Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Business Wednesday


Times have changed.

Backing up a bit, most 24 hour businesses, except for some mini marts, gave up the all night stuff when the pandemic hit.  One of the notable exceptions is one store in Scranton that it part of a big drug store chain.  I'm in there ALL THE TIME.

On my last nocturnal visit, I picked up a couple of prescriptions in the back.  It was then to the front of the store so I could get some soda and burn off a coupon.  No clerk at the register.  No problem.  I'd just use the self service checkout.

Backing up again.  I hate those things.  I like to see people employed.  On the other hand, those self service checkouts do save some time, and time is always an issue for me.

New problem.  The self service terminals, both of them, were down.  

I searched around the store looking for a body.  One finally appeared from the outside.  He was on break.  I explained that I normally would hit the self serves, but they were down.  I'm going to get him in trouble, but the clerk explained that the self serve terminals are now permanently off-line.

I immediately knew the reason.  I said to the clerk "Theft?"  He said yes and added most of the store's shrinkage comes from people grabbing things in the aisles and running out, not from the self service check outs.

Be that as it may, a time saving convenience is gone.  I'll really be upset if the store cuts back on its around the clock operation.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Deja Vu


It was flashback time over the weekend.

Former president Donald Trump predicted his own indictment.  I instantly went back to an afternoon in 1992.

Joe McDade represented the Scranton area and the northern tier in congress.  It was the 10th district way back when.  He was under investigation for taking gifts and trips in exchange for steering government contracts to certain groups.

McDade called a news conference to announce his own indictment, before the Justice Department had a chance to break the news.  It was stunning on a couple of fronts.  First, a popular local congressman charged with bribery and racketeering.  Second, he was the one who told his constituents.

Even though McDade was acquitted, the trial did uncover some questionable behavior.  He was living fairly large at taxpayer expense.  McDade kept a nice house in his district.  He didn't live there.  The congressman spent the vast, vast majority of his time at his home in Virginia.

In spite of it all, Joe McDade was immensely accepted, winning most of his recent elections by huge margins.  He had people believing that if he left congress, the Tobyhanna Army Depot would be shuttered in days.  McDade retired in 1999.  Tobyhanna is still there, even though we had a revolving door of congressman.

Some called McDade the "king of pork."  He was responsible for a lot of government spending around here.  The Steamtown National Historic Site immediately comes to mind.  He had the National Park Service take over a pile of rusting junk and turn it in to something nice,  and a source of some local pride.

One of my first encounters with the good congressman was at a tank plant in Lackawanna County in the early 80's.  The place was still cranking out tanks, even though many people weren't sure we needed them.  I asked McDade about that.  He was incensed   He believed jobs now were better than mortgaging our kids' future and saddling them with debt.  I'll leave the final determination up to you.  I dared to take on the congressman with a critical question.  I clearly irritated him and it made for good radio.  My brethren were satisfied to go along on the photo op and the happy happy joy joy atmosphere of that Saturday afternoon.

Getting back to my original point, announcing your own indictment was sheer genius.  McDade got to put his own spin on it, and portray himself as the victim of a vindictive Justice Department.  It worked.  Local voters kept sending McDade back to Washington, even with that major black cloud over his head.

Joe McDade died September 24, 2017 in Virginia. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Front Row Seat


Someone much wiser than I once said that news is "history caught on the fly."

So true.

As I write this, it is very early Sunday morning.  I'm putting the finishing touches on our morning newscast.  Among the stories, a criminal indictment and possible arrest of a former president and some of America's biggest banks on the financial edge.

Step back and think about that for a moment.


And if that isn't enough, there is the threat of China getting involved in the war in Ukraine and North Korea launching missiles around Asia.

Double wow!

A former supervisor once compared the newsroom to a factory.  We simply keep cranking it out.  Hey, that's our job.  But, when you slow down for a moment and think about what's going on around this planet of ours, it really is awe inspiring.  We life in fascinating, and occasionally very dangerous times.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Andy's Angles: The River


I've been spending a lot of time along the Lackawanna River lately, and I've managed to have camera in hand.

Granted, this section of the waterway, running through south Scranton, isn't the most scenic, but it is worthy of an entry here as we try to turn the corner toward spring.

Like yesterday's photo, I shot this in early January, a warm but grey day.  The water was running a little higher than normal because of a recent rainfall.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Andy's Angles: Thank You, Evergreens


I call shooting landscapes in winter shooting monochrome, without using that setting on the camera.

This photo was taken in early January, when the temperature was close to 60-- a misty, foggy day.  The Lackawanna River in south Scranton was an unappealing grey.  The only color came from the evergreens on the west bank, and I'm glad they were there.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Follow Up Friday


Revisiting a few topics from recent days...

Thank you for all the kind Facebook comments about coanchoring the Monday morning broadcast and being out in the snow Tuesday.  I tried to answer as many as I could, but I couldn't keep up.  I guess that's a good thing.  I appreciate it.  Also, thank you and welcome to all the new followers.  By the way, I hate the word "follower."  Couldn't Facebook come up with something better?

I recently noted how Jim Nantz of CBS was doing his last NCAA basketball tournament.  Greg Gumbel of CBS said this week that he is stepping away from the NFL broadcasts.  He is 76 years old.  Gumbel was blasted for some weak efforts this season.  I don't know.  I didn't see or hear them.  However, 76 seems like a good time to move on.  Gumbel will never be known as one of the industry's greats, but he always produced a solid effort and I like him.  He is also the first person of color to call a Super Bowl on TV and that is a major accomplishment.

Ten episodes of the new "Night Court" have aired.  Three have been OK, and I'm being kind.  I'm out.

Monday is the spring equinox.  Snow in late March and April is not uncommon.  We'll get at least one more storm.

I use sports talk radio as a pleasant diversion from the real world.  The genre has some bad weeks, like around the holidays when all the top tier talent is on vacation.  The other is underway right now.  NCAA bracket discussions bore me to tears.

A chain of four local newspapers announced it's giving up on producing a print edition on Mondays.  The change takes effect next month.  #sad.

Scranton's Gerry McNamara is staying with the Syracuse University basketball program.  #happy.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

First Person: In the Chair


It's amazing how much time has passed.  This is a screen grab from our Monday morning broadcast.  What makes it significant is this is the first time Mindi and I have anchored together in more than three years.

Management tried to distance the staff when Covid-19 hit.  One thing led to another.  The months passed.  The years passed.  New management decided it was time to throw us together again, and this was it.

I'm hesitant to talk about things like this.  Television is not the most important job in the world.  If it goes badly, no one dies.  However, relating to a co-anchor can be a challenge.  It's the chemistry thing.  I was lucky to share the anchor desk with a friend.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Media Wednesday


I'm not a movie guy.  In fact, I haven't been to a theater since 2012, and I don't stream anything.  However, it was nice to see Brendan Fraser win the Academy Award for best actor Sunday night.  He was great in several "Scrubs" episodes and I enjoyed him in "Bedazzled," "Blast From the Past" and "George of the Jungle."  Yes, they are all comedies, but as Fraser proved in "Whale," he can do drama.

Speaking of "Scrubs," I watched a marathon the other day, on one of the cable channels, even though I have the series on DVD.  I'd forgotten how well written it was.  Great characters.  Compelling stories.

A sample of a radio station with artificial intelligence voices recently made it in to my "in" box.  While I will always be a "live and local" guy, the sample was amazing.  If no one told you the voices weren't real, you would never know.

I was listening to a radio station from the eastern shore of Maryland the other day.  It carried a network sports talk feed, but there were local news and weather updates.  Friends, that's the way to do it.

This will get an entry unto itself down the road, but the new "Night Court" weakens with every episode.  There was huge potential here.

TV news isn't as easy as it looks.  I have a great deal of respect for the reporters and photographers covering the weather problems out west, and it's refreshing to see Mr. Drama from the Weather Channel isn't part of it.

Speaking of the Weather Channel...  Early Tuesday morning.  Massive snow storm approaching the east coast.  Millions impacted.  And the Weather Channel had a "reality" show about surviving a fall.

I'm not gloating.  It makes me sad.  Newspapers in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton and Pottsville drop their Monday print editions next month.  It's on-line only.  Management cites inflation and a changing advertising climate.  In other words, fewer businesses are buying print ads, and classified ads dried up years ago.  The Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre dropped three print editions when the pandemic hit.

CNN hired two new executive producers for a morning show.  Everyone knows what the problem is.

CBS sold the studio complex known as "Television City" five years ago.  New owners say there will be massive renovations, and "The Price is Right" is getting kicked out of its home of more than 40 years.  The production company found new space in Glendale.  I'm sure the show will look slightly different in the fall.  I've read where there is a huge demand for studio space because of all the new streaming productions.  A studio building spree is underway.

The NCAA basketball tournament is underway.  This year will be the last for Jim Nantz of CBS.  He will continue on the network's NFL and golf coverage.  Nantz is as solid as they come.  Ian Eagle becomes the top basketball announcer for CBS next year.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Business Tuesday


A couple supermarkets and big box stores near me eliminated 24 hour operation when the pandemic hit, and I get that.  Corporate management said they wanted to devote those overnight hours to cleaning and sanitation.  I raised a skeptical eyebrow over that one, but be that as it may.

I was left with a few mini marts and one 24 hour drug store.  The drug store is part of a huge national chain, and I thank heaven that drug store exists.  I'm in there all the time.

The point of today's entry really is looking a gift horse in the mouth.  As a frequent flyer, I'm part of the store's loyalty program.  Electronic coupons come my way all the time, and $4 off any purchase coupons are not uncommon.

My question is, how high are prices jacked that you can afford to toss around some pretty hefty coupons?

On the other hand, the couponing encourages customer loyalty, and you can't put a price tag on that.

Big drug store chain, KEEP THEM COMING!

Monday, March 13, 2023

A Milestone


Regular blog readers know I love radio, especially radio news.  Few things thrill me more than turning in to a well produced, well delivered network radio newscast.

The "World News Roundup" on CBS Radio turns 85 today.  It was the first to feature correspondents, stationed across the globe, reporting for the same newscast.  There was no shortage of material for those first 35 minute broadcasts.  World War II was approaching.

As the years passed, the "World News Roundup" became shorter and shorter.  I think it's down to six minutes now, with very few stations carrying all six.

Radio has changed quite a bit, especially in recent years.  Those "on the scene" correspondents have been replaced with clips from television news broadcasts.  That's unfortunate.  So much television reporting is lacking because the reporters don't write for the ear.  Description is lacking because the pictures tell the story.  There is shockingly little context.

If that isn't enough, I don't think there are any CBS Radio affiliates where I live.  I have to get by with the internet feeds of all news stations from big cities.

Looking on the bright side, I'm happy the "World News Roundup" is still around.