Friday, January 31, 2020

LIV a Little

Even though I've stopped paying much attention to the NFL, I feel compelled to do the tradition of making a Super Bowl pick.

First, it's refreshing to see a championship game that doesn't involve the New England Patriots.

The point spread is only 1.5, so, on paper, it looks to be a pretty good game.  The over/under is in the mid fifties, indicating gamblers think it will be a high scoring affair.

I'll follow my trend and habit,  and pick the team with the better defense, so I expect the San Francisco 49ers to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs.  I'm also leaning toward the "under."

I haven't seen a Super Bowl since 1999, and this one should be no different.  I might be up for the very end of the game.  We'll see what happens.

I also have zero interest in any commercial, especially the expected death of the beloved Mr. Peanut.  Hats off to the marketing geniuses at Kraft Heinz.  They let a "Mr. Peanut death" item trickle out a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, every radio station, television station, newspaper and social media site had to do something on it, giving the company millions, maybe billions in free advertising.  Wisely, since the death of Kobe Bryant, the company is backing off.

Gullibility makes me sad.  Please, leave me out of your "commercial" discussions.

I'm guessing Mr. Peanut is exceptionally popular and the company will find some way to give him new life.

Enjoy the game!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Impossible to Breathe

What an incredible news cycle it's been.  Impeachment trial.  Kobe Bryant.  Coronavirus.  Presidential election.  Cheating in baseball.  Super Bowl.  Winter weather.  Australian fires.

In the news business, you get the occasional lull-- a time where nothing really big happens.

My friends, those days are over.

I'm sure there is a deeper meaning somewhere.  Possibly, the explosion of media.  A little story can become a big story in a matter of minutes.

It does keep us hopping and it's just beginning.  Buckle up.  A wild ride is ahead.

And, while I'm at it...  There was some sloppy reporting immediately after the crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others.  Some had the right information, but put it out there before immediate family was notified.  Others simply had the wrong information.

Let me tell you something.  It takes a lot of courage to get breaking news out there.  It takes more courage to pump the brakes and make sure you are doing the right thing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Gym Rats

I'm a little late with this yearly entry, and it deals with the gym.

2020 was no exception.  Several new people started showing up right after the first of the year.  It always happens.  New Year's resolutions.  Most fade away after a while.  I'm happy to report some of the new faces are still visiting as we approach the end of the first month of the year.

In addition, some of the people who drifted away during the holidays have returned.

Let's face it.  The gym isn't fun.  Yes, there is a feeling of satisfaction when a work out is over.  The "during" is the hard part.

As always, my advice is to have realistic expectations and get a gym buddy.  It's easier when you're working out with a friend.

Most importantly, stay with it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


courtesy:  WPMT 43
I've been reading a lot about former Harrisburg mayor Stephen Reed.  He died Saturday from prostate cancer.  70 years old.

Reed was Harrisburg's mayor from 1982 to 2010.  He's been given credit for cleaning up the city, creating a restaurant row, establishing City Island Park as a great recreational area, improving education, and more.

He was THE information source, appearing at just about every big fire and major crime.  He was the only one authorized to speak to the media, and I was warned about that very early in to my freelancing stint there several years ago.

Reed grew to be too powerful, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on artifacts for a proposed Wild West museum.  Yes, a wild west museum in Harrisburg.  Thank heaven Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty weren't around to see that one.

The museum never happened.  Investigators smelled something fishy.  Criminal charges followed. 

There were other problems, including a debacle over a trash incinerator that cost taxpayers millions.

Absolute power.

You know the rest.

I doubt we'll ever see another Stephen Reed type again.

I'm not complaining.

Monday, January 27, 2020

In Memoriam

Jim Lehrer died last week.  85.  PBS reporter and anchor.

I'm not going to pretend to be a "NewsHour"fan, but I was impressed that he moderated 12 presidential or vice presidential debates.  That's a tribute to the man's fairness and respect.

I did read Lehrer's book. "A Bus of My Own" when it was released.  Lehrer's father ran a bus company and then managed a bus station.  Lehrer loved buses, collecting signs and other memorabilia over the years.  He even bought and restored an old bus that he drove around his farm.  I'm sure you can find the book somewhere.  You'll enjoy it, even if you're not a news junkie.  The man had a fascinating career.

Lehrer, according to the Washington Post, was one of those journalists who never voted.  That makes me sad.   Lehrer believed it preserved his impartiality.  Voting is a privilege.  Use it.  if you're a journalist, be fair and leave your bias behind when you walk out of the polling place.

Shifting gears...

Friday was the 45th anniversary of the death of Larry Fine, by favorite Stooge.

I loved Larry for several reasons.  He reminded me of the guy who lived across the street.  My neighbor wasn't a stooge, but there was a slight resemblance, especially in the nose and the hair line.  I still look at the porch where my neighbor spent so many days after retiring, and I really miss him.

Larry always tried to be the peace maker between Moe and Curly or Shemp.  He always tried to do the right thing, the voice of reason, and he was always rewarded with a slap.

Few people know Larry was an accomplished violinist, and a Philadelphia native.

He made me laugh, and I am grateful for the gift.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Andy's Angles: Old and New

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.

If I do have one criticism, it is that it doesn't change much.

Imagine my delight when I found this on a cold morning earlier this month-- an old and a new Reading engine side by side.  Again, regular readers know the one on my left is my favorite in the collection.  I just adore the black, green and gold.

Having said that, I really hate this shot.  The winter sun was not my friend, a very low angle.  It was impossible for this amateur to get the shot he wanted.

I will return.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Andy's Angles: Solitary Duck

He's tough to spot, in the middle of a cold Lackawanna River at Blakely.

It was a solitary duck, on a sunny but cold winter morning.

In all honesty, he wasn't so solitary.  Some friends were on the bank off to my left.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Heal Thyself

There was a fascinating guest editorial in the Times~Leader this week.  It was written by a doctor, who was alarmed over the increasing number of Americans who no longer have a primary care physician.

The writer blamed some of that on the increased appearance of walk in medi-clinics and the internet.  In a refreshing twist, he also placed some of the blame on the medical industry,  and primary care physicians who have become less responsive to patients' needs.

I've written about my issues with the medical industry in this space before.  I had one doctor, who I loved, close a practice with very short notice.  The medical group this doctor belonged to really didn't seem to care what became of the patients.

I called one doctor, who wanted me to apply to become a patient.  Pass.

Others seemed more interested in my insurance than my needs.  Pass.

I found a nice, little, small town practice.  There were a few years of happiness.  He then closed it, and moved in with one of the giant companies.  Pass.

I didn't drop my primary care physician.  He dropped me.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


A quick review:  I've made no secret of the fact that I hated 6th grade.  I was stuck in a horrible, decrepit old building.  No library.  No cafeteria.  A paved alley was our playground.  It was a fire trap that was condemned by the state a few years after I had moved on.  My teacher was an OK guy, but stuck in the past.  He was nearing retirement.  The passion and the fun were gone, and there was no joy in that classroom.  It reminded me of those black and white "Leave it to Beaver" classrooms, where smiling was outlawed.

Foundation established.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a blog entry about my follies in the school band.  Well, one thing led to another.  It started an exchange of several messages with my 6th grade music teacher, who was not connected to the band.

Let me tell you something.  This woman was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal and tear inducing  school year.

STEM is important, but she was living proof you do need arts in a school curriculum.   Those music classes got me through the year.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Swagger

The only thing I know about acting is "I can't do it."

I do pick up on little things now and again.  Acting is more than lines.  It's movement.

I've seen "The Fugitive" at least a dozen times, a vastly underrated film.  As I've said before, you know a movie is good if you know the ending beforehand, and it still captures your attention.  A fabulous piece of film making called "Quiz Show" is a perfect example of that.  So is "Apollo 13."

Anyway, back to my point.  Just watch the way Tommie Lee Jones moves throughout "The Fugitive."  Such confidence.  I call it the "swagger."  If you want another example of that, watch my all time favorite movie, "My Favorite Year."   Just watch the way Peter O'Tole glides from scene to scene.  Here is a man who lives on the edge.  His world can crumble beneath him at any minute, and he walks with supreme elegance and confidence.

A tiny part of me was always curious about the performing arts.  Maybe some day, I'll give The Swagger a try.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Prince of Darkness

Let's review.

I tell you ad nauseum that I hate Black Friday, I don't like Independence Day noise, I'm not fan of Christmas and New Year's mayhem...  and the last two weeks in January are among my least favorite of the year.

Here's why January is on my "you know what" list..  Even though the days are getting longer and the sun is a little stronger, it's still pretty dark out there.  The Christmas decorations and lights are down.  It's dismal.

There is a little "light" at the end of the tunnel.  It seems like an increasing number of people decorate for Valentine's Day.  It's nice to see strings of red lights on front porches.  I've noticed a relatively new trend of light blue light strings on homes.  I assume that notes the snow, ice, and cold of winter.  I like it!  It's a tough time of year to find anything bright.

Speaking of lights, I see the city of Scranton and the newspaper have finally noticed what I've been complaining about here for months-- the darkness of downtown Scranton, especially Lackawanna Avenue.  Some fixes are on the way, and you need more.

There is another late January issue-- the cold and the snow.  All the lights in the world can't fix that.  The worst will soon be over.  The average daily highs and lows bottom out soon, and the climb begins February 1.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Listen and Learn

It happens Saturday, and it's one of the most important events of the year.

The League of Women Voters is holding its annual school on how to run a campaign.  You can find it at the University of Scranton.

I've been doing this a long time, and I am continually amazed at the number of candidates who run lousy campaigns.  Even more amazing is the number of so called political consultants and advertising people who have little or no clue as to that new news media needs.

I've never been to one of these schools, but I have seen extensive videos on the local cable TV public access channel.  It's good stuff.  Valuable information. 

It's not just a "candidate" thing.  I've seen so many who manage to get elected that just can't handle the news media.  We're not your friends.  We're not the enemy, either.  We're just out to get a solid story and inform our audience.  I've seen dozens of elected officials who are not pro-active and haven't the slightest idea how to keep their constituents informed.  Running a city or a county, a police department, a coroner's office...  are not 9 to 5, Monday through Friday jobs.  You want the big chair behind the big desk?  You want the power?  Get ready to shoulder the responsibility.

There is a new batch of elected officials in office.  Some have started off the wrong way.  they feel they are not responsible to the people who elected them.  They are trying to muzzle employees and stifle the free flow of information.  I've seen it many times before.  It never works.

Go to campaign school.  It's a decision you won't regret.

By the way, mixed results on my Championship Weekend picks.  I did predict a Kansas City vs San Francisco Super Bowl, but I didn't think SF would cover the spread.  It did.  As I write this, KC is a one point favorite.  I'll likely make a pick, here, the Friday before the game.

People will watch the Super Bowl regardless, but FOX has to be happy with the match-up.  Big population in the Bay Area.  Kansas City has a big star QB.  Both teams have powerful offenses, and scoring is what brings eyeballs to televisions.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Andy's Angles: They Even Took the Flag

Gander Outdoors, to the right of Staples, recently closed its Dickson City store, and several others.

When Gander Outdoors, formerly Gander Mountain, took over, it planted a huge flag pole and flag in the parking lot.

The flag was huge.  You could see it for miles.  Sadly, the flag disappeared when the store closed.  It's too bad the plaza's owner, Staples or the other store in the plaza, Best Buy, didn't assume responsibility.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Andy's Angles: Focus

I recently bought a couple of new lenses for a camera I've had for years.  Some rare down time during Christmas afforded me the opportunity to watch some "how to" videos on the internet.

Fast forward to the morning of January 2.  It was again some rare down time, and an even more rare sunny winter day.

One of my "go to" spots is a park in Blakely, along the Lackawanna River.

In the shot below, notice how the focus is on the tree branch hanging over the river.  The water is blurred.
In the photo below, it's just the opposite.
Okay, I'm not going to win any awards, but it's a start.

By the way, one video I watched showed how much shutter speed can influence how you photograph water.  I'll have more on that in the weeks to come.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Sports Edition

ESPN is said to be prepared to offer Tony Romo $ 10 million to jump from CBS when his contract expires later this year.  Why?  Romo is good.  He's not great.  It's clear Monday Night Football needs changes.  There are better people out there. Romo talks way too much.

13 days between the national college football semi finals and the championship game.  Far too long, and I lost interest days ago.  The NCAA has to find a way to keep the championship game from getting lost in the NFL playoffs.  I listened to a fair amount of sports talk radio this week.  It was all NFL, all the time-- until the baseball cheating scandal hit.

There's speculation Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints will retire and go right in to the network television booth.

The Mad Dog sports talk channel on Sirius/XM has assembled a very entertaining line up.

Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher is going to the Hall of Fame.  This is the guy thought Kordell Stewart was the answer to the Steelers problems.  How did that work out for you?  Cowher was 2 and 4 in AFC championship games.  As I always say, it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Pretty Good.

I have less of a problem with former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson going to the Hall of Fame.  As someone who doesn't like the Cowboys, that is difficult for me to say.  Johnson has been on FOX for years, and in my opinion, he's the only one on the set who really has interesting things to say.  I wish FOX would give him more time.  Terry Bradshaw comes in second, but only when he's really riled up about something.

Both Cowher and Johnson were told of their selections on live TV.  I just have a feeling they would still be on the outside looking in if they didn't have high profile network TV jobs.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a month.  Hallelujah!  I just can't get interested in the endless seasons, and even more endless playoffs of the NBA and NHL.

Kudos to the Houston Astros for firing their cheating manager and general manager.   I hope it sends a strong message to the rest of the league.  If a game loses its integrity, it loses everything.  The same goes for the Red Sox.

I'm going with the favorites, and I expect a Kansas City/San Francisco Super Bowl.  I am less confident about picking San Francisco to beat Green Bay.  If I was a gambling man, I'd be tempted to take Green Bay and the points.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Speech

I give variations of the same speech to every prospective journalist and broadcaster I meet.  It essentially entails:  Make sure this is something you want to do.  You will be here on weekends, overnights, early mornings, birthdays and holidays.  You will see many unpleasant things, and you will meet people on the worst day of their lives.  When your friends get the day off because it snows, you'll be coming to work.  You're not going home, either.  You'll be in a hotel for your safety and to make sure you can get to work.  We don't get "snow days."

Yes, it has scared away a few.  You simply have to know what you're getting in to.  when I hear complaints, I invariably say "What did you expect when you took this job?"

That brings us to Harry and Meghan.  Meghan Markle married a prince and seems to be uncomfortable with life in the spotlight?  Well, what did you expect when you married a prince?

Having said that, I think the media shouldn't hound the royals without mercy.  I have a NewsFlash for the foreign media.  The royal family isn't that interesting.

Harry and Meghan plan to move to Canada to get away from it all.  It's caused an uproar in the royal family.   Why?  Respect their wishes.  Let them go to lead their own lives.  Don't force Harry and Meghan to be miserable.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Even though we've been enjoying above normal temperatures this month, the dead of winter seems to last forever.

There is the occasional ray of sunshine and it arrived this past weekend.  Bakeries and supermarkets have started to fry up paczki.  It's a filled doughnut that arrives in winter and disappears the day before Lent.

The donuts are delicious, but I find what they represent even tastier.    It's "Spring" in the not too distant future.

The issue is getting from here to there.  Luckily, there are paczkis to make the days a little more tolerable.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Philadelphia Freedom

I've touched on this briefly before and the topic came up again when the Pennsylvania Turnpike hiked its tolls January 5th.

I always loved going on the turnpike as a kid, because it always meant a fun trip-- a Phillies game, Atlantic City, the big mall near Allentown, just some general wandering.

Clearly, things have changed.  The turnpike is a nice short cut from Clarks Summit to Taylor and Pittston.  I use it at work to get to stories in Carbon County.  Most of the joy is gone, but there are still fond memories.

Springboarding off that, part of the fun involved with heading south on the turnpike was listening to Philadelphia radio stations.  KYW was at the top of the list, but there were others.  Philadelphia was heaven for a radio and news junkie like me.

Well, some of that magic is gone, too.  There is someone you can blame.  Her name is Alexa.    I can listen to KYW, WOGL, WIP and WPEN FM any time I want, and I still do it most days. KYW is on my smart speaker most mornings of my off days.  It's still a kick and I still appreciate solid radio news and sports. 

The mystique has disappeared, but it has evolved in to something else.  I know people who work at KYW and WPEN FM.  It's a kick to hear them and I'm thrilled they are doing well.

Monday, January 13, 2020


We are only a couple of days away from January 15, the day I consider to be winter's "half finished" point.  Meteorological winter is considered December, January, and February-- the three coldest months.  Half way through January means half way through winter.

As I see it, it hasn't been bad so far-- only a few minor show and ice events where I live.  Yes, I know our northern tier counties were hammered a couple of times.  We've had above normal temperatures, including some record breakers.

Even if you factor in "astronomical winter," Groundhog Day, the half way point, is only a few weeks away.

Yes, I know we've had some fierce cold in late January, and some major snow storms in February and March.  Still, we have made it over a significant hump.  Sunrises are late, but sunsets get a little later every day.  You can feel the sun getting a little stronger.

We'll be complaining about the heat and humidity before you know it.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Andy's Angles: First of the Year

It's 12 days in to the new year, and I still haven't inflicted a train photo upon you.

Your luck has run out.

This one was in the Steamtown National Historic Site roundhouse the morning of January 2.  As you can see, it was still decorated for Christmas, complete with wreath on the front.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Andy's Angles: Mini Me

The photo isn't mine.  I think it's from an old yearbook.  My friend Linda recently put this on her Facebook page.  I'm in it, so I have no problem stealing it for my blog.  Back row, far left.

The photo is of the Mid Valley band in the 74-75 school year.  I see that George Kinsley was the director back then, so I calculate this was the third of my four years with the band.  The first two were under the great Anthony Angeli.

I was 12 or 13 when this photo was taken, and yes, I was small.  Very small.  My growth spurt, complete with peach fuzz mustache, came a few years later.

When I saw the photo, I was shocked by how small the band was.  I really remembered it to be larger.  If memory serves, the photo was taken in the basement music room of the junior high building in Dickson City. The lack of kids coming out for the program was the way a punk like me snuck in.  There was no "junior" band back then.  The district were hurting for participants.  There was no age requirement.  If you could hold a horn, you were golden.

Kinsley made great strides in making the band bigger and better.  In an odd way, it led to my departure.  I kept getting yanked from a favorite 9th grade science class for late afternoon band practice.  Kinsley and I butted heads over that.  As I have noted in this space before, I wasn't a good musician.  I was enjoying it less and less, as Kinsley made more and more demands on my time.  I'm not blaming him for that.  Sacrifices are necessary for growth, and this band eventually evolved in to a top notch unit.  It was best that I wasn't around for it.

I eventually came to realize my future was playing songs on the radio, and not playing songs on a football field.

George Kinsley died several years ago.  I ran in to him a few times before I graduated.  He wasn't very nice to me, and I don't know why.  I added nothing to his band, and he shouldn't have been torqued off that I quit.  In fact, my departure improved the thing.  I will not dispute the man's organizational and musical skills.  Snubbing a kid, even a quitter, wasn't very nice.  The band got four years out of me.  Smile because it happened.

As for the others in this photo, not a bad egg in the bunch.  Good people.  I'm still in touch with Linda, to my left in the photo.  I think she stayed with it until graduation.  I admire her commitment and value her friendship.

My band time wasn't a total loss.  I did gain more of an appreciation for music, even if I wasn't very good at playing it.  I saw plenty of high school football games, which came in very handy later in life.  Most importantly, I made some great friends.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Vote '20

Forget about the presidency.  The race to watch in Pennsylvania will be the contest for the 8th congressional district, consisting of much of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Democrat Matt Cartwright has held the seat for four terms.  It looks like four going after the Republican nomination, so far.

Expect the money to flow for this one as Democrats aim to keep the seat and Republicans try to wrestle it away.

This isn't just Cartwright vs TBA.  It's a referendum on the House of Representatives and President Trump.

The victory might be short lived.  It will be interesting how Pennsylvania districts will be re-drawn based on the 2020 census.  Pennsylvania stands to lose one seat, maybe two.

The experts rate this a toss up.  There is a lot of time between today and November.  Anything can happen.  Considering the volatility in Washington, nothing appears to be a safe bet at this point.

It should be a fun year.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Half Baked and Buck reports Subway is closing several restaurants in central Pennsylvania.  Does anyone really like going here?  Just from talking with friends and coworkers, it seems to be the place to hit when you're out of time and out of options.  Subway used to be really good and reasonably priced.  It's too bad the chain lost its way.  Perhaps it will get back on track and be a real destination one day.

Our friends at the Times~Tribune have done some excellent reporting on the problems at the CharlMont, inside the Lackawanna County Government Center, formerly the Globe store.  The man who leases the restaurant space hasn't paid his rent.  He's complained about a number of issues, including parking and street access.  Is all this a surprise?  Didn't the restaurant operator and the county know about all the physical limitations prior to opening?  I don't get it.

I know the restaurant industry is tough and competitive.  Good help is hard to find.  I hit a fast food place the other morning, and my bag of food was practically thrown at me.  There is no excuse for lack of courtesy, and yes, I did let management know about it.

There are a lot of places to get food.  Service always made the difference to me.

And, before we go, a quick note about the passing of Buck Henry.  He was the creative force behind some legendary movies, including "The Graduate."  There were a few epic "Saturday Night Live" appearances.  Buck Henry helped create "Get Smart."  The spy spoof was one of the most clever TV series of all time.  Buck Henry was 89.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Scrapple 2020

I shed no tears over Philadelphia and New England getting knocked out of the NFL playoffs.  However, they have to be crying at the networks over the loss of two big market teams.

I usually pick playoff games in this space, but I'm slightly estranged from the NFL these days.  I just can't get excited over football.  Maybe I'll do the league championship games, and most likely the Super Bowl next month.

Golden Globes awarded Sunday night.  The nominees and winners were all mysteries to me.

It's been feeling un-winter-like, and I'm not complaining. Why do I have the feeling we'll pay for this in February and March?

If the Dallas Cowboys are such a classy organization, why did it let Jason Garrett twist in the wind for a week?

I'm not in the market for a new television and I'm shocked at how inexpensive they've become.

Enough with Baby Yoda!

The New York Post still produces a very good business and media section.

Pier 1 closing 450 stores.  I can't remember the last time I visited one.

Macy's is closing 15 more stores.  The closest are Harrisburg and State College.

Yahoo ran a story from "Country Living."  The topic was the "Five types of butter you should keep in your kitchen."  Are you kidding me?  Five?  Me?  One.  The one on sale.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Financial Final Jeopardy

The answer is:  14

Question:  How many checks did I write in 2019?

There just isn't much of a reason to write checks these days.  Everything is done electronically, and checks will eventually become a thing of the past.

I fear it's another nail in the coffin of the United States Postal Service.  I usually buy a ton of stamps at one time.  That supply of checks lasts a long time, and so does that roll of stamps.

I have yet to write that first check of 2020.

Monday, January 6, 2020

New Year Follow Up

Some recent blog and Facebook entries on Scranton and Wilkes-Barre's lack of a New Year's Eve celebration triggered a social media discussion.  By the way, thank you for the mention, David DeCosmo.

Let's start with Scranton.  "First Night" was a wonderful and ambitious undertaking.  I know people who loved it.  I can't say I was ever there, but TV news video of many of the venues showed a lack of people.  It was a little too artsy, too spread out, and it took too many volunteers to run effectively.  I can understand why it went away.

What I can't understand is why there isn't anything to replace it.

Lackawanna County prepared an ambitious agenda a couple of years ago.  The county, wisely, cancelled it because of severe cold.  I was supposed to cover it for Newswatch 16.  Instead, I went to Pottsville for the raising of a giant Yuengling bottle in Garfield Square, and had the time of my life.

There has to be something for people to do that doesn't involve getting a snoot full of liquor and paying high prices in a club or bar.

Close one downtown block.  Bring in a  couple bands and DJ's.  A few food trucks.  Fireworks at midnight.  Done.  Blessed simplicity.

Let's turn to Wilkes-Barre.  The annual Public Square diamond drop was cancelled several years ago.  The mayor at the time said the city couldn't afford the police overtime.

If there was ever a city with a public relations problem, it's Wilkes-Barre.  Did you watch the TV news last week?  Did you see the preview stories done on New Year's Eve celebrations in Sunbury and Tamaqua, to name just a couple.  Wonderful, positive coverage of places promising to be light and bright for the start of the new year, with optimistic futures.

A New Year celebration in Public Square would send the signal that downtown is safe and entertaining, with plenty to see and do.  The city looks forward to its future, not dreading it.

And, it's not just the larger cities.

Dunmore cancelled its "Buck Drop" because it didn't want to compete with "First Night Scranton."  I get that and respect that.  "First Night" is gone and it's never coming back.  Bring back the "Buck Drop."

Our sister station, WPMT 43, in Harrisburg recently did an internet story on all the central Pennsylvania celebrations.  The same goes for  Small towns having fun and ringing in the new year.

And while I'm at it, Stroudsburg is putting in a temporary ice skating rink next to the courthouse, and Pottsville is planning its WinterFest.   PEOPLE WANT FUN THINGS TO DO DURING THE LONG, DARK AND COLD PENNSYLVANIA WINTERS!

Come on!  We can do it.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Andy's Angles: Black and White in Color

More new lens experimental shots today.  It's a couple more selections from a recent storm.

While I want to play with monochrome, this is actually a color shot.  There just isn't a lot of color in a snow storm.
It's not a wide angle lens, and these shots are a bit tighter than I would have liked.  They're not bad, even if I do say so myself.  I went out on a quick photo expedition the other day, and I am improving my crude techniques.  I'll bore you with those shots in the weeks to come.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

About the Cover

I was experimenting with a new lens during a recent snowfall.  It is what I refer to, on the air, as a "sticky snow."  It clings to everything.

January is perhaps the toughest month of the year for me.  It's dark and cold and snowy, and it drags.  I wanted a blog header this month that says "winter."

I have to level with you.  While the photo is okay, I need to do more experimenting with my new lens.  More tomorrow.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Media Notes

Fred P. Graham died last year.  New York Times.  CBS News.  Court TV founder.  He fought for the First Amendment (intentionally capitalized) rights of journalists and to get cameras in to courtrooms.  He also helped to make Watergate understandable.  Thank you for your contributions.  Fred P. Graham was 88.

Jack Sheldon died just before the start of the new year.  Accomplished jazz musician.  Merv Griffin's sidekick.  His 60's sitcom, "Run, Buddy, Run," lasted only 13 episodes.  It was funnier than that.  Most will remember Sheldon as being the voice of a few episodes of ABC's "Schoolhouse Rock."  The Washington Post referred to Sheldon's voice as a combination of "gravel and whiskey."  Outstanding line!  88 years old.

I went back and watched a couple of "Schoolhouse Rock" episodes after I read about Jack Sheldon't death.  Genius.  I was lucky to have these things growing up, plus those fantastic "In the News" CBS did between cartoons on Saturday mornings.  Christopher Glenn voiced those.  I also remember looking forward to "My Weekly Reader" in the third grade.  I don't watch children's' television, so I don't know what's out there now.  I hope it's something.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern died January 1.  77.  He brought the league in to the television age.

It should be on YouTube somewhere.  Kevin Harlan of CBS did the TV call of the Kansas City/San Diego game Sunday afternoon, while describing the action of the Miami/New England game as he watched the feed on a monitor.  It was a thing of beauty, an amazing feat.  Some people criticize Harlan for screaming, and I get that.  I always loved his voice and delivery, going back to his early days as one of the first of the NFL on FOX announcers.

I would love to know who thought of it-- elongating and emphasizing the N in WNNNNNNNBC.  Marketing genius.  WNBC went off the air in 1988, and you can still hear people say WNNNNNNBC.  Bravo.

I was listening to the Washington all sports stations the morning the Redskins owner fired the team's president.  Outstanding coverage.  There are times when radio really shines, and this was a perfect example.

The Bowl Championship Series is ruining college football and holiday television.  You looked forward to the Fiesta Bowl in the early afternoon, the Rose Bowl in the late afternoon and the Orange Bowl at night.  We had the Rose Bowl Wednesday afternoon.  It meant nothing and no one cared.

Antenna TV seen on WNEP2, ran a "NewsRadio" marathon on New Year's Day.  When that show was hitting on all cylinders, it was quick, clever, smart and very funny.  The pilot was perfection.

I know it's a holiday week, but this week's "The Weekender" was only eight pages, and there didn't appear to be one word of original, local content.  This used to be such a fun read every week.  What happened?

Thursday, January 2, 2020


I hate to go negative so early in the new year, but the great Paul Stueber once told me "You have to go where the news takes you."

Don Imus died December 27.

He started as a radio shock jock and he transitioned in to a talk show host, with politics a specialty.  when Imus was hot, a visit or a call to his show was a "must" for every politician or author.

I respect the big numbers he pulled in the glory years of 66 WNBC.  I respect how addiction got him down and he got back up.  I respect how Imus managed to reinvent himself in a talk driven radio universe.  I respect the man's considerable charity work.

On the other hand, I saw Imus in action.  Our local public station had a magazine show for a while, and I was allowed to tag along while the WVIA crew interviewed Imus in his Queens studio.  I watched a bitter, angry old man who berated his staff and was less than friendly to visitors.  I shook his frail hand, exchanged a few pleasantries, and bolted for the lobby while the WVIA crew did the interview.  Don Imus wasn't pleasant to be around.  I smelled that quick and took off.  He yelled at his staff in front of strangers, embarrassing them.  The staffers shrugged it off as Imus being Imus.  I don't care.  There was no excuse.  By the way, the interview was entirely forgettable.  Not one interesting thing came out of the I man's mouth.  No new ground broken.  Every word seemed like a major effort.  It was clear he wanted no part of it.

And then, there was the morning Imus was supposed to broadcast live from Scranton.  He was angry the desk clerk actually obeyed an order by not putting calls through to his room.  Imus bolted back to New York, stiffing the radio station that brought him here, and his fans.  There are many words to describe his behavior, but childish and unprofessional really jump out at me.

Most people believed Imus was a great interviewer.  After watching him work, and listening hard, I just got the feeling he was reading questions prepared by his staff.

I've read and heard several interviews with friends and co-workers after Imus' passing.  He apparently treated those in his inner circle well.  That's wonderful.  I have to ask the question.  Why wasn't Imus kind to everyone?

Imus got knocked down a few pegs after a racist comment about a womens' college basketball team.  I won't repeat it here.  It wasn't funny.  I'll paraphrase sportswriter Dick Young, after the Howard Cosell racism controversy.  Young said Cosell wasn't a racist.  He was stupid.  When it came to the basketball team comment, Imus was stupid.  No defense.

The Imus in the Morning show was syndicated for several years, carried on radio stations around the country.  As I have said here before, one clear sign of a station in distress is when it picks up Imus.  he never pulled big numbers.  Imus proponents say he brought in an affluent audience, and radio stations could charge big money for commercials.  Meh.  Imus was on loser stations around the country.  there were exceptions, but most were weak signaled AM stations in tiny towns.

Imus spent his final years on WABC, a once great radio station that seems to plunge to record lows with every new ratings book.  There was a simulcast on a couple of different cable networks over the years, rendering the show even more unlistenable.  Listening to a TV show on the radio just doesn't work.

Imus is considered one of the greats, and I sort of get that.  His early years broke ground, one of the first shock jocks.  Unfortunately, he was a guy who stayed too long and didn't know when to keep his mouth shut.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

I've often felt we give far too much significance to the turning of a calendar page, but if the start of a new year helps you get a fresh start on something, I'm not going to rain on your parade.  I'm also okay with moving on from a bad year and starting a new year with hope.

Every day is a new one, and an opportunity for a new beginning.  Don't wait until the first day of a new year.

By the way, it's NOT the start of a new decade.  Purists believe the new decade starts with the "1" years because there was no year "0."

And let me go off on my first rant of the new year.  To me, 1/1 is not a huge deal.  I'm still amazed and disappointed cities the size of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have no public New Year celebration.  Pottsville raises a Yuengling bottle.  Hershey raises a kiss.  Harrisburg drops a Strawberry.  Dillsburg drops a pickle.  The light bulb was back in Sunbury.  Tamaqua lights up a building.  I know these thing require manpower, plus police overtime.  The job of mayor means you fill the potholes, pick up the trash, keep the streets safe, and make sure a fire truck comes when you need it.  The job of mayor also entails helping citizens feel good about their communities.  Scranton and Wilkes-Barre lost sight of that.  No one thinks big.  Let's change that.

Whether or not you celebrated, whether or not you think the start of a new year is a big deal, I hope the days and months to come are filled with happiness.