Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's a Good Thing

It's happened to me before, but it's rare enough that I should note it here.

Above is a house on Sullivan Street in Wilkes-Barre that was destroyed by fire yesterday morning.  During my several hours at the scene, firefighters wouldn't come out and say it, but you clearly got the feeling this is a case of arson.  It's vacant.  It's been a trouble spot in the past.
Here's what set this fire apart.  The apartment building you see above is just feet away from the house that burned.  The scorched siding and other fire damage is hidden by the pine tree on the left.  There's more fire damage in the back, plus smoke and water everywhere else.  Firefighters made a good stop.  The whole block could have gone up.

The apartment building will need a lot of repairs, and 15 people lost their homes.

Some of the people who live in the apartment building told me they were happy to see the vacant house burn.  Why?  It really wasn't vacant.  Vagrants and drug users were here all the time.  No more house.  No more problem.  Well, that's not totally accurate.  Now, it's someone else's problem.

It's quite unusual to see people, especially people who have suffered a loss, happy about a fire.

So, that brings up the question of who was asleep at the switch?  Neighbors say the police were here all the time.  Where was the city?  Why wasn't this place boarded up?  Why did it take a fire and a near catastrophe to rid the neighborhhood of a nuisance?

You can have all the downtown bars and nightlife you want.  It's worthless without people feeling safe in their homes.

I realize the law has a finite point.  Look at what it took in Scranton to get two nuisance bars closed.  You just can't run around shutting places down.  The owners have a right to due process, and I'm okay with that.

Still, I couldn't help the feeling yesterday that all of this could have been prevented and avoided.

Arson seems to be a favorite activity in this neighborhood.  Below is a photo from June 2007.  At the center of the photo is a building that was set on fire.  The house that you see on the right is the one that burned yesterday.  There will soon be two vacant lots on this block of Sullivan Street.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I took the photo above, and the one below late last week.  Similar pictures have been featured here before.  They are scenes from Cathedral Cemetery, off Oram Street in Scranton.

If you need a reminder as to what today is all about, here it is.
And, something new this year.  Below is the Dunmore tank memorial on South Blakely Street.

Next time you complain about being confined in a cubicle, or stuck behind a computer or cash register, think about what it was like spending all day in one of these-- with people shooting at you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

Now, you know why I call it "Bad Photography Sunday." 

This is an effort to get several things crowded in to one shot.  Davis Trail at Nay Aug Park in Scranton is at the far right.  Then, moving left, are a set of railroad tracks, Roaring Brook and Interstate 81.  The view is looking south.

The park isn't what it used to be, but it's still worth some time to explore.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

While I love wandering around Scranton's Nay Aug Park with a camera, you really should check out Frank Dutton's blog.  He's the real expert.

Anyway, I was horsing around a couple weeks ago, and took this picture of the rail tunnel that's between the park and Interstate 81.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Nothing

I'm not a Democrat.  I'm not a Republican.

I am an Independent.

No party totally represents my views, so I am a member of neither.

It means I can't vote in the primary, unless there's a ballot question.

I'm okay with that.  I really am.  A primary is to select nominees of a party.  I'm not a member of a party, so I don't vote.

It happens every primary season-- Independents get bent out of shape because we can't vote.  As they say in organized crime, "This is the life we have chosen."  Deal with it.  If you don't like it, join a party.

Many states have open primaries, where everyone votes.  It's not a bad idea.  Change in Pennsylvania moves at a glacial pace, so I'm not holding my breath.

Kevin Jordan was one of the best broadcast political reporters this market has ever seen.  He has some reform ideas on his blog.  Check them out.

In the meantime, I'll see you in November.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I often link to other blogs in this space, when I there's something interesting you should see,and it happens quite often.  After all, I can't think of everything.

A blog/web site recently popped up with excerpts from this blog and others in the area.  There was no link back to the originals, and that torqued off a lot of writers.  I received a few e-mails on the topic.  I never pursued the matter.

While "borrowing" without linking is in bad taste, it's not illegal.  The blog is my property.  It, however, is not copyrighted.  The practice of stealing without linking deprived me of some hits.  While I like seeing high hit numbers, it's really no big deal.  As I noted many times in the past, I have more fun writing this than you have reading it.  It gives me a chance to use some muscles that usually sit idle.

Some of my fellow bloggers did complain-- vehemently.  The offending web site has disappeared.

Was the owner using someone else's material to sell ads on his web site to make a few bucks?  It looks that way, but how much could it have been?

Remember the golden rule of blogging.  If you're going to borrow from someone else's blog, be sure to include the link to the original.

And, while I'm discussing the blogs of others, well known Wilkes-Barre blogger Mark Cour has started another.  It's dedicated to the memory of Franklin's Restaurants.  Mark used to manage the one on Kidder Street in Wilkes-Barre.  I was a frequent visitor to the one in Dunmore.

Let me take you back to the early 80's.  I was evening news person on WARM.  My old high school friend, Jerry Padden, worked evenings at KRZ.  Jerry and I would meet up after work, usually around 1 AM.  I'd always have the same thing at Franklin's-- turkey club and fries, no mayonnaise.  We'd grab a booth and talk radio until the wee hours of the morning.  Good times.

Jerry's working at a country station in Allentown.  We swap e-mails once in a while, and I know he reads the blog on occasion.  Jerry, I hope you're doing well.

I miss those turkey clubs.

The Dunmore Franklin's is now a Friendly's, and I honestly can't remember the last time I was there.

And, one other blog related note...  I ran into LuLac Political Letter author David Yonki at a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees game Tuesday morning.  David produces some of the most original content on politics here in our area.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Oprah Winfrey broadcasts her last original show today.


While I respect and admire all she's accomplished, I can't say I'm a fan.

Oprah is a member of that "it's all about me" cult I find distasteful.  There's a disingenuous quality about her, a phoniness.  Oprah has pulled huge numbers over the years, and I know I'm in the minority here.

I will admit that Oprah Winfrey has changed American culture, and not in a good way.  I call it the "Oprah defense."  I've seen it in court, and in every day life.  The Oprah defense is playing the victim and blaming everyone else for your problems.  It was born on her couch.

Phil Donahue was the innovator, the trailblazer, the one who invented the genre-- without the attitude.  Without Phil, there would be no Oprah, and she really does owe him a debt of gratitude.  i hope Donahue gets a mention in the final Oprah broadcast.

I don't like what Oprah stands for, but she does know how to draw a crowd.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


A close friend and I got into a recent discussion of what I do for a living-- fires, accidents, homicides, storms, etc.  "Sleeping in" means staying in bed until 2 AM.

I've been threatened.  I've been in brawls.  People have taken a swing at me.  And, that's just in my own newsroom (insert rim shot here).

I tried my best to explain it, and even though my friend is extremely intelligent, I don't think she got it.

Then, I saw this entry on one of my favorite web sites, TV News Grapevine. 

It explains it all-- perfectly.

In no particular order, here are the absolute best things about working in television news:

1. The "front row ticket" to life. You get to rub elbows with celebrities, people who run the country, the most interesting people on the planet. You have a lifelong backstage pass while others pay big bucks for front row seats.

2. Working weekends. Your friends will feel sorry for you, but if you've never done it, you've missed the pure joy of a mostly empty building with no managers around. You can relax, turn the scanner down from an ear-splitting level, throw a frisbee around the newsroom or a football around the parking lot. You only have to dress from the waist up if you're an anchor, as the "weekend anchor collection" might include a suit jacket, tie, cut-offs and docksiders with no socks.

3. Photogs. 90 percent artists, 10 percent psychologists, these guys should wear a cape as they seem to have superpowers. They can fix a viewfinder or a carburetor, find anything without a GPS, and know what you're thinking before you know it. They have the most pride of any group in the news business, are the most loyal, and weren't born with the backstabbing gene. They can become true friends for life.

4. Newsroom camaraderie. If you're in a great newsroom with nice people, your life can be like an episode of Friends every day. It's like having a second family.

5. Orphan Holidays: When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around and you're a thousand miles from home, you can feel depressed. But the holiday orphans always get together to celebrate and create some of the more memorable holidays ever.

6. Working with creative, smart people. The news business does feature some dim bulbs, but for the most part you're working with the smartest people on the planet. All with a seriously warped sense of humor.

7. You never watch the clock. How many people in other fields can say that? Your day goes by so fast it doesn't feel like work.

8. You make a living, and this isn't even a real job. Seriously, you tell stories for a paycheck!

9. Breaking a big story. The pulse goes up and suddenly you're a kid on Christmas morning.

10. Changing the world with a story. Imagine, showing up for work not knowing what your day holds and going home knowing you've saved or changed a life dramatically. Doctors do it all the time, but we can do it with words and pictures instead of a scalpel. Nothing, and I mean nothing, feels better than this.

In spite of a lot of ups and downs, I have to say I've been extremely lucky.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Still Here

Saturday evening's rapture did not take place.  We're still here.

While it would be very easy to have some laughs over this, it's not nice to make fun of someone's religion, so I won't.

The "impending rapture" thing was put forth by a man who runs an organization called "Family Radio."  On one hand, using the public airwaves to spread this stuff might be viewed as irresponsible, reckless, and silly.

On the other, this is America.  We do have freedom of speech, and as long as all laws are being followed, I'm okay with the whole thing.

The Federal Communications Commission has a rule against broadcasting a "hoax."  I'll let the legal experts determine if Family Radio's broadcasts fall under that rule.

Isn't it amazing how rapidly the impending rapture took off in the media and in the public?  A lot of people either took it very seriously, or were amused by the whole thing.

I'll see you today, tomorrow, and for many days to come.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Armed Forces Weekend II

I had to take a picture of the Korean War Veterans Monument at the Luzerne County Courthouse when I was photographing some others recently.

My dad is a Korean War vet, so I always pause for a moment when I hear or see something about that conflict.

Armed Forces Week ended yesterday.  Let's hope the gratitude never ends.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Armed Forces Weekend I

I think of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the south lawn of the Luzerne County Courthouse any time I hear of someone or something planning a huge monument or memorial.

This one isn't super sized, but it does make an awesome statement.  A monument doesn't have to be large to be powerful.

It's Armed Forces Day.  Remember those in uniform today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Media Notes

Katie Couric anchored her last CBS Evening News last night.  After the initial format tinkering failed five years ago, it seemed like Couric didn't want to be there.  CBS is better without Couric.  Couric is better without CBS.

Gus Johnson has left CBS Sports for FOX.  He'll have a variety of duties on the cable and broadcast side.  Johnson is a screamer.  FOX could have done better.

TV news lost two giants recently, former CNN president Burt Reinhardt, and Jeff Gralnick.  The latter worked at CBS, NBC, and ABC.  He produced World News Tonight with Peter Jennings during the glory days.  He's also the producer who took NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw from last to first.

NBC canceled a show I really like, Outsourced.  I've written about it before.  An American goes to India to run a call center.  I'll admit the ratings were week, and the humor was often uneven.  Still, I enjoyed it.

I don't see any captivating television on the networks' fall schedules.

After reading the Harry Kalas book I wrote about yesterday, I realized I have no idea who broadcasts Phillies games these days.

Entourage is being pulled from syndication.  Low ratings.  I'll miss it.

Another reason why people hate the media:  the feeding frenzy over Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child.

Reelz plays a couple old NewsRadio episodes every afternoon.  When the series was at its peak,  there was nothing funnier or more clever on television, and Stephen Root, as Jimmy James, created one of the best characters in TV history.

Dick Ebersol is out as head of NBC Sports.  I can't say I'm a fan of the way NBC does things.  It was the last network to go to the time and score box that TV viewers love so much.  The Sunday night NFL show borders on unwatchable.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Harry the K

I just finished reading "Harry the K" by Randy Miller.  It's a biography of the late Phillies broadcaster, Harry Kalas, who died in 2009.

Kalas was blessed with a great voice, and the ability to do something with it.

The book is balanced.  It spends a lot of time on Harry's faults.  He smoked too much, drank way too much, and there was a woman in just about every city in the National League.  Kalas was married twice.  He played around-- a lot.  There were a lot of late nights, and considering the way the man abused his body, it's amazing he lived to be 73.

At times like this, I'm reminded of what Dan Aykroyd said at John Belushi's funeral: "He was a good man, but a bad boy."

You don't just become a legend.  You have to work at it, and Kalas did that by helping young announcers, donating tons of time to charity, and always having time for fans.  He made Phillies games interesting and listenable, even when the team wasn't winning.

Still, it's difficult to ignore Harry's dark side.

Even people who aren't sports fans will enjoy "Harry the K."  It's the story of a man who accomplished a lot in life, in spite of more than a few stumbles along the way.

As I wrote here when Kalas passed away a couple years ago, he was the voice of summer.  As we've experienced since Kalas' death, summer hasn't been the same.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Early Look Back

The Pennsylvania Primary has come and gone.  As always, here's my analysis and second guessing.

I'll begin by patting myself on the back.  The Lackawanna County commissioner race came out the way I expected-- Wansacz and O'Brien on the Democratic side.  Both are familiar names, and ethnicity still means a lot in this area.  We'll see how well they do in running as a team.  Wansacz and O'Brien came from opposite camps in the primary, and they hurled negative ads at each other.  Can the rift be healed for the good of the party?  Remember, what followers say publicly and what they do privately are often two different things.  It's happened before.

Liz Randol did well in the commissioner race.  Even though she was chief of staff for Washo and O'Brien for a while, she was perceived as an outsider, and a lot of people found that attractive.

Gary DiBileo won his first election in a while.  He's the Democratic nominee for controller in Lackawanna County, knocking off Ken McDowell.  It shows you can't lose $12 million dollars of taxpayers money and expect to get reelected.

The Republican nomination for District Attorney in Wayne County is too close to call.  Incumbent Michael Lehutsky is behind.  Janine Edwards is leading.  I have a feeling a lot of people thought about Laura Ronning when they cast their votes.  Lehutsky failed to get a conviction in that case, the biggest Wayne County murder trial in years.

There was a free for all in the race for Luzerne County judge.  I won't list all of the names here.  I do know many of the individuals involved.  County voters made some wise choices.

Kudos to the head of voter services in Luzerne County.  After receiving complaints candidates and their supporters were campaigning too close to the doors of Kistler Elementary in Wilkes-Barre, he got a court order forcing them back thirty feet.  I've seen too many places where the law is not enforced.  Voting becomes an uncomfortable ordeal.  It discourages participation.  Being mauled as you head to vote has to be stopped.

As for Luzerne County Council, our information shows people voted for a few favorites and guessed at the rest.  I'm sure every other county here is carefully watching what's going on, and how this whole thing will work.  The argument against home rule last year:  The system isn't broken.  We just need to elect better people.  Well, now, we're electing a lot of people and we'll see how that works.

Tom Leighton appears to be skating his way to a third term.  The numbers last night were less than overwhelming.  He won easily, but spent a lot of money for relatively few votes.  Leighton got hammered in his own city when he ran for state senate.  If a well financed and politically attractive candidate has stepped forward, there might have been a different outcome last night.

The top vote getter in the Scranton city council last night was NOT affiliated with the so-called "super majority."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Primary Day

The November 2010 experiment worked well, so I'll try to blog some updates today.  This is my first Twitter election, so there's likely to be a tidbit there from time to time.

>>> 12:00 AM...  Up early to check some e-mails and do a little final day review of what I'll be looking at today.  Voter turnout in primaries is generally week.  I'm still excited.

>>> 12:45 AM... The number of good candidates who ran bad campaigns this year is striking.  So many have made common sense mistakes.  Who's advising these people?  Can the candidates get their money back?

>>> 3:30 AM... The best laid plans...  Vote 2011 will have to wait.  There was a late night homicide, and I've been pulled from election duty.  I might return before the end of my shift.

>>> 6:10 AM... Newswatch 16's Renie Workman is handling the election story for the morning news because I was shifted to a Scranton homicide case.  As I Tweeted, the story is in good hands.  We're listening to all the election commercials here inside one of our Mobile Newsrooms.  Most candidates have taken the high road.  Polls open in less than one hour.

>>> 7:05 AM...  Polls are open.  I wonder if predictions of a low turnout will be true.  It always makes me sad when voters stay home.

>>> 10:45 AM... Looks like I'll have to wait until November to get a piece of the election pie.  Many new elements of the Scranton homicide story popped up this morning, and that's what I'll be doing on Newswatch 16 at Noon.  Jump over to my Twitter page when you get a chance, and "follow" other members of the Newswatch 16 team.  I'm sure they'll keep you updated on election news all day and into the night.

>>> 11:30 AM...  Talking to friends and co-workers-- this election day is like most others:  busy polling places at 7 am, the mid-day lull, followed by a rush at the end of the work day.  Former co-worker David DeCosmo has an inside TV take on things on his blog.

>>> 1:05 PM...  My work day is done.  For many of my co-workers, it's just beginning, and I wish them luck tonight.  Gathering and reporting all those numbers is not an easy task, and the morning crew tomorrow will make some sense out of it all.  It's time for a nap so I can watch some election coverage tonight on TV.  Celebrate our democracy, and look for a little analysis in this space tomorrow.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

One More Day

Yes, I do realize there are a lot of you who don't care tomorrow is election day.

I do.

Some observations:  There are a few races where negative campaigning has once again reared its ugly head, but those races appear to be few and far between.  Primaries are generally cleaner than the big vote in November, and this year is no exception.

The Ciavarella, Conahan, and Toole cases have given Luzerne County judicial candidates a talking point.  Several of the many on the ballot are trying to out "honest" each other.

Staying with the Luzerne County judicial race, I always chuckle at the ads shot inside courtrooms, where news cameras aren't allowed.  We can't even go on that floor of the county courthouse, your building.  Ads are okay.  Letting news cameras show you what really goes on is forbidden.

I've noticed this has been a big primary for television ads.  As someone who works in TV, thank you.  It shows there's a lot of money out there.  Politics is big business.

Direct mail seems to be especially big this year.  One of my Marywood advertising professors, the great Bill Donovan, is smiling in heaven right now.  He loved direct mail.

This has to be the biggest year in contested magisterial races in quite a while.

The ballots in some counties are lengthy this year.  It could be the best test, so far, of new voting systems.

Please, be an informed voter tomorrow.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

Maybe it's the color.  I enjoy looking at the diesel engines in and around Steamtown as much as I enjoy the historic old steam locomotives.

Regular blog readers know this is my favorite-- the black, green and gold Reading Lines diesels.  I can still see a similar model going 'round beneath the Christmas tree.
One of the things I like is about the diesels is many have a beat up appearance, and the still get the job done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

The week of April 17th was National Park Week, and there was no admission fee for national parks.  That included the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.  Camera in hand, I set off on an expedition a couple weeks ago.

Below is one of the scenes inside the roundhouse area.

My visit was just after opening time on a Monday morning, and I was pleased to see a lof of people coming through the gates.

Here's another roundhouse view-- two cabooses (or is that a pair of caboose?) and a box car.
Blog readers know I make several Steamtown trips a year.  I usually wander the outskirts.  Last month was the first time I explored the inner workings in quite a while.  Steamtown hasn't changed much, but it's still an entertaining way to spend a few hours.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Guaranteed to Make You Cry

I love 70's music, I'm a sucker for sad songs, and the XM/Sirius 70's channel is usually on in the house.

A song called "Sideshow" by Blue Magic comes around from time to time.  For some reason, it popped into my head while I was working the overnighter last weekend.  It's okay to sing out loud when very few people are in the building to hear it.

Then, "Sideshow" turned up on the radio I had tuned to an oldies station in one of our live trucks while a photographer and I were returning from a story Monday morning.  It's fate.  I just had to share it with you here.

"Sideshow" came out in 1974.  It made it as high as 8 on the Billboard chart.  Lyrics meant something back then, and there are some great lines in the song.

Listen, and remember.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I cringed when I saw it.  A searing, sharp pain started in my stomach and flowed through my intestines like white hot lava.  I thought a blood vessel in my brain was going to explode.

There was a report on the news the other night about the huge size of the Luzerne County primary ballot.  There are nearly four hundred contests in the county, with more than six hundred names on the ballot.

Some people interviewed for the story actually said they don't know anything about those running, and they intend to guess when they vote Tuesday.  I became angry.  Once my blood stopped boiling and backed off to a simmer, sadness set in.

If that's the way you intend to behave, stay home on election day.

Being a functioning part of a democracy is not a passive activity.  We have more sources of information available to us than ever before.  It's not hard to research the candidates.  Pick up a newspaper.  Go on line.  If you don't have a computer and internet access at home, your local public library will be glad to help you.

You have no excuse to waste your privilege.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Love My Dog

You've heard me mention it many times on the weekend morning editions of Newswatch 16.  I go for a walk most mornings, a little beagle by my side.  She's a darling princess, spoiled beyond belief.

We take the same route most mornings, encountering friends along the way, like the retired gentleman who has two lovely young Brittany Spaniels romping through his yard.  There's another retired man who has a big, old dog named Bear.  Bear is usually on the front porch or in the back yard when we walk by.  He knows us and rarely barks.  I call them "the puppies."  Three poodles live in a house along our walk route.  My dog loves them and perks up when she hears their barks in the distance.  We frequently see another beagle, Maggie, being walked by her owner.  There's a new addition to that family-- a big bulldog.  Then, I always see an elderly woman walking a pug, Oliver.  We frequently stop to chat.  Our dogs came from the same shelter.  The last one on our walk circuit is a weiner dog, who spends a lot of time lounging in her fenced-in back yard.

We all have something in common.  We all care for our pets.  It makes stories like the one we reported Monday evening even more difficult to stomach.  Someone in Lycoming County is in trouble for abusing several beagles, a wonderful breed.

A good friend ran a shelter in Luzerne County for several years.  He suggested I sign on as a volunteer.  I couldn't do it because I feared the heartbreak of seeing all those animals without homes would be too much to endure, and I'd go home with a car full every evening.   My friend said the way to get through it is to concentrate on the good you can do, not what you can't do.

The abused beagles are now at a shelter, getting some medical attention.  Hopefully, they'll soon be well enough to be adopted out to good homes, something these animals apparently never had. 

The story is awful, but at least there are people out there trying to do some good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Password is "Inspiration."

Last week, I whined that I didn't have any truly inspirational teachers during my time in the American educational system.

So, who did inspire me?  Who did I admire?  The list is rather short, and I really should feature them from time to time in this space.

Allen Ludden is on the list, and I'm not afraid to admit that.  Ludden passed away from cancer and a stroke in 1981.  He hosted several game shows along the way and is best known for "Password."

Here's why I admired Allen Ludden.  The game came first.  He never tried to top the contestants and celebrities.  He wasn't one of those "it's all about me" guys.

Above all, I admired Allen Ludden's enthusiasm.  He presided over thousands of "Password" episodes, and every time he walked out on that stage, he looked like he was having the time of his life.  I'm sure there were days it wasn't easy, especially toward the end when his health was failing.  On top of that, "Password" wasn't the most exciting game in the world.  Even if Ludden had to push it a little, he always seemed genuine.

Allen Ludden and I are both broadcasters, but in slightly different specialties.  He doesn't deal with tragedy on a daily basis.  His biggest issue was a contestant botching the "Lightning Round."  However, when things are going bad, I try to remember the professional gentleman I saw on TV as a kid.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Second Thing to Go

It was a good story.  The Back Mountain Men's Ecumenical Group was honoring a small group of World War II veterans at its Tuesday morning breakfast.  A photographer, Bonnie Clifton, and I were assigned to be there.  As far as I'm concerned, you can't do enough for veterans, especially WWII vets.

The morning was a tad on the frustrating side.  The breakfast ran long.  We were slowed by construction traffic on the way back to the office.  It meant we'd have to rush through the writing and editing to make our slot on Newswatch 16 @ Noon.  God smiled on me and guided my fingers.  I got the writing done in record time, and in spite of a rush job, I thought it came out okay.  Bonnie volunteered to work  extra late, a 13 hour day in all, to do the editing, rather than give it to someone else.  It really made a difference.  The person who shot the piece is always the first choice to do the editing.

Here's why I enjoyed the morning so much.  It was time to see some old friends, including retired Citizens Voice photographer Jack Kelly.  Jack is always one of those guys who always looked a lot younger than his age, and he was one of the exceptionally kind ones when I was stumbling my way through my early days as a radio street reporter.  Jack still looks tremendous and appears way too young to be retired.

Cholly Hayes was there.  Cholly, too, is retired.  The former WBRE photographer is a legend.  I don't think there's any one who knows the Wyoming Valley better.

Former State Senator Charles Lemmond was among the honorees.  The long time public servant looked great.

Having laid the foundation, here's where I got into a little embarrassing trouble.  Did you ever meet someone and say to yourself, "Okay, that person looks familiar, but I can't remember the name." ?  It happened to me not once, but twice Tuesday morning.  Luckily, the individuals involved sensed my confusion, re-introduced themselves, and forgave me.

The first was Herb Woodeshick.  Herb was the "go to" guy at PP&L (yes, there was an "&" back then) when it came to nuclear power issues.  Herb was there any time you had a question on the Berwick plant in particular and nuclear power in general.  He never ducked you.  You always got an answer, and it was phrased in a way you could understand.  He was the broadcasters' best friend.

The other was Bob Zampetti.  If it's happening in the Back Mountain and Tunkhannock, Bobby Z knows about it.  The man has a long career in broadcasting, photography, public relations, and education.  His radio shows, featuring polkas, were extremely popular.  Most of our communication in recent years has been thorough e-mail, rather than in person.  Hence, my failure to place the face.

In spite of my gaffes, I'm glad I was there, and thanks to my co-worker Bonnie for going the extra mile to make sure you saw what happened.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

When it comes to mothers, I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Remember your mom today.

By the way, this is a Nay Aug park rhododendron.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

I was wandering through Northmoreland, Wyoming County, on a recent afternoon.  A horse, having lunch, was just begging to have its picture taken.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Art

I once had a high school teacher who said that I had the rare gift of being able to express two thoughts with one sentence, so it seems like I was destined for a career as a news writer.

As I've said before, I don't think it's hard.   News writing is just a series of simple sentences.  Make it clear.  Make it simple.  Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and end.  Watch the facts.  Boom!  Done.

I've seen a lot of people struggle with "the art" over the years, and I fail to understand it.  I do realize there are times when it's tougher to write short than to write long.  I thank heaven I came up through radio, where there is a premium on economy of words.

Tom Snyder is best known for his NBC and CBS interview shows.  A lot of people don't know he was a really, really good news anchor.  Snyder anchored at local stations in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York.  He did the weekend editions of NBC Nightly News and the prime time updates.  Great voice.  Great delivery.  Magnetic personality

Below is some of Snyder's best work.  It's less than a minute long.  It's tight writing at its finest.  Tom Snyder, you are missed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I'm currently reading a biography of the late Phillies' broadcaster Harry Kalas.  Parts of it are not flattering, and I'll write about that one of these days.

I've read a lot of biographies, and there always seems to be a section on the positive effect a teacher or teachers had on the subject.  Kalas is no exception.  His career was influenced by one exceptional high school teacher and another in college.

Sorry to say, I can't point to any teacher of mine who rose above the crowd.  There were a few I liked, even a couple I respected.  Most were unmotivated space wasters.

One of those in the "good" column came to mind the other day.  I won't use  names because I'm not sure how she'd feel about that.  I dropped her a card and note because of a passing in the family.

Here's what stood out about this college professor.  There were no tests in her class, just a weekly short paper.  At first, it seemed like an easy ride.  When I thought about it a little more, the weekly paper was an effort to get us to think, feel, and write rather than memorize facts.

I didn't fully appreciate it back then.  I do now.  Thank you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Media Notes

I had no problem with the royal wedding, in and of itself.  The news coverage last week?  Clearly excessive.

XM and Sirius are changing a ton of channel numbers this week.  I expect days and days of confusion.

Co-worker Bob Reynolds celebrated a birthday last week, and I hope it was a good one.  Bob is more than a colleague.  He's a friend.

Speaking of friends, David DeCosmo has entered the blogosphere.  Click on his name for the link.   David was one of the people who helped me find my way when I was a young radio pup, and he was a great guy to work with when we were at the old WYOU.  I'm looking forward to his posts.

I've had a Twitter account for three months now.  The jury is still out.

Current TV announced Keith Olbermann's new show launches June 20.  Thanks for the warning.

Good news:  former WBRE anchor Lauren Rowe (She was Lauren Perkins here.) is working in Orlando.  She recently had surgery for a thyroid tumor.  The tumor is benign, and no further treatment will be necessary.

Memo to the daily and weekly newspapers that inflict "The Office" stories on us every day:  The show isn't funny.  The ratings are mediocre, at best.  It's set in Scranton.  We know.

Doesn't it seem like CBS News can't wait to unload Katie Couric?

President Obama released his birth certificate last week.  I'm not passing judgement on the "birther" issue, but I'm struck by the degree of hatred exhibited in the media by both sides.

I know a lot of people dislike him, but I really enjoyed watching Geraldo Rivera the other night on FNC.  That's a man who still has a passion for the job, even after decades in the biz.  I'm partial to ABC for obvious reasons.  However, I thought all the networks did a good job Sunday night and Monday morning.

Scott Pelley might not have Katie Couric's star power, but he is likely just what the CBS Evening News needs-- stability and credibility.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Look for it next time you're at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  It's even worth a special trip.  It's not the easiest thing to find, and it's not in a prominent section of the park.  The monument to five local servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is on the park's south side, near the greenhouse and the entrance to Davis Trail.

I was there yesterday to introduce some pieces on the local reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Television doesn't convey the emotion.  The five steel plates make a powerful statement.

It makes you think about all the people who aren't here because of Osama bin Laden.

I hate to sound a depressing note, but I have a disgusting feeling that there are many ready and willing to take bin Laden's position as the world's most dangerous terrorist.  He was a horrible, evil man and the world is a better place without him.  We killed the terrorist.  We didn't kill terrorism.  I think we can control it, improve safety a bit.  Hate, unfortunately, will always be with us.

Randy Tatiano writes a blog.  It's called TV News Grapevine.  Yesterday's entry, as they all are, was aimed at TV news people.  I'm sure you'll find it interesting, so I'll post it below.

There's a difference between closure and justice...and relief

Many of you will be assigned to do a 9/11 story today.
Please leave the word "closure" out of your copy.

Closure, in the case of 9/11, doesn't exist. It never will.

Justice is a both a legal and emotional term, what is doled out by courts and what we feel when a wrong is somehow righted. But trading thousands of lives for one doesn't feel like justice.

Relief may be the proper term for this day. For those who lost loved ones, for those who love their country and feel as though it will never be the same, relief may be the proper word. Not because events have magically transported us back to the way things were before 9/11, but because we're a little less afraid that it might happen again.

Nothing can ever bring back those lost on 9/11 and those who fought for freedom in the middle east. So there is no closure for those who lost loved ones. Some measure of justice, and a good deal of relief, maybe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

About the Cover

May is college graduation month, so I thought an academic scene would be appropriate.  This month's blog header is the clock tower at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.

Below is John Wilkes casting his gaze upon the green space behind the library.

And, below is everything you need to know about the structure that's at the top of the blog this month.
May can be a great month-- warm, without the summer time heat.  Enjoy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

The Susquehanna River tour continues today.  I've moved upstream from yesterday's selections, but still in Luzerne County.

Below is the old railroad bridge that crosses the Susquehanna.  I'm standing on the Pittston side, looking upstream.  Exeter is on the left.
Below is the Ft. Jenkins Bridge.  Once again, I'm on the Pittston side of the Susquehanna.  The view is downstream, with West Pittston on the right side of the photo.                                                             
We've had a few close calls with the Susquehanna so far this year.  It could have been a lot worse, and when you compare our weather problems with the string of southern tornadoes, we're darned lucky.