Saturday, February 24, 2024

Andy's Angles: The Black Alps of Dickson City

 

Someone is finally coming up with the money to remove a huge culm pile from the middle of Dickson City.

It's about dang time!  This has been an eyesore for years.

I went to a horrid junior high school in this neighborhood.  Well, it wasn't totally horrid.  I did meet two dynamite English teachers there, and I'm sad to say they are both no longer with this.

The culm bank was our lunch time playground.  There was actually an easy and well worn path to the top, and those trees weren't around during my time here.  Now that the statute of limitations has expired, we would occasionally roll an old tire down from the top, laughing hysterically as it smashed into a garage door or front porch.  Rest assured, there was never any serious damage.

Homes will replace the culm bank and while there were some fun times here, I look forward to the improvements.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Insomnia Advantage

 

I couldn't sleep very early Thursday morning.  My usual remedy is to sample some things on the radio and check email on my iPad.   Something made me turn on the television, which I rarely do.

I stumbled upon an episode of "Frasier" from 2000.  It was the final show of season seven, and it was called "Something Borrowed, Someone Blue."  Long story short, Daphne and Niles finally confront their feelings for each other.  Daphne runs away from her wedding to Donnie, and Niles whisks her way in an RV.

Wow!

I hadn't seen that particular episode in several years, maybe since the original aired, and I was blown away at how everything worked-- the visuals, the acting, the writing...

Watching Niles, played by David Hyde Pierce, go from the depths of depression to absolute euphoria was stunning.  Rare are the sitcoms that can make you cry and make you laugh in the same half hour.  "Scrubs" had that ability.  The list is extremely short. 

There really is no moral to the story today, other than this.  We all spend a lot of time complaining about television, especially me.  It was refreshing to see something that touched me, even if it's 24 years old.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thursday Scrapple

 

Today's entry in the "you know the lyrics, even though you haven't heard the song in a long time" category is Rod Stewarts's "You're In My Heart."  On top of that, it's just one great song.

It's been cold and snowy, but you can really feel the sun getting a little stronger.

I've always felt Presidents Day should be a bigger observance here in the U.S.A.  After all, president is the most important job in the free world.

Can someone make a good muffin that doesn't crumble?  All too often, the remedy is loading it with butter and putting it in the microwave.

The power of the NFL:  The Super Bowl was two weeks ago, and the game still dominates sports talk radio.

The CW is working on revivals of "Scrabble" and "Trivial Pursuit."  I loved "Scrabble" on NBC from 1984 to 1990.  I hope they don't stray from the original.  "Trivial Pursuit" should be right up my alley, but I never cared for it.

Capitol One and Discover want to merge.  If it does happen, it will not be an easy road getting there.

For some reason, I'm experiencing a major uptick in LinkedIn activity this week.

Christie Brinkley turned 70 this week.  Think about that.

I know air travel is safe, but doesn't it seem like a jet is falling apart, in mid air, every other day?

Jimmy Kimmel told the Los Angeles Times, "I think this is my last contract."  Where will we get our tired political jokes?

Happiness is a good dental check up.

The man who helped develop the Pop Tart recently died.  Sir, I am forever in your debt.




Wednesday, February 21, 2024

When the Dust Settles...

 

I've been thinking about this one since the February 11th Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.

During the game, KC tight end Travis Kelce, better known as Taylor Swift's boyfriend, flipped out on head coach Andy Reid.  Kelce bumped Reid.  He nearly went down.  There are two ways you can look at this.

Kelce is a warrior.  He wanted the ball.  He wanted to get his team moving.  He has passion.  He wanted to step up.  I admire that.  I want fighters on my team.

On the other hand, Kelce committed a bush league maneuver.  He showed up his head coach. Have I ever fought with a boss?  Yeah!  Oh yeah!  The difference is I've never done it in front of 150 million people.

Reid handled the post game news conference questions about Kelce with class and dignity.  I would not have been as kind.  It has been said that winning helps forgive all sins.  Plus, Kelce admitted he was wrong.

After thinking about this one for more than a week, Kansas City needs to find a way to drop the hammer on Travis Kelce.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

My Best Friend: A Man and His Microphone

 

Covering a snow storm might look like fun and games, but it can be serious business.  There is the danger associated with the travel.  Slips and falls are always a concern.  I remember an ice storm in February of 2013.  My feet went out from under me, and I landed flat on by back, like in the cartoons.

Then, there are the technical problems.  Much of our gear is weather resistant.  A drop of water in the wrong place can still put you out of business.

It happened during the February 13th snow storm in Hazleton.  Photographer Tim and I were having major microphone problems.  We were dead in the water, or the snow.

It was the DO 56 L to the rescue.

Don't ask me why, but I carry my own microphone in my bag.  Personal property.  It's an Electro Voice, model DO 56 L.  The L stands for long, a few inches longer than the standard DO 56.  I used the exact same model when I was on the radio in the 80's.  Below is an old picture of channel 22's Bill Mecca and I clowning around at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

I found the same model on EBay several years ago, and I grabbed it.  Nostalgia.  A reminder of simpler times.

This is a great microphone!  First, the sound quality is amazing.  Second, but more importantly, the length gives you a little advantage in reaching in to get those interviews everyone wants to grab at the same time.

When my Hazleton snow story aired, our executive producer walked over to my desk.  One of our web people was already there.  "Hey, what's the story with the microphone?"  Yes, it wasn't standard WNEP Newswatch 16 issue.  I explained what I told you above, and all is well.

I was never a Boy Scout, but I do travel well prepared.


Monday, February 19, 2024

Unfinished Monday

 

REVISITING A FEW TOPICS DISCUSSED EARLIER...

Last week's blog on cheese prompted a discussion in the newsroom.  There are a lot of savory dishes that use cream cheese, or as it was called on "Scrubs," "cow fudge."  Those applications are nothing new.  However, they are not for me.  I like cheesecake, and I love a schmear on a bagel.  A good cheese danish is one of my major weaknesses.  I have a hang up about cream cheese for "non sweet" things.  It's like cinnamon.  Many cultures use it in savory dishes.  Yuck!  I associate cinnamon, which I like, in sweet things and it ends there.

ABC News apparently liked photographer Tim's video of the snow in Hazleton because some of it wound up on "World News Tonight."  Someone I interviewed also popped up on the network.  The network stuff doesn't put any more money in my pocket, but it's cool nonetheless.  I'll have a little more to say about that storm coverage, in this space tomorrow.

I recently used this space to pan Billy Joel's new song, "Turn the Lights Back On."  That hasn't changed.  I love Billy Joel.  He got me through high school and college.  The new song does nothing for me.  Joel recently appeared on Howard Stern's satellite radio show.  The Stern channel is not part of my Sirius/XM package, but several snippets have turned up on You Tube.  Listening to Bill Joel play the old stuff, and hearing him describe those songs was an absolute delight.  "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" is a masterpiece.

Nailing a Final Jeopardy! question when all three contestants blow it makes me happy beyond belief.  It happened again Thursday and the category was "landmarks."   I won't spoil it for you.  The clip is available on-line.

Enjoy your Presidents Day!



Sunday, February 18, 2024

Andy's Angles: Treed In

 

I like showing you my best work here.  I don't mind showing you the mediocre stuff, too.

This is a treed in shot of the old railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River.  I'm standing just north of the Fort Jenkins bridge in Pittston.

Yes, there are places to get a clear shot of the bridge, but I wasn't going to risk getting run over by a bus for the sake of my hobby.

Be that as it may, enjoy the mountains and the blue sky in what has been a rather grey winter.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Andy's Angles: Where's Winter?

 

I know we had some snow and cooler weather this week, but for the most part, it's been a mild winter.

This would normally be the time of year that I'd take the camera to the banks of the Susquehanna River and take pictures of the giant hunks of ice floating downstream.

Not this year!

This is the view from one of my favorite spots to visit, a parking lot adjacent to the Water Street Bridge in Pittston.  I deliberately kept the shot wide to show the blue sky.  While it's been a mild winter, the sun has been severely lacking.

Friday, February 16, 2024

First Person: Snow Day

 

The storm that moved though our area Tuesday will be a memorable one, for a few reasons.

It started when I arrived at work Saturday night.  Meteorologist Valerie Smock was going over all the possibilities, and there were several.  Meteorologist Ally Gallo did the same thing on Sunday and Monday morning.  Every computer run said something different.  There was no agreement and it really was one of those "two inches to a foot" storms.

I considered the station's offer of a hotel room Monday night.  I declined.  The forecast was becoming more clearly defined, and I would be driving in to work Tuesday morning just as the storm was starting.  the roads would be passable.  As it turns out, during my eight mile journey, I didn't see a flake until I turned on to Montage Mountain Road in Moosic.

Let me back up for a moment.  Late Monday morning, the executive producer, the news director and I had a quick huddle, in an effort to have me report like a champion.  Colleague Amanda Eustice would be live in Mount Pocono Tuesday morning.  As an aside, Amanda has become a really good snow reporter.  I would take Hazleton, which looked likely to be a trouble spot.  We were right.

Photographer Tim and I piled in one of our better snow trucks around 3 am Tuesday.  All Monday afternoon and early Tuesday, all I could think about was what I would talk about if the storm was a bust.

It wasn't.

We hit snow in Avoca, and it became worse with every mile.  It was snowing hard when we hit Broad and Church in downtown Hazleton, and it didn't slow down until late morning.  I've been in several snow storms over the years.  This was among the worst.  Plow trucks made passes, but they just couldn't keep up with the snow.  It was an interesting morning forecast, including cars sliding and stuck.  A hero police officer helped push one car out of the intersection to keep traffic moving.

After the morning broadcast, Tim and I worked on a story for our noon broadcast.  The ride back to home base in Moosic turned out to be an adventure.  We crawled.  Parts of 81 were closed by crashes, so we took the back roads and side streets.  Luckily, we know them.

Our report aired in its scheduled slot.  It was time to go home and dump the wet clothes.

I still have the feeling there will be a couple more repeat episodes before winter ends.


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Follow Up Thursday

 

I'm still waiting for the reply to my email to the organization that runs Scranton's parking.  I want to know why meters are enforced on Martin Luther King Day, but it's free parking on Juneteenth.  Guys, you know where to find me.

Earlier this week, I gave those new flavored cellophane wrapped "cheese" slices a lousy review.  I've been tooling around on the internet, and I've discovered I'm in the minority.  Other reviewers love them, especially in a grilled cheese application, which I did not do.

A company in Canada is selling 45 of its radio stations because it feels the radio business is no longer viable.  I'm typing through the tears.

The other day, I whined that the newspaper industry is its own worst enemy.  Here is more proof.  Beginning March 18, the Erie Times-News is getting rid of all of its carriers.  The U.S. Postal service will now deliver the paper, so if you are a traditionalist, and you like your news on your front porch the first thing in the morning, forget it.  The paper's management says it's discovered digital delivery is now the first choice for its customers.  The print newspaper will switch to more background and context type of reporting, and you'll get it a day late-- at the very least.

I'm sure I'll catch a replay on the NFL Network, but CBS's Tony Romo is being savaged by the critics.  There is blood in the water.  And by the way, Jim Nantz, you're 64 years old.  It's OK to have a little grey hair.

And this last one is going back a long time.  Several years ago, I raved about Bob's Red Mill products.  It's a line of  grains, cereals, etc.  If you pop your own corn, there is none better.  And, you should be popping your own.  It's not that difficult.  Be that as it may, the founder, Bob Moore died.  It was announced Saturday.  Bob Moore was 94.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day!

 

I haven't ranted maniacally on anything in a while, so let's revisit one of my favorites-- Valentine's Day.

It drives me insane when I hear people complain about the day.  Yes, it's a schmaltzy Hallmark holiday, filled with expensive candy and overpriced roses, but at least be grateful you have someone in your life.  There are a lot of people on the outside looking in.

The late, great Bob Barker used to pontificate that it's not what you say that's important.  It's what you don't say that really counts.

True.  Very, very true.

If you are lucky enough to have a significant other, and you hate Valentine's Day, do society a favor.  Just keep quiet.  One day isn't going to kill you.

And, speaking of love.  You know I love radio.  I'm doing the 7 am hour with Doc and Chewy on Froggy 101 tomorrow.  Give it a listen if you get the chance.



Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Super Review

 


I would have preferred to see San Francisco win Sunday night's Super Bowl, but it's no big deal.

I'll give my prediction a mixed review.  I thought Kansas City would win, and I was right.  I didn't think it would be close, and I was wrong on that.  I clearly didn't believe there was overtime potential here, but there was.

As is my 25 year custom, I didn't watch one second of the pre game, game, or post game.  I learned the outcome by asking my Amazon Echo.  Thank you, Alexa.

This has to be one of the best sports talk radio days of the year.  From what I understand, there was plenty to second guess, on both sides of the field.  Plus, as FOX Sports Radio overnight host Ben Maller always says, the best stories are in the losing locker room.  I was really pulling for SF QB Brock Purdy, the last one chosen in the NFL draft.

I'm happy for KC GM Brett Veach, from Mount Carmel.  Local kid makes good.  Home town pride, and that's always fun.

I can't say I was ever an Andy Reid fan, but I was happy for the guy.  As Bill Belichick can attest, having a superstar quarterback can take you a long way.

There have been two overtime games in the history of the Super Bowl.  San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan his fingerprints on both-- as offensive coordinator in Atlanta, and now head coach with the 49ers.

I'm suffering from months of Taylor Swift overload-- from the concert tour, to the movie, to her romance with Travis Kelce of the Chiefs.  Still, it's a cute aspect of the football story, and I'm sure it drew plenty of new eyeballs to the NFL.

Jim Nantz's CBS call of the winning play was very good.  Tony Romo needed to shut up.  Kevin Harlan on the radio was amazing.

Now, it's on to baseball season!



Monday, February 12, 2024

And the Mouse Takes the Cheese

 

Boredom is a terrible thing, and I've always been a sucker for anything new at the supermarket.

I've habitually stayed away from those cellophane wrapped individual cheese slices.  First, they aren't real cheese.  Second, and more importantly, I compare them to flavorless wax.

Imagine my glee when those "cheese" slices I avoided announced a new line of flavors, including jalapeno.  I love hot things, as long as they are not excessive.  Flavor is good.  Heat for the sake of heat isn't.

While I was curious, I wasn't that curious, so I let a pack hang out in my refrigerator until the following day.  Imagine my disappointment.  They are just slightly spicy flavored wax.  There is no cheese flavor and just a hint of jalapeno.

They also come in garlic and herb, and caramelized onion.

It's a moot point.

Regardless of the new varieties, they won't be finding their way into my cart, my refrigerator and my stomach.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Andy's Angles: Lace Village

 

I am so happy to say I'm wrong about this one.

When the plan to turn the old Scranton Lace factory into a complex of apartments, business space, and space for artists, I thought it would never happen.  The project was too big, too complicated, too expansive, too expensive.

The developer persevered, and it took a really long time, but the first tenants moved in this month, following the lighting of the clock tower last month.  While the place is far from finished, it already is a thing of beauty.

I'm sure this will have a big impact on this part of Scranton and the city as a whole.  This, along with some old factory and school conversions, shows Scranton is more than the site of a bad sitcom.  We are not a joke.


Saturday, February 10, 2024

About the Cover: Blue Lace

 

I always had a fascination with Scranton Lace.  I remember being in a car with the family, occasionally driving past, and marveling about everything here-- the size of the buildings, the clock tower, the whistle...  It was also a source of local pride.  A world famous product was made in Scranton.  Now, all we seem to hang our hat on is a dreadful sitcom.

It was a sad day when the factory closed.  Jobs lost.  Our economy took a hit.  Prestige disappeared.  This was an amazing building-- offices, machinery, a bowling alley, food...  a city unto itself.

The place was vacant for years, and I'm sorry I never had the chance to go inside before renovations started.

The renaissance has begun, and look for some thoughts on that here tomorrow.



Friday, February 9, 2024

LVIII

 

The point spread has been fluctuating from 1 to 2.5, with San Francisco favored, so I'll slap it with the "irrelevant" tag this year.

As is tradition, I pick the team with the better defense, and that is Kansas City.  The Chiefs also have the better quarterback, in Patrick Mahomes.

I am worried about Kansas City head coach Andy Reid, who seems to make a questionable decision in every big game.

On the other hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was Atlanta's offensive coordinator when the Falcons blew that 28 to 3 lead over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.  The man knows how to mess up a game.  The Falcons should have lost the franchise over that one.

I think the Chiefs win, and it will be comfortable, by at least four points.

Things I would like to see this year include Taylor Swift on the field after a Chiefs win, just because it would irritate people.

I wouldn't mind seeing Mahomes lose after that punk performance after a defeat a couple of months ago.

I would like to see San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy lift the Vince Lombardi and tell everyone who passed him over in the NFL draft they can stuff the trophy up their noses.

Regardless, I won't be watching.  I'll be asleep.  I haven't seen a Super Bowl since 1999.  I kid you not.  It's possible I'll be awake for the tail end of the game, and I'll have it on the radio because I'm a huge Kevin Harlan fan.

CBS says it will use 165 cameras, in the pre game show, the game, and the post game show.  That, my friends, is amazing.

As always, don't talk to me about the commercials.  I just don't care.

Enjoy the day, and I'll do a review next week.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Media Thursday

 

Six AM radio stations, around the country, recently went off the air.  Permanently.  The owners surrendered the licenses to the Federal Communications Commission.  Broadcasting is no longer permission to print money.

For the second year in a row, President Biden is blowing off an interview request in the Super Bowl pre game show.  FOX last year.  CBS this year.  Why?

Basketball would be a much better television sport if they could speed up the end of the game.  The final five minutes takes a half hour to complete.

TV News writers:  proper usage is "suddenly."  It's not "all of a sudden."

Some local newspapers are watching experienced reporters walk out the door, and I am sad.  However, they are embarking on interesting new opportunities.

ABC/ESPN report strong ad sales for the just completed  NHL All Star Weekend.   Hockey is an under appreciated sport.

I've never heard the latest from Miley Cyrus, but I'm kind of happy she picked up a Grammy the other night.

There are times I consider getting in to ham radio, but I have no desire to jump through all the hoops necessary and make the financial commitment.

The Los Angeles Times recently did a story on Jim Nantz of CBS Sports.  Imagine what would happen if the network gave him a decent color commentator.

CNN is blowing up its morning show-- again!  Why is this so hard?  Find anchors the public likes, and just do the news.  There is a hard news hole in network morning television that you can drive a truck through.  And, sorry, CNN.  I'm still under contract.

The great Brent Musberger was on Dan Patrick's radio show yesterday.  Wow!  Great story teller, interesting man, insider stuff.  I could listen to him for hours.

In a similar vein, I heard former Kansas City and Philadelphia head coach Dick Vermeil interviewed recently.  87 years old and sharp as a tack!

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Better than Punxsutawney Phil

 

Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring last week, and my nose tells me spring is in our near future.  

Skunks are becoming more active.  The aroma is now all over my neighborhood.  As I say every year, skunks become active in late winter, looking for food and love.  It's a great signal that warmer weather is on the way.

There was a false start this year.  There was a skunk near my house on New Year's Day.  The stench was so strong, I thought he was in the living room!  I thought it was going to be the daily thing, but that was it.  The skunks disappeared for several weeks.

I'm happy to say they are back!  I even saw a robin the other day, and yes, I do know that some do stay north during the winter.

I will also add that I did see some long range scientific guidance that predicts colder and possibly snowier weather from mid February, in to March.

However, a combination of skunk, ground hog, and robin is tough to beat.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

A Geezer Moment

 

I can appreciate the music of my elders-- Sinatra, Bennett, the crooners, and the big bands.  The 50's grease/do-wop stuff is great fun.  I'm still aggravated that Jon "Bowser" Bauman was in Scranton a couple of years ago, and I didn't get a chance to meet him.

Pop music became less appealing to me during the Madonna era of the 80's.  I will admit to liking some 90's and 00's stuff, but not much.  I cringe when the Red Hot Chili Peppers come on the classic rock station.  That stuff is more rap than rock to me, and I can't dive for the dial fast enough.

While I like the music that came before me, I just can't stomach the contemporary stuff, and sad to say, that includes (Dare I say it?)  Taylor Swift!

Swift seems like a perfectly nice woman, who treats her fans with respect--  the fans that spend hundreds of dollars for a seat in a giant arena, to watch the show a mile from the stage.  Swift won another box of Grammy's Sunday night, and that's great for her and her fans.  Swift announced a new album is coming out, and thank you for the warning.

By the way, Swift's romance with Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is absolutely adorable.

I don't understand Taylor Swift much the same way people didn't understand my Billy Joel fixation when I was in high school and college, and much the same way those slightly older than me adored The Beatles.

To each, his own.  This is the real no judgement zone.

I still don't get it.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Monday Scrapple

 


First, a sad note.  Bob Folmar died last week.  He was an engineer at WBRE for many years, and Bob was always great to me.  I extend my sympathy to Bob's family, his work family, and his friends.

While there is still a lot of winter left to go, it's nice to say it's February.

My interest in the NFL has waned considerably over the years.  I will admit to enjoying the hype leading up to the Super Bowl.  Las Vegas is a great venue.  Outstanding visuals.   However, I will be worn out by Thursday.

UPS is trimming its payroll by 12,000 people.  Friends, that is frightening.  More than 500 journalism jobs disappeared last month.

It seems like McDonald's is in the news about some weekly menu tweak or improvement.  I will admit they are marketing geniuses, but it all tastes the same to me.

The Baltimore Orioles are being sold for $1.7 billion dollars.  While the team is coming off a few good years, present ownership left a lot to be desired.

I was a huge Billy Joel fan in high school and college.  I still listen to tracks from "The Stranger" on a regular basis.  Having said that, his new song does absolutely nothing for me.

Movie reviewers Siskel & Ebert used to say that if you have a good villain, you have a good movie.  Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" movies was a good villain.

Today's entry in you know the words even if you haven't heard the song in years is "Calendar Girl" by Neil Sedaka.

David Letterman's You Tube takes on Taylor Swift are hilarious.

Macy's is closing stores and firing employees.  When I think of Macy's, one word comes to mind:  beige.

I know there is a lot of winter left, and it's likely we'll get some big storms.  Still, a sunny and relatively mild weekend didn't hurt.

If San Diego built a new stadium, it would have hosted a Super Bowl at least every five years.

Doesn't it seem like we've waited too long to attack the local gang problem?

I'm so tired of the store self service debate.  Keep them, or dump them.  Just do something!

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Andy's Angles: The Bridge

 

PennDOT is finally getting around to getting a contractor and replacing the Green Ridge Street bridge in Scranton.  It spans the Lackawanna River, between Nay Aug Avenue and North Main Avenue.

The state presented several options over the years-- all bad, and I'm not faulting the state.  If you close the bridge, drivers and business owners go nuts.  Plus, a closed bridge throws a lot of traffic on Market Street, already a narrow street, with a busy intersection with North Main.

If you try to keep traffic moving on Green Ridge Street while replacing the bridge...  Well, that's like trying to fix a flat tire while the car is still moving, and it adds time to the project.

The chosen solution will take two years to accomplish, and that is far too long.

I guess you can't please everyone.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Andy's Angles: Demolition

 

By the time you read this, the old Keen's Floral building along Green Ridge Street in Scranton will be history.  It came down Monday night and Tuesday morning.  This is a photo taken shortly after sunrise, Monday morning.

I can't say I've ever been here, but the building has been on Green Ridge Street, near the intersection with North Main, for as long as I can remember.  It's a stucco box, and not really architecturally significant.

Still, I'm a little sorry to see it go.  Someone could have done something with it.  It's a moot point now.  The demolition is part of a bridge replacement project and I'll have something to say about that tomorrow.

As luck would have it, I happened to be in the neighborhood Tuesday early morning.  I took a picture of the rubble, just before dawn.  We've lost a bit of our history, but at least we are finally getting a new bridge.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Ground Hog Day


 I enjoy Ground Hog Day.  Always did.  I think it's because I took it so seriously as a kid, and it's carried over in to my adult years.

Having said that, the folks who run the show in Punxsutawney do go overboard.  But hey, go for it.  It is the one day of the year the little town in Jefferson County is in the spotlight.  Enjoy your moment.

Spring right around the corner would be nice, but no matter how you look at it, there is still a lot of winter left.  As I irritatingly note, some of our worst snow storms have been in February and March.

Just look at it this way...  Most of winter is over.

>>>UPDATE:  Phil did not see his shadow this morning, and he predicts an early spring.  Relax.  It's just harmless fun.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Dance

 

It was a serious case of deja vu as I watched and read coverage of the latest utility company rate hike request.  I've seen this movie, countless times, and I know how it ends.

It's a well choreographed dance.  Scripted.  I've been covering these things since my radio pup days in the early 80's.

The big utility company asks for permission to hike rates.  Politicians become outraged.  Citizens and consumers are angry.  The state orders hearings.  The politicians pound the podium for the cameras.  Consumers wonder how they will pay for what the utility wants.  The Public Utility Commission members look concerned.

They all end the same way.

The utility company accepts a smaller rate hike, which it banked on all along.  Ask for twice what you want, and settle for half.  The utility company feigns benevolence.  The politicians claim victory.

In the end, you're still cutting a bigger check every month.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Conspiracy Theory

 

Don't ask me who comes up with these things, but there is a conspiracy theory concerning the Super Bowl logo and the teams that will play in the game.

It all revolves around the colors.  Conspiracy theorists contend the colors of the logo correspond to the colors of the teams the league chooses to play in the ultimate championship game.  Above is the logo for the game that will be played in February of 2025.

The purple is easy.  Only one AFC team has purple in its logo, and that's the Baltimore Ravens.

The green is a little tougher.  Rule out the New York Jets because they play in the same conference as the Ravens.  The other two "green" teams" are the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles.  the Seattle Seahawks have a little green in their logo, and it is not the dominant color.

It's possible.  Three of the four teams made the playoffs this year.

Or...

You can flip it, with the purple representing the NFC's Minnesota Vikings, and the green of the Jets from the AFC.

Is the fix in?

Check back with me next year.

This year's logo is purple and red.  Moot point.  The purple Ravens were knocked out Sunday afternoon.  The red 49ers and Chiefs play for the title.

And, while I'm on the subject, I suggested taking the Ravens in Sunday's AFC championship game.  Loser.  I was right when I said bet on the Lions and take the points.  The 49ers won, but didn't cover.

As I write this, the Super Bowl LVIII point spread is fluctuating between 1 and 2.5 points.  That is essentially a "pick 'em."  I'll issue my yearly prediction next week.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Up All Night with Melanie

 

If you count my college radio time, I've been working late nights, early mornings and overnights for almost 45 years.  Luckily, I save time by knowing all the back roads and side streets.  I can even pronounce Sans Souci and Nanticoke.

Be that as it may, you find little tips and tricks for staying alert at work when the rest of you are sleeping.

My current repertoire includes getting up occasionally and walking the halls, going outside for a few lung-fulls of fresh air, and a good stretch.  I don't go heavy on the caffeine, but I do stay hydrated.  Water.

A big part of the routine is clicking over to You Tube and listening to a song for a moment.  It starts the functioning of a different part of your brain, and it's refreshing.  I have a couple dozen "go to" songs.  It's mostly stuff from Gerry Rafferty, Robert Palmer, ELO, the Beatles, Tom Petty, a few 60's hits, etc.

My play list includes "Lay Down" by Melanie.

The woman had a voice.

Melanie died last week.  She was 76.

Melanie Safka, thanks for getting me through the night.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Media Monday

 

A big wrestling package is jumping basic cable for the world of paid streaming.  Yawn!  Get used to it.  In the near future, you'll have to pay for everything.  The recent NFL playoff game on the paid Peacock service set record numbers.  I could hear the cash registers ringing all over the country.  The streamers and the sports leagues now know you are willing to pay.

A bunch of "The New WKRP in Cincinnati" episodes recently popped up on You Tube (free).  It ran for two years, in syndication, in 1991.  I'd forgotten how dreadful it was.

This year's network news coverage of the New Hampshire primary was missing a lot of zip.  I'm guessing it's because of the lack of suspense at the outcome.  All the coverage seemed superficial to me.  It could be because of a dearth of reportorial gravitas.

The Los Angeles Times just laid off 115 newsroom employees, more than 20 per cent of its staff.

Some local newspapers are soon to be printed a couple of hours away, prompting an evening rather than a late night or early morning deadline.

Newspaper industry, you are your own worst enemy.

Jon Stewart is coming back to "The Daily Show" once a week.  He's the best anchor that show's ever had, but the "angry man" routine gets old-- fast.

CBS is airing a documentary about the early days of "The NFL Today," back when Brent Musberger was anchor.  In my book, Brent was the best pre game, and half time host-- ever.  Back then, there was a perception that if you didn't watch "The NFL Today,"  you were missing something.  I might break my Super Bowl Sunday television embargo and watch.  The book on the show's history was fascinating.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Andy's Angles: Spring!

 

Even in the dead of winter, there is a sign spring is around the corner.  Paczkis are available at the Minooka Bakera.

I spied this sign as a stopped at a near by mini mart for a soda on my way to work Monday.  It warmed my heart on a single digit temperature morning.

Paczki is available in the days leading up to Lent.  It's a donut filled with jelly or pastry cream, and they're outstanding.

But, more than the delight for the tummy, it's a signal that winter is drawing to a close.  Lent and Easter, and spring are on the way.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Final Four

 

I nailed my picks on three out of the four divisional playoff games last weekend.  I might have hit on all four, but there was that "wide right" in Buffalo.

Conference Championship Sunday will be a lot tougher.

First up, it's Kansas City at Baltimore.  KC gets 3.5 points.  I wasn't impressed with Kansas City last weekend.  Baltimore didn't turn it on until the second half of its game versus Houston.  While it's hard to bet against Patrick Mahomes, I'm taking Baltimore and giving the points.  It's going to be close, but Baltimore wins and covers.

Detroit visits San Francisco in the evening.  Neither team blew me away last weekend.  San Francisco struggled in the rain against Green Bay.  Detroit was good, but not great, in its game against Tampa Bay.  The Lions are one of the "feel good" stories of the season.  It is one of three teams never to reach a Super Bowl.  Houston and Cleveland are the others.  The streak continues.  The Lions are getting seven points.  San Francisco wins, but they don't cover.  Bet the Lions and take the points.

This year's Super Bowl will be a rematch of the 2012 game, which Baltimore won by a field goal.  Who wins?  We'll climb that mountain when we get there.

The game sounds like a yawner to me, but I do look forward to the run-up in Las Vegas.  It should be fun.


Friday, January 26, 2024

Charles Osgood

 

I'm sorry it's taken me a couple days to get to this, but I had to yammer on about the weather and New Hampshire first.

CBS News legend Charles Osgood died Tuesday.

When Charles Kuralt retired as anchor of "Sunday Morning," CBS chose Osgood-- someone older than Kuralt, and Osgood held the job for 22 years.  Osgood also spent some time anchoring the old "CBS Morning News."  That was back when the networks did actual news in the morning.

Osgood had warmth, charm, and charisma.  As I've said here many times, you can't teach that.  You can't bottle that.  Having noted that, I thought Osgood's best work was in radio.

Charles Osgood anchored top of the hour newscasts on the CBS Radio Network.  He also did short daily essays called "The Osgood File."  Great delivery.  Great voice.  He could make things cute and interesting in a minimum amount of time.

I should note that Osgood always considered himself a radio guy who went in to television rather than a television guy who started in radio.  I've stolen that description for myself.  His famous sign off was "I'll see you on the radio."

In my book, Charles Osgood was a God because he said "Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs.  There is nothing that can't be improved by making it shorter and better."

Amen!

Osgood's college degree was in economics.  He said he got in to broadcasting because it looked like fun.  He was right.

Charles Osgood was 91.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

New Hampshire, Part II

 

The New Hampshire numbers are in, and here is a little analysis...

55 per cent of the vote is impressive for Donald Trump.  Nikki Haley's 45 per cent is nothing to sneeze at, but she should have done better.  Plus, Haley has to battle the perception that the race for the Republican presidential nomination is over.  Trump friendly Nevada caucuses in a couple of weeks.  Polls show Haley is trailing badly in the next primary state, her home state of South Carolina.

Haley's grabbing nearly half of the New Hampshire vote gives her reason to push on, as long as the campaign money is still available.  It puts her in a decent position if Trump's legal problems force a major issue down the road.  Still, you have to wonder if Haley can unite the party if that happens.

Ron Desantis dropped out of the campaign Sunday afternoon.  In spite of a big win in his reelection as Florida governor and a nice push at the beginning, the Desantis campaign never really took off.  Even Desantis admits he should have done more interviews and he should have been more accessible.  I'm not doubting the man's intelligence, but he seemed to give the same standard, rehearsed answer to every question.  I have a feeling Desantis bailed early to avoid an  embarrassment.  He was a poor third in New Hampshire polling, so he avoids the stench of an election night humiliation.  Desantis is only 45.  He's probably looking ahead to something else, like US Senate.  He had to distance himself from the presidential campaign and in a hurry.

Super Tuesday is coming up on March 5, and that's only six weeks away.  One-third of the delegates will be up for grabs.  Everything after that could be irrelevant.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Iced Over

 

The forecast called for unpleasant weather yesterday morning.  Ice.  That's worse than snow.  To make it worse, most of it was scheduled to begin during what we in the business call "morning drive."  It's the time period when a lot of people are headed off to work, and the children are on their way to school.

I'm a "safety first" guy.  If the weather is going to be iffy, stay home!  Work.  School.  Everything else.

My focus today is school.  Some districts called in "three hour delays."  Three hours!  What's the point?  It doesn't leave much education time.  Just go flexible or remote-- or simply make up the day at the end of the year.

At least, school districts were thinking about the safety of the students, the bus drivers, and everyone else on the road...  and there is nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

SI

 

I know the media world is changing.  Daily.  Rapidly.

Sports Illustrated laid off most of its staff Friday.  There are money and licensing issues.  It's complicated.  I'm not sure I understand it, and I've been studying, and in the media for 45 years.  I even know how to pronounce Tunkhannock and Throop.

I had a Sports Illustrated subscription when I was a kid.  I think it was 19 cents a week when I was in high school.  Its weekly arrival was a treat.  There was no ESPN back then, no glut of sports media.  It was just the nightly news, the morning paper, and the magazines-- Sport, the Sporting News, Baseball digest...

It wasn't just the writing in Sports Illustrated, which was wonderful.  It was the photos.  Great stuff.  Athletes bursting in color, almost jumping off the pages.  You really looked forward to the big issues after the World Series and the Super Bowl.  The swimsuit edition was the stuff dreams are made of.

You know the story.  Anything in print has been in serious decline in recent years.  Sports Illustrated was under the Time umbrella for years.  It's changed hands.  The weekly became a monthly.  It suffered from neglect.  It really needed someone to give it tender, loving care-- someone to revive the brand.

It doesn't look like that's going to happen.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Sports Illustrated go out of business.  A bit of history, and a lot of my childhood, will be lost.

By the way, it was three out of four correct in my football picks this last weekend.  I'll have something to say about Championship Sunday later this week.


Monday, January 22, 2024

New Hampshire

 

Tomorrow is New Hampshire primary day, and as someone who is in to politics, I always looked forward to it-- big field of candidates, reporters and voters out in the cold and the snow, anticipation of an exciting year ahead...

Yes, there is a bit of unfairness that a handful of small states can determine the future of the entire campaign.  New Hampshire is fascinating, but the time for a national primary, or a series of regional primaries is long overdue.

I heard some pundits on the radio the other day, saying the race for the Republican presidential nomination could be over when all the votes are counted tomorrow night.  Strange system, we have.

Be that as it may, the numbers will be analyzed and analyzed again this week.  It's very likely we'll be thinking about November long before the ground hog makes his winter weather prediction.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Andy's Angles: Street Stars

 

This was a contender for this month's blog header, and even though this isn't the greatest photo I've ever taken, I do like it.

I'm on Biden Street in downtown Scranton, near the intersection with Wyoming Avenue, pointing west.  Bank Towers is on the right.  The Jermyn apartments are on the left, and the big WEJL 630 tower atop the Scranton Times building is in the center.

The streetlights really pleased me-- the starry effect caused by a small aperture.  I also like the Scranton banner hanging off a pole in the upper left.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Andy's Angles: Not a Creature Was Stirring

 

There is something sad, yet oddly satisfying about a college campus on holiday break.

This is a shot at the University of Scranton on the day after Thanksgiving.  It was just the two of us-- and squirrel and me.  Yes, it's not the greatest shot, but the little bugger scampered away as I approached.

I went to college just up the street, at Marywood, and being on campus during holiday breaks was not uncommon.  We had a radio station to run, and there was no automation back then.  No computers.  We needed bodies.  Granted, it was a short broadcast day, 1 pm to 1 am.  It only took two or three of us, per day, to keep the hits spinning.

The holiday radio station atmosphere was enjoyable.  The only other bodies I would see would be the occasional classmate, and the security guards dropped in from time to time to make sure we were okay.  There was always a relaxed vibe, and that became even more apparent during holiday breaks and summers.

I still work more than my share of holidays, and I was at the television station on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning a few weeks ago.  I've been lucky, but there are still times I long to put a Billy Joel album on a turntable somewhere.

Friday, January 19, 2024

A Cold Anniversary

 

Sunday is the 30th anniversary of the coldest day ever recorded here in our area.  On January 21 of 1994, it hit 21 degrees below zero at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

Yikes!

I was working "down the street" at the time.  Our usual morning reporter asked for a long weekend, long before the forecast, and I was drafted to fill in.  No problem.  I always enjoy working mornings.

Our big stories that day were a group of pro life advocates taking a bus trip to Washington, Scranton's mayor appearing on the Don Imus radio show, trash collectors working in the bitter cold, and a large water main break on Penn Avenue in Scranton.

We put most of our efforts in to the water main break.  Water was gushing up from the street and freezing instantly.  Plus, hats off to the guys who had to get down in a frozen hole to fix it.  TV technology was a lot different then.  We needed cables to connect the camera to the live truck.  Wires and connectors kept snapping in the cold.  We were down to our last cable, and it was a short one.  It meant to get the water main break in the shot behind me, I had to stand in a snow bank up to my knees.  The things I do for viewers!

It was an uncomfortable morning, but a satisfying morning.  And, I'm happy to say I was a part of history.

Finally, just for the fun of it...  Let's pick some football games.  It's Divisional Playoff Weekend in the NFL.  I'm taking all four home teams:  Baltimore, Buffalo, San Francisco, and Detroit.

If Kansas City loses, sell your stock in Paramount.  CBS really wanted a Dallas/KC Super Bowl.  Dallas has the national following.  KC has a Taylor Swift following.  I can't see how they'd be thrilled with a Rust Belt Super Bowl of Detroit and Buffalo.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Follow Up Thursday


First,  I'm still waiting for an answer to my email.  I asked the people who run the parking program in Scranton why meters aren't enforced on Juneteenth, but they are on MLK Day.

I've always felt it was bad karma to advocate for someone losing their job, but here goes.  Why are Mike McCarthy, Mike Tomlin and Nick Sirianni still working?

McCarthy leads the Dallas Cowboys, notorious under achievers.

Mike Tomlin told the Steelers he will be back next season, the final year of his contract.  That's unfortunate.  The Steelers lost to some awful teams this year.  Penalties.  Sloppy play.  Unprepared.  It all reflects back on the coach.  Tomlin loses control of his team at least once a year.  Trivia:  What team has surrendered the most points during its last five playoff games?  The Pittsburgh Steelers.  I add this is the guy who thinks Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph are the answers to the team's quarterback problem.  If that isn't enough, you cannot overlook that classless exit at the news conference after the Buffalo loss Monday afternoon.

The Philadelphia Eagles simply quit playing for Nick Sirianni this season, and it was an embarrassment.

You just wonder how these things can happen.

CBS could have done something interesting with the 12:30 am time slot vacated by James Cordon.  It gave us a "comedy" game show on the cheap, with a bunch of unknowns.  What little humor there is, is forced to the extreme.  I'm not a Seth Meyers fan, but the people over at NBC are sleeping a little easier these days.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Really?

 


I hope someone can explain this to me.

I had some business in downtown Scranton Monday afternoon, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.  I wondered if the parking "meters" would be enforced on a federal holiday.  This is what I turned up on a visit to ScrantonParking.com

  • Meter Parking 8am-5pm. There is no enforcement on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
MLK Day was made a federal holiday in 1986.  Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.  How could the group that runs Scranton parking observe one, but not the other?

I wasn't going to make a "federal case" out of it.  I paid the $3 to be on the safe side, but this makes absolutely no sense to me.

That's Scranton!

By the way, I emailed the company that runs the city's garages and meters.  If and when I receive a response, you'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Mind Games

 

The great Yogi Berra once said that "90 per cent of baseball is half mental."

Today, it's that silly and pointless thing I do every year to trick myself that spring is right around the corner...

The three coldest months of the years are December, January, and February.  January is now half over, so that means winter is half over!

In reality, it isn't.  Far from it.

We are entering the statistical two coldest weeks of the year.  We've received some whopper snow storms in late January, February and March.

So while the calendar says winter is half over, the worst of the season is still ahead of us.

In my book, December flies by because you have the holiday distractions.  Plus, the weather usually isn't all that bad.  February is a short month, and you can feel the sun getting a little stronger.  March is one of those transition months that isn't sure if it wants to be winter or spring.

January is the toughest nut to crack, but at least we are making progress.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Monday Scrapple

 

I know I've been doing a lot of Scrapple entries lately...

Former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has the wins and the trophies, but can he really be considered a great coach?  His record without Tom Brady was embarrassing.   Plus, for years, the AFC East was a notoriously weak division.  Belichick cheated.  Poor draft choices.  Contempt for the media.  Poor sportsmanship (remember those Super Bowl losing handshakes?)  Overrated.    

Today's "I remember the lyrics to an old song" offering is a Paul McCartney song from 1979, called "Arrow Through Me."

I can deal with the cold.  Snow and ice is a much different story.

Sorry, NBC.  There is nothing I want to pay to watch on Peacock.

There is nothing like the beauty of an old style movie theater marquee.

It was insane to play football in Kansas City Saturday night, and the governor of New York made the right decision in postponing the Steelers/Bills game.

It looks like 2024 will also be the year of Taylor Swift.

One of the satellite radio channels recently featured Casey Kasem's countdown of the top 100 hits of 1970.  Friends, that was music.

Now that stores have everything locked up, I no longer feel guilty about shopping on line.

Pat McAfee needs to go away.

I can't believe no one noticed the Secretary of Defense was missing.

Today is the 15th anniversary of a US Air flight landing in New York's Hudson River.  It is as amazing now as it was back then.

Some of my best friends are Dallas Cowboys fans.  Yet, I take great delight in that Sunday afternoon humiliation.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Andy's Angles: Birds

 

This is a mid December shot from the Green Ridge Shopping Center in Scranton.

It happens every winter.  A group of birds hangs out here for a while, and then moves on.

I was able to catch a couple in flight-- one behind the blue car and one below the silver car.

I'll be trying this one again before the winter is through.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

About the Cover: The View

 

It is a serendipitous blog header this month.  Usually, I have something in mind, before I set out with my camera.  This month, I happened to see the vista, pulled out the camera, snapped off a few, and here we are.  They looked good on the camera screen, and even better when I saw them on a big computer screen.

This is the view down the valley from the industrial/business park high atop Jessup.  Scranton is off to the left.  Carbondale is on the right.