterback discussions bore me to tears.  You can't compare then and now.  It's a different era.  More passing.  More rules designed to protect quarterbacks.  I'd still take Bart Starr over Tom Brady.

Is December over yet?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

U of S Christmas

You know how I feel about our area's colleges and universities.  Yes, they do eat up a lot of property and make it tax exempt.  On the other hand, they do help drive our area's economy.  They employ thousands, and they really do add something to our area's quality of life.

I've been cramming in a few extra photos here, before I switch to "Top Ten" photos mode for the end of the year.

Above is one of the buildings on the campus of the University of Scranton, and it really catches your eye as you drive down the Central Scranton Expressway.  Because of its location, the U of S is often a visitor's first impression of the city, and it seems they are well aware of that.
As you can see here, the lights alternate, changing from red to green a few times per minute.  Staff at the University of Scranton, well done, and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Christmas Came Early

You take a lot of calls when you're in the media.

I had a regular, usually very early Sunday mornings.  It was clearly a woman with special needs.  She was a fan and just wanted to say hello for a few minutes.  Our conversations were mostly small talk, family, friends, the past week, the week on the way, and so on.

No matter, how busy I was, I always had a couple minutes to chat.  She reminded me of a woman back in my radio days.  She lived on Butler Street in Wilkes-barre.  She was lonely and just needed to hear a friendly voice for a few minutes.

Back to 2019.

My calls stopped a few months ago.  Nothing.  Zero.  Not a peep.  I feared a health issue, or even worse.

Then, a week ago, she called.  I was relieved.  She explained there was a health issue and some moving around.  It was great to hear her voice.

Conventional wisdom has me helping her by listening.  It's actually the other way around.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Jack

I never flew in Skycam 16 with pilot Jack Ruland.  I arrived at WNEP in June of 1998.  Most of my first year was spent producing and on the assignment desk.  I was moved to reporting as Jack retired, in 1999.

Our paths crossed a few times while I was working down the street, and of course, during the time we overlapped at WNEP.  He was always cordial, always professional, and as the guy who assigned crews to fly in the helicopter, I never heard one complaint.  People felt safe with Jack at the helicopter controls, and that is the highest compliment you can pay any pilot.  Trust.

Even though I was never in Jack's passenger seat, here's what meant the world to me.  Jack accepted me as part of the WNEP family.  He never looked down on my because I worked for the competition.  We often would chat about our mutual friends, in and out of the business.  In the early days, I will admit, there were just a few folks in the newsroom who were a little less than welcoming, an exceptionally small minority.  Thankfully, they have moved on to other endeavors.  Jack was a class act.  It was always a treat when he stopped by the office for post retirement visits.

By now, you know we lost Jack last week.  He was 84.



Sunday, December 15, 2019

Andy's Angles: Tree Two

This one is Lackawanna County;s official Christmas tree.  It's to the right of the main entrance on the North Washington Avenue side.

While I'm not a fan of the concreat and granite sea known as Courthouse Square, it is nice to see it lit up during a very dark time of year.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Andy's Angles: Tree One

It appears Lackawanna County has two Christmas trees.  This one is on the Spruce Street side of Courthouse Square.  I like the angle and didn't crop the photo.  Here's why.  I like the reflection of the shiny, crusty snow, and the colored lights high atop the Scranton Life building.  The courthouse is off to my left.  the Spruce and Adams Avenue intersection is at about mid photo.

Friday, December 13, 2019

40

I don't remember the exact date, but I am sure it was right around this time of year, and this time of month.

Mid December, 1979, 40 years ago.  It was my first time on the radio.

Way back when, my Marywood College radio station, WVMW 91.5, was a 12 hour a day, ten watt operation.  There were a few times a year when we would do "Rock Weekends."  We would be 24/7 for three days straight.

A Rock Weekend was set for mid December.  The Communication Arts department was fairly large in those days.  There were more than enough bodies to keep the place running 12 hours a day, seven days a week.  They needed some extra help for that Rock Weekend, but there was a problem, as I saw it.  First semester freshman were not allowed on the air.  It was a good policy.  You had to learn something about  radio in general first, and the station in particular.

There was an opening for a 2:30 AM Sunday morning shift.  Don't ask me how I did it.  Schmoozing has never been one of my strong points, but I am a nice guy.  I went to station management and made my case.  They were desperate enough to say "yes."

First song:  "The Stranger" by Billy Joel.  That was also my last song when my college radio days came to an end in January of 1983.

I'll be blunt.  I was awful.  Radio is not as easy as it looks.  You think you have it all planned out in your head, but it's a different world when you open the microphone.

As the months wore on, confidence gained, skills acquired.  I likely talked way too much during my college radio days.  There were times the WVMW sounded more like an AM full service station rather than an FM album rocker.  The way I looked at it, I was there to learn.  Anyone can play record after record.  It's what you do when the microphone is open that really counts.  Management was rather loose in those days.  It's a good thing.  We had the freedom to develop, experiment, find ourselves.

The station has changed quite a bit over the years.  It's in a new building.  Great facility.  Not much live programming, and I'm not going to drone on about that again.

I just consider myself exceptionally lucky to have what I had, and when I had it.

Happy 40!


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Merry Christmas to Me

I spent my early years in radio, and I still fondly look back on those years.

A big part of my radio years was a big microphone.  This is the story of the Electro Voice model DO 56 L.

WARM had a great engineer, Pat Castellani.  He knew the value of quality sound, and he also sought to make my life a little easier.  The "L" in DO 56 L stands for "long."  When you are chasing politicians and perpetrators (sometimes one in the same), the extra few inches means a lot.  You can get the mic closer, past the other radio and TV types.  It didn't hurt that I had a WARM logo on top of  the mic that was the size of a barn door.  Pat ordered one for me, and it was worth its weight in gold.

To make a long story short, I was recently feeling nostalgic, and I missed my DO 56 L.  I found one for sale on the internet, and I bought it as an early Christmas present to myself.

I don't know what I'll do with it.  It's just nice to have in my collection of broadcasting stuff.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Thieves!

It makes me shake my head in wonder.

It's already been established that I do a lot of shopping in the middle of the night, and much of that is in a big box store.

What has happened to American society?  It seems like an ever expanding selection of merchandise is locked up.

Want razor blades, high end soaps and body washes, memory cards, flash drives, computers and computer accessories, baby items, etc...  It's locked up!  You have to find a clerk to unlock your selection and good luck finding one at 3 am.

If that isn't enough, one store in the chain has the cosmetics department cordoned off during the overnight hours.  This is the same store that has a security guard at the entrance to check receipts.  Forget that he's always playing with his phone while the shadiest of people congregate in the parking lot.  Once you're out the door, you're on your own.

No wonder why America now shops on-line.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Change

I did something I rarely do-- change headers mid month.

While there was nothing wrong with the Providence Square, Scranton tree that was in the header slot, this one really blew me away.

It's in a parking lot along Main Street in Pittston.

Pittston has come a long way in recent years.  Some old buildings have been torn down.  Others have been repaired.  Plenty of parking, some night life, community activities and an active library.

The tree is the icing on the cake.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Christmas Letter

Once again, my toughest task of the Christmas season isn't buying and wrapping gifts.  It's not dealing with holiday traffic.  It's not dealing with crushing depression.  It's a simple letter.

I do this every year, and let me refresh your memory.  My college friend, Sue sends a card and letter every year.  Sue is a great girl and she deserves the wonderful life she has.  It's maddening to come up with a response to the letter.

As always, I share the first draft with you.

Dear Sue:

Thank you for the card and letter.  It is one of the highlights of my holiday season.  I'm glad it was another great year for you and the family.  Looks like you had a great time on those vacations and I'm glad the kids are doing well.

Me?  I'm okay.

My iron man streak of more than two years without a sick day ended in the spring.  A stomach ailment did me in.  I hadn't experienced pain like that in a while.

My pen and tie collecting has thankfully slowed down.

I made some new friends.  Nice.  I lost some old friends.  Not nice.  Father time claimed a few.  the others are difficult to explain.

It was an off year for bike riding.  The weather wasn't the greatest when I had some free time.  My little town is getting new water mains, and the streets were ripped up for most of the summer.  As for the patch job, I'm not sure if an actual road crew or vandals are responsible.  It's winter and the roads are still a mess.  It will be a long, bumpy, and muddy wait until spring.

There is a different name at the bottom of my pay checks and a different corporate name at the top.  They seem like decent folk, and I'm looking forward to great things in the new year.

My blog, andypalumbo.com, turned 15.  I took some decent photos this year, but not yearly enough.  There is a new lens in my bag, and I look forward to mastering it in the new year.

My cats seem happy, and I'm convinced one of them has my password and visits Chewy.com on a regular basis.  The boxes keep coming.

Credit cards I wasn't using were cancelled.  I still spend way too much on cable TV, and I rarely watch it.

I reconnected with a couple more high school friends, but it wasn't enough for me to attend our 40th reunion last month.

I acquired a pair of eyeglasses and a computer mouse I really like.

There was only one weekend spent in a hotel next to the office because of a snowstorm.  I went stir crazy.

There were wonderful expeditions to the local malls and dollar stores.  I look forward to more visits in the coming year.

I managed to survive renovations of my favorite gym and mini mart (separate businesses).

Unfortunately, I can't find a wallet I really like.

For the first time in years, I skipped the Christmas tree lighting at our alma mater, Marywood.  I just wasn't feeling it.  The Christmas spirit seems more elusive than usual this year.  It pains me to say that and I can't figure it out.  I still have so much for which to be thankful.

Well, that's my  2019.  At this time of year, I realize how blessed and thankful I am for everything I have.

I hope we both have a great 2020.

Your friend in Pennsylvania,

Andy.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Andy's Angles: Airborne



Now we know what Santa does when the reindeer have the night off.

It's how he travels a huge distance in a short amount of time.

This is another from the Nay Aug Park collection.

Enjoy.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Andy's Angles: Nay Aug Weekend


I recently had a quick chance to wander through the annual holiday light display at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  This is the first year the old bulbs have been replaced by LED's.

Let me tell you something.  A nice display has become even nicer.  The colors really pop.

As I always say, if you're in the neighborhood, drop by.



Friday, December 6, 2019

Horse Trading '19

It seems to start earlier every year, and I really should have made this blog entry a couple of weeks ago.  I call it "horse trading."

WNEP is a 24/7 operation.  While we might have some newscasts preempted because of college football,  we still need a staff around the clock, even on holidays.

This is the time of year when people take different shifts and do different things.  It's the give and take required to make sure everything's covered.  I'll be in, over the holidays, on some of my usual days off.  In return, I'll be free on days when I usually work.

It all evens out in the end.

The way I look at it, I'd rather work a holiday so people with big families, and people who have to travel can have the time off.  I'm fortunate in that everything I need to do is close.

Saddle up.  The holidays are here.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Media Reminiscing

I wish some of the media greats, like Brinkley, Chancellor and Cronkite were still around to observe our current political climate.  They could take apart both parties with surgical elegance-- not the name calling and silliness we're forced to endure today. 

I remember something my friend Kenny did in the mayhem of 8th grade math class.  I don't know what the instructor was trying to force upon us, but it wasn't going well.  At one point, at the top of his lungs, Kenny screamed "I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT!"  Media friends, especially with the cable networks and their oodles of time, please simply tell us what's going on.  I don't care what you think.  I can make up my own mind, once you give me the facts.  The problem is, no one is interested in the facts.

I also miss the days when ABC had Monday Night Football.  The network really knew how to put on a show.  There are several old intros on YouTube.  If you weren't interested in the teams, you were after the intro rolled.

I wonder what Howard Cosell would think of the current sports landscape.  Yes, he is best known for MNF and ABC's Wide World of Sports.  We often forget about his daily ABC radio commentaries.  They were always on the money.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Time for Two

I'm not greedy.  I'm not a glutton.  This is the time of year I buy two of everything at the supermarket or big box store.

You see, I hate shopping around Christmas.  Yes, some store visits can't be avoided.  But, I am buying more of everything so i don't have to go back and fight the crowds this month.

I explained the concept to a clerk while I was shopping on an early morning last year.  She seemed to get it, but was disappointed I wouldn't be there as often.  Well, hey, open up more check out lanes and I might consider it.

Things will be back to normal in January, and I can't wait.  In the meantime, I'm the guy dragging two shopping carts behind me.



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Wasted Money

Some things drive me absolutely insane.

Background:  I am unashamedly old school.  There are certain proven standards that need to be followed.

More background:  I minored in public relations and advertising in college, and I learned from some of the best.  I've been in radio and television for nearly 40 years, and I've worked with some of the best.

Done.

I was leafing through the holiday gift edition of a local free entertainment weekly last week.  It was a special edition, and I learned it just by lifting it off the rack.  It was much heavier than its usual eight pages.  An aside:  What happened?

Another aside:  The issue contained some great gift ideas.  It almost makes me wish I had friends.

A good print ad should contain your address, phone number, web site, and business hours.  I was shocked to see how few had all four.  Plus, if you are in an out of the way, or a new location, give a landmark, something like "across the street from the courthouse."  Businesses are spending money to get people in the doors, and some of those businesses make it difficult for potential customers to find them.  They throw money away,  and then wonder why advertising didn't work for them.

I'm surprised things like that are allowed to happen.  It's all just common sense.

Keep it up, and I'll see you at the "going out of busniess" sale.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Epic Fail

Do you want another example of how traditional brick and mortar commerce is headed down the tubes?  By the way, I'm thinking of making this a regular blog entry feature.

Let's take you back to Thanksgiving morning, 4:00 am.  I was at my second favorite mini mart, part of a big chain, getting a frosty cold diet cola and an out of town newspaper.  By out of town, I mean 15 miles away.  It isn't delivered in my neighborhood, and this is the same newspaper that regularly has problems getting its print issues on to the streets.

Soda, paper, and loyalty card in hand, I strode to the cash register.

The clerk couldn't scan the bar code on the newspaper's page one.  It was just wasn't ringing up.  She tried another paper in the stack.  Nothing.  We suspected that because the paper jacked up its price 800 per cent (no lie) for Thanksgiving, the new bar code wasn't in the system.

Here is the kicker.  No unscanned item is allowed to leave the store!  There was no system in place for ringing up something that the scanner didn't recognize!   A manager wasn't on duty to green light the purchase.   As you well know, I am extremely capable of making a scene.  Rationality ruled.  I know the clerk.  She's an exceptionally nice woman, and she keeps her store spotless.  I knew this wasn't her fault.  She apologized.  I paid for my soda and left.  It was just a short trip, a couple of blocks away, to a less technology dependent mini mart, where I bought my newspaper for $ 4.00.

Get it together!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

About the Cover: First Tree

This is the first Christmas tree of the season here.  There will be more.  Deal with it.

Christmas trees are magic.  They can even brighten up a dreary parking lot, like this one in North Scranton, near Market and Main.