Sunday, February 5, 2023

Andy's Angles: Making Use

 



Scranton filled in the leaky pools at Nay Aug Park months ago, and that makes me sad.  As I'm writing this, there are some ideas being kicked around for water based recreation here, but nothing is written in stone, yet.  There is great debate over splash pad vs big pool.

But, look carefully, in the middle of the photo above.  A man is playing with two dogs in what used to be one of the pools.

At least, the space isn't being wasted.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Andy's Angles: Winter in the Park

 

It's hard to believe, and nice to know that we've finally entered February, the last month of meteorological winter.

I had a recent expedition, looking for the beauty of the winter season and there is plenty out there.

Above is one of the pavilions at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  The leaves are gone, but the evergreens are, well, ever green.  It won't be long before people are playing music here and using the pavilion's shade to get out of the hot summer sun.


And there will be happy families, having lunch or dinner here.

Yes, winter has its beauty, but I'm ready for spring.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Rollin'

 

I've spent a fair amount of time here complaining about bad products, made here at home and abroad.  Today, it's just the opposite.

This all started in early November.  A car dashboard sensor came on, indicating I needed air in a tire.  No big deal.  I have a tire shop close to me that offers air for a free.  A mini mart chain does the same thing.  A quick squirt, and I was on my way.

As an aside, I know it costs money to keep an air compressor running, but the price some mini mart chains and gas stations charge is outrageous.  Stop it.  Stop it now!  Do something nice for customers.  Anything more than 50 cents is robbery.

Be that as it may, I've been airing up this tire every couple of weeks.  Late November and December was a busy time for me.  I should have stopped at a tire shop.  I didn't.  Now, the air experience was going from twice a week to once a week.

I checked the forecast.  Trends are changing.  Cold weather, very cold weather, is on the way.  Snow, too.  The last thing I wanted was a flat in a blizzard.

Monday morning, I called the tire shop where I bought them, and made an appointment for the afternoon.  Diagnosis:  nail.  40 minutes later, I was back on the road.

Here is my point.  I'm amazed that I was able to drive around with a nail in my tire for three months, with only a few pumps of air getting me through.  In the old days, a nail meant an instant flat.

We've come a long way!

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Welcome Back!

 

I finally get to get to reuse the Polar Vortex graphic I first created in January of 2014!

The Polar Vortex makes a return to our area tomorrow.   Well, not really.  My team of meteorological experts tell me a nasty cold snap is not the Polar Vortex.   Temperatures will be below normal, for a change, this winter.  The wind will make it feel even worse.

We were due.  Most days have been mild, by winter standards.  Snow drought.

As I've said before, I can deal with the cold.  Snow is something different.  It's dangerous.

Relief is on the way.  We'll be back in the 40's in a few days, and it will be interesting to see if the winter ends as it began.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

GHD

 

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney.  Many other places have their own version, and that's cool.  Tomorrow marks the half way point of winter, but if you look at the three coldest months of the year as December, January, and February, that half way point came and went two weeks ago.

It's silly.  It's goofy.  It's fun.  I look forward to the spectacle.

I remember thinking it was real serious stuff, with scientific merit, when I was a kid.  Now, I understand that is not the case.  Still, it's nice when Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring.  Even a forecast of six more weeks of winter is no big deal.  We always get that, anyway.  Former coworker and current friend Tom Williams always used to say it doesn't become nice and stay nice around here until early June.

It is a nice little boost when Phil forecasts an early spring, even though it doesn't mean much.  The winter, so far, hasn't been anything to complain about.  We've had mostly above normal temperatures and very little snow.

No matter what Phil says, keep the puffy coat handy for another couple of months.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Championship Tuesday

 

Championship Sunday has come and gone.  The Super Bowl line up is set.  Philadelphia vs Kansas City.  The odds makers believe it will be a close game, and I'll have my pick on February 10.

Today's topic is the AFC and NFC championships.

If Buffalo made it out of the divisional round, and because of the game where Damar Hamlin was badly hurt, a potential Kansas City/Buffalo AFC championship game would have been held in a neutral site, in this case, Atlanta.

Tickets sold fast, but it was all for naught.  Buffalo lost to Cincinnati, and that set up the Sunday night contest that sent the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.

Color me intrigued.  The neutral site game was set up as a mini Super Bowl.  It likely would have been played after my bed time.  I did see it as a cool concept.  

Apparently, people at the NFL offices on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan agreed, and the league is said to be considering moving the NFC and AFC championship games to neutral sites in the years to come.   Like everything else involving the National Football League, follow the money.  Increased TV ratings mean a higher cash flow.  Potential host cities would bid on the games, sending even more cash to the NFL.  Much like the Super Bowl, there would be ancillary events connected to the games-- concerts, festivals, shows, etc.  Radio stations would broadcast from the host cities in the days leading up to the game.  Publicity, exposure.

The AFC games could be held in NFC cities and vice versa, to reduce the chances of a "home" game for one of the teams.  I'm sure they would be played in warm weather cities, or domes.  That takes bad weather out of the equation.  Fairness.

On the down side, there has to be some advantage to being top seed, and a home championship game is the best way to do it.  Plus, you hate to see home town fans screwed out of a game.  Not everyone can afford to jet off to another city to watch football.

In the end, I favor keeping things as-is, but I think the NFL will experiment for a year or two. 

Money talks.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Awful

 

My friend, the Prospector, on Rock 107 does a bit where he asks "Am I a jerk?"  It is essentially awkward situations and his response to them.  Listeners weigh in on whether Prospector did the right thing.  It's a fun segment.

My version today is "Am I an awful person?"

Let me digress.  I give money to charity.  I'm kind to old people and animals.  I hold doors open for people behind me.  I say please and thank you.

Catching reruns of "Deal or No Deal" is occasionally part of my agenda.  GSN runs old episodes at noon.

Here is why I ask if I'm an awful person.  If a contestant doesn't take a reasonable early offer, I root for them to knock out the $1 million dollar briefcase and the other high amounts.  There is no law against making money in this country, but I detest greed.  I enjoy watching those contestants lose, and go down hard.

I had a stock broker, now retired, many years ago.  She always said "You will never be sorry if you take profits."  My history was selling off early with a decent profit.  I could have made more if I kept some stocks longer, but I was satisfied with a nice gain.  I was a risk taker, but not an outrageous one.  A little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing.

"Howie, DEAL!"

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Andy's Angles: If it Walks like a Duck...

 

This is another shot from my recent trip to Sweeney's Beach in Scranton, and another attempt to be artsy.

The ducks swam downstream in the Lackawanna River as I arrived.  They left their tracks behind-- little arrows in the snow.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Andy's Angles: Artsy Weekend

 

It's been a long time since I inflicted some of my artsy photos on you.  Cut me a break!

This is a recent shot of one of the new, but old looking, light fixtures outside Scranton Lace.  The clock/steam whistle tower is deliberately blurred in the background.  I had the aperture opened up all the way and went manual focus.  Still, I wish I got the tower blurrier.

The goal-- the juxtaposition between the old and new at one of the biggest projects in the city, in a long time.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Friday Scrapple

 

Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack" is one of the best songs of all time.

Speaking of great sings started me thinking about "Suite:  Judy Blue Eyes."  A masterpiece.

Reminders this week that winter will be with us for a while longer.

I've been a Natasha Lyonne fan, going back to "The Slums of Beverly Hills."  She has a new streaming thing.  I'm not a streamer, but I hope the show does well.

The Brock Purdy thing is one of the best stories of the current NFL season.  

I really have no sentimental favorites for this year's Super Bowl.  I have a feeling it will be Philadelphia versus Kansas City.

Big layoffs in the tech industry.  That frightens me.

ABC's Cecilia Vega jumped to CBS and "60 Minutes."  I think it's just a matter of time before she's anchoring the evening news.

I was surprised to learn Pennsylvania is up to 17 casinos.  I would have guessed about a dozen.

The world is beginning to figure out Tony Romo is a mediocre broadcaster, at best.

I like eggs.  I hate paying high prices for them.

It's hard to believe it's tax time already.

Is there anything more cute than a penguin?


Thursday, January 26, 2023

First Person: Snow Day

 

It is proof we are a nimble organization.

I arrived for work early Monday morning, expecting to have snow duty.  There was one problem.  It wasn't snowing.  My coworkers and I scoured internet reports and observations.  We looked at PennDOT traffic cams.  The worst problem, it appeared, was in northern Susquehanna County.  That's where reporter Elizabeth Worthington was dispatched.

I hung at the office and worked on an income tax story.

Then, a turn for the worse.


Cold air came in.  The rain turned to ice and snow.  Roads slicked up.  A rash of crashes.  Schools that had been on delays threw in the towel and closed for the day.  I finished my income tax story, then headed to the high elevations of Lackawanna County, specifically Jefferson Township and the Mount Cobb interchange with Interstate 84.

The ride was not easy.  Photographer Jason was the calm and steady hand behind the wheel.  We saw one crash in front of us where 81 and 380 join.  There was another directly behind us.  The road looked wet.  It was actually ice.

We made it to Jefferson Township and set up to go live during Newswatch 16 This Morning.  I usually avoid the shots close to interstates, favoring urban locations.  They are simply lit better and are more visual.

This one was different.  It's a busy interchange, even at 5:00 am.  Plus, Mother Nature left a visual aid to show we had freezing rain.  You can see the icicles hanging from the road signs.  Show and tell.  That's TV.

The ride back to the home office was mush easier than the journey in the opposite direction.  It was a stark reminder there is still plenty of winter left.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Starry

 

While I'm a devoted diet cola guy, I do walk on the wild side once in a while.  The people at Pepsi dumped Sierra Mist and are pushing this.  It's called "Starry."  I'd like to meet the marketing geniuses and focus groups that came up with that name.  The Pepsi folks want to take market share away from Coke's Sprite and this is their solution.

I grabbed a 12 pack of the zero sugar version at the big box store the other day.  I do like it.  But, you can line up Starry, Sprite, the old Sierra Mist, 7 Up, and even the Walmart store brand, and I couldn't tell the difference.  In fact, Walmart's lemon lime is very good.  I'm sorry to say they never got the diet cola right.

Pepsi keeps trying.  Remember Teem?  How about Slice?

I'm an infrequent lemon lime soda purchaser, so I'll get whatever is on sale.  Will Starry cause you to switch brands?  I don't taste much of a reason.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Iced

 

It was sad to see the Scranton Ice Festival is off this year.  Our newspaper friends reported many reasons for the cancellation.  The organizers hope to return next year.

We need more things to do in the winter.  It makes the season go by faster.  Except for First Fridays, downtown Scranton is dead on a winter night.  The same goes for Wilkes-Barre.  You have the bars and restaurants, and that's cool, pardon the pun.  The Public Square skating rink is a major plus.  It would simply be nice to have more winter events.  Pottsville's Winter Carnival disappeared long ago.

It really is a moot point for me.  I work weekends, so I don't participate in any reindeer games.

I am happy to say the annual Clarks Summit Festival of Ice is still on this weekend.  Take the camera.  Take the family and enjoy.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Night Court 23

 

The new "Night Court" made its debut last week, and here are some thoughts after watching the first two episodes.

Long story short...  Abby Stone returns to run her father's old New York City night court.  She lures Dan Fielding out of retirement to be public defender, as opposed to his role as prosecutor in the original series.  I find that to be a really nice twist.  Everyone else is new, and I get that.  Three decades have elapsed since the original went off the air.

Unfortunately, every moment when someone other than Abby or Dan is speaking is dreadful.  The criminals, the secondary, and the tertiary characters here bring the show down.  Way down.  They're just not funny.  Also, the new "Night Court" has to move on from the sunny Abby and dreary Dan themes, or this becomes a one joke sitcom.

Melissa Rauch was funny, adorable,  and underrated on "The Big Bang Theory," and I really like her here.  John Larroquette improves every project he's involved with.  It's just not enough for "Night Court '23."

Some sitcoms take time to hit their stride.  My beloved "Barney Miller" was one of them.  The same goes for "Drew Carey."  "MASH" and "Scrubs" were funny from day one.  In fact, CBS head Fred Silverman called the "MASH" pilot the best he ever saw.  The original "Night Court" went through several cast changes before they got it right.  If you count the pilot, there were three public defenders before Markie Post lit up the screen.

So, how do I score this?  1 to 10?  Letter grade?  Stars?

In the end, I decided to go the most simple route and use the Siskel & Ebert "thumbs up or down" method.  I will qualify it.  For sentimental reasons, I'll watch another episode or two and hope for some development.  I will gladly admit I'm wrong, and I hope I am.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Andy's Angles: A Wasted Opportunity?

 

I don't know why I visited the Scranton Farmers Market on a recent morning.  I think I was just looking for quiet winter scenes, and this clearly is one.

The market is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from July to Thanksgiving.  That triggered a thought.  It's a decent facility, fairly easy to find, and with a lot of parking.

Wouldn't it be a nice place for a spring or winter festival of some type?  I know it's privately owned.  It's not a public park.  It just seems to me that there is an asset that isn't being used to its fullest potential.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Andy's Angles: Magnificent Desolation

 

The second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, described the satellite as "magnificent desolation."  

That same phrase popped in to my head when I stopped by the Scranton Farmers Market on a recent snowy morning.  The market, one of my favorite places, closed for the season on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  I was there on that last day to pick up some Thanksgiving pies.  It was a good season and I was sorry to see it come to an end.

There are plenty of footprints here, so someone has been wandering around.  It will be a long wait for opening day in July.

Friday, January 20, 2023

First Person: Inauguration Morning

 


It started with a newsroom conversation a few weeks ago.  Our morning executive producer, Brigid, asked if I'd be interested in a trip to Harrisburg on inauguration morning.  I agreed, but added she should ask around.  I'd step aside if someone else really wanted the experience.  After all, the Shapiro inauguration would be my fourth.  As the great Harry Anderson once said, there comes the time to step off the merry go round and give someone else a turn.

SIDEBAR:    My first inauguration was in 1987.  I covered Governor Casey's first day in office for WARM.  It was a great time. It was just me, my tape recorder and a giant microphone.  Security wasn't what it is today, and I was allowed to wander about.  There was a nice moment on the capitol steps, right after the ceremony ended, when I had the chance to ask the new governor a few questions as he strode back in to the building.  Try that today.  I went to the inaugural ball in Hershey that night, and I admit that was not my best work.  Looking back, I think a radio kid was too intimidated to really get in there and capture the color of the night.

My next inauguration was the day Tom Ridge was sworn in,  in 1995.  I had moved to WYOU by then.  My task was to do a preview for the morning news and a piece for the evening news.  Anchor Rich Everitt had the main evening stores, plus the inaugural ball.  It was a fun day.

I was back in the preview business by the time Tom Wolf rolled around in 2015.  Photographer Jason and I drove in to Harrisburg early in the morning and we took off after Newswatch 16 This Morning ended.  It was a good mix-- veteran reporter and young photographer.  It was nice to see his enthusiasm at covering a big event, even if it was a preview, hours before the swearing in.

Okay, back to 2023.  A few days after that initial conversation with the morning executive producer, Brigid,  I was told I was the guy.  No problem.  I then took a deep dive in to the WNEP archives and came up with two pieces.  One was an election year in review.  The other was a look back at Josh Shapiro's six years as attorney general.  

As is my wont,  I banged out the pieces rather quickly, but I did tweak a few times leading up to inauguration day.  It was a trip back to the office last week, on one of my days off, to record my narration.  The pieces were then handed off to photographer/editor Jason.

Inauguration morning arrived.  I was in the office around midnight just to do some reading and to see if anything needed to be changed.  It all looked good.  Jason and I headed for Harrisburg around 1:45 am.  Yes, it was early, but I factor in time to visit a rest stop on the way.  Plus, I like to do a site survey upon arrival.  That always takes a few minutes.

We checked out the lay of the land.  There was a media area on Commonwealth Avenue.  I didn't like that.  I've never been one for the pack/herd mentality on events like this.  Jason and I spied an angle we liked better.  It did involve parking in a restricted VIP area and driving the wrong way on a one way street.  The latter was not an issue.  The road was blocked off, anyway.  When we hit the sweet spot, a security guard approached.  I pleasantly explained who we were and what we hoped to accomplish.  I added that we would vacate the premises by 7:00 am.  The guard could not have been nicer and more professional.

If one thing went wrong, it was this.  I overdressed for the cold, and Harrisburg wasn't all that bad.  There was a bulky sweater and a puffy vest beneath my WNEP coat.  I should have shed the vest.

Television is much easier these days.  We're not tied to a big truck.  The gear is lighter and portable.  We can wander at will.  Jason lit me, and framed me nicely, and the morning broadcast looked great.  The dome is a stirring sight, especially at night.  After our last update, at 6:30 am, it was back in the car for the ride home.

There was a complication.  Rain approached and there was the possibility of freezing rain.  Jason and I repeatedly checked the weather radar on our phones.  It didn't look good.  Just what you need on a road trip!  Luck was on our side.  We encountered one fast sprinkle as we left Harrisburg and it was dry all the way home.

Harrisburg, see you in eight years!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

What Do You Call It?


 When I was a kid, the place where the adults bought alcohol was the "State Store."  That's what we called them.  We also called them the "liquor store."

In an effort to modernize and fend off those who wanted to have the state get out of the liquor business, the state changed the name to "Fine Wine and Good Spirits."  It is what it is, but it doesn't really roll off the tongue.

I've asked younger friends, those born after the State Store era, what they call these places.  There was no consensus, and some don't call them anything.  It's just "I'm heading out to get some Tito's."

"Fine Wine and Good Spirits" is a decent name in that it accurately describes what's inside.  However, it's not very catchy.  I'm sure we could come up with something better, but does it make a difference?  If you want alcohol, this is where you go.  Yes, I know supermarkets carry wine, and mini marts have an expanding variety of alcohol.

If there is a rebranding, and there is nothing on the table right now, taxpayers will foot the bill.

"Fine Wine and Good Spirits" is good enough.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

WYOS

 

If a tree falls in the forest...

I seriously doubt many people care about this, but I do.

AM 1360 WYOS in Binghamton went off the air just before the start of the new year.  Management explained the station couldn't find enough advertisers and there are transmitter problems.

I grew up on AM radio.  I chose a career in broadcasting because of the magic of AM.   Of course, WARM was coming out of my transistor radios more often than not when I was a kid.  I was lucky enough to work there for nearly eleven years.  The now defunct WSCR pumped out a good product for a while.   The legendary Kevin Jordan had the WILK news department humming for a few years.  

I loved dialing around, especially at night.  WBBM, KDKA, WABC, WNBC, KYW, WBAL, WKBW, CKLW, WBZ, WOWO, WLS...

An AM radio station died, and I'm sad.

WYOS tried everything over the years:  country, talk, oldies, business news, adult hits...  It carried CBS Sports Radio in its final days.

The owner has a year to put it back on the air or surrender the license.  The same company also took two other AM stations off the air this week, one in Maine and the other in Connecticut.

Friends, this doesn't end well.

By the way, it is a total coincidence that this blog entry hits on National DJ Day.  Yes, I did plenty of that early on, and it was exceptionally valuable experience.  You learn to develop a sense of time, and, of course, you pick up some ad lib skills along the way.  To my radio brethren, enjoy your day!


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Now, it's Really Spring!

 



Forget skunks, bunnies, and flowers.  Above is a true sign spring is on the way.


I spied this last week on my midnight travels.  At least one bakery here in our area is new featuring the fabulous pre Lenten donuts called "paczki."

They come in a few different varieties.  I can't speak for this particular bakery, but their other items are outstanding.

The key, and listen up bakery operators, is to go heavy on the filling!  I know expenses are up, but don't cheap out.

I'll be sure to sample a few between now and Ash Wednesday.  

Monday, January 16, 2023

Half

 

An entry like this finds itself here every year at this time.

Let's get you up to speed.  The coldest months of the year are December, January, and February.  We're at January's midpoint, so winter is half over!

You can feel it.  I'm smelling skunks and seeing bunnies.  The sun is a little stronger, the days are a little longer.

So far, the winter has been nothing to complain about.  We had one nasty cold snap and just a couple of snow/ice events.  Even those snowy days were nothing major.  The first half of January has been among the warmest on record.

This is far from over.  There are indications the weather patterns are changing.  Cold, snowy weather could be making a come back.  In fact, some of our biggest snow events happened during the tail end of winter.

Even if it does get cold and snowy, this is the time of the year where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Punxsutawney Phil is getting ready to emerge from his slumber.  Major League Baseball's spring training is closing in.   I saw spring flowers in the supermarket.

It won't be long before I'm straining my back during the process of installing my bedroom air conditioner and complaining about the heat.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Andy's Angles: Lacey Weekend, Part II

 

Today, it's the view from the Albright Ave. side of the Scranton Lace complex.  While big sections have been demolished, there is still a lot of square footage here.

I have to level with you.  When the project to turn the factory in to apartments and artists' space, I was thrilled.  The cynic in me felt the project was too big and too expensive to come to fruition.

If this delivers what's promised, it's a game changer for this neighborhood.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Andy's Angles: Lacey Weekend

 

I recently promised to use this space for an update to the Scranton Lace project.  The old and famous factory is being turned in to apartments and artists' space.

There has been a lot of progress!


Some old sections have been torn down.  New windows are going in, and there is much left to do.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Friday Scrapple

 

A cheap beer at the college football championship game in Los Angeles cost $ 17.  Amazing!

No major snow yet.  Fine by me!

The Houston Texans fired head coach Lovie Smith after one season.  Management gave him nothing to work with.

I've always enjoyed visiting a Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The chain is flirting with bankruptcy.  Why?

The Damar Hamlin recovery is nothing short of remarkable.

I would love to be able to sleep like a cat.

I like ice cream, even in the dead of winter.

Please don't take away my gas cooktop.  

I am so tired of the Royal Family.

Three years in to the pandemic and I still see people who don't know how to wear a mask.

Happiness is finding an available supermarket check out clerk, so you don't have to do it yourself.

It seems like most people are ready to hand the Vince Lombardi trophy to the Buffalo Bills.  I'm not there yet.

The months of problems in the travel industry make me even happier that I am a "home body."

One cannot underestimate the simple joy of a peanut butter sandwich.  Chunky.




Thursday, January 12, 2023

Department of Redundancy Department

 

I thought the entries popping up on my Twitter feed yesterday morning were a joke.  A computer system crashed.  All flights in the USA are grounded.

It was no joke.

I'll start off by saying this country has a great air traffic control system, along with the people to staff it.  The safety record is amazing.

I'm just astonished that one system failure brings the USA to its knees.  This is a vital system.  It's not a luxury.  Why isn't there a back up?  Or, did that fail, too?

The Department of Transportation raked Southwest over the coals for its thousands of cancelled flights over the holidays.  Southwest was blamed for having antiquated systems.  Transportation Department, look in the mirror.

By the way, you have to love the network morning shows.  Headline:  All flights grounded.  90 seconds later, "Here's what happened at the Golden Globes last night..."

I turned on the radio.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Early Spring?

 

I know I write about this every year, but indulge me here.

I smelled an early sign of springtime late last year, just after Christmas.  It was the unmistakable aroma of skunk.  As noted here before, skunks become more active in the spring, looking for food and looking for love.  The recent burst of warmth must have thrown off the little critters' internal calendars.

And, while I'm talking spring...

Temperatures have cooled off a bit, but we did have several warm days and cool nights-- the dreaded freeze/thaw cycle that leads to potholes.  A few rainy days didn't help.

It will be several more weeks before the asphalt plants reopen, allowing repairs to be done the right way.

Yes, there are disadvantages to an early spring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Revered

 

Bernard Kalb died Sunday.  The former CBS, NBC and CNN journalist was 100.  I don't think anyone knew the planet better.  After leaving journalism, Kalb was a spokesman for the U.S. State Department.

Those were the days.

Kalb wrote for the New York Times before joining CBS, and then jumping to NBC.  At one time, you needed major print experience, and some time reporting overseas before the networks would even consider hiring you.  Now?  It's all looking good with the ability to produce a Tik Tok video.

Walter Cronkite gets most of the credit for the CBS dominance of the late 60's and 70's.  Deservedly so.  But you have to consider that great stable of CBS correspondents back in the day:  the Kalb Brothers, Rather, Mudd, Schieffer, Schorr, Bradley, Burdett, Pierpoint, McLaughlin, Graham, Herman, Rudd, Wallace, Reasoner, Morton...  It's an exceptionally long list, and I can't put them all here.

Bernard Kalb was one of the heavyweights.

Monday, January 9, 2023

40 and Out

 

I don't remember the exact date, but it was right around this time of year, 40 years ago.  I did my last shift on my college radio station, WVMW-FM.

You earned credits by putting in hours at the radio station, and there was a minimum requirement.  I didn't mind.  In fact, I loved it.  I played the music I wanted to play, rock, and there was plenty of freedom back in the day.  I really miss that.

So, if I loved it, why did I walk away five months before graduation?  By the time January of 1983 rolled around, I was putting in a lot of time in a job that payed at WARM-AM 590.  The time for college radio just wasn't there.

My solution was to work every shift I could get my hands on during Christmas break at Marywood.  I was scheduled for two a week, and I filled in for everyone who asked.  I had accumulated more than my minimum hours before the spring semester started, so I pulled the plug.

Many classmates asked me to fill in during the spring semester.  I always declined. My time was up.

I went through phases at WVMW.  At first, I didn't talk much.  As I became more comfortable, I talked more, probably too much.  Way too much.  There were nights the FM album rock station sounded like an AM full service radio station.  There was method to the madness.  I was there to learn, to push myself, to better myself.  I couldn't do it by segueing from one song into another and doing the "that was...  this is..." routine.  It's something many college radio stations have forgotten about.  They exist to train broadcasters.  Yes, following tight formats is a skill, but becoming a juke box serves no one.

As I recall, that last show in January 1983 was really nothing special.  I had settled in to a happy medium.  I wasn't talking as much as I once did, but I still did yammer on once in a while.  My last song was "The Stranger" by Billy Joel, which was also the first song I played on WVMW in December of 1979.  There is no real significance to that.  I love the song.  I love the album.  Still do.  My last words, "God bless us, everyone."

All's well that ends well, and this ended well.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Andy's Angles: Sweeney's Beach

 

The Lackawanna River has turned in to a tremendous resource for our area.  It's clean.  Everybody loves the trail, in spite of its gaps

But, and you knew a "but" was coming...

The river will never realize its full potential until there are spaces that offer easy access and plenty of parking.  Sweeney's Beach here off Poplar St. in Scranton seems to be the "go to" location.  Yes, there is some room and relatively easy access.  Unfortunately, there isn't much room to park.  It's difficult to find, and it's smack in the middle of an industrial area.  The river is pretty.  The surroundings are not.

The Susquehanna River has turned in to a success story because off all the improvements in and close to Wilkes-Barre.  Clearly, the Lackawanna isn't as large, and it can't match that scale.  Can't we find a nice area to establish a park, with easy ways in and out, and plenty of room to park?  It would also help if the access road doesn't look like you're on your way to a homicide scene.

I know you have to play the cards you're dealt.  The Lackawanna flows through a lot of residential and industrial areas.  You can't wave a magic wand and get everything you want.  I know a park near Steamtown is under consideration.  It would be nice to see at least one new park along the Lackawanna.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

About the Cover: Sweeney's Beach

 

One of my coworkers from my radio days, the great Rod Raeger, suggested that winter will go by faster if I find wintertime activities to enjoy.  He meant skiing, but grabbing the camera, in search of winter scenes works too.

I captured this at Sweeney's Beach in Scranton, off Poplar St., and along the Lackawanna River on a recent morning.  It was cold and the snow presented a challenge.  But, it was a new perspective on a place usually associated with summer (except for the Shiver by the River).


Above is the upstream view.  It's a different perspective, and a complaint tomorrow.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Narrowed Arteries

 

I am sadly accustomed to local and state government failing its citizens, but this one sticks in my craw more than most.

The beams that keep the  Broadway Street Bridge in Scranton from falling in to the Lackawanna River are deteriorating.  The city, late last year, made moves to limit the weight the bridge carries, and the number of vehicles that use it at the same time.  It is no surprise.  Recent inspections showed this day was coming.


Bridge problems in Scranton, the area, and the state, are nothing new.  Scranton alone has at least five that really need work.  The Parker Street Bridge, over the Lackawanna River, has been one lane for years and that bridge has been in this space in the past.

Here is what really irritates me about Broadway Street.


The deteriorating bridge is adjacent to the University of Scranton's sports complex.  Prospective students and their parents come here to take a look.  Fans and players with other schools arrive here to take on the Royals.  What do they see?  A bridge that's falling apart.  You get one shot at a first impression, and perception equals reality.  Welcome to Scranton!  It reinforces the image we are an old, rusting coal town that neglects its infrastructure.

A rotting bridge affects commerce, and public safety.  It also has a drag on the economy.

Get used to it.  Our friends at the Times~Tribune quoted a city official as saying a replacement bridge will cost $5.6 million dollars and there are no plans for a new bridge.  Why are the words "you deserve better" stuck in my mind?

Hey, at least we have "The Office."

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Keep it to Yourself


We lost Franco Harris last month.  The Pittsburgh Steelers star was only 72.

I admired what Harris did on the field, but in recent years, he'd become very political, as was his right.  That tarnished the legend for me.

It's like when a tv news reporter or anchor retires and goes political.  Sam Donaldson was a frequent sight on CNN the last few years, spewing his political viewpoints.  Dan Rather wrote another book, after leaving CBS,  several years ago, confirming what we already knew.

Harris will always be the guy grinding out the yards on the artificial turf of Three Rivers Stadium.  Donaldson will forever be the guy yelling questions at President Reagan.  Rather fearlessly reported from inside hurricanes and war zones.

I want them, and others, to be frozen in time, to be the stars they always were.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Problem Solving and Sandwiches

 

This Friendly's restaurant in Dunmore closed late last year.  I'd been there a few times.  The food was fair, at best.   I didn't hate it, but it was nothing to write home about, either.   The ice cream was good.  I'm sorry for the people who lost their jobs and the people who did like it here.  Otherwise, I shed no tears.

However, I was here dozens of times when the place was known as Franklin's.

Let's take you back to the early 80's.  My friend Jerry and I were working the evening shift at competing radio stations, and that didn't get in the way of our friendship.  I met Jerry in 6th grade, back in 1972.  It was one of the very few decent things about my 6th grade experience.

Anyway, Jerry and I would meet here after work, at midnight, or slightly later.  We would both order the same thing, every time:  a turkey club and fries.  Diet colas.  Over a pretty good sandwich, we'd talk radio and solve all of the industry's problems.  It wouldn't happen every night, just once or twice a week.  We'd spend hours in one of the booths, talking about what we would do if we were in charge, what the other stations in town were doing, industry trends, etc.  The waitresses didn't mind.  It was slow and there was no big demand for a seat in the restaurant so early in the morning.  Plus, we were decent tippers and didn't cause any problems.  I dropped in alone, to grab a seat at the counter some mornings when Jerry couldn't make it.

The midnight radio conventions at Franklin's ended when we moved to different shifts, and I don't recall who went to days first.

We both had a passion for the business.  Jerry successfully programmed some local stations before moving to the Lehigh Valley, where he is still keeping some radio stations humming nicely.  I stayed in radio until 1991, and I still enjoy listening to it, and writing about it.

As for the building, who knows?  We've become a "take out" society, so I doubt another restaurant will move in.  It's a great location, right off Interstate 81 and the O'Neil Highway.  The lot isn't as big as you might think, so I doubt it will become a mega mini mart, although it would be nice.  I have a feeling it will be razed for additional parking for the adjacent YMCA.

Some great radio ideas came out of that building.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Barbara Walters

 

ABCNews.com    

Legendary reporter, anchor and talk show host Barbara Walters died late last month.  She was 93. 

She WORKED her way up as a writer and researcher on NBC's Today show, eventually making a lot of on-air appearances, and eventually ascending to the co anchor position.  By the way, the capitalization of WORKED is no accident.  Everything I ever read indicates she gave her all to climb the ladder, in a world dominated by men.

Every woman in the business, past, present and future, owes Barbara Walters a debt of gratitude.  A colleague asked if Barbara Walters was overrated.  Easy question.  No!

ABC News came calling with $1 million in 1976, half of the money for entertainment specials, the other half to anchor the evening news with Harry Reasoner.  ABC News was intent on building a solid news department.  It needed a splash, and a big name.  It got one.

It never gelled.  Harry Reasoner didn't want a co-anchor, and let's face it, Walters was a lousy news reader.   It just wasn't her thing, and a hostile co-anchor didn't make the task easier.   Genius news producer and network news president Roone Arledge maneuvered Walters over  to big interviews, where she excelled, and to 20/20, where she also excelled.

By the way, Walters later admitted to not talking to Harry before she took the job.  Apparently, he was going through some personal issues at the time, which she knew nothing about.

Even though the 1976 experiment was a disaster, Barbara Walters might have helped save the network.  ABC had a horrible time finding an 11 am show that worked.  Then, Walters invented The View and everything fell in to place.  Love it or hate it, The View draws eyeballs, and it keeps people talking.  That, dear readers, is television magic.

When we think of TV news giants, of course, you recall Cronkite, Brinkley, Chancellor, Jennings, etc.  That list is not complete without Barbara Walters.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Scrapple '23

 

I'm convinced that if gambling went away, the NFL would be out of business 15 minutes later.

Christmas fell on a weekend again this year, and I was disappointed to see so many sporting events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It's a holiday!  Give it a rest.

I'm convinced the Food Network exists only to support the American salt industry.  Those people throw handfuls of salt-- IN EVERYTHING!

I happened to be off December 17, a day when the NFL Network telecast three games, including the one where the Minnesota Vikings set the record for biggest comeback.  The NFL Network also set a record that day-- most play by play people, commentators, studio hosts and analysts who brought absolutely nothing to the table.  Where have you gone, Brent, Pat, and John?

And, a week later, the NFL Network went to a commercial in the middle of the Franco Harris tribute.  Genius!

I should add the camera work on ESPN's Peach Bowl was outstanding.

I don't know who is responsible for the upkeep of Stafford Avenue, near the Scranton post office, but that road is an embarrassment.  Olyphant Avenue in Scranton near the Throop line is just as bad.

NBC had given up, at least temporarily, on the plan to give the 10 pm hour back to the local stations.  That would have been a game changer.

I'm continually amazed at how many "can't miss" college prospects bomb in the NFL.

I visited a mini mart on the way to work late Christmas Eve.  Swamped.  The roads were crowded, too.  Silent Night?

Rice Krispies is an underrated cereal.

I know we had some awful weather around Christmas, but I am continually amazed at the frail nature of America's air travel network.

Does every craft project involve a hot glue gun?

I haven't forgotten about the passing of Barbara Walters.  I'll share some thoughts on that tomorrow.

Kudos to Plains Twp. for trying to start a new near year's tradition.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

2023

 

You know how I feel about the start of a new year.   I've always felt we place far too much significance on the turn of a calendar page.  On the other hand, if it gives you incentive for a fresh start, or to make a change, by all means, go for it.

I hope the new year finds you and your family happy, safe and healthy.

Let's make the most of 2023!

And, before we say farewell to the holiday season and box away all the decorations, it's one last look at Christmas at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.