Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Priceless

Writers. They're overworked and underpaid --- unless they're John Grisham, or something like that.

For example, take the case of David Waage of Bolton Landing. Waage won an online contest MasterCard sponsored by writing the copy for a commercial in their Priceless campaign. It worked like this: entrants were to compose the voice over for a spot created by Stephen Gaghan, the writer/director who brought us the George Clooney film, Syriana. Waage's simple and elegant treatment charmed the judges so much that they awarded him the $1600 grand prize. OK, $1600 is nothing to sneeze at, but I'm sure that director Gaghan took home a hell of a lot more than $1600. And on the topic of writing, $1600 is a lot more than Gaghan deserved for writing the script for The Alamo, but that's another story. From the Post Star:
The win has given Waage a shot of confidence, renewing his enthusiasm for writing, which he once used at his school's paper. He'll try to send out some columns or articles, maybe find a new job, he said. "Who the heck knows?" he said.
Maybe he can apply to write a blog for the Times Union. In his own words, who the heck knows?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Get on the Bus, Gus

This photo by James Goolsby was stolen from the Times Union websiteDid I speak too soon when I called the Chamber's cab driver scheme the stupidest idea of the year? The Capital District Transportation Authority is struggling to seize the prize from the Chamber with its plan to paint the buses blue. From the Times Union:
It's part of a larger strategy called "branding," which the authority hopes will project a more distinctive, contemporary image for the 36-year-old regional transit system. Ultimately, CDTA officials hope branding will help boost ridership and make the system easier for newcomers to master.
Yeah. I think I'll leave the car at home tomorrow so I an ride on that blue bus.

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Getting Schooled

A couple of weeks ago, we pointed out the Doane Stuart School ads showing kids with sweatshirts from top universities. The message is absolutely clear: send your kids here, and they'll get into the best schools. Fine. It's interesting to compare that approach to this ad from LaSalle Institute:

The headline offers you to Be Part of The Tradition of Excellence. Those are powerful words, tradition and excellence ---and when combined with the idea of being part of something bigger than yourself, it's is a potent message. Yeah, I'd like to put a Princeton sticker in the back window of my car, but I might be happier with a kid who believes in something more than getting into a prestige school.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Give Me a Hand

What are people talking about? That's a question you'll frequently hear in newsroom meetings ---and it seems everybody this morning is joking talking about the sticky situation over at Macy's men's room at Colonie Center. From the Times Union:
Town police have arrested seven men on charges of public lewdness in the Macy's men's room at Colonie Center. Undercover officers followed the men inside and arrested them after they were seen masturbating, police said.
Yuck! CapitalNews 9 has had a firm hold on this story since it suddenly erupted yesterday afternoon. They asked Colonie Police Detective Lt. John Vanalstyne what drew men to that location:
"That's part of the investigation, but obviously they knew to go there. They were there for this reason. I don't know if it's out on the internet or something, but we're checking into however the means they knew how to go to this men's room on the second floor."
Ah yes, the internet. It's nothing but trouble.

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Scam Alert!

The only thing babies love more than breast milk is Halloween candy.Check out this press release:

In an effort to promote a safe and healthy Halloween for children, Drs. Decker, Sbuttoni, Boghosian, DiCerbo and Lawless will buy back the candy from trick-or-treaters 16 years and younger the day after Halloween. We will pay children $1.00 for each pound of Halloween candy that they bring to our office.

A buck a pound? Give me a freakin' break. At an area supermarket, popular Halloween candy such as Kit-Kat bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Snickers, are priced at between $3.57 and $4.28 per pound. And consider this: a "fun size" Snickers, weighs about .6 ounce, so by that example, you'd have to hit more than 26 houses to score a pound of candy. Let's say your little tyke wants to earn $20 bucks to go to the movies or something. That's well over 500 houses!

Decker, Sbuttoni, Boghosian, DiCerbo and Lawless operate three of the busiest orthodontic offices in the Capital Region. These finely tuned dental factories are to braces what Henry Ford was to automobiles, squeezing out lovely smiles as they pump cash out of parental bank accounts. I think they can afford it, so kids, you should hold out for at least $3.00 a pound.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Don't Know Much About History

Nothing is over until we decide it is!One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is this John Belushi line from Animal House:
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
That's the first thing I thought of this morning when WROW's Paul Vandenburgh promised to talk about something he read in the TU. From the story:
An aging Carl Beninati fulfilled an old promise to himself by moving the remains of his long lost sibling, Marine Corps paratrooper Anthony Beninati, to the national cemetery from St. Paul's Cemetery in Mechanicville.
Vandenburgh explained that Beninati was killed during the war in 1948. 1948? Was he killed during the Arab-Israeli War? This is just another example of why Vandenburgh has the "number one morning news-talk show."

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Life With Mikey

I switched on WROW's Paul Vandenburgh this morning and he was going on about Mike Fox. Mike Fox this, and Mike Fox that, and then Mike Fox said such-and-such. It took me a couple of minutes, but then I understood that he was talking about Michael J. Fox, who is appearing in political ads this election season supporting Democrats who back stem cell research. I've never heard anyone refer to him as Mike, but maybe Vandenburgh is a friend of Fox's or something.

Right after the Mike-fest came this stunning statement:
You're listening to the number one rated morning news/talk program in the Capital District.
Vandenburgh repeated this about a hundred times in the next hour ---also pointing out that his is the number one AM morning show. Who can blame him? Beating WGY is a big deal, even if people are listening because the show is a train wreck, so bad that it makes irresistible listening.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In the Dark

Carol DeMare's look back at the massive Northeast blackout of 1965 contains some excellent media anecdotes. Former WTEN reporter Bob Lawson, then working in local radio, recalls how he fed -by telephone- network news coverage to WTRY, the only area radio station that managed to stay on the air. And at the paper?
The Times Union devoted all seven stories on its front page to the blackout, with reporters and editors pecking away on typewriters in candlelight.
For you youngsters, a typewriter is a mechanical, device with a set of "keys" that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a document, usually paper.

October Surprise

A day after John Spencer's crazy talk about Hillary, we get this from CapitalNews 9:

In the words of Austin Powers, you must admit, she is rather mannish.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Flash: Northway Expected Slow This Morning!

Fox 23's new morning newscast is putting huge emphasis on traffic reporting ----Oh! I'm sorry, I meant traffic forecasting, as explained in this ad:

Isn't forecasting Capital Region traffic a little like forecasting the weather in San Diego? Just as it's going to be sunny and warm every day there, the Northway is going to slow down during rush hour. Every day. I promise. If you need a forecast to tell you that, you really need to pay a little closer attention. And regarding accidents, you can't exactly forecast those; that would make you a fortune teller.

At 5am this morning, traffic forecaster Kaitlyn Barto explained, "When the green arrows are in motion, traffic is traveling at the speed limit." Now that's some news: people driving at the speed limit. They must be tracking that with their four Doppler radars.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Asleep at the Wheel

We at Albany Eye, while great advocates of drinking, are steadfastly opposed to operating motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. That is why we were so pleased to learn that Daily News writer Joe Mahoney was reportedly sleeping in his car when police arrested him early Thursday on DWI charges. Had he been driving while allegedly drunk, we might be inclined to suggest that he'd done something wrong. From the Times Union:
Mahoney, 52, of Manning Boulevard, had fallen asleep at the wheel in the middle of the lane, the Mazda SUV still in drive, according to police. An officer found him at 4:32 a.m.
The NY Post, under the headline SNOOZING NEWSIE IN DRUG BUST cites a broadcast report that police also found a small quantity of marijuana in the car. Sure, count on the Post to focus on the negative side of the story.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Odds n' Sods

Funeral For a Friend
I'm a little worried about Mark McGuire. The TU media writer posted this in his Point of Viewing blog:
Need some help here
What songs would you like played at your wake or funeral (in the far, far future)? Looking for suggestions.
E-mail me at mmcguire@timesunion.com. Leave a contact number.
Is he writing a story or planning his own funeral? There may be a lot of Met fans who feel like killing themselves tomorrow, but either way, send him an email, won't you?

F-Bombs Away
I am shocked...SHOCKED...to hear that foul language being used in TV newsrooms. Boston ABC affiliate WCVB has banned newsroom cursing after this incident:
The station broke in to carry a live press conference on University of Vermont student Michelle Gardner-Quinn, whose body had been found 15 miles from campus. After the press conference, the station replayed an edited portion of it during its 5 p.m. newscast. During that segment, as the Burlington, Vt., police chief spoke, a WCVB producer could be heard shouting the "F" word in the background.
Creepy
The VERY DAY reports of the UAlbany rape case emerged, this appeared in the New York Times:
"The Duke situation has had a chilling effect," said Lee McElroy, the athletic director at the University at Albany, which is part of the State University of New York system. Mr. McElroy is also president of the national association of athletic directors. "There’s no question athletic administrators everywhere, maybe even corporate executives everywhere, saw the lessons learned. Athletic administrators have been quick to change."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Porco Postponed

First he's convicted of murder; now he's being jerked around by CBS.What's 48 Hours Mystery going to do about their big Porco expose? The CBS show had planned to air the Porco edition on October 28, three days after Christopher Porco's sentencing. Now that Judge Jeffrey Berry has moved the sentencing to December 12, the producers are in a pickle.

It seems unlikely that 48 Hours will allow this thing to go on the air without the final chapter being told, but we'll see. And how's the Capital Region's most famous criminal doing? Terry Kindlon told the TU: "He's OK. You know Chris. He's pretty cool."

UPDATED: Mark McGuire reports in his blog that CBS has moved the Porco airdate to November 4. He says:
A CBS spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the original air date was tentative, while Nov. 4 is firm barring, unexpected developments.
Meanwhile someone posted this email at WNYT's Porco blog:
As of now, the program on the Porco case will either air on Saturday, November 4th or Saturday, January 6th. Depending how this, and another case that we are following, develop, will determine when we choose to air the program. Please check your local listings around both of these dates to be sure.

Thank you very much,
Lauren Clark
48 Hours
CBS News
Who's right? Who the hell knows; as the lady says, check your local listings.

That's A Fact, Jack

I smell varmint poontang. And the only good varmint poontang is dead varmint poontang, I think.I couldn't read this and not think of John Sweeney:
Bill Murray created a small sensation in the Scottish town of St. Andrews, joining Scandinavian students at a late-night party and even helping to wash the dishes, a newspaper reported Sunday.
There are some differences between this and Sweeney's frat party visit, of course. For one thing, Bill Murray is really funny. And Bill Murray got where he is by being talented and hard-working. And Bill Murray is cool. John Sweeney? Well...He could probably get you into DiCarlo's without having to pay the cover charge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Brief Respite

Give it up for WAMC.Finally, something worth listening to on morning drive radio. It's intelligent, so we know it's not WROW. It's witty, so that rules out FLY-92. It's spontaneous, so it couldn't be WGY. There's no annoying music, so rule out WGNA. And it's fun, so that pretty much eliminates everyone else. What is it? It's the WAMC fund drive. This week, Alan Chartock is leading the station on a quest for $700 thousand dollars. That sounds like quite a hill to climb, but by the time they called it quits last night, on the first day of the drive, they'd already brought in more than $191,000.

What's interesting, is that the same thing that makes Howard Stern good radio makes the fund drive good radio. When you strip away the endless repetition of the phone number, what you get is smart people talking. No, there's no shortage of people talking on morning radio, but what's in short supply is the smart.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Best Education Money Can Buy

Stanford, Boston College, Dartmouth, NYU, Albany... Albany? That must be a sweatshirt for Albany College of Pharmacy in this full page ad for The Doane Stuart School, because nobody who sends their kids to Doane Stuart wants them going to UAlbany.

I love kids. It's their parents that I can't stand.
A full page in the TU's Sunday local section is no small shakes, is it? The exclusive private school is dumping loads of money into advertising as part of its "massive recruiting and fundraising campaign." They're determined to do whatever it takes to avoid a merger with Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls, two schools that are clearly inferior. After all, would you send your child to one of those places. I think not!

What's it cost to get your kid an education like that? I had a tough time finding the tuition listed on Doane Stuart's website, but as they say, if you have to ask the price...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mystery Ink

Several people sent me this picture, depicting a tattoo tribute to WNYT morning anchor Phil Bayly. It came anonymously and without any explanation, so I can't tell you if this is real ---but I can tell you that it's very, very strange.

Ed O'Brien, on the other hand, does not rock.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stupid Idea of the Year (So Far)

The Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce is turning to the best and the brightest to spread the word about Tech Valley: the drivers of Capitaland Taxi. The effort is called Take Pride in Tech Valley, and according to the Chamber press release:
Each taxi cab driver in the program will welcome guests to Tech Valley when they enter the taxi, wear a Tech Valley pin provided by the Chamber, and share facts about the region to the guests during their drive.
And how will they make sure the drivers are hawking Tech Valley? The Chamber will spy on them:
The Chamber has also designed a mystery shopper program to acknowledge drivers that provide exceptional service to mystery shoppers.
Maybe you've noticed how articulate and witty the cab drivers are at the airport; if you haven't experienced their charm firsthand, imagine Noel Coward driving a cab. I just hope that when they tell visitors they're in Tech Valley, folks don't think they got off at the wrong airport.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rosebud Radio

Students at the College of St. Rose now have their own radio station. Don't hunt for it over on the left side of the dial, where you'll find other college stations, because this one can only be heard on the internet.

Even though they're not actually broadcasting, this is a good addition to the school's already strong communication department. This won't sound like some free form mess, where student DJs get on and play their favorite songs ---St. Rose is running a tightly formatted ship with an emphasis on college and community affairs, documentary style programming, and performances. From the press release:
The programming content will support the College's overall mission and goals of supporting student engagement, helping to develop a sense of community and serving as a community forum.
This is in marked contrast to Siena College's WVCR, whose overall mission is to ape commercial radio. Siena recently hired Darrin Kibbey to run WVCR; Kibbey, like station director John Kelly, used to work for Albany Broadcasting. Many people in the media community believe that Siena alumn and Albany Broadcasting owner Jim Morrell likes to keep a tight reign on WVCR, making sure they don't step on the toes of FLY-92 or his other wonderful radio stations.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Correction

At Albany Eye, we appreciate when readers take the time to help fix our stupid mistakes ---like this morning when we spelled dysfunction wrong:
You so like to point out errors and misspellings of other...from the station that brought you Dysfunction (with a Y not an I) Junction. Or maybe you were just "dissing" Supernanny and there in lies the pun.

Jeffrey J. Whitson
V.P./General Manager
FOX23 WXXA-TV/DT
Whitson's email sig also contains this inspirational line, from which we all can learn a little something about doing our best:
"How will I exceed viewer and advertiser expectations today?"

I Don't Like Tuesdays

Dysfunction Junction
Who's ever watched Supernanny? It's a guilty pleasure to be sure ---after all, who doesn't like seeing a family more messed up than your own? Anyway, if you'd like to be humiliated on national TV, here's your chance:
The Casting team of ABC's hit reality series "SUPERNANNY" is looking for families from New York's Capital Region for the new season of the show. Casting Producers from ABC launch their fall casting tour in Albany with WTEN at an open call in Colonie Center Mall on Saturday, October 21st, from 11am to 2pm.
Thanks, but no thanks. I don't need Nanny Jo pointing out my bad parenting habits. That's what my wife is for.

Struck Pig
I got several emails about this headline:

If that had happened in Schoharie County, nobody would have blinked an eye.

Starving Artist
WTEN reports that 20 year-old Kimberly Lynch of Albany was arrested and charged with attempted burglary early Monday morning. Lynch was apprehended at Albany High, where police believe she was stealing art supplies. Art supplies? We're not usually soft on crime, but an (alleged) artist (allegedly) stealing art supplies deserves a second chance.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nott Mammorial

Behold the sweet curve of the Nott Memorial.From the folks at Union College:
On Monday afternoon, Oct. 9, a colossal pink ribbon weighing more than 50 pounds will be wrapped around the historic 16-sided Nott Memorial. The "Tie the Nott" event is being held in conjunction with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Just as lonely French trappers gazed out and saw something special in the mountains that came to be called the Grand Tetons, I suppose the dome of the Nott Memorial looks a little like a breast, right? Maybe more so if you're a shy, pimply-faced, freshman math major ---or if you've been out with John Sweeney.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pledging Your Love

When it comes to the WAMC fund drive, sex sells. In an on-air appeal for volunteers to answer calls, Alan Chartock mentions that numerous marriages have bloomed from relationships forged on the phone banks. I think he's suggesting that loin fireworks may erupt between the volunteers, but that's not strictly the case. For example, if you've never heard how RoundTable host Susan Arbetter met her husband, you really need to read this lovely story ---particularly if you're romantically minded.

Anyway, at Albany Eye, we're committed to helping you hook up, so here are some tips for meeting that special someone while volunteering at the fund drive:
  • Do not wear your Sweeney For Congress pin. Or your NRA hat.
  • Park the gas guzzling SUV a few blocks over, take your bike off the rack, and ride it to the station. Wheel it inside with you. If you're lucky, the car will be there when you return.
  • Gush over how pleased you are that the station is finally airing Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me.
  • Memorize the names of some decent books you can claim to have read. Do not include the DaVinci Code.
  • Bring some soy snacks. Practice eating them beforehand so you don't make a face or gag.
  • Do not discuss television shows.
Remember: Alan Chartock would make an exceptionally good wingman, so try to enlist his aid if you see someone interesting.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Two Years and 48 Hours

I'd really like to know where that Jeep is these days, wouldn't you?In case you haven't heard, CBS has scheduled its Porco edition of 48 Hours for Saturday, October 28. That's days after Christopher Porco's scheduled sentencing on the 25th ---and just shy of Halloween, which seems oddly appropriate for some reason.

A recent article in the Delmar Spotlight offered some interesting details about the production ----including an account of an elaborate shoot on Brockley Drive that included some taping inside the former Porco home. The producers also interviewed the convicted murderer in late August:
The only people allowed in the room with Porco were a correction officer, attorney Laurie Shanks, and the CBS TV crew. Producers would not reveal what Christopher Porco had to say during the 30-minute interview. Porco reportedly requested to be allowed to wear a suit jacket and even asked for hair gel for the interview but was denied both requests. Instead, he was interviewed in his yellow jailhouse clothes.
The Spotlight's Jim Cuozzo asked Albany County Sheriff James Campbell to describe his best known prisoner: "He mostly reads and keeps to himself," said Campbell. "He gets a lot of mail from young females from the Delmar area."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

To Catch a Creep

Caught with their pants down.Yes, President Bush's better half is in town stumping for Sweeney ---but for me, the real star today is NBC's Chris Hansen. He's here to talk about Dateline's hugely popular To Catch a Predator stories. That's where they trick a creepy guy into showing up for a meeting with a child he met online. Media watchers (and competitors) have talked the Predator stories to death; others condemn them for going way over the top:
"To Catch a Predator" is monstrously exploitative -a Television Age Roman coliseum where freakish criminals are publicly humiliated for bloodsport and ratings. Granted, these are bad men, and it's a good thing they are being stopped, hopefully, from hurting actual children. But they can be stopped -and are stopped all the time by local police stings -without parading them across our television screens for titillated and enraged audiences to gawk at between commercial breaks.
I say parade away.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brain Lag

If you think WROW's Paul Vandenburgh is a little fuzzy minded now and then, you should hear him this week. The morning talk host has been doing his show from the Vegas area, and his brain hasn't quite caught up with the three hour time difference his mouth is experiencing. Take this morning, for example:
Whitney Houston needs to be fixed. Once she gets fixed, she'll be OK. I think if Whitney Houston is fixed, she can be big again.
Wow. I hate Whitney Houston, but I've never called for her sterilization ---besides, she already has kids, so it's too late.

Congressional Corner

Unlike some congressmen, John Sweeney only engages in healthy, socially accepted activities with his young constituents.Thank God we have a congressman who believes in traditional values. I'd much rather have Sweeney drinking with teenagers than sending them creepy instant messages, wouldn't you?

This can only help him in November.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cover Girl

My name is Kristi and I enjoy Dave Matthews and long pieces in Section D.Here's what was looking up at me from the front porch Saturday morning, a prominent shot of TU writer Kristi Gustafson plugging her piece on relationships. I have no problem with this, which is clearly aimed at boosting single issue sales among men. Guys are so uncomplicated that it just might work, regardless of what she's writing about. Women, on the other hand, are not so easy ---in fact, it could have just the opposite effect. After all, what are they going to do, put huge pictures of Fred LeBrun or Mark McGuire on the front page? Scary.

And what about Kristi and relationships?
I can't imagine dating someone who didn't like golf and/or Dave Matthews Band as those, um, obsessions basically dominate my life for a good six months out of the year. But I'd be even less attracted to someone who pretended to like these things. I'd rather a guy admit straight up he's never heard "The Stone" or he thought a slice was what you ordered from the pizza parlor on the corner, rather than something that haunts so many golfers.
There you go, boys. The golf lessons you can get anywhere, but to establish your Dave Matthews credibility, you'll need to get on the web and find some bootlegs. Best of luck from Albany Eye.