Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nick News

It's more than the end of a month.  It's the end of an era.  Nick Horsky leaves WNEP today, after 35 years on the job.  He was at the old WDAU before that.

That's Nick above, on the left.  I took the photo during the Hazleton Immigration Ordinance trial in Federal Court at Scranton.

Let me tell you about Nick.  He was the fastest and most efficient photographer I ever worked with in my 25+ years of television.  I remember one morning, several years ago.  We were at the University of Scranton, doing the "kids moving back into the dorms" story at the start of the fall semester.  We followed around one family.  I think they were from New Jersey.  Everyone at the U is from New Jersey.  Anyway, they were a great bunch.  The daughter was nervous.  So were the parents.  They were keeping their emotions in check, not wanting to worry each other.  Still, I remember a tear or two.

I did my interviews.  Nick went off on his own to get some video.  He returned a few minutes later.  I asked if he had enough shots.  The reply was "yes."  I was surprised because it didn't take him long, so I asked again.  Are you sure?   The reply was "yes."

Nick had this fantastic ability to know exactly how much video was needed for a story.  He never under-shot.  He never over-shot.
Above, Nick and I covering flash flooding in Plymouth, four years ago this week.  WNEP photographer Mike Erat took the picture.

Nick was the man you wanted around at deadline time.  I don't think I've ever seen someone edit a story faster.  It didn't make a difference if he was using video he shot, or if the video came from another photographer.  When you worked with Nick, you made your slot.

Here is where I will especially miss Mr. Horsky.  No one broke down a live shot faster.  Seconds are at a premium, especially at the end of your day.  Nick did some of my noon live shots.  The equipment would be stowed, the mast would be down in no time, and you'd be on your way back to the office.

I will miss Nick's talents.  I will also miss his common sense presence in the newsroom.

Photographers don't get nearly the credit they deserve.  You were better informed because Nick Horsky worked at WNEP.

Nick Horsky, thank you.

Monday, June 29, 2015

This Week

No matter what side of the arguments you're on, you have to agree that it was a momentous week.

ObamaCare survives.  Bans on same sex marriage do not.

As I'm writing this, rulings on redistricting and the death penalty are due from the Supreme Court.

Add to that the South Carolina church shooting funerals and the debate over the Confederate flag.

One escaped killer shot and killed in New York.  The other was shot, wounded and captured.  It seems there was a lot amiss at that prison.  Governor Cuomo had better drop the hammer.

Terrorism in Europe.  Horrible bloodshed.

The field of presidential candidates grows larger.

We're wondering who bought the Mall at Steamtown and what plans they have for it.  There are a few proposals out there.  Some are feasible.  Others are pure fantasy.

Some Scranton retirees received double pensions at a time when the city is begging for money and teeters on the verge of insolvency.

Harrisburg can't come up with a common sense spending plan-- one that funds the things we want and need, and doesn't cost us a fortune in taxes.

And, it won't stop raining.

It has been said the only thing constant in life, is change.

So very true.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Andy's Angles: Trains

There are no ugly trains.

I found this pair, just off Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton on a recent morning, just after sunrise.

They might be a little beat up, but they get the job done.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Andy's Angles: Intermodal Center

The intermodal transportation center on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton is progressing nicely.

The goal here is to have one center for buses, trains, taxis, etc.  Passengers can wait in heated and cooled comfort.  It gets buses off heavily traveled and congested downtown streets.

Yet again, I will use one of my favorite phrases.  This is a solution in search of a problem.  Unlike Wilkes-Barre's intermodal transportation center, this one is on the edge of downtown, not in the middle.  It's away from the action.

I'm waiting to hear the complaints on opening day.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Keystone Questions

So many things on the state level really defy analysis, but let's try for a moment.

The new fiscal year begins Wednesday morning, and it appears a budget won't be done, approved, and signed on time.  Among the major issues-- taxes and the state's liquor sales system.

The tax thing is complicated.  As for the liquor system, surveys show a majority of Pennsylvanians want changes, but Harrisburg refuses to deliver.

Penndot recently blew up the Avoca airport interchange with Interstate 81.  The first of three roundabouts opened this week.  Opening reviews are overwhelmingly negative.  I'm trying to keep an open mind.  I've yet to drive it.  Yes, the acceleration and deceleration ramps needed lengthening.  Expanding Navy Way to the industrial park is a great idea.  Other than that, this was a perfectly decent interchange.  As I've said before, this is a solution in search of a problem.

I finally contacted Penndot about AM 1640.  It's a low powered radio station that broadcasts weather and travel information.  It's been dead for more than two months.  My Penndot contact knew nothing about it.  Five days later, I'm still waiting for an answer.  I did learn it could be the responsibility of the Turnpike Commission.

There's more turmoil in the Attorney General's office, and yet another top staffer was shown the door this week.  He's lawyered up, and the AG could have yet another nasty fight on her hands.  The Philadelphia Inquirer has been on top of the goings on in Harrisburg, and it seems like an indictment is in the Attorney General's future.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I was raised on 60's and 70's game shows.  Don't ask me why I was attracted to them.  It was probably the music and lights.  Strange to say, but I suspect Password and Pyramid helped me improve my vocabulary and quick thinking skills.  My teachers have should done such a good job.

Anyway, To Tell the Truth was one of my favorites.  In fact, it was also the favorite of famed game show producer and packager Mark Goodson.  It was a great show, perfect to play at home.  In a nutshell, three people all claimed to be the same person.  You had to pick the real one through a series of questions from a celebrity panel.

There were TTTT versions in the 50's, 60's, 70's 80's 90's and 00's.  It's been off the air for quite a while.  That's due to change this summer.  ABC is working on a mini series, with Anthony Anderson as the host.  If it works, like Millionaire, you could see a weekday version again.

I can't say I'm without fear.  Take Family Feud, for example.  It's been dumbed down and dirtied up for the new generation.  Richard Dawson's wit and cleverness have been replaced by Steve Harvey's vulgarity.  I should add that the ratings for Family Feud haven't been this high in years.

I'm hoping the new TTTT doesn't go down that road, but who are we kidding?  Of course it will.

Purists, like me, keep an open mind.  It could be very entertaining.  But then again...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

First Person: Crisis Management

Finally, someone gets it.

Gerrity's supermarket on Meadow Avenue in Scranton was hit by a small fire late Tuesday night.  It was enough to fill the store with smoke.  A lot of the store's stock had to be tossed out.

Once it was safe, Gerrity's management allowed us in to get some video and interviews.  It was the smart thing to do.  They showed their customers, through us, the store was being cleaned, and any potentially tainted food was headed to the dumpster.  Nothing to hide.  All in the open.  Store management got as much from it as we did.

A lot of chains wouldn't be as friendly.  A lot of chains wouldn't be as smart.
I minored in public relations.  It's not hard.  Be open and honest.  Simple.

We got our story.  The store's personnel and the clean up crew continued their work.  We all became better informed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Media Tuesday

A couple of items I should have included last week...

A study by the Radio and Television News Directors Association shows the number of radio stations doing news is down four per cent from last year, and it was down nearly eight per cent in the previous survey.

It's so sad.

There are radio stations out there jumping formats all the time.  Why not a try at actually connecting with your audience?  Yes, news is expensive-- but it pays off in the long run.  There are some very successful news stations out there.  No one says you have to go wall-to-wall.  A strong presence could work rather nicely.

Hurricane season is here, and I cringe at the thought of a major emergency.  In most parts of our area, radio stations are ill equipped to serve their communities.

CNN is running a documentary series, produced by Tom Hanks' company, called The Seventies.  Like The Sixties, it's really good, and I can tell that just two episodes in to the run.  I have a minor criticism of the Watergate centered broadcast.  It was factual, but it really failed to capture the emotion of the time.

In spite of everything going on, Nixon still had his supporters.  There was a lot of hate, as well.  The show touched on those, but it needed more.  1974 was a fascinating time.  I remember hanging at the playground down the street with my friends, then rushing home at 9 PM to watch Nixon resign.  I still remember where I was when I watched the farewell speech and the helicopter departure from the White House the next morning.

FOX broadcast the U.S. Open golf tournament over the weekend.  It's the network's first shot at big time golf.  The coverage was very good, with some nice innovations, including a leader board constantly on the screen.   Say what you want about FOX, but it's clearly an innovator-- first with football and baseball, and now golf.

It seems like the gang at The Weather Channel is disappointed Tropical Storm Bill wasn't a major disaster.  They hype the heck out of storms, then pat themselves on the back for doing a public service.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Just Don't Get It

It was THE "talked about" story of the week.

Last week, it was revealed that back on June 9, three people walked into Victoria's Secret, at the Wyoming Valley Mall, in Wilkes-Barre Township, and ran out the door with $ 3200 worth of cheeky style panties.

It should be noted that this same store was hit by two major bra thefts in the past year.

Even though there's a police sub station in the mall, mall security is tough.  There are dozens of ways in and out.  It's easy to blend in with the crowd.  Apparently, lingerie is easy to conceal.

Having said all that, Victoria's Secret really has to take a long and hard look at its store's layouts and displays.  There have been three major thefts here.  It has to be doing something seriously wrong.

So, how do you report things like this?  It fell in to my lap Tuesday morning.  We had the surveillance video.  We had reaction from shoppers.

I played it straight.  There is a little humor here, but the bottom line is this is a crime, and I've seen far too many anchors and reporters get in trouble by ill advised and conceived attempts at humor.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Andy's Angles: Sunrise

There is no great story behind today's photo.  I was playing with one of my cameras between live shots at the Wyoming Valley Mall Tuesday morning.  A shower had just passed.  There was still some clear sky to the east.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Andy's Angles: Back at the Bridge

I was on a promo shoot a couple of weeks ago.  We were in the neighborhood, so we just had to stop at the Tunkhannock Viaduct, also known as the Nicholson Bridge.

The shot is from upstream.  A farmer's field and equipment is in the foreground.  A slightly fogged in bridge is at the top.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Media Friday

I've gone back and forth over this one since the scandal broke earlier this year.  NBC anchor Brian Williams was suspended for six months for exaggerating his role in several stories.  It could be around a dozen.

My first reaction was to fire him.  Then, forgiveness set in.  He paid his penalty.  I'm still vacillating.  Williams has been at NBC for 22 years and is a solid performer.  On the other hand, someone in a lesser position would have been canned immediately.  It's good to have friends at the top.

I can't say I was a BriWi fan.  An independent study showed he talked the most of the evening news anchors.  He had the most face time.  Red flag!  Then, a Vanity Fair story came out, saying Williams was not a fan of hard and serious news.  Red flag!  However, people like him, and Brian Williams is an effective communicator.

A compromise has been reached.  Williams will have a job at NBC when the suspension is over.  He will be the face of MSNBC, which is allegedly drifting back toward hard news.

Strangely enough, CNN was the first to report this.  CNN is the network that says it's still doing real and live news, just as it eliminated most of its live overnight broadcast.

Lester Holt gets the NBC Nightly News anchor spot, permanently, or as permanent as it can be in the TV business.  Holt becomes the first African American to be solo anchor on a weeknight network news broadcast.  ABC had Max Robinson back in the late 70's, but he was one of three World News Tonight anchors.

Ed Bradley used to do the late Sunday night news on CBS, back before that broadcast was discontinued.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching old election nights on YouTube.  I've been watching a lot of November 2000.  Ed Bradley was welded to Dan Rather's side for the marathon coverage.  He was smooth, comfortable and knowledgeable.  Bradley should have been the first African American weeknight anchor.  He had the credentials-- from Vietnam to Washington, and every place in between.  Unfortunately, Cronkite and Rather were firmly planted in the chair during Bradley's time, and it was not to be.  When Rather replaced Cronkite, Bradley went from the CBS Reports documentary series, to 60 Minutes, where the tradition of excellence continued.

Ed Bradley was in Wilkes-Barre back in the 80's.  He spoke at the F.M. Kirby Center as part of a lecture series.  I'll be honest with you.  I didn't have a good time.  I thought Bradley was full of himself, but he did have an interesting tale or two.  There was one moment I particularly enjoyed.   Bradley told the story of his first time in a radio station, back in Philadelphia.  He was mesmerized by the lights,  and the dials,and the meters.  One microphone.  One broadcaster.  Thousands listening.   He got it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vote 16

I was wrong.

I didn't think Donald Trump would get in to the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  He talks a good game, excuse me, a great game, but when it's time to step up, Trump has always been absent.  I think he's always been reluctant to place all his financial cards on the table, required for a presidential run.

It's different this time around.  I suspect Trump has research showing the nomination is within his grasp.  That speech Tuesday morning was impressive.  Trump touched on all the  issues ticking off Americans these days-- the economy, immigration, Mexico, North Korea, China, Isis, Iran, the middle east, Detroit, ObamaCare...  He really came out swinging.

Republicans nominated another rich guy in 2012, and that one went down in flames.  Mitt Romney should have won that election.  The economy was a mess.  Obama was wounded.  Romney came off as a wealthy man who didn't care about the poor and the middle class.  Trump seemed to care, and that could take him a long way.

As of this writing, there are a dozen declared candidates.  At least four others will soon get in.  There are some strong resumes and personalities.

The primary season will be extra interesting.  Republicans have a habit of giving the nomination to people who are un-electable in the general election.  Let's take a look at the candidates during my lifetime.

1964:  Bary Goldwater, a conservative in increasingly liberal country.  The pendulum swung the other way after the disastrous Jimmy Carter years, and Ronald Reagas was elected in 1980,

1976:  Gerald Ford was a decent chap.  He couldn't get inflation under control.  The economy was going south, and a lot of people were still upset over the Nixon pardon.

1992:  George H. W. Bush, another decent chap, but he was perceived as an insulated leader who lost touch with the middle class.

2008:  John McCain-- a great American, but he came across as a cranky old man whose solution to everything was saying "no."

2012:  Mitt Romney-- see above.

There are many in the current Republican field who can get the nomination, but they'll fail horribly in the general election.    There are some good candidates, too.

I'm not picking on the Republicans here.  The Democrats have had their share of failures.  As far as 2016 goes, it looks like Clinton has it wrapped up before the votes are cast, in spite of all her negatives.  I have a feeling the others in the race are simply waiting for Clinton to self destruct, or they're just trying to get name recognition for the second spot on the ticket.

Politics is many things.  It is never boring.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

17 @ 16

Where has the time gone?  Today is my 17th anniversary at WNEP.

As I was telling a much younger co-worker the other day, I still enjoy getting up in the morning (or late at night) and turning on the computer to learn something I didn't know the day before.  I still enjoy getting my hands on a story and thinking about the best way to pass along the information to you.  I still enjoy being the first to know things.  There's a lot of sadness in this job, but it is never boring.

The station and the business have changed a lot in the last 17 years.  Technology moves at an amazingly fast pace.  I'm lucky that there are people here to guide me along.  It's also nice to work at a place with so many seasoned broadcasters and journalists.  You're only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

There are times I miss my radio days, and the people I separated from at other TV stations.  I'm still in touch with many, and I'm thankful for that.

It's been a good ride, and I have faith it will continue to be a very long and varied adventure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cabled In

A utility should be like a baseball umpire.  You don't notice it, unless it's bad.

Except for the price, my electric company, gas company, water company, and phone company are trouble free.

I'm not a fan of my cell phone company.  It's way too expensive, and a trip to the store is a nightmare.  They constantly try to sell me things I don't need and don't want.  I'd switch, but friends say they're all the same.

That brings us to cable.  Yes, it's expensive.  I could do without a lot of the TV channels.  The internet component is fast, albeit pricey.  It rarely goes out.

One of my cable boxes died late Friday night, just before work.  I gave it another look Saturday morning.  Unplugged.  Rebooted.  Connections checked.

I called customer service.  Luckily, I got someone in the USA who speaks the same language.  She put me through the same paces.  Still nothing.

My customer service rep, sitting in an office in York, PA suggested a service call, saying cable boxes rarely go bad.  I declined.  The cable box was running hot.  My wiring was new, and it was a relatively recent installation.  I had a strong feeling the box was the culprit.

From there, it was a trip to the Mall at Steamtown.  The cable company has an office there, but only for the next month.  Like most businesses, it's abandoning the mall.  The new location. I'm told, is somewhere near Target in Dickson City.

I breezed in to the mall parking deck around 10:15.  There was no problem finding a space.  It's one of the advantages of a 75 per cent empty mall.

Three people were on duty at the cable office.  The wait in line was short.  I dropped off the old box, got a new one, and headed home to hook it up.

It's easy.  connect the cables and power cord.  Power it up.  You can activate over the phone or on line.  I went on line.  No human contact.  The box came to life and I'm back in business.


As for the Mall at Steamtown, it just makes me sad.  I remember the days when it was packed. Businesses wanted in, even if it meant high rents and long leases.  It was THE place to be.

That didn't last long.  America's love affair with malls is over.  Most cities have one good one.  Only one.  No room for another.  Outdoor "lifestyle" centers are the new hot thing.

The Mall at Steamtown is due to be auctioned off in less than week.  Opening bid is $ 700,000.  Department store owner Al Boscov says his company will place a bid, and he hopes to see it return to the old days.  Many feel that's a waste of time.  See paragraph above.

There are ideas to transform the mall into something different.  Right now, it's just ideas.  There is no money behind them.  A lot of what I read is unrealistic and overly expensive.  Talk is cheap.  Fixing a mall isn't.

It's clear things cannot continue as they are.  The mall is empty.  The parking decks need work.  I saw some leaky pipes down there Saturday morning.  I don't know if Boscov can pull a rabbit out of his hat and turn back the clock to 1993.  The Chamber of Commerce thinks retail here is dead.

Apartments, government offices, professional offices?  I just don't know.

At this point, no one does.  At least, with my new cable box, I can watch it unfold on TV.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thoughts from the Saddle

Why do they call a bicycle seat a saddle, and why do they make them so darned uncomfortable?  I should have had it swapped out when my bike was in the shop for a tune up back in April.  I should get a wrench and do it myself.

Regular readers know I like to ride in the pre dawn hours, and 50 degrees is my cut off point.  If it's colder than 50, the bike stays locked up.  There was a minor delay this year caused by a paving project in my little town.  As it stands now, only one street on my circuit is ripped up, and that's for a sewer replacement project.  Looks like they're making some progress, and I hope they're done soon.

CBS News did a report this week on a product being tested in England.  It's a clear spray that makes everything it touches reflective.  You can spray it on the bike.  You can spray it on your clothes.  It washes out.  It's supposed to be available in the U.S. this fall, and it should cost $5 a can.  I'd be interested in helping Kurt Aaron do a "Does it Really Work?"  Color me skeptical.  The CBS report showed it really does work.  Me?  I wear a reflective vest, like the one construction workers use.  I think I got it for $5 on E-Bay.  It works great.

I don't wear ear buds.  I don't listen to music while I'm pedaling.  It's a safety issue.  I like to hear what's going on around me.  It also gives me some think time.  For the most part, the town is very quiet before dawn.  I've written more than a few blogs in my head, on a bike, before getting them in writing, in front of a keyboard.

I've had my bike since 2012, and things seem a little different this year.  There are fewer stray cats and skunks on my route.  However, there are more bunnies and raccoons.   I came around a corner on a recent morning, startling a raccoon who was digging in a trash can.  I should say he startled me, or it was most likely mutual.  It scared the wits out of me.  I quickly pedaled away, while I let the masked bandit scrounge up breakfast.

Something I noticed from day one,  and it's still true in my fourth summer of riding.  You'd be amazed at the number of people doing laundry in the wee hours of the morning.  I think I've inhaled every brand of drier sheet in the last four years.

Parts of my route are freshly paved.  Other parts, not so much.  Whether the pavement be new or old, you can feel every variation, every rut, every flaw, every bump.

I really have to talk with Snedeker about this...  my route has some minor changes in elevation, and there are mornings when you can really feel the difference in temperature.  I'm not biking through the Alps-- just a little town in the valley, and there are places where you can feel the change.

Biking is a great activity.  My only regret is not doing it sooner.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Andy's Angles: Country Church

Regular readers know I love old country churches.  This one is in the middle of Pleasant Mount, in Wayne County.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Andy's Angles: History

Tomorrow is Flag Day, so I thought I'd drop a little bit of history on you today.

This is what you find in the middle of Pleaseant Mount in Wayne County.  We live in a great area.  There's something interesting everywhere you look.
Have a great weekend, and please remember what tomorrow is all about.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Class Trip

I was at JM Hill Elementary in East Stroudsburg Monday morning for a horribly sad story, the death of a kindergarten student.

While I was there, I learned the fourth grade class was assembling for a field trip to Harrisburg.  I congratulated some teachers and parents on their choice.  It's never too young to start learning about government.  You have no idea how many young people I encounter who have no idea how the system works.  Perhaps the kids can get a taste for how bloated, inefficient, wasteful and excessive things are in Harrisburg and vote for change down the road.

I wish I had opportunities like that when I was a kid.  My dad had several construction vehicles way back when, and we'd occasionally drive to Harrisburg for titles, tags, etc.  One stop shopping.  Do it at once, in person.  We'd always make time for a walk through the capitol building.  I remembering being awed decades ago.  You know what, I'm still in awe when I walk in to that building.  A vivid memory involves Gov. Milton Shapp.  He was walking out of an office when my dad and I were in a hall.  He took a moment to say hi, ask where we were from, and shake hands.  I remember his was enormous and hairy.

My class trips?  Few and far between.  I remember the Everhart Museum in elementary school.  It might have been third grade.  Nay Aug Park in sixth, and this was the time Nay Aug actually had things to do, in the form of rides.  I had a great time.  Always loved Nay Aug.  Now, it's an empty zoo, a treehouse, a trail and an almost inaccessible bridge over a brook.

In junior high, there wasn't much.  I do remember a trip to Tarrytown, NY in eighth or ninth grade.  I passed.

Senior high wasn't much better.  The only one I really think was offered was a senior year class trip to Disney World.  As they used to say on Hollywood Squares in the 60's, "El Paso."   I didn't want to spend big money for four days in Florida with a bunch of people I didn't like.  Yes, there were a few exceptions.

The point is, get the kids to places where they will have fun and learn-- Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Washington, even your local courthouse.  If the school won't do it, do it yourself.  Society will thank you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Law & Order

Like most of America, I'm fascinated by the upstate NY prison escape last weekend.  How did they do it?  It's clear the escapees had power tools and some help.  First, let's hope they're captured quickly and without incident.  Second, the details are bound to be interesting.  The one has book and movie written all over it, but let's not diminish the horrible crimes committed by these men.

A McKinney, TX police officer has been fired for unduly roughing up a teen at an out of control pool party.  Here we go again.  The vast majority of American police officers do a great job, but it only takes a few to mar the reputation of the many.  Believe me, I'm a broadcaster.  I know.  My big fear-- police, in general, have lost a lot of respect, and I don't know if they will ever get it back.

A six year old girl died in a Monroe County car crash over the weekend.  As of this writing, there is much we do now know, but here is the information we have.  The child was not properly belted.  Whether her mother put her in the booster seat that way, or if the child moved the belt herself is still under investigation.  We don't know why the driver crossed lanes of Route 209.  What if it's a case of distracted driving?  Will the district attorney and police file charges, or will they decide the mother, who lost a child, has suffered enough?  What about the injured driver of the other car?  What about justice for her?  Civil suit?  This case presents a ton of interesting issues, and we'll be keeping an eye on it.

According to our friends at the Times~Leader, there are some questions over the timing of a blood sample draw and Miranda warnings in the investigation of a deadly hit and run over the weekend.   It could affect the severity of the charges filed against the driver.  If there's a good reason for the delay, I can't wait to hear it.  I know there are procedures and the letter of the law to be followed.  That's great.  Laws are written for our protection, but there has to be a balance between speed, efficiency, and proper administration of the start of due process.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

First Person: Tuesday, Tuesday

Well, I can sat my Tuesday was considerable less sad than my Monday.

My assignment for Newswatch 16 This Morning yesterday was try to make some sense out of a Wilkes-Barre Area school board meeting.  Long story short:  the board seems to be favoring a plan to close Meyers high school and build a new school on the Coughlin site.

It is a time like this where I envy my newspaper friends.  They have the space to tell the story.  It's a tough one to get in to a minute and 15 seconds.

I couldn't believe the people who think two schools will be more crowded than three.  Thestate has formulas when it comes to new buildings.  It would make sure the structures could hold all the district's students.  I guess people have little faith in the state, and I can't really blame them.

Remember, this is the future-- your kids' education.  Do it right.

After that, it was a four county spree to record some promos.  This might be a little too "inside baseball" but I'll try to explain it anyway.  Recording promos is part of our job, and most reporters do it when they have a moment between stories.  For the most part, reporter and photographer shifts at WNEP are synced up.  Not me.  It is not uncommon for me to work with two, and sometimes even three photographers during my work day.  The first half of my shift is pre dawn-- not the greatest promo time.  The rest of the day, I'm running from assignment to assignment, banging out a script for our noon broadcast, and often live at 12.

Well, my boss decided I was behind in my promos, and  I was teamed up with a photographer specifically to get the job done.  We hit six locations in four hours, and met several nice people along the way.

Proud to serve!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

First Person: Monday, Monday

Let me tell you about my Monday.

My assignment was to go to an elementary school and learn more about the death of a kindergarten student over the weekend.  It was so sad.  The child was killed in a crash.  She wasn't properly belted.  At this point, we don't know if it was negligence or if the little girl moved the belt herself.

The superintendent of schools wasn't happy to see us.  I can't say I was surprised.

I don't relish stories like this, but we need to show this child was a young girl, more than a statistic.  It was interesting to see how the school, parents and friends were handling this.  There are lessons to be learned.

We talked with one of the child's friends, with permission from his mother.  The principal was exceptionally kind and professional.  We respected her boundaries.

We moved our truck out of the parking lot when we were asked to leave.

I have a feeling the superintendent was painting our crew with the same broad brush-- uncaring, unfeeling media jackals.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our story had the facts, plus the emotions.  It was fair.  It was sensitive,  and my heart goes out to the family.

The other big Monday story didn't involve me, but it's fascinating nonetheless.  Governor Wolf withdrew the nomination of his State Police Commissioner nominee, Marcus Brown.  Brown caught some flack for wearing the PSP uniform, even though he did not graduate from the academy.  I had a feeling the governor knew the nomination would go down in flames in the general assembly, so he wanted to avoid the embarrassment.

The state needs a new budget by the end of the month, and Wolf appears to be saving his ammunition for that.  He doesn't need a PSP problem.

I read where there's a chance Brown could be renominated.  It appears Wolf is going in another direction, but some believe Wolf was just trying to buy more time.  Brown remains in charge until the governor figures out a plan.

Despite the withdraws, the senate voted on Brown anyway.  He lost.

The names change in Harrisburg, but the song remains the same.

Monday, June 8, 2015

How Did I Get Here?

I needed a blog topic today, and one fell right in to my lap.

WNEP received a feedback comment yesterday.  It was someone trying to get in touch me to ask about Hyman Markowitz.  The message was from a relative.

The comment was forwarded to me, and I responded with my e-mail.  To make a long story short, the relative obviously came across a blog I wrote about Markowitz in 2008.  The family ran a downtown Scranton newsstand for a long time.  It was forced to move because the old building at Wyoming and Linden was sold and torn down.  It found a new home, about a block away, on Linden, near the intersection with Penn.  The blog mentioned how Hyman Markowitz, who often worked at the newsstand, was my freshman year civics teacher.

I've read a lot of broadcaster/journalist biographies and auto biographies.  Most mention an influential teacher or two.  I was interested in broadcasting and news by the time my freshman year rolled around, and Hyman Markowitz came in to my life, but here is how he fits in to the puzzle.

Politics and government is a big part of what I do.  Hyman Markowitz gave me the foundation.  By the time our paths crossed, he was getting close to retirement.  There were days Mr. Markowitz seemed a little tired.  There is a difference between tired and lazy, a word I often use to describe some of his contemporaries.  There was still an interest in the subject matter, and still a desire, a strong desire to get it in to my head and the heads of my classmates.

How did Mr. Markowitz accomplish that?  Just by making civics, politics, and government as simple and as entertaining as possible.  It helped because my interest was there.  Mr. Markowitz made it so easy to understand.

I remember my early days as a radio pup, struggling to learn the business, how to navigate a courthouse, and the ins-and-outs of politics and elections.  Luckily, thankfully, I had a base-- Mr. Markowitz's base.

He passed away in 1995.  82 years old.

I'm sorry our paths rarely crossed after high school and college graduation, and after I started in the business.  I really needed to say "thank you."

As of this writing, Mr. Markowitz's relative has not contacted me.  When we do touch base, the relative will know Hyman Markowitz had a positive impact on so many lives.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Andy's Angles: Fore!

Above, a lovely golf course in the Conyngham Valley, as seen from the Top of the 80's.  The photo was taken late last month.

Below, the same area, covered in snow, in Late January-- golf season, just a distant dream.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Andy's Angles: Then and Now

I spend a lot of time at Top of the 80's just outside of Hazleton.  I haven't eaten there in a long time, but it's a great place to feed back video.

Above, a scene from a snowy morning in late January.  I was back in late May.  To say the least, the view was much different.  You can probably guess the one I like more.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Scrapple

Jenners and Karsashians:  Enough already!

Ronald Reagan passed away 11 years ago today.  I was engaging in one of my favorite activities yesterday, watching old network TV election returns on YouTube.  My year of choice happened to be 1980, the year Reagan soundly defeated Jimmy Carter.  I was always a Cronkite guy, and 80 was the last year Cronkite headed CBS TV's coverage.  As always, solid as a rock, with an outstanding team around him.  However, ABC's presentation and graphics were far superior to anything else out there.  Frank Reynolds and Ted Koppel anchored.

An anniversary I missed a couple of weeks ago-- former governor Bob Casey passed 15 years ago May 30th.  I was outside St. Peter's Cathedral during the service. A who's who of Pennsylvania politics attended.  It was a fascinating day.  Even if you didn't agree with Casey's views, he was a man of conviction-- even if he got him in to trouble with his own party.

Tomorrow is the 71st anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.  As I've said here many times in the past, I never could figure out why the D Day anniversary isn't a bigger deal in this country.

Some Late Show with Stephen Colbert stuff has been popping up on the internet, and it's mildly amusing.  The logo is disappointing, but I don't know if that's CBS's final choice.  Now that Letterman is gone, I've been sampling the other stuff on at 11:35 PM.  My choice has become radio.

The rash of major interstate crashes here in our area is alarming.  Clearly, our roads aren't built for that much traffic.  It will take decades for expansions.  The only answer I see right now is some serious, really serious, speed enforcement.

I really don't care if American Pharaoh wins the Belmont Stakes, and therefore, the Triple Crown, tomorrow.  There is only one horse:  Secretariat.

I like it on the cool side, but this week was a bit much.  A sign summer is really here:  the Go Joe XVIII promos have started.  I am in awe of Joe's cycling abilities.

The FIFA scandal shows soccer/football is a bigger cesspool than big college sports.

AM 1640 in the Scranton area is still dead.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Burger Time

I had an extra day off this week, and the morning was devoted to errands.  When everything was said and done, it was close to noon and I was hungry.

My treat was a fast food hamburger and fries.  I hadn't done that in a while and I was having a craving for one "my way."  No mayonnaise.

Anyway, I had ordered and paid, and was waiting for my items to come out of the grease and the microwave.  The woman in line behind me had a simple order:  a bun.  She explained to the register worker, and then the manager, that she brought tuna from home for lunch but neglected to bring a roll.

Forget that there's a mini mart across the street that sells bread, and a supermarket with a nice bakery just a mile away.  She wanted a roll from the fast food joint.  The woman was nicely dressed, and she had a handful of cash.  She could have afforded more.

Yes, they sold her one.  I didn't hear the price.  I was busy filling my drink cup at the time.

Just when you thought you'd seen it all...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

First Person: Morris

I will admit that parts of my memory elude me, while other images are permanently burned in to my brain.  Newswatch 16 photographer Mike Erat and I were Tweeting back and forth about this over the weekend.  You are owed "the rest of the story."

Morris Wilkins died last week.  Some say he was 89.  Others put his age at 90.  Wilkins co-founded Cove Haven Resort, and is the man responsible for heart shaped bath tubs and seven foot tall champagne glass bath tubs.

 Mike and I were sent to Cove Haven to do a story on Valentine's Day of 2000.  Morris Wilkins was retiring.  He was 74 at the time.

And of course, the part I will never forget.  Wilkins was getting up there in years.  He donned a swimsuit and climbed into one of those tall champagne glass bath tubs.  The swim trunks, obviously, got wet.  They were loose.  They slipped down over Wilkins' backside.  Quite a bit of flesh was exposed.  Keep in mind those champagne glass tubs are crystal clear.

We're in the TV business.  We need pictures, and a lot of what we saw couldn't be aired.  My job is to write to the video, and our video was compromised.  Mike used some creative angles.  We got our story, and Morris Wilkins was a great sport about the whole thing.

Morris Wilkins boosted our area's economy, and he helped put the Poconos on the map as a honeymoon destination.  So many people had so much fun in his creations.  We all owe him a huge "thank you."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

About the Cover

Except for limited holidays, I try to avoid things religious on the blog.  It's not a subject that's in my wheelhouse.

I was driving around the other morning, camera at the ready, looking for inspiration and a June blog header.
I was prowling around the Elmhurst area of Lackawanna County when I spotted this.  As many of you know, I'm fond ot cupolas, and steeples, and clock towers and spires, and things that rise high into the air.  It was worth violating my religion guideline.
I was going to write a few paragraphs on what this place is all about, but it's best to go right to the source.  www.fssp.com

It's a beautiful building, and we're lucky to have it in our area.

Monday, June 1, 2015


CNN turns 35 today.

It's amazing to think about all the people alive today who don't know a world without CNN.

It was a big deal back in the day.  It was so big, ABC's Nightline devoted a segment to it, including an interview with founder and then-owner Ted Turner.

I was about to enter my sophomore year in college when CNN came around, but my poor excuse for a cable company didn't carry it at the time.  When CNN finally did get a channel, I was floored.  News.  All the time.  All day.  All night.  Back then, it really was news.  Turner wanted the news to be the star.  How I wish that was still the case.

CNN can still be solid during major events.  The rest of the time, it's anchors who think they are bigger than the news.  Plus pointless talk and endless opinion.

I'll give CNN credit for airing some very good documentaries, even though some have been produced elsewhere.  The Sixties was outstanding, and I'm hoping for the same from The Seventies later this month.

CNN put together a show about itself for the anniversary.  It was called Breaking News, and you can still find it if your cable system has an "on demand" feature.  The documentary was on the events CNN covered, and not how the network came to be.  The early days of CNN is a fascinating story.  A few books have been written about it, and you really should do a search.  Meager resources.  Starting from nothing.  Failure predicted.  Ted Turner proved them wrong.

I long for the days when you could get cable news around the clock, but those days are never coming back.  CNN wants to be number one, and serious news has fallen by the wayside.

There are options now-- the internet.  CBS has a very good digital network called CBSN.  ABC has had on-and-off attempts.  I'd really like to see it make a push.

Happy birthday, CNN.  Bring back the news.