Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sympathy for the Show Stackers

If local TV news were a western, the anchors, reporters and photogs would be the cowboys and the producers would be the horses. Producers are the nameless, faceless schlubs who sit shackled to a desk putting together that newscast you watch. Masters of the phrase, "coming up," they sit in the control room waiting for something to go wrong with the show they worked on all day. Is it any wonder they're burned out?

A story on Newslab's web site cites a study that found 20% of producers are experiencing burnout, and that "almost half of the producers surveyed scored high on exhaustion and almost two-thirds of participating producers scored high on cynicism, both factors indicating potential future burnout problems." Could this be a symptom of the monotony of tightly formatted shows that never change ---or is it the other way around?

In the old west, if your horse got exhausted or burned out you could eat it. I'm not sure if the cynical horses tasted good.

A Major Award

It's... it's... it's indescribably beautiful! It reminds me of the Fourth of July! America's most obscure trade magazine honors local talk hosts:
(Albany, NY) 810 WGY's Don Weeks has been named one of the "250 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America" by the trade publication, Talkers Magazine.
WROW's Paul Vandenburgh is on the list also, but he didn't get his own press release.
There are more than 250 talk show hosts in America, right?

Monday, February 27, 2006

The First Thing We'll Do...

...is teach them to read a calendar:

The Business Review (Albany) - 9:09 AM EST Monday

RPI Hosts Girl Scouts for Engineering Day
More than 125 Girl Scouts are expected to be at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., on Saturday, Feb. 25, to take part in hands-on engineering activities.

57 Channels and Nothin' Out

There's a channel for everything on Time-Warner digital cable ----except a gay channel. What about Bravo, you ask? Well, that's not technically a gay channel, even if it is pretty gay. Anyway, there are now several cable networks programmed specifically for the gay and lesbian audience, but not one of them is available to area viewers. Why? That's what local marketing guru and activist Libby Post would like to know. Post is leading an effort to get Time-Warner to add Logo to their system; the channel was launched in 2004 by MTV Networks/Viacom, people who know a thing or two about serving an audience properly. I don't think anyone is saying that there's anything wrong with Time-Warner, just that they should get on the LGBT thing ASAP. It's not like there isn't room for everyone up on the digital tier.

You really ought you have a look at Logo's TV schedule. Borrowing one of the greatest ad lines ever, from Levy's Rye, you don't have to be gay to love Logo.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Weekender

Who's retarded now, Vandenburgh?Retarded
Everybody's talking about Jason McElwain. Until last week, the 17-year-old autistic manager/slash waterboy for the Greece Athena High basketball team was sometimes the butt of people's jokes ---then the coach had him suit up and put him in the game. J-Mac scored 20 points and was carried off the court on the shoulders of a gym full of screaming fans. Watch the video and see if you don't get choked up. Anyway, WROW's Paul Vandenburgh talked about McElwain yesterday morning, repeatedly describing the high-functioning autistic student as "mentally retarded," and as having "cerebral palsy or Down syndrome." Very nice.

Proctor's Stinks
It seems that the inmates at Schenectady County Jail (more on them next) enjoy flushing inappropriate items down the toilets. Our favorite Schenectady reporter, the TU's Mike Goodwin reports:
Prisoners have routinely flushed a variety of items down the jail's toilets, including clothing, garbage bags and towels, Sheriff Harry Buffardi said. The water pressure on the jail's top floors is strong enough, he said, to swallow blankets. The materials then lodge in the sewer line and cause backups.
Where does it back up? Right outside Proctor's. Everybody's a critic.

And By The Way...

Is the sheriff crazy, giving escapee Edwin Ortiz the opportunity to hold a press conference this week? On Thursday, Harry Buffardi set up his well known inmate in the jail library where he could meet the media and explain how he plotted his daring break from the downtown lockup. I don't know what Buffardi was thinking, but giving this miscreant a forum to for his 15 minutes of fame isn't just unnecessary, it's stupid. It was a great story, though...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Where the Laughs Never End

Whoa. Didn't we mention this week that there may be a tad too much political satire in this town? Wait until you read this entry in Capitol Confidential. You'd better allow about half an hour to get through the whole thing.

Peter and the Ice Queens

I don't know who's bitchier: NBC's figure skating announcing team or the TU's Pete Dougherty? Dougherty stayed up late last night so he wouldn't miss a moment of the Olympic long program, and dished up a cranky little tirade about the commentators this morning. He made extensive comparisons to his other favorite program, American Idol.
Why can't we just read Mark McGuire writing about the Olympics on TV? Is someone pulling rank?

No Competition

Reporter Rachel Barnhart is suing her former employer, Rochester's WROC-TV, seeking to nullify the non-compete clause in her contract. Court papers claim Barnhart was canned after not acceding to the CBS affiliate's lowball contract offers.

Sue Nigra; Worth her weight in gold.I bring this up because a well known case on this subject is Nigra v. Young Broadcasting, as in Sue Nigra v. WTEN. Back in the nineties, WRGB offered Nigra twice what she was making at WTEN to switch stations. Regarding Nigra, Young argued that there is "simply no candidate that possesses the same knowledge of the local scene or the unique mix of qualities and characteristics." Talk about a lame defense; The court totally didn't buy it and granted an injunction against WTEN. The two parties later settled.

It's interesting stuff. When John Gray left WNYT, there was apparently some sort of elaborate deal struck with Fox 23 to help work through the non-compete. But Greg Floyd? Fox 23 couldn't forget about his contract fast enough.

Massachusetts and a few other states ban non-compete clauses in the broadcast industry. Similar legislation introduced in the State Senate and Assembly has been flopping around in committee since last year. If the New York State Broadcasters Association has anything to say about it, that's where it will stay.

Can you imagine them offering Sue Nigra that much money? Me neither.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Don't Believe the Hype

If you're not interested in watching the ladies free skate final tonight, get yourself to Union College's Nott Memorial for a session with Public Enemy's Chuck D. Before hip-hop went mindless and amoral, there was Public Enemy ---and what Chuck D. (aka Carlton Ridenhour) has to say about things is worth hearing. If you don't believe me, listen to this interview from last August with Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

It's scheduled for 7:30pm and is free and open to the public.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Knight

I slipped in my hand and gently lifted his heavy pen from his pocket...So, you've been chipping away at that novel you're writing for how long now? Two years? Four years? Longer? Maybe it's time you considered genre fiction:
EAST GREENBUSH -The East Greenbush Community Library will host a free program on Saturday afternoon, February 25 at 2:00 pm conducted by some of the members of the Capital Region Romance Writers of America. They will show how romance writers compose the perfect story and share the secrets of their craft to get their novels published.
Don't laugh. This could be a way to turn your unreadable pile of slop into something you could sell. C'mon, be honest. Even if you've only leafed through romance novels searching for the sex scenes, you know what these books are all about. And your story is sure to work, because the romance trade ain't just bodice ripping anymore. It embraces all sorts of sub-genres, like westerns, time travel, mysteries ---now there's even a NASCAR romance novel, titled In The Groove. Oh, baby. Or maybe you could relate better to Vicki Lewis Thompson's nerd series, in which the geeks get the girl. Yay!

So take your lame ass book, insert some heaving bosoms, racing hearts, and a few mighty thrusting shafts, and maybe -just maybe- you can get some publisher to reach out and gently grasp your pulsing manuscript.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Also Today...

Meet Me in St. Louis
Clear Channel is moving Albany market manager Dennis Lamme to St. Louis where he'll run the media giant's six station group. The company reportedly wasn't happy with revenues in the Gateway City, booting out the ironically named Lee Clear.
Lamme will be remembered for banning coffee and other stain inducing substances from the company's sparkling new digs on Route 7.

Golden Slumbers
In a story better suited to the front page of the business section than the sports section, The TU's Pete Dougherty today rips apart NBC's Olympic rating spin machine. Dougherty, best known for his writing on bowling, doesn't take the time to get into what all this means, or what the local numbers may look like ---or even the real story, that what we're watching is the Olympic highlight show, not the Olympics. On the other hand, you've got to admit that it's fun poking jabs at NBC.

What Closes on Saturday Night

Mark May 6 for this year's Legislative Correspondents Association show. This is the 106th edition of the annual event, featuring reporters and other newsy types lampooning state politics and politicians. If you've never seen the show, it makes for a good night ---and if you can't afford the $250 main event, you might find your way into the dress rehearsal.

This leads to a question that must be asked: How much political satire can one town stand, anyway? If it's Washington, I'd say that the sky's the limit, but I'm not so sure about Albany. We used to get this sort of thing once a year, but now, thanks to Michael Carrese's Only in New York (OiNk) outfit, the yuks never stop. Carrese used to write much of the LCA show before starting his own troupe, who essentially do the Capital Steps thing, except it's more State Street than K Street. You may remember Carrese as the bearded, furrow-browed host of WMHT's New York Week in Review. And he always looked so serious.
Still can't get enough? The TU's Capitol Confidential publishes Carrese's faux news gags ---as does the Empire Page. This stuff isn't Daily Show funny, but it's mildly amusing in the way this web site is sometimes mildly amusing.

Anyway, this year's LCA show is sure to be full of gags about Governor Pataki's intestines, unless he dies or something. That would have ruined the Harry Whittington jokes, too, wouldn't it have?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Winter Break Blues

It was a real pleasure driving to work yesterday, the road free of all you folks stuck with having President's Day off. Suckas! Since most area schools are on break, it's also a big week for winter getaways...unless you work in or near the TV news business.

As you know it's February sweeps, and in most newsrooms, February means no vacation. While normal people are free to go on cruises or hit Disneyworld, anchors, reporters, producers, photographers, and others deemed essential to the ratings war are commanded to work. If you want time off it better be for something good, like a funeral ---and only if it's for a member of the immediate family. Be prepared to provide a note from your mortician.
One well known news personality says she's gotten in the habit of taking the kids out of school in March to get some sunshine time. "We've even gone so far to get lesson plans and reading assignments from teachers before we go," she said. "We never end up actually doing any work, though." That's my kind of parenting.

All I can say is thank goodness nobody gives a hoot about July sweeps.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mr. Bean

Just when you thought the Beth Geisel thing was over, her husband, Key Bank exec Tom Geisel is dragged into the headlines again. Geisel is named in a divorce filing by David Bean for canoodling with his wife Karen Bean. From what I read in today's Post, canoodling might be putting it mildly:
Karen Bean "openly, publicly, arrogantly and notoriously committed adultery" with the bank executive at her home, his home, the Four Seasons hotel in Boston, and in Saratoga Springs and New York City, according to the filing.
David Bean runs the Albany advertising and PR firm, the Bean Agency; their biggest client is the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Look out!

Phar Phrom the Phantom

Phantom phans don't mind being phar away phrom the phun.I was dragged kicking and screaming had the pleasure of attending The Phantom of the Opera Saturday night at Proctor's. My lovely companion doesn't screw around when buying tickets, so we had seats in the tenth row orchestra, which is just about right for a show that size. When I stood up and looked around during intermission though, I was once again blown away by the vastness of that place. I couldn't help but think how crummy it must be to watch a show from the back or way up in the balcony.
Unlike Broadway houses, Proctor's wasn't built for legitimate theatre. They like saying it was originally a vaudeville theatre, and yes, vaudeville played there, but Proctor's was made to show moving pictures ---back in the day when movie theatres were huge. Distance wise, you'd have to stand on the curb of 44th Street outside the Majestic Theatre to be as far away from the stage as those in Row Z at Proctor's.

Oh, you say! But these folks in the provinces? How would they ever see live theatre if not for Proctor's? I say, pshaw. Sitting half a mile away from the stage isn't very much like seeing live theatre. And from what I can tell, the provincials don't care, because the run at Proctor's appears to be selling loads of tickets.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Shelter From the Storm

This weekend's massive power outage shows again how broadcast radio remains one of the things you can count on when everything else is going to hell.

WGY has had extensive coverage of the emergency, assuring that anyone with an AM radio could keep up to date with everything going on. When the power's down or the cable's out you can't get that on TV, can you?
I'd like to tell you that both of the local news/talk stations stepped up to the plate and fulfilled their responsibility to the public this weekend, but that would be lying. For example, when WGY was broadcasting news about the storm's aftermath and information about emergency shelters, WROW was running Swap n' Shop. Good job.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

From the Notebook

Everyone Knows It's Windy
But this windy? From WTEN:
In Glenville numerous trees were torn from their roots and tossed around the region.
I Don't Know Art, But I Know What I Like
And I'm fond of both bras and birds. Fox 23 had the story:
Bras Into Birds
A local artist is collecting bras from women across the country, for a very good cause. Emily Rawsitch is making the bras into birds, to raise awareness about breast cancer and other forms of the disease. Rawsitch lost her mother to ovarian cancer last year. She says her birds symbolize rising above, and celebrating the loves of those who have been affected by cancer. Her designs will be on display at PI Naturals in Troy beginning April 7th. www.brabirds.org
Right on the Money
WROW newscaster Heidi Kelly this week referred to our ailing Governor as George Pataxi.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Tall Tales

Patrick Manning: Totally committed to family values. Except when they get in the way of his philandering.If anyone was wondering what Patrick Manning does in Albany when the Legislature's in session, now they know. Maybe they also remember when Manning announced he was running for Governor and said this about Eliot Spitzer:
We know when a man can't milk a cow and this man can't milk a cow.
Is that what they're calling Manning's recent activities these days, milking a cow? That's pretty weird. Anyway, we suggested back in September that Manning might successfully "capture the imagination of New York voters." I'd say that this week he's done that and more.
Manning has spent a lot of time positioning himself as some sort of thoughtful conservative. I guess his definition of a conservative is someone who only has an affair with one woman at a time.

A Prayer to the Patron Saint of Ticket Sales

Those folks up at Siena basketball are an altruistic bunch, aren't they? This from their web site:
The Siena athletic department is making discounted blocks of tickets available to area businesses for its final men's basketball regular-season game of the season against Niagara on Saturday, February 25 at 7 p.m. The business are encouraged to donate the tickets to area youth groups or organizations.
What they don't mention is that Siena's average attendance per game this season is 5229 ---more than 1200 seats below last year's figure. You don't need to be Stephen Hawking to figure out what that means over the course of a 12 game home season.
We don't know if attendance figures are counted by ticket sales or spins of the turnstyle, but it will be interesting to see if the school's well-heeled alumni step up to help fill the hole.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Week's Worth of Dumb Ideas
(And It's Only Thursday)

Video Email
Who doesn't love huge email attachments?
A United Parcel Service store in Colonie, N.Y., said Monday it will be the first in the area to offer video email to customers, enabling people to record up to a two-minute message that can be emailed anywhere.

More Time at School = Less School Violence
Maybe instead of longer school days we could try taking away the box cutters?
Adding an extra lunch period might be the way to crack down on violence at Albany High School. This is what the school board is proposing just a week after another fight at the school broke out where box cutters and garbage cans were the weapons of choice.

The Painted Piggies Go Round and Round
Does anything say Guilderland to you like pigs?
The Guilderland Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses and organizations to adopt pigs, but not just any pigs. These special pigs are very personable life-size fiberglass porcine statues. Once they are adopted, they will be decorated, adorned, and all jazzed up by area artists and artisans of all ages to become wonderful works of art.
Sponsorship "opportunities range from $500 to $5000.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cancelled

Tom Mailey: Leo Durocher was right.People in the business know that CBS 6 weatherman Tom Mailey's a great guy. Unfortunately, there are no people in the business on the Schenectady County Legislature.

Mailey apparently decided he's had enough of his $40,000 part-time Schenectady County special events coordinator job and is calling it quits---and on Tuesday the Legislature voted 11-1 to replace him with Wendy Glasser, who used to produce the Don Weeks show on WGY. This is undoubtedly a step up for Glasser. Currently, she is in charge of "Tourism Development" at the Schenectady Chamber, a godforsaken job if there ever was one.

Scaryvision

Back in September, we wondered how talent with ordinary looks will fare under the super fine detail of high-definition TV. Well, friends, the countdown may be on. In the other story about broadcasting in this week's Business Review (the slightly less tedious of the two stories) comes this:
(Bob)Furlong hopes that by early next year, WRGB will be able to broadcast its local news in HD, but the station has yet to purchase the cameras and equipment to produce in HD.
So that's why Bob Furlong wants to slash salaries over there: that stuff's expensive. Anyway, he'd better hope those cameras have a little something to soften the appearance of their high-mileage anchors ---like the ones on that morning show, for example. If you think it's hard to watch now, wait until you wake up and see it in HD. Somebody pass me the V-Chip. And they don't fare much better in the evening.

It may sound funny now, but wait until they wheel those things into your studio. Except CapitalNews 9, of course. The kids over there don't have anything to worry about. Yet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Grand Torino

To my ear, Torino just sounds a lot better than Turin, as the Times Union and NPR insist on calling the Olympic city. While I'm watching women's snowboarding , that will not be a bowl of Dorit's sitting in my lap, and I will not be calling it Turin.

What's the Story, Morning Glory?

This news flash from the Business Review:
After a decade of dominating the airwaves with his syndicated morning show, Howard Stern has made the jump from terrestrial radio to satellite.
Hello? Hello? McFly? Maybe I missed something, but hasn't Howard Stern been off terrestrial radio since December 16? The endless story in this week's paper, which goes into painful detail about the state of morning radio, barely mentions the one interesting thing to happen since Stern left, J.R. Gach's new AM slot on The Bone. On the upside, there are tons of fascinating quotes from local broadcast executives, like this from Regent's Bob Ausfeld:
Once we've gotten through February and March, we will see some good trends. The spring book will be the first good pure book, but we won't have that until late July."
So in other words, we won't know anything until July. You can go ahead and read the story here. Don't say you weren't warned.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Chubby Chasers

Mr. James: Down seven pounds, but still shopping in the husky aisle.It's been a couple of weeks since the TU kicked off their Diet Challenge, pitting teams of girthy guys and gals against one another in a contest of gigantic proportions.
The paper set up a blog where the contestants share their dieting experiences, and reading the entries, it's easy to understand how these people got large in the first place: they're all obsessed with food. There's hardly a single entry that doesn't talk about what they're eating, not eating, wish they were eating... Just look at this from Mr. James of the Big Boys & Girls Club:
180 more days of counting calories, 180 more days of saying NO, 180 more days of passing the buttered biscuits to the skinny person on my left, and 180 more glorious days of testing the knit, nay the very fiber of my willpower.
You don't have to be a shrink to know that when Mr. James falls off the wagon, he's going down face first into a pile of cheese fries. And Chris, of the Waite Losers, shared this about his ten pound loss:
I'm sure some of the weight loss can be attributed to my prep for today's colonoscopy.
Yech! That, as they say, is a little too much information. Anyway, after their week two weigh-in, it appears that none of the team members have gained weight since starting. That's good news, because it would be nice to see less of them in the future.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rats

Bob Furlong looks on as WRGB employees rally against his proposed wage cuts.I don't know about you, but I love the giant inflatable rat. The big rat, a regular fixture at labor events, made an appearance at CBS 6 this week as NABET 21 employees rallied outside the the station's Balltown Road headquarters. I think the rat was supposed to be WRGB GM Bob Furlong, who wants to cut the union's wages by 15% ---and judging from this picture of Furlong I'd say it's a pretty good resemblance.

The station's been taking a beating lately by big local unions, who are not an inconsiderable force in a town like this. Does Furlong care? Probably not. What's really needed is a grand gesture, like none of his talent showing up for work one day during sweeps. That might get his attention ---and what's he going to do, fire them all?

How Do You Say That in Italian?

Yesterday we talked about how live reports are time bombs waiting to explode. Well, Friday at 5:08 I was listening to NPR's Sylvia Poggioli doing a live from the Olympic opening ceremonies in Torino. After a moment of confusion on the Italy end of things, Ms. Poggioli said the words, "Oh, shit." Without comment, they moved on to the next segment.

For those of you old enough to remember, this is what's know around here as a Dick Wood Moment. Years ago, those same words ended up on WTEN after someone cued up an outtake of a news brief the former anchor had recorded. Years later we're still laughing about it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sales Guy Replaces Sales Guy As TU Head

Hearst announced today that they've replaced retiring Times Union publisher David White with Mark Aldam, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Hartford Courant (Tribune). Big media companies tend not to trust journalists at the helm on the money side, so this is no big surprise. White will stay on for a spell as chairman; he said, "In my new role, I intend to continue doing my part to make certain we fulfill the Times Union's First Amendment responsibilities."
I really must go back and re-read that First Amendment.

Live From New York, It's John Faso

Even in this age of technology, live TV is still a place where things can go horribly wrong. That's what I'm hoping -no, praying- will happen on Tuesday night when John Faso takes to the airwaves at 7:58 to announce that he's running for Governor. The former Assembly minority leader's unprecedented live event will cost $104,000 and run on TV stations across the state. Here in Albany, the announcement will immediately precede the Olympics on WNYT.
I have nothing against John Faso, but like a lot of people in this business, I enjoy seeing things go haywire. Failed prompters, mixed-up tapes, dead mikes, bad signals ---it's all hilarious. Especially when it happens to someone else. This Faso deal will require that nine TV stations do something new and get it right the first time. Good luck with that.

Mr. Faso, I don't know much, but I can guarantee that your announcement will be totally f***ed up by 40% of the stations you've bought time on. Don't worry, even if you look stupid, you'll get make-goods.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

They Eat Horses, Don't They?

I got a horse right here, his name is Paul Revere...John Sweeney got quite a bit of ink yesterday after the Ag Department did an end around his anti-horse eating legislation. Sweeney has been saying nay to equine consumption for quite some time ---and this week he wasn't happy: "Commerce and greed have ruled the day," said the congressman, who knows a thing or two about both of those topics.
Eating horse meat may sound barbaric, but just a few hours up the Northway, it's what's for dinner. Horse is regarded as very tender and low in fat, and according to the Montreal based supermarket chain Metro:
Herbs and spices complement the delicate flavour of horsemeat, especially tarragon, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chervil, parsley, mustard, ground pepper, and of course, garlic.
Mmmmmmm... Horsey. Metro also features two pages of horse recipes on their web site, including such delicious sounding dishes as Horse Meat Fajitas and Peppered Horsemeat Tournedos.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Reader Participation

Metroland: Skip the first ten pages an get directly to the good stuff.Metroland's news coverage may be tedious, but I think we can all agree that they know how to have a good time in the rest of the paper. The most sought after editions of the year have to be their Best of the Capital Region issue, the Reader's Picks edition, and of course, the one with the Sex Survey, which hits the street tomorrow. It's too late to submit your answers to the Sex Survey, but let me just say that if your answer to question 21 is "The office," you really need help. If you answered question 16 "I read Albany Eye," then you really, really need help.

The good news is that it's still not too late to fill out their 2006 Readers Picks survey. It's a good way to suport your favorite restaurants or name the area's best news anchor. Allow yourself some time, because there are a ton of questions ---and you have to answer like half of them to get your choices counted.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Overdrive

By this morning, WAMC was already $476,000 into their $700,000 Winter fund drive. The listeners are a generous and supportive bunch who love the station ---especially odd for people the TU's Mark McGuire says are being shaken down.

There's always a bit of fund drive quid pro quo in public broadcasting: You support this program and we'll be sure it stays on the air. Sounds reasonable, but this time around, a group of listeners are trying to turn the tables and compel the station to pick up the show Democracy Now.

Democracy Now is to the left what Rush Limbaugh is to the right, but without the sense of humor. The show can now be heard on WRPI and a bunch of small college and community radio stations, but nothing that matches the clout of WAMC's huge coverage area. That's why a Hudson Valley group called Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media has organized a campaign to get Democracy Now on the station. They're urging supporters to voice their request for the show when they make a pledge ---or to call and say they will withhold some or all of their money until Democracy Now gets on WAMC.

Listening to Alan Chartock, it doesn't sound like this tactic will get them anywhere. While reading pledges on-air, he's turned down money that's given conditionally, even tearing up one or two of the pledge forms on the air. And judging by how fast the fund drive is moving, the Democracy Now folks might best set their sights on Spring.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dishing It Out

Don't be tricked by this come on. Satellite TV is clearly the devil's tool.I don't have satellite TV and I'm not even sure I know anyone who has satellite TV, but thanks to Time Warner, I hate satellite TV.
The media giant's relentless campaign against "the dish," is everywhere. The spots seem to run in every local break on the cable system and all over local TV. And they're very effective. I will not only never get satellite TV, I'd like to drive around the neighborhood and find the evil little devices. And when I spot one? I'll climb up on the roof and tear the damn thing down.
Considering the vast resources Time Warner is utilizing, you can only assume that satellite TV is a dangerous scourge that must be stopped now. Viva, digital cable! Death to the dish.

Splash

This for tomorrow from Mark Bardack at Ed Lewi:
Members of the Working Press are invited to experience the first hotel with an indoor waterpark in New York State. Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark to open with a splash! (Bathing suits recommended for members of working media)
Bathing suits aren't recommended for everyone at the water park? Oh, and if you're expecting some sort of list here about who we'd like to see covering this (Dori Marlin), I'd just like to say that I'm really disappointed (Rebecca Hall). We're not here to provide you with little a chuckle by being sexists (Danielle Strauss). Or by making nasty little jokes about people who we (John McLoughlin, Bill Lambdin, Ken Screven) don't wish to see in bathing suits. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The End of the Week As We Know It

Jonesing for Signatures
Paul Vandenburgh finally got himself to Schenectady this week to help rally the voters against Brian Stratton's pay raise. His WROW remote was set up at GT Lanes, a bowling alley owned by Guyanese immigrant Bhisham Nandalall. After interviewing Bhisham about coming here from Guyana, Vandenburgh made repeated references to people in Schenectady who have been "drinking the Kool Aid".
By the way, if you're in The Electric City, GT Lanes features West Indian take out.

Biosphere
A well known local TV news personality pointed out this intriguing line in Greg Floyd's newly published bio on the WRGB web site:
Greg Floyd has spent the past 28 years in the news business, loving almost every minute of it.
We're guessing the almost part was that meeting in Jeff Whitson's office: "Greg, the good news is that we've hired John Gray..."

Getting Cross
America's hardcore Christians are angry at NBC again. Last month they were apoplectic over the network's ill fated mid-winter replacement, Book of Daniel. Now it's Will & Grace that's the focus of their wrath. Somebody passed me this actual viewer complaint that was emailed to WNYT:
Our family urges you NOT to air the Will & Grace show on April 13. 2006 that mocks Christianity and the crusifiction. We find this extremely offensive and bias. Thank you for your consideration. We would appreciate your response.
What's so offensive about the proposed episode guest starring Britney Spears? From CNN:
Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."
Cruci-fixin's! You'd think that people who let their kids eat chocolate crosses on Easter would find that humorous. NBC has since nixed the idea.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Go To the Mattresses

In a Times Union story loaded with Mafia and shakedown references, Mark McGuire lashed out at WAMC's Alan Chartock this morning. The public radio station has for several weeks been running a pre-fund drive in advance of the real fund drive, which begins on Monday. That's the same day that the Senate wiretap hearings begin ---so the idea was to lighten the fundraising load and allow the hearings to get on the air.

This seems like a good thing, but McGuire has likened it to extortion. I'm not sure the listeners agree; so far they've kicked in over $270,000.

By the way, on the matter of rhetoric: What allusions would Mark McGuire dredge up if Chartock were Italian? Discuss among yourselves.

SUNY Cuts

See this? This is my BOOMSTICK!This release showed up yesterday from UAlbany:
What: UAlbany President Kermit L. Hall will take a chainsaw to the old University at Albany sign on the Downtown Campus, clearing the way for the University's initiative to install new signage campus-wide.
When: Friday, February 3, 2006; 9:30 a.m.
Where: Lawn of Draper Hall, UAlbany Downtown Campus, 135 Western Avenue, Albany.
How happy was Kermit Hall to get the hell out of Utah? After he cuts down the sign, he's heading over to WT's to get an early start on Friday ---and then down to City Hall to saw Jerry Jennings' desk in half. I've got your your town and gown right here, Mr. Suntan...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Upstate Means Excitement

We've been writing about blogs this week, so naturally we need to mention the area's most thoughtful and serious such web site: UpstateBlog.net. The site is published daily by The Public Policy Institute of New York State, and describes itself as a "forum for news, ideas, and comment on the economy of upstate New York." It's clear that while their focus is... very... much...ummm...errfff...
uhhhhh...zzzzz...zzzzzz...(snorf!)...zzzzz...zzzz...zzzzzzzzzz....
zzzzzz...zzzzzzzz...zzzz...zzzzzzz...zzzzzzzz...zzz...zzzzzzzz...

Opening the Book

Can you believe that this is the first day of February sweeps? I'm really hoping we get some ridiculous stories this month, because to me, that's what sweeps is supposed to be all about. There have been some big changes around here, like WTEN getting a new news director and WRGB discovering that it's important to get the news right, so we'll see if anyone delivers.

Meanwhile, don't you think it's a bit weird that WRGB hasn't bothered to include Greg Floyd on their web site? Floyd's been there since December, but he still isn't featured on the station's Meet the Staff page. West Palm's WPEC wasted no time in getting a nice picture and bio of Lindsay Cohen posted. Likewise, Fox 23 made sure that viewers could check out Rebecca Hall two hours after she bolted from WNYT. So why no Greg Floyd?

Maybe it doesn't mean anything, but what does it tell you when the station's marquee anchor isn't even listed among the staff? After two months? Who's running that web site, Liz Bishop?

EDITOR'S NOTE: It appears that CBS 6 actually changed their web site since 4:30am and disabled the old bio page.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tons of Fun

These well-rounded folks should give up right now. They don't have a chance.That's a shot of the Big Boys and Girls Club, one of the three teams the Times Union has facing off in their battle of the titans of weight loss. I think it's swell that the TU is trying to help people slim down with its own version of The Biggest Loser, but isn't it a little cruel to put the word "Enlarge" under their picture? I thought the idea was to help them get smaller, but whatever.
I'm putting my money on the Waite family, whose team, The Waite Losers, look like they can exercise some self control. The other teams? They totally look like life members of the clean plate club. You can bet your bursting buttons that we'll be keeping a close watch on all this.

Up the River

When I get to the section for Best Blog in my Metroland Readers' Poll ballot, I may cast a vote for Upstream: A Mohawk Valley Perspective. The proprietor, Dan Weaver, maintains an interesting and eclectic site where you never know what you're going to find. For example, yesterday there was a review of the 1974 Peter Fonda classic Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry right next to Weaver's fine op-ed piece from the Sunday Gazette. Now that's unusual.

Among my favorite recent posts is one that reprints a famous passage about Charles Steinmetz from John Dos Passos' novel The 42nd Parallel. Another excellent piece you should read is titled Today I Spread Manure. It'll make sense when you get there.
Speaking of manure, you may have noticed that there's no shortage of crap on the internet. Upstream is anything but.