Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday Scrapple

A while back, I noted the power of suggestion, especially when it comes to food.  I didn't crave an overnight doughnut-- until I wrote that most Dunkin' Donuts shops are now closed in the early morning hours.  However, there is a fantastic substitute.  Sheetz makes a chocolate iced, peanut butter filled delight that is as good, if not better, than anything out there.

Those in "the business" look at election nights a little differently than most.  Yes, I'll watch for the numbers next week.  I'll also be looking at sets and graphics.  FOX News Channel is scheduled to debut a whiz bang set.  I saw some photos.  It's spectacular.

Having said all that, it all comes down to the people.  While I was on vacation, I actually watched a few hours of ABC's 1996 election night coverage.  It was a first look for me.  In 1996, I was in Clarks Summit, covering Joe McDade's last run for congress.  ABC's set was nice.  Graphics were average.  What set ABC apart was the outstanding cast it has assembled-- Peter Jennings, David Brinkley, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, George Will, James Carville, Lynn Sherr, Hal Bruno, Jeff Greenfield...  And that was just the studio.  Brit Hume covered Clinton in Little Rock.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Painting airplane icons on the Avoca roundabout lanes leading to the airport is a great idea, but isn't it sad that the interchange is so mind numbingly designed that we need the icons in the first place.

A recent Johnny Carson show on WNEP2 featured George Carlin and Richard Pryor.  Wow!  Great television.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez had alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of his fatal boat crash.  I can't get the picture of his pregnant girlfriend out of my mind.

Massachusetts has gone to a cash-less turnpike toll system.  Amazing technology.  Driver-less vehicles still concern me.

It still disgusts me that Major League Baseball can't help the Athletics get in to a new stadium somewhere.

I heard a network radio newscaster do a piece on a "violent explosion" the other day.  Is there any other kind of explosion?  And, if a non violent explosion existed, would we cover it?

I like Tom Hanks, but doesn't it seem like he's making the same movies over and over again?

Why do people get so upset over ties in the NFL?  They're rare and it's not a big deal.

Happy Halloween!  I can't believe how much the season has taken off.  Houses decorated, adult parties, etc.  It all seems a bit much.  It's a day for the kids.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Andy's Angles: Head in the Clouds

Even though they have been there for years, the Waymart windmills still fascinate me.

The weather was absolutely lousy during a visit a few days ago.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Andy's Angles: Leaf Peeping

I had bad luck with leaf peeping this year.

When the weather was nice, I didn't have the time.  When the clouds and rain moved in, I had some free moments.

I took this one the other day from the industrial/office park on Jessup mountain, overlooking the valley.  That's the Casey Highway below, the view is off to the northeast.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Back to Work

My last vacation week of 2016 is in its final hours.  It was a fairly productive eleven days, but it's time to get back to work.

The last two months of the year usually fly by.  We have a presidential election, followed by the holidays.  Snow is a possibility.

While I will miss sleeping like a normal human, I do have the itch to get back to the office.  Some of my time off was devoted to boning up on the election and first drafting some Election Day previews.  It's time to put all that research to good use.

I do still have a few scattered days off to use up before the calendar page turns.  There are also a couple of days to use in January.  It's a big help.  January is a long, dark, cold, and often snowy month.  Having a couple of days off helps the month go by a little faster.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sports Scrapple

I don't think I have ever cared less about a World Series.  I don't like the teams, and I haven't bought in to that "Wouldn't it be great if the Cubs finally win a World Series?" mania.

NFL ratings are still down, and the experts are still scratching their heads.  I don't think it's any one factor.  Culprits include injured and out of action stars, bad games, over saturation, distraction by politics, national anthem protests...

NBC's Al Michaels has done it again.  In an HBO interview, he peed all over Thursday Night Football.  Michaels will call the second half of the package this season.  His candor was refreshing, but on the other hand, calling football games is a sweet gig.  It's made him a millionaire, many times over.  Perhaps being a millionaire has given Michaels the cushion to speak his mind.  Just call the games, cash the check, and shut up.

Dan Patrick interviewed the retired and 88 year old Keith Jackson on the radio the other day.  The man was the voice of autumn Saturday afternoons for decades, and it was good to hear him again.

I still cringe when I see Pete Rose on the FOX Sports baseball pre and post game shows.

The Giants played the Rams in London Sunday morning.  Why?

I haven't seen much of the FOX, ESPN, and CBS NFL pre game shows this season, and I don't feel as if I've missed anything.

The MLB Network and NFL Network late night wrap up shows are really very good, MLB Network especially.

ESPN has extended the contracts of Pardon the Interruption hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.  PTI is the most entertaining studio show on the network.

DON Imus is on a lot of all sports stations.  His contract has been extended by his syndicator.   I looked at the Imus network station line up.  It's mostly struggling low powered AM stations.  WABC is a technical powerhouse, but it has no ratings.  I've often said, picking up Imus is proof a program director is out of ideas.  This has nothing to do with age.  Imus is 76.  Unfortunately, he hasn't been funny or interesting in years.

Bob Raissman in the New York Daily News had a great idea Sunday.  The Baseball Hall of Fame should honor directors as well as announcers.  Directors can make or break a broadcast, and it's time they get some recognition.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Kathleen Kane + Bias Update

Let's try to look at the Kathleen Kane saga piece by piece.

Pennsylvania voters elected a low profile Lackawanna County assistant district attorney four years ago.  Most of her job was to be in court and take pleas.  Kane and her staff ran a solid and well financed campaign, but you cannot overlook the fact that an inexperienced person was sent to be the top law enforcement officer in the state.

I don't know who said it first, but it's a great line:  "If experience means so much, who would we have sent to the moon?"

Intelligence and maturity can overcome inexperience.  You may draw your own conclusions.

Kane was found guilty of leaking secret grand jury information to damage an opponent.  She then lied to cover it up.

Justice is supposed to be blind.  Everyone gets treated the same.  It's the foundation of the justice system.  Still, I believe there are people out there who should be held to a higher standard.  Kathleen Kane should have known better.

I feel sorry for her children, but there is always collateral damage in a sentencing.  Perhaps, if the consequences were understood sooner, this never would have happened.

A Montgomery County judge sentenced Kane to 10 to 23 months in jail.  The judge called Kane's actions "the ultimate assault on the judiciary."  Ten months seems a bit low for an "ultimate assault," but that's the way things often go.  Anything less than jail time would have affirmed the belief that there are two justice systems-- one for the rich and powerful, and another for the rest of us.

So, we have a life in ruins, a family devastated, a career destroyed, plus all the damage from the people Kathleen Kane hurt along the way.  As I always ask in cases like this:  "Was it worth it?"

Last week, in this space, I yammered on about how the broadcast networks seem to be bias-free in this year's presidential election campaign.  I wrote too soon.

I am really tempted to name the network and the reporter...  but she scowled as she talked about Donald Trump's plans for the day, but smiled broadly when she listed the Clinton itinerary.  Gee, I wonder who she's voting for next month?

You see, bias doesn't have to be verbal.  Whether or not the big grin was deliberate is irrelevant.   The reporter let her feelings show, and it was totally inappropriate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


When there is no real election news on any given day, the networks usually trot out a poll to make a little news of their own, generate a little heat.

For a blog entry last week, I pondered the presidential elections I've covered, albeit from a distance.

I decided to expand that to presidential elections during my lifetime for this blog entry.

Most have been like Super Bowls:  noncompetitive.

Let's examine the evidence.

1960:  Kennedy vs Nixon.  This one was a nail biter.

1964:  Johnson over Goldwater in a walk.

1968:  Nixon barely defeats Humphrey.

1972:  Nixon glides over McGovern.

1976:  Carter defeats Ford in a squeaker.

1980:  Reagan romps over Carter.  The networks called this one at 8:15 PM.

1984:  Another Reagan romp.  The victim this time is Walter Mondale.

1988:  Bush gets 426 electoral votes to Dukakis' 111.

1992:  Bill Clinton won 100 more electoral votes than needed.  George Bush fails to win reelection.

1996:  Clinton over Bob Dole.  It wasn't close.

2000:  One of the few exceptions.  Bush wins just five more electoral votes than Al Gore.

2004:  Bush won the vast majority of States, but John Kerry had the big ones.  This was another close one.

2008:  Barack Obama had a fairly easy time defeating John McCain.

2012:  Obama and Mitt Romney had roughly the same number of states, but once again, the Democrat had the big ones.  Obama wins again.

2016:  According to most polls, this one is breaking Hillary Clinton's way, but this has been an exceptionally unusual year.  You never know.  Two weeks until election day.

Monday, October 24, 2016

66 Years

It was a fixture along George Street in Throop since before I was born.

Butash Pharmacy.

To those who never grew with a place like this within walking distance of home, I am very sorry.  You knew them.  They knew you.  It was a small store, but it everything you wanted or needed, including a tiny post office branch.

I do not associate Butash Pharmacy with being sick, but rather, being well.  Let me explain.  Of course, it was the place to get all your prescriptions and over the counter medicines.  There was another part of the store.  The original location featured a freezer to the left of the front door as soon as you walked in.  Popsicles.  They always had my favorite, vanilla.  Root beer was a close second.  Most summer days featured a short bike ride up the street to grab something cold.

Fire destroyed the original location in 1988.  I was working at WARM at the time.  One of the hardest things I ever had to do was watch the building burn, and report it on the radio.  I was thrilled when the pharmacy reopened and moved across the street, and I put that on the radio, too.

The owners decided the time has come.  The store closed Saturday.  Price Chopper has the prescription business.

66 years of service.

I have to admit, it's been a while since I was here.  When you're mobile and work odd hours, it's tough to bypass the big chains.  I do know a few people in the old neighborhood who are heartbroken about this.  I understand.  A store closes, and it's like losing a friend.

I stopped by Saturday, just before the doors were locked for the last time.  We talked about the way things used to be.  Throop had dress factories, and the workers always stopped by for what they needed.  Throop used to have several doctors.  Patients would just walk down the block or up the street to get prescriptions filled.  Most of the doctors are gone, and now, so is Butash Pharmacy.

I should point out the Butash family helped in community events, sponsored a softball team, etc.  They knew loyalty is a two way street, just like George Street, which now has a big hole right in the middle.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Andy's Agnles: Gone

There used to be a Sears here, at the Viewmont Mall.  Sears was in Scranton.  The rest of the mall is in Dickson City.  This is the view from the front.  The remaining mall is off to the left.  It was leveled this week.

Sears closed this store a few months ago.  A couple of sporting goods/outdoors stores are going up in its place.  There will be a third store, yet to be announced.

I was sad, a little.  Sears was the first of the Viewmont stores to open, and back in the day, the mall was cool.
Above is the view from the back.  I vividly remember this is where I was the night LBJ died in 1973.  My mom and I were in the car, waiting for my father to return with a Sears purchase.  When he got back in the car, he said he just saw on a TV in the appliance department that Johnson had passed away.

There are still other Sears stores out there, but for how long?  Most of the experts feel Seers has bungled itself into retail irrelevancy. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Andy's Angles: Memorial

Weathered and impressive...  this monument to soldiers and sailors can be found along Main Street in Plymouth.

Friday, October 21, 2016


It's sleeping Homer's final appearance of 2016, and you know what that means:  I'm using up my last vacation week of the year.

You've heard it before-- no major plans, other than a little photography, bike riding, gym visits, KMart, a vacation beard and a lot of sleep.

There's always some sadness associated with using my last vacation week of the year.  It means winter is coming.  On the bright side, a new year is only two and a half months away.  That brings with it a fresh bank of vacation weeks.

I still have a few scattered single days off before the end of 2016.

The weekend morning broadcasts are in the very capable hands of Stacy Lange.

I'll see you soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Yes and No

The issue crops up every four years, but it's been kicked up a notch this year.  Media bias.

Is the media biased?  No doubt.

ABC, CBS, and NBC seem to play it down the middle.  MSNBC and CNN lean left.  FOX News Channel goes right.  I should point out that most of the daytime reporting is solid.  The directions change during the prime time interview and opinion shows.  That's OK.  You know where Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews fall.  The same goes for Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

Now that we've established that, let's talk about personal experience.  This is my tenth presidential election.  No one at any radio or tv station where I have ever worked has suggested I slant my reporting.

There are some stories I should pass along.

I got my start at WARM.  During my stay, it was owned by a very conservative family based in York, PA.  Before the 1988 election, upper management had placed a memo on the bulletin board (this was long before email), telling its employees how important it was that the country remain in Republican hands.  There were no threats.  Management simply told us why it felt we should vote for George H.W. Bush.  They didn't poke their nose in to the news department.  After the Bush victory, we each received a commemorative plate.  The people who owned the radio station also controlled Pfaltzgraff.  It was a really nice plate, and I'm sure I still have it somewhere.

When I moved in to television, our general manager, just before every election, told us what candidates spent the most money.  It was a playful suggestion that those candidates should be rewarded with our votes.  After all, political dollars kept the lights on.  It was a joke more than anything else.  I voted with my heart and head, and who spent the most money with the station really didn't matter much to me.  Again, there was never a suggestion or threat that the big spenders receive more and favorable coverage.

During my stay at WNEP, we've been under three owners, and I've worked for three general managers.  Five news directors.  One interim news director.  Four executive producers.  Countless producers.  All have bent over backwards to make sure our reporting is fair and accurate.

My advice to you is to stick to WNEP for local news, but read several newspapers, watch a bunch of different networks, and visit varied web sites.  Expose yourself to all points of view, whether or not you agree.  Recognize bias when you see it.  Think.  Form your own opinions.

Above all, VOTE!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First Person: Sherman Hills

I once worked for a very wise news director who advocated getting an early jump on stories.  He reasoned that if you start late, it's tough to make up that time as you move through your work day.  I think of that often.  Most mornings, I'm up before the alarm clock goes off.  It gives me time to check, emails and scattered other news sites.

I was up extra early Sunday night, punched up, and saw there was a homicide at Sherman Hills housing complex in Wilkes-Barre.  I instantly knew where I would spend my day.

We set up in the police station parking lot for Newswatch 16 This Morning.  It was nuts and bolts stuff.  Police weren't saying much.  There is often an adversarial relationship between police and the media, but we really could have helped here.  Description of suspects, getaway vehicle, etc.  Police didn't supply it.  We did pass along their request for witnesses to come forward.  Let's talk about that for a moment.

If and when the killer is caught, the affidavit of probable cause should be interesting.  Police say there were others in the area at the time of the shooting.  Even though their identities will be protected, I'm skeptical when it comes to the concept of homicide witnesses volunteering information.  Fear is a big motivator.  It can propel you to do something.  In a case like this, it can steer you toward NOT doing something, and that something is helping police.

After the morning broadcast, we packed up the truck and went to the Sherman Hills neighborhood to see if people still feel safe.  After a wave of violence a couple of years ago, a task was formed to tackle the problem.  I suspect it was a lot of public relations and not much action.  Residents I spoke with say it has improved, but complacency is setting in.  Sherman Hills is slipping back to the way it used to be.

One resident blamed New York and New Jersey people for the problems here.  That may be true, but I'm sure some locals are to blame as well.  I should point out that the coroner's office said the homicide victim is from Far Rockaway, New York.

As we were parked on Coal Street, a few people driving by yelled "shut it down."  Yes, any time there is a problem here, they are calls for closing Sherman Hills.  Would that solve the problem, or just move it somewhere else?  What about all the Sherman Hills people who follow the rules and abide by the law?

I'm reminded of O'Karma Terrace.  That's the Wilkes-Barre housing project that had its share of Sherman Hills type problems several years ago.  The name was changed to Boulevard Townhomes.  It was cleaned up, and it's now generally trouble free.

It can be done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three Weeks

It's hard to believe that the process that started two years ago is three weeks away from completion.

Yes, I know many states have early voting, but three weeks from today, Americans go to the polls to choose their next president.

Historians will study this one for hundreds of years to come.

Two very different choices.  Two flawed candidates.  Two campaigns that repeatedly stumbled.

Polls show Clinton in the lead.  Some states that were toss ups are now leaning Democrat.  Trump still has a path to victory, and I noticed it this morning.  I'm seeing Trump signs in places where I've never seen anything promoting a Republican candidate.  There is still time left for Trump to recover from recent problems, but not much time.

We can't forget about two other races here in Pennsylvania-- attorney general and US Senate.

If you haven't made up your mind, there is still plenty of time to study and make an informed choice.

The last three weeks could be the most interesting of the campaign.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Was There

NEPA BlogCon has been in a few different locations during its five year history.  It finally bounced in to my neighborhood, and I had a chance to attend Saturday morning.

This year's BlogCon was at Penn State's Dunmore campus, and I stopped by on my way home from work.

It was nice to finally meet some of the people I've only seen on line.  Organizers and attendees couldn't have been more kind and gracious.

I have a bizarre weekend work schedule, so I had a bagel, shook some hands, saw some old friends, made some new ones, and took off after about an hour.  I had a nice time, and I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer.

Once again, thank you for the second consecutive Blog of the Year award in the News and Politics category.

I hope to see you all again next fall.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Andy's Angles: Cat Nap

I caught Nathan napping in an awkward position on a recent morning.  I can't believe he found that to be comfortable, but the little guy seemed happy.

Yes, this is the Blog of the Year winner in the news and politics category.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Andy's Angles: I Tried

This is Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth.  It's also, at least temporarily, the middle school.  The former middle school, in Kingston, is closed because of mold.  No one knows when it will it will repoen, if it will ever reopen.

I've tried really hard to like this building.  I really have.  I just cant.

You have to look at the era in which it was built, and it just doesn't stand the test of time.  It reminds me of an airport or a factory.  It doesn't fit in with the rest of Plymouth.  Yes, the modern look of decades ago does make a statement
Contemporary schools also have their issues.  Brick boxes.  Fortresses.  These days, school design is about security AND education.

The bottom line is...  the important thing is what happens inside, not outside.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Thank You

The annual NEPA BlogCon is scheduled for tomorrow at the Penn State campus in Dunmore.

A feature in recent years is to award "Blog of the Year" in several categories.  I'm thrilled to say that for the second consecutive year, this blog has finished first in the "news and politics" category.

A huge thank you to those who nominated me, and those who voted for me.

There are some excellent blogs in the category.  They are all worthy of recognition.

I was asked to be on a BlogCon panel in its first year.  I had to decline due to my schedule.  My advice is simple.  Be committed.  If you're going to start a blog, update it often.  The occasional picture doesn't hurt, and tell us about what we're seeing on our screens.  Let us know what you think and how you feel.  It's not complicated.

Try to write about things you can't find elsewhere.  I do look at hits from time to time.  My most popular entries are the ones I call "value added."  It's the stuff I don't have time to tell you about on TV.  Most are under the "First Person" heading.

Blogger and Word Press don't cost anything.  Blogging is a fun and creative outlet.  Yes, there are people out there who are interested in what you write.

BlogCon has bounced around in recent years...  Nanticoke, Dallas, East Stroudsburg.  This year, it's in my neighborhood.  There's a chance I can stop by to say hello and thank you.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tears of a Clown

It makes me sad.

I'm sure you've heard of alleged creepy clown sightings in our area and all across America.

Most of it is social media fueled rumor mongering.  As MASH's legendary COL Sherman T. Potter said, "It's right off the stable floor."

Because of the creepy clown hysteria, McDonald's announced it's cutting back on Ronald McDonald appearances.  Ronald will reemerge once all of this passes.

Are you kidding me?

Perhaps the best known clown in American history has to fly under the radar because of a ton of unsubstantiated rumors.

Heck, even Marywood, my alma mater, nearly went on lockdown a few weeks ago because of a creepy clown sighting on campus.  It turned out to be a hoax.

Social media has the wonderful ability to educate us, inform us, and connect us.  It's also the easy path to absolute silliness and needless anxiety.

NewsFlash:  unless you overdose on Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, McNuggets, and fries, Ronald McDonald isn't going to hurt you.

Give me back my clown.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

First Person: Trump

Back in the day, even before my time, before automatic pin setters, bowling alleys employed pin boys.  They set up the pins so someone else could knock them down.  That was my job yesterday.  That is often the function of morning television.  We set up the story so someone else can knock it out of the park.  So sorry for mixing sports this morning.
I wandered in to the office before my usual starting time Monday morning.  I needed more time to coordinate with morning producer Kim to make sure the elements I was using for Donald Trump visit previews didn't step on anything she wanted to use and vice versa.  There was tons of material-- things we gathered locally Sunday as well as items provided by our network partners, ABC and CNN.  It really wasn't hard to make sure we didn't step on each other's toes.  I banged out a couple of stories and handed them off to editor Jason.

Then, it was time to jump in a news car and head to the arena in Wilkes-Barre Township.  I was meeting photographer Dave, who was already there in one of our microwave trucks.  The first glitch:  Police weren't happy to see us, but they grudgingly allowed us a couple of spaces in the vast emptiness of the arena parking lot.

You might ask "Was there really a need to be live in the arena parking lot at 4:30 AM?"  Yes.  There was valuable information to get out-- things people attending the rally needed to know, things people driving through the area needed to know, and just a few other facts to make sure you start the day informed.

As it turns out, that first police glitch was the only one of the day.  The morning broadcast went smoothly.  Next stop was a trip to a mini mart for a sandwich and a visit to the porcelain conveniences, not necessarily in that order.  I also stopped by Staples for some AAA batteries.
 It was them to shift gears and think about Newswatch 16 at Noon.  Trump fans started showing up just after sunrise, and as so many of in the business like to say, everyone has a story.  I talked with some of the people in line.  Dave got the pictures.  One woman took the media to task for delivering more opinion than fact during the campaign.  She then asked me what I thought.  I replied "I don't give opinions on the job."  I encountered some playful chiding from Trump fans about being a member of the mainstream liberal media.  I've heard it before.  It was no big deal.
I pulled out my laptop and banged out a script for the noon broadcast and transmitted it back to the station.  Management took a look and sent it back to me.  Voice track recorded.  Dave matched the pictures to the words and vice versa.  It was then time to set up and go live at 12.
The crowd had grown fairly large when anchor Jon Meyer threw to me.  I introduced my recorded piece, added a little color, wrapped it up, and tossed back to Jon.  My day was done.  Photographer Dave and I packed up and left the truck for our afternoon evening crews.  I drove us back in the car I took there at 4:00 AM.  After some housekeeping back at the station, my weekend had begun.  Yes, when you work weekends, you get time off during the week.
Was it tough to leave just as the fun was getting started?  Of course, but I've been doing morning TV a long time, and that is simply the way things happen.  I was happy to have a piece of the story.  We put some solid stuff and good information on the air.  I was disappointed that, unlike in April, I wasn't able to get inside the arena to take some pictures.

It's easier to hand off a story when you know it will be done well by the staffers who follow you.

Thanks to the arena security staff, who were very accommodating when it came to parking and other matters.  We communicated our needs.  They did their best to make sure we got what we required without getting in anyone's way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Media Tuesday

Bob Schieffer of CBS News is  a classy broadcaster who's Sunday night post-debate analysis consisted of:  “America can do better than what we have seen here tonight.”

Regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump's 2005 ramblings ...whatever happened to the concept of privacy?  It can be argued that privacy is surrendered once you become a celebrity.  He was wearing a microphone, and there's an old saying in the business:  Treat every microphone as if it was a LIVE microphone.

There are snippets of a David Brinkley interview on You Tube, where he is asked why the media reported Bill Clinton's infidelities, but not John Kennedy's.  Brinkley admitted there wasn't a good answer.

The Weather Channel people seem disappointed Hurricane Matthew wasn't worse, and they spent an awful lot of time congratulating themselves.  I've said it before:  some TV person is going to get killed standing in a hurricane while telling people to evacuate.

TBS has new baseball graphics, much larger than the old.  They have realized that a lot of people are watching on smaller devices, like phones and tablets, rather than huge screen tv's.  It takes a little getting used to, but I like it.

By the way, it really bugs me that the baseball playoffs are scattered over several channels.  They are almost impossible to find.

NFL ratings are down about 10 per cent.  There are a lot of theories out there.  Mine include saturation and a decline in "big stars."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Why Is It Always About Food?

The power of suggestion is an amazing thing.  After all, the entire multi trillion dollar advertising industry is built upon it.

The news business, and just everyday life also play their roles.

As has been noted here, I had a couple of fillings replaced recently.  I wasn't hungry until, as I was getting out of the chair, the dentist said "Please don't eat anything for a good hour."  It was an instant food craving.

Speaking of cravings, I was at the gym the other morning, watching ABC's overnight broadcast, World News Now.  They did a piece with the theme "you know a hurricane is bad if Waffle Houses close."  Suddenly, as I was on the elliptical, I desired a Waffle House Fiesta omlette.

Clay LePard did a story for Newswatch 16 Saturday night about an 84 year old pasta maker.  I don't have to tell you what happened next.  As Clay showed a huge table of drying pasta, the craving kicked in.  I was so envious of those marathon runners doing their pre race carbo loading.

There is another instance of the power of suggestion, and it happens when I'm on the weekend morning anchor desk.  Our broadcast is very popular with furniture stores.  We move a lot of mattresses, and when I see one on a commercial, I have an overwhelming desire to crawl in to bed as soon as I get home.

Let's see if I can work some magic.  I strongly suggest you keep reading and watching.

Thanks in advance.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Andy's Angles: Golden

You cannot pass by this site without hitting an emotion--  sad because it's gone, happy because of the memories.

This is the former Golden Quality Ice Cream site on West Main Street in Plymouth.  The factory is on the left.  The ice cream parlor is on the right.

I never stopped here, but I remember the ice cream, and the commercials.

There was an ice cream parlor on Larch Street in Scranton for many years, which I believe was Golden affiliated.  It was called "The Village."  It was always such a treat to go there as a kid.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Andy's Angles: Gutted

The Marketplace at Steamtown, formerly the Mall at Steamtown is blowing up the food court and is starting over.  The food court has been challenged from day one.  I don't think it was ever filled.  There was a tremendous turnover.  I remember being fond of this stand that made a decent spaghetti pie.  It didn't last long.
From what I read, the idea is to get rid of the traditional food court concept and make it more of a marketplace for locally produced/made food, plus arts and crafts, etc.

It doesn't sound like a bad idea.  First all, the food court was all but empty.  Second, does anyone really go out of their way for food court food?

I can think of one exception.  Anytime I vacationed in Baltimore, which was frequent back in the day, I made sure to hit a mall for Sbarro Pizza.  Always loved it.  For a while, the closest was near Stroudsburg.  A check of Sbarro's web site shows the chain has abandoned most of Pennsylvania.  It's unfortunate. 

It will be interesting to see how the new concept works.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Mr. Coffee

I wrote about this several years ago, and I fear the situation has gotten worse.

Let's back up a bit.  I was standing in line at Sheetz a long time ago, and I was struck by the number of high school and college kids buying super caffeinated drinks-- giant coffees, 5 Hour Energy, Red Bull, Rock Star...

I did a story at a high school the other day, and a lot of students were walking around with something caffeinated in their hands.

I'm not here to judge.  I was hooked on 5 Hour Energy for a while.  I haven't had one in several months.  I've also weaned myself from Berocca.  However, if you cut me, I bleed Diet Pepsi, and there's one at my side as I write this.

No one understands "tired" more than I.  I've chosen to remain on overnights and early mornings.  I'm not complaining and I'm not looking for your sympathy.

I am concerned about young people guzzling this stuff.

I don't think the problem is forcing young people to get up early.  The issue is at the other end of the clock-- staying up too late.  I think we're trying to pack too much into their days.

I'm very happy I never got into the coffee habit.  The stuff is horribly overpriced.  I marvel at the business Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and other high end places do.  I've noticed several Dunkin' outlets here in our area have given up on 24 hour operation.  What's up with that?  I do enjoy an occasional pastry or bagel, maybe an iced tea.  Dunkin's been dark.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Unfinished Thursday

I worked out of our Wyoming Valley Newsroom the other morning, a rare occurrence.

While I was in downtown Wilkes-Barre, I ran in to new Commonwealth Court Judge Joseph Cosgrove.  He was moving into some new downtown office space.  I stopped by to say hello.  We go back a long way-- early 80's.  He was a defense attorney on some big cases.  I was a radio reporter.  I joked that I now know where to go for injunctive relief.

During a spare moment, I stuck my head in to the Wilkes-Barre Boscov's.  It was my first visit since renovations.  It's amazing the difference new lighting, paint, tile and carpeting make.  I couldn't stay long.  Downtown department stores remind me of the glory days of downtown Scranton, and it's nice there is still one out there in our area.

During a story in Plymouth, I met Kevin Jordan's sister while she was walking her dog.  Kevin is the former WILK, WARM, WBRE, and WYOU reporter who passed away two years ago.  Kevin would have turned 60 last week.  He taught me a lot.

This is the time of year when I feel that every moonlight bike ride will be my last.  50 degrees is my cut off point, and it's been close to that on many recent nights.  I'm usually finished by Halloween, but last year, I rode until the week before Christmas.  I hope for two years in a row.  Riding through small towns and looking at Christmas lights on a balmy December morning was fantastic.

By the way, I started this morning's bike ride when it was 50 degrees,  When I finished, it was 48.  Fall is rapidly disappearing.

Why people are abandoning traditional radio:  a massive hurricane is bearing down on Florida.  I tuned in Miami's all news radio station this morning.  Some guy was talking about UFO's.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

First Person: Opportunity

I spent most of my Monday at Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth.  To quickly get you up to speed, the middle school in Kingston has mold.  It's been closed.  The district is doubling up students here at the high school.  High School runs from 7 am until noon.  Middle schoolers take over from noon until 4 pm.

I talked with several high school students on their way in.  They were all tired, but they understood the situation.  A few were worried their education would suffer.  Periods are cut to 30 minutes.  The superintendent told me the schedule might be tweaked to emphasize the basics, and that doesn't seem like a bad idea.

I look at this as an opportunity.  Let me take you back to the mid 1970's.
My high school was split between two buildings.  One was absolutely awful.  The other was even worse.  We sweat like pigs in the fall and winter.  The solution in my home room was to cover up the giant air duct with cardboard to keep the heat out.  There was a tiny flap cut out to get a little warm air in when we needed it.  My home room teacher would open and close it with the help of a yardstick or pointer.  Above all, it was a fire trap.  The state finally realized it in February of my sophomore year and condemned the building.  I wish you saw my happy dance.  I hated that building since I spent one grade on the elementary side four years prior.

Right around the same time, an elementary school in the district was also closed.   It was another fire trap.  Those students were shifted to the junior high.  The junior high students shared the high school with us.  Older kids went in the morning.  Younger ones had the afternoon.

I loved it.  First, it got me out of a dangerous building, a building district management thought was just fine, thank you.  It was sickening.  Second, it was less time exposed to a soul crushing atmosphere with a mostly disconnected and uninspired faculty.

Here's where I benefited even more.   I lived close to the Penn State campus in Dunmore.  There were many visits to its library during my free afternoons.  Yes, a real library with real research materials-- not that joke of a library at my high school.

I asked a few Wyoming Valley West kids what they will do with their afternoons.  The responses:  sleep, hang with friends, and play video games.  I nearly wept.

Wyoming Valley West students:  go to the library.  Kings, Wilkes, Ousterhout and Hoyt are close.  Read something.  Write something.  If your teachers don't have the time or inclination to look at it, send it to me.  I'll read it or pass it along to one of my teacher friends for a critique.  Heck, I might even publish it here.

I'm not stupid.  You need some fun and goof off time, especially before winter arrives.  But, please make the effort to learn something during your free afternoons.  You won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

About the Cover

The header photo should be called something like "many peaks."

As I was covering a water main break in West Pittston last week, I looked off in to the distance, and saw a steeple.  As photographer Lou was editing my noon story, I took a walk a few blocks over for a closer look.

This is the old West Pittston First Presbyterian Church on Exeter Avenue.

I had actually been here before.  We parked our mobile newsroom in the church lot as I did a story on the reopening of the flood damaged West Pittston Public Library.

As I did a little research, I came across a Sunday Dispatch story that said the congregation moved out after the flood, and they never came back.  The building was sold   I couldn't find any information on the new owner or the plans for the building.
It's a great structure, but a photographer's nightmare.  Once again, power lines vexed me.

Monday, October 3, 2016

First Person: Modern Problems

Once upon a time...

Standoffs are really nothing new.  Someone refuses to come out of their home.  Maybe they intend to harm themselves.  Maybe they want to harm someone else.  Occasionally weapons.  Sometimes hostages.

Police used to cut off outside communications.  Electricity was shut off.  Phone lines cut.  It was safe for the media to report what was going on outside because the person inside couldn't see or hear it.

Times have changed.  You can cut the copper.  You can't stop wireless.  Well, I guess you can, but I'm not sure the locals are equipped with jamming devices.

It's always in my mind when a stand off crops up.  I wonder if the person inside is watching the situation unfold on his smart phone.  I wonder if he or she is phoning someone who is feeding information.  SWAT teams.  Armageddon at the front door, and the subject of the intervention can see every move.

The solution?  Shut up.  I won't knowingly broadcast something that can put someone's life in danger-- not the suspect, not police and the other first responders, not the neighbors.
A situation appeared Sunday morning.  A man was in a home in south Scranton, and refused to leave.  We knew.  It was happening during our Sunday morning broadcast.  We had staffers there.  We waited.  I just couldn't be sure someone wouldn't be endangered by broadcasting the news.  If the neighbors were in harm's way, police would have moved them away.

Complicating the situation, a man in a near by house streamed the whole thing on Facebook.  We watched.  It made me very uncomfortable, to say the least, and I love the First Amendment more than anyone.

The matter came to a peaceful end about eight hours after it started.

Technology is a marvelous thing.  It brings us information at the speed of light...  but when it comes to questionable broadcasts, one phrase dominates:  "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Andy's Angles: Ghosts

There used to be a building here.  You can see the ghosts of three floors, adhered to the building next door.

If those walls could talk...

The building was destroyed in a fire here on East Market Street in Scranton back in May of Last year.  Businesses wrecked.  People lost their homes.

Way back when, there was a food market on the first floor and apartments above.  Now, just the walls of what used to be.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Andy's Angles: Navy Plane

I was driving on Route 11 recently, when I saw this parked at the Wyoming Valley Airport in Forty Fort.

I could not resist.  I drove in, got out of my car, walked in, and asked for permission to take a few pictures.  Permission granted.

I wish I knew more about it.  I'm sure there's a great story here.

By the way, there are some really interesting planes here.  I'll have to arrange a photo shoot one of these days.  Planes and helicopters always fascinated me.