This one was right next one to the box car that appeared in this space yesterday, its temporary home off Green Ridge Street in Scranton.
Hank Aaron died last week. At one time, he was baseball's all time home run leader. To many people, he still is. I remember watching Aaron chase Babe Ruth as a kid, and I was sad, knowing The Babe's record was about to fall. When you are a kid, The Babe "WAS" baseball, even though he was well before my time.
As is turned out, Aaron was a great caretaker of the record. Professionalism. Courage. Dignity. Class. He will be missed.
Cloris Leachman died this week. The mark of acting talent is to take severely flawed person and make them likeable. Phyllis Lindstrom never gave anyone the warm fuzzies on "The Mary Tyler Moore" show, but she did create an interesting character. And, the Frau Blucher horse bit in "Young Frankenstein" is a movie classic.
I batted .500 in football predictions last weekend. Right on the AFC. Wrong on the NFC. Look for a useless Super Bowl prediction in one week.
Yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of the space shuttle "Challenger" explosion. It was one of those "Where were you when?" moments. For me, it was the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
Cold weather on the way this weekend. Snow possible early next week. Hey, it's winter and it could be a lot worse. More thoughts on that next week.
When I was listing good interviewers the other day, I left out Bob Costas. My bad. His NBC "Later" show was very good, and his MLB Network interviewers are outstanding. Costas prepared, asks good questions, and lets his guests talk. Plus, he knows when to interject humor without making it all about him.
I was doing a little year end book keeping, and like last year, I decided to count the number of checks I wrote.
The 2019 tally: 14
Yes. That's it. Five!
It's not like I spent less money. On the contrary. I just paid for everything electronically.
Banks, credit card companies and stores are making it very easy, and, I hope, more secure.
It's not that difficult to envision the day when signing on the bottom right is a thing of the past.
I've also noticed some megabanks closing small town branches. That should perk up the ears of those who run smaller and mid sized banks. There is some great opportunity to tap in to an underserved market, even though many view brick and mortar branches as passe.
So, who do I consider the best interviewers in the business?
Well, there are two types. The first is the long form, unedited type, like Larry King was.
The other type is the journalists who do interviews, but select the best parts for their profiles, like what you see on "60 Minutes."
Mike Wallace makes both lists, for his old "Nightbeat" program, and then again on "60 Minutes." Remember, Mike Wallace is the guy who had the onions to ask Ayatollah Khomeini about someone calling him a "lunatic." I strongly recommend finding the documentary "Mike Wallace Is Here." There is no new footage in it, but documents the career of a giant.
If you want see how a magazine show celebrity profile is done, check out Morley Safer's piece on Jackie Gleason. It's on You Tube. Every second, every frame, every word is fascinating. The same goes for Wallace's piece on Johnny Carson. Barbara Walters knew how how to get news out of people, namely Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, and Anwar Sadat.
As for the people who had a half hour or hour of TV or radio time, Tom Snyder makes my list, even though he occasionally ventured in to the "it's all about me" territory that I despise so much. Ted Koppel made the early years of ABC News "Nightline" must see TV, and what made Koppel especially noteworthy was his ability to juggle interviewing a few different people at the same time.
Howard Stern is in a class by himself. Fearless. Stern has an advantage the others do not. He spent a good part of his career on satellite radio, where there are no rules.
What about David Frost with Richard Nixon? Landmark stuff. But then again, how do you miss with Nixon, one of the most fascinating people in American political history.
Many people will put Oprah Winfrey on their lists. Honestly, I never watched her enough to form an opinion.
It's a pity Charlie Rose self destructed. He could get the big names, and he knew how to handle it when they sat at his table.
As has been said many times, many ways, there is no magic formula to doing a good interview. Ask questions. Be prepared. The most important thing, and the part most often overlooked, is LISTEN TO THE RESPONSES. The business these days has some good questioners, but poor listeners. It makes a difference. It really does.
This is the third store to occupy the space. You know you are old when you remember the first inhabitant, Arlan's. The Moosic store opened in 1970. It was a discount chain that eventually went out of business. KMart grabbed several Arlan's locations-- including the one in Moosic. The Moosic KMart closed a few years ago. It really was painful to watch the store wither and die. It became a neglected fluorescent tomb. The parent company never invested in the place, and that's unfortunate.
Even though there is a very nice market less than a mile away, a mega store here in the plaza makes sense. It's close to all those office buildings at Montage, and it's in a densely populated residential area. The established chain down the street is known for its deli and bakery. I'm sure it can stand up to the new competition. Anecdotally, I hear people are still hitting the established store and that's a good thing.
Even though I can't list myself as a super fan, it's great to see activity in the plaza once again.
On the radio, King spoke to thousands, but he was the very best at making it sound like he was just speaking to you. Very few have that ability, and it was most valued on his midnight to 5:30 AM radio show.
That radio show that shot King to national prominence was one of a kind. News, interviews, humor, phone calls... Larry King ruled the night. He is perhaps single handedly responsible for keeping the Mutual Broadcasting System going as long as it did. You see, Mutual had a rule. If you wanted Larry King, you had to take all of the network's other junk along with it. The newscasts weren't bad. The other feature programs were awful, and I'm being kind. Mutual was a goner not long after King cut back on his radio work.
Larry had a thing about never researching guests. He said that was so he would ask the questions the common person would ask. Translation: lazy. Yes, Larry did ask the questions, but he did miss out on a lot of opportunities by not doing research. Overall, Larry King was a good interviewer. Solid. The best? Well... I'm not putting him on Mount Rushmore.
If you want to see something really sad, look up the clip from King's interview with Jerry Seinfeld. King went in to it horribly unprepared and Kudos to Seinfeld for calling him on it.
It continued when King moved over to TV. During a "60 Minutes" interview, Mike Wallace asked King about being a "patsy." He got big interviews because he didn't ask the tough questions. People knew they would get a free ride on King's shows. He copped to that and added that confrontation wasn't what he was all about.
Case in point, Jerry Lewis would make a yearly appearance to plug the telethon. King would always ask about the status of medical advances. Lewis would always say they were "close." The assertion was never challenged. While tremendous strides have been made, "close" to a cure isn't a word most people would use.
Larry King had a smooth and easy going style, and there were many nights and mornings it appeared he was just mailing it in. The radio show kept being cut back. It eventually wound up a three hour show at 10 PM before King quit it altogether.
I respect Larry King's accomplishments and his longevity. There was something about him that people really liked
Larry King was 87 years old.
I was in downtown Scranton on the Monday before Christmas, taking a few holiday photographs, when I snapped this one. I'm on Spruce Street, looking toward Penn Avenue. That's the Scranton Times building in mid frame.
It's a 30 second exposure, which usually turns night into near-day, but as you can see from the starburst street lights, I had my aperture choked down quite a bit, to f 22. This was done with the 24 mm prime lens.
I've really grown to appreciate street photography, especially night street photography. More to come in the year ahead.
This is a 30 second exposure of Spruce Street. At the far left of the photo, you can see the curved trail left by a car turning on to North Washington Avenue. The vertical lights on the right belong to the WEJL AM 630 tower.
I just love doing this, and I look forward to a few more successes in the new year.
I'm not the football fan I used to be, but it's tradition that I pick NFL games on Championship Weekend.
Take the Chiefs and give up the four points, but that can change depending on the health of their quarterback. Buffalo did not impress last week, only scoring 17 against the Ravens, and one touchdown came from the defense.
Over in the NFC, take the Packers and give up the four. Lambeau in December and it appears Green Bay is peaking at the right time. While it's tough to bet against Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay squad, it looks like this is Green Bay's year.
I'm inclined, already, to pick Green Bay over Kansas City in the Super Bowl, but we'll climb that mountain when we get there.
I know this is the year without rules, and we all need something bright in our lives, but I've always felt Christmas decorations become less special the longer they are around. I think I get some of that from the previous generation. I remember the strings of outdoor lights with giant bulbs that burned hot and caused the electric meter to spin rapidly. The indoor bulbs also burned on the warm side, and I'm surprised there weren't more Christmas tree fires back in the day. Yes, kids, there was a time before LED's.
Speaking of elongated Christmas seasons, I bought stamps from an automated kiosk (by the way, one of the best inventions ever!) just before the holiday. I bought a bunch because they last "forever" (another great idea) and it saves me from repeated trips to the post office. Unfortunately, all the stamps have Christmas scenes, so if you get something from me in July, it's just my way of wishing you an early and a happy holiday season.
James Corden is making noise about leaving "The Late Late Show" on CBS next summer. Corden is homesick for England. I think Corden is an exceptionally talented guy, and his "The Late Late Show" got off to a tremendous start. However, it's become just another smarmy Hollywood smooch-fest.
I still haven't found any streaming service that is worth paying for.
I still haven't found any new dramas or comedies that entice me to become invested.
ABC has added more prime time game shows, and that warms my heart. Here are a few brief thoughts on "The Chase." It's a great game with a dazzling set. However, the GSN version was much better. Brooke Burns was a better host and Mark Labbatt was an infinitely better chaser.
Dawn Wells, Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island" died late last month. It was a dreadful show that produced some unforgettable characters.
I wonder how and if the news media will change now that there is a new occupant of the White House.
Few TV series went from great to awful as quickly as "Newsradio."
"All in the Family" recently marked the 50th anniversary of its CBS debut. I respect the groundbreaking nature of the content, and loved it back then. I can't watch it now. It's just 30 minutes of people yelling and I just don't find it to be funny.
It was record low ratings for the Alabama/Ohio State national championship game. First, it was a bad game. Second, like most sports, it just didn't feel like a real season.
Ray Brady died January 12. CBS TV and Radio business reporter. 94. A business reporter who can make the complicated understandable has amazing value. Ray Brady got it done.
This deserves an entry unto itself. After all, the expansion of television news was the subject of my 1983 college thesis. This is a landmark day in morning television news history. It's the 40th anniversary of the Reagan inauguration and the 40th anniversary of the release of the Iranian hostages. Television news executives, working on the day's coverage, were out of their ivory towers and up early on this day 40 years ago. They noticed how many "working people" are up well before sunrise, and the morning television news expansion really started to roll. And now, you know the rest of the story.
Betty White turned 99 Sunday. Never afraid to do game shows, even though many viewed them as the last stop on the career express.
Former LA Dodger Don Sutton died yesterday. 75. Good pitcher. Good broadcaster.
My travel and commute times are very late at night and very early in the morning. When I see more than two cars on the highway, anxiety sets in and I think "traffic jam!" This was an evening when the roads were packed.
After years and years of living and working at the opposite end of the clock from "normal" people, the amount of traffic was an eye opener. I thought the economy was bad, more people were working from home, businesses were closed, schools were shut, and we were told by the health experts to stay home.
It looked like an average late afternoon/evening commute to me, maybe even worse.
What am I missing?
I am out during the occasional morning rush hour, and that seems to be the pinnacle of maniacal driving. Most problems here can be solved by setting your alarm five minutes sooner. You won't have to drive like an idiot, and the people who share the road would really appreciate it.
And one other transportation note this morning...
Next to the "Do Not Call" list, the law forcing drivers to remove snow and ice from their cars is the biggest fraud every inflicted on the fine citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The sound of a frying egg is one of the great joys of life. If you ever make them for me, remember, I don't like my yolks too runny.
I finally have figured out how to schedule a Facebook post, and it came in handy around the holidays. The blog will always be my baby.
Everyone went nuts to see 2020 disappear, and I get that. While it was a horrible year, I just couldn't jump on that bandwagon. It's a new year. The problems haven't gone away.
Boscov's is closing the restaurants at its stores, blaming the current situation. I get that, too The restaurant business is tough to begin with. A pandemic adds to the degree of difficulty. Sad, nonetheless.
So much chaos in politics. I'm not sure if that shows the system works, or doesn't.
The Tanya Roberts story is simply sad. Dead. Alive. Dead. Just 65. She was great on "That 70's Show."
McDonald's is launching three new chicken sandwiches this month. Outside of McNuggets, the chain is not known for its chicken skills. I'll stick with my favorite, across the street.
You can never underestimate the positivity inspired by a sunny mid winter day.
Stumbling across a Three Stooges short on TV is still a major thrill.
Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War. We all knew it was coming, but it was still a shock. I remember coming home from my radio job, eating dinner with Dan Rather, and watching CBS swing into "war mode."
Anyway, I was playing with my camera here in late November. The shutter stayed open for 30 seconds on this one. Excessive? A bit. However, that longer exposure really lights up the place and gives it different look in the early morning hours.
I was playing around with my camera at Marywood University on an early morning, a couple of days before Thanksgiving.
Night photography isn't new to me, but this was a different shot. I kept the shutter open for 15 seconds, which gave the entrance to the Liberal Arts Center a nice glow.
Let's do the math. Meteorological winter consists of December, January, and February. That means winter is now half over!
We've already had plenty of snow and ice, but I do have to warn you that you shouldn't plant the onions just yet.
Statistically speaking, the last two weeks of January are the coldest of the year. We've had some whopper snow storms in February and March. April snow is not unusual.
But the days are getting longer and you can feel the sun getting a little stronger.
Half the battle is fought and won.
Let's take you back to a Saturday morning at this time exactly 25 years ago. We had two snow storms, followed by a quick thaw and some rain. Rivers, creeks and streams were coming out of their banks. Flooding everywhere.
Friday was a tough day, and we knew the worst was ahead. I was working "down the street." The news director, who I really liked and am still in touch with, was looking for people to work Saturday morning. The news director had just made a series of personnel moves that were unpopular with many on the staff, so everyone had an excuse to avoid coming to the office. It was pay back time. I was unaffected by his moves and I understand why some were pouting.
I considered the news director a friend, then and now, so when he asked, I agreed. My job was to do Saturday morning updates on the hour and half hour . We started early and it was clear there was going to be trouble. Part of the Wyoming Valley was being evacuated. Sections along the Lackawanna River were already under water.
January/winter flooding is especially difficult. A damaged furnace also means frozen pipes, and it's simply too cold to open the windows, hoping the fresh air dries out the house.
Finally, just before 9:30 AM, the news director said simply "keep going." What followed was a two and a half hour plus newscast without a script. At the risk of offending people by forgetting who did what, I will name some of the key figures.
Eileen Kennedy produced from the control room, and I would have been lost without her directions in my ear. Derry Bird was our forecaster that morning. Derry knew weather, and he also knew news and history. We sat on the newsroom set together to talk about why things were happening, after the round up of numbers. Barry Finn, who we lost last year, Melissa Becker Sgroi, and David DeCosmo were live in the field. Producer Chris O'Rourke, was phoning in reports from the Danville area. We also had a fantastic control room staff, who pushed all the right buttons at the right time. I can't leave out the photographers, who captured amazing images.
The same was true even way back then-- I drank a lot of diet cola that morning. When the river stabilized just after noon, I signed off and turned things over to the evening news staff. My first order of business was to make the long dash down the hall and up the stairs to the men's room. Made it! Barely!
Right after taking care of business, I was sure to thank my coworkers who helped me look really good that morning.
It was a tough day here in our area-- damaged homes, cars and businesses. I hope we all made it a little better 25 years ago by giving you the information you needed to make it through the experience.
I walked out to my car at 3 AM on New Year's Day, and there it was-- the unmistakable and pungent odor of skunk.
As I note every year, forget about the robin. The skunk is the true sign of spring. When they become active, looking for food and love, warmer weather is on the way.
New year's morning wasn't a one-time-only whiff. I've detected the aroma a few times in recent days.
Part of me likes to believe an early spring is on the way, but as I look at the long range forecast, there are some frosty mornings ahead, including some single digit temperatures. There is a lot of winter left.
The skunk as barometer might not be perfect, but a little nose hair curling stench is better than none at all.
I was a Steelers fan for years, and then, the team made a horribly poor choice in a backup quarterback. My days as a Steeler fan were done.
Writing a fair amount of sports stories for work forces me to keep an eye on what's going on, in all leagues, so here is a quick take on the Steelers.
The team just didn't show up Sunday night. They weren't prepared. It was sloppy play. They have reversed the trend, but for a few recent years, the Steelers were in the top tier of most penalized teams in the league. That shows a lack of discipline and inadequate preparation. Bad coaching.
The Steelers started this season with eleven straight wins. Many were squeakers against bad teams. This is an over rated squad. There is no running game and the offense is led by a quarterback who can't throw down the field. The Steelers had a horrible time with back up quarterbacks last year. They went in to the 2020 season with an aged and injury prone quarterback, and management did nothing in the last off season to beef up the bench strength. Mason Rudolph is not the answer.
The Steelers are known for their consistency and it has been one of the league's more successful franchises. However, a team is more than a won and lost record. It's time for changes, and a lot of them.
Back in the early 80's, when the Phillies actually fielded winning teams, my radio station, WARM 590, sent its legendary sports director, Ron Allen, to Philadelphia to do his radio show from Veterans Stadium. At the time, ABC was using Dodgers' manager Tom Lasorda on its post season coverage.
Lasorda has a local connection. He grew up in Norristown, right outside of Philadelphia. He used to referee youth basketball games in Hazleton.
Lasorda left us Friday. Ron died in 2008, and you should have heard him tell the story. There was no greater story teller in the business, on or off the air.
The way Ron told it, Lasorda graciously gave him an interview before a playoff or World Series game, saying how wonderful it was to be back in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, and he had fond memories of Hazleton.
Once Ron's microphone and tape recorder were off, Lasorda launched in to a four letter tirade over the City of Philadelphia, and how the Phillies had no business being in the post season. Ron's telling of the tale was a thing of beauty and the words, raunchy as they were, still echo on my head. I think Lasorda used more obscene words than clean ones.
It was no secret Lasorda liked to swear. His words will live on forever on You Tube. He will be remembered as a good baseball manager and a great ambassador for the game. He loved baseball and he really loved the Dodgers. Tommy Lasorda was 93.
I wrote a blog entry after Ron's death in September of 2008. He might not have been the easiest person to get along with and you cannot deny his talent I will forever be grateful that Ron gave me a job in March of 1981. I will also be grateful I heard those wonderful stories.
I snapped off a few shots here just for the heck of it, and surprise! I like what I saw.
The photo was taken in the late fall, but I can get away with it for January because it's tight enough to be weather neutral. The giveaway is in the wide shot, with the two guys in warm weather attire on the right.
January can be a long, dark, cold, snowy month. In my view, once you make it through January, you've made it through the worst of winter.
Nikki made another offer in the late winter, but the timing was bad. WNEP was going through a fairly massive newsroom software and video system upgrade. I was in training sessions on my usual days off. I had to pass-- again.
The third time was the charm. I had some free time in the days leading up to Christmas. Nikki said I could have Tuesday or Thursday. I selected Thursday, forgetting it was Christmas Eve. As you know, I'm not a Christmas person and I feared I would be a wet blanket on the WILK Morning News.
The appointed day arrived, and I showed up at the WILK studio a half hour early to get a feel for the operation and talk with Nikki, who I had never met. There was surprisingly little "show prep" as we say in the business. Nikki and her producer, John, handed me a stack of potential topics. As it turned out, we didn't use any of it. Nikki had some things planned, and a few things that weren't on paper. I just went with the flow.
The first half hour flew by, and I began to relax a little. It was mostly easy conversation, sprinkled in between news, commercials, phone calls, and texts from listeners. The rest of the broadcast also passed quickly. The next thing I knew, it was 9 AM and time to leave.
I had several concerns going in. One of the biggest was if there would be any chemistry with Nikki, a total stranger before 5:30 AM on Christmas Eve. There is good news to report there. Nikki was very easy to work with. I was also worried about political and controversial topics coming up. I'm still in the news business, not the opinion business. Nikki wisely deflected any of that stuff, and I didn't even have to ask. That's professionalism on her part, and I thank her for that.
Some might remember that I spent 12 years in radio. I love what I'm doing now and radio will also have a special place in my heart. In fact, I spend more time listening to radio than I do watching television. It was nice to exercise that radio skill.
It was also a strange experience because, in my day, WILK was the despised enemy and my chief competition. Even though those days are long gone, it was still a tad uncomfortable setting up in the opposing camp.
Feedback has been positive. Thanks for listening. Thanks to the people at WILK and WNEP who made it happen.
Orloski and his family ran a chain of mini marts, before they sold them off. At one time, the business included 47 stores in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, and that's an amazing feat for what started as a small, family owned business.
The stores were amazing. Well stocked. Meticulously organized. And the most striking thing: CLEAN. You could eat off the floor.
I understand why the family cashed out, but it was a sad day for loyal customers. Those stores were never the same.
My sympathy to the Orloski family. Frank made quite a contribution to life and public service, well beyond his stores, here in our area.
Al Michaels is going in to the baseball hall of fame. He was a really good baseball broadcaster. Key word: WAS. Outside of a few stunts, Michaels hasn't done a baseball game in years. There are others who have done more baseball, and who have done it longer, who deserve the honor.
Baltimore's quarterback had to go running for the toilet during a game last month, and broadcasters had great fun with that. Grow up! It's happened to everyone at one time or another, albeit not on national television.
The Georgia senate election might be the most covered senate races in American history.
In late December, I ventured in to a shopping mall for the first time in ten months. Nothing against the people who work there, but I didn't miss it, and I couldn't wait to get out of there.
I thought naming winter storms was silly when it started several years ago. Time has not changed my opinion.
The charm and interest in Elf on a Shelf eludes me.
It's amazing how fast snow piles up, and it's equally amazing as to how fast it can melt away.
I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be thrilled to receive a bottle of hand sanitizer as a Christmas gift.
This whole Mr. Peanut thing has become tedious. Planters needs a new ad agency.
The Top Ten Photos of 2020 blog entries were tough. There were easily three or four photos that could have topped the list. I spent the past week second guessing myself.
Thornburgh gets high marks from both parties for the way he handled the Three Mile Island crisis.
Dick Thornburgh took office in 1979. I started working in commercial radio in 1981, so he was my first governor as a "paid professional."
Back in the day, there was an 800 number sponsored by the state. Radio stations could call it and download recorded sound bites from the governor to use on local newscasts. I used it quite a bit at Marywood and WARM. Thornburgh and his media people always had fresh material on the line. Thornburgh's successor was a total opposite. It was a rare day when you would find new "actualities." I asked one of the people from the governor's media office about it. He knew radio stations loved the 800 line, but I was told the successor was no Thornburgh. You just couldn't put a microphone in front of him and ask questions.
While reading obituaries, I learned something new. Thornburgh sold his Pittsburgh area home after he was elected governor and the Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg became his primary and only residence. Because of that, Thornburgh worked with mid state officials to improve the city of Harrisburg and the surrounding towns.
CBS hired Thornburgh to investigate Dan Rather's botched report on George W. Bush's National Guard service. Thornburgh's investigation confirmed that it was sloppy work, based on fraudulent documents. The CBS story destroyed careers and the recklessness still blows my mind.
Dick Thornburgh wasn't a flamboyant politician with a spectacular and outgoing personality. I think he will be remembered as a solid governor, a problem solver, and a decent human being.
This is part of a caboose collection off Brown Street in Honesdale, photos taken on a sterling morning in early November.
What really struck me what how clean these cars were, with relatively new paint.
Let's face it. Our area is filled with old train cars and many, too many, are rusting and rotting away. Honesdale was a refreshing change of pace.
There is a collection of cabooses on Brown Street in Honesdale. This one caught my eye-- a bit of a different design from the standard boxy look. It reminded me of a storage container on wheels.
I took this one on a beautiful morning in early November, and the sun really wasn't my friend here.
The B&O caboose was linked up to a more traditional model but still a bit more modern than the old ones we grew up with.
As I always say, we give way too much significance to the turning of a calendar page, but if it makes you feel better, by all means, go for it.
It's a new year, but the old problems remain. Maybe they will be solved as we move in to the year. On the other hand...