Friday, June 30, 2006

Owning It

A couple of you took issue with me saying that the TU "owns the Porco trial" coverage. Allow me to clarify that: they own the whole story. I think the depth of their involvement is pretty clear after reading the Brendan Lyons piece in today's paper.

As the prosecution brought jurors back to the day the Porcos were attacked in their Delmar home, it came out again how Chris Porco wasn't first reached by the police or by family members, he was contacted by Times Union reporter Simone Sebastian at his dorm room in Rochester. Fate? Dumb luck? Maybe there was a little of that at play, but it was smart and tenacious reporting that prompted that phone call.

It's pretty much been like that from the start. Some of it hard work and some of it stuff that just falls into your lap. Either way, on this story, the paper leads and everyone else follows.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

It Begins

Let's face it: the Times Union pretty much owns the Porco trial. Deprived of their most effective storytelling tool, video from inside the courtroom, TV reporters tried in vain to characterize the drama and intensity of yesterday's opening arguments. I'm not saying that it can't be done on TV, but it takes time ---and the tightly formatted evening newscasts don't yield that luxury to anyone. Those craving details about what goes on at the trial is best off waiting for the morning paper.

So, what's it like being down there with the Albany media at Camp Goshen? You can get a little taste of that at the blog NewsChannel 13's Jim Kambrich has been writing from the trial this week. The interesting tidbits include close encounters with the defendant:
Our live truck engineer revealed to us that Porco had taken a seat next to him at breakfast. An unnerving experience.
It must have been disturbing; most crews are completely oblivious to their surroundings when there's food on the table.

The funniest thing I've heard so far was Fox 23's Jill Montag explaining Terry Kindlon's revenge theory from the opening arguments. She said that Kindlon suggested someone might have had "an ax to grind" with Peter Porco. I'm pretty sure those were her words, not his.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rockets Red Glare

Fireworks on TV is like tap dancing on the radio; something important is missing. Nevertheless, Time Warner Cable is once again showing the July 4th fireworks live from the Empire State Plaza. Don't compare this to the video Yule log. The Yule log at least has some kitsch value, but fireworks on TV? That's just completely lame. At most, this could provide a handy threat for misbehaving children: Quit fooling around or I'll make you watch the fireworks on TV instead of going down to the Plaza. That's what I call punishment.

Speaking of fireworks, in my book, Independence Day is not complete without some amateur pyrotechnics. Unless you know a guy who knows a guy, this means taking a little trip to New Hampshire. Just get on Route 7 and start driving until you hit Brattleboro. Cross the river and you're in the land of Live Free Or Die ---or in this case, Where Fireworks Are Legal. Head south to Hinsdale and you'll find Atlas Fireworks or Phantom Fireworks, purveyors of fine explosive devices. Remember: fireworks are illegal in New York, so don't bring any back with you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pags Page

Joe Pagliarulo with Special Olympian Mark Mays.Can't wait for Joe Pagliarulo's new talk show on WGY? Neither can we. Those cruel teasers at WGY are holding us at bay until July 20, when we'll be getting a daily dose of the former CBS 6 anchor every night between 6 and 7pm. Until then, you Pag-fanatics can visits his new website, where you'll find all sorts of excellent stuff, like that picture of Pags with Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays. He's the one on the right with the Billy Bob teeth.

Anywho, it's great to have all this cool Pags stuff online, even if the web site looks like it was designed by a 13 year-old.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Little Ray of Sunshine

Watch my new show or I send in the pitbull.Did you know that Rachael Ray's new syndicated show is coming to WNYT? If you've turned on the station any time in the last couple of weeks you're already aware of this BECAUSE THEY RUN THE STUPID PROMOS EVERY FIVE MINUTES.
That's actually OK with me, because as you long-time readers know, I love Rachael Ray. She seems like the sort who'd show up at your party with a big bottle of tequila and a bag of lemons -and Kosher salt, because that's what all the serious foodies use. I suppose there would be some extra virgin olive oil because you never know. She can leave the dog at home, though. That's Isaboo, who is described on her web site as, "The most adorable pitbull in the world." People don't realize it, but pitbulls are actually very adorable dogs ---until one takes an interest in the mailman or the kids next door.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Details, Details

Names are slippery things, especially when you're in a hurry. This was up on the CapitalNews 9 web site yesterday after a fatal accident on the Thruway:
State police said Tim Cavanaugh was travelling southbound on the Thruway when he lost control of the vehicle and went through the median. His car hit a flatbed tractor trailer on the other side of the Thruway.
It seems that the eager beavers at CN9 mixed up the name of Albany County Coroner Tim Cavanaugh with that of accident victim Steven Rossi. They later fixed it. I hope somebody checked first to make sure Rossi wasn't the fire chief or one of the troopers on the scene.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Busted

Mark McGuire today reveals that WTEN may have attempted to cover-up the June 14 DWI arrest of reporter Kristy Mazurek. His story in today's TU contains this transcript from WTEN's Tuesday newscast:
Early last Wednesday morning, reporter Kristy Mazurek was arrested and charged with DWI following a traffic stop in Watervliet. We were not able to report the story until we could obtain the police report, which was made available to us late this afternoon.
Watervliet police tell McGuire that the station was on the phone with them the same day; their on-air reports came only after getting calls from the newspaper.

You're Livin' Small and Playin' to Lose

Saratoga Gaming and Raceway seems to have backed off its weird "Lady in Red" TV and billboard campaign. The TV spots showed a slinky brunette in a red dress sashaying around the racino, a gambling goddess promising a night of gaming ecstasy. It all looked very glamorous; you half expected to see James Bond at the baccarat table. But there are no baccarat tables -for that matter there are no card games at all- just the noisy, money sucking video slot machines.

The come hither model has now been replaced with more normal looking people as the gambling hall continues trying to shed its seedy harness track pedigree. One visit to the place is all it takes to ruin the magic. You want truth in advertising? Replace the girl in the red dress with my mother in a purple velour sweatsuit.

Remember: If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call for 24-hour assistance at: 1-800-437-1611. My problem is I keep losing.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Provocative My Butt"

That's what Senator Joe Bruno said after Fred Dicker suggested yesterday that WROW's Paul Vandenburgh show presented provocative arguments about big government spending. Describing the show's content as "stupid and unproductive," and as "idiocy," Bruno went on to wonder:
Who on earth would waste their time listening to that nonsense?
And don't forget: next Friday is Joe Bruno bobblehead night at the Valley Cats game.

What We're Reading

As if you're interested in what I'm reading online, here are a few things I've been reading online.

The Times Union's grand experiment at granting blogs to the common folk has had mixed results. Just look at Mr. Pete' Blog. I say if you haven't posted since May 8, you lose your blog, dude. On the other hand there's Liz Funk, the 17 year-old feminist who writes The View From Here. I feel a little like a creepy My Space lurker reading something written by a teenage girl, but she's a lot sharper than a lot of people her age, and unlike Mr. Pete, she's familiar with the proper use of "quotation marks."

In the realm of news and current events, we have I-Saratoga. This Spa-centric blog covers a little bit of everything on the local scene ---in some regards it's a little like mine, except written by somebody smart and insightful.

Finally, from lovely Greenville, NY come Shamus O' Drunkahan Has Issues. I love this blog just for the name, but Mr. O'Drunkahan is a very funny guy, as demonstrated in this post about coaching little league. The so-called blogosphere could benefit from more folks like Shamus and less people who take themselves too seriously. I guess that goes for the whole world, not just the internet.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

McLeaving

We hear that WTEN anchor Terry McSweeney is outa here ---and that he'll be packing up and making for the San Francisco Bay Area this summer. McSweeney came to WTEN from Phoenix in 2000. His bio reads:
"We moved to the Capital Region to be closer to my wife's family. Some people think we're crazy to have moved here from the Valley of the Sun, but I haven't had any problem adjusting to the colder climate."
In-laws and lousy winters. Six years of that is enough for anybody.

Police Blotter

Another local newscaster is facing DWI charges. According to Mark McGuire, Watervliet police nabbed WTEN's Kristy Mazurek on June 14 after they spotted her allegedly crossing the double yellows. This is her second drunk driving arrest since 2004.

I'm not defending drinking and driving here, but before you slam Ms. Mazurek, consider how many times it could have been you standing on the roadside blowing into the tube.

Nicked

From today's Post Star, the final chapter in the Nick Caimano/WAMC underwriting brouhaha:
Warren County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind a $9,800 underwriting contract with WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. Controversy surrounded the contract after WAMC staff members took issue with Budget Officer Nicholas Caimano for mistakenly characterizing the deal to the Board of Supervisors as "embedded advertising."
It's too bad the station has to lose that $9800; it takes them something like twenty minutes to raise that much during a fund drive.

Going for Baroque

Lots of ink this week for WMHT's classical music efforts. A big spread in Metroland talks about how the public broadcaster's making a go of it at a time when many stations are switching to news and talk. How nice. Meanwhile, The Gazette reported that four classical music announcers laid off in 2003 have hit the station with an age discrimination lawsuit. Papers filed in State Supreme Court claim that the hosts, whose ages range between 54 and 59 years-old, were canned so WMHT could hire, "New on-air announcers that would appeal to to a younger audience."

Maybe it's just me, but that certainly sounds like what they did. First they fired the WMHT on-air staff, claiming financial hardship. Then they went out and bought WBKK for $1.5 million. Finally, in March they cranked up WBKK with their new classical light format, manned by folks who don't have any knowledge or experience with long hair music. It wasn't quite spelled out this way in Metroland, but you wouldn't want to ruin a nice story, would you?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now 2

Former Assemblyman Bob Prentiss isn't the only local celebrity pimping spreading the good word about hearing aids. Former CBS 6 anchor Ernie Tetrault has been the spokesperson for The Hearing Aid Office for quite some time, appearing in TV spots, on billboards, and in ads like this one:

Damn IFB made me half deaf.

The latest thing in hearing aids is noise canceling technology. Maybe Ernie can hook up Greg Floyd with something to cancel out the sound of Liz Bishop's voice.

EDITOR'S NOTE: By the way, Tetrault will be inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame at their annual meeting next week.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Surprise!

No surprise that WB45 has been sold ---but the surprise part is who bought them: Freedom Broadcasting, the company that owns WRGB, announced today that they've acquired WCWN for $17 million.

CBS 6 and Freedom will be able to operate the station -as well as it's digital channels- out of their existing facilities on Balltown Road. That's a pretty big handful of TV stations, isn't it? Very interesting...

The Hate Index

WROW morning host Paul Vandenburgh, speaking about a Times Union story on John Sweeney, said this morning:
They hate him as much as they hate me over there.
Vandenburgh is once again underestimating his influence in the Capital Region; I'm sure they hate him much more than John Sweeney.

Your Goose is Cooked

A lot of you were disgusted by the horse meat recipes I served up a few weeks back. It was just after Kentucky Derby Winner Barbaro's mishap during the Preakness, and as a tribute to the ailing equine, I renamed a few dishes I found at the website of Montreal Supermarket Metro. If I remember correctly, there was Steak Barbaro, Barbaro Fajitas...you get the idea. Anyway, I was curious if people feel as strongly about eating geese as they do about eating horses.

As you may know, the mayor of Scotia wants to kill the wild geese that have been living in Collins Park and give the meat to food pantries. The TU talked to a chef last week about the culinary merit of the Canada goose. He was not encouraging, but a quick sail around the internet revealed many delicious sounding recipes for the foul fowl, particularly at Backwoods Bound.com. If you're itching to try the Goose Poppers or Goose Casserole, first you're going to need a goose ---and before you do that, you may want to read up on the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918. These dishes sound delicious, but may not be worth going to jail over.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Prentiss: Not stupid, just deaf.The 109th Assembly District hasn't been the same without Bob Prentiss. I'm happy to report that Prentiss is back on the scene ---this time as spokesman for Advanced Hearing Aid Centers. An ad that appeared recently in The Spotlight reads:
Hi, Folks! You may know me as Bob Prentiss, former New York State Assemblyman. during my last campaign, many of you said that I wasn't listening to you. The truth is: I just never heard you! Now when people speak, I hear them loud and clear. It could work for you.
You can see the whole ad here. Do you people feel good now? All those years that you were calling Bob Prentiss stupid, and he just couldn't hear you.

Tribulations

Word started brewing early this month that WB-45 might find itself up for sale. Tribune chief Dennis FitzSimons told Mediaweek that the company was looking at unloading properties in small markets like Albany and Harrisburg. Now a major shareholder is getting restless and demanding that Trib shed all its TV holdings.

The Capital Region's WB isn't much more than a sales office and a transmitter, with technical operations based at Tribune's station in Boston. In May they announced that they're changing their name. That's not all that may be changing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Orange County Chopper

Christopher Porco and Terry KindlonIt just got a lot more expensive to cover the Christopher Porco murder trial.

The change of venue is good news for Porco and attorney Terry Kindlon, but it's a disaster for area media. While Orange County isn't really that far away, it's going to be a huge hassle, especially for TV crews. Covering this properly means being there, and being there will be costly. Between overtime, satellite fees, meals, and even lodging, the Porco trial will show us which station is willing to put their money where their mouth is ---and these days, there seems to be a lot more mouth than money going around.

D-Day

Prepare yourself for heaps of Father's Day fun:
In a salute to dads and in celebration of Father's Day, dads will receive free admission to The Great Escape on Sunday, June 18, 2006, when accompanied by a child under 48" tall.
That sounds truly excellent ---provided that your kid is under 48 inches tall, right? According to the Centers for Disease Control's growth chart, kids usually reach 48" sometime between the ages of six and nine. You dads who have a tall six-year-old won't feel so proud when you're shelling out $40 for admission. And if your kid is ten or eleven? Fuggetaboutit.

But hey, aren't we missing the true spirit of Father's Day? If you were a good dad, you wouldn't mind spending the money. And if you were a great dad? You'd spend $449 for the family to stay overnight at the new Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ooops...

Was it a Phillips head or slotted head screwdriver? I demand answers.Maybe you've seen those spots for Parents for Public Charter Schools, the ones attacking Assemblyman Ron Canestrari? According to Capitol Confidential, the star of the commercial, Sinia Vargas (shown in the mug shot to the left), was convicted in 2004 for assaulting a woman with a screwdriver. She was also arrested in 2003 for heaving a rock at a pregnant woman in Albany.

This campaign talks about doing the right thing for your kids; maybe people could start by not doing stupid sh*t in front of them, like going after people with screwdrivers. No, the Albany public schools aren't perfect, but compared to some of the parents, Albany High is Harvard.

Radio Waves

Big changes coming this Summer at WGY: Al Roney is graduating to mornings 9-noon and Liz Bishop's former sidekick, Joe Pagliarulo, takes Roney's 6-7pm slot.

Oh, yeah...and Andrew Wilkow is leaving. He's the guy on after Don Weeks.

Nick Knack

It sounds like Nick Caimano misunderstood his underwriting deal with WAMC. Last week, the former Post-Star exec turned John Sweeney primary opponent turned Sweeney district director turned Warren County Budget Officer talked to the paper about his "embedded advertising" deal with WAMC. The way Caimano described it, the county wasn't just buying underwriting messages, but would become a regular topic on The RoundTable show. When we ran a piece on this Monday, all hell broke loose. From the Post-Star's follow-up yesterday:
Susan Arbetter, co-host of The RoundTable show, explained Monday that underwriters have no influence over the show's content. "WAMC and the RoundTable never do quid pro quo," she said. "We certainly sell underwriting but there is a firewall between the underwriting department and editorial at WAMC. It's as sacred at WAMC as it is at any newspaper." Caimano said Monday his lack of understanding led him to inaccurately characterize WAMC's underwriting process to the county Board of Supervisors.
And here comes the good part:
Though Caimano said he was wrong to depict the underwriting the way he did, he felt the station was being "much too sensitive" about his flub.
Okey dokey, Nickarino.

Metroland Ad

In case you missed it, this ad was running in the back of Metroland. After wondering aloud about their committment to the news thing a few weeks ago, we heard they were short staffed. Does the Walter Winchell hat come with this gig?

Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

This Summer's hot ticket? It might just be the tiny Classic Theatre Guild's staging of episodes of The Brady Bunch. The material will be played for fun, like it was in the campy, early '90s Off-Broadway show The Real Live Brady Bunch. Co-director Debbie Conti, who refers to herself as the Groovy Brady Lady, is in the middle of finding the right cast to bring the show to life this August on the stage of the Voorheesville Elementary School. If you think you might make the perfect Marcia, or bring to life the enigmatic housekeeper, Alice, there's an audition tonight at 7pm at the Wyman Osterhout Community Center in New Salem.

The Route to Weight Loss

Lori Van Buren/Times UnionFormer Schenectady Mayor Al Jurczynski still delivers for the people. Still delivers the paper, that is. According to a Times Union story, Jurczynski's been helping out on his son's Gazette route as a way to shed the 80 pounds he gained while mayor. I believe there's an obscure clause in the city charter that allows hizzoner to eat free at Schenectady restaurants.

Jurczynski currently makes $129,000 a year as Assistant Secretary of State. If you think the Secretary of State does nothing, just imagine what the Assistant Secretary of State does. I think it's his job to look over the barber licenses before they get signed.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Value Added

UPDATED: Earlier today we published the item below, based on a story that appeared in the Glens Falls Post-Star on Wednesday 6/7/06. According to sources at WAMC, the story wasn't just a little wrong, it was completely wrong. The station says that they don't make deals like that ---and don't know who brewed up the idea.

It's getting hard these days to tell where the ads end and the content starts. This from the Post-Star last week:
Warren County supervisors agreed Wednesday to spend $9,800 in occupancy tax funds for a year's worth of advertising on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. The money buys 52 weeks of "embedded" advertising during WAMC's morning program, "The RoundTable." In addition to small announcements, discussion of the county and region is integrated into the commentary on the RoundTable show, explained county Budget Officer Nicholas Caimano.
It sounds like this means that the county will get to place guests on the show where they'll promote events and other Warren County tourism initiatives. I don't have a problem with people interviewing a sponsor now and then, but if you interview them because they're a sponsor, that's when things get a tad sticky ---especially if you don't make it clear to listeners about why they were invited. Granted, RoundTable is closer to the Today Show than Newshour with Jim Lehrer, but once guests become part of the show because they've paid up, you start wondering who's newsworthy and who's a client.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Building Better Bars

Albany's Downtown Bar Improvement District (BID) is throwing itself a party next week for doing such a great job. Says BID director Pam Tobin:
Downtown Albany has seen amazing growth and investment over the last 10 years. New buildings, new businesses, new restaurants, new hotels, new events, new sidewalks, new streets, new nightspots, new performance venues.
Hey, new streets. Maybe I should get on the BID website for a map, because I must have missed driving those these new streets. The big shindig is Wednesday, June 14 at the Crowne Plaza and features an appearance by Michael Carrese's OiNk comedy troupe. Among the oinksters is Terry Rabine, the area actor who portrayed Henry Hudson in BID's TV spots.

If you simply can't contain your downtown pride, visit their online store to buy some Bar Improvement District merchandise. The water bottle looks a little...uhhhh...welllllllll...it looks like a giant sex toy, OK.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Counting by Tens

This from Capital News 9:Wow...Decades-old? When will we learn the importance of preserving our decades-old buildings?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bobble Bill

You've probably heard that the Valley Cats will give away Joe Bruno bobbleheads at their June 30th home game at The Joe. If you ask me, 30 years in the State Senate will turn anyone into a bobblehead ---but the truth is that even you can be made to bobble for a price. At the Bobble Factory it costs $250 for the design and set-up of a bobble figure, and then they're priced per piece. For example, you can get a thousand for $4 each. This gives you some idea of what this is costing the event's sponsor, WellCare Health Plans, who are paying to give away 1500 of these things.

Some minor league ball teams have been holding faith nights featuring giveaways with bobbles of biblical figures. This all makes sense to me; in Rensselaer County it's Joe Bruno you pray to when you want something good to happen.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Judy, Judy, Judy

That's a pretty hot picture, wouldn't you say?Is gone, gone, gone. The rumors swirling around about Judy Sanders departure from WRGB have turned out to be true. Mark McGuire reports in today's TU that she'll be leaving CBS 6 on Friday.

You didn't have to see her out in the field to get the idea that Judy Sanders would have climbed over you to get at a story. This didn't exactly make her the favorite of other reporters, but it really paid off for the viewers. If there's anything GM Bob Furlong could have done to keep her reporting at WRGB, he should have done it. But hey, this is 2006, and in today's TV "business model" nobody is indispensable.

The Loser Channel

Like peeling back the layers of an onion, the more you poke around Time Warner digital cable, the more you find. My most recent discovery was Love on Demand, the video personals that can be found on channel 1009. It's hard to imagine anyone responding one of these things, but they're so funny, once you start watching it's hard to stop. One guy, Jason, couldn't even wait for an actual date to start lying:
I have two kids...uh, no...I have a niece and a nephew that are like kids to me.
Right. Then there's Kim, who offers that she's, "Crazy, but not bad crazy," and that she doesn't care about a man's "weight or looks." Sounds like she's looking for someone who works in radio.

The best thing about listening to these people talk about themselves is you can turn them off ---unlike a real date, where the only way to escape is to sneak out the back door.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Smell of the Crowd

Nepotism is the word of the day at the New York State Theatre Institute. The New York Times ran a story today (also here) about how the Troy-based taxpayer funded theatre may be an example of the lack of oversight of state authorities. Times reporter Danny Hakim writes:
Longtime executive director, Patricia Snyder, has given work and perks to many of her family members. While the theater world has a long tradition of family troupes, giving work to relatives raises eyebrows at government entities.
No article about state authorities would be complete without a quote from NYPIRG's Blair Horner, and the Times doesn't disappoint: "It certainly seems like it cries out for a close examination."

Tipping Permitted

Where do you go when you have something juicy to leak? Certainly not one of the local TV news outlets. This was painfully clear last week when someone tipped the TU to the possible existence of DNA evidence that would place Christopher Porco the Capital Region on the night of his father's murder. As if that wasn't enough, then Joan Porco sends another letter to the paper declaring her son's innocence. Talk about owning the story.

It's not easy for the TV people. Part of the problem is that they're rarely working a beat in the same way as print folks. Says one area TV reporter:
If I were down at the courthouse all week, maybe they would call me. We're only there when something big's happening, and then it's like a circus, with a gang of reporters, photographers...You can call every day, but it's not the same as seeing them around all the time.
Such is life in scannerland, chasing down the big stories with a microphone in one hand and this morning's paper in the other.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Here's the Deal

The deal is we've been taking a little vacation. Albany Eye will sober up and be back full time on Monday, June 5. I shit you not.