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Friday, July 10, 2020

Andy's Angles: The First




I was going through a box of old stuff the other day when I stumbled across my very first digital camera.  It was an Olympus D-380, a whopping two megapixel, and I recall it cost me a decent amount at Target.

Curiosity got the better of me.  I cleaned out some internal corrosion and popped in some fresh batteries.  It fired up nicely.  It takes a memory card the size of a floppy disc, so there was no way I could play the card in any contemporary device.  The camera came with its own software, on a CD.  I took my chances and plugged it in to my PC, to see if it would download.  It did!

Olympus still has a copy of the manual on its web site, but a lot of the operation came back to me.  This is a fun and easy to use camera.

The above photo was taken just before Christmas in 2005.  It's the old Lackawanna County Stadium, with a temporary skating rink in right field.  The county did this for a couple of years, and it was rather popular.  New ownership.  New commissioners.  New stadium.  Real grass rather than artificial turf, and the rink is a distant memory.  Still, it was a nice thing to do, and it was a decent break from our area's long, cold and boring winters.

Kep in mind, these were not the first photographs with the first camera.  They are the last photographs still on the card of my first camera.

The card didn't contain many photographs.  There are a few others of interest, and look for those on the Fridays to come.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Once Upon a Time...

Skycam 16/WNEP
If you grew up in the mid valley of Lackawanna County, Specialty Records in Olyphant was the cat's pajamas.  If you got a job there right out of high school, you were set.  You made it.

Decent pay.  Decent benefits.  Stability.

The company transitioned nicely from vinyl to dvd's and cd's.

New owners, several times.  Digital media and downloads emerged.  The market for its products evaporated.  Layoffs.  Out of business.  Empty.

Hundreds, including some friends, lost their jobs.

The big plant on the hill in Olyphant is coming down.  Sad, but times change.

With any luck, a new business will be established here and we'll put people back to work.  Unfortunately, nothing will match Specialty Records in the hearts and minds of those in the mid valley.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Media Notes



Les Crystal died last month.  85.  He ran NBC News, and later NewsHour on PBS.  He was the guy in charge when the broadcast went to 60 minutes.  ABC, CBS and NBC have been talking about going to an hour for years, although the project is now on the back burner.  It makes so much sense.  Unfortunately, the local stations around the country are hesitant to give 30 minutes back to the network.  They all should revisit the idea.  The time is ripe.

FOX is getting out of the golf business, turning over its USGA contract to NBC.  Mixed feelings on this one.  NBC does a nice job, but it's nothing I would call outstanding.  FOX tried to innovate.  Some things worked.  Others flopped.  With only a couple of tournaments a year, FOX was never really able to find its footing.

Many all news and news/talk radio stations saw a nice bump in listenership when the pandemic hit.  Recent surveys show things have returned to normal.  It's nice to know people know where to turn when they need to learn something.  It's sad the bump didn't last longer.  Some radio stations really rose to the occasion.

It's sad to say, but some of the best stuff on radio, you have to pay for.  I hate saying that because I grew up in and am a believer in live and local.

Carl Reiner died last week.  98.  He is perhaps best known for creating "The Dick van Dyke Show."  He also had a role as Dick's boss, Alan Brady.  I can't say I was a fan of the show.  I was too young to get its humor during its original run.  Reruns never really worked for me.  Dick's wife and son whined a bit too much.  Morey Amsterday made the same bald jokes to Richard Deacon every week.  It just wasn't my thing.  That doesn't dimish Reiner's contribution to comedy.  The movies and TV shows, including dramas are too long to list here, but here is why I loved Carl Reiner.  He was the ultimate talk show guest.  He was warm and charming, and he had the best old showbiz stories to share.  I could listen to him for hours.  The word "legend" is overused.  Not here.

Hugh Downs also died last week.  He had that rare gift of a combination of incredible gravitas and spectacular warmth.  99.  "Today," "Tonight" "Concentration" "20/20."  He loved science and contributed to ABC's coverage of the early shuttle missions.  A broadcaster's broadcaster.  Another legend.

American Top 40 turned 50 on Independence Day.  It started with all of nine stations and grew into a major hit.  I caught a little of that first show's replay this past weekend on satellite radio.  Host with great pipes, the top music in the country, big hit.  As I've said here before, it might have been the best produced show in radio.

The Howard Stern movie, "Private Parts" was on television recently.  Of course, I watch it on two levels-- for the story and for the radio stuff.  I'm happy to say the movie gets most, but not all,  of the radio things right.  Plus, it's just an interesting story.

ESPN Radio announced yesterday it's blowing up its line-up.  I found it unappealing before and the changes do nothing for me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

30

Bill Cullen died 30 years ago today.

The man was a genius-- hosting dozens of game shows over the years, appearing as a panelist on countless others.  Lightning fast wit.  He had fun, but never at the expense of a contestant.  He had a charm that made people feel at ease, and that includes viewers.

Pyramid host Dick Clark paid Bill Cullen the ultimate compliment when he said the only time he became nervous behind the Pyramid podium was when Bill Cullen was a guest, because he was so good.

Fellow game show host Peter Marshall said Cullen's skills kept shows on the air that should have been canceled long ago.

Like all the great ones, Bill Cullen made it look easy.  In April of 1980, Allen Ludden was in the hospital and Cullen stepped in to host "Password Plus" for a month.  He did a great job and ran the show flawlessly.

Bill Cullen was also able to draw a big audience on New York City radio.

I won't go in to a lot of history here.  You can read it on the internet.  I just thought I'd mention it because we should remember one of the industry's giants.

Monday, July 6, 2020

There's Something About Meri

It's a visit to the Follow Up File today!

One of the reasons I love doing the blog, and keep doing the blog is it occasionally inspires something that knocks my socks off.

Case in point, last week.

I opened up my email to find a note from Meri Morrow.  I met Meri when I was working down the street and she was working for a television station in Elmira.  We were both covering a trial in Towanda in the mid 90's

As we were all standing in front of the courthouse, her photographer whispered to me, "That's Cousin Brucie's daughter."  I lost my stuff.  I've always been a radio freak, and even today, I listen to radio much more than I watch television.  Cousin Brucie was a legendary New York DJ, with very successful stints on WABC and WNBC.  He still can be heard on the Sirus/XM 60's channel.  Bruce Morrow has raised millions for charity over the decades.  Big voice.  Big personality.  Huge following.

I told Meri how much I loved her dad, and I even read his book.  Meri could not have been more kind and gracious.  She added that there is a picture of her in the book, as a two year old.  That family picture is below.
Meri recently stumbled across a blog entry I wrote nine years ago, telling the story of our meeting in Towanda, and how encountering a radio legend's daughter kicked off a rare episode of "starstruck" for me.

She had a long career in radio and television, and is now married and living in Florida.

Even though it was email rather than face to face, it was still a thrill communicating with Cousin Brucie's daughter, and a nice individual in her own right.

Meri, thank you.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Andy's Angles: St. Casimir

I was playing around with my camera on the campus of Marywood University, my alma mater, last month.

By the way, I never know what to call the place.  It was Marywood College when I was there.  That's what my diploma says.

I've always liked this often overlooked statue of St. Casimir, and I used it to work on my depth of field skills.  Statue in focus, background blurred.  Bokeh, as the Japanese call it.

As I told a friend, next time, I'll park my car somewhere else.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Andy's Angles: Towers


I've been experimenting with the slow shutter speed thing for a while now, and it's always a pleasant surprise to see how well radio and tv towers show up.

This shot looks north on Route 315 at the Pittston Exit. Interstate 81 is on my left. The ginormous business park is on my right.

As you can see, there is a radio tower off to my right, near the turnpike and behind the old hotel.

There are more radio and TV towers in the Scranton area on top of the mountain at the far left.  I shot this with a prime lens, known for letting in a lot of light.  This photo is proof of that.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Andy's Angles: Andy's Angles

Someone who recently discovered the blog asked me about the weekend photography and the name "Andy's Angles."

It's the first weekend of the second half of the year, and it has been a while since I've offered an explanation, so here goes.

I originally started doing photographs on weekends as a sort of Hamburger Helper-- a way to stretch out resources so I wouldn't have to come up with something thoughtful every day.  It was also a nice way to have a place to show off my photography hobby.

The original headings were "Bad Photography Weekend, "Bad Photography Saturday," and "Bad Photography Sunday."  It fit.  Most of the pictures weren't very good, but I have improved, just a little,  over the years.

One day, several months ago, co-worker Mindi Ramsey was taking a look, and said the name had to go because the photographs weren't bad at all.  I punted the ball back to her and asked for a new name.  Mindi came up with "Andy's Angles," and the rest is history.

I hope you enjoy them.

Some have suggested more cross pollinating between the blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for increased exposure, pardon the photographic pun.  While I have done a limited amount of that, especially during a recent week off,  I prefer to keep them separate.  The blog is the oldest and biggest pig in the litter, and it gets priority, even though there can be a wider reach on other platforms.

I've been watching plenty of YouTube videos, trying to get better.  There are a few new lenses in my bag to help with creativity.  I'm thinking more about composure.  Some videos offer contradictory advice.  One guy hates kit lenses.  Another says they're fine.  There is "manual" shaming, like it's a major sin to let your camera handle some of the settings.  Even the pros tweak in post production.  I keep that to a minimum.  I do crop on occasion, a little straightening, and the rare color adjustment.  For the most part, what you see here is exactly what I shot.

There has been plenty of curiosity and experimenting.  Some things have worked.  Others haven't.  Just about everything inspires me to keep trying.

A photograph doesn't have to be great to make you happy.  Better gear doesn't make you a better photographer.  Most of the comments have been positive.  Thank you.  Some have been critical.  Thank you for that, too.  I learn from your critiques and suggestions.

Also, this will be the 11th year for my year end "Top Ten" photo review.  I put aside favorites during the year and usually assemble them around Thanksgiving.  It gives me something to do while the turkey is in the oven, and it's material for when things slow down toward the end of the year.

More photos are on the way for the weekend.  As always, thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Big Bang Theory

If I have a least favorite holiday, it's Independence Day.  It's hot and noisy, sticky and humid.  Did I say it was noisy?

A network radio talk show guy a few years ago called Independence Day the "holiday of bad choices."  Invariably, there are fireworks accidents, auto crashes, swimming accidents, grill fires and camp fires that grow out of control, sunburns, and problems caused by too much drinking...  The list is endless.

There is a growing call to roll back the legalization of fireworks.  It cuts across party lines.  Mayors hate the complaints.  It ties up police departments.  It's more work for fire departments.  Pet owners hate it.  Having said all that, I'd be shocked if it happened.  Follow the money.

On top of that, if there is a holiday where the true meaning of the day gets lost in all the hoopla, this is it.


It's been a bad year and we can all use a break, a chance to be good to ourselves and our families.

Please, do it safely, sanely, and quietly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

This month's blog header features Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

Long story short:  He was a Polish general who helped the colonists win the Revolutionary War.  This is the month we celebrate Independence Day.  It makes sense.

I have mixed feelings on today's picture of  the general's statue on the Spruce Street side of Courthouse Square.  The statue is dwarfed by the tall clock tower.  On the other hand, it's possible to appreciate both the statue and the courthouse architecture.

However, I really do like the header shot.

I deliberately kept in some of the courthouse, trees, and flag.  There were clean shots of the general and the sky, but I liked the other items.  It gives the shot a little more depth, dimension, and visual interest.

Read up on the general.  Fascinating story.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Outside Looking In

Not this year.

It used to be standard news business fare on Independence Day, or one of the days leading up to it.

You would do a "live shot" from the pool and water slide area of Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  The shot would be filled with smoke from all the charcoal grills in the picnic areas.  It looked like fun.  It smelled even better.

Even though I'm not a summer guy and I loved it.  It was great to see everyone having fun, enjoying the weather, having some good food, hanging with friends.

The current situation keeps friends at a distance.  The pool leaks.  It won't open this year.  This is the city that pats itself on the back for painting crosswalks, but it can't fill the potholes.  The condition of the park is another story.

There's always next year.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Let's Review

The first vacation week of the year is history.

Did I accomplish anything?  Let's review.

It was fairly standard fare.  I caught up on my sleep, rode my bike and played with my camera.  Unlike past vacations, there was no recreational shopping and you know the reason for that.  I did pick up a few things on line.  It's effective, but not nearly the same amount of fun.

By the way, thank you for the kind words on the photographs.  It's a work in progress.  I'm using "auto" less and less, and working on mastering the manual settings.  There is a long way to go.  the blog is still number one, but I have been sharing things on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It's back to work and I'll see you soon.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Andy's Angles: Entrance and Exit







Another from the slow shutter speed series, and a photo I took late last month.

I'm in the parking lot of one of the office buildings in Jenkins Township.  81 North is the close lane.  81 South is the far lane, and the circular pattern on the upper left comes from an entrance ramp to 81 South.

The bottom lane, obstructed by trees and weeds, is the ramp leading from Interstate 81 North to Route 315.  I always travel with a tripod and reflective vest.  I might have to throw a scythe in the car to clear my line of sight.

I used one of my prime lenses for this, one that lets in a ton of light.  Take a look at the sky.  It looks a little like dawn, even though sunrise was still hours away.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Andy's Angles: Open Shutter





I've always been fascinated by night photography and slow shutter speeds.  I bought a book and have been watching YouTube videos on the technique.  I'm sure it has a technical name.  Most call it "painting with light."

A try earlier this year, while far from perfect,  showed enough promise to keep at it.

A new attempt came early in the morning, late last month.

Finding a location is a challenge.  There has to be a fair amount of traffic, plus a safe place to plant the tripod.

This is Route 315 in Pittston Township.  It  wasn't a random choice.  I know there's a lot of truck traffic here because of the truck stop and the near by business park.  Trucks work great for this because they have high and low lights, making for some great streaks.

While I keep my eyes on the road while driving, I'm always looking for the next location to open my shutter.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Doing the Math

It was my favorite story on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning on the 21st.

Elizabeth Worthington reported on a celebration in Scranton to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, the one that gave women the right to vote.

I like to think I know a fair amount of history, but the number threw me for a second.

100.

Is that all?  That isn't very long ago.

It should have happened so much sooner.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

I Wonder


I will admit that I don't have a dog in this fight.  Yet, education has always fascinated me.

Let's build a foundation.  Above is Marywood University's relatively new library.  As I have said in the past, it's the wrong building in the wrong place.  It doesn't fit in with the historical building in  proximity.  It's a soulless knife that slices the campus in half.

Done.

Marywood is usually quiet in the summer, as are most college campuses.  Still, it made me sad to see buildings dark and sidewalks empty.

The building was built with plenty of open spaces and room for collaboration.  As you know by now, we currently live in a world of distancing.  A new building is suddenly out of date.  A plus is, it's big enough where you can get your work done and still be an arm's length away from another student.  Every problem has a solution.

I'm not picking on my alma mater.  I'm sure every college and university in the world is facing a similar challenge.

Regardless of how I feel about the building, it does make me sad.  College is all about a social life and relationships.  We had the communication major's table in the old coffee shop.  There were hours spent in the cramped, old radio station area, hanging with the other dj's. talking about music and the business.

Now, we're advised to stay away from each other.

Of course, a vaccine gets us out of this.

The question now is "When?"


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Gone

By the time you're reading this, Nichols Village in South Abington Township is gone.

The hotel is coming down to make way for a strip mall, with fast food and a gas station.

It's fair to say, the place had seen better days by the end.

I remember attending events in the ballrooms.  If memory serves, it was home to one of the first Perkins Restaurants in the area.  I think it was called Perkins Pancake House back in the day, and what kid doesn't like pancakes?

There were better photographic angles to explore here, but they all involved maneuvering through traffic and avoiding fencing, so this will have to do.

An average picture and a lot of memories.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

40

It happened 40 years ago this week.  NBC canceled three game shows to make way for David Letterman's morning talk show.



"Hollywood Squares" was kind of tired.  It was time to go.  Production moved to Las Vegas and the show went in to syndication for a year or two.  It wasn't the same show without Paul Lynde.

"High Rollers" wasn't a bad game, but it moved too slowly.  The game play was too clunky.  This one is ripe for a reboot.

"Chain Reaction" was only mildly amusing and it never had a bonus game that worked.

Letterman's morning show was brilliant.  Unfortunately, it was too hip for the morning audience and it never caught on.  I was in college for its run, and I knew fellow students who arranged their class schedule around the show.  Bad move.  It was cut to 60 minutes in August and eventually canceled in October.

I give NBC president Fred Silverman credit for trying something different in the morning.  The ratings were awful.  Some NBC affiliates were threatening to drop the show and put syndicated product in its place.  Silverman was quoted as saying "I was losing the network." 

Two things happened after Letterman's cancellation.  Silverman signed Letterman to a holding contract, which eventually led to "Late Night."

Two games replaced Letterman.  One was "Las Vegas Gambit."  Meh.  Average, at best, and it didn't last long.

The other was "Blockbusters."  Bill Cullen hosted-- the same guy who lost "Chain Reaction" five months earlier.  I always thought "Blockbusters" was an underrated game.  Simple to understand and easy to play along at home.  It ran for a year and a half.  A Bill Rafferty hosted revival lasted for five months in 1987.  It was a strong game, but it doesn't have enough flash and pizzazz for today's market.

What amazes me most is-- this stuff was 40 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Down Time

Regular blog readers know what the sleeping Homer picture indicates.  I'm taking a little time off from work.

This week is a bit on the unusual side.  I traditionally start and begin a vacation week on a Saturday.  This particular week has my first day off today, and returning a week from today.  Regardless, a vacation is a vacation.

It's tough to walk away from work at such an interesting time in our history, but we all need to recharge the battery once in a while.  A little time off will do me good in the long run.

No worries.

I'll still be posting here, maybe some additional photos this week.  The queue is backing up a bit.

The week off is free from firm plans-- maybe some bike rides and playing with the camera.  Of course, I'll be catching up on my rest.

The weekend morning broadcasts are in the extremely capable hands of Carmella Mataloni.

As Barry Farber used to say, I'll call you back later.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Andy's Angles: Slower Rapids

Today, it's the same area as yesterday, but the technique is the total opposite.  It's Roaring Brook at Nay Aug Park in Scranton shot with a long exposure.

The chop of the water lessens, and it almost looks like smoke or vapor drifting above the water.
I'll level with you.  The photos would have been better if I took my tripod out of the car.  I steadied the camera on the bridge railing.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Andy's Angles: Rapid Rapids

It has become one of my favorite things to do with the camera-- find some "rapids" in a river or stream, and shoot it with an extremely fast shutter speed.  It accentuates the choppiness of the water.
Today's photos were taken from the bridge over Nay Aug Gorge in Scranton.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Out of Touch

I admit it.

I'm "Out of Touch."

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, the day of the year with the most daylight.

Daylight makes people happy.

Not me.

By choice, I work overnights and extreme early mornings.  I keep the same schedule on my days off to keep my body from constantly readjusting.

I sleep better when it's dark.  There are some days when bed time is as early as noon.

Blackout curtains and a large air conditioner help.  It's no substitute for the real thing.  Darkness.

If you're "in" to daylight, enjoy the day and make the most of it.  The days are getting shorter and my time is approaching.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Who the Heck Taught You How to Write?

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I was listening to a network radio newscast the other morning.  NETWORK RADIO!  The anchor excidedly and nearly breathlessly said "The death has been ruled a homicide."

OF COURSE IT IS!

Every time someone kills another, it's a homicide.

The key is the circumstances surround the killing.  Was it accidental?  Was it justifiable?  Was it deliberate and criminal?

Every murder is a homicide, but not every homicide is a murder.

The coroner or medical examiner makes the determination and then punts to the district attorney, or state's attorney, or attorney general.  He or she than has to decide if a crime is committed and to what degree.  It eventually gets to a judge and jury.  Always remember, a trial is not a search for the truth.  It is a judgement of evidence.

Let me tell you something. The news business is more than the voice and the appearance.  It's more than pushing the right buttons.  It's more than navigating computer systems.  It's knowing what you're talking about.

Was the story I heard wrong?  No.  Was it accurate?  That's a big NO!

The anchor and the person who wrote the copy would be in my office in the morning.  It's not a dismissable offense, but I would give a quick lesson on the law,  and their mistake would never be made again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

22


Today is my 22nd anniversary at WNEP.


Let's do the numbers.  I've spent about 38 per cent of my life here,  and 56 per cent of my professional life here.  That's a lot of time.

Like any job, there have been ups and downs.  Mostly ups.  It's still fun.  Just as important, it's still challenging-- especially the past couple of years, and super especially, the last few months.

Consider this-- we just spent a month training on new computer systems and the pandemic hits.

Just as that settled down, America was hit by a wave of civil unrest.

It is an extraordinary time in history,  and it's nice to have the privilege of telling you all about it.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Bitter Taste

The Subway sandwich shop chain drama has been playing out in the national media for years, and it's been fascinating.

To quickly get you up to speed, Subway had a big bite of the fast food sandwich market.  The chain lost its way by opening too many stores (most are franchises) and having its main commercial spokesman get in trouble with the law.  Plus, other sandwich chains came on the scene and did it better.

There was a time you can sit on a bench in any downtown and see so many people with
Subway bags at lunch time.  Its stores in strip malls attracted the most traffic.

Upper management thought the path out of the woods was cutting prices.  The people who owned the franchises balked, saying they would lose money.

Subway closed stores and watched its market share eaten away.

According to the New York Post, upper management wants to try it again by offering two subs for $ 10.   The catch:  franchise owners don't have to go along with the promotion, and three-quarters of the stores won't do it.  That's one sure way to lose customers-- visit a store and be told that sale you saw on tv, heard on the radio and read in the paper means nothing.

Think of your own experiences.  Talk with friends.  I'm betting most will say Subway subs aren't as good as they used to be.  If the chain wants its customers back, it's simple.  Sell better food.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Business Monday



It is a sad component of the current situation.  Radio stations are cutting back on the number of employees.

I get it.  Advertising is down.  Things cannot continue as they are.  Expenses are still there.  The income isn't.

The timing is horrible.  There are fewer broadcasters working at a time when you need a little more information, and a friendly voice to entertain you, take your mind off the threat that's right outside the front door.

I wrote the first draft of this piece before a Philadelphia friend told me she had just lost her radio job.  It was a great fit for her and I hope she finds another, and soon.  She appears to have a good attitude.  Better days are ahead.

Everything is cyclical.  I believe things will improve, but I'm not sure all those people will get their jobs back.  Businesses will find different ways to do things.  There will be, and I hate this phrase, a new normal.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Andy's Angles: The Gorge

We are truly blessed in our area-- so much natural beauty and so many scenic wonders, and they're all so close.

This is a downstream view from the bridge over the Nay Aug Park gorge in Scranton.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Andy's Angles: The Bridge

The falls at the Nay Aug Park gorge is one of my favorite places to visit, especially with camera in hand.

It was a nice, mini hike for a late spring morning.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Claudell Washington

Former Oakland Athletics star Claudell Washington died this week.  He was only 65.

Washington's death started me thinking about former A's owner Charlie Finley.  Major League Baseball is a mess today.  No doubt it would be faring better if Finley was still around.  He was a visionary.

Finley signed track star Herb Washington, one of the fastest men on the planet, to be a designated runner.  Finley wanted night World Serries games.  He got those.  Finley wanted day glow orange colored baseballs.  He didn't get those.  Finley loved colorful uniforms and even more colorful players.

As I write this, the players union and the owners can't agree on a salary scale and a shortened season.

Why do I get the feeling the day is coming when I will write an "In Memoriam" for the sport?

Thursday, June 11, 2020

VS

It might be one of the more interesting discussions/debates I've been involved with, in a long time.

I have a friend in the picture and video business.  In a way, so am I, but because I started in radio, I've always considered words as being exceptionally important.  I started in radio and TV long before the internet.  You had one shot at engaging the audience before those broadcasts were sent off in to space.  It's not like a book, magazine, or newspaper.  You don't get the chance to go over it again.  Thankfully, the internet has solved some of those issues.  You can listen to, or watch a broadcast repeatedly.

I don't think about "do overs."  I still consider it a one shot deal.  One of my favorite lines when it comes to news writing is "No one will ever complain if you make something too easy to understand."

Anyway, back to the original disucssion.  My friend thinks the pictures are enough to sell the story, and there is a lot to be said for that.  I think I'm slowly winning her over to believing words and pictures create a beautiful symphony.  Each enhances the other.

We've reached the point where it all weaves together.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

MBWA

Some observations after riding my bike around small towns for a few weeks, and checking out the trash....

I'm sure all of this is a reflection of the current situation.  Our love affair with pizza has been kicked up a notch.  There is usually an empty box in the trash in front of every home in the valley.  It's totally understandable, and I'm happy to see people supporting local businesses.

You need something to wash down the pizza, and more often than not, it's beer.  Brewers have had major isuses getting rid of kegs because bars are closed.  On the other hand, sales of cans and bottles appear to be skyrocketing.

It also appears a lot of people used their stimulus checks to buy new televisions.  It's like the day after Christmas out there.  Once again, I understand.  People are spending more time at home.  You might as well entertain yourself with a quality screen.

With any luck, the situation is stabilizing.  The trash will soon be back to normal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

+ One Week

It's been a week since the Pennsylvania primary and it's finally safe to say Jim Bognet captured the Republican nomination for congress in the 8th district.

Bognet spent big on TV, and he had to.  There wasn't much name recognition going in to the election.  The candidates that were better known, former Hazleton Mayor Mike Marsicano and Earl Granville didn't do all that well.  Granville finished third and Marsicano was way back in the six candidate pack.

I'm a little surprised Granville's campaign didn't catch fire, although he did do well in the northern part of the district.  His "Trump-tard" comment didn't help.  Note to future candidates:  do not bad mouth fans of the face of your party.

So, where does this leave us going in to the general election?  Bognet is from Hazle Township, Luzerne County, a Trump County in 2016.  The Democratic incumbent, Matt Cartwright, is from Moosic in Lackawanna County.  A little red flag is rising here.  Our friends at the Scranton Times~Tribune repoirted that Republican registrations in Lackawanna County have inched up.  Democrats are still the vast majority here, but it's something to watch.

Bignet has a lot of work ahead of him.  His biggest task will be uniting the party after a bruising primary.  He especially has to mend fences with the supporters of the second place finisher, Teddy Daniels.  He did well, in spite of not spending big on media.

Party solidarity is huge.  President Trump received 94 per cent of the Republican votes last week.  Joe Biden had the support of 75 per cent of his party.  Will those lukewarm on Biden stay home election day?

Expect Bognet to make his race a referendum on Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, as much as it is on Matt Cartwright.  Similarly, expect Cartwright to run against Trump as much as Bognet.

I don't know who did Bognet's media for the primary, but the TV commercials were very good.  Expect more in the fall.  Cartwright had no opposition, and was able to save his campaign money for the fall.

And then, there is the money.  A lot will depend on whether the Republican National Committee sees this as a "winnable" race and spends here.  Politico.com has the district as "leaning Democratic."  The same goes for 270towin.com.

A wild card will be the involvement of political action committees, and how much they are willing to spend.

Get your popcorn.  Fasten your seat belts.  This one should be interesting.

And then,

Monday, June 8, 2020

40

CNN turned 40 one week ago.  My cable company wasn't there from the beginning.  It started carrying the network a couple of years later.

The quality wasn't that of ABC, NBC, and CBS-- but it was solid, and IT WAS ALWAYS THERE!  Yes, there were breaks for a couple of talk shows.  There was a really good sportscast at 11:30 PM and 2:30 AM.  Other than that, it was all news.  All serious news.  No political agenda.

How I miss that!

And then, a couple of years later, there was CNN2, later called "Headline News."  It was news in half hour cycles, and it too was very, very good.

How I miss that!

There is an opening for serious, hard news, around the clock that you can drive a truck through.  The networks now have streaming services, attempting to fill the void.  It isn't the same.

If I could turn back time...

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Andy's Angles: A Happy Place

I have never been much of an outdoorsman-- no hunting, fishing, or camping.  It's just an occasional walk or bike ride.

Still, looking at a peaceful lake brings great comfort.

This is a recent view from Merli Sarnoski Park in Fell Township.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Andy's Angles: Late Spring

I took this one at Merli Sarnoski Park in Fell Township the morning of May 13.

This has been an awful spring for a variety of reasons-- cold and damp are at the top of the list.

Notice the lack of foliage on the trees for mid May!

Warm weather has to arrive eventually, and these boats will be back on the water on a regular basis.

As it turned out, late May was well above normal.  The trees are now sporting a mid summer level of green.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday Scrapple

A summer weekend is just ahead, so let's give the weighty issues of the day a little break...

A breakfast sandwich is one of the joys of life.

Billy Joel's "Vienna" is high on my list of under-rated songs.

We didn't get nearly enough springtime this year.  It was a quick jump from winter to summer.  It was nice to have an early week cool down.

I'm no kid, but I really enjoy learning new things.

Making popcorn on the stove isn't much more difficult than the microwave, and you get a better final product.  Why don't more people do it?

I'm really tired of hearing owners and players' unions argue about everything.  The fans clearly do not come first when it comes to big league sports in America.

Chris Moore is back on CBS Sports Radio.  He's one of the good ones.

Regardless of what you think of his politics and the way he is handling the current situation, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo explains things in a way you can understand them.

Strawberry season always brings a smile to my face.

There is a lot to be said for consistency, but on-line and in print, it's the same people writing about the same things, every day.  Enough, please!

Part of me says it's time for a new phone.  Another part is holding back.  The old one I have works fine, but it is time for an upgrade.

Watching a rocket lift off never gets old.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Gift Horse

I actually like my auto insurance company.  The company in and of itself is great.  A couple claims over the years were handled quickly and efficiently.  The rates are reasonable.  I didn't have a rental car in my coverage, but because I was a long and valued customer, they gave me a car when I needed one anyway.  I should add, the staff at my agent's local office is top notch.  Good people.

A check arrived in the mail the other day.  It was a rebate.  5 per cent of my yearly bill.  The refund was because the company says fewer people are driving during the current situation and its costs are down.

Thank you very much.

It would have been easier if they just took the rebate amount off my bill, saving me a drive to the bank.

I know.  Shut up.  Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.  Cash the check.  Enjoy the money.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Electon Day: The Numbers

Polls are closed.  The numbers are in, at least, they should be.

It's approaching midenight as I write this, and as feared, some races are still up in the air.

Teddy Daniels is leading in the Republican nomination for the 8th congressional district, the main race of the night.  Five candidates, three from Hazleton.  Conventional wisdom was that the Hazletonians would split the vote in southern Luzerne County and one of the others would waltz in.  Earl Granville had the best name recognition going in.  Unfortunately for Granville, some old anti Trump surfaced and hurt him badly.  He was also late to advertise.  Jim Bignet spent big, and he needed to.  As I write this, Teddy Daniels has a slim lead.

And then, Bognet had an especially late surge to finish on top, at least by WNEP election night calculations.  However, the race remains too close to call.

The main issue in the 8th race was who supports President Trump the most.  Trump still enjoys massive popularity in many circles in the district, and his endorsement in the general election would carry a lot of weight.

Speaking of presidential politics, across the state, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard won a combined quarter of the vote.  A mini red flag should be going up that not everyone is happy with Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Tim Twardzik breezes to a win for the Republican nomination in the 123rd.  Smart campaign, and he began with the advantage of major name recognition.

It looks like Michael Lamb wins the Democratic nomination for Auditor General.  Nina Ahmad is second, by about ten points.  Ahmad spent big on media.  She had to.  No one in this race really enjoyed good name recognition.  Lamb is from Pittsburgh, and it was solid support out west.  Plus, he was endorsed by some big names and some big unions.

Write ins and mail ins will likely change things.  Watch this space for updates.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Election Day

Well, here comes that line again.  Today will be an election day unlike any other.  It will feature consolidated polling places, election workers under layers of personal protective equipment, and plenty of mail in ballots.

This is the primary election postponed from April 28.

Personally, I'll be sitting this one out.  As an Independent, I cannot vote in primaries, unless there is a ballot question.  Nothing this time around.

It will be lunch and a nap at the close of my shift, then up in the evening to watch my coworkers and colleagues tabulate the numbers and explain what it all means.

To be brutally honest, there are sadly few suspenseful races today.  It will be interesting to see the turnout and how long it will take to count the mail in votes.  It is highly likely there will be races still up int he air when the night is through.

I expect plenty of recount requests,  as there is a huge amount of mistrust in the mail in process.

Watch this space.  I hope, for a little analysis tomorrow.

If you can, please vote.  It's important.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Inside Baseball

There is something I always wanted to explain on the air, but there was never the time, and I'm not sure anyone would care.  Thankfully, I have the opportunity here.

Our meteorolgists did the weather from their homes at the start of the current situation.  Safety first.  It was a wise move.  We have the technology that makes it easy, and for the most part, the last three months have been exceptionally smooth.

There is a slight delay with the gizmo that gets the audio and video back to the station, so what we call "cross talk" was a challenge.  I would say something, and the meterologist would respond a few seconds later.  It was awkward.

My remedy was to just simply cut back on the interaction between Valerie and myself.  Get to the forecast quickly, and a quick "toss back" from Valerie.  It worked, but I felt the broadcast was missing something.  Valerie has been a wonderful addition to the team, and I really enjoy our little banter.

With any luck, the "remote" days are over for quite a while, and I look forward to having a meteorologist in the same building at the same time-- and a few feet apart.


I happened to be anchoring Newswatch 16 This Morning on Joe's first day back in the office, after a 67 day exile to Scott Township.  I snuck outside for a few pictures during one of the "Good Morning America" updates to capture the day for history.  That's Bill Schultz on camera.

Moving on...

Herb Stempel died in April, and his passing was just announced by the family over the weekend.  .  He's the guy who blew the whistle on the game show scandals of the 50's.  Stempel was a contestant on "Twenty One."  He was given the answers, and then was scripted to lose when a more telegenic and charismatic contestant came along.  A movie called "Quiz Show" was based on the episode.  As I have said before, "My Favorite Year" is my favorite movie, and "Quiz Show" is the best piece of film making I ever saw.  Keep in mind, I'm not much of a movie guy.  It captured your attention, even though you knew how it would end.  There is no action.  It's rather grey and talky.  Yet, I thought it was fantastic.  Herb Stempel was 93.

And, I should note the passing of Bill Small last week.  He ran CBS News and then NBC News.  Small hired some of the greats at CBS and he ran the organization when it was just about unstoppable.  There wasn't much success at NBC.  He didn't fit in to the culture and he forced a number of veterans out.  David Brinkley was among them.  Brinkley wound up at ABC and helped build an extremely successful Sunday morning broadcast.

However, if you look at the body of work, Bill Small should be considered one of the industry's giants.   No pun intended.   He was 93.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

About the Cover: Geese

I made a trip to Merli Sarnoski Park in Fell Township a couple of weeks ago to find eagles.

Instead, I found a family of geese.

It's the joy of photography expeditions.  You often don't get what you want, but you find something equally as satisfying.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Andy's Angles: Geese

It's a pair of geese enjoying the lake at Merli Sarnoski Park in Fell Township.  Note, one on the water while the other is in the vegetation off to the left.

Also note the attempt at real photography skills-- soft in the foreground and background, but sharp on the birds.

Friday, May 29, 2020

It Looked Good on Paper

An article in this week's Sunday Times caught my eye.  It was a "today in history" type feature.  I love those things.

Anyway, the paper looked back on something that happened 34 years ago.  The Lackawanna Avenue Mall project was stuck in endless litigation.  There was a proposal to build a mall near Memorial Stadium.  Developers said there was room for another area shopping center.

I took the photos above on the morning of April 5, 1992.  Several buildings on Lackawanna Avenue were imploded to make way for the mall.

Hindsight is 20/20.

The happy retail environment lasted several years.  Then, it imploded.  It really cratered this spring, and no one knows if it will ever recover.

The Lackawanna Avenue mall seemed like a good idea at the time.  Those old buildings were shot, and no one had the money to fix them up.  Malls were still cool in the early 90's.

The mall is now home to one department store, and a branch college campus.  There is one medical facility here and another on the way.  There is a gym, a small assortment of tiny stores, a couple of restaurants, and something resembling a weekend flea market.  There is a lot of barren space.

I'm sorry the 100 per cent retail thing didn't work.  It was worth a shot, and I really liked going here when it was filled with stores.

Memorial Stadium is still there, with a relatively new high school next to it.  The old bus yard across the street is retail space.  The same goes for a plot of land on the other side of the Mulberry Street bridge and the North Scranton Expressway.  The mall in that neighborhood never materialized.  Whew!  If it was built, it would probably be empty, too.

There is no real moral to this story.  If there is one, I guess it's to make the best decision with the best available information.  Sometimes, it works.  And, other times...

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Business Thursday

I've heard about it happening to other people, and last week, it finally happened to me.

I was at a store.  My bill came to $ 9.51.  I gave the cashier $20.01.  She asked me why I gave her the penny.  No clue.  I explained that she would give me $10.50 in return, and I wouldn't have a pocketful of change.  She finally figured it out when she punched $ 20.01 in to the cash register and it showed I would receive just one bill and two coins in return.

I weep for the future of America.

And, there's more.

I was on an out of the way trip last week, and I stopped in a store I rarely visit on the return.  Yes, it was a necessity.  The clerk asked for my phone number for their loyalty club.  I replied that I never signed up and I rarely visit that chain, anyway.

I know working retail, especially these days, is tough.  She became surly and there was no need for it.  For the life of me, I don't understand why so many stores want your phone number.  I can't be the only one on the planet reluctant to give out personal information.  Yes, printing and distributing cards and key ring tags is costly, but it has to be better than basing a system on telephone numbers.  I get enough junk calls, and now, they're coming in on my work and personal cell phones.

Some stores have key pads, where you can quietly enter your information.  It seems to be a much better choice, even though there is a "touch phobia" out there these days.  It's still telephone number based, which is a constant annoyance.

Upon returning home, I noticed a web site for a survey on my receipt.  Guess who got toasted?  Yes, the surly clerk.

Retail is tougher than ever in the current climate.  I try to be kind.  I expect it in return.

And speaking of kindness, the steak house at the corner of North Washington and Linden in downtown Scranton has closed.  I never ate there, but let me take you back to a steaming July day a few years ago.  I was about to do a live report on Newswatch 16 at Noon.  The topic was an Independence Day celebration that was just starting, and it would really get rolling later in the afternoon.  I had to park blocks away and walk to where our live truck was set up, which happened to be just outside the restaurant.  A waitress saw the heat was taking its toll on me, plus I was there in a shirt and tie.  She offered a bottle of cold water.  I declined the exceptionally kind offer becaue I would be back in my air conditioned car right after I finished at 12:05 PM.  Little things mean a lot.   The waitress didn't have to make the offer.  She is simply a nice person.   I'm sorry for all the people losing their jobs.