Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dead Radio

On this Halloween, it's only fitting that we take a look back at a long departed radio station.

As I remember it, WSCR AM 1320 was owned by the Rice family.  It had a long history.  WSCR was never a killer, but it appeared to have a more than decent following in the Scranton area.

Then, around 1980, maybe a little sooner, the station was sold to a small company called Command Broadcasting.  It had a handful of stations in upstate New York.  Someone thought it was a good idea to jettison the heritage call letters, in favor of WBQW, or 13 Q.  The reasoning was that a "Scranton" station would never get listeners downvalley.  It had to take a regional approach.  Hence, the non area specific call letters.  The jocks used to give the temperatures for a few NEPA cities, and reliable sources tell me it was a joke.  They knew the temperature outside their own studio.  The other regional temps were fiction.  Take what it read on the local thermometer.  Add a degree to the south, subtract one to the north.  Remember, this was long befire the internet provided the temperature for every town.

It was a tough road.  The signal strength and quality was severely lacking.  The company didn't have the money to knock WARM off its perch.  Failure.

On one hand, they should have been applauded for trying something bold.  On the other, was it wise to throw away so much history and a fairly solid base?

Tim Karlson worked there, in the mid 70's, before his time at WARM and his later move into television.

The station was sold a few times.  It eventually went off the air.  The studio building was bulldozed.  Its three tower array, off North Keyser Avenue in Scranton was taken down.  AM 1320 in Scranton is history.  there's a warehouse complex currently on the site.

If memory serves, the Scranton Times was interested in getting 1320 back on the air, but it never happened.  It's too bad.  Some of those little 1,000 watt stations did an excellent job of serving their communities, and they were what small town radio was all about.

The "WSCR" call letters now belong to an all sports station in Chicago.

I'll give 13 Q credit for one thing.  The stickers were amazing.  They were impossible to remove.  NASA should have built the space shuttle heat resistant tiles out of those things.

The actually design was iffy.  People weren't sure if the stickers read "BQ" or "13Q" or both.  Confusing.

The stickers were eventually modified, and you'll see those in a later Bumper Sticker Saturday.


Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Standard Time

It's funny how times change, pardon the pun.

I used to dread the yearly return to standard time.  Now, I look forward to it.  Being a very early riser, I like that extra daylight in the morning rather in the evening.  Being an afternoon and evening sleeper, early sunsets are good.

The government played tricks with my schedule a couple years ago.  In an effort to save energy, the end of daylight saving time was moved from the last Sunday of October to the first Sunday of November.  One week doesn't sound like a lot, but it's an eternity in television. 

November is a TV ratings month, and it's important to be on the job.  Translation:  use your vacation time in other months.  I used to take off the last weekend in October.  While you get an extra hour of sleep, I get an extra hour of work.  Being the team player that I am, I stuck one of my co-workers with that extra hour.  For a few years, it was Jon Meyer.  To make matters worse, Jon is celebrating a birthday around this time of year.  Not only did he have to pull an extra long overnight shift, he had to do it on his birthday.

What comes around, goes around, or something like that.  November is a "no fly" vacation zone, so the extra hour of work has returned to my plate.

It's only an hour.  It's not going to kill me-- and a lot of extra early morning daylight follows!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Football in Mouth Disease

 As usual, WNEP will have one college football game late Saturday afternoon and another Saturday evening.   Michigan at Illinois is the 3:30 PM game.  USC at Oregon is the prime time match-up.You won't hear analyst Bob Griese.  ESPN, which supplies games to ABC, has suspended Griese for a week.  The infraction?  A racially insensitive remark involving NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya.  Griese made a crack about Montoya being away, eating a taco.  Griese's assumption was that Montoya is Mexican.  He's actually Colombian.  No matter.  The damage was done.
I don't think Griese is racist.  He is stupid, and he made a mistake.  Griese's issued a few apologies.  I'm okay with that.  George Bernard Shaw said "Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard."  I'm sure Bob Griese now knows what Shaw was talking about.  Leave the comedy to the professionals.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still No Grass

The World Series starts tonight, so let's talk a little baseball.  I dropped by the stadium in Moosic yesterday morning to check out the field replacement project.

I expected to see grass by now.  All I got was a lot of dirt and heavy equipment.  Considering the scope of the project, I shouldn't have been surprised.  A grass baseball field requires an extensive drainage system, something the stadium didn't have when the artificial surface was replaced a few years ago.

We've observed scenes like the ones above many times in the past, but it's still startling, at least to me, so see heavy equipment on the field.   The photos don't do it justice.  There are some big pieces here.  Yet, they look small in the massive outfield.

It appears the sand layer is just about finished.  The grass is the next step, and it will be laid down just in time.  Winter is rapidly approaching.  The lights were on early yesterday morning, to give the crew more time to work.  These photos were taken around 8 AM.

As for the Phillies and the Yankees, I don't know who will win, and I don't care who wins.  All I'd like to see is a clean, seven game series.  I don't think there is anything more exciting in sports than the seventh game of a World Series.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The general election is one week from today.  Don't say you weren't warned.

Many of the Sunday newspapers did extensive candidate profiles.  Do yourself a favor and take a look.  Study the candidates.  Then, do the important thing-- vote next Tuesday.

Something happened last week that still makes my blood boil.  I took a call in the newsroom from a woman who was having a neighbor dispute.  It was a loud noise issue.  She claimed the police department won't help.  I suggested she contact council members in her city, so they can talk with the police department.  The caller claimed she didn't know the identity of the people on city council.  That's sickening.  There's no excuse for that.  Just about every home has a computer, and if the woman didn't have one, there are plenty at the local public library.  Take a walk to city hall.  Get the names.

Democracy is not a passive activity.  You have to work at it, and if you don't want to work, you're going to have bad, unresponsive government.

See you at the polls.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bad Photography Monday

Weekends are temporarily occupied by me boring you with my radio station bumper sticker collection, so this  example of bad photography gets bumped to today.

It's a view of the Lackawanna River, looking north, from the Broadway bridge in Scranton.  Railroad tracks are at the right.  I took this a little after 8 AM Thursday.

I've been hearing from a lot of people that the fall foliage wasn't the greatest this year.  I tend to agree, but even an "off"  year still looks pretty good.

The location of the photo is below.

View Larger Map

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soupy Sales

Soupy Sales died Thursday.  He's been out of the public eye for quite some time, so I feel he's not getting his due.  Here it is.

Soupy was one of the television pioneers, and his kiddie show heyday was a little before my time.

As many of you know, I like old game shows.  Soupy was a regular panelist on the syndicated "What's My Line?" from 1968 to 1975.  Soupy managed to be funny while still taking the game seriously.  He also made several appearances on the 1980 version of "To Tell the Truth."  Same story.  He played the game seriously, but gave you a chuckle at the same time.  Not many "celebrities" can do that.

One other thing.  Soupy was a frequent guest on Joey Reynolds' all night radio show.  We knew he could be silly, but he coule also be smart, sharp and witty, an under rated talent.

Soupy Sales was 83.

By the way, he was also very good at "Pyramid."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Old and New Rock 107

One of my favorites, today, on Bumper Sticker Saturday...  It's one of the crown jewels of the collection.

In the late 70's WEZX switched from a "beautiful music" format to rock.  The white bumper sticker is one of the first logos, if not THE first logo of 107 as a rock station.  I loved it.  It had color.  It had character.  It was different.  I think there was a prior bumper sticker.  Rather than the giant call letters, it said "Your 24 Hour Rock Concert."

The logo that followed had a slight modification.  The "FM" in the sunburst was replaced with "Rock."

From what I understand, one of the managers later determined the pretty sun logo wasn't "rock" enough, so the lower logo was revealed.  Nice.  It gets the point across, but it's a little too generic looking for me.  It looks like every other rock station logo in every other city.

Rock 107 has been hugely successful for years, so, in retrospect, a logo change probably wasn't a bad idea.  Of course, the format is the star.  WEZX has been rock for more than thirty years, and in this day of rapidly changing formats, it's nice to turn on the radio and know what you're going to get.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Opening Doors

It looks like Holy Cross church, at Broadway and Fifth, in Scranton will not be demolished after all.

There was a plan a few months ago to do the following:  the Diocese of Scranton would sell the closed church to the city.  The city would tear down the old church and use the land for a parking lot for Holy Cross Hall, next to the church.

The neighborhood needs parking.  Show me a neighborhood that doesn't.

A lot of people thought the deal smelled bad.  The Diocese unloads an empty building.  The city foots the bill for the demolition and the new parking lot.  It wouldn't and couldn't be done inexpensively.  A landmark would be destroyed.

The Diocese turned down at least one offer to sell the building, to someone who wouldn't tear it down.

City council put the brakes on the sale to the city earlier this year.

As you know, there's been a change in leadership at the Diocese, and now the church has been sold to Scranton businessman Bob Bolus, who says he intends to do something with the building, and return it to the tax rolls.

It's not going to be easy.  It's a big old building.  Holy Cross looks like it's in good shape, other than a few cracked windows.  However, looks can be deceiving.  Plus, show me an old building that doesn't need roof work.  Converting churches to other uses can be extremely expensive.

On the other hand, saving history sounds better to me than a new parking lot.  At least, someone is trying to do the right thing.  Let's hope the project moves ahead quickly, and the church, now closed for three years, doesn't deteriorate even more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Time

Here we go again.

Another school director here in our area has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  The feds got him for taking a bribe, and a guilty plea is on the way.

This comes on the heels of a report showing many of the children in local school districts have SAT scores well below the national average.

Thieves are running the school districts, and we're graduating a lot of poorly educated children.

There has been a move to reduce the number of school districts.  Management has to be more professional-- and honest. 

It's clear the sytem is broken-- severely broken.

Maybe it's time to blow it up and start over.  Educators and teachers have to be more accountable.  We have to elect people who care about the kids, not their bank accounts.  Performance over politics.

No one can be happy with what's going on.  We can, and must, do better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So Long, Pioneers

To make a long story short...  the Wilkes-Barre Pioneers were for sale.  A potential sale fell through.  Management is closing the local office, and the Pioneers will not field a team in 2010.

I guess there's always a chance the Pioneers will return in 2011, but who are we kidding here?  For all intents and purposes, the Pioneers are gone for good, and that's unfortunate.

The Pioneers play weekends.  I work weekends, so I made it to all of one game in the team's eight year history.  I thought it was too noisy, and there were too many distractions/games/promotions that took away from the play on the field.

Having said that, I had an okay time at the game.  I liked the Pioneers.  They tried hard.  They promoted.  They worked at it.

Unfortunately, economic factors always have the upper hand these days.

It was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mr. Negativity

Perhaps I should explain...

Contrary to popular belief, I don't enjoy being negative.  A few negative spurts erupted while I was filling in for Tom Williams on Newswatch 16 Monday morning.  I still feel the same way, but a few extra words, things we didn't have time for on the air, should be added.

Yes, I don't like board games.  I do a fair amount of thinking on the job.  I do even more on my days off, keeping up on the news, looking for story ideas, planning, etc.   During my rare down time, I don't want to think.  Hence, no board games.  No cards.  Nothing.  On top of that, the news business is very competitive.  I don't want to compete when I don't have to.  Again.  No board games.  No golf.  No games, period.    Having said that, the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute is holding a fund raiser, involving board games, at Mohegan Sun Thursday night.  It's a good cause.  If you're in to games, go.  It seems like there are other things to do there, even if you don't do games.  There's more information at

Yes, I don't like Halloween.  When you hit 12 years old, Halloween's over.  It's great fun for kids, as it should be.  Once adults get involved, it becomes big business, like the way adults ruined baseball cards.  Adults sucked all the fun out of it.  I remember the day, just a couple years ago, I had lunch, on Halloween, at one of the big chain restaurants.  The name has a day of the week in it.  That narrows it down to two, and I'll leave it at that.  Anyway, the help was "encouraged" to dress up.  They looked absolutely miserable.  Leave the costumes to the kids.

Yes, I'm not a FaceBook person.  If it works for you, tremendous!  I have the blog.  I have the web site.  That's enough for me.  My little corner of the world wide web is filled.  I'm not that hard to find.  All my life, I've had a small circle of friends.  I'm okay with that.  I don't need hundreds of web site friends.

Yes, I work difficult hours.  Don't cry for me.  That's the life I've chosen.  I'm always some degree of tired, and I recently I learned I have a vitamin D deficiency, most likely from a bad diet and a lack of sunlight.  On the other hand, I work on very popular weekend and weekday morning news broadcasts.  The staff is great, and I've learned to enjoy time off during the week. 

Now, you know.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hysteria II

I've received a few e-mails recently about controversial tv and radio talk show hosts.  You know the ones-- Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Savage, Imus, Olbermann, Maddow, Dobbs, et al.

Never lose sight of one thing.  They're entertainers.  They're not journalists.  Their job is to push your buttons, make you angry, and inspire you to listen longer.  That's all.  Don't read more into this than there needs to be.

If they bug you, turn them off.  That's the ultimate insult.  That's the thing they hate the most, more than Bush, Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid combined.

That pretty Italian girl on the Food Network is always making gnocchi or something.  Some guy on the Travel Channel is devouring a giant burrito.  Match Game is always funny on GSN.  Watch or listen to something else.  You have hundreds of choices.  Better yet.  Turn off the tv and radio and read something.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sticker 1

I promised to scan some of my old radio station bumper sticker collection into the blog earlier this week.

This seems like a good starting point, my first radio station, WARM 590.

These stickers were distributed prior to my 1981 arrival.  I honestly don't remember if they were connected to a contest or promotion.  I also don't remember if I acquired this sticker before or after I started working there.

I learned Saturday afternoon that the stickers were part of a promotion with Giant supermarkets-- the regional chain that went out of business, not the Giant stores that you see today.

The stickers had a lot of plusses.  They were big.  You could spot them a mile away.

The look didn't work for me.  They were too generic.  While the station's logo was red, white, and blue, this wasn't the font used in the rest of the station's promotions.

Unfortunately, the bumper stickers were made of paper, not vinyl or plastic.  They shriveled up after one good rain.  They fell apart after a day in the sun.  All you were left with was a mass of gummy residue on your bumper.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hysteria Week

  Welcome to Hysteria Week in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

We'll begin in Lycoming County.  We've been bombarded by phone calls and e-mails after an alleged rash of assaults on women in the Muncy area.  Some of the callers and letter writers are nice, people merely asking for a little help.

Other calls?  Well, let's just say they're not so nice.  We're accused of being bumblers who are missing a major story.  We're being accused of a cover-up.  Why we'd cover up a story like that is beyond me.  We checked with police.  Repeatedly.  They've told us of only one investigation.  One.  That's all.   One.  Thanks to a computer on every desk and a cell phone in every hand, the rumors have spread out of control.

Assault cases are nothing to fool with, and it's nice to see people are taking their safety seriously, but do not let irrational fears and paranoia rule your lives.

Part two of Hysteria Week deals with the swine flu.  I have to admit, I'm a victim of the hysteria.  I was in one of the big box book stores Wednesday afternoon.   A woman in the next aisle was coughing, sneezing, hacking, and gagging up a storm-- without covering her mouth and nose.  Half of me wanted to yell something.  The other half wanted to run for the door.  Luckily, the store didn't have what I wanted, so I bolted for the exit.

I received my seasonal flu shot a month ago, so I hope I have some protection.  Swine flu is another story.  I just can't wait for that bullet to hit.

Pittston Area was among the first of the schools to get by swine flu hysteria.  Some cases were reported.  A third of the student body stayed home last week.  On Tuesday, when classes resumed, a high school student told me she didn't want to go to her grave due to the swine flu.  While there have been fatalities, they have been rare.  Someone should have told her that-- either in or out of school.

Information is better than a vaccination.  It's better than e-mail.  It's our best weapon against Hysteria Week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Rush to Judgement from Quite a Group

Rush Limbaugh wants to buy the St. Louis Rams, and a lot of people are against that, including the players' union and some current NFL owners.

Let's take a look at the guys who own NFL teams right now.

Daniel Snyder of the Redskins owns the Johnny Rockets chain of restaurants.  Carolina owner Jerry Richardson made his money through ownership of some Hardees and Denny's restaurants.  Both men became rich through overpriced, mediocre (at best), greasy, cheese laden, gravy dripping food.

Woody Johnson of the New York Jets is part of the family that owns Johnson & Johnson products.  He made a fortune through Band Aids and other high priced health care items.

John Mara, Giants owner, amassed a fortune through Loews Hotels.  A few hundred dollars for one small room, for one night.

Titans owner Bud Adams, Texans owner Robert McNair and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen got rich through electricity, energy, and oil-- things that have far outpaced the inflation rate.  Bowlen is also a lawyer, and we all know how much people love lawyers.

Dallas owner Jerry Jones and Saints owner Ted Benson are in many businesses, including selling cars.  Car dealers enjoy a wonderful reputation, don't they?  We also have to put the owner of the Lions, the Ford family, in this group.

The family that owns the Indianapolis Colts snuck the team out of Baltimore in the middle of the night.  What a fine, upstanding group!  By the way, the Irsay family is among Limbaugh's most vocal detractors.

Ralph Wilson owns the Buffalo Bills.  Buffalo loves and supports its team, yet Wilson is pushing to play more games in Toronto every year.

The owner of the Philadelphia Eagles is giving millions of dollars to a quarterback who, for many years, got perverse pleasure out of watching dogs kill each other.  On top of that, the quarterback never realized it was wrong.  It's a nice reward for a soul-less thug.

Arthur Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons and Home Depot.  Hey Arthur!  Why not hire a few more people to run your cash registers so I don't have to wait in line all day?

The former owner of the Miami Dolphins got rich through garbage and selling cars.

Al Davis has moved the Raiders from Oakland, to Los Angeles and back to Oakland.  He's made a joke of his franchise.

None of the above people engaged in criminal behavior, and there's nothing wrong with making a buck on the free market.

However, we can't forget about Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots.  His team was fined for cheating.

Is a drug abusing, pill popping, big mouthed talk show host with controversial opinions so bad?  Rush Limbaugh is no worse than the rest.

Late Wednesday, it was announced Rush Limbaugh was being dropped from the group of investors trying to buy the Rams.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bus of a Different Color

There are elusive as the Pussycat Swallowtail.

The County of Lackawanna Transit System, or COLTS, has a few new buses.  I've been hoping to get a picture.  One of the new buses passed Monday, as I was at a Columbus Day observance on Courthouse Square in Scranton.  By the time I grabbed my camera, the bus had passed.  I'll get a better shot some other time.

As you can see, the new color scheme is tan, champagne, and green.  When I read about it, I thought I'd hate it.  It was quite the contrary when I saw the new buses for the first time.


The old buses were blue, orange, and white.  It was the same logo color scheme used by former commissioners Corcoran and Castellani in their politcal campaign ads. 


The county's buses and all those blue and orange "economic development" signs at construction projects in the county, became part of the campaign, and the taxpayers paid for it.


I'm assuming blue, orange, and white will be phased out as the county acquires more buses.

As for tan, champagne, and green...  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I surveyed a few people.  I'm the only one who likes it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AM Obituary

It pains me to write this, but there are more nails being hammered into the AM radio coffin.

An FM station in Philadelphia flipped to all sports Friday afternoon.  Boston is getting one soon.  Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, and several other cities now have news/talk/sports formats on FM.

AM is irrelevant.

I'm an AM guy.  That's where I got my start.  There was always something magic about playing with an AM radio as a kid, and picking up stations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, etc.  I think it's one of the things that drew me to broadcasting.  I could travel around the country,and learn about other cities without leaving home.  Remember, this was long before Al Gore invented the internet, and out-of-town newspapers were available at every mini mart.

There are some exceptions to the rule, but they are few and far between.

FM radio, and now satellite and the internet, give listeners all the things they used to get on AM.

The band is a couple more big steps closer to the end.

By the way, while I was looking for Monday's "Columbus" photo, I came across my old collection of radio station bumper stickers.  Yes, I needed a life then, and I need one now.  I may scan one every weekend or so.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Andy "Columbus" Palumbo

I "discovered" making a fool out of myself, Columbus Day, 1992, Courthouse Square, Scranton.

Enjoy your Columbus Day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not Very Funny

I haven't watched a lot of the National and American League Divisional Series on TBS, but I have read the reviews.

They're universally awful.

I should note that the reviews were written by people who have never been behind a microphone.  Errors during three hours of live, unscripted television are inevitable.  No one's perfect, especially when you're flying without a net for hours at a time.

Having said that, TBS probably could be doing a better job.

Lighten up.  It's only a game.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steamtown Marathon

Even though I haven't been able to get there in years, the Steamtown Marathon remains one of my favorite NEPA events.

Yes, watching the runners is tremendous fun, but it's great to see how the locals get behind what's going on.

It starts at the "start" line, Forest City High School.  Kids give up their Sunday morning to help get the runners on their way.

Then, there are all the people along the 26.2 mile route, cheering, encouraging, even though most don't know anyone in the race.

And, it all ends on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton, where even more volunteers give the runners a little TLC after they cross the finish line.

If you get a chance, hit the road Sunday morning and take a look.  It starts at 8:00 AM.  You can find the route, best viewing areas,  and all the particulars at the Steamtown Marathon web site.

If you can't get out, we'll show you some of the race on Newswatch 16.

Enjoy your Columbus Day weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm officially tired of the following:

--swine flu
--any flu
--anything Kardashian
--Jon & Kate
--broadcasts that are fixated on Jon & Kate
   note to the "Today" show:  Jon &  Kate aren't news.  Stop it!

--David Letterman's problems
--Jay Leno's ratings
--references to "Bizzaro World"
--people complaining about far left and far right commentators
--winter weather predictions
--Tony Romo
--Brett Favre
--Kanye West
--struggling newspapers
--Weather Channel "doomsday" documentaries
--Chris Berman
--"Dancing with the Stars"
--Michael Moore
--people telling me how to sneeze
--hand sanitizer
--proper hand washing technique
--Dicky Betts
--texting while doing something else
--do nothing legislators
--the Pennsylvania budget
--people who are afraid to get flu shots
--those who defend and rationalize bad student SAT scores
--the iPhone
--the Blackberry
--the end.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It was a delightfully productive afternoon.  After work yesterday, I had lunch, got my driver's license photo taken, did a little shopping, got a hair cut, and went for a walk.  It might not seem like much to a normal person, but it's quite an accomplishment when your bed time is long before sunset.  I considered spreading out my tasks over my "weekend," but I went for the blitz.  Now, my days off will be filled with absolutely nothing, and I like it that way.   I have nothing to look forward to.  I have nothing hanging over my head.  Nothing is good.  What pleased me most about my Tuesday afternoon was the speed of the process.   There was only one person in front of me at the driver's license center.  I entered the drug store parking lot as John Stewart's "Gold" was starting on the radio.  I was back in my car as the song was ending.  There was a guy in the barber's chair when I walked in, and the barber was just finishing up.  A streak like that is rare, and I loved it. 

It's too bad every day can't be as fruitful.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Do Over

Back in my radio days, I worked with a gifted engineer, who was always given a number of impossible tasks by the bunglers who ran the joint.  He'd have to rush through those projects to keep the bosses happy.  It would get done as a stop-gap measure, followed by a second project, to do the work the way it should have been done the first time around.  The engineer had a phrase I heard often:  "There's never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over."

There are times I think the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the people who run the stadium are controlled the outfit I used to work for.  I took this picture late last week, while a new drainage system is being installed beneath the field-- the one that should have been put in place a few years ago.

I should amend my engineer friend's statement:  "There's never enough money to do it right, but there's always enough money to do it over."

Monday, October 5, 2009


The Quint's Army/Navy store at Lackawana and Franklin, in downtown Scranton, was torn down last week. I took the above photo early Thursday morning.

I stopped by a few times a year. Quint's was a great place to explore. It wasn't a large store, but the owners managed to pack a lot into its square footage.

I usually purchased two things during my visits. You can find them on-line, but Quint's was the only retail store that I knew of that stocked Levi's jeans in odd numbered waist sizes, like 35. I hadn't seen that before-- or since.

Quint's was always the place to find something called "mailman's belts." The name is just as it implies-- belts for letter carriers' uniforms. They were perfect-- not too wide, not too narrow, decent buckle, brown or black, durable as heck, and less than $10 ! You could wear them with anything.

Quint's closed in 2007.  I found the "still standing" photo on the internet.  I know I have one somewhere in  my file, but I couldn't find it.  This was quicker and easier.

Anyway, the building was sold to the furniture store next door.  The furniture store owner said the Quint's building would be too expensive to restore, and the furniture store really needed the parking.  Do the math.  Guess the outcome.

Quint's is history.  It had some really nice brick work and detailing around the upper floor windows.  It's too bad the building was allowed to deteriorate over the years.   It's too bad it was torn down.  It could have been a gem.

As I was walking around the site Thursday morning, something oddly familiar struck me.  Actually, it struck my nose.  I was working downtown during the demolition of several Lackawana Avenue buildings for the Steamtown Mall project in the early 90's.  The demolition of the Quint's building launched the same musty, dusty odor into the air.  It brought back a lot of memories-- and a few sneezes.

Luckily, I don't need any jeans or mailman's belts at the present time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bus Radio Update

Last month, I wrote about a company called "Bus Radio."  It pumps music and programming into school buses across the country. Commercials are involved.  The company said the commercials are appropriate for young ears.  I objected to the concept because the kids are a captive audience.  They have no choice in the matter.  School districts are selling access to your kids.

Anyway, the point has become moot.  Bus Radio is dead.  Below is a Friday morning item from the web site Radio Info.

The on-board customized radio service aimed at kids on school buses says that “despite all our success, we can no longer justify running the company in the existing environment.” Massachusetts-based BusRadio says it had signed up over 300 school districts containing more than two million students, reaching them via a wireless network with appropriate music and information. Now it says that after 3-½ years, it’s a victim of the economy – especially in regards to advertising to support the service.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tales from the Road

Just a few extra thoughts from this week's adventures as a reporter...

A photographer and I went to Susquehanna County early Monday morning, to cover a triple fatal crash.  On the way, and not far from our destination, I had to get out of the truck for a moment.  I looked skyward, and was startled.  It was foggy on the ground, but crystal clear above.  You don't realize how much light pollution there is here down in the valley, until you get out in the country.  I can't remember seeing that many stars and planets.  Spectacular doesn't begin to describe it.  Unfortunately, I could have used some light.  It was so dark, I didn't see that enormous puddle.  There's nothing like stepping in to shin deep cold water at 4:30 AM.

Tuesday brought flu duty.  People were lining up at the Carbondale Senior Citizens Center to get their flu shots.  There was a big turnout for Lackawanna County's first elderly flu clinic of the season, and they ran out of the vaccine early in the afternoon.

That raises an interesting point.  We in the media have to walk that fine line between useful and necessary information, and shameless hype.  I'm not a company man, but I believe we're doing a good job at WNEP.  Others might have tap danced over that line.

Flu prevention is important, and a big part of that is the vaccine.  No matter how many times we say it, there will be people unprepared for the flu season.  Maybe the hype is an important part of getting people to realize the dangers of the flu.  You can get the list of clinics around the area at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Mixed Signals

You really don't know who to believe these days.

There are some experts who say the bad economy has bottomed out, and a slow recovery is underway. I have been receiving some credit card offers in the mail recently. They disappeared when the economy went in the tank, so the return might be interpreted as a good sign.

On the other hand, Major League Baseball is experiencing its biggest attendance decline, more than six per cent, since 1952.

I traveled Business Route 6 in Dickson City a couple recent afternoons. Other than Olive Garden, it was dead. The same goes for the downtown Scranton mall.

USA Today says people will spend less on Halloween this year. I'm betting the same will be true for Christmas. Consumer confidence is down, and that's never a good sign.

Gasoline is cheap, relatively. Nearly 100 banks have failed this year.

No wonder people are confused. For every good sign, there's at least one bad one, and in times of uncertainty, the wallets close up.