Saturday, October 31, 2020

Andy's Angles: Deliberate Blur


This has become the year of the light trails here on the blog, and on a recent morning, I attempted to do something different.

When I do light trails, the shutter speed is 20 to 30 seconds.  I wanted to shorten it to just a couple, so you can actually see the vehicle making the light trail.

Above is a tractor trailer, pulling in to Wal Mart's parking lot, along Route 315 in Pittston Township.

Compared to just a general light streak shot, this technique is a lot more difficult.  You have to time it just right and hope you get lucky.  As you can see, this was not a morning for great luck.

Above is another tractor trailer turning left into Wal Mart's lot.  I have some lights from a truck and the white swoosh of the trailer making its turn.

I experimented with shutter speeds between one and two seconds.

I'll keep trying.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Let's Review

 Another vacation week is in the books, so let's review.

Unfortunately, there isn't much to tell.  I did get some sleep and played with the camera a bit.  While we did have some warm weather, we also had plenty of clouds.  I know many photographers like the flat and even light, I'm a blue sky guy.

I think I set the record for "Hogan's Heroes" viewing.  It's worth an entry on its own one of these days.

I did make a dental appointment for next week.  My last one, six months ago, was canceled because of the current situation.

Don't forget, this is time change weekend.  Clocks go "BACK" one hour at 2 AM Sunday.  It means I get an extra hour of work, but it's been busy lately.  The extra hour will be put to good use.

Thanks to Elizabeth Worthington for filling in-- a good egg who's been bouncing all over the schedule lately.  It's greatly appreciated.  Keep that alarm clock in good shape.  I have another week off next month.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

There Goes My "Nightly" Job

 It's not every day that a network decides to do part of its morning and evening broadcasts from our area, so I just had to go and take a look at the set up.

This is part of the network compound, along the west side of the Susquehanna River, looking back at downtown Wilkes-Barre.  Impressive.  Satellite truck.  RV work space, with for room for the "talent."  Portable generators.  Portable heated toilets.  Nice.  Top shelf stuff.  First class.

I've said here before that I've been trying to "up" my photography game.  Part of that is some new gear and learning a few new techniques.  Another element is branching out, away from my usual trains, buildings, bridges and rivers.  I'm looking to do more "people" and "event" things.  Case in point, Sunday morning's light bulb changing party at Scranton's Nay Aug Park that I posted on Facebook.  This was another step in the process.

My first stop at the park was the police SUV, at the bottom of the photo above, for a talk with the officers keeping an eye on the place.  I told them who I was, and added that I wasn't there to pester Lester.  I just wanted to take some pictures as part of my hobby.  Even though I had two weeks worth of vacation beard, the officers recognized me.  The ID tag on my camera bag was also a give-a-way.  I added that I was going to keep my distance and it was all cool.

I took some pictures of the "anchor location" under those tents and started making my way back toward my car.  I will add that I parked a considerable distance away as to avoid being a nuisance.  It was a moot point.  Vehicular access to that park of the park was forbidden.

As I was walking away, but still in the general vicinity of the paved parking area, someone from the network sent their city liason to talk with the police.  The message:  there would be no photography of the network compound.  Really?  First off all, America already saw Wilkes-Barre because the same location was used for the network morning show.  It wasn't going to be a surprise.  Second, the officers reminded the network liason that it was a PUBLIC PARK and no laws were being broken.  I, or any other photographer, could have captured the same shots from the other side of the river.  A drone could have captured even more.

I told the officers that I wasn't there to make trouble.  I already had more photos than I needed, and was leaving anyway.

I do understand where the network is coming from.  You can't be too careful, concerning security, these days.  However, I took care of that from the get-go by introducing myself to the police officers and staying a fair distance away from the working staff.  If I looked like trouble and if I was disruptive, police would have sent me packing.  Was I revealing network secrets?  Does David Muir want to know Lester Holt travels with heated toilets?  Does Wolf Blitzer want to know the size of his RV?  Is Norah O'Donnell interested in that three tent set up?  Did others take pictures?  Yes.  At least one, taken by a member of the crew, was posted on Facbook hours prior to my arrival.

I don't know why I was singled out.  I do travel with professional looking gear.  Perhaps the network feared photos of the compound were going up on a big news site rather than my silly little blog.

Would another network organization have acted the same way?  Probably. Is attempting to bounce me a big deal?  Definitely not.  

Lester.Holt, no hard feelings but it looks like some network people can use a little brushing up on the law. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



We will take a convoluted path to our destination today.

I always considered the late Chuck Barris a genius.  I didn't care for all of his productions, but it's safe to say the man was a game changer in the game show business.  Barris said he wanted to do game shows, but he didn't want to do the tired question and answer format.  Barris created "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game," among others, and the rest is history.

Chuck Barris wrote a handful of books.  "The Game Show King:  A Confession" is one of my favorites, and it's not just about game shows

What brought all this to mind is a couple of recent car trips.  I happened to hear a Barris creation, "Palisades Park" twice in two days.  Barris wrote it. Freddy Cannon brought it to life.

One of the joys of music is it can magically transport us to a time and place.  What a fun song this is!  It's a reminder of a simpler, and a safer time.  Yes, it was during the Cold War, but Vietnam had yet to get rolling.  JFK was still alive.  The Cuban Missile Crisis came and went.  Polio was on the way out.  Our gaze extended in to space.

I never visited the actual Palisades Park.  I didn't have to.  Chuck and Freddy took me there.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

One Week


The seemingly endless presidential election campaign ends in one week.  It seems hard to believe.

Every campaign fascinates me-- the ones where a close race is predicted, the ones where a landslide is in the offing.

As we learned four years ago, conventional wisdom is no longer conventional.  There are no rules.  Polls can be wildly inaccurate.  Trends show you what's happened in the past, and not necessarily what will happen in the future.

It's a fascinating time and we all have a front row seat.  Buckle up.  It's just beginning.

Monday, October 26, 2020



It's now official.  Fall is here.  Winter is on the way.

I waived the white surrender flag last week when I took the air conditioner out of my bedroom window.  While temperatures have been comfortable for weeks, my bedroom gets tons of afternoon sun and it heats up quite rapidly.  I need that boost of coolness, especially because my bed time, on most days, is noon.  I have to sleep during the hottest part of the day.  As I have said here many times before, don't cry for me.  This is the life I have chosen, and it's worked out extremely well.

You can talk to anyone on the dawn patrol-- we sleep better when it's dark and cool.  Prime sleeping seasons are upon us.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Andy's Angles: A Little Closer


People who like to take train photos, sometimes called "rail weenies" have to walk a fine line.  You want that good shot, but you don't want to trespass.  Rail yards are dangerous places.  You don't want to get hurt and clearly you don't want to get killed in pursuit of that perfect photo.

This is a zoomed in camera phone shot of the new Von Storch shop in the Green Ridge section of Scranton.  It was tough to get a good angle on the considerable activity there.

I'll probably try it again soon with my good camera and lenses.  Maybe I'll ask to get a little closer.

As I said yesterday, I'm thrilled that our area still has a connection to its strong railroading past.

By the way, I've been going over some unpublished photos, and I have enough to last until the yearly "Top 10" countdown in December.  It's likely I'll sneak some in on weekdays so I can achieve a fresh start in the new year.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Andy's Angles: Von Storch


I've been meaning to get here for a while, and the opportunity presented itself while I was waiting for my Texas weiner take-out order at the near by Green Ridge News in Scranton.

A new locomotive repair facility recently opened on Von Storch Street in Scranton.  A fellow blogger said it's possible to get some decent shots here, from the Marion Street side.  I took a quick drive over while my weiners were being fried, sauced, onioned and mustarded up.

It was a spur of the moment side trip.  I didn't have my good camera and lenses.  This is a camera phone shot.  If you are generally familiar with the area, the old Scranton Lace factory is roughly at my back while the Green Ridge Street overpass is behind the new building and just around the bend.

The shop looked busy, and that made me happy.  It's nice to see we still build and fix things, before the area becomes a series of kitty litter and sneaker warehouses.

Friday, October 23, 2020



Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of David Letterman's last morning show on NBC.  It lasted about five months.  The screen grab above is from Letterman's final AM broadcast.

I've written about it before.  Letterman's morning show was 90 minutes, cut to 60 after a couple of months and it was wildly creative and sunny.  Some college friends became hooked on it during the summer and they actually arranged their fall college class schedules around it.  I caught it at every opportunity, but I'm a morning person and I liked my morning classes.  Sorry, Dave.

Letterman had the right show, at the wrong time.  It was horrible for 10 am.  She show was retooled.  Paul Shaffer replaced Frank Owens and Letterman was given another shot at 12:30 am.  The rest is history.  I read a Letterman biography that said Dave feared his career was over when the morning show was cancelled.  NBC president Fred Silverman canceled three game shows to make way for Dave in the morning, and he brought two back after he canceled Letterman.  Silverman had the great sense to sign Letterman to a contract, even though he had nothing to do before Late Night.

Speaking of game shows, Blockbusters and Las Vegas Gambit replaced Letterman.  I've always given any incarnation of Gambit a "meh."  I'd watch it if I stumbled across it and I had nothing else to do.  On the other hand, call me a big Blockbusters fan.

Letterman describes his morning show experience as saying "every day was a fist fight."  He also said the shows he did after the cancelation notice and before the last show were some of the best he ever did, because there was nothing to lose.  He could relax, be himself, and have fun.

Moral of the story?   Everybody gets a second chance, and sometimes, a third.  You often get stuck in bad situations, but talent wins out in the end.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Pair of 40's


As an admitted radio geek, I have to note a couple of milestones today.

WKRZ FM is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week.  I was in college when WBRE-TV sold its all news radio station with the giant signal.  The new owners went top 40 and knocked the market on its arse.  Very few commercials, huge music sweeps, playing things no one else was playing, and great promotion.  The bumper stickers, like the one you see above from my collection, were everywhere.

I did drop off an audition tape shortly after the change.  It was awful. Actually, beyond awful.   I didn't get the job, and it was one of the smartest moves management there ever made.  Oddly, I was later offered two other jobs with the company.  The first was to handle playback of the Wolfman Jack Show very early Sunday mornings.  The second was to do some news, when KRZ's sister AM station at 1340, attempted a short lived all news format.  I said yes both times, only to back out when my employer at the time, WARM, offered more hours and a little boost in pay to keep me.  I felt like a weasel.  I swear, I wasn't attempting to play one station off another.  Staying put was simply a better business deal.  It wasn't personal.

The second anniversary is a little fuzzier, and I'm sure I will get a "correction" email soon.  WEZX went from easy listening to album rock more than 40 years ago because I remember listening to it in high school.  However, it was automated-- no live dj's.  It was just giant reels of tape on an even bigger machine.  I believe Rock 107 considers this year to be its 40th anniversary because it was the year it scrapped automation in favor of live dj's.

Unlike KRZ, I never applied for a job at WEZX.  I think I would have been a decent fit back in the day.  It's format was similar to what I was doing on my college radio station at the time.  Now, not so much.  WEZX still has that classic album rock base, but it's playing some more recent things, and that is clearly out of my wheel house.

I know a few 107 employees.  They're good people and I'm thrilled the station is doing well after a couple of years of the talent revolving door.  The far right button on my car radios has belonged to 107 for decades.

It's amazing how times have changed.  I spent 10.5 years at WARM, 1981 to 1991.  For years, it was *THE* legacy and heritage station in town-- the station with the most years doing the same format.  I believe WARM was in the mid 30's when it went talk.  Now, it's KRZ and 107, with Magic 93 relatively close behind, as the legacy stations in town.

It's no secret that radio around here often disappoints this old man.  There isn't as much "live and local" as there used to be, and that makes me sad.  However, it's amazing that those two stations are still going strong.

Happy birthday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Hello! It's Me!


The woman above, intensely doing her job, is WNEP reporter Amanda Eustice.   She started just as the pandemic hit and our staff was divided into "inside" and "outside" teams.  She's outside.  I'm inside.

Fast forward to October 14.  Amanda was doing a story on the new John Lennon mural in downtown Scranton.  I showed up, camera in hand and bag on shoulder, for my own curiosity and to get some blog/social media material.

Amanda and I were both masked up.  After seeing me work with my professional looking gear, Amanda asked "Do you work for the newspaper?"  I took off my mask and replied, "No, I work with you."  Amanda gets major points for instant recognition, even though it was the first time we had met in person.

We had a short and pleasant  conversation.  All our communication to this point was via email.  Amanda stayed to complete her story.  I left to visit Steamtown and do a little leaf peeping.

What a strange and bizarre world in which we live.  On the same payroll since early March.  First in person meeting more than seven months later.

Like the rest of the nation, I can't wait for this to come to an end, and Amanda, it was great to finally meet you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Again !?!?!


Seriously.  I'm on vacation again.

I'll explain it.  I didn't take off any time, not one hour, during the lock down, so all my vacation time is crammed in to the second half of the year.

It's my standard vacation-- sleep, walks, photography, and I'll play with that hot glue gun I bought during my last vacation, two weeks ago.  It's changed my life!  A shoe repair is holding strong!  I had a hot glue gun decades ago, when they first came out.  The new glue sticks are much better than that first generation.

Elizabeth Worthington, who always does a great job, is handling the weekend morning broadcasts.

I'll still be around, and as always, I'll call you back later.

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Best of Times


Bob Shanks died last week.  88.  He helped develop "Good Morning America."  It was a game changer in morning television.  The show, produced by ABC's entertainment division in those early years, had actors for anchors.  It also established an outstanding stable of contributors.  By the way, GMA was based on a local show, called "The Morning Exchange" in Cleveland.

Shanks, in working with anchor David Hartman, proved you don't need to be a rocket scientist to ask questions in the morning.  You do need curiosity, and more inmportantly, warmth.  GMA left NBC in the dust.

As smart as Bob Shanks was at ABC, he created "The Morning Program" at CBS, and in my book, it was one of the worst shows in the history of broadcast television.  CBS got tired of getting its brains beat in at 7 am.  Shanks came up with a show headlined by Roland Smith, Mariette Hartley, Mark McEwen and Bob Saget.  Calling it "unwatchable" would be a compliment.  As someone who was always a fan of the "CBS Morning News," I cringed ever time "The Morning Program" aired.  It lasted nine months and CBS eventually went back to a more traditional presentation-- one handled by the news division.  It didn't work, either, but at least the people involved could walk out the door with their heads held high every morning.

At the end of the day, Bob Shanks' contribution to television will have far more plusses than minuses.  He made the business better.

And, I have to note the passing of Bert Quint.  The former CBS News correspondent died over the weekend.  In the Cronkite days, the CBS Evening News always began with the list of correspondents and their locations.  Quint was always in some war torn section of southeast Asia, bringing the horror of the Vietnam War in to our homes.  The man had guts.  Bert Quint was 90.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Andy's Angles: Photo School

I started the year with the goal of upping my photo game.  There are some new lenses in my bag, and I have watched dozens of "how to" videos on You Tube.  Some have offered some really great advice.

The "old" me would have been satisfied with the photo you see above.  It's a shot of the Lackawanna Heritage Trail near Broadway Street in south Scranton.   Although, I would have cropped out the trash can on the left!  I took it Wednesday morning. 

The "new" me, while not always succeeding, attempts to do things a little differently.

Get close to the red tree, which is on the right of the first photo.  Keep the leaves sharp.  Blur the background.  Again, it's not an award winner, but it is a different way of doing the standard "fall foliage" shot.

Of course, you can do just the opposite-- blur the red tree and use it as a frame.  Focus on the green and yellow on the other side of the trail.

Keep in mind, all of this was done by done by a weak skilled amateur, and with the kit lens that came with the camera.  Believe me, it's not that hard.  It's okay to shoot the same thngs, but just find a different way to do it.

In case you're interested, I shot on Av, with the camera opened up to 3.5-- and that's the max for the kit lens I used.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Andy's Angles: The River


I like shooting rivers at any time of year, but especially in the fall.

There was still plenty of green in this Wednesday morning shot of the Lackawanna.  I took it from the Broadway Street bridge in Scranton.

In spite of some recent rain, the Lackawanna was running low and slow.  I have mixed feelings about that.  High water and currents do add visual interest, but on the other hand, still water gives you the opportunity for a little reflection.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Andy's Angles: Leaf Peeping


I put this one up on social media recently, with the promise of telling the little photography tale behind it.  Well, it's really not much of a story.

I had a couple of goals the other morning-- shoot some leaves and put the standard kit lens through its paces with depth of field experiments.

The location-- the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Trail, near Broadway and the Lackawanna River in Scranton.

Serious photographers look down their noses at kit lenses, the ones that come with the camera.  I get that.  Versatile?  Yes.  Capable of producing interesting images?  Sometimes.  I wanted to play with depth of field and background blur, so I opened it up as far as it would go-- 3.5.  It's OK, but prime lesnses I carry with me can do better.  I shot on Av, and my camera seemed to over compensate for the bright sunlight by giving me a very fast shutter speed.  That means a slightly underexposed photo, and I fixed that with some post production.  It's also possible the camera overcompensated for the bright yellow leaves in the background.

It's hardly a Top Ten photo, but I do like the end result.  I'll go in to a little more detail on Sunday.

Thursday, October 15, 2020



I really have a soft spot for the new John Lennon mural in the 500 block of Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton.  This photo was taken just before 10 yesterday morning.

The brother of a dear college friend owns the building.  Students from my alma mater, Marywood, helped.  Plus, it's John Lennon, one of the greatest of his era.

Plus, it's nice to see space dedicated to someone who had a positive influence on society.  It's a refreshing change from another relatively new mural in the city, one dedicated to an unlikeable twit from a stunningly unfunny sitcom.

It's a great use of the space, and with any luck, it will encourage people to visit an overlooked downtown park.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Zoomed Out


I regretted the commitment right after I made it.  

Several weeks ago, I agreed to speak to a Misericordia University Media Literacy class.  I have no problem with helping young people, but I am not a fan of talking about myself.

Adding to the degree of difficulty, I would participate in the class via Zoom.  You would think that would be easier because I wouldn't have close contact with the students and feel their piercing eyes, but I would have preferred that.  It would be more of a discussion, more personal.

My day arrived on Tuesday of last week.  I decided to do it from WNEP rather than home, even though I was on vacation.  I've participated in Zoom meetings before, but I still wasn't confident in my tech skills.  If I ran in to a problem, there would have been plenty of people at WNEP who could help.  Another plus:  I wouldn't have to straighten up my cluttered home office area.

Long story short, the students and the instructor were great.  The 80 minutes flew by and it was a lot of fun.  There were no technical issues.  Thank you for the invitation.

Having said all that, I understand the need for distance learning, but I don't know students and educators do it.  Education is supposed to be personal, an experience.  It's really tough to do that while you're staring at a screen and looking in to a piece of glass.  It was frustrating, and I only had to do it for 80 minutes.  I can only imagine what a full day session would be like.

One can only hope and pray we're all back together soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tom Kennedy


This one hurts.  The news broke Sunday.  Retired game show host Tom Kennedy died last week.  He was one of my favorites.

Kennedy never had a runaway hit, like Bob Barker, Alex Trebek, Richard Dawson, or Pat Sajak, but he did do a lot of shows.  Some were very good.  Some were forgettable.

I think it's fair to say "You Don't Say" was Tom Kennedy's biggest success, but it was far from my favorite.  Kennedy hosted a show called "Split Second" for three years on ABC in the mid 70's.  It's at the top of my list.  There are a few episodes on You Tube.  Check them out.  The contestants had to be smart and fast.  The host needed to be even faster.  There were three parts to every question, so you had all three contestants buzzing in to offer part of the answer.  It was like "Jeopardy," but multiply it by three.  In the final round, contestants could give all three parts to the question.  After the first correct response, Kennedy would say "Correct.  Continue."  I still do it when talking to people.  "Split Second" also had a fun bonus round, which several shows have copied over the years.

Monty Hall, whose production company handled the original, did a "Split Second" reboot several years later, but the pacing was way too slow.  It was awful, and it lasted just one season in syndication.

In the late 70's, there was "Whew!" on CBS.  There was a flaw in the game play, but "Whew!" had to be one of the most fun and visually interesting game shows in television history.  It's too bad that it didn't catch on.

Any Tom Kennedy entry would be incomplete without "Password Plus" on NBC.  Kennedy took over after the death of host Allen Ludden.  When the job was offered, the first thing Tom Kennedy did was ask Ludden's widow, Betty White, if it would be okay.  She gave her blessing and added in her book "Tom took very good care of 'Password.'"

And then, there was one year on the night time "The Price is Right."  As I have said before, TPIR is not one game.  It's 40 games.  Again, a fine job by Tom Kennedy.

There were good hosting performances, even the shows were less than spectacular.  "Name That Tune" never did much for me.  "50 Grand Slam."  "Word Play."  "Break the Bank."  "To Say the Least."

ABC had a game called "Showoffs" in the mid 70's.  Bobby Van hosted.  It bombed.  The producer, Mark Goodson, tinkered with it a bit, took it to CBS, installed Tom Kennedy as host, renamed it "Body Language" and it had a good two year run.

He was comfortable with celebrities.  He was comfortable with civilians.  The man was a true professional.

Tom Kennedy was 93 years old.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Columbus Day


Today is Columbus Day, and 514 years after his death. Columbus is more controversial than ever before.  I took today's photos a few months ago, when I was on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton, practicing my depth of field skills.  Notice, the sharpness of the statue and the blur of the building behind it.

As a kid, I always remember Columbus Day as the first three day weekend of the school year, and way back when, Columbus was viewed as a hero.
Here are the photos.  As for Columbus, feel free to make up your own mind.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Andy's Angles: Light Trails

As I was waiting for sunrise (see yesterday's entry), I decided to play around with a little long exposure stuff.

This is Business Route 6 in Dickson City.  East is to the right.  West is to the left.

It's not what I would call a spectacular shot, but I do like how the small aperture I used created a starburst effect on the security light to the left. 

More on that effect in another blog entry down the road.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Andy's Angles: Sunrise Semester

I had the goal of tackling a sunrise, and it was mission accomplished in late July.

I headed out to the parking lot of the old KMart in Dickson City.  After reading how to shoot a sunrise, I employed a lot of trial and error.  I think every lens in my bag was twisted on the camera body that morning, and I used every setting.

This is the best of the bunch.  It came from my biggest zoom lens in my collection at the time.  There was great glee as I turned the focus ring and the Waymart windmills appeared in the viewfinder.

I shared the photo on other social media platforms back in the summer, and it was one of my most popular posts ever.  Thank you.  It's worth another look.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Let's Review


Another vacation week is coming to an end, and let's review what I accomplished.

Not much.

I caught up on some sleep, watched a little baseball, replaced a refrigerator water filter, read a book, took my father for a flu shot, and bought a hot glue gun.

I Zoomed with a Misericordia media class, and I thank them for the invitation.  It was a lot of fun.  Let's do it again, sometime.

It was a weak vacation on the photography side.  Any time I had a free moment, the weather didn't cooperate.

There is another vacation week later this month.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Network Line


The book I just read on NBC's "Monitor" started me thinking.  The book referred to "Monitor" as "network radio's greatest program."

Quite possibly.  It lasted for nearly twenty years.

"Monitor" started as 40 straight weekend hours.  It spawned a weeknight version, and it was 16 weekend hours for most of its life.

Other contenders?  At least during my lifetime?

Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" is on the list, but that was only once a week.  It started as a three hour broadcast and eventually expanded to four.  AT40 was the gold standard for countdown shows, but it was mostly music.

Rush Limbaugh has to be on the list.  He proved syndicated radio can work in middays.  Whether or not you agree with Rush, he draws a huge audience on 600 stations and you can't ignore that.

You can't forget about the "CBS World News Roundup" in the morning and the evening, but the broadcast was shortened to ten minutes and very few affiliates carry all ten.

Paul Harvey produced 15 minutes of compelling radio for fifty years.  I was a huge fan.

Imus?  A few big affiliates and tons of small ones.  I was always fond of saying that you could spot a failing station if it had "Imus in the Morning."

The overnight UFO guys are on hundreds of stations and it is far from what I would consider great radio.

Bruce Williams proved financial advice can work on radio.  

Sally Jesse Raphael was hot for a while.

Stations were crawling over each other to get Dr. Laura.

Larry King produced fun and interesting radio in his early Mutual days, when the show was on midnight to 5:30 am.  Then, never one to break a sweat, King started mailing it in.

Has anyone been written about, and talked about, more than Howard Stern?

There have been many really good shows, albeit short lived.  Tom Snyder's ABC Radio show quickly comes to mind.

I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting, but it appears author Dennis Hart's assertion is correct.  "Monitor" was "network radio's greatest program."

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Book Report


If you need more proof that I am the world's biggest geek, here it is.  I just finished reading a 15 year old book about a radio show that went off the air 45 years ago, and I loved every page.

In 1955, NBC Radio cooked up something called "Monitor."  It was a combination of music, some host patter and live remotes from around the world.  The goal was to come up with something to slow radio advertising dollars from rushing to television, and it worked-- for a while.  The first months of "Monitor" were filled with 40 hour shows-- from 8 am Saturday to midnight Sunday.  Incredible!

NBC attracted some big named talent-- including Dave Garroway, Hugh Downs, Ed McMahon, Frank McGee, Frank Blair, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Joe Garagiola, Bill Cullen and Gene Rayburn.  NBC wanted a lot of TV people to do radio because of the instant recognition factor.

To make a long story short, "Monitor" went wherever news and fun were happening on weekends.

Times changed.  Affiliates, especially ones in big cities, started dropping the show to run more local programming.  By the last year, 1975, "Monitor" was down to 12 hours on only a few dozen stations.

I was really too young to appreciate the glory of the broadcasts, but I do remember Cullen, Rayburn, and a few others, coming out of my radio when it was tuned to WSCR 1320 in Scranton back in the day.

As for the book, I will be the first to admit that it's not for everyone.  If you listened to "Monitor," you'll like it.  If you like radio history, you will enjoy the book.  It's very well done, but it appeals to a very narrow audience.  My favorite chapters involved the business side of radio.

As you know, I'm a huge "live and local" guy.  Weekend radio now is a lot of voice tracking, "best of" talk shows, infomercials, and other canned programming.  It would be nice to have a "Monitor" style broadcast out there.  It will never happen.  It would be too expensive, and radio stations want to keep the time to themselves to make money.  I get that.  I guess we should be thankful for the few live shows available.  All news stations in New York and Philadelphia are still doing their thing, and you have to wonder how long that will last.

Oddly, the book says NBC considered bringing "Monitor" back in the late 80's, but the company sold off the radio division before it could happen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Dusty Week


When big things happen, especially locally, it's often best to sit back for a moment and think about what happened.

Former Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright was sentenced to seven years in prison for extorting bribes from people who wanted to do business with the city.  Seven years, to many I've talked with, seems light to someone who ran a criminal enterprise from city hall.  In court, Courtright said "I should have known better."  That's the understatement of the year.  Courtright did damage to an already fragile reputation Scranton now enjoys.

Speaking of damaging Scranton's reputation, three Scranton School District officials were charged last week.  Innocent until proven guilty, but according to the attorney general's office, the three knew there was lead in the water and asbestos in the air in city schools-- and they did nothing.

I'm not sure he was the first to utter the line, but former Governor Robert Casey was found of saying "What did you do when you had the power?"

In Scranton, the answer is apparently "steal" and "obstruct."

Monday, October 5, 2020

One Born Every Minute


On the last episode of "A Sucker Born Every Minute,"  I talked about my purchase of charcoal infused tooth paste and tooth brushes.  Bottom line:  no better and no worse than anything else out there.

This time around, it's caffeinated shaving cream.  I also bought the companion post-shave balm.  Caffeine is supposed constrict blood vessels and reduce redness and irritation.


They are decent products, but the performance is on par with other gels and creams out there.  It's not that expensive and it works OK.    It does smell nice and the aroma isn't overpowering.  It's just not worth going out of your way for.

Keep watching this space for the next time I'm romanced by the hype.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Andy's Angles: More Lace

Scranton Lace was a city unto itself-- factory, food, bowling alley, theater...  There was a lot for the workers here-- especially a steady paycheck, and it was a tragedy when that came to an end.

It will really be a kick to see if the site can be repurposed-- a major boost for that neighborhood and the entire city.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Andy's Angles: Lace

It looks like the demolition of Scranton Lace is complete.

The plan is to take down part of the building, and renovate the rest into artists' and living space.

It will cost millions and it will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.

Friday, October 2, 2020

About the Cover


I had planned on fall foliage or something similar for this month's header photo, but I felt the need to shift gears and do something with a message.

Olyphant Hose Company # 2 recently moved out of this building behind borough hall, and into a remodeled facility along the Olyphant Bypass.  Congratulations!  The new building helps in fund raising, and that translates into continued good service to the people of Olyphant and surrounding communities.

Here comes the issue.  What happens to the old building?

From what I understand, it has a date with the bulldozer, and it's destined to become parking spaces.

One one level, I get that.  The building is old.  It's small.  It needs a lot of work.  There isn't a lot you can do with it.

On the other, there is a lot of history here and it would be a tragedy if it's lost.  I realize possibilities are limited, I'm sure something can done with it, even though it will likely take a lot of money.

I just have an awful feeling you'll see dust and debris pictures here in the weeks to come.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

So Soon?


Yes, I know I was off right after Labor Day, and I'm off again this weekend.

You may ask why?  Simple answer.  My vacation time has been reconfigured and I wound up with some extra days.  I didn't take off any time during the lock down, so all that time off is crammed in to the second half of the year.

Plus, I have a week off at the end of October and again at the end of November.

I hope 2021 will be back to normal and I can space out my weeks during the entire year.

This is a great time of year to be off.  Plans include a little walking, playing with the camera and catching up on some rest.

I'll still update the blog.  There might be a post or two on other social media platforms.

The weekend morning broadcasts are in the capable hands of Elizabeth Worthington.

Be well.  Stay safe, and I'll call you back later.