Friday, January 30, 2009


Despite a 1-5 record in the last six NFL playoff games, I'm going to keep trying.

The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII Sunday evening. The Steelers are a 7 point favorite.

I don't gamble, but if I was in Vegas, I'd take the Cardinals and and points. Plus, I believe the Cardinals have about a 45 per cent chance of winning the game outright.

The Steelers have a killer defense, the best in the league, and that means a lot. Troy Polamalu is the man. On the other hand, you have to put points on the board. That's the part that really scares me. While the Steelers, except for Hines Ward, are healthy, the offense has been inconsistent, at best. Ben Roethlisberger can win a game for you. He can also lose one.

The Cardianals don't have a great offense, but they get it done. Larry Fitzgerald is a force to be reckoned with.

If the Steelers win, it'll be close.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


If you see someone who looks extremely nervous these days, that person is either a Luzerne County employee or a parishioner in the Diocese of Scranton.

It is widely believed the Luzerne County corruption scandal investigation is far from over, and more people will be going down. That's not today's topic.

Bishop Joseph Martino, this weekend, is due to announce a list of churches that will be closed. Rumor has it that it's a big list. Looking at this objectively, if the money isn't there, if the priests aren't there, and if the parishioners aren't there, your options are limited. Some churches simply have to be closed.

Subjectively, it's not so easy. No one wants to see their church closed. If you're a regular church-goer, chances are you were baptized and married in the same place. Ditto for your parents and your children. It will be most unpleasant and extremely sad, to see that door locked for the last time.

The only thing one can wish for, in a situation like this, is compassion. It was sorely lacking when a big bunch of Catholic schools were closed a couple years ago. There are those praying lessons were learned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Please, No!

The Senate has passed it. The House is due to vote on it today. It looks like the analog/digital TV switch will be pushed back to mid June.

The reasoning is that ten per cent of the population isn't ready, even though the switch was announced three years ago. Three years!

You know those annoying "get ready for the switch to digital" public service announcements? Get used to seeing them for four more months.

I hate to sound callous, but there will always be procrastinators, whether the deadline is February 17 or June 12.

I will admit that the government's program that offers $40 discount coupons for the purchase of a digital converter is a mess. It's out of money, but that can be fixed with the stroke of a presidential pen.

You want to hear a dirty little secret? Please, please, please don't tell anyone. You can do without TV. There are concerns about emergency information and weather bulletins. You can get them from radio, as long as your local station didn't flip on an automation switch and allow a computer to run things. That's another rant for another time.

The digital switch? Just do it!

>>>UPDATE: The House failed to pass a DTV delay bill Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It is something we wrestle with as journalists. It is something we wrestle with as human beings. Should some people be held to a higher standard? After all, we are all equal under the law. We are all equal in God's eyes, if you're a believer.

Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan have admitted to being dirty. They made secret deals and cashed in on them. They're going to jail, as it should be.

I've had limited dealings with Conahan. I've covered several guilty pleas and sentencings before Ciavarella. I always found him to be professional and a good judge-- harsh when he had to be, kind when called for, excellent demeanor on the bench. I was more disappointed than angry when I heard about the charges.

That brings us back to the original question of higher standards. I'm not perfect. Far from it. You can probably say the same thing about yourself.

Ciavarella and Conahan should have known better. They expected other people to follow the law while they acted as common thieves.

What a waste.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Accentuate the Positive

After a week of whining, moaning, and complaining about everything under the sun, let's start off the week on a good note.

It's nearly the end of January. The longest, coldest month of the year is almost over. At least where I live, we got through the month without a major snow storm. Cold is cold, but at least you can still move around, unlike snowy weather.

It's Super Bowl week, and that's always a lot of fun. The Cardinals v. Steelers debate is good for endless conversations in the office and on the radio. Sunday's game takes place well after my bed time, and I'm okay with that. I'm a Steelers fan, but a horrible one. I'd be too nervous to watch the game, even if it took place at an hour I could handle.

I found a really nice pair of hikers for $10 last week. $10!

My cable system recently added "My TV." It means more opportunities to watch "Scrubs," even though I have all seven seasons on DVD.

Speaking of "Scrubs," the first four episodes of the new season have been excellent.

I've managed to expand my schedule of early morning walks. Thank heaven for long underwear.

A tax meeting with my accountant is only 15 days away. I don't know if I'll be getting a refund, but getting my taxes done is one less thing to worry about.

The carpeting near my desk is amazingly clean.

Someone actually offered to pay $900 million for the Chicago Cubs.

Gasoline is still less than $2 a gallon.

Scranton has another ice cream store.

They might not be right be right in front of your nose, but there are good things happening.

PS: I spoke too soon about the lack of a big January storm. Noreen says we could get one Wednesday morning. Sorry.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Deja Vu

It was a day like most others. I spent a fair part of it searching for information, on television, in print, and on line. When I was done, I had to look at my calendar on the wall. I had to double check. Yes, it's 2009, even though it looks and smells a lot like 2008.

Another Catholic school is closing. This time, it's St. Vincent's in Honesdale. Parishioners in the Diocese of Scranton are waiting to hear what churches are shutting down this year. They're on pins and needles, much like they were in the Allentown Diocese last year.

More newspapers are downsizing, in terms of the number of people on the payroll and the size of the product. The country's biggest radio company just laid off nine per cent of its work force, about 2,000 people. It's rough out there.

A distribution center in our area announced plans to close. Hundreds of people are losing their jobs. Yahoo! News has a list of retailers that will severely downsize or close altogether, and there are some really big names involved.

Gasoline prices are inching back up. It's always a shock when you open the envelope containing the monthly natural gas bill. Electricity is next.

More pot holes.

More investigations of government officials.

Several reform bills were introduced in Harrisburg, again... where they will die, again.

Nothing seems to change.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Numbers

I have to admit, I'm a little surprised.

The early ratings are in for Tuesday's inauguration of President Barack Obama. Judging from the interest generated, and the millions of people who converged on Washington, I thought the Obama inauguration would be the highest rated of all time. I was wrong. It was number two. (source:

Tuesday's inauguration finished behind Ronald Reagan in 1981, and just ahead of Richard Nixon in 1969, and Jimmy Carter in 1977. I can understand the Reagan thing. He was sworn in as the hostages were flying out of Iran, and it meant there were two huge news stories happening at once.

The Tuesday numbers are subject to change, once the ratings are calculated for smaller areas of the country, and you also have to remember we live in a digital age. The ratings don't count the number of people who watched the inauguration over the internet.

It's possible the Obama inauguration was the highest rated of all time. The problem is with the audience measurement method.

While I'm at it, a few words on the event itself. Beginning with Saturday's train trip from Philadelphia to Washington, the images were stunning. Why? The sea of people who lined the tracks and watched the Saturday speeches-- and the millions who crowded the national mall to watch Obama become the country's 44th president.

People cared, and it makes you feel good about our democracy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Good Bye

Going to the mall these days is like going to a funeral home. You don't shop. You view the remains.

I pulled the overnight shift Tuesday morning, so my day was free. I dropped by the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre Township to visit Waldenbooks for the last time.

The company is closing under performing stores, about one hundred, around the country. The Wyoming Valley Mall store has been open for 38 years. It is one of the mall's original tenants.

There are other book stores around, including some very good ones. We'll get by, but this store will really be missed. It was the mall's one and only book store. Plus, there was sentimental value.

I liked Waldenbooks-- not too big, not too small. It had everything you needed. I remember going there as a kid. It was the first of the really cool book stores. You were guaranteed to find something you liked on the shelves and racks.

The mall's manager was quoted in a newspaper story as saying it's a Waldenbooks problem-- not a mall problem. That may very well be true, but I did visit some other mall stores yesterday, including the big department stores. Some were practically giving stuff away, and there were few takers. It was sad, and it was frightening.

Waldenbooks closes Saturday. You wonder who's next.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

The first presidential inauguration that I can remember was Richard Nixon's first, in 1969. Several grades were crowded into one classroom at the decrepit old Columbus School in Throop, a building so bad, the second floor was condemned and no one was allowed up there. That's another story for another time. The principal tuned in the inauguration on a medium sized black and white TV. For some strange reason, I can recall that we watched the public station that day. The moment was lost on me. Cut me some slack. I was in second grade.

Let's fast forward to today. I can't remember an inauguration that's generated so much enthusiasm.

We've come close. Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977 made a lot of people happy. It signaled the end of the Watergate nightmare. Carter seemed like a regular guy, and we as Americans seemed to like that, for the moment. Unfortunately, nothing went right for Carter, including a steep rise in the price of gasoline (sound familiar?) and the Iranian hostage crisis. Carter was cooked after that "national malaise" speech. We don't like to be blamed for our own problems.

We decided we wanted something completely different four years later. Ronald Reagan got the country feeling good about itself again. Remember "a city on a hill" and "morning in America?" Reagan restored a lot of ceremony to the presidency. After four years of Carter, we seemed to want that. Carter was too informal for many. You can't forget that the first day of the Reagan administration was the last day of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Bill Clinton seemed to energize a lot of people. He had that "regular guy" thing going for him, but not to the extent of Mr. Carter. I could be wrong, but I don't think the fervor that surrounded the early Clinton days matched what we saw and felt in 1977 or 1981.

Barack Obama-- young, energetic, a great speaker, charismatic, telegenic, and he's percieved as an agent of change. Add it all up, and you get someone who's captured America's interest. That's putting it mildly.

Time will tell if his policies are good ones.

It reminds me of the day David Hartman handed off to Charlie Gibson as host of "Good Morning America." Hartman looked at Gibson on that morning in 1987 and said "It's on your plate."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Circuit City: 1949-2009

It's both sad and frightening at the same time.

Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year. the survival rate for businesses that enter Chapter 11 is less than fifty per cent. We saw proof of that late last week. Circuit City couldn't find a buyer, so the company is going out of business.

I'm sure the reasons are more than "people didn't shop there." It deals with credit lines, store leases, debt, cash flow, etc... things that would fill a book, and things that exceed my knowledge base.

Still, you wonder how things like this happen. I've shopped there many times, although actual purchases were rare. I did pick up a couple things through the Circuit City web site, including one of the cameras I use for blog pictures. The brick and mortar stores seemed to be busy any time I visited. They had good locations, and it was an established name. Apparently, that's not enough these days.

If a big name like Circuit City can go belly up so fast, you have to wonder what other retailers are on thin ice. Circuit City will not be the last to close. The retail landscape is changing rapidly. The outfits that squeaked by in the past will be gone tomorrow.

Macy's and Office Depot are already closing some stores. Sears and K-Mart are said to be next. Steve and Barry's is history. A report in the Wall Street Journal last week questioned the health of a regional department store chain well known to the people here in our area.

My heart goes out to the 34,000 people who will be out of work when the Circuit City liquidation sale is over.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ABC's Inauguration Plans

In case you're wondering...


ABC News' Coverage of Barack Obama's Inauguration to Begin with Special Three-Hour
Edition of "Good Morning America" at 7:00 a.m., ET / 4:00 a.m., PT on January 20

"Inauguration 2009" Anchored by Gibson, Sawyer and Stephanopoulos
Begins at 10:00 a.m., ET / 7:00 a.m., PT

"The Neighborhood Ball: An Inaugural Celebration" to Air from 8:00-10:00 p.m., ET on ABC

ABC News Special "A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama"
to Air at 10:00 p.m., ET/PT

On Tuesday, January 20, the ABC Television Network will provide more coverage of the Presidential Inauguration than any other broadcast network

ABC News' live coverage will begin at 7:00 a.m., ET / 4:00 a.m., PT with a special three-hour edition of "Good Morning America" anchored by Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

At 10:00 a.m., ET / 7:00 a.m., PT, Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor coverage of Barack Obama's Inauguration. Broadcast from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, coverage will include all events from the swearing-in ceremony and Obama's Inaugural Address to the Inaugural Parade, as well reaction from around the nation and the world to this historic event.

Gibson, Sawyer and Stephanopoulos will be joined by a team of ABC News anchors, correspondents and analysts including:

* Robin Roberts, Deborah Roberts and Bill Weir reporting from the Washington Mall
* Chris Cuomo, David Muir and Kate Snow reporting along the Parade Route
* Jake Tapper reporting on the Obama Presidency and his first day
* Jonathan Karl reporting on the new Congress
* Pierre Thomas reporting on the day's security operations, including the challenges the expected crowd pose on law enforcement
* Martha Raddatz on the foreign policy challenges facing the new administration and the legacy of President George W. Bush
* Ron Claiborne reporting from Obama's ancestral home in Kenya
* ABC News commentators Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts and George Will
* Historians Richard Norton Smith and Carl Sferazza Anthony
* Obama biographer David Mendell

At 8:00 p.m., ET President-elect Barack Obama will host the first-ever "Neighborhood Inaugural Ball," the premiere event of Inauguration evening. To help bring this unique event to neighborhoods across the nation, ABC will broadcast "The Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration," giving everyone an exclusive look inside this historic event that will include the President and First Lady's first dance of the night, President-elect Obama's initial speech of the evening, and performances and appearances by some of the nation's top recording artists and stars. The event will air live from the Washington Convention Center in Washington DC, TUESDAY, JANUARY 20 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET).

At 10:00 p.m., ET, Gibson, Sawyer and Stephanopoulos will anchor the ABC News Special. "A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama." This news program will take the audience live to Inaugural Balls and track the President and First Lady as they continue their celebration throughout Washington. Also, a team of ABC News correspondents will report on the special significance that the day holds for millions of African-Americans, the amazing lengths many Americans are going to just to be in Washington for the Inauguration, and world reaction to Barack Obama's promised effort to unite the nation.

ABC News will also provide live coverage of many of the President-elect's events on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, beginning with his train trip from Philadelphia.

As part of the network's Inauguration coverage, Mr. Gibson will anchor "World News" from Washington, DC, beginning Saturday, January 17. "Good Morning America" will originate from Washington on Monday the 19, and Kate Snow and Bill Weir will anchor the Weekend edition from there on Sunday the 18. Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran will anchor "Nightline" from Washington on Monday and Tuesday.

ABC News NOW's live coverage of Inauguration Day will be co-anchored by Sam Donaldson and Rick Klein, senior political reporter and author of "The Note," beginning at 9:00 a.m., ET and continuing until 11:00 p.m., ET. The coverage will be live-streamed on From 11:30 a.m. to approx 1:30 p.m., ET, will, for the first time, offer live streaming coverage of President-elect Barack Obama's Oath of Office and Inaugural Address embedded directly on the Homepage. will have special indexes which will highlight stories from ABC News' top political reporters, as well as videos and slideshows. The featured indexes will include the new 44th president and the legacy of the Bush administration. The indexes will also include transcripts and video of various past Presidential speeches and Inaugurations, slideshows of Inaugural Balls and the festivities, as well as a timeline of events on Inauguration Day.

And Newswatch 16's Scott Schaffer will be in Washington to explore all the local angles... Watch for Scott's reports, beginning Saturday night, on WNEP.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I-95 Super Bowl

I'm not deterred by last weekend's 1-3 record in predicting NFL playoff games.  Let's try it again.

We'll begin with the NFC championship game.  I will not be a believer in the Arizona Cardinals until I see them holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the Super Bowl. Even though Brian Westbrook is hurt, I'm going with the Eagles.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship Sunday evening. I love the Steelers and I believe they are the better team. The Ravens have a couple key injuries. However, I'm betting (so to speak) that the Steelers can't beat the Ravens three times in one season. Therefore, I'm picking the Ravens to win. I hope I'm wrong.

I'm not comfortable with either pick. It's a home game for the Cardinals, and that means a lot. The Eagles don't have a great record in big games, and Westbrook's knee is cause for great concern.

Except for Polamalu's calf, the Steelers appear to be in good shape. They're going up against a rookie quarterback and a rookie coach. The Steelers know how to get it done. They're only three years removed from a Super Bowl run.

An "all Pennsylvania" Super Bowl is well within the realm of possibility here. No matter how it ends Sunday, it's an AFC year. Both the Steelers and the Ravens are stronger than anything the NFC has to offer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Does It Really Work?

I knew this day would come. We're experiencing the coldest weather we've had in quite a while.

I recently bought some long underwear. Two pair wound up in my shopping cart. One is the traditional waffle weave stuff. The other pair is some new, synthetic, space age material.

I've tested both. This is where Leckey's new web cam would come in handy, but I'll spare you the horror. The high tech stuff is more comfortable. The waffle weave is warmer. It comes down to this. If it's a moderatley cold morning, the new material works for me. If it's super duper cold, I'll take the same thing people have been wearing for decades. There are times when newer isn't better.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


It really wasn't a good week. Two days, two fires at family businesses. Monday, it was a fire at a restaurant in Ashland. Yesterday, an excavation and septic system business near Lewisburg burned. Above is a pre-dawn camera phone shot of the fire.

Like Monday, I did ask for an interview, and the owner's girlfriend agreed to talk about what happened. It was a sad story, but the owner managed to save some of his vehicles, equipment, and computers. There's great potential to rebuild, and I hope it happens.

This is one of those weeks that causes a lot of worry. After doing this for nearly thirty years, you notice spikes in fires at a couple different times of year. One is when really hot weather arrives. People have a tendency to run big air conditioners and fans off extension cords bought at the 99 cent store. It's a recipe for disaster.

We're due for a very cold snap, and that's another prime fire season. Single digit, and colder, temperatures put a strain on electrical and heating systems. Bad things happen.

Although it's been said many times, many ways, please be careful this week. Don't forget to check on the elderly and pets. Stay warm. Be safe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Gotta Ask

There is a scene in the "Scrubs" pilot that I think of quite often. One of JD's first patients, Mr. Bursky, dies. JD doesn't have the heart to ask the family for permission to perform an autopsy. JD approaches Chief of Medicine Dr. Bob Kelso for a pass, just this once. Dr. Kelso replies "This is a teaching hospital son, you gotta ask."

You gotta ask.

I had another "JD moment" yesterday. I was doing a follow up story in Ashland, where Snyder's Family Restaurant and an apartment were destroyed by fire. One of the restaurant owners was there. So were the apartment tenants. I swallowed hard and asked for interviews. There is always a good story to tell, and talking with the people directly affected is solid journalism-- a key element of the report.

You'd be surprised at how often people who've gone through horrible things want to talk. Maybe they view discussing what happened as therapeutic. Many want to thank the fire department, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and everyone else who helped. If it's a business, they want to tell their customers they'll be back. I'm okay with that. Everyone, except the fire chief and a neighbor, I approached for interviews yesterday turned me down. I'm okay with that, too.

I look at it like this. I still have to get up every morning and look at myself in the mirror. I ask nicely, with the photographer a reasonable distance away. If a fire victim declines, I thank them for their time, express my concern for their plight, and walk away. Thrust a camera and microphone in the face of a victim? Not my style.

But still, you gotta ask.

Monday, January 12, 2009


There were two stories on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning yesterday that I really liked. One was President-Elect Barack Obama taking his wife and daughters to visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Whether or not you agree with his politics, it was nice to see a smiling young family taking in one of our national treasures. It reminded me, a little, of my father taking me around Harrisburg and the State Capitol as a kid when he was there conducting business with PENNDOT. The moments were special back then. The moments looked special for the Obamas.

Then, there was the Bush family, including the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States. They gathered in Norfolk, VA for the commissioning of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not its deserved, but George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have been kicked around a lot during their time. The first Bush failed to win re-election in 1992 because a lot of people felt he was simply out of touch. His son led us into a war the majority of Americans feel is a mistake. Putting all that aside, you can see the pride in the Bush family. 41-- proud to be honored by his country. 43-- proud of his father.

Great moments in American history in Norfolk and Washington. Great moments for two families.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

NFL Sunday

After going a stunning 0 for 2 yesterday, let's hope for better luck with today's picks.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Need a Job?

If you'd like a job in the wonderful world of broadcasting, get your resume and demonstration DVD ready. WNEP could have an opening very soon.

I had a few moments to kill yesterday afternoon, and I took one of those on-line health surveys. The goal was to determine your actual age rather than your chronological age. The survey took a bit longer than I expected, and I answered all questions honestly.

When the results came back, it said my "real" age is 8.4 years more than my actual age.

I expected to do poorly, but 8.4 years even surprised me.

That nightly pint and a half of Jack Daniels apparently isn't good for you. Who knew?

A bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit is a bad idea. Since when?

My veins are filled with Diet Pepsi and 5 Hour Energy.

Fiber? What's that?

You mean you can eat stuff raw?

I thought all that salt and alcohol prevents my blood from freezing.

Only kidding about the alcohol and the fast food, but not the 8.4 years.

I will always remember the words of one of the characters on one of the best television series ever, "St. Elsewhere." A patient, Mrs. Hufnagel said "It is better to be despised than forgotten."

See you soon. Maybe.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cabin Fever

The only reason to do it was a case of cabin fever.

I braved the ice yesterday morning. I just had to get out of the house. My destination was one of the local malls-- which was empty.

The roads were in good shape by 10 am. Back roads and side streets were a little slushy, and the mall parking lot left a lot to be desired. The main roads were fine, except for a new batch of pot holes. Interstate 81 North, just north of the Central Scranton Expressway exit should be declared a disaster area.

The thing that struck me as i walked the mall, beside the lack of people, was the amount of people wearing Steelers and Eagles clothing. Santa loves bringing that stuff. If the Steelers and/or Eagles lose, you can bet those sweatshirts, coats, and hats will go in the closet 'til the fall.

This is the time of year I usually pick up an article or two of winter clothing. you can get it cheap after the first of the year, and you know how Pennsylvania winters are-- you can still wear the stuff for six more months.

At the risk of sounding Snedeker-esque, one-fourth of the longest, darkest, coldest month of the year is over. We can have some really bad storms in February and March, but I breathe a sigh of relief once that January calendar page is turned.

Happy birthday, Larry Storch !!! The New York Times says he's 85. The Associated Press reports it as 86. Regardless, make it a good one, Larry.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chicken & Egg

This was the scene yesterday, at the Scranton Department of Public Works facility on Poplar Street. The plows and salt trucks were ready to go.

We can argue about this forever, and there really is no answer. Do we do "storm preview" stories because people freak when bad weather is approaching, or do people freak because we do "storm preview" stories?

Yes, I was on "storm preview" duty yesterday. The focus was how an ice storm is much more difficult to handle than snow. I'll always remember something meteorologist Noreen Clark taught me several years ago. The long range forecast called for a slightly warmer than normal winter. I was thrilled-- until Noreen cautioned that that a warmer than normal winter means the potential for more ice storms.

We've had some wicked ice storms during the last few winters. You can still see the bent and broken trees along Interstates 380 and 80 in Monroe County. Some people were without electricity for days. Power company crews have a tough time doing their job when it's nice outside. It was inspiring to see them work in the ice, as trees were bending, breaking and snapping all around them.

I live fairly close to a rather large supermarket. On my trip home yesterday afternoon, I noticed the parking lot was packed. I smiled-- and felt guilty at the same time. We want to inform, not panic. I hope we didn't add to the hysteria.

Whatever happens today, please be careful.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Yesterday was the first "real" weekday of the new year. Friday doesn't count because it was directly after the start of 2009, and most people had the day off.

The atmosphere around the office, around the supermarket, around the mall, everywhere is different. It's business as usual. People are settling into the reality that the holidays are over, and a long, cold, dark January is ahead.

You know what? I'm okay with that. As I write this, the nastiest month of the year is 20 per cent over. The days are getting longer, and it's nice to work without the holiday distractions.

Call me "Scrooge."

The holidays are nice, but they take a lot of effort. After all your tasks are done, there's not much time left to enjoy the season. I had a lot of extra time off last month, and I still didn't accomplish half of what I had hoped.

I'm glad it's over.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Enough Already!

Any time there's a head coaching vacancy in the National Football League, one name consistently and unfailingly surfaces-- Bill Cowher.

You can have him.

Cowher used to coach "my" team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's look at the record. Yes, his win/lose percentage is excellent, but he lost a lot of big playoff games along the way, and it took Cowher 14 years to win a Super Bowl. This is also the guy who thought Kordell Stewart was the answer to the Steelers' problems.

Bill Cowher is a good coach, probably a tad above average. He's no genius.

I will say that Cowher does a very good job on that generally unwatchable CBS NFL pre game show.

Speaking of coaches and broadcasting, former coach Dan Reeves does the "color" on some national radio broadcasts. I caught his act Saturday night, as I drove to work. If Reeves has knowledge, it didn't come across on the radio. His delivery is awful. The same can be said for Denny Green, who did the radio analysis on the Sunday afternoon Dolphins/Ravens game. Bad voice. A bad listen. There has to be better talent out there.

And while I'm ranting... something positive. I've never been a big Mike Shanahan fan, but he displayed a lot of class during his news conference after being fired as head coach of the Denver Broncos. Shanahan politely and professionally answered every question, even the dumb ones.

Friday, January 2, 2009

An Anniversary

Time flies. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the start of my first full time job in broadcasting.

The story gets a tad complicated. I started at WARM in April of 1981, when I was a sophomore in college. By the time I graduated, in May of '83, I was putting in nearly 40 hours a week. Management was reluctant, for whatever reason, to give me the hours for full time status-- until I quit to go the competition. Guess what? They found the money in the budget to make me full time, and that kicked in on January 1 of 1984.

I was paid the princely sum of $9,800 a year. Back then, it seemed like a lot of money and I was thrilled to have it.

It was a good job. People actually listened to AM radio back then. The station was owned by a fairly decent company. I was what was called the "swing man." I was a disc jockey when needed and I did news the rest of the time. I eventually settled in to the news department for a pretty good ride, until I moved on in September of '91.

25 years have passed like the blink of an eye.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I took my usual morning walk yesterday, and I kept thinking about what Andy Tripp Palumbo will remember about 2008.

No "single" story really jumped out at me. I will remember all the fatal fires we had. I can't recall a year when there were so many.

Politics dominated the year, and I was surprised at how much fun I had covering the election. This was my third presidential election at WNEP. For the first two, most of the events happened either outside my shift, or on my days off. This year was a little different and I had a hand in some of the coverage. From a reporter's standpoint, covering politics isn't what it used to be. The campaigns are too restrictive, too controlling. Security's tight. If you can get near a candidate, the answers they give are scripted. There's no spontaneity, no spark. However, in spite of it all, I have to say I really enjoyed myself.

It wasn't just the presidential race. The election on all levels was great theater. I watched a candidate self destruct. The struggle of others was fascinating. There was even time to do something highly unusual-- discuss the issues.

Thanks for being along for the ride in 2008. Let's hope we all have a happy and safe 2009.