Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Scooped

WTEN dealt a severe spanking to the competition last night, scooping everyone with explosive details on the story of the day. News that the death of 86 year-old Jean Balashek was ruled a murder became everyone's lead, but only WTEN reported that the woman's daughter, Corianne Balashek, had done time for manslaughter. Balashek, who police say discovered her mother's body, spent nine years in prison for the strangling death of a 29 year-old woman in 1981. Since being released from prison, Balashek reportedly underwent gender reassignment, changing her name from Cory to Corianne.

Now if they could only figure out how to get the story on their website (9:06am).

Too Many Breslins

You know what you get when you have all these Breslins running around? You get mistakes. The TU today printed a picture of Neil when they meant to use Mike in their story about the Exec's address to county legislators. Meanwhile, brother Tom was quoted widely in the Jo-El Scott story. How could you not mess this up?

Damn the Torpedoes

Rumors on the "internets" about Albany Eye's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

After a period of navel gazing and self-flagellation we've decided that the show must go on. Over the next few weeks, we're going to add an improved method of indexing by topic, and as usual, we will strive to provide new content on a daily basis. Please bear with us as we restore all our posts ---it may take a couple of days.

Meanwhile, www.wamc.net greeted our brief absence with a nutty rant that was something like Lawrence Ferlinghetti meeting Dr. Seuss at the corner of Strange Street and Whacko Avenue:
Eye Guess: No Eye balls? Lost optic nerve? Someone crossed Eye? Did Eye witness something? What did Eye see? Why was Eye so late? Did Eye con anyone? Did they shut Eye! Did Eye storm out? Moved to Islip? Visiting Eiffel Tower? Eye eye capt? Did Eye strain towards end? Did Eye scream? Did Eye scold? Did Eye skate?
It goes on and on. And you wonder why I wanted to quit this?

Alive

Nobody tells a story like JR Gach, and yesterday's show was about as real as it gets. Over the weekend near Speculator, the 94 Rock afternoon host took a mistep while making his way from a friend's cabin ---and became so bogged down in the deep snow that he nearly didn't make it out. A good part of yesterday's program had JR describing the incident, which under slightly different circumstances would have left us listening to the Pi show today.

I hate to describe someone's brush with death as great radio, but it really was. He may not be your cup of tea, but Gach is a brilliant monologist ---more on that later this week.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dope of The Week

Instead of letting Dan Rather leave the air gracefully, William E. Kring, General Manager of WWTV/WWUP-TV of Cadillac, Michigan conducted a reader poll over whether the station should air a CBS prime time tribute to the departing anchor. Saying that the poll had been "grossly misinterpreted" and that it was "never our intent to embarrass Mr. Rather or the CBS Network," the viewer poll was yanked ---but not before racking up a 63% tally against the special. His cheap stunt made international news.

You'd think that someone trusted with a broadcast license(several, actually) would have the common sense to do the right thing ---and if lacking common sense, he'd have the resolve to make his own decisions about programming. If after running Dan Rather's newscast for decades you don't have the class to air a one hour special about him, then don't air it. Just don't try to make it look like it wasn't your choice.

Radio Radio

JAMMED
Maybe you read in the Business Review Tuesday about WAJZ dropping the Tom Joyner Show earlier this week. Albany Eye actually had some email from listeners complaining about the station ---but no one should be surprised. Joyner's show doesn't really fit the JAMZ format, which is basically aimed at young hip hop and R&B listeners ---and Joyner? He isn't just old school, he's old. It's like your favorite radio station putting on something for your parents in morning drive. Maybe some of Joyner's fans will find their way to NPR's soulful News & Notes With Ed Gordon ---if they don't mind listening online.

VANDENBURGHISMS
I can't make this stuff up. Believe me, I've tried:
The Backstreet Boys are getting back together. It would seem to
me that this is a fairly significant story.

Bob Schieffer has what people are looking for in an anchor. He's elderly.

If the Clintons aren't getting along, I don't see why they should be at each other's surgeries.

He had cancer. I don't think he died tragically.
It's worth mentioning that Angela Austin is back from her crash course in news reading. She's a little better, but the show is still missing the gravitas a seasoned, mature newscaster would bring to the table. It's gone from sounding like the news on a bad college station to sounding like the news on a mediocre college station.
Suck it up and spend some money.

WOLF PACK
O.M. Budsman raked us over the coals for a recent post about Wakin Up With the Wolf, but this one is rock solid: John Tobin is back on the show starting March 21. Tobin is hugely popular with the show's long-time fans ---and station brass expect his return to offset the recent loss of Mulrooney and Ellen Z.

By the way, Wolf has asked me to come on the show, but I can't do it until I devise a way to disguise my voice.

My Dog Blog

This blog has gotten to be sort of like a dog.

It needs to be fed and looked after several times a day. It follows me around everywhere. It's also
meant some extra responsibilities. If I go away, the blog has to come with me ---or I need to find someone to take care of it. Just when I think it's settled down it starts barking about something. Blogs have a funny way of making everything about them. It's been pulling a bit at the leash a bit lately. And you know what? Like my dog, people find the blog a lot more interesting than they find me.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Courage

Tom Brokaw didn't so much leave the anchor chair as he was canonized; Dan Rather got the bum's rush. People forget that before Rather became a national punchline and the right's poster boy for media bias,he really was quite a guy. I was just a teenager when I first read his 1977 book, The Camera Never Blinks: Adventures of a TV Journalist; it's still a great read and it will help you understand how Dan Rather got be be Dan Rather.

We could barely read a story this week about Rather's departure that that didn't conjure up the National Guard memos; as a good reporter, Dan Rather wouldn't have had it any other way.

Reader's Advocate

As promised,the Albany Eye reader's Advocate, O.M. Budsman has joined the team to address issues you have with this website.

SOURCES
Several readers have questioned Albany Eye's use of anonymous and uncorroborated information. The most egregious example was an item casting about over the rumored departure of Bob Wolf from PYX 106. Yes, I know, the author included the usual disclaimers about it being unconfirmed, but let's back off a second and think about where this "tip" came from. Do you really think the Wakin' Up With The Wolf message board and email from an anonymous sender constitutes reliable sourcing? Maybe next we'll start posting things we find written on the stalls in the men's room.

SELF SERVICE
My Blog Dog? Please. No one want to hear you kvetch about how hard you work. Oh, woe is me, my public is expecting something pithy today.
Writing about writing is insufferably boring ---and if blogs are the lowest form of writing, what does that make writing about blogging? If you really want to scrape out the bottom of
the waste basket, there are blogs that write about other blogs. Speaking of waste baskets, if I read another article about blogs, I'm going to need one to catch my vomit.

SELLING OUT
Maybe you've noticed those "Albany Eye Recommends" boxes on this website. We asked the boss to explain:
"Those are links to books or music that we enjoy or have mentioned
in posts. They are set up through the Amazon Associates program to help defray the cost of running the web site."
Under the program, Albany Eye receives a 5% commission on items sold via the link. Let's say -and this is a stretch folks- that the effort nets $3 per month. By my calculation, that works out to earning something like $.06 an hour. Good luck with that. What's troubling here was the inclusion of one of those Amazon Associates links tucked away in the website's content last Friday. It's one thing to flaunt your wonderful taste in books and music with those little ads, but mixing pitches and posts should be off limits.

If you wish to contact Mr. Budsman, please send us an email with OM BUDSMAN in the subject line.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

O.M. Budsman

In light of questions about the credibility of certain recent reports on this website, we have appointed O.M. Budsman as the Albany Eye reader's advocate. Mr. Budsman will appear in this space periodically to address your concerns and questions. True, O.M. is in our employ, but that doesn't mean you can't trust him to give you the straight story. In fact, we believe that Budsman can't stand us ---and will gleefully throw us under the bus at the very first opportunity.
Budsman's first entry is expected tomorrow.

The Stupid Leading the Blind

Radio reading services, like WMHT's RISE, are feeling the chill wind blowing in from Washington. Just ask the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service. Their programming was interrupted recently when Buffalo's WKBW-TV yanked the service off their SAP (second audio program) channel because a listener complained about a foul word in a reading of Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. Albany Eye thinks if was the F-word, but it could have been the S-word ---or possibly the verboten C-word. Blind and print impaired listeners with special receivers could still hear the station, which features readings from newspapers, magazines, books, and other programs, but those relying on their TV were out of luck. Why? Because based on the complaint of one listener, WKBW was worried about facing a big fine from the FCC. Since then the station has resumed carrying the service, but not late at night when adult
material
is read. Welcome to 2005.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Wakin' Up With The Archie

Mayoral candidate Archie Goodbee will be getting equal time on the radio ---except not on WROW, where Jerry Jennings hosts weekly lovefest, but on PYX 106. Bob Wolf has announced that he'll have Goodbee in for half an hour a week beginning on April 4. I know what your thinking: "Eye, you said EQUAL time. How is it EQUAL if Jennings gets an hour and Goodbee gets half an hour?" Folks, I can read the ratings, so believe me ---half an hour on PYX 106 is worth at least an hour on WROW.

WROW's program director and morning host, Paul Vandenburgh,could not be reached for comment despite repeated telephone calls. A call to Jennings' office was not returned.

The Trouble With Karen

This week's Media Project on WAMC features an extended discussion of the Karen Hitchcock matter. A February 25 article in the New York Times reported that Hitchcock was under investigation by the State Ethics Commission when she left her post as president of UAlbany; citing unnamed sources, the story suggested Hitchcock hastened her departure to avoid the probe. Dr. Hitchcock, who now heads Queens University in Ontario, has denied any wrongdoing.
Alan Chartock, calling Hitchcock the "finest university president he ever served under," blasted the New York Times article as tainted by sources with an agenda, describing their story a "smear".

The Hitchcock thing is sticky. We now live in a world where rumors and innuendo become instantly available everywhere, anytime ---and it's possible to build a search engine mythology for anyone you choose. Add a story in The Times and you change someone's personal history forever.

Mad TV

Wayne Perry's Mad Minute commentaries were a staple of the early days at FOX23 News ---but if you think his rants on TV were unhinged, wait until you read his press releases. The former self defense instructor is now marketing Sinus Buster, a hot pepper-laced nasal spray for treating headaches, allergies and sinus pain. In a recent press release, Perry launches into an extended explanation of how his firing came down from the very highest levels at Clear Channel ---as a response to his Mad Minute riff on the election of George Bush. Who knew that Wayne Perry was martyred by the evil minions of America's most-hated media company? We thought it was for criticizing his employer in the newspaper.

Perry learned about the curative powers of capsaicin to cure headaches after a series of demonstrations that involved him being shot in the face with pepper spray. I believe the punch line here is, because it feels so good when I stop.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Read Albany Eye for Your Chance to Win

Five dollars for the first person to correctly identify the local news organization that had this atrocious sentence as the lead item on their website:

Body Found In Vale Park
(Schenectady) Schenectady Police continue to investigate how and why a woman's body was found in Vale Park.

Take My Newspaper, Please

"I am possessed of the weakness which at some time or the other of their lives pervades most men. I am convinced that I could run a newspaper successfully."
That's what William Randolph Hearst wrote his father when asking for the reins of the San Francisco Examiner. You've got to wonder what The Chief would be thinking today.

America's newspapers have been swept up in an orgy of navel gazing and self-flagellation the likes of which has never been seen in the annals of journalism. An interesting example of this is the National Credibility Roundtables Project, a program of the Associated Press Managing Editors to "promote on-going communication between the public and the press and to encourage journalists to use what they learn to build better news practices." The Times Union hosted one of these forums in February, inviting 27 readers to discuss questions of bias, credibility, and content with the paper's editors. You can read an account of the meeting in yesterday's(3/6/05) TU Op-Ed section. Albany Eye predicts that in coming months you will get a better view of the sausage making than you ever imagined possible.

NOTE: The forum's most interesting participant? Novelist Russell Banks. The paper ran a picture of Banks in the print edition, along with the quote, "The paper feels white and suburban and middle-aged," but somehow left him out of the article. How odd. I'd think that having one of America's greatest living authors on your panel would be worth noting. If you haven't read his fine novels The Sweet Hereafter or Affliction, you should put them at the top of your list. Albany Eye also highly recommends The Angel on the Roof, a collection of Banks' short stories.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Leavings

THE GATES OF EATIN'
One of the funniest things I've seen recently was this edible version of the gates. It's like having Christo and Jeanne-Claude sneak into your house and raid the pantry.

WHADDAYA KNOW, JOE?
Lots of chitchat on the street about WRGB anchor Joe Pagliarulo. It could be it's just contract time ---or maybe he's sick of being blinded by Liz Bishop's light. I don't mean the glare of her fame, I'm talking about the so called Liz Light, a bright, low-angle instrument said to erase shadows and the things that throw them. I don't think the Liz Light ever really existed. It sounds like the TV crowd's version of an urban legend ---doesn't it?

SUPER COLON BLOW
You turn on the TV and see Benita Zahn standing inside a giant colon. This could mean one of two things: either you should have passed on that Barbequed Tofu Burrito from Bombers, or sweeps is totally over. WNYT did extensive coverage of their Journey Through the Body event Friday at Colonie Center. Maybe you saw the promo featuring some nine year-olds handling what looked like a huge liver, which I'm assuming was from an animal ---not something the brought down from St. Peter's for the day.

AMERICAN BOY
What do you get if you write a song about American Taliban John Walker Lindh? You get a CD that ends up in the discount bin at KMart for $.99. Albany Eye is not in the habit of buying music at KMart, but I'm a sucker for the cut out rack ---and that's where I found Steve Earle's Jerusalem. Earle's song about Lindh set of a firestorm, which is too bad, because the controversy shrouded what's one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. And you thought they stuck it to the Dixie Chicks?

Breaker Circuit

Visit The Newsbreakers for bizarre video of The Invisible Suit Guy delivering flowers to their recent target, WSYX/WTTE in Columbus. The stations are owned by scary Sinclair Broadcasting, who have been noticed casing the media activists since they crashed a February 4 live shot. Also featured: a hilarious group shot of The Newsbeaker Action Team, ready to board the Spirit of Ontario Fast Ferry for a trip to Toronto.

Wondering about that unusual song in the Columbus video? It's Andrew Bird's Opposite Day from his album The Mysterious Production of Eggs. Bird is signed with Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe Records.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

BOLO Contendere

Be on the lookout for Richard Smith and Luke Bateman. The British college students will set out on a cross country trek this Summer to break 40 of America's stupidest laws. Wouldn't you know that they'll be stopping in Albany, where playing golf in the street is illegal. If you've ever been hit with a golfball, you'd know that law isn't as dumb as it sounds. Smith and Bateman are taking a pass on Texas:
"They have the death penalty down in Texas," he said. "That place makes me kind of nervous."
Albany Police Department spokesman, Detective Jimmy Miller, could not be reached for comment.

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Wolf Tickets

Wolf Tickets The Wakin' Up with the Wolf show is history on March 31 ---that's the latest from the internet rumor mill. Posts on the show's message board and email to Albany Eye claim that PYX106 will replace the program with the Lex and Terry Show, syndicated fare out of Dallas. These reports are highly questionable, and until someone makes an announcement, should be considered like many other things you read on the web: sketchy at best. In radio when you're leaving, you're gone. It's very uncommon for lame ducks to stay behind the mike. Not unheard of, but uncommon. From Mark McGuire today (3/4/05):
Bob Wolf said he doesn't know why the changes were made. "I had nothing to do with this one," said Wolf, who has a history of problems with previous co-hosts, but nothing recently. Ellen Z. doesn't know why she was let go, either: "I don't know what's happening."

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Dumb

Internet scams have become the CBS6 I-Team's stock in trade recently ---back in January they found someone gullible enough to fall for a variant of the Nigerian email scam, now they've turned their attention to eBay. What would they do if people weren't so dumb ---and so willing to go on TV? The other night they profiled a Corinth man who sent $800 to Constanta, Romania for a 50-inch Zenith flat screen plasma TV. Who knew Constanta was the place to find the best price on that stuff?

The first big mistake people make is trusting a scam artist; the second one they make is trusting CBS6. WRGB knows it's entertaining to see people do things we think we're too smart to do. The I-Team doesn't actually help anyone, nor do they have the clout to get your money back. Cloaked behind their concerned tone and furrowed brow is a research-driven freak show that's as exploitive as anything else you'll ever see on TV. At least when you eat bugs on Fear Factor you might win something.

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And Dumber

Speaking of dopey internet stuff, folks, always check out the junk people send you before you forward it, even things from your friends. How many bogus virus warning have you gotten from people you know? Or ridiculous urban legends? And it's not just scary stuff. Yesterday, a woman I know quite well (who happens to share my house and parenting duties) sent me an essay called In Praise of Older Women, by Andy Rooney. Maybe you've seen it. It's a wry, self-deprecating appreciation of seasoned ladies that includes lines like this:
An older woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.
Shut your eyes and you can sort of imagine sitting at the Palmer House Cafe and hearing it come out of Andy Rooney's mouth. But it didn't. Like the infamous Kurt Vonnegut Sunscreen Speech, it's a case of misattribution gone wild. Baltimore Sun writer Susan Reimer asked Rooney about it:
"It just bugs me that anybody would put my name on something I didn't write," said Rooney from his New York office. He's been the object of this kind of hoax before, and another, he said, had just crossed his desk. I asked him if he shared the author's affection for older women, and he said, "Not particularly."
Two years later I'm still getting the email...

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

She's Back

Several people at WROW tell Albany Eye that Angela Austin will be back on with Paul Vandenburgh Monday morning. Austin was sent down to the minors early last week after a stint on the morning show that by all reports didn't go as expected. There's been a bit of scuttlebutt about the situation ---including claims that advertisers and others complained that the show was losing its credibility. If you're going to talk news and politics you'd better sound professional. It didn't. We'll see next week.

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Humanistas

If this blogging thing doesn't work out, I just may start writing for The Humanist Network News. I always dreamed of a network job ---even if the pay is the same as I get for Albany Eye. Plus, maybe I can score a desk in their spiffy new Humanist Center in Downtown Albany.

The HNN is the online newsletter of Albany based Institute for Humanist Studies, a "think tank whose mission is to promote greater public awareness, understanding, and support for humanism." They include some helpful tips on their submission page:
Who? What? Where? And how? These are questions that need to be answered. But why? is essential. You're an HNN reader, so ask yourself, "Why would someone want to read about this issue in HNN?"
Hmmmm. The four W's. That's all they get from me for free.

Sence and Sencibility

From today's Troy Record:

No...Common sence would be hitting the spell check button.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Steal This Newspaper

Tough times at the SUNY New Paltz Oracle. The Times Herald-Record reports that the paper's been thrown out of circulation by a massive computer malfunction. The Oracle got some ink last month after 2500 papers were stolen, in an apparent reaction to a front page headline about the arrest of a New Paltz coach on rape charges. From the TH-R:
"Most students are too apathetic to even care about the First Amendment," said Daniel Burke, a student and the paper's managing editor. "Most of them don't even practice it."

Andrew and Archie

WGY's Andrew Wilkow said he's decided to "get knee deep" in the race for Albany mayor during his talk show yesterday. He didn't come out touting Archie Goodbee so much as he slammed Jerry Jennings. "Forget this stupid convention center," he said. "Who wants it? The suntan guy wants it." It's funny hearing Wilkow call Jennings "Mayor Tanning Booth," and it may be easy to dismiss it as talk show fodder ---but seven months from your primary it could be a harbinger of something bigger.

Mailbag

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to write Albany Eye. We appreciate your comments, suggestions and tips. Mail for Albany Eye may now be sent to albanyeye@gmail.com. Here are some replies to recent messages:

To AEG: You're right. The "short bus" remark was out of line and I removed it from the Web Weview. I didn't mean to insult the developmentally disabled by comparing their writing to that of the people at WRGB.

To R C: I realize that "it's difficult to think it's not Mark McGuire writing when I read the blog," but no, I am not Mark McGuire.

To Glenn in Monterey: Sorry I didn't link to your totally cool website. My bad.

For albany3ye: No, I'm not JR Gach.

Q: I don't know what a "Snow Shadow" is either, but if Steve Caporizzo says it stopped the storm from hitting here, I'm all for it. Are you sure he didn't say "Snow Angels"?

Pete S: I never said Paul was hitting on Angela, I said it sounded creepy.

Sue: About Ann Hughes and the chickens: Yeah, I guess I do find that attractive, in a Natalie Portman/Cold Mountain sort of way.

Biblio: No, I'm not Alan Chartock. How many times are you going to ask?

Gray Matter

John Gray today addresses the outcry over a recent column in which he complains about lousy service ---including the unwanted attention he got from a blog devoted to Starbucks run by Poynter's Jim Romenesko. There must be a web site for everything. And I thought I was the only one with too much time on my hands.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

About Albany Eye

Albany Eye is a commentary focusing on topics involving media in New York's Capital Region. As an opinion piece, we do not claim to be objective or unbiased. We record our impressions of things we find interesting ---and hope that our readers will find them interesting as well. In addition to local media, Albany Eye also features items about current events, politics, and popular culture.

Albany Eye is always interested in hearing your comments, tips, or suggestions; You will find our email address on the upper right of this page.

All Thumbs

Anatomy of a Game Dork:
Publisher: Have you read this research? Young men hate your newspaper.
Editor: MY newspaper?
Publisher: Yes. YOUR newspaper. And it's pulling down MY revenue.
Editor: Maybe we need to print something young men like?
Publisher: Such as...
Editor: Pictures of hot chicks.
Publisher: Who the hell do I look like? Rupert Murdoch? WR would roll over in his grave...
Editor: I've got it! Video games. How about we run reviews of video games?
Publisher: Hmmmm. OK...If you can get it done cheap, why not?
Editor: And maybe we'll drop in a picture of a hot chick or two? You know, testing the games?

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What's your Song?

From the Division of Mindless Diversion:

Does the the hit song at the moment of your birth have some influence over the life you live? That's what's behind the tongue in cheek science of Popstrology. If nothing else, it's fun to chart your song ---even if you don't believe that music can determine a child's destiny. For example, if your birthday is Oct 17, 1972, you were born in the year of Gilbert O'Sullivan under Chuck Berry's My Ding-A-Ling. You poor son of a bitch. The web site allows you to check birthdates between 1956 and 1989.