Friday, December 13, 2019
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.
Thursday, December 12, 2019
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
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
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
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.
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,
Sunday, December 8, 2019
Saturday, December 7, 2019
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
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
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
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.