Monday, June 30, 2008
I've seen broadcasting veterans treat newbies one of two ways-- with disdain, or with professionalism, courtesy, and encouragement.
Paul Oles belonged to that second group, and a generation of local broadcasters is better because of it.
Paul died Saturday at the age of 79. Simply put, he was a nice man.
Mr. Oles spent many years at WCDL radio in Carbondale, back when local radio meant something, back when radio stations cared about the communities they were licensed to serve. In 1977, it was part time work at WNEP. He moved over to television, full time, a few years later. Paul Oles had one of those booming voices, but it wasn't fake, and it had such a conversational tone.
I honestly do not remember the first time we met, but I do recall my first encounter with Paul at WNEP. I came over from a competing station. There was not one hint of resentment of condescension when it came to dealing with Paul. He was kind, and he was welcoming, and he was genuine.
My father often ran into Paul at a grocery store in Peckville, and Paul's kindness extended to my father.
My sympathy to Paul's family and friends.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
In the never ending effort to do something different, the Random Thoughts blog has been re-named Scrapple for the day. If you're familiar with the product, Scrapple contains a little bit of everything.
GET SMART The movie has been getting fair to good reviews. Roger Ebert really liked it, and I trust his views. However, you won't see me at the theater. "Get Smart" will always be Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. I'm not a Steve Carell fan, based mostly on the stunningly un-funny "The Office."
INVESTIGATIONS R US Is there any local government office that isn't under investigation? Rumors have been swirling about Lackawanna County for months. Federal agents apparently seized a bunch of stuff from a Luzerne County court/office building yesterday. Obviously, we'll know what they found and what they were looking for if there's an indictment or indictments. If nothing comes out of the investigation, we need to know that, too. People deserve to know if the individuals running the courts and other government offices are honest.
WEATHER I know I'm in the minority here, but I found this week's cool spell absolutely delightful.
POTHOLES Spruce Street in Scranton, between Mifflin and Franklin, has to be one of the worst in the city. I'm not sure if it's a city responsibility, or if it belongs to the state, but both should be embarrassed over its condition.
WILLIE RANDOLPH I thought the NY Mets should have fired Willie Randolph after last year's late season collapse, but they waited until Tuesday morning to do it. Having said that, the firing was poorly handled-- after the beginning of a west coast trip.
SWB YANKEES There are 14 teams in the International League. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are 8th in attendance, averaging about 6,500 fans per game. Remember, that counts season ticket holders, not butts in the seats. The bloom disappeared from that rose quickly, didn't it?
MEET THE PRESS Brian Williams will moderate this week's "Meet the Press." If I was the head of NBC News, I'd give the job to Tom Brokaw until after the election. He'd be perfect for the transition. As for a permanent host, I have no idea, but there's no shortage of good candidates out there.
RINGTOWN A judge ruled Ringtown Elementary should stay open, postponing plans to ship those kids to North Schuylkill Elementary. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
VANDLING The town near Carbondale has an arson problem. I don't understand most crimes. Arson is near or at the top of the list.
TIGER Tiger Woods has a bad knee, and he won't golf until next year. I'm sorry for his health issues, but I find golf tournaments infinitely more interesting when the field is wide open.
BIG TEN NETWORK The Big Ten Network is coming to my cable system this fall. I should be more interested in this than I am.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A few obituaries gave Russert credit for "reinventing Sunday morning television." While I respect Tim Russert’s accomplishments and talents, that is simply wrong.
ABC’s Roone Arledge and David Brinkley changed the face of Sunday morning television in 1981, ten years before Tim Russert took over "Meet the Press" on NBC. Arledge saw an opportunity to do something different on Sunday mornings, a forgotten and neglected time period. He got the network to cancel "Animals, Animals, Animals" and "Issues and Answers." The latter was ABC’s little watched clone of "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation." I don't remember "Animals, Animals, Animals," but I think I know what it was about.
In the place of those two shows came "This Week with David Brinkley." It began with a news summary, a set up piece explaining the week’s big issue, a newsmaker interview, a roundtable discussion and a closing commentary. In other words, the same format NBC started using when "Meet the Press" expanded to an hour in 1991.
Tim Russert was a talented interviewer and broadcaster who died too young. He will be missed. Russert was a tremendous asset to journalism in general and NBC in particular, but Arledge and Brinkley were the ones who opened the door.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
10 years puts me in about the middle of the WNEP pack. I'm still a seniority pup compared to some people on the staff. I'm an old man to the rest.
Like any other job, it has its ups and downs. Overall, I've been very happy and it's been a good ride.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
The Olsen Twins are 22 today.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
You may have noticed a counter on the right side of the page. I added it Tuesday morning. A few years ago, I asked our then-webmaster Mark Sowers how many hits the blog page was receiving. He said 150 to 200. I was curious to see if things have changed. They haven't. The numbers have been fairly steady since the blog started in November of 2004. I'm not complaining. I have the option of hiding the counter from public view. I won't, at least for a little while. I'm tickled with the numbers.
The company that provides the counter also gives you a list of the locations of blog visitors. No, it doesn't provide e-mail addresses. There is no tracking going on here. Your anonymity is absolutely safe. The blog has received hits from several states, including many out west. For the life of me, I can't understand why someone in Seattle or Las Vegas cares about what I have to write, but thanks for stopping by. Your visits are greatly appreciated. Drop me a line if you're ever inspired to describe how and why you got here.
A Washington, DC radio personality who goes by the name of "The Greaseman" often tells wildly funny stories about his ex-wife, Estelle. Every story is prefaced by the same line/question: "Estelle, are you listening, you pig, you!?" At times, there is an inside line, or a joke only a few people who know me will get, cleverly hidden in my dull paragraphs. There's no "Estelle" out there. There are a couple I've tried to reach via conventional means. No reply, so I doubt yammering here will help the cause.
I've toyed with the idea of branching out to a full blown web site, rather than sitting under the "Blogger.com" umbrella. A few friends are helping me weigh the pros and cons, the easy parts and the hurdles. I'll have to decide on a name. AndyPalumbo.com has been snatched up by a real estate salesman from Australia. Coming up with a catchy name could push me in the right direction.
Some might have expected a few words about Pennsylvania's new anti-smoking legislation here today. I decided to wait until after Gov. Rendell signs it before spouting off, hopefully for the last time, but I doubt it.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
On the other hand...
A gentleman called me a couple weekends ago, in the middle of the night. He didn't have cable or a satellite dish. He was unhappy with our very early Sunday morning programming. I sympathized with him. If I had my way, we'd run "Barney Miller," "Night Court," and "WKRP in Cincinnati" all day and night. I listened to his complaint, and maybe his venting was therapeutic because he suddenly had an epihany. He realized that the person picking up the phone at a television station at 1:00 AM on a Sunday doesn't have the power to change programming. I'm glad I was there to help.
We've been getting a flood of e-mails about a television show called "Swingtown." Apparently, it's dirty. I kid you not when I say "flood." There have been dozens of anti-Swingtown e-mails received here at WNEP. The e-mails implore us not to run "Swingtown." No problem. WNEP will never air "Swingtown." Why? It's on CBS! This is America. The public owns the airwaves. You have the right to complain, but your complaint will be much more effective if you take the time to make sure it gets to the right people.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Jim McKay passed away Saturday. For decades, McKay was one of the signature faces and voices of ABC Sports.
While his obituary was running on Newswatch 16 Sunday morning, I thought about McKay's appeal. He came across on television as a very nice man. McKay was smart enough to tell a story, without getting in the way of the story. A lot of people in this "it's all about me" television age could learn from him. He wasn't a goof. He wasn't a clown. Jim McKay never tried to be bigger than the event he was covering. McKay's writing style was simple, but elegant. Read his book if you can find it. He was vanilla. You know what? Vanilla is a pretty good flavor.
Three young people were killed and a fourth was badly hurt in a Friday night crash in Wyoming County. Two had graduated from high school just hours before. If anyone can make sense out of this, I'm more than willing to listen. Police say speed was a factor. Thankfully, alcohol wasn't. It likely all comes down to this-- people make mistakes. My sympathy to the friends and families of the young people who lost their lives.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
The above photo shows thousands of people on Market Street, on an August evening. You don't have to be a NASCAR fan to be here. Just about every restaurant had a tent on the street, and the food was tremendous. Yes, there was a beer tent, but it was discontinued due to liability concerns. As I noted yesterday, the festival moved to Bridge Street a few years ago, and it lost something in my view.
This is driver Sterling Marlin and I. At the time, he was driving the Coors Light #40 car. Nice guy.
I hope Scranton's NASCAR festival goes well today.
Friday, June 6, 2008
As I've noted in the past, Corning, NY has a fantastic pre-NASCAR festival called "Race Fever." It's held on the Thursday night before the Watkins Glen race. It used to be held on Market Street, right in the middle of town. Cars would be on display. Drivers signed autographs. Vendors sould souvenirs. Restaurants set up tents and tables on the street. It was great fun, even if you weren't a NASCAR fan. There's a picture from a few years ago on the right. At least 5,000 people would show up, but you can't tell it from the picture. I'm an early bird. The photo was taken at set-up time. I have pictures of wall to wall people on Market Street, but I took them with a film camera (what's that?) and I can't find the prints. "Race Fever" lost a lot of its charm when it was moved to Bridge Street, but that's another story for another time.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
By the way, thank you PA Senate for derailing the anti smoking legislation. I hope yesterday's "no" vote gives you an opportunity to craft something stronger and get it on the fast track. Unfortunately, I fear it's just the latest attempt to please the special interests and disregard the will of the people.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Loyal blog readers will remember that I, along with the majority of Pennsylvania residents, support an anti smoking law. As I've said before, every study says there is no safe level of second hand smoke. Yes, you have a right to smoke. No, you don't have the right to make other people breathe it.
The bill that finally made it out of committee yesterday is severely flawed. Severely. There are far too many exemptions. But, it's better than nothing, and it's clear the legislature isn't interested in going any farther. It's what you get when courage challenged individuals call the shots.
It's not over yet. A spokesman for the governor indicated Mr. Rendell can live with this, but, as we well know, strange things can happen in the legislature.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I love old game shows. Most of the new crop is awful. "Millionaire" is one of the few exceptions. It's blessedly simple, yet interesting.
There have been several remakes in the last decade. "Match Game" in 1998 was beyond hideous. "To Tell the Truth," one of my all time favorites, in 2000 was just as bad. All too often, producers take a classic, add gimmicks and hope it works. All too often, it flops.
"Million Dollar Password" made its debut, for a limited run, Sunday night. I didn't expect much. I was shocked. It was really, really good. Regis Philbin stayed true to the classic. He stayed out of the way. The front game is a cross between "Pyramid" and "Password." It works. The end game, where you have a shot at $1 million, is just as good. It passed my test. I was yelling at the screen during the show. You can't help getting caught up in the game.
Monday, June 2, 2008
I have seen the aftermath, and that's more than enough for me.
It appears we're in the midst of a record setting year for tornadoes, and that brings us back to ten years ago today-- when we were in a late spring tornado outbreak.
I didn't cover the Lake Carey tornado. I was, as they say, "between jobs" at the time. I was on my back from a job interview in Charleston, West Virginia. It was a long day. The drive wore me out, so I got a hotel room in Harrisburg for the night. I didn't think I could safely make the rest of the drive back to Scranton. I learned of the tornado when I arrived home the next morning.
I don't intend to diminish the pain, suffering, or loss of the people in Wyoming County, but here's what I remember most about that day. There was a message on my answering machine when I returned home. It was from the news director who interviewed me in West Virginia. He knew about the nasty weather in Pennsylvania and Maryland-- and he also knew I was driving right through it. The news director wanted to make sure I made it home in one piece. It was a thoughtful gesture. Obviously, I didn't take the job, but we still keep in touch. For the record, I did hit some bad storms in western Maryland, but no tornadoes.
The thing that really scares me about tornadoes is there's nothing you can do about them. You know when conditions are ripe for tornadoes, but they are unpredictable. Weather radar gives you some notice-- but not much. You know you're in trouble when the best you can do is hide in a basement or cellar.