Monday, September 30, 2019

America Says

I yammered on about the new game show "25 Words or Less" a couple of weeks ago.  There is another new game show out in syndication this fall.

Apparently "America Says" did well enough on GSN to earn the right to be sold to individual broadcast stations around the country.

It's oddly addictive.  "America Says" is like "Family Feud," except the rounds are timed and the show is not dirtied up and dumbed down, as "Family Feud" has become.  It's very easy to play along at home, and you will find yourself screaming answers at the television.

John Michael Higgins, who played David Letterman in HBO's "The Late Shift" movie, several years ago is the host.  Normally, actors make lousy hosts because they're used to playing characters and not being themselves.  Higgins does a nice job.  He's funny when he has to be, and moves the game along nicely, without getting the way.

"America Says" has some flaws.  Like "25 Words or Less," the final round has enough points available to render the earlier rounds irrelevant.   Plus,  the bonus round, worth $15,000, is nearly impossible to win.

The show isn't great. but you won't be sorry if you spend a half hour watching "America Says."

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Andy's Angles: FOX Publicity

The great Tommy Woods brought this to my attention the other day.  Check out the name on the truck driving by the New York City FOX News studios.

We're not related.

It's always a kick to hear from Tommy.  He is a WARM Radio legend, and a legend in radio, period.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Andy's Angles: DC Train

You know me.  I can't resist an opportunity to photograph rail cars.

These three recently showed up parked near Boulevard Avenue and Main in Dickson City.  Don't ask me why.

Unfortunately, the best sun angle happened to be on the less scenic side during my visit.

Friday, September 27, 2019

It Adds Up

It's seems like it's become a theme week:  the Pennsylvania General Assembly and education.

The state senate this week passed a bill allowing public school students to apply credits in personal finance to high school graduation requirements.  The vote was unanimous.

Bravo!  I had a "consumer economics" elective in high school.  It was exceptionally valuable.  I understand it was discontinued many years ago.  It was yet another short sighted decision.

It's a fact of life.  Everything revolves money.  Students should know how to make it, how to save it, how to invest it, and how to handle it.  You need to know everything from Wall Street to Main Street.

The bill now moves on to the state house.  I hope the men and women there see its value.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Can of Worms

A blog entry a couple of weeks ago seems to have opened up a whole new can of worms, so let's get you up to speed...

I posted my final senior year report card in this space., along with comments on my teachers and the school.   A Facebook buddy linked it to a page dedicated to my old school district, and I was flattered.

If you're regular visitor, you know that I don't have many nice things to say about the school district of my era.  I hope it's changed.  Some questioned that if it was so bad, why did it produce so many successful graduates?  This is true, but could you imagine the number of successes if the school district did things right?

A couple of classmates I absolutely adore listed me as one of the successes, and I thank them.  I'll let you in on a little secret.  TV news isn't that hard.  Yes, you do have to know a little bit about a lot of different things, and a lot about government, the law and politics.  Other than that, it's just a matter of being simple, clear and concise.  Always remember, it's about the story.  It's not about you.  Boom!  Done!  Oh, I forgot one thing:  have nice ties, and always wear a coat with the station logo.

A lot of it is just dumb luck.  So much is just finding people who believe in you and are willing to give you a chance.  I have been more fortunate than I really deserve.  You will not hear me complain about the stress or the hours because we have the best jobs on the planet.  We stand there, learn new things, meet fascinating people and talk about it.  How cool is that?

Several of my classmates became stay at home parents.  Others went in to the military.  Believe me, both are harder and more important than anything I do.

Several years ago, a student writer from the school newspaper contacted me for a story.  Someone decided I was one of the top ten most important graduates.  Unfortunately, the person at the other end of the phone was so giggly and disjointed, I thought it was a prank, and I hung up the phone.  I never did learn if the call was legitimate.

There was one comment on that school Facebook page that made tons of sense.  It's not the job you have.  It's the person you are.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Skeptical in the Snow

A bill passed the state senate appropriations committee this week.  It gives police the discretion to pull over cars and trucks, carrying accumulated snow, that pose a danger.  As it stands now, police can cite you if your snow and ice flies off and hurts someone.

The bill's heart is in the right place.  It was prompted by the death of a Northampton County woman several years ago.  Ice flew off a truck.  It slammed into the windshield, and the driver was killed.

Should every car and truck, especially the big rigs, be cleared of snow and ice before they hit the road?  Absolutely?  Is it practical to do so?  No.  Do police have the time to pull over every car and truck with an accumulation of snow?    Negative.

A similar bill made it through the state senate last year.  It died in the house.

I wouldn't be surprised if this one met a similar fate, even though it's a great idea.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Roll Out the Barrel

A supermarket I visit on occasion recently remodeled.  I hadn't been there in a while, so what I saw on a recent visit really startled me.

There is a section, a giant section, carved out right down the middle of the store and it's devoted to beer and wine.  Coolers and shelves, fully stocked with just about every brand under the sun.  The beer and wine section occupies valuable store real estate.

A beer-centric mini mart recently opened near me, and a big chain mini mart just up the road reopens this week, after a renovation to accommodate seating and big beer coolers.

I have no problem with the responsible use of alcohol.

It's abundantly clear that northeastern Pennsylvanians love their beer, and retailers will spend big money to get it in to your belly.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Mister Softee

What happened to me?

As noted earlier, I'm really stepping back from my interest in the NFL, but some stories are bigger than sports.  That includes Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger's season ending injury, and the NY Giants benching quarterback Eli Manning.

This entry is about the latter.

Call me Mister Softee, but I feel very sorry for Eli Manning.  He represented himself and his team well for the past several years.  I'm not sure if his skills have diminished, or if the Giants brass surrounded him with a lousy team.  The Giants aren't winning, and someone has to pay the price.  Enter Eli Manning. Or, exit Eli Manning.

I know the job of NFL quarterback isn't Pope.  You don't get it for life.  I just have this nagging feeling that Manning deserves better.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Wall in Plymouth

The entries are reversed this weekend.  This is the scene setter, so I should have done it yesterday-- but I really wanted to get to the man you saw in yesterday's entry first.

I really have to give a lot of credit to the people who brought "The Wall That Heals" to Plymouth and organized the surrounding events.  It was a sad time in American history.  It divided the country, and 50,000 young people lost their lives.

I'm sure this wall, or one like it, will make another appearance.  It's worth a visit.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Wall: Three

I visited "The Wall That Heals" during its visit to Plymouth earlier this month.

To get you up to speed, the wall is a 3/4 size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.  When these things first started passing through our area, I didn't think it was that big of a deal-- until I saw it in person.  It might be smaller, but the emotional punch is still there.

My visit was at 3 AM.  There was only one other person there, in addition to the people keeping an eye on the operation.  He's the man you see above.  He studied the names of those killed in Vietnam with great intent.  You could tell he was very emotional, so I gave him his space, his privacy.  But, I did ask how many he knew.  The response:  three.

That's three too many.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Games People Play

Today's blog entry is actually prompted by a caller to Talkback 16 this week.

A woman is very unhappy "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" at 12:30 pm is replaced by "25 Words or Less."  The caller wants "Millionaire" back.  I hate to disappoint a viewer, but it's never going to happen.  "Millionaire" is out of production.  The syndicator pulled the plug.  There will be no new episodes.

Having said that, it was a fine show.  It's flaw is that so few people walked with the $1 million.  It just wasn't a lot of fun.  I'll give the producers credit for keeping with the original format, and not gimmicking it up to get more winners, like "Deal or No Deal" did.  That show became unwatchable.

As for the replacement, "25 Words or Less," give it a chance.  I watched a couple of episodes.  It's not bad.  Quickly describing the format, teams have to guess words, using the fewest number of word clues.  It's highly derivative.  Watching, you can see pieces of "Password," "Celebrity Name Game," "Pyramid," "Name that Tune" and a few others.  Meredith Vieira does a nice job as host.  She doesn't get in the way of the game.

The only thing that bugs me is the last round is the only one that really counts.  You can score so many points, the first couple of rounds are rendered irrelevant. 

As a kid who grew up on 60's and 70's game shows, I'm glad to see the genre is still part of American television, and I'd love to see more.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cokie and Sander

Broadcasting and journalism lost a couple of giants this week.

Cokie Roberts of ABC and NPR died yesterday.  75.  Complications from breast cancer.

Even though Roberts had a rich and powerful Washington pedigree, she had an "everywoman" quality about her.  Approachability.  She made the complex simple, and that's a rare gift.

Sander Vanocur also died this week.  91.  He worked for NBC and ABC, before he retired in 1991.  Political expert.  In fact, Vanocur was in the panel for the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960.

He was the definition of "gravitas" and a former NBC executive called Sander Vanocur the "best political reporter he ever worked with."  When Sander Vanocur said something, you believed it, and that's a rare trait these days.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In Circles

Penndot is out with another effort to sell us on roundabouts.

It seems very few people like them.  Yet, Penndot continues to inflict them upon us.

Anyway, Penndot says its studies show there is a decrease in serious accidents where roundabouts have been installed, but an increase in fender benders and other collisions..

I'm still a skeptic.  They might be okay in some applications.  The Avoca Airport interchange, where there are a serious of roundabouts in a small space, remains a nightmare.  It will be interesting to see how the South Valley Parkway in Hanover Township and Nanticoke works.

The bottom line is go slow and be extra careful, and count the days until Penndot loses its fascination with these things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ric and Eddie

The music industry lost two giants recently-- Eddie Money on Friday and Ric Ocasek, of Cars fame, on Sunday.

Others can do better jobs on the obituaries, but I will say that those two were the soundtrack of my youth.  When I hear a Cars song, I can still see myself, spinning records at my college radio station.  That's the joy of music.  It's not just notes drifting through the air.  It's a time and place.  In my case, a little radio studio, in the basement of a library, on a sleepy college campus.

I have to add, Money did a hilarious guest shot on the Drew Carey sitcom, playing himself, as Mimi's ex-husband.

I thank Money and Ocasek for their contributions to the music industry.

I thank them for making my life a little more enjoyable.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Do It Again

Wendy's announced plans for a nationwide breakfast rollout sometime next year.  This will be Wendy's FOURTH try at breakfast.  It's been testing early morning offerings at about 300 stores around the country.

This shouldn't be hard.  Give me a hot sandwich and a cold drink at a reasonable price, and do it fast.  Wendy's is hiring an additional 20,000 employees to make it work.

I suspect coffee and hot drinks (not my thing) will be the cornerstone of morning's at Wendy's.  Industry experts say mornings is the only fast food growth area.  All you have to do is look at the lines around McDonald's and Dunkin' every morning for proof of that.  Perhaps another player in the game will make those lines more manageable.

If Wendy's is smart, it will open earlier, to get a jump on the other guys.  You'd be amazed at the traffic on the roads at 3 and 4 am.

My view of Wendy's has always been this-- great chicken, good fries.  A chocolate Frosty is one of life's great joys.  Everything else is merely adequate.

It will be interesting to see if Wendy's can pull business from the other guys-- and if it will stay with it.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Andy's Angles: Follow Up

Last Sunday's entry was devoted to a war memorial statue in the Newberry section of Williamnsport.  I noted that an internet search failed to turn up much information.

Well, once again, it's "Researcher to the Stars" and author Joe Klapatch to the rescue.  From the tail end of the 1948 story you see above, the monument dates back to 1922.

Check out last week's photos.  The monument is in great shape, and someone is caring for it.  That makes me happy.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Ride

It always falls on my vacation week, or vice versa.  I paid my annual visit to the SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Motorcycle Run Sunday afternoon.  Argonish was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.  His family and friends organized the run, which just passed its 12th year, to raise money for charities that help veterans.

I never met Jan, but I do know his mother and father.  Good people.  I don't know any of the riders who show up year after year, but many come over to say hello as I'm snapping pictures.  It's nice to know our weekend morning broadcasts have so many fans.

The photo you see above was snapped just as the 50 mile ride began in Jessup.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Let's Review

Another vacation week is in the books.  Let's review.

I did a little shopping, a little photography, a little wandering, rode my bike several times, saw some old friends and caught up on my sleep. My car is newly inspected and has fresh oil.  My arm is still a little sore from a flu shot.   In other words, business as usual.

While the battery needed to be recharged, it will be nice to get back to work.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Time Flies

The second half of September always moves more slowly than the first, and that can easily be explained.

The first half of September contains Labor Day and a vacation week.  The second half is all work and no holidays.

Late September should be more interesting than usual this year, for reasons I'll discuss later.

I can say that my favorite mini mart, and my favorite gym will be reopening late this month, after the completion of renovation projects.

Late September also drags because I'm looking forward to October, which contains another vacation week and a few scattered personal days.

It's then the busy season of getting ready for Election Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the start of 2020.

The slowest time of fall is soon upon us.  Then, not much time to breathe until January.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Rite of Fall

There is a dead virus coursing through my veins.

Yes, I received my yearly flu shot the other morning.  It was a touch on the early side, but I had the time off.  I called a doctor's office and received a Johnny Olsen-esque "Come On Down."  Twenty minutes after the call, I had a needle in my arm.

It doesn't hurt.  It doesn't make you sick.  Do it for yourself.  Do it for your friends, family and coworkers.

Insurance covers it.  If you don't have insurance, do some asking at the big chain drug stores.  Most have deals where you get coupons after the shot.  It pays for itself.

It could be the most important thing you do this fall.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thanks, NFL

I resigned my Pittsburgh Steelers fandom several years ago, when the team signed dog killer Michael Vick as a back up quarterback.

After the past few weeks, I'm done with the rest of the league.

Where else can you behave poorly, disregard a contract, and be rewarded with more money and a new job?

Mike Tomlin lost control of the Steelers last year, and management gives him a contract extension.  Tomlin thanks his bosses by going in to opening night unprepared and embarrassing his team and his city.

Most believe the Miami Dolphins are tanking this season so they get the first draft pick next year.

It seems at least one player is arrested for every week, and I'm being conservative with the numbers.

I'm just tired of the greed and the incompetence.

NFL, thank you for giving me back my Sunday afternoons.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Still in a Fog

It turns out vaping wasn't as safe as first thought.  Some places are banning or restricting availability, and that's probably not a bad thing.

Are we doing anything new to curb "traditional" smoking?  I know some places have upped the legal purchase age. 

Pennsylvania has some pretty weak laws when it comes to smoking in public places.  I have no problems with what you do in the privacy of your own home, but if your activity becomes a danger to others, it has to end.

You have to walk through a cloud to get in to some buildings.  Casinos have floor space dedicated to smokers, but it still drifts over in to the "clean" area.  Bars that don't sell much food sneak in under PA's law.

Second hand smoke is a proven health issue.  Smoking causes billions in losses to the American economy.  Yet, vaping has emerges as the new public enemy number one.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

 I really wish I had some major insight in to this month's blog header.  I searched the internet, and came up empty.

This is a war memorial at the intersection of Fourth, Arch, and Water streets in the Newberry section of Williamsport.
And, it has a bell.

It's an interesting site, in the middle of an urban area.

As you can see, someone cares for it.  No weeds, no trash, and the area is rather tidy.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Andy's Angles: By the Numbers

I've been yammering recently about the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.

One of my favorite junior high school teachers passed away, and that started a discussion, with a high school friend, of teachers I liked and the ones I despised.  The hate was mutual.  It prompted me to do a little digging.  Above is my final high school report card.

Some things need explaining.

Mr. Dudek's sociology elective was always entertaining.  I used to love simply throwing the bull with Dudek and talking about politics.  You have to remember, this was 1978 and 1979, as the Jimmy Carter presidency was crumbling.  I lost touch with Mike Dudek.  If I remember properly, he left teaching and started working with labor unions.  I'll never forget what he told me about my writing.  He said I had the ability to express two thoughts in one sentence.  Writing tight helped when I entered the news business.

Mr. Bartkowski, the Algebra instructor, was blessed with a lot of common sense.  He knew my classmates and I were not headed to MIT.  He focused on things we would actually use upon graduation, and I thank him for that.

Stanley Evans in English might be the only universally loved teacher I ever encountered.  He was a great guy.  Mrs. Evans and I exchanged notes after Stan's passing.  I still keep it close by and I cherish it.  His class was more than literature. Stan knew there were no Shakeapeares in our bunch.   He taught us how to write letters and resumes.  We practiced job interviewing skills.  We wrote and gave book reports.  The public speaking certainly was a help in the years to come.

Jerry Preschutti taught POD, or Problems of Democracy.  It was like a civics course, and it was another one that came in really handy after graduation.  As you can see, I was pretty good at it.

I struggled with Patrick Coleman's Physics course.  He was from Ireland.  He didn't get us.  We didn't get him.  Pat Coleman was a perfectly fine teacher and a nice man.  Unfortunately, he and I were not on the same wave length. pardon the pun,  and you can see what happened.  Coleman quit half way through the year and was replaced by Mrs. Babarsky.  We got along well, and you can see the results.  My grades shot up.

You'll get a major laugh out of the lower right section of the report card, in "teacher comments."  #10 "GETS TO MUCH HELP FROM OTHERS."  #12 "ABSENT TO OFTEN."  Yes, that was Mid Valley, vintage 1979.  They couldn't even get the report cards right, and those errors were there for years.

Check the upper right of the report card.  17 days absent!  That was a lot, and those were just the days I was caught taking.  There were several others, thanks to sloppy record keeping, that never made the books.  If that wasn't enough, I snuck out really early plenty of times.  Yes, I was a scamp.  On the other hand, I was efficient.  I accomplished 180 days of learning in about 145.

By the way, I only missed three classes in four years of college, and one was for my grandmother's funeral.

Always remember one of my famous phrases:  I liked learning.  I didn't like school.  Big difference.

My grades were good.  Not great.  Imagine what I could have done if I actually showed up once in a while.

Friday, September 6, 2019


It's another vacation week, and I'm sure you guessed that when you saw sleeping Homer.

September has always been my major vacation time, going back to my first full time job-- a long, long time ago.

There are plenty of reasons, including cooler weather and a lack of crowds.

No plans-- just a little unwinding.

The Saturday morning broadcast is in the hands of Carmella Mataloni.  Elizabeth Worthington has the Sunday duties  Valerie has started her maternity leave, so Kevin Derk becomes part of the weekend morning team.

See you soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

In a FOG

I've always been a radio junkie, and that hasn't changed.

Something happened last week that bugged me.

I have a great sense of radio history, and legendary stations, including KFOG in San Francisco.  For years, KFOG was THE rocker in northern California.  It set trends and influenced bands, record labels and listeners.  After a series of owners, the format evolved in to something called "alternative."  The ratings shrunk-- a lot.  Those ratings were a fraction of the old days.

The bomb dropped last week.  KFOG would become a simulcast of an AM all sports station.  The switch happens this coming weekend, just in time for the start of the NFL season.  NO!  It can't be!

I know broadcasting has the golden rule:  "If it don't pay, it don't stay."  Believe me, I've seen that first hand over the years.  I'm sure KNBR AM will benefit greatly from being on the FM band.

I also believe that, while there are some lost causes in broadcasting (seen those too!), there are situations that can be fixed.  With some tender, loving care, KFOG could have been a ratings force again.

Now, we'll never know.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

In Memoriam

It is one of my flaws.

I often realize things a little late, don't understand their importance until they're gone.

Valerie Harper died Friday.  Cancer.  80.

The "Rhoda" character grated on me, so I never paid much attention to her.  After her passing, I watched some TV obits and some "Mary Tyler Moore Show" clips.

First of all, Harper was very, very pretty.  Second, she brought a lot to the table.  It's tough being a second banana.  Moore was supposed to be the smart one, the pretty one, and she was.  Harper was never really allowed to shine.

I should have noticed it sooner.

And while I'm at it, I usually catch an old "Match Game" at least once a week.  Of course, Gene Rayburn was the star, but Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly were exceptionally funny in the tiny windows of opportunity they were given, especially Dawson.

Both passed years ago, and they still have the ability to brighten a morning.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


I thought technology was supposed to give us more freedom and independence.

Nope.  Far from it.

It seems like I have at least two devices charging at all times.

If that wasn't bad enough.  There are several different cords, chargers and adapters.  I think I have my appliances organized fairly well, but there are still times I'm looking for the right fit.  I have duplicates of just about everything I need.  It still doesn't appear to be enough.

The sad part is, I don't see the situation improving.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day

I've done a turnaround on Labor Day over the years.

For the first part of my life, it meant back to school and impending doom.

As I grew a little older, I looked forward to Labor Day and going back to school, because it meant one year closer to graduation and freedom.

I like Labor Day even more now because it means the kids are back in school, vacation season is over, nothing is crowded and cooler weather is coming.  Oh, a vacation starts at the close of business today, and when you're on the morning shift, close of business is noon.

Above all, remember what the day is all about.  This country is filled with hard working people.

Celebrate safely.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Andy's Angles: Peanut

This is Peanut, hanging out on a recent morning.  As you might remember, we found her mauled by a dog in the driveway, and nursed her back to health.  We called her Peanut because she was so tiny.  It's tough to tell from the photo, but she's grown up nicely, and is quite the scamp.