Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top Ten: Demolition

Now, my most unforgettable photo of 2017.

Marywood University started ripping down its old library in May.

My college radio and television stations were in the basement, so I came here on a Friday morning to get a look at the demolition.  It was the first place I was on the radio and the first place I was on television.  Nothing but great memories, even though I can recall that terror filled moment when I cracked open the microphone for the first time.  It looks so easy.  It isn't.

By the way, the demolition crew recognized me and presented me with a brick-- which I cherish.  I have to admit, I teared up a bit when I got home.  I met some great people here, and started learning my craft.  It was the last building I set foot in after receiving my diploma.  There was a short visit to say good bye after the graduation ceremony.

While is was exceptionally sad to watch the building hacked to death, it had outlived its usefulness.  The new radio and TV area, in a different building, is nothing short of spectacular-- even though it's buried where no one can see it.  It also limits the ability for broadcasting students to interact with the college community.

That's it.  That's the list.  Thanks for punching me in for the past year.  With any luck, we'll do it all over again in 2018.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top Ten: Friends

I might have set the record this year for "Top Ten" photos taken by someone else.

This photo was snapped the afternoon of March 14th, as the biggest snowfall in the history of northeastern Pennsylvania was winding down.  Several of us spent the night at one of the hotels next to WNEP in Moosic, and we assembled in the lobby for a late afternoon beverage.  I handed my phone to a woman at the bar, who took the photo above.  Sorry.  I never got her name.

I look awful here.  I was up since the night before, and spent all day working in the snow.

The snow was miserable.  I remember looking out the window and thinking "This snow is never going to stop."  Memories of that day came back this week as I watched the snow pile up in Erie.  I honestly don't know how they deal with it.  The "lake effect" machine gets cranked up every year.

From left to right:  Joe Snedeker, me, Mindi Ramsey, news photographer Erich Granahan, producer Teresa Psolka, Tom Williams, producer/editor Brittany Lovette.  Erich and I worked together from 2:30 am to 3:00 pm.  Our truck became stuck in the snow four times.  Erich always managed to maneuver it out, and we had a lot of help along the way.  I remember trying to think of a pretty spot for our noon broadcast.  There wasn't one.  Visibility was just about zero.  You couldn't see what was behind me.  We settled for a Walmart parking lot.

Hanging with your friends can make a bad situation tolerable, and occasionally a lot of fun.  My schedule doesn't allow a lot of socialization with the team.  This was an unexpected treat, and one of the bright spots in 2017.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top Ten: Scott

Okay, this one really isn't a photo.  It's a screen capture from the morning of September 3.

It was Scott Stuccio's first broadcast on WNEP.

Here's what made the day special.  Scott and I worked together, down the street, a long time ago.  In fact, I was the anchor on the first morning broadcast Scott ever worked.  Scott reminded me of that.  I had forgotten!

WNEP picked up Scott for some part time and fill in work.  It was the first time we had worked together in more than 21 years.  Scott had been out of broadcasting for ten years, and he didn't miss a beat.

The morning flew by and it was great fun.  Let's hope for many more.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top Ten: PEMA

I've been in the news game a long time, and this was the biggest kick in quite a while.  Once again, it was a picture I didn't take.

The photo was taken at the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency in Harrisburg the morning of March 14, as the Blizzard of '17 was getting wound up.  I was live, in the snow, on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.  Photographer Erich Granahan was behind the Newswatch 16 camera.  PEMA was sampling newscasts from around the state so it could get a handle on what was going on.  It was an honor to be on its list.

I am not one of those people who strives for recognition.  I can't remember the last time I entered anything in an awards competition.  It was likely decades ago.  I show up at work every day with the simple goal of doing the best I can.   The rest always falls in to place.  Still, it was nice to be noticed.

Thank you, PEMA.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top Ten: The Reservoir

This is a late February photo of a reservoir in Dunmore.  It was late winter, with a hint of spring in the air.  The snow was gone.  The sun seemed a little stronger.  Little critters scurried about.

Winter did make a comeback-- the Blizzard of 17 was only a couple of weeks away.

However, a little taste of spring, even a short lived one, was greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Ten: Railroad Bridge

This one was taken the morning of March 30.  Melting snow and rain had the Susquehanna at West Pittston on the rise.

You can't beat an old railroad bridge in the early morning sun.

We don't see as many trains as we once did, and the old railroad bridges are disappearing.  Enjoy the view while you can.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

It's time for a one day break from blogging.

Merry Christmas!

It sounds corny, but the fact that so many of you stop by every day is a real gift.

I hope the day is everything you want it to be.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Top Ten: Clay

Horrible photo of me, great one of former WNEP reporter Clay LePard.

Clay left WNEP in June for a job in Florida.  A co-worker took this on the last day Clay and I worked together.

As I've "matured" in this business, one of the things that pleases me the most is seeing younger co-workers learn the craft and move on to bigger cities.

As I was saying good bye, I said to Clay, "See you on the network."  I have no doubts.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Top Ten: The Butterfly

This entry is about the process more than the photo.

I was trying to get a good butterfly picture on a late summer afternoon.  I wasn't happy with anything I saw through the lens.  I gave up.

A couple of months later, I was loading photos from another project in to my computer, and when I saw this shot on the monitor, I was pleasantly surprised.

It was a keeper.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Top Ten: Devastation

A tornado struck Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties February 25th.  It was on the ground for 13 miles-- from Plains Township to the Lake Scranton area.

My news assignment February 27th was to see how people were coping with the devastation.  This photo was taken along Route 502 in Spring Brook Township, near Moosic.  A PennDot crew was clearing debris from the road, and you can see a line of mowed down trees off to the left.

It was a terrifying and fascinating day.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Top Ten: Saving Lives

Today's photos aren't just boxes and boxes of smoke alarms.  You have the realize what they represent.

You are looking at thousands and thousands of smoke alarms.  Kidde gives them to WNEP.  WNEP gives them to fire departments all across northeastern and central Pennsylvania.  From there, the alarms go to thousands of homes, and firefighters do much of the installation work.

Do the math.  Thousands of smoke alarms-- with the potential to save thousands of lives.
I was playing with my camera in the studio the morning of February 28, when WNEP did its 14th smoke alarm distribution.  I've witnessed many television and radio station community service projects over the years.  This is among my favorites.

Glad to help.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Top Ten/Honorable Mention: The Church

St. John the Baptist Church on Sanderson Street in Throop was torn down in October.  The church closed in 2009.  I took this photo just before the final section came down.

This wasn't my church.  In fact, I'd been inside only a few times.  Yet, it made me sad.  This is the perfect symbol for our area-- the old goes away.  Nothing replaces it.  It's just demolished.  Dozens of schools and churches have closed in recent years-- a symbol of changing habits, patterns, population and demographics.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten/Honorable Mention: The Oliver Train

Long story short...  HBO's John Oliver took note of WNEP's backyard train and the associated Talkback calls.  He decided to make us a "bigger one, a better one, an almost irresponsibly large one."  The station had it trucked to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, and 5,000 people stopped by to see it on its first weekend.

I couldn't make it on that first weekend, but I did stop by a few days later.  To say the least, it's impressive-- and there's nothing like the sound of model trains circling the tracks.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Top Ten Honorable Mention: Piggies

This was one of my favorite assignments of 2017.  Volunteers at St. Mary's Church in Mocanaqua were making thousands of stuffed cabbages for an upcoming church picnic.  The assembly line, back in August, was amazing and the portions were huge.

I'm told the piggies were especially popular this year, and I hope Newswatch 16 had at least a small part in the church picnic's success.

Parishioners at St. Mary's, it was great to meet you.  Hope to see you all again in 2018.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Top Ten of 2017

It's that time of year again.  Things slow down a bit as we head toward the holidays.  It's time to take a look back at where we've been.  Yes, it's the Top Ten Photos of 2017.

The countdown is a little funky this year.  First, there are more than ten photos.  This is the first year we'll begin with some honorable mentions, before the actual countdown starts.

In past years, there has been a photo or two taken by someone else (but involving me).  I have more of those than ever before this year.

As always, some are here simply because they are good photos.  Some made the list simply because they're special photos to me.

There will be a one day break for Christmas, and as always, I'll add a comment or two on the news of the day if and when the situation warrants.  I'll try to do some Facebook posts as well.  It's good for handling the overflow.

Thanks for being here.

I'll close out a year of "new" photos with the WNEP newsroom Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Andy's Angles: Courthouse Tree

I can't really say I'm a fan of Courthouse Square in Scranton.  It's far too much concrete and granite for my tastes.  I will admit that it looks great-- in the dark, and at Christmas.

I recently promised a Christmas tree photo, and here it is.  It looks identical to last year, and that's OK.  Why mess with something that works?
Now that big retail has left downtown or is behind the walls of the mall, government has to step in and brighten up the place-- create a festive atmosphere, a destination.   Mission accomplished.
The shot above is with the Lackawanna County Courthouse at my back, looking toward the federal building and North Washington Avenue.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Tower

It happened ten years ago tomorrow-- the WNEP tower, atop Penobscot Knob in Hanover Township, collapsed in an ice storm.

Yes, I was on the air when it happened.

The roads were bad that morning.  My friend and coworker Ryan Leckey was doing live reports for Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning.  Just before 7 AM, we lost the signal from Ryan's truck.  We were still using two way radios to communicate with crews, and that system went down as well.  You see, the tower held more than the broadcast antenna.  It was also our microwave receive location, and our two way radio antenna had a spot on the tower.

Suddenly, the on-air signal disappeared.  No microwave signal getting back to the station from the truck, no two way radio.  The phones started going nuts.

Renie Workman was working the assignment desk that morning.  I joked "Maybe the tower fell down."


It turned out to be exactly what happened.

I don't remember this part, but our audio guy that day, Joe Frischman, swears that before the tower collapsed, I said something like "This is the kind of weather that brings down towers."

For my next trick, here are tonight's winning lottery numbers...

Seriously, even though the tower was in a heap up on the mountain, we were still getting a signal out.  The larger cable companies had a direct feed of our programming.  They took it from a dedicated line, not a tower.  I had to go "on the air" and explain what happened.  It was new ground for everyone involved.

C. Lou Kirchen was our general manager at the time, one of the best I ever worked for.  She had an army of people in later that day to cover the story and to take calls from concerned viewers.

I had the job of producing the Monday morning newscast, one of the most unusual ever.  It's strange when your own company is the top story.

Our engineers worked overtime, getting a temporary antenna up and a back up transmitter fired up.  We didn't have the greatest signal for a while, but at least something was out there.  It was gratifying to learn how many viewers rigged up antennas and ways to receive the station.  Loyal fans.  Thank you, then and now.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Christmas Letter

It is tradition in my private life, and tradition in my public life-- also known as the blog.

To quickly get you up to speed, I always get a Christmas card from my college friend, Sue, in California.  Sue is someone I stayed away from during most of my college time.  I thought she was simply "too nice."  She asked me to work on her senior project.  That's when I really got to know her and I discovered she is an absolutely delightful individual.  I sincerely regret not getting to know her sooner.

Anyway, always included in the card is a family letter.  Now, I know most people hate those things.  Not me.  I really enjoy learning what her year was like.  That's totally sincere on my part.  No sarcasm.  I really do like Christmas letters.

Here's the problem.  I don't have much to say in response.  Sue has a great life, great family, great kids, great husband, great job, great vacations.  It's tough to fill a page with my mundane year in review, but I always try.  Submitted for your approval:  The first draft.

Dear Sue:

As always, thank you for the card, the photo and the letter.  I know I say it every year, but the kids have really grown into fine young adults, and I'm tickled to learn they're doing so well.

2017 has been an average year for me, and I'm not complaining.

We had a mild winter until March,  when I was trapped in a hotel near the office as two feet of snow piled up.  Luckily, my exile was for only one night.  I was not alone.  Several of my coworkers were along for the ride.  A lobby gathering helped pass the time.

Sadness set in not once, but twice.  My closest KMart closed, and the the second closest shuts down just after the start of the new year.

Pentel came out with a new, needle tip roller ball pen.  It's changed my life.  And, I've found a supermarket bakery that makes the absolute best carrot cake.

I'm considering getting a new pair of sneakers.

Visits to the gym, bike riding, playing with my camera, and sleep take up most of my time off.

There was a wonderfully productive and pleasant meeting with our alma mater's president, who was my freshman year French professor way back when.  She welcomed my input on several topics and it was great fun to reconnect with an old friend.

My first Primanti's sandwich was a delight.  I know you don't have them out west, but you might have seen them on television.  They put slaw and fries right on the sandwich!  Even though that first experience was overwhelmingly positive, I haven't had an opportunity to return.

A high school friend called me, out of the blue, late last year and wanted to get together.  I have to admit, I dreaded it.  We haven't spoken in nearly forty years.  I'm happy to report that I had a great time, and now we meet every couple of months.  He provides some much needed laughs.

The blog turned 13.  I topped 2,100 Twitter followers.  Facebook likes are close to 2,000.

I've been fairly successful in slowing down my tie purchases.  There is an occasional slip.

A radio station had me do a guest fill in thing one morning, and I loved it.  I hadn't been on the radio in years, and I forgot how much fun it was.

I do battle bouts of fatigue from time to time.  It's what happens when your schedule is the opposite of the rest of the planet.  I'm not complaining.  This is the life I have chosen.  I'm happy to report that, of this writing, I haven't used a single sick day in 2017.

I hope you and the family have a great holiday season, and an even better 2018.

Your friend,


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Closing the Books

It was one of my favorite moments of the Christmas season-- the last day of school before Christmas vacation.  It was that time at the end of the school day when you closed your books for the last time, threw them in your locker, and walked away from that soul crushing atmosphere for almost two weeks.  I loved it.  Of course, I would miss my school friends-- a little.  I don't know if you were the same way, but I had school friends, and I had neighborhood friends.  Christmas would be spent with friends on the block, not friends on the cell block we called a school.  As I got older, and we all started driving, the gap disappeared.  One of my high school friends recently reminded me of some of our Christmas break adventures.  It's a story for another time-- maybe.  I think the statute of limitations has run out.

When I got to college, Christmas break would be met with a little sadness.  Yes, it was nice to get another semester under your belt, and take one step closer to graduation.  On the other hand, the dorms cleared out, and some close friends would be gone for a month.  No email.  No Skype.  No texts.  This was in the pre-computer days, so the radio station needed actual bodies.  We townies kept it on the air until the new semester started.  No complaints.  As I have said many times, this is the life we have chosen.  I always enjoyed being behind the microphone, playing some good rock, and it was great to have something to do during Christmas break.  The campus was dead.  It still had its charm.

Today's entry is sort of that "closing the book" thing.  It's slowing down for the holidays.  This space will soon be devoted to the Top Ten Photographs of 2017, with a couple of new twists for the year.

By the way, I've noticed the "closing the books" ritual seems to be in high gear very early this year.  People seem to be in a huge hurry to clear their desks, calendars and to-do lists-- and get on with the holiday season.  December is almost a lost month.

A Christmas photo would be appropriate today.  I took this one in Jessup last week, before the snow, and it really doesn't do justice to the scene on Church Street.  It's red and green from the bottom of the hill to the top.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Voice

I finally got around to watching the "60 Minutes" 50th anniversary special.  Wow!  My only complaint is just one hour didn't do it justice.  You really need two, or three to tell the story.

I've always been amazed that the most successful news broadcast in American television history has the simple mission statement of "Tell me a story."

My favorite part of the anniversary broadcast was hearing Mike Wallace again.  Most people associate Wallace with his ambush interviews and his take no prisoners style.  I'll always remember "the voice."  The man could write a line.  He could also deliver it.  I dare to say it was one of the best broadcast voices in the history of the medium.

From what I understand, Wallace's battles with "60 Minutes" creator and executive producer Don Hewitt were legendary.  They argued over everything.  Regardless of who won, they always produced compelling television.

This is my blog and, as always, it's all about me.

There were frequent debates with a now former manager here.  There were several times he wouldn't like a line I wrote.  I'd counter that it didn't look good on paper (or on the computer screen), but it would all make sense when I delivered it.  My voice and inflection would sell the line.  More often than not, I got my way.  I really respected his opinion, and I especially respected that he listened to reason.  If you could justify it, you got away with it.

I'm not in the Mike Wallace league, but good narration can improve an average script.  I'm lucky that, most of the time, I write for myself.  I hear my voice in my head as I tap out a script on the keyboard.  Good producers and writers know their anchors.  You have to have their voice in mind when you write.  If you write a line they're not comfortable with, it won't be delivered properly.

Mike Wallace died in 2012.  There are still some great writers, reporters and producers out there-- some great voices, too.  Mike Wallace, who helped get "60 Minutes" off the ground, was in a class of his own.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It Gets My Goat

Or in this case, deer...

I haven't written one of these things in a while.  Something is bugging me, and I have to write about it.

Several days ago, I was driving the stretch of Olyphant Avenue in Scranton that runs from Green Ridge to the Throop line.  There was a cluster of five deer standing along the road.  Beautiful animals.  I slowed to take a look, and to be sure they don't run out in front of my car.  They didn't.

A couple of days later, just before 2:00 AM, I was getting in my car to go to the gym, and I heard three shots ring out.  I got sick to my stomach.  I detoured down that way to see if any cars were parked in the area, to see if anyone was dragging carcasses around, spotlights.  Nothing.

If you're not familiar with the spot, it is within city limits, with several houses and an interstate highway in the area.  Penn State and Marywood University are close by.  Firing a gun there, especially at 2:00 AM can't be safe.

I will note two things.  First, the vast majority of hunters are responsible people.  Second, I understand the need for deer population management.  I should add that perhaps we should stop building in their habitat.  Smart growth should be a part of population management.

I've driven through the area several times since I heard those shots.  No deer.  To the "sportsman" who bagged them, I hope you're happy.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Andy's Angles: University Tree Weekend

Today, it's the University of Scranton's turn.

This big tree lights up the center of campus.  I will give the U immense credit for transitioning into a pedestrian friendly campus with a nice dose of green space.  It was something the U was always lacking.
It wasn't easy, and it took several years to accomplish.  The U's urban campus is now a rather pleasant place.
And Christmas at a Jesuit institution isn't complete unless there's a nativity scene.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Andy's Angles: University Tree Weekend

First up, my alma mater, Marywood University.  It was a college back in my day.

The indoor tree tradition started in 1982, which was my senior year.  I wasn't there for the first one.  I started going several years ago, for a nice injection of Christmas spirit.  I've missed only two since I made it part of my holiday routine.

It's a great tree in a spectacular building.  As I've noted here before, Christmas at Marywood really doesn't get rolling until after Thanksgiving, as it should be.  There is one drawback.  Students get to enjoy the tree for a little more than a week.  Finals are coming up, and then, the place clears out for the Christmas break.

There's more-- a nativity scene under the arch that faces Adams Avenue.  It looks like they've increased the wattage in the halo bulbs, and they overwhelmed my camera phone.  It's worth a look if you're in the area.
Before 1982, Marywood decorated one of the outdoor trees in the center of campus.  I spied this one, just to the left of the arch.  It's decorated in school colors of green and white.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Bridge

Today's opening of the Harrison Avenue bridge in Scranton started me thinking about another Scranton bridge-- the one that connects Mulberry Street to the North Scranton Expressway.

An old steel truss bridge was replaced in the 80's with the standard PennDOT design.  Plain.  Nothing fancy.  It gets the job done.

Just before the new bridge opened, someone (I don't know who) suggested a series of colored light tubes over the traffic lanes to welcome passengers and their vehicles into the city.  I remember thinking it was one of the dumbest ideas I ever heard, and a colossal waste of money.  I know there were artists' renderings of the light tubes.  I'm sorry.  A Google search failed to turn up anything.

As I looked at the Mulberry Street bridge on a recent morning, I thought it needs something.  After all, the new Harrison Avenue bridge has some new architectural elements that were copied from the old.

When it comes to road projects and spending money, I'll take patching pot holes over colored light tubes any day of the week, and I still feel that way.

Maybe, some day, someone will figure out a way to dress up the bridge without sticking taxpayers with the bill.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

New, Old Times

The call went out a couple of months ago.  Doc Medek's Froggy 101's co-host, Jessie was going out on maternity leave, and he was looking for TV people to rotate in until her return.

I vacillated.  I left full time radio in 1991.  I did a little morning news fill in work on the now defunct Solid Gold 94 in the months that followed.  It had been a long time since I had done radio.  While I was getting a tour of the new Wilkes University radio and TV building, my new friend, Kristen Rock, suggested I give it a shot, so I threw my name in the hat.

Jessie had her baby, so it was time for Doc's plan.  I volunteered, and yesterday was my day.  I did not promote the appearance in case I bombed.  I could quietly sneak away and never speak of the incident again.

I didn't think I was great.  I wasn't awful either.  It's tough to work with a new partner and Doc made it easy.  We had met, only very briefly a couple of times before, but we know the same people and had the same experiences.  We're about the same age.  I may look older, but Doc has a couple of years on me.

He was warned going in that I know nothing about country music.  We kicked around a couple of topics before we started, so we were in my comfort zone.  The two hours passed like two minutes and I had a wonderful time.

As you can see from the photo, I shaved on a day off-- which is unusual for me.  I should have combed my hair.

TV treats me great and I am very happy there, and if you are a regular reader, you know that radio is my first love.  It was great fun to re-live some of  the old days.  Jessie still has a lot of maternity leave left, and I volunteered to come back, if needed and wanted.

Even if Doc doesn't take me up on the offer, it was enormously entertaining to be back..

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The First

The first election in which I was allowed to participate was the 1980 primary, but this is an entry about that year's general election.

Here were the choices-- Democrat and incumbent Jimmy Carter, a good man who was a Horrible (yes, the capitalization of the H is deliberate) president, Republican Ronald Reagan, who seemed to be a bit extreme-- especially to a youngster such as myself, and independent John Anderson.

I've been covering elections since 1982, and I don't ask people who they voted for.  It's none of my business.  I don't tell people who I voted for.  It's none of your business.

For this blog entry, I will make an exception.  I voted for John Anderson.  Some of his ideas, especially on energy, were out there.  For the most part, he seemed reasonable.  Anderson ran as an independent because he though the Republican party had moved too far to the right.  For me, he seemed like a good and sane choice, as centrist as we were going to get that year.

270 electoral votes wins the presidency.  Reagan won 489.  Carter took just six states, and he conceded shortly after polls closed here in the east.

John Anderson captured seven per cent of the vote, and even though I knew he stood zero chance of winning, I walked out of the voting booth a satisfied young man.

John Anderson died Sunday night.  He was 95.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


It started early this year, and I remember right where I was when I heard it.  I was in my bedroom just after midnight Friday morning.  I was getting dressed for a trip to the gym when I heard the overnight anchor on WCBS AM say it.

Rage suppressed my memory of what the story was about, but I know what triggered it.  It's a phenomenon I've written about before.  Anyone who does anything bad at this time of year is referred to as a "grinch."  The subject of the radio story had stolen something, or vandalized some display when the grinch reference was made.

One day, I will pen a book about news writing-- especially the trite and the cliched that infuriate me.  Grinch is at, or near the top of the list.

Can't we be more creative than that?  We can do better.  Why don't we try this?   Just tell the story.  Silly embellishments aren't necessary.

And, speaking of silly, has the ugly Christmas sweater thing run its course yet?  It was cute and interesting for the first year or two.  Now, it's simply tiresome.

There is a new one on the list this year.  The upside down Christmas tree.  It was cute once, and only once.

Stop it.  Stop it now.

Bah!  Humbug!

Monday, December 4, 2017

When the Dust Settles...

You knew there would be a Matt Lauer blog entry eventually, and here it is...

I was checking my Twitter feed while in a medical waiting room Wednesday morning when the tweets started rolling in.  I thought it was a joke.  NBC fired Matt Lauer.

First and foremost, please don't lose sight of the plight of the victims.

In addition to Lauer's behavior, here's what bugs me the most.  It's apparent from the Variety, New York Post,  and New York Times stories that some in management knew what Matt Lauer was up to.

As noted here before, the most galling thing about Luzerne County's Kids for Ca$h scandal is the number of people who knew kids were going before a judge without legal representation and they did nothing.  It's clear many at NBC knew Matt Lauer was a predator.
Governor Bob Casey often said "What did you do when you had the power?"  At NBC, those with the power looked the other way-- and they allowed Lauer to run amok.  If the victims can prove management protected Lauer, those victims are in for a major pay day.  They deserve every penny-- and more.  However, you can't put a price on dignity.  I sincerely hope they all heal quickly.

It's clear Mr. Lauer needs help, and he realizes that.  There is plenty out there, and I hope he finds what he needs.  Back on TV some day?  Maybe.  Long shot.

I can't say I was ever a Matt Lauer fan.  I always thought he was an average talent who happened to hook on at an established and powerful franchise (sound familiar?)  "Today" will take a hit, but it will survive.  There are some good broadcasters out there and the show will carry on.  It's survived several other blunders in its history.  Yes, this is a big one-- but "Today" has history and tradition, and some strong remaining performers.

The professional demise of Matt Lauer signals the end of the big money, powerful anchor era.  Networks have been burned.  Economics have changed.  We live in a different world.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Square

This is an early morning shot of Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton.

White lights cover the trees on the North Washington Avenue side.  The official county tree, just out of the frame, was lit the other night, and you will eventually see that in this space in the days to come.

Downtown Scranton can be a very dark place.  It's nice to have a little light.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Andy's Angles: Window Shopping

It was a cute moment, and it happened a few years ago.  Volunteers were putting together a Christmas display in the old Globe store on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton.  Brittany Boyer was with Newswatch 16 at the time, and she would be doing the story.  Brittany is a sharp kid, but she was one of our youngest staffers.  Photographer Dave Jones and I had to give her a quick backgrounder on why it was a big deal, and how nice it was to shop in a downtown before the malls arrived.   Brittany was not alone.  People of her era, unfortunately, do not know a world where downtowns were the center of the retail universe.  She picked up the concept rather quickly.

Going back even further, it was a family tradition back in the day.  After Thanksgiving dinner, we'd go downtown to look at all the store windows because Thanksgiving night was traditionally the first night the displays would be lit.

The Scranton of today has bright spots, but it can also be rather bleak.  Most of the stores are gone, and that means the window displays are gone as well.

There is a bank at North Washington and Spruce Streets that does Christmas rather well, and those photos are featured today.

By the way, I wonder if we will eventually have to explain to young people of the future what it was like to shop in a mall.

Friday, December 1, 2017

About the Cover

The December blog header is always a challenge.  I want something that says "Christmas," but the heavy duty displays aren't up until later in the month, as it should be.

This is a tree of lights outside a bank along South Main Avenue in west Scranton.

If I come across something better, you could see a change before the end of the month.

Have a great December.

And, a quick word about yesterday's passing of Jim Nabors...  Great voice, wonderful talent, and he made Gomer Pyle one of television's most unforgettable characters.  Jim Nabors was 87.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Burger Blues

Even though I write about the fast food industry quite a bit, I really don't visit all that often.  Still, the business fascinates me.

Several McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger Kings have been renovated in the last few years.  The look is more boxy, more contemporary, more restaurant like, less clown like.

The common thread, at least where I live, is the removal of those sunroom type add ons.  Really!?!?  I loved those.  Maybe they were maintenance headaches.  Maybe they cost too much to cool and heat, 
but I really liked having my burger and fries in the flood of daylight.  They even had charm at night.

I'm happy to say the fast food joints started eliminating those kiddie play lands long ago.  Who thought that was a good idea?  I guess it looked good on paper until the insurance liability people got involved.

I've read that society is changing.  An increasing amount of business comes from the drive through.  The buildings don't need to be as large.  They just have to be efficient to keep people from waiting in line.

The current trend seems to be ordering through touch screens.  Most of the new mini marts already have it.  I've used of dozens of times, and it works great.  I have yet to experiment in a fast food restaurant.  I'd have to see people lose jobs over this, but if it improves speed and efficiency, it's tough to put up an argument.

The bottom line is I don't choose a fast food restaurant for the architecture.  It's all about the location, and what I'm in the mood for.

Hold the mayonnaise.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

We Can Help

Something happened yesterday.  It really bugged me, and it's something you should know about.

Just before 2:00 am, we started getting reports that there was a lost hunter.  The first job was to confirm and get specifics.

When I called one branch of emergency services, I was quickly referred to a police agency.  During that call, I was brusquely told that the officer in charge would prepare a news release upon his return.  It could be five minutes or it could be five hours.

Imagine, for a moment, that it's your loved one lost in the woods.  Cold.  Frightened.  In a great deal of danger.  I would want first responders and law enforcement to use every tool in their arsenal as quickly as possible.  The lost hunter easily could have been killed.  One of those tools is letting as many people know, as fast as possible.

I will be the first to admit that the news media can get in the way.  We can also help.  Help big time.  In addition to our broadcasts, we have web sites and social media.  The word needed to get out, and in a timely manner.  It didn't happen.  I wish I could give you the people responsible for the disconnect and the reasons.  I cannot because I just don't know why something like that would happen.

Minutes count.

I respect the work of men and women in uniform, police, firefighters, Game Commission, emergency medical...  They do outstanding work, and we couldn't survive without them.  They have the training, equipment and gear.  They also possess something just as valuable:  information that could save a life.

I later learned that when the lost hunter made his way out of the woods and encountered civilization, the first homes he approached wouldn't offer help.  I get that.  If a strange man with a gun came to my door, I'd be reluctant, too.  But, do you think if there was a lost hunter in the area, they'd be on the lookout?  If they only knew...

We did get a photojournalist out there as quickly as possible to find out what was happening.  Still, there was a delay, and it shouldn't have happened.

Again, I will admit there is often an adversarial relationship between the media and police/emergency services.  It's our job to hold people accountable.  It creates friction.  It comes along with the territory and I can understand it.  But, someone's life was at stake here.

After it was over, I politely pleaded my case to a first responder.  It was very similar to what you see above.  The person suggested I speak to an association that covers the lost hunter area.  Great idea!  If it works with my bizarre work and sleep schedule, I'm there.  I handed out business cards.  Let's talk.

This shouldn't have happened.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Media Tuesday

David Cassidy died last week.  67.  He shot to fame in The Partridge Family.  I always liked their music, but I thought the TV show was dreck.  Even back in the day, when it was hot, I couldn't figure out why my little friends liked it.

I don't know if radio stations are playing more Tom Petty music because he died recently, or I'm just noticing it more.  Either way, no complaints.  Tom Petty was always a favorite.

Holiday Mode!  It has been established here that I listen to sports talk radio as an occasional diversion from doom and destruction in the real world.  It's that time of year, when regular hosts start taking time off.  I'm all for giving people time off around the holidays.  Some replacements are very good.  At times, the big networks run "best of" shows.  There is nothing worse than a "best of" canned sports talk show.  Even if it was a good interview, it comes off as stale.

I'm still heartbroken over the horrible things Charlie Rose did.  CBS says it built its morning show around content, but mornings are a different animal.  Mornings are built around personality.  It will be interesting to see who CBS chooses as a replacement.  Anthony Mason is coming off a fill in stint on the Evening News.  He's a safe and logical choice.  Solid, but not much star power.

Listening to big city all news radio traffic reports over the weekend makes me thankful I live in a small town.

Some radio stations have been flipping to an "all Christmas music" format.  Strangely, it usually produces a ratings boost.  My best wishes to the people who work at those stations.  I don't think I could handle it.  For me, a little Christmas music goes a long way.

The New York Post reports that NFL ratings are still sliding.  NBC's Al Michaels got it right in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story.  Michaels said the NFL had been through the roof in recent years, so a decline is natural.  I will add that we saw something similar in NASCAR.  More thoughts:  The NFL really has to get a handle on this national anthem thing, and needless celebrations.  I've seen players celebrate a sack, even though their team is getting hammered on the scoreboard at the time.  On top of that, many of the marquee games this year have been blow outs.

Please, enough with the superhero movies!

The Food Network has ordered some new episodes of "Molto Mario."  The show had been out of production for several years.  Mario batali's food is a little too hard core Italian for me, but I could watch him work, and listen to his take on Italian history and culture for days.

The David Letterman/Mark Twain/Kennedy Center special was outstanding.  It was great hearing Alan Kalter again, and especially great hearing Paul Shaffer and the band play the Letterman theme again.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Santa's Little Helpers

We've already established that I have absolutely no decorating skill.  I will add that I don't need to be in the middle of decorations to make me happy.  The work of others will suffice. 

Seconds after Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning wrapped and I left the set, the production crew went to work putting up the holiday decorations.  The do a great job every year, and it's nice to spend eight hours of my week in a cheery atmosphere.
There will be more that you don't see.  Our newsroom always gets a rather large tree, and people decorate their individual work areas.

The news set will remain decorated well in to the new year.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Andy's Angles: Jonah

Holiday weekend, and time to take it easy and that's just what Jonah is doing in this photo I took last week.  Johan is one of Nathan's friends.  Jonah is one of the most photogenic felines I've ever encountered, very social, and loves being around people.

He's in my spot.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Twinkle, Twinkle, Taylor

I have absolutely no decorating skills, so I admire what others can do.

One of my favorite towns to drive through at this time of year is Taylor in Lackawanna County. The borough started putting up these decorations a few years ago. What puts them ahead of the rest is the twinkling lights. It's a great sight, and drive through if you get the chance.

To all who decorate, thanks for brightening up the season.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday

Today is one of my least favorite days on the calendar, Black Friday.  It's a day dedicated to commercialism, excessiveness, crowds, noise and mayhem.  As a leftover from Thanksgiving, I'm thankful I have nothing to do with it.

I do understand that, despite what the politicians and chamber of commerce types tell us, times are tough.  It's difficult to make ends meet, and some of us will have to battle the mess today to save a few dollars.  I get that.

I also realize that many use Black Friday as family time.  The family that shops together, stays together.  Bravo on that!  Any family time is good time.

My retail experience today will consist of an early morning trip to a mini mart for an out of town newspaper.  That's it.  That's the list.

Please, try to be safe and sane today.  We'll talk tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

I say it every year.  If you look hard enough, we all have something for which to be thankful.  Some years, it's more difficult than others, and this is one of those years.

However, when you sit down and think about it, I'm a fortunate man.

There are a lot of people out there struggling, and those struggles are very real.  My heart breaks for them.  Thanksgiving is just another day.  It might even be worse.

Count your blessings.

If all goes according to plan, I'll try to get out with the camera for a little bit this morning, a Thanksgiving tradition.  Dinner follows.  Maybe some football on TV.  Thanksgiving is usually the time I start putting together my Top Ten Photographs of the year thing.  I'd make an overnight gym visit, but it's closed, not reopening until the morning.  A walk seems like a decent compromise.

I hope your Thanksgiving is a good one.  We'll talk soon.