Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Murphy Oppenheim

CBS announced last week that Murphy Brown is coming back for a limited run late this year or early next year.


I'm sure it will be 13 weeks of anti Trump jokes.  That's unfortunate.  I'm sure they can go for more  than the low hanging fruit.

Overall, it was a great series, and I hope that, in spite of going for the obvious, it's a good new run.

For me, Murphy Brown and the Oppenheim Building at Lackawanna and Wyoming in downtown Scranton will forever be intertwined.  Let me explain.

I was working for the CBS station in town back in May of 1992, when it actually had a news department..  I finished my shift at 6 pm, went home, had dinner, and was beginning to unwind.  Then, the phone rang.  It was Joe the assignment editor, asking me to come back to work because the Oppenheim Building, right next door to the TV station, was on fire!

I jumped back in the car and pointed it toward Scranton.  At the apex of the O'Neill Highway in Dunmore, near the cemetery, I looked toward Scranton and saw a plume of black smoke rising over the city.  I got sick.  This was big.

Time flew.  I was given the task of doing an 8:59 PM live report.  We were flying blind.  The station was evacuated.  We were running the operation from the transmitter, on top of a mountain in Hanover Township.  We could go live, but I would have no time cues, no communication with the person pushing the buttons.

This was the night of Murphy Brown's baby shower-- one of television's big events, and it was starting at 9:00 PM.  I was to go live, while standing on top of a truck, in the South Washington Avenue parking lot where Scranton Police later built its headquarters.

Just before going live, our general manager walked over to me.  He's a man I am still in touch with, a greatly respected, dear and trusted friend and adviser.  In his stern, but calm and quiet way, he said the following:  "You will not run over in to Murphy Brown."

My guardian angel was with me that night and the angel enlisted some extra help.  I brought in the special report at exactly one minute! Our audience was not deprived of one second of Murphy Brown's baby shower.

After the special report, I worked on a story for our 11 pm newscast, along with several other staffers.  The show was anchored from the sidewalk in front of the station.

The station had some smoke damage.  We were OK.  The overnighters reassambled the operation, and it was back to normal the next morning.

Even though it was more than 25 years ago, I can't think of, or watch Murphy Brown without thinking of that night.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

In Memoriam

A couple of recent passings need to be noted here...

Lin Bolen died.  She was head of NBC daytime programming back in the 70's.  Among Bolen's claims to fame-- she canceled Concentration and the original Jeopardy.  In an odd quirk, Jeopardy was a Merv Griffin production.  Merv's NBC contract called for him to get first crack at a replacement if Jeopardy was canceled.  That show turned out to be Wheel of Fortune.  Bolen is also credited for trying to "young up" NBC's game show offerings and expanding some afternoon soaps to 60 minutes.  I read where she was a big Tom Kennedy fan, as am I.

After leaving NBC, Bolen started a production company.  She got one game show on the NBC schedule.  It was called Stumpers.  It didn't last long.  It was like Password, but contestants had to choose from a list of three pre-selected clues.  It wasn't a great show.  Allen Ludden did the best he could with it.

Ed McLaughlin also died recently.  He was a radio executive.  Part of his retirement package was two hours of satellite time.  McLaughlin thought talk in the afternoon would work.  He scoured the country looking for the right person to go national.  McLaughlin found a guy working in Sacramento.  His name was Rush Limbaugh.  They launched with a few dozen stations.  Within a few year's time, they were up to 500.  Ed McLaughlin and Rush Limbaugh saved AM radio.

Regardless of what you think of Limbaugh's politics or personal life, you have to admit he is a skilled and gifted broadcaster.  Unfortunately, even after all these years, they still haven't come up with a decent substitute when Rush is off.  When I hear a guest host, I ask Alexa to go to another channel.

Listening to Rush on a major market station, with a solid news department, adds to the experience.  Personal favorites are WBT in Charlotte, NC and WCBM in Baltimore.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Hype Week

I actually enjoy the hype of the week leading up to the Super Bowl, especially on radio.

There are limits, and I usually get my fill by Thursday.

I expect things to be a little different this year, because I dislike both teams.  I'll still be listening.  We'll see what happens.

However, I won't be watching.  Kick off is 6:40 PM Sunday, and I'll be asleep.  Seriously, I haven't seen a Super Bowl since 1999.  Don't cry for me.  I'll catch a replay.

NBC has this year's game.  While I like Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, the rest of the staff does nothing for me.  There is no reason to turn a dial, or in my case, turn on the TV.

And, as always, discussions of Super Bowl commercials bore me to tears.  If you see me coming, please change the subject.  Super Bowl party recipes are in the same category.

If the game is your thing, I hope it's a good one and enjoy it.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Andy's Angles: Eerie, PA

There is something about a city in the grips of an emergency that makes it eerie.  In this case, it was the city of Pittston.

I didn't venture over on to the West Pittston side during the recent ice jam emergency.  First, there was a curfew.  Second, there was an emergency and it might have been dangerous.

There is something about a closed bridge and high water that gives you a spooky feeling.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Andy's Angles: Lookie Loo

Even after all these years, one of the hardest things for me to do is watch from the sidelines when a big story breaks.  This week, it was ice jams in Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.  The story developed on my days off.  WNEP has a big staff, and the ice jams were well covered-- even without my help.

I'm always tempted to go down and take a look, but I want to set a good example.  Sightseers often get in the way.  I can't preach against it while doing it myself.  I compromised, and went in the middle of the night, when no one was around.

This shot was taken around 3:45 am Thursday morning.  The ice had broken.  The Susquehanna River was flowing, and the level was dropping.  This is the view from the Water Street Bridge, on the Pittston side, looking over in to West Pittston.

It's tough to tell from the photo, but the river was still running high, not far from touching the underside of the bridge.  Some homes on the west side took on water during the day.  It could have been much worse.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Taste Test

I will start by apologizing to my friend, adjacent desk occupant, and WNEP Taste Test reporter Kerry Brazen.

Secondly, it should be noted that I am a very harsh critic of myself, but I do admit there are times when even the most mundane things can amaze me.  I do like that.

Let's go back to Tuesday morning.  There was a slight lull in the office.  It was raining heavily.  Ice jams and flooding were still a couple of hours away.  I ate light Monday so I was ravenously hungry Tuesday morning.  I also had a case of office claustrophobia.  I told assignment editor Mary that I was stepping out for about ten minutes.

My destination was about a mile away-- one of those chain mini marts, a chain not known for its quality food.   I had neither the time nor the stomach (pardon the pun) to wait in line at a place that sells "real" food, so the mini mart was my best available option.

The egg salad sandwiches at this place are almost tolerable, but as I scanned the refrigerated case, I was out of luck.  None in sight.  I decided to try my luck with chicken salad.  While I'm not a mayonnaise fan, I do like egg salad, chicken salad, and potato salad.

Anyway, I bought the sandwich, walked through the rain to my car, got in, and freed the sandwich from the plastic case in which it was sealed during the Eisenhower administration.

Much to my surprise, it was good.  Really good.

It's possible my state of hunger rendered anything tasty.  It's also possible this particular chain of mini mart decided to up its quality.  I really don't know.  I'm in no real hurry to try my luck with another chicken salad sandwich, but it's nice to know there is a semi decent option out there for those hungry mornings.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Media Thursday

NBC has dumped Bob Costas from next week's Super Bowl coverage.  The tabloids speculate Costas is paying the price for his comments on football and concussions.  Costas had already announced plans to scale back his duties.  He's being a good soldier, saying he didn't cover the NFL much this year and it would be unfair to parachute in and take over.  While I partially feel that's a good policy, Costas is the face of NBC Sports, and that's a lousy way to treat a long time employee.

In my view, Bob Costas kicked up the sanctimony factor in recent years, but he is still as skilled as they come.  It's a joy to watch and listen to him do baseball games on MLB Network, especially when teamed with someone sharp like Jim Kaat and John Smoltz.

Don Imus announced Monday that he's retiring at the end of March.  Imus intended to quit in December, but the bankruptcy of parent company Cumulus moved up the timetable.

The Imus glory days were fantastic.  Those WNBC broadcasts were biting, sharp, witty, and wildly funny.  Plus his dj mechanics were outstanding.   I admired how Imus was able to reinvent himself from dj to politically oriented talk show host.

You knew there was a "but" coming...

In recent years, it was a mumbling, bitter, surly, mean Imus that came through the radio speakers.  He was syndicated, and it picking up Imus in the Morning was a sign a station was on its last legs and out of ideas.

Imus will go down in history as one of radio's greats, but he should have stepped aside much sooner.

At this point, it appears FOX is the top bidder for Thursday Night Football.  No complaints.  I generally like the way FOX Sports does things, even though the Sunday football show has become increasingly silly.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What Went Wrong?

I preface this by saying I have never been to the Iron Horse Movie Bistro on Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton, and I will never go, at least in its current form.  The eight screen movie theater closed Saturday night.  It had been open less than nine months.

Even though I never set foot inside, I did some asking around.

Here are the reasons others say the place flopped.

The food was mediocre, at best, and expensive.  However, ticket prices were cheap, about $ 6 in the final days.  the discounting of tickets was a red flag that something was wrong.

People didn't like wandering around in an urban parking garage late at night.

Look at the design.  You can't put windows on the corner because that's the location of the elevator shaft.  But, you really could have done something more interesting than corrugated metal.  How about an electronic message board, listing movies, food specials and show times?  It is not a visually appealing, striking, and inviting corner.

In a news release Sunday, Marketplace at Steamtown management said it wanted another company to operate the theater, a company that marketed better to the Scranton area.  I never saw much advertising.  On top of that, when I hear "movie bistro," I think of something artsy-- a theater that plays unusual and different films.  Iron Horse played mainstream, popular stuff-- as it should have been.  That's the way to draw a crowd.

When I was trying to discover reasons for the failure, one sentiment dominated-- theater megaplexes in Moosic and Dickson City simply do it better.  Easier access.  Better and more convenient parking.

This is the third time a movie theater has failed on that corner.  Marketplace management wants a theater to remain.  It might be time to face facts.  If three theater companies fail, it's possible people no longer want to watch movies downtown.  The space could be used for something else.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Business News

No matter what they call it, that big plant on the hill in Olyphant that makes cd's and dvd's will always be known to mid valley natives as "Specialty Records."

It's known as Technicolor now, and the people that own it are cutting 160 people from the payroll and it looks like the operation will close.  4,000 people used to work there.

It wasn't that long ago...  If you landed a job at Specialty or RCA in the near by Keystone Industrial Park, you were set for life.  The gravy train with biscuit wheels.  RCA is long gone.  Specialty is on the way out.

My little town had three dress factories.  It was hard work, and I marveled at the efforts of all those women behind all those sewing machines.

I know times change, but it's sad.

Now, we puff our chests with pride and glee when we learn our area is getting a new warehouse.  Let me tell you a little about warehouses.  They eat up big hunks of land and employ relatively few people.  Automation.

We used to make televisions and records.  Now, we're happy when someone comes along to hire people to stuff dog biscuits and kitty litter in to boxes.

Don't get me wrong.  Any job is a good job, and it's no fun when you don't have one.  I know.  Believe me.

I just miss the days when we made things, and it hurts when I see good, hard working people get the rug pulled out from beneath them.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Scrapple

There's a house on my way to the gym that had one of those electronic Christmas countdown decorations in front.  Christmas was weeks ago.  I still look at the front porch every morning.

I've always found the first half of January passes quickly.  The second half drags.

I didn't get the chance for an up close look at last week's ice jams, but I have seen them before-- Wyoming Valley, Tunkhannock, Matamoras.  Amazing things to see.

Keith Jackson's recent passing was very sad, but I really enjoyed listening to his work again.  he did radio news back in the day.  I can only imagine how those broadcasts sounded.

Any time I tuned to cable TV coverage of the Pennsylvania Farm Show, someone was square dancing.

Is there anything better than a hot pizza on a cold day?

Supermarkets have dozens of varieties of canned soup, and some are excellent.  Yet, I choose chicken noodle just about every time.

I recently drove past Lake Scranton.  It's amazing to see how many trees last year's tornado took down.

Government shutdown:  There's enough blame to go around, on both sides.

Sorry skiers, two January thaws this year is fantastic.

I went two for two on NFL predictions this weekend, even though I thought Minnesota would put up more of a fight.  There will be a Super Bowl pick next week.  It's not difficult to guess who it will be.

Burger King has a sandwich with two 1/4 pound beef patties.  Intrigued, but I probably won't.

The first Good Morning America meteorologist, John Coleman, died over the weekend.  83.  He also founded The Weather Channel.  One of the best presentations ever.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Andy's Angles: Little Train

This is one of the trains that greets visitors to the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.  I caught it on a morning when the black paint was reflecting the morning sun.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Andy's Angles: Cats

January weather has been horrendous.  Deep freeze, thaw, ice storm, ice jam, floods, more cold, more snow.

House cats don't seem to care.  Nathan on the left.  His friend, Jonah is on the right.  They're happy to watch from the window.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Championship Sunday

I went .500 on NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend.  It was easy to pick the Patriots over the Titans, and I am especially proud that my upset special of Jacksonville over Pittsburgh was correct.

However, I blew the two NFC games.  I didn't think the Eagles could beat the Falcons, and I was wrong when I picked the Saints to down the Vikings.

Having laid that foundation, it's on to League Championship Weekend.

I wasn't an Eagles believer last week, and I'm still hesitant this week.  I'm getting sucked in by that "dome team playing in the cold" thing, so I'm taking the Eagles over the Vikings.  As I write this, the Eagles are getting 3.5 points.  It will be a close one.  The Eagles scored only one touchdown last week, and a weak offense concerns me.  I don't feel good about this one.

While Jacksonville is capable of putting points on the board, as we saw Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Jaguars are no match for the Patriots-- even with an injured Tom Brady.  I hope I'm wrong.

We'll have a Philadelphia/New England Super Bowl.

Now, some words about the Steelers.  Pittsburgh was my team since I was a little kid.  My passion evaporated when the team signed Michael Vick in a back up QB role a few years and I resigned my fan-dom.  I do admit to keeping watch on the team out of the corner of my eye, and I do listen to one of the all sports radio stations in Pittsburgh.  My Steelers fan days are over, and I can't see them coming back.

If that isn't enough, there are too many "me" players on the Steelers.  That shows a lack of discipline, and that comes from the head coach.  The playoff game with Jacksonville was a poorly coached disaster.  The Steelers will enter the season with a new offensive coordinator.  It's not enough.

Do I have a new team?  No.  Will I?  Probably not.  I do tune in an occasional game and catch the highlights on the NFL Network.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I think this is the earliest I've ever written my yearly skunk blog entry.

To quickly get you up to speed, most people think seeing a robin is a sign of spring.  No way!  for me, it's the aroma of a skunk that signals warmer weather is on the way.

I was getting out of my car last Tuesday morning, 5 o'clock, after a gym visit, when the aroma hit me like a brick.  There was a skunk in my hard.  I couldn't see him, but I knew he or she was there.

You see, in the spring, skunks that had been inactive during the winter get hungry and start looking for love.  My yard happened to be ground zero on this particular morning-- and this was BEFORE the record warm spell.

I do realize that it's possible the approaching warm air threw off the skunky calendar, but I'm not so sure.  We're in for an early spring.

We'll see what the ground hog has to say next month.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I Read the News Today

I love newspapers.  While the internet versions are great, I still enjoy hearing the thump of the paper arriving on the front porch in the morning, taking off the rubber band, and seeing what's new in the world.  Yes, I've already seen most of on the internet, but the print version has such charm and memories.

I don't know when the fascination started.  I suspect visiting some of those old downtown Scranton newsstands as a kid played a role.  The smell of the newsprint, rack after rack of out-of-town papers.  The fascination became cemented a little later.  You could get the morning paper late at night, in an edition called the blue streak.  The afternoon paper published editions  beginning just after noon.

Visiting an actual newsroom was a great joy.  The haze of cigar and cigarette smoke in the air, the rumble of the press below, the sound of typewriters in the room and the teletypes in an adjacent room.  Again, that smell of newsprint and ink.  It was magic, and I'm sorry people getting in to the business no longer have that experience.  Yes, I can do without the smoke.

As I got in to the business, I marveled at the work of newspaper reporters.  Broadcasters are generalists.  The print people had to get every detail, and while covering the courthouse, I watched them bang it out under deadline pressure.   Some of the older guys knew every person in power, knew where every body was buried.  I was in awe.

There are still a couple of "must read" columns in newspapers near me.  I wish there were more.

Having built that foundation, the newspapers I love don't love me back.  They are thinner than ever.  Big photos and big graphics disguise a decline in content.  Prices are up.  There are rumors some papers will stop publishing seven days a week.  Another might disappear altogether.  Papers in adjacent cities duplicate content.  There are circulation problems.  As I've noted here before, one paper has a major problem getting its product on the streets.

Entire generations are growing up without experiencing the power of print.  I was lucky.

One other note before I close.  Hugh Wilson died Sunday.  74.  Wilson created "WKRP in Cincinnati."  Most in the business called it the most realistic sitcom about radio-- ever, and I have to agree.  I alsays thought "WKRP" was inconsistent, but when it was funny, there was nothing better out there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Media Tuesday

It was a joy listening to WCBS 880 cover the recent nor'easter.  I hope the new owners don't screw it up.

Some legendary radio stations have dropped CBS News to align with ABC.  The reason is cost.  Both are fine products.

CBS picked John Dickerson to replace Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning.  It's a solid choice.  I didn't see much of it, but I read a week long test around Christmas went extremely well.

Hoda Kotb kept NBC's ratings up after Mat Lauer's departure.  She deserved the promotion.

ABC still leads the evening news race.  Jeff Glor hasn't moved the needle over at CBS.  Give it some time.  It's only been a month.  It's a solid broadcast.  As I always say, the problem isn't the network broadcast at 6:30.  CBS gets a very weak lead-in from several bit market affiliates around the country.

I know it's January, and that's not a big advertising time...  However, the daily newspapers seem thinner than ever.  I plan to write more on "print" in the days to come.  Stay tuned.

I'm happy the holidays are over because my favorite news and sports talk show hosts are back on the job.  FOX Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio had some solid fill-ins.  It wasn't the same.

Oprah Winfrey is a gifted communicator.  She also contributes to 60 Minutes.  I wonder how the journalists at CBS feel about someone who specializes in opinion working on a serious news broadcast.

I'm intrigued by David Letterman's new Netflix talk show, but not intrigued enough to pay for it.  From the clips provided, it looks very Tom Snyder-esque.  Two chairs on stage.  Two oeple talking.  Some remote stuff.  It's odd.  When Letterman started, his interviewing was horrendous.  Now, it's become his specialty.

Speaking of Letterman, it makes me sad that I have to explain to people what a "Hal Gurnee Network Time Killer" was.

Different networks call it different things, but I love that camera that flies over a field during football games.

What can you say about Keith Jackson?  The legendary sportscaster died last week at the age of 89.  Jackson was best known for college football, but he also did the NFL, MLB, auto racing, the NBA and the Olympics.  Plus, he did all those varied assignments for Wide World of Sports.  A great talent and a great loss.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gym Rats

I don't know what happened this year.

Right after the new year begins, the gym is filled with newbies-- people who are resolving to take off some weight and get in shape.

I will preface this by saying I visit the gym in "off peak" hours, but I didn't see the newbie influx this year.

At first, I thought it was the brutally cold weather.  The new year came in on an icy note.  It would have been very easy to put off those gym visits and wait until it gets a little warmer.

The warm weather came.  The newbies didn't.

I wish I had a reason.  My gym chain held a promotion to get new visitors.  The ads were everywhere.

Cold and flu season keeping people home?

Did Santa bring a lot of home exercise equipment?

Unfortunately, many of the newbies disappear after several weeks.  That makes me sad.

I'll give you my usual speech.  Start slow.  Have realistic expectations.  You're not going to get in shape overnight.  Take a friend.  Even if you don't burn that many calories, at least you're doing something and it all helps in the long run.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Andy's Angles: Lackawanna College

You can tell is someone is a NEPA native, and a "mature adult" if a reference to this place as Lackawanna Junior College slips out.

The "Junior" went along a long time ago, and you should see this place on a weekday morning.  The area around North Washington and Vine is filled with activity, and that makes me happy.  A solid higher educational system is important to our area's vitality.

The college has expanded down North Washington Avenue and a major expansion to the old office complex across the street is underway.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Library

This is the main branch of the Scranton Public Library at North Washington and Vine.

It's a spectacular building int he day, and it takes on a different appearance at night-- almost like a castle.

Detractors say libraries don't have a place in society these days.  The internet has taken its place.  Successful libraries have modified their mission.  They're now places for people to gather and learn together.  And to those who are not internet savvy, head to the library.  There are people there to teach you.

Books are available the traditional way, or they can be sent to your e-reader or tablet.  Technology will help libraries survive, not kill them.

I do have a library card, and my library of choice is a bit closer to home.  I'm happy the system is there when I need it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Divisional Playoff Weekend

This is the time of year when I pick football games.  I will admit that while I have a very good Super Bowl record, my playoff choices leave something to be desired.

I know it's not wise to pick a domed, warm climate team to come up north and beat a team that plays outside.  Based on the Eagles' performance on the last weekend of the season, I think the Atlanta Falcons will beat the Eagles in a close game.

I have no doubt New England destroys Tennessee Saturday night.  By the way, other than the league and NBC, who thought a January night playoff game in Massachusetts is a good idea?

The Sunday early game is my upset special.  Pittsburgh has 13 wins.  Many were squeakers, on the toe of their kicker.  I don't thing the Steelers are well coached or well disciplined.  Jacksonville beat them in week 5.  While The Jaguars are not a great team, I think they have enough to beat Pittsburgh.

The Sunday late game could be the best one of the bunch.  New Orleans heads north to play Minnesota.  Two dome teams.  The Vikings' strength surprised me this season. The Vikings should be nicely rested after a week off.  New Orleans seems to be peaking at the right time.  I have no confidence in this pick, but give me the Saints.

Just a guess, but I would not be surprised to see a New Orleans/New England Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tie One On

Little things often make my day.  Case in point, yesterday's blog on the supermarket popcorn incident.

I was at the Veterans Administration hospital in Plains Township last week and was complimented on my ties.  I gave my usual response:  "Don't compliment me.  Compliment Al Boscov."

Here's the skinny on my ties.  I have no store or brand loyalty.  Many came from sales at Boscov's.  A big number came from discount places like Marshall's, Maxx, Kohl's and Burlington.  I visit the big national department store chains only when there is a huge sale.  Tie prices are outrageous!  I have found a couple of on-line sites that offer quality stuff at low prices.  Buying ties on-line is risky business.

Most of my suits are navy, grey or black.  The tie lends a splash of much needed color.

Believe it or not, there is some pattern to my color choices.  Icy blues come out in January.  You'll see pastels in the spring and around Easter.  Orange dominates September, October, and November.  Reds and greens pop up around Christmas.  The rest of the year is a mixed bag.

One of my favorite news directors insisted on white or pale blue shirts when anchoring, so I stick with that.  I've added some stripes and checks to the mix for my reporting days.

And, yes, I try to select my clothes the day before work.  Anything that saves time late or night or early in the morning is a huge help.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Does It Really Work?: Popcorn

I love popcorn, but most microwave varieties are too salty and greasy.  I've tried several.  I spotted what you see above on-line and decided to give it a try.  It's a silicone bowl and lid.  You place the kernels on the bottom.  Oil is optional, but I've found it works best with a tiny, tiny splash.  Three minutes later, you have popcorn.

Yes, it works and it works well.  You can generally find it for less than $15.  It cleans easily.

My first experiences were with generally available supermarket popcorn varieties.  No problem.

I read about a brand called Bob's Red Mill.  If you're not familiar with Bob's, the company has a huge line of grains and cereals, including tons of gluten free items. The popcorn is well reviewed.  The problem was finding it.  I could have bought it on-line and had it shipped, but you had to buy four bags and the shipping costs are rather high.

Wegman's has just about everything Bob's sells-- but not the popcorn.  An internet search revealed Bill's ShopRite in Daleville carries it, so that's where I wandered the aisles last week.  I couldn't find it!  It wasn't in the snack section.  Not in cereals, with all the other Bob's products.  I finally cornered an employee and she gladly took me to the unpopped popcorn section-- near the candy and nuts.

I have to add that several Bill's employees and customers are fans of WNEP and the weekend morning broadcasts.  Thank you, and you all treated me so nicely.  You made my day.

Of course, I had to pop some Bob's as soon as I returned home.  My review:  it tastes the same as other popcorns, but the big difference is at the bottom of the bowl.  Just about every kernel popped, a much higher percentage than other brands I tried.

I tried the yellow variety.  It also comes in white.  Will I buy it again?  Yes, I'll grab another bag the next time in the neighborhood.

It's the new year, and so many of us intend to eat lighter and healthier.  Try popping your own corn.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

About the Cover

I decided to open 2018 with my favorite train in the Steamtown collection.  I love the lines.  I love the colors.  I took the photo on a brutally cold, but sunny morning.

A "winter" type header usually occupies the top of the blog in January.  Nothing really jumped out at me in the days between Christmas and January 1.  I'm sure one of my favorite destinations, Lackawanna State Park, is spectacular, and I intend to get up there very soon.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Business News

I noted last week how I love to shop on New Year's morning.  Let me expand on that.

Going out on New Year's Eve never appealed to me.  One of my old radio bosses referred to it as "amateur night."  I've worked more than my share of overnighters on New Year's Eve, and it's no big deal to me.  It comes along with the territory and I never felt as if I was missing out on anything.

That was the case again this year.  My shift at the TV station ended at 6 am, so my morning was free.

New Year's morning shopping has a lot of appeal.  First, the stores are empty.  Secondly, there are big sales, especially the winter items.  In Scranton, PA, if you buy a winter coat on January 1st, you can probably wear it for the next six months.

Here is where things go off the track. 

I ventured out just before 9 am.  First stop was a big box store, the trendy one with the red and white logo.  The store was clean and well organized.  There were plenty of things to look at, including clothes and electronics.  Nothing really appealed to me and I left.  No big deal.

Next stop was another big box, one that specializes in clothing.  It was a mess.  Disorganized.  Sizes all over the place.  No rhyme or reason to displays.  It did nothing to make shopping easy.

After that, I headed over to a mall.  Same story.  Disorganization with nothing to enhance the shopping experience.

I'm so tired of hearing retailers whine about people spending money via the internet.  Your stores are sloppy.  You are practically begging me to go on-line.

Look what happened to Sears and KMart.  The company didn't invest in improving its stores and now they are teetering on the edge of going out of business.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Andy's Angles: Monument

This is another New Year's Eve photo from Garfield Square in Pottsville.  It's the Spanish American War monument.  A soldier stands watch over the freezing night.

This area received a bit of an upgrade in late summer of 2017.  It's a nice collection of monuments, along with a little green space, and it adds so much character to an underrated city.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Andy's Angles: Garfield Square

The first Andy's Angles of 2018!

As noted earlier this week, I spent New Year's Eve in Pottsville.

The photo above was taken in the last hour of 2017 in Garfield Square.  The crowd had yet to arrive.  New snow on the Christmas tree, a WNEP satellite truck, with the dish pointed skyward on the right...  It was a beautiful, but cold night.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Still Here

The Scranton School District budget story dominated the December headlines, and it shows no signs of going away.

To quickly get you up to speed, due to years of bungling and mismanagement, the Scranton School District wound up $19 million in debt.  State officials blasted the Scranton operation and they're threatening a state take over.  The state did reward the people who have proven they can't handle money a $2 million gift.

Just after Christmas, the school board okayed a tax increase and firing 89 people.  Those 89 teach specialties.  Other teachers will have to pick up the slack.  The layoffs hit at the end of the current school year.

There were a couple of public meetings in December.  Everyone complained.  A few offered solutions.  I don't mean to rain on their parade, but those money saving suggestions are a drop in the bucket.

The cuts will hurt-- a lot.  Other than making future generations pay the bill, has there been a realistic money saving solution?

It's going to come down to this.  If you want your child to have physical education, you're going to have to make time to play in the park.  Arts and music?  Private lessons.  I realize not everyone can afford the time and the money.  That's why this situation hurts so badly.  Kids will suffer.

There is more.  There are several old buildings in the Scranton School district.  Those buildings will eventually need repairs-- or replacement.  Once the current set of bills is paid, more are coming down the pike.

Any ideas?

Scranton is the first.  I can see other districts having the same problems in the not so distant future.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Another Day

Everyday she takes a morning bath she wets her hair
Wraps a towel around her as she's heading for the bedroom chair
It's just another day.  (Paul McCartney)

I can be accused of many things.  Inconsistency is not on the list.

It's the same thing every year.

Christmas, my birthday, and New Year's Eve/Day are all in rapid succession.  

Every year, I dread that week.

Every year, I can't wait until it's over.

January rolls around.

Every year, I regret not doing something fun.

One year, the pattern might be broken.

I'm not holding out much hope.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Left Overs

Some things from last year are on my mind today, and let's open the refrigerator to share some leftovers...

Former NBC and CBS sportscaster Dick Enberg passed away just before Christmas.  Along with Pat Summerall, Enberg was one of the voices of Sunday afternoon.  Extremely professional-- plus great fun to hear call a game.

Rose Marie died just after Christmas.  94.  I can't say I was a fan of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  Likely, the humor was too sophisticated for my young mind.  I did enjoy her Hollywood Squares appearances.

NBC is considering a new version of "The Office."  I wonder if it will be as stunningly unfunny as the original.  The bar has been set very high.

Gasoline prices shot up after last year's rash of hurricanes-- and they never came down.  Why?  I know OPEC is trying to keep a lid on production.

Retailers should be reporting Christmas season profits soon.  I fully expect to see a renewed spurt of store closings this winter and spring, even though Christmas sales looked strong.   I'm sorry.  Amazon and other on-line retailers make it too easy.

It's January.  Winter is one-third over!  On the other hand, two-thirds are left.

I had the opportunity to watch "Bad Santa: a couple of times last week.  That movie works on so many levels.

An all news station, KQV 1410 in Pittsburgh, went off the air at the end of 2017.  More live and local radio disappears, and it makes me sad.  The owner said the business model no longer worked.  He was losing thousands every month.  I'm surprised there are no national all news formats on terrestrial radio.  You have to go to satellite or the internet to get a good news fix.

A few pleasant surprises in the NFL this year, and the L.A. Rams are at the top of the list.

Charles Osgood of CBS Radio retired at the end of the year.  It sounds unAmerican, but the guy's charm was lost on me.  I do respect his longevity.

Will the person who left this minty, gooey, chocolately, cream cheesy brownie in the WNEP newsroom on Christmas Eve please reveal yourself to me?  It might have been the best brownie I ever had.  I have to know where you bought it, or get the recipe.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

First Person: My New Year

This all started a couple of weeks ago.  I was scheduled to work my usual Monday morning shift.  After giving it some thought, I went to the boss and reasoned that New Year's morning is traditionally very slow.  I should come in late New Year's Eve and cover that new Lackawanna County New Year's celebration in downtown Scranton.

The news director gave my plan the green light and added that I should wander in even earlier so I can do a live report for our late night broadcast on December 31st.

No problem.

Then, Mother Nature intervened.

Temperatures plummeted.  Downtown Scranton outdoor activities were canceled.  I arrived at the station Sunday night.  Producer Tanya and I talked it over.  We wanted to do something where weather was part of the story.  Scranton's celebration was nice-- but indoors.  After a short discussion, photographer Faye was asked to load up a satellite truck.  We were going to Pottsville!

For the last ten years or so, Pottsville has been lifting a giant Yuengling bottle in Garfield Square.  While the celebration was shortened because of the cold, it was still on, and still outdoors.  We arrived a little after 10 pm, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach.  The square was empty!  We assumed that, because of the cold, people would arrive close to midnight and leave shortly after.  We were right.

I was live on Newswatch 16 at 11.  A decent sized crowd arrived.  We talked to people before and after midnight.  Yes, it was brutally cold, but when you're busy and having fun, you really don't seem to mind.  We finished about 12:15 am, and it was back to the office.

The people in Pottsville were great.  They really enjoyed themselves, and they were happy their event received some TV recognition.

Below is a photo of the Yuengling Lager bottle at the top of the flag pole.

Photographer Faye had a long day, so photographer Jason edited one of my pieces for Newswatch 16 This Morning and photographer Erich handled the other.  I made it home a little after 6 am. 

After a cat nap, it was on to do one of my favorite New Year's morning activities-- shopping.  There are always plenty of sales, especially winter clothing, and stores are empty.  This year was no exception.  Major problem:  I couldn't find anything I wanted or needed.  It was still nice to get out for a while.  Cabin fever is setting in early this year.

I hope you had a great first day of 2018, and let's keep our fingers crossed for many more.

Monday, January 1, 2018


Happy New Year!

I will offer my yearly statement that I think we place far too much significance on the turning of a calendar page.  However, if it helps you make some changes you think you need, go for it.

I hope the new year is everything you want it to be.  Thank you for being along for the ride.  Stay warm!