Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm getting the double whammy. Not only do I return from vacation this weekend, it's also time change weekend. Standard time returns at 2:00 AM Sunday. While you're sleeping, I'm working for an extra hour. My usual ten hour shift turns into an eleven hour ordeal. Of course, it evens out in the spring, but that seems so far, far away.

It's a long story, but November vacations are off limits in the TV industry. When standard time used to begin at the end of October, I'd take a vacation, and stick Jon Meyer with the extra hour. Now, Jon gets his revenge when he sees me Saturday night, and reminds me of the pain and torture I inflicted upon him for a few years.

Outside of working that extra hour, I really don't mind standard time. I'm always up very early in the morning, and asleep in the late afternoon. The extra hour of daylight in the morning is a help, and it's easier falling asleep when it's dark at 5:00 PM. Yes, I'm in the minority here.

My bosses and the people running for election Tuesday should be happy. It's an extra hour of commercials.

Happy Halloween, and Happy Birthday to two friends-- Dave in Dickson City and Cathy in Pennsauken, NJ.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Eve

I feel the same way about Halloween that I do about baseball cards. Both were great activities. Then, adults got involved and mucked up everything.

Kids love baseball cards. One day, some adult figured out there was a buck to be made. Cards became less about kids and more about collectors. It's sad.

I've encountered far too many adults who take Halloween way too seriously. A little decoration is nice. There's at least one "gone overboard" home in every neighborhood.

I've been in stores and restaurants where the employees are "encouraged" (translation: forced) to dress up for work. All those employees have one thing in common. They look miserable. Having a pirate or kitty cat bag my groceries and serve my burger doesn't add to the experience.

Halloween. It's for the kids.

Looks like I won't be getting any Snickers bars this year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's All So Simple

The New York Daily News reports CW11 in New York City is going back to being identified by its call letters, WPIX. Of course, the call letters were always there, but the marketing geniuses tried to solidify the station's identity with a couple little-watched networks-- the CW, and before that, the WB.

It's all so simple. The "WPIX" brand carries so much history in New York. They were fools to tinker with the image. It doesn't mean the brand can't be tweaked and freshened up, but if you have a strong heritage, don't fool with it.

I didn't realize this until I read it in Vince Sweeney's blog, but the cellular phone has turned 25 years old. It reminds me of a story, and it happened exactly 14 years ago.

I was in Erie to cover the Ridge for Governor campaign. On election night, we were set up in the ballroom of the Avalon Hotel in beautiful downtown Erie. Our engineers hooked up a gizmo that allowed me to hear the audio of the television station back in Scranton. I needed something like that so I could hear the anchors toss to me at the Avalon. The centerpiece of the system was a cellular bag phone. It worked great. I did a live report in the 6:00 PM news, then went out to dinner with the photographer and satellite truck operator.

When we returned to the ballroom around 8:30, we discovered we never bothered to disconnect the cell phone and terminate the call to Scranton. We had just made a nearly three hour long cell phone call, across the state of Pennsylvania. Remember, this was 1994, and cell phone minutes weren't cheap.

Of course, I got called into the news director's office when the sky high cell phone bill came in, and I did the honorable thing. I threw the photographer under the bus, and blamed it all on him.

It's all so simple.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Birthday Blues

I have a birthday coming up in a couple months, and even though I don't consider it a big deal, I can't escape the fact I'm getting older.

It's a little tougher these days. We have a lot of young people running around the office, and that's great. It adds vitality and new ideas to the operation. On the other hand, it does make me feel ancient, on occasion.

Here's something that lifted my spirits. Look at the guys who moderated this year's presidential debates. Tom Brokaw is 68. Bob Schieffer is 71, and Jim Lehrer is 74.

Experience is a good thing.

I'm clearing my calendar now so I'll be avaialble to moderate a debate in 2028.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thin Skin

I still can't believe stuff like this happens.

WFTV in Orlando, FL recently interviewed Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, via satellite. One line of questioning involved Barack Obama's recent comment regarding "spreading around the wealth." The news anchor asked Biden if it was a form of socialism.

Shortly after the interview, WFTV was informed it can forget about getting future interviews with big deals in the Obama campaign, including Obama and Biden.

First of all, the socialism question was one Biden should have been able to hit out of the park.

Secondly, the presidential campaigns, in both parties, have been bypassing the national reporters in favor of the locals, believing the locals ask easier questions. Now, a local gets tough with you, and you take your ball and go home.

If you can't, or won't, answer a tough question from a reporter, how are you going to handle that 3:00 AM phone call we've been hearing so much about?

And, it's not just the Democrats. Network reporters covering the McCain campaign have complained they can't get access. NBC's Brian Williams will whine that he had to wait 55 days to interview Sarah Palin to anyone who will listen. On top of that, Williams got less than ten minutes to ask his questions.

Let me tell you a story. I interviewed Scranton Mayor James Connors on election day, when he was seeking his second term, back in the early 90's. It was a live interview outside an elementary school in West Scranton, and it was brutal. I held nothing back. Connors politely answered every question. I got major heat from members of the Connors campaign team, but not from the Mayor. His reason-- he wanted to prove he can take a punch and he had nothing to fear. It worked. He was re-elected.

There's nothing wrong with a good question, unless you can't answer it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Random Thoughts

I was both shocked and flattered when a Halloween party invitation landed in my e-mail "in" box. I'm off this weekend, and I actually have the opportunity to attend. I'm passing. I haven't been in a costume since second grade, and I'm not resuming the practice now. Thanks for asking. It was very kind.

I'm not part of the "can't wait for the election to be over" chorus, but something is getting on my nerves-- the campaign commercials that use scare tactics. If you have to scare people into voting for you, you're not much of a candidate.

I will cop to suffering from "poll overload."

Mr. Blackwell passed away this week. He's the guy responsible for the yearly "10 Worst Dressed Women" list. It was awful, filled with mean spirited and catty comments. I have a feeling Mr. Blackwell will need to be dressed in an asbestos suit in the afterlife.

What's the deal with that Scranton cable public access channel? Does audio cost extra?

I can listen to "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" every day. Luckily, the 70's channel on my satellite radio plays it quite often.

It's hard to believe we're a week away from November.

The Penn State/Ohio State game interests me more than the World Series, and that's out of character.

There was recently a protest in front of one of the local newspapers, and I doubt the paper cared. If you really wanted to make a point, write to the paper's advertisers and tell them you're staying away because of their association with the newspaper.

I'm on vacation. While I haven't touched a razor since Tuesday morning, I did get a hair cut yesterday.

Norm Jones will handle the weekend morning broadcasts. We're in good hands.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Charge !

I think I got my first credit card when I was 19. It was a JC Penney card. Over the years, I've had a lot of credit cards, and I've always used credit responsibly.

I received a letter from one of the big banks the other day. It was lowering my MasterCard limit because I rarely use the card. I've had credit cards for a long time, and that's never happened to me. I called the bank and told them I was lowering my limit to zero because I was cancelling the account. There was no effort to say "I'm sorry. What can we do to keep your business?" Enjoy the government bail-out, boys.

I realize cancelling credit cards doesn't do anything for your credit rating, but it was a matter of principle. I never came close to the limit. The balance was usually paid in full every month. I guess the bank didn't make enough money on me.

Staying with our money theme today, a woman in Scranton has an additional $19,000 in her pocket, courtesy of the city of Scranton. The woman was charged with disorderly conduct after an off-duty police officer heard her swearing at her broken toilet. A district justice threw out the charge, saying the language might have been offensive, but it was protected under the First Amendment. The city then had to pay up for apparently violating the woman's rights.

I'm sure the city's insurance carrier will pick up the tab for the out-of-court settlement, but still, it was an expensive lesson, and it's one that should have been taught a long, long, long time ago.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Today, it's a rare piece of mid-week bad photography.

I spotted this rainbow yesterday morning, around 8:00 AM. The picture was taken in WNEP's parking lot in Moosic.

Our parking lot can be a rather busy place, even at 8:00 AM-- employees arriving for work, deliveries, visitors, etc. There's something about a rainbow that makes everyone stop and look. It's not really reflected in this picture, but this was one of the more vivid rainbows I've seen in a long time.

Yesterday was a tough day in the news biz-- a deadly hit and run, someone in court for doing something stupid, people faced with losing their jobs just before the holidays, plus the usual assortment of fires and crashes.

I won't add my personal issues to the mix.

It's funny how something as simple as a rainbow can make you feel better for a little while.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Super Inflation

The National Football League says 25 per cent of the tickets for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa next year will cost $1,000. It's the first time Super Bowl tickets have cost more than a grand.

Upon first glance, this is a shocking development. On the other hand, the NFL is just pricing tickets at what the market will bear. I suspect the league won't have a problem selling all those $1,000 tickets. Corporations and sponsors will snatch them up.

As for the regular season, I really don't know how families can afford to attend professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey games. Even if you can swallow the price of a ticket, the food and drink will choke you.

We're lucky around here. Minor league baseball and hockey still provide some value. You can still see a good game, have a great time, and not spend a ton of money.

One other money note today... We've been getting a lot of e-mails and Talkback messages about a few gas stations in the Scranton area with prices much higher than surrounding gas stations. Here is the word on the street. These stations are independents, and the owner was forced to buy gas on the open market. He bought high. The price fell, and now he's stuck with expensive gas in his tanks. It's easy for me to say, but I'd cut the price at the pump, take the loss and be done with it. It's not considered "price gouging" as many writers to WNEP allege. defines "price gouging" as pricing above the market price when no alternative retailer is available. There are many near by alternatives available. While it's not price gouging, it is bad luck and bad business.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. Let me tell you about two of mine, and both fall in the same category.

I like old game shows. GSN, formerly known as the Game Show Network, runs "Now You See It" in the middle of the night. In case you're not familiar with it (the show ran for 13 months in 74 and 75), it's a hidden word game, like those puzzles in the newspaper. It wasn't a very good show. It was overly produced and needlessly complicated. The rules were changed half way through the run, and that's never a good sign.

Jack Narz was the host. He rose to fame in the 50's, and he kept that old style. It didn't translate well into the 70's. On one episode, he shot a nasty remark at the producer and writers. When the contestants failed to get a clue, Narz looked off-stage and said something like "I told you no one would ever get that." He wasn't smiling.

I always watch the show when I'm up, and that's quite frequently.

Jack Narz passed away last week at the age of 85. Narz was apparently well-liked because always had a job in the 50's 60's and 70's. Showbiz runs in the family. Narz's brother is game show host Tom Kennedy.

The other bad game show I always watch is the 1979 version of "Beat the Clock." Words cannot describe how awful it was. It ran on the CBS daytime schedule for about six months. Half way through the run, the producers ditched plain married couples as contestants in favor of celebrity teams-- and the show didn't attract the "A" list. Most looked like they hated being there with host Monty Hall, who out-did himself with smugness and smarminess in every episode. The show had a cheap 50's look, and I don't know what CBS was thinking when it put it on the air. "Beat the Clock" was cute in the 50's. It just looked dumb in the 70's.

GSN was running "Beat the Clock" on weekend overnights. It's now been replaced by poker shows-- so bad, even I can't watch.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Another Inner Harbor photo from Phil today... It's a beautiful city.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Guest Photography Weekend

It's time some quality photography makes it to the blog.

Old friend and former co-worker Phil Yacuboski now is on the staff of WBAL-TV in Baltimore. He took some pictures of the Inner Harbor last weekend.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Tim Karlson

Let me tell you a story about Tim Karlson.

Tim was doing afternoon drive, 3 to 7 pm, when I arrived at WARM in 1981. Getting the job there was a major thrill. I was now working with some of the people I listened to growing up, and it was a kick. Before landing the WARM job, Tim worked at WSCR, and I remember him from his time up the dial. He called himself the "Crazy Redhead."

Don't ask me why, but Tim took an interest in me. I was just the kid who worked weekend overnights, playing the religion and public affairs shows on tape. He had me record some fake newscasts. A critique and advice from Tim always followed. When I got good enough, he played them for the news director. It led to a small on-air role, which eventually led to a larger one. I have to add that I had no idea Tim was working behind the scenes to help me out, and he never asked for a thing in return.

My first newscast occurred when my Sunday morning relief didn't show up, but my first regularly scheduled newscast, as a real member of the on-air staff, took place during Tim's show.

I owe Tim a lot.

We worked on opposite ends of the WNEP building in recent years. I was in news. Tim was in client services and produced commercials. A meeting in the hallway was always an opportunity to talk about our radio days, and it was always a treat. I usually called him "Timothy Ralph" or "TRK." Tim's middle name is Ralph, and I remembered that from the way he signed the program logs back at the radio station. His work back then, as it was until the day he left WNEP, was meticulous.

As you've probably heard by now, Tim passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He suffered through a lot of pain over the years, more than any one person should have to endure. Sometimes, life isn't fair.

I'll steal a phrase Marisa Burke used last night on Newswatch 16: "It was an honor and a privilege to work with Tim Karlson."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Black Eye

All it takes is one person, saying one stupid thing, to give the area a black eye.

It allegedly happened at the Sarah Palin rally in Scranton Tuesday afternoon. Congressional candidate Chris Hackett was talking about Barack Obama when someone in the crowd supposedly yelled "kill him!"

The Secret Service investigated, as it should. You can't be too careful. The "kill him" allegation turned out to be unfounded, but the damage was done. It turns out only one person heard the alleged remark. People to back up the story couldn't be located.

I first suspected it was just one fervent supporter, going too far, getting carried away. You never know. Thankfully, it never happened, or at least there's no proof that it happened.

The original "kill him" story made national news. It's out there. Scranton has been getting a lot of mentions, and not in a good way.

We shouldn't be surprised when people say inappropriate things. They're probably taking a cue from the campaign commercials-- the ones that get slimier by the day. There's nothing wrong with pointing to a candidate's record and past actions. Unfortunately, the commercials take it to the next level, making inferences and leaps to illogical conclusions. Some "consultants" have the slime down to a science.

It's all part of a severely flawed system, but it's all we have right now. Demand better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back on the Campaign Trail

It was back on the campaign trail Tuesday morning. This time, it was Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's visit to Scranton. This was the scene inside the Riverfront Sports Complex at 4:30 AM. Crews were still putting the finishing touches on the stage and the bleachers.

Those who design the set up of these things have to balance the needs of the media with the desire to keep the people attending the rally happy. I'm not faulting the people who built the arrangement. They were only following orders from the campaign. There was no balance here. The sight lines were great for TV. Unfortunately, most of the people who attended this thing had a bad view and there wasn't enough seating. It could have and should have been angled differently to give the audience more move around and a better view of what was happening. I heard more than a few grumbles, and the upset people had a legitimate beef.

As always, a van was our home away from home for the morning. This is one of the newer units in the fleet. It's one of my favorites because it's roomy.

There's a story here, and I hope we get a chance to do it before election day. Campaign stops, regardless of party, have become flea markets, with vendors selling campaign tee shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons. The stuff isn't cheap, and it sells fast. I'd like to know where the money goes and if these people have permits. I remember the days when candidates would give you buttons for free so you could advertise their cause. The free days are over. I also wonder if the vendors believe in the candidates, or if they're just out to make a buck.

20 days 'til the election.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Take a Hike

I'm always looking for a new place to take a walk. A new path opened up a while back, near Meredith Street and the Heritage Valley Center in Mayfield.

It's well laid out and very pretty. There's one problem. It's not long enough. You can make it end to end in about ten minutes.

I've Googled until my fingers bled. I'd love to find a web site of walking paths and their distances. I like knowing how far I walk. A pedometer wouldn't be a bad investment. Cataloging walking paths would be a good project for a high school student. If you find one a good web site on the topic, let me know.

While I was there, I took a picture of some flaming fall foliage along Business Route 6, including a big silver tree that looks like a cell phone tower.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Columbus Day

Happy Columbus Day!

I'm sure Columbus loved cows.

This particular specimen was enjoying a fall afternoon in Wyoming County when I drive by with my camera.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bad Photography Weekend

I'd love to tell you excatly where I was when I took this photo, but I can't. It's almost impossible to describe. After some directions from my father, and a little wandering, this is what I discovered. It's on a back road, somewhere near Seaman's Airport in the Factoryville area. A train going by would have made the shot perfect, but my timing was off.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Long Way Home

After Honesdale (see yesterday's blog), I pointed the car east on Route 6, toward Lake Wallenpaupack.

I love those photos of colored leaves reflected in still water. It was not to be Monday morning. It was windy, and the lake water was very choppy. Choppy also presents photo opportunities, so here it is.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Are You Looking At?

The strange man is looking at something. I wonder what it is. Oh, I know. It's a Bad Photography Weekend.

There was a slight schedule change this week. I had the honor of producing Newswatch 16 This Morning on Monday. My shift ended at 7:00 AM, so I had the day free to do some leaf peeping.

One of the best peeping spots in America is atop Irving Cliff over Honesdale. I've showed you this view before. The leaves were a little pre-peak. It was a touch on the cloudy side, but I'm not complaining. The wind was gusting. It smelled like fall. It was nearly a perfect day.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pet Peeve Day

We'll begin with a little "inside broadcasting" information. If you hear your local radio disc jockey or talk show host say "It's pet peeve day," you can rest assured that person is out of ideas.

The same goes for writers.

Welcome to Pet Peeve Day.

It seems tailgating is becoming more prevalent, and I don't mean firing up the grill outside the football stadium. You have to leave some room between your car and the one directly ahead of you. It's not only annoying. It's dangerous. If you're in such a rush to get to work, set your alarm to wake you up five minutes sooner. Eat your Pop Tarts raw rather than waiting for them to come out of the toaster. Just lather and rinse in the shower instead of lathering, rinsing, and repeating. Stay off my tail. It's not going to make me go any faster.

The other pet peeve involves blaming the media for all your problems. Some of the Wall Street geniuses were testifying before congress the other day. A couple had the brass to say aggressive reporting is making the problem worse. Hello! Obviously, you couldn't police yourselves. Government isn't interested in making you behave. Someone has to keep an eye on you, and that's the media.

The Wall Street suits who watched their companies go bankrupt are not alone. We hear it all the time.

I ran up big deficits while running government, but I managed to take care of my friends. It's the media's fault.

I either perjured myself, or took money that didn't belong to me. It's the media's fault.

Crime in the city? It's the media's fault for reporting the nightly shooting.

Taking big bucks and doing nothing while businesses close or move out of town? Those darn reporters.

I sincerely hope pet peeve days are few and far between.

One more thing... I was passing a bank on the way home from a leaf peeping expedition yesterday. There's a new sign in front of this institution. It says "Safe. Sound. Secure." Did you ever think you'd see the day when a bank uses "we're not going bankrupt" to market itself? We live in sad times.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

High Rise Fire

It must have been a nightmare. Fire broke out Sunday morning in a fourth floor apartment at the Sherman Hills in Wilkes-Barre.

I got my first up-close look at the building Tuesday morning, and I talked with a few people. They were universal in their praise of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department. Department personnel helped get one hundred people out of their apartments. Many residents are elderly and handicapped. Some needed medical attention. There were no fatalities.

The fire was right in the middle of the building. Apartments above the fire have smoke damage. Those below have to deal with a lot of water. The clean up began yesterday. The building manager hopes to have some people back home by the end of the week, and that's amazing.

I'm looking for the right words to describe the evacuation. It's been said luck is the residue of design. The building held fire drills. Residents and the fire department knew exactly what to do. That's more than luck. It's smart.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


As you know by now, Scranton took quite ribbing on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. In the greater scheme of things, it's really no big deal. We've heard it all before.

I did a little wandering yesterday, and I had a little more time to think about it. The anti-Scranton comments puts the city in a poor light, internally and externally. If you keep hearing how awful you are, you eventually start to believe it.

Case in point: Erie. I first visited Erie in the spring of 1994, when I was covering Tom Ridge's run for governor. Luckily we had a little time to kill, so a photographer and I drove out on Route 6, across the top of the state. If you ever have the time, do it. Route 6 is one of America's great roads.

When I got to Erie, I discovered a small, but nice city. Very Scranton-esque. It was once a manufacturing and shipping hub. Most of that has now disappeared, just like Scranton. Erie now has a slots parlor, and it's trying to re-make itself as a tourist destination. Downtown has a minor league baseball stadium, a hockey arena, and a performing arts theater. Retail has fled to the suburbs. Downtown has a couple colleges, government offices and a hospital. There is also a small restaurant/nightclub/bar area.

Summer and fall are gorgeous. If you don't like winter, stay away from Erie, where the lake effect snow is legendary.

I liked the trip so much, that I've repeated the journey several times. While there isn't much to do in Erie, the thrill is in the journey. Erie is not totally void of charm. There's a new bayfront hotel and conference center that I have yet to visit. There's a hotel I like about ten blocks from the lake. It has a nice restaurant and good cable television. Having a nice dinner, walking down to the lake, sitting on a bench, and watching the sun set is one of the great joys in life.

My usual route home is Interstate 86 and Route 17 through New York, just north of the Pennsylvania border. It's not quite as scenic as Route 6, but it's not bad.

Now, the attitude. The people of Erie have heard the jokes and put downs too often, for too many years. When I was covering the Ridge campaign, I asked some of the local photographers where I could go to shoot my "stand up" for the pieces we were satelliting back to our area. I asked for an area that really says you're in Erie. The reply: "We don't have one of those." A lot of people in Erie don't feel good about themselves and their city, and that's just wrong.

Erie and Scranton are a lot alike. They both have problems. Both aren't as bad as they're portrayed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Calm Down

"Saturday Night Live" did a Palin/Biden debate sketch the other night. The character who played Joe Biden said the following:

"I come from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and that's as hard-scrabble a place as you're going to find. I'll show you around sometime and you'll see -- it's a hell hole. An absolute jerkwater of a town. You couldn't stand to spend a weekend there. It's just an awful, awful sad place, filled with sad, desperate people with no ambition. Nobody, I mean nobody, but me, has ever come out of that place. It's a genetic cesspool. So don't be telling me that I'm part of the Washington elite, because I come from the absolute worst place on earth -- Scranton, Pennsylvania. And Wilmington, Delaware, is not much better."

Okay, it was unpleasant, and it reinforces every negative stereotype about Scranton. The area has been getting a little positive attention lately, mostly due to the Biden candidacy, that of Hillary Clinton earlier this year, and the hideously unfunny sit-com "The Office." Full disclosure: I laughed at the SNL sketch.

"Forbes" magazine called Scranton one of the fastest dying cities in the nation. That story did far, far more damage than the goofballs at SNL could provide.

I'm waiting for the usual parade of professional dullards, elected officials, and "community leaders" to come to the area's defense. These are the same people who do nothing as they watch good jobs disappear-- the people who cheer when we get a new dollar store, doughnut shop, or a warehouse that takes up lots of room, but provides few jobs.

It's history. Let's not over-react. I even received a "breaking news" e-mail from the local newspaper about the SNL sketch. By the way, the "breaking news" advisory arrived in my "in" box a mere ten hours after the sketch aired. Sorry. The story "broke" a long time ago.

Scranton has been kicked in the teeth before. It'll happen again. We'll survive.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scrapple Friday

When you see the scrapple, you know you're going to get a little bit of everything.

This political season has to be a record setter. My mail box is filled with campaign ads every day. I guess "going green" doesn't count at election time.

We've gone several days without a presidential or vice presidential candidate visit to our area. We're due.

Don't forget, Monday is the last day to register to vote in the November election.

The Luzerne County SPCA's annual "Walk for the Animals" is Saturday. Help if you can. Click here for more information.

GPS navigation systems fascinate me.

Change is inevitable, especially in the television business.

While I tend like to like the wild card in major league baseball, I'm having trouble getting interested in the first round of playoffs.

I've finally found a brand and style of microwave popcorn that I really like. However, nothing beats the "real" stuff.

You can get around the smoking ban if less than 20 per cent of your revenue comes with food. I've been in a few establishments recently that still allow smoking, even though they serve a lot of sandwiches and bar snacks. Who's checking the books?

America's financial problems appear to be as much a Washington failure as a Wall Street failure. All the signs were there, beginning a few years ago. The problem is, no one bothered to read them.

I've seen gasoline at around $3.40 a gallon. We now think that's a bargain, and that's just sad.

I'm looking forward to leaf peeping season.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flu Shot and Photo Shoot

It's been a busy, and semi-unpleasant couple days.

I had to scoot out of the office yesterday afternoon to make a doctor's appointment. A few things were on the agenda, including a flu shot. As dead flu viruses circulate through my system, I admit, I'm feeling okay.

The doctor must have read my recent blog about spending interminable amounts of time in the waiting room of doctor's and dentist's offices. I spent only about two minutes in the lobby before I was ushered into the inner sanctum, and that has to be a record.

I don't like doctors. Shots don't thrill me, but that stuff was pleasant when compared to my Wednesday morning task.

The station is shooting new video of most on-air employees. The video will be more digital friendly.

I've been in broadcasting since 1981. If you count college radio, 1979. Apologies to my co-workers, who are tired of hearing "age/experience" references out of me. Anyway, in spite of all the time on the air, I've never gotten used to how I've sounded and how I've looked. I hate it. I'm never happy. I'd rather get a flu shot every day than endure a photo session. The station is great by working to make sure its people look good during these things, but I absolutely despise the process-- the phony poses, the fake grin. Luckily, we learned of the photo shoot just a couple days ago, so I didn't have a lot of time to stress out over it.

Yeah, I have a tough job.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Since You Asked...

A couple people read last week's blog on the passing of radio legend Ron Allen, and have asked me what I did to get in trouble on my first day on the job.

Welcome to Uncle APAL's story time! Let's go back to April of 1981.

I heard about a very bad crash in the middle of the night, and I made a call to the appropriate police department. I won't mention where it was, but I will borrow a technique from my friend John Webster-- it rhymes with Schmenkins Township.

I called a couple times and left messages. An officer called me back a few hours later and I said something like "Boy, you're a tough guy to get a hold of." As God as my witness, I meant nothing negative by it. I was just trying to point out how busy he must have been. Police officers are running from the beginning of their shift to the end. I must have caught the officer at a bad time, but he pointed out how backed up he was, how manpower is limited, and I'm not dealing with a big city police department. I explained it was just an ice breaking remark. It wasn't meant to disparage him or his department, but I do understand how the comment could have been misinterpreted. I got some information, and ended the call.

The person who followed me later called the same officer in the same department, hoping for more information. The officer complained to her about me. It snowballed from there.

The reporter squealed like a stuck pig and made a federal case over it to the news director, who then went to the program director. I was called in, greeted by the nastiest of memos from the news director and an in-person tongue lashing from the program director.

The whole thing could have been avoided if someone asked me what happened. I was strung up, before I had a chance to tell my side of the story.

I've had a lot of bosses over the years. Some good. Some, not so good. One thing I took away from the experience, if I ever become a manager, is to investigate before jumping to conclusions.

In the grand scheme of things, it was really no big deal. I recovered from the episode and stayed at the same place nearly eleven years. Dealing with that police department has never been a problem, to this day.

I've had a lot of reamings over the years, but you always remember your first.