Saturday, December 31, 2005

Predictions for 2006

I predict that I will crawl to the couch tomorrow and watch football all day. Beyond that, '06 is anybody's guess. Thank you for your support.

Vox Populi

Was that some year, or what?The readers have spoken on 2005.

Spelling Bee Champ
John Gray for getting both Ken Screven and Dan Bazile's names wrong in a recent column. Attention Alice Green.

Teacher of the Year
Beth Geisel

Rebound Leader
Greg Floyd. Who knew a demotion at Fox 23 could be such a great thing?

Best Reversal of Policy
Metroland returns the sex ads to the main section.

Least Likely to Succeed
Free Beer and Hot Wings on Q103

Witch Hunt '05
After examining email records, ClearChannel accuses various employees of tipping us to their "No Open Container" policy.

Podcast Wishlist
Live at the State Capitol with Fred Dicker. Who wouldn't want a copy of the infamous Dicker-Denny Farrell donnybrook.

Fred LeBrun

Most Irritating Commercials of 2005
Vanessa Carlton's Time is on My Side spots for Time Warner. Hand me the noise canceling headphones. Runner up: Advantage Suzuki's Go Kooky for Suzuki campaign.

Best Reason to Have the Intern Start Your Car
CBS 6's ad campaign introducing Greg Floyd excluded any mention of co-anchor Liz Bishop.

Genius Award
To whoever decided to put down Steve Caporizzo's Pet Connection segments over at WTEN. That's smart, nuke a feature that people love watching.

Safe Driving Commendation
Capital News 9 will do anything it takes to get to a story.

Kneejerk Medal
After some dumb blog questioned their list of top ad agencies, the Business Review printed a full page defense of its list making technique.

Who could possibly pick their favorite quote from WROW's Paul Vandenburgh? Here's a good one from February:
I'd like to see Donald Trump on Inside the Actor's Studio. That's somewhere they'd ask him some tough questions.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Employer of the Year

It's a fun place until they throw your ass out on the sidewalk.WTEN. I don't have room to get into everything that went down there in 2005, but the TU's Mark McGuire does, nicely summing up a hellish year at the station that once called itself Home of the Winners.
You'll never be number one as long as you treat your employees like number two.

Worst Local Newspaper

It's not that the Business Review is incompetent. No, they put out a nice publication that's properly written and features many attractive photos of executives standing with their arms crossed. It's not that they don't print interesting stories ---hey, who doesn't find commercial real estate fascinating? And it's not that they don't fill a valuable need; After all, you can't count on the TU to tell the whole story of Tech Valley, can you?

All that's well and good. My problem with the Business Review is their spineless approach to journalism. The paper reads like the chamber of commerce newsletter, sidestepping tough issues, tough questions, and tough reporting. It's a bland and inoffensive place where all the news is good, everyone gets along, and even the most boring press release is welcomed with open arms.

From my own narrow viewpoint, just look at the media reporting. How can you write about what's going on in local TV and never once mention the turmoil at WTEN? Everyone in the business community is talking about it ---except the business community's so called newspaper.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Quote of the Year

Two years ago, I couldn't even spell DA. Now I are one.
"The eyes of the world are watching this drama unfold." -David Soares

That's some heavy stuff. You'd think that the Albany County DA was talking about a serial killer or some war criminals, but no, he was referring to the Beth Geisel case. It wasn't the only time in 2005 that the rookie DA engaged in wild hyperbole, but it was certainly the most memorable. What's,, no, wait, stupefying ---is that this came in a written statement. Shouldn't someone read this stuff ahead of time, and say, "Hey, wait a sec... This make you sound like a jackass." I can excuse you for saying something stupid, but sitting down and carefully crafting a stupid statement? That's not a slip of the tongue, it's a demonstration of poor judgment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Good, The Bad and the Flacky

What the hell would we do would we do without scads of press releases?Mike McCagg's PR efforts on behalf of the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school district aren't just tireless, they yield results. Some of you may find the volume of press releases he issues exasperating, but he has proven a well known axiom of physics: if you throw enough "stuff" against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. RCS shows up more frequently and in more stories than any other local school district ---positive stories about schools and students doing good work. The area's big districts should be ashamed of themselves for having such lame communication departments.

For all the good Mike McCagg does, there's Richard Arthur. We were all happy to see the PR floodgates thrown open at the Albany County DA's office, but what we got was a torrent of press releases as fetid and unsavory as the deluge of New Orleans. Arthur clearly has taste for the seamy details of crime and criminals, and they often made their way into official communications. There's a place for juicy stories, street nicknames, and wry anecdotes. Press releases from the county's most powerful elected office are not that place. Someone, probably not David Soares, was smart enough to realize this, and Arthur's been shifted to an administrative post.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Year's Worst Disaster

I got yer year in review right here, pal.It was tough to decide between the Ethan Allen accident and the Jeanine Pirro Senate campaign, but I'm going with Pirro.

I don't know much about putting someone up for office, but what we saw in the months she was sort of running was amazingly inept and pathetic. Things started going bad on day one, with the page ten incident and didn't get better. She couldn't even drop out of the race gracefully ---but don't blame her, blame her campaign staff. From the looks of it, they couldn't mount a run for class president.

2005's Most Kickassingest News Website

Capital News 9: Their web site rocks.Say what you will about Capital News 9, but they completely beat the pants off of everyone else in the web department. Their site is updated more frequently than any other local TV news web site, it's easier to navigate, and its story archives are complete ---and completely free. For example, go in and search for "David Scaringe" and you'll find every story they've ever done on the New Year's Eve 2003 shooting, including video. Granted it's only one source and the stories aren't what you'd call in-depth, but their commitment to the archive has made their web site an invaluable tool.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I Got Your Year in Review Right Here

Starting tomorrow, Albany Eye will look back on the year that was; think of it as a cross between Metroland's Best Of and Esquire's Dubious Achievements. If you'd like to submit a Best Of/Worst Of item or suggest a memorable moment, feel free to send an email.

Cleanup in Aisle Six

We're here! It's clear! We can't get anywhere near!TV stations spend millions of dollars getting people to watch, so imagine how difficult it must be getting people not to watch. That's what NABET 21 is up against with it's Turn of CBS 6 campaign.
Earlier this month, we read about how the union was targeting local businesses that spend money on the station, even tiny advertisers like New Old Stuff in Troy. We weren't sure they'd hand out leaflets at stores like Price Chopper, where you can't really get close to the customers, but there they are in a photo they sent me ---NABET also sent a copy of this ominous letter they say came from Price Chopper's lawyers:
Be advised that your "requests" that Golub suspend advertising with CBS Channel 6 is a blatant attempt to induce the Company to cease doing business with CBS 6 and enmesh Price Chopper, a neutral employer, in your labor dispute with Channel 6. Such threatened conduct is prohibited under Section 8(b)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act.
Accordingly, any attempt to engage in such activity will result in charges being filed against your union with the National Labor Relations Board, together with any additional legal remedies available to Golub Corporation for any damages incurred as a result of your unlawful activity.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wishing You an Andy Rooney Christmas

You know what I can't stand? People who say 'Happy Holidays'Times Union editor Rex Smith may have to make some tough calls on how to handle Christmas, but not so for Andy Rooney. There have been about a million pieces on this whole "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" thing, but if you ask me, Rooney sums it all up best in a column that ran yesterday. In case you don't read it, and by some chance run into Rooney up in Rensselaerville, don't wish him Happy Holidays. He might just haul off and smack you in the shin with his cane.

Radio Daze

I'm a sucker for the old time radio stuff, so I was delighted when Jack Keenan's 25th Annual WGY Christmas Special came on yesterday morning. As I listened, wrapping presents in the basement, my delight soon turned to dismay. Just minutes into the show, catastrophic technical problems launched the program into an excruciating mix of tape hiss and white noise that lasted for something like 20 minutes. Once they restored the program, intermittent periods of dead air and noise continued for the remainder of the two hour show. I don't know what happened up at WGY's modern new beverage free studio, but it was the sloppiest thing I've ever heard. Having worked in college radio, that's saying a lot.
The Keenan show is scheduled to be rebroadcast this morning at 9am.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Xmas Marks the Spot

Santa's not the only one who could really use a drink right about now.As if you needed a reminder that the Christmas deadline is breathing down your neck, WTEN ran a big "Christmas Countdown" clock during their news last night. The large lower left graphic ticked off the hours, minutes, and seconds remaining before the big day. It looked pretty nutty ---and I can't imagine how much stress they created in their misguided attempt to spread good cheer. One reader, a well known local media figure, wrote to say that it reminded her of the Doomsday Clock (it's currently seven minutes to midnight), but I couldn't help but think of the National Debt Clock. Why not put a Christmas Debt clock up during your news? Now that would freak people out.

This is a good time to mention R. H. Pease's Great Variety Store. Pease's has been widely cited as the originator of the modern Christmas card, and in a new book they're pegged as early adaptors in commercializing the holiday. Jeremy Seal, in Nicholas: The Epic Journey From Saint to Santa Claus describes an 1840s woodcut showing Santa about to descend down a chimney. Written across the bag: "These toys come from R. H. Pease's, 50 Broadway, Albany." You can hear an interview with Seal on Friday's NPR Morning Edition.

Peace and joy to all ---but especially to those stuck working tomorrow.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Friday File

Aren't You What's-His-Name?
Don't miss John Gray's column in The Record this week charting all the roster changes in local TV news. There's some funny stuff in there, but I must say, the thought of Ken Screven plying young intern Gray with ice cream makes me feel all skeevy.

JR in the AM?
The rumor du jour? JR Gach may be headed for mornings ---despite the message on his website that suggests he may not return from vacation. Nature abhors a vacuum, and since Monday, morning radio has really sucked. 94 Rock may be handicapped by their relatively weak signal, but it's jump ball time for the Stern audience and there's opportunity for everyone.

Black Math
A reader wonders why the WQBK/WQBJ combo is now calling itself Q-103. That's an excellent question. Their frequencies are 103.9 and 103.5, so any sensible person would round that up to 104, not down to 103. The answer is simple: these guys didn't get into radio because they got good grades in math.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Flaming Pagan Pocket Log

Is that a Yule Log in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?We've gone on and on here about the Yule Log, a favorite ancient Norse tradition that was swiped centuries ago by the Christians. Now you can download your own personal Yule Log, from the TV Log's progenitor, WPIX in New York. Play it on your computer if you wish, or burn it (ho ho!) to a CD and give as a gift. You can even carry the log anywhere on your iPod ---or best of all, load it onto that new iPod you're giving someone special. What the heck did we do before computers?

Order in the Court

It could get pretty crazy sometimes in the hallways of the Albany County Courthouse. If something big was going on, you could easily have five TV news photogs, several print photographers, and eight or nine reporters running around ---and that's not counting all the sheriff's deputies surrounding the center of attention, family members, lawyers on both get the picture. Just look how chaotic things were during the various Porco appearances.

Anyway, that won't be happening on the other side of Lodge Street in the county's new Justice Building. Now, sheriff's vans will drive the accused directly into an enclosed area, where they'll be whisked off to secure, private holding areas. Project manager and architect Jay Quackenbush told the TU's Carol DeMare in October, "You will never see a prisoner until that prisoner is in the courtroom." I've always had mixed feelings about the way we display people accused of crimes, shackled and marching around in orange jumpsuits. If a picture's worth a thousand words, these pictures summon up one word a thousand times: guilty. And yes, many of them are guilty, but they deserve the presumption of innocence ---even in the late news promo.

Speaking of the Porco case, this new arrangement might have spared Joan Porco from having to walk the gauntlet when she appeared in court at her son's November bail hearing. That was easily the year's most awkward and disturbing image.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nice Can

Finally! We get to see Liz Bishop's can(s).
Greg and Liz sure look fine sitting there together on WRGB ---and that Diet Pepsi can sitting behind them sure makes me thirsty. This wouldn't be the first time the station experimented with product placement, but if I were Pepsi, I'd insist on something a little more prominent. The reader who sent this along says the can appeared throughout last night's late news; I'll just assume the picture's authentic, but as you know, we're all about having fun being accurate here at Albany Eye.

A detailed close up of the phantom of the news set. You've probably heard by now that WRGB's NABET unit rejected the company's contract proposal in a 30-0 vote, so I'd guess that anything's possible over there this week. Don't expect something dramatic, like a strike or a lockout, but it could get interesting nonetheless.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dead Air

I was all revved up to tell you how bad WQBK's new morning show is, but I'm afraid if I did that I'd be lying. After listening to Free Beer and Hot Wings this morning, I discovered that they're not really awful ---the syndicated show out of Grand Rapids is just incredibly boring. Theirs is the same schtick that goes on every morning in radio markets all over America. Drive from city to city and you'll hear this show, going by different names, at countless radio stations. Free Beer and Hot Wings is not bad radio, it's a case study in the lack of imagination and creativity that plagues broadcasting in America.

I did hear one funny thing yesterday morning. WQBK played a bumper that said, "It might be slightly offensive, but at least it's free!" They followed this with a spot for Radio Shack touting Sirus satellite radio. The break also contained three public service announcements, a number I predict will rise in coming months.

Monday, December 19, 2005

State of the Union

WRGB General Manager, Bob Furlong, contemplates how next to screw his loyal employees.There was a time when NABET 21 would strike rather than take the sort of contract that WRGB General Manager Bob Furlong is trying to shove down their throats. Today the membership votes on whether to approve the company's latest offer, which still includes a 15% wage cut, less vacation time, higher costs for medical insurance, and possible loss of retirement benefits.

Things aren't what they used to be at local TV stations. Union rule has been watered down, part-timers do the jobs once held by full-timers, and bosses are obsessed with the cost of keeping so many experienced people on the payroll. You've got to feel for Bob Furlong. How can he make any money with all those disloyal employees taking vacation days? But Old Fezziwig Furlong* did find one way to save a few extra bucks this year: he cancelled the company Christmas Party.

*Several people have written that I'm misusing the "Fezziwig" reference; For the humor impaired, I was being ironic, OK?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Grand Finale

Howard Stern demonstrates the salute used by FCC commissioners when greeting one another.Well, that's it. Unless you shell out for Sirius, you won't be hearing Howard Stern anytime soon. Yesterday's final show in New York sounded like a madhouse ---and all through the wild broadcast, I couldn't help thinking how bad WQBK will be Monday morning when we get our first awful taste of the Free Beer and Hot Wings morning show.
The TU took yesterday seriously; sensing that history was in the making, they sent no less than master scribe and Erastus Corning biographer Paul Grondahl to cover the Stern farewell.
In the words of Jeff Curro of Berne, known to millions of Stern fans as Jeff the Drunk, "It's been awesome."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Nielsen Schmielsen

The November book will be spun a dozen different ways, but the news numbers speak for themselves: WNYT dominated just about everywhere and managed to win a 11 ---despite NBC's incredibly dismal performance in prime. Also significant is that the station trounced the competition at 6pm, but lookout: Greg Floyd is IN THE HOUSE!
The only exception is WRGB's stranglehold on the Noon news. It appears that their audience absolutely refuses to die.

The Vandenburgh Report

Don't confuse the Drews...Don't confuse the Drews...Don't confuse the Drews...Don't confuse the Drews. SHUT UP ALREADY!People have been complaining that we've been ignoring WROW's Paul Vandenburgh. Sorry about that ---but it's not like we haven't been listening. This week Paul's been kvetching about the difficulties of pulling together a listener cruise to the Caribbean, a trip he hoped people could give as Christmas gifts. Imagine being stuck on a ship for a week with Paul Vandenburgh; Can you say George Allen Smith IV?

Another hot topic has been Vandenburgh's impending 50th birthday. He's been making 50 sound not like the new 30, but like the new 80. He already comes off as someone old beyond his years, but expect it to reach a deafening crescendo on Tuesday morning. We'll see if Albany Broadcasting does something special for him; they pull out all the stops when it comes to taking care of their employees.

Finally, the show was supposed to originate today from the studios of Capital News 9, but it sounds like Time Warner backed out on the appearance. The other day, Vandenburgh said:
They've made it clear that they don't want us down there, so let's just forget about our relationship.
Ouch! Breaking up really is hard to do, but come on, do they really want to bring in an engineer early so WROW can camp out in their conference room?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Research Roundup

Holy crap! 80% of our viewers can't tell the difference between Jack Aernecke and Tom Mailey!Ever wonder how TV stations make important decisions about their newscasts? They do research, of course! Nobody talks about these super secret studies, but thanks to a reader, I managed to get a look at one that's going on right now.

Someone sent me a link to a survey called "Evening Talent Study" being conducted by a Canadian research company named Pollara. I was going to publish the link so you could all participate, but I woke up this morning and realized I could get my ass sued, so no poll for you. The study asks what you like and don't like about local TV news ---and then there are tons of questions about anchors. For example, they show a picture of Greg Floyd and ask if you can identify him. I checked off Terry McSweeney. It's the sort of thing that takes five minutes unless you spend time thinking about your answers.

Doesn't this seem like a lousy way to determine the future of your television station? Without much trouble, someone could take the thing ten or twenty times if they wanted to, or email it to everyone they know ---even people who work in the business. It may be cheaper than phone polling, the way credible polls are done, but I guess you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Doppler School

Hey! Would you kids like to see my doppler?Half the people out there can't understand what Doppler radar is and the other half don't care. For the first half, there's now hope: Steve Caporizzo's Doppler Code Coloring Book. The WTEN publication is aimed at third graders, so you've got to figure it can also help adults learn what this Doppler business is all about.

As far as I'm concerned, the winners in the Doppler war are WNYT, not because they actually have their own radar (WRGB's tiny unit doesn't count), but because they take a light touch in promoting it ---like in their spot showing a boy getting a Doppler radar tower for Christmas. Spare me the gloom and doom; show me somebody walking around with a Doppler tower and you've got me.


The other day we busted on WTEN sportscaster John Spadafora over this from the Business Review:
"It's been great," he said. "I'm proud of the fact that I was able to be part of a team that took the station from No. 3 when I started to No. 1."
Spad wrote to tell us that he was referring to the station's performance in the late 1990's. Albany Eye would like to apologize for suggesting that Mr. Spadafora was speaking while under the influence of drugs ---what we should have pointed out is that Spadafora was part of the team that brought the station back to No. 3 after bringing it to No. 1. My bad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Log On

The Yule Log: Another wonderful Pagan ritual that helps us get into the Christmas spirit.I'm sure you all read Mark McGuire's exclusive interview last week with the Yule Log. Later the same day, WB45 wrote to let us know that they are the sole purveyors of Yule Log this year ---but I've got to tell you, I'm not impressed.
The station says it will run two hours of Pagan ritual wood burning Yule Log on Christmas Day between 11am and 1pm. Excuse me?!? The Yule Log is supposed to be on Christmas Eve and it's meant to burn into the wee hours. Who the hell wants to watch the Yule Log in the middle of the day?

Speaking of WB45, that's where you can tune in to see How The Grinch Stole Christmas, tomorrow night at 8pm. We're talking the Chuck Jones cartoon here, not the abominable Ron Howard movie. I say we throw that in the fireplace and burn it.

Career Day

This is from a release I got from Mike McCagg at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Schools:
About 90 fourth grade students at Pieter B. Coeymans will be getting a real life lesson in mathematics and economics today in the aisles of Wal Mart. Armed with calculators, pencils, paper and a shopping list of items that will be donated to needy area families, groups of the 10-year-olds will be let loose in Wal Mart to find the best deals and stick within their budget, said Karen Miller, math curriculum content specialist.
This is a great idea since a lot of those kids will probably end up working at Walmart someday. Now that's a real life lesson.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Get While the Gettin's Good

I'm getting out of here before LaSpina decides to eliminate sports ---again!WTEN sports reporter John Spadafora is leaving the station to head communications for the Albany Chamber. If the Chamber doesn't already have a drug testing policy for new employees, they will after reading this quote from Spad:
"It's been great," he said. "I'm proud of the fact that I was able to be part of a team that took the station from No. 3 when I started to No. 1."
Attention Mark McGuire: WTEN is number one ---you'd better get on that.

Crap and Gown

When you get out of college early (or late) and attend the December graduation, you always get screwed out of having a nice ceremony with a big name speaker. At my graduation, the captain of the forensics team delivered the commencement address and someone played Pomp and Circumstance on an electric piano. Pathetic. If you have any doubt about how bad December graduation sucks, just read this:
The College of Saint Rose will celebrate its 11th annual Midyear Commencement on Saturday, December 17, with a keynote address from Mayor Gerald D. Jennings of Albany.
Maybe Jennings could fish out the famous Sunscreen "commencement speech", the one that was wildly misattributed to Kurt Vonnegut:
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97: Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
He could really make this work.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

His 15 Minutes of Infamy

'I didn't do it.' Rather than seek redemption, Sam Patalino offers excuses.Wednesday morning, 78 year-old Sam Patalino was the front page poster boy of the Times Union Holiday Fund. By the end of the day he was Sam Patalino, convicted sex offender.

The controversy cast a minor shadow on the paper's campaign to help the elderly in need, but things happen and we all move on. Except for Mr. Patalino. The former song and dance man, who was convicted of molesting a ten year old boy in 1991, couldn't resist another day in the limelight and took his story to Capital News 9. Of his victim, he said:
"I took him to school for three years to Rensselaer. I took him to the Boys Club, I took him to the baseball games. Bought all of his clothes, his bikes. I did it all and I am going to abuse him? I want my name cleared before I die."
Some believe that this is the time for charity and forgiveness and redemption ---a special time when anything is possible. I believe that too, but in the case of Sam Patalino, I also believe that there's a time to just shut up and go away.

Where To?

Where is she going? It's a mystery!The Times Union reports that Megan Baker is leaving Capital News 9, but nobody's talking about where she's off to. Baker's been with the 24 hour cable news outfit since before they signed on.

Hey, Rebecca! Bring some Febreze, just in case they give you Greg Floyd's old chair.Meanwhile WNYT's Rebecca Hall is leaving the station, but not the market. Unlike co-worker Lindsay Cohen, who's headed to sunny West Palm, Hall is just moving across town to FOX 23. It's my understanding that FOX 23 found itself short staffed after their weekend anchor left, or something like that.

No word on whether Hall will end up in the anchor chair at Fox 23 ---or if Baker is on her way to WNYT.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Banana Boy can not slip through the fingers of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.Thank God you can now find some of the Post Star online, otherwise we might have missed Banana Boy. Mr. Boy was arrested this week in Hudson Falls while shooting a segment for the weekly local TV show The Ravacon, seen Saturdays at 11pm on TV-8 in Glens Falls. As a videographer shot Banana Boy being accosted by a knife wielding attacker, Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Shawn Lovelace happened upon the scene, drew his weapon, and placed the group under arrest.

Regarding the incident, the Post-Star talked to legendary Albany ad man Jesse Jackson, who now owns TV-8:
Jackson said could not begin to describe the show but said the young men are very talented. "I've been in TV for a lot of years and I've never seen anything like them."
The Banana Boy crew say they've never had trouble before, but, "We do a lot of our stuff in South Glens Falls, and the police know us there."

Insert Here

Is Albany's cool alt-weekly dropping the special adults only advertising supplement?I picked up Metroland yesterday and did what I usually do: I reached for the adult advertising insert ---except this week it wasn't there!
Feeling totally ripped off, I grabbed another copy, and that one had no adult ads either, nor did the third and fourth copy I took off the stack. "WTF?", I asked myself. Then I looked in the back of the paper, and lo and behold, there is all the spicy stuff, printed right in the main section.

A while back, after much fanfare, Metroland created the adult insert as a way to separate the strip club ads, phone sex come-ons, and other sexually oriented stuff from the "legitimate" part of the paper. When they started running the Savage Love advice column, even this was relegated to the combat zone. It was probably put there to stop so many people from throwing the insert away, not because they thought it might be objectionable to their readers

Anyway, earlier this year I suggested that Metroland put the adult ads in the paper and print their news content in a disposable insert that can be easily discarded; maybe they're edging toward taking my advice.

Sporting Wood

Nobody's been working the Christmas beat harder than the TU's Mark McGuire; today it's his exclusive interview with the recently cancelled Yule Log:
Q: Is your career over?
A: Over? The Yule Log is the greatest show in the history of TV. Think about it: A log backed by some music has lasted on the air nearly four decades. No, I'll be back -- when I get my new deal.
I think somebody's been hitting the egg nog a little hard.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Only the songs are left from Sam Patalino's days singing in Troy's nightclubs, days that evoke memories of shaking maracas and a dancer named Tangerine. -Times UnionMaybe you've seen those needy folks in the Times Union Holiday Fund pieces? The warm profiles of local people in need of a little help have been running recently on the front page of the paper. WNYT reported last night that the man featured yesterday, 78 year-old Sam Patalino, is on the Colonie Police Department's list of Level Two Sex Offenders. It turn out that Patalino is the same man who is identified on the police department web site as Salvatore Patalino, who was convicted in 1991 for the sexual assault of a ten year old boy in Rensselaer.
Of Patalino, the TU writes:
There's another thing he dreams about. Something that, compared with his Radio Shack tape recorder, is a little ... well ... extravagant. But something that would let him make such music! As he put it, "Oh boy."
He's talking about a karaoke machine, of course. This from a statement issued by TU editor Rex Smith:
I wish we hadn't spotlighted a sex offender, and we will more carefully screen the names forwarded to us as profile candidates in the future. But I don't think our readers would want us to reserve our charity only for those who are without blemish.
Also: AP story. And Editor & Publisher.

Back in the Saddle

I'd offer you a link to the Greg Floyd at WRGB story in Tuesday's Gazette, but I am not privy to what goes on inside the gated online community of that amazingly valuable newspaper. Anyway, there were some priceless bits in there, which I painstakingly transcribed for you. Says Mr. Floyd:
"When I came in as an employee through the back door, it was like no time had passed. I was hit with a smell and it was exactly the smell I remember."
Wow. WGY's been out of there for years and the place still stinks. Then:
It was 16 minutes into the broadcast when Bishop formally welcomed Floyd to the team before viewers ---the first overt indication that there was someone new here.
I hope you enjoyed that, Greg. It'll be 16 years before she acknowledges your existence again. If ever.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Forecast Cloudy for Mailey

You don't need a weatherman to know which way to plan events.WRGB weatherman Tom Mailey continues to be the favorite pinata of the Republicans in the Schenectady County legislature. One of the most ardent stick swingers is legislator (and Price Chopper executive) Mona Golub, who's been leading the pack questioning what Mailey's been doing to earn the $40,000 he gets as the county's part time special events head. In a TU story, Mailey is said to cite his biggest success as October's regatta, which "drew 800 to 1,000 people to various points along the Mohawk River." That sounds like one of his forecasts.
Anyway, would anyone care to bet on whether we'll see this story on CBS 6? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Barks and Bytes

If you love dogs, Jon Katz is required reading.WAMC has plunged headlong into podcasting. Along with their taped productions, many of the station's live programs are now available for download just hours after they air. A great example is Tuesday's Vox Pop show with Jon Katz, a name you should know if you love dogs. Katz, who has a farm up in tiny West Hebron, has become America's dog guru, and his writing on dogs is as insightful (and touching) as anything you'll ever read.
On Vox Pop, Joe Donahue's monthly conversations with Katz are must-listen radio, and now you can do so any time you like ---or send it with someone you think should hear it. Wouldn't it be nice getting something valuable in your email, instead of the crap some people pass around?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Major Blow to Live Music

Another one bites the dust?A local blogger reports that Troy's Revolution Hall is shutting its doors after the December 17 appearance of Donna the Buffalo. It's rumored that this is the result of a dispute between the building's owner and the management team that have been booking the space. If you haven't had the pleasure of attending a show there, let me tell you that Revolution Hall is one of the area's best places to see bands ---and is a valuable cog among the venues that make the Capital region a viable touring stop.

Poll Position

Believe me, I know what it's like having nothing to write about, so I can understand where Business Review editor Mike Hendricks is coming from. In this week's print edition, he clocks 900 words on the paper's new online poll ---and how such polls shouldn't be taken seriously:
There is no margin of error or methodology, no expertise in probability or statistics involved, no concern about confidence levels or sampling errors, all the elements the people at Gallup, Siena and Zogby devote themselves to.
In the words of Dr. John H. Watson, no sh*t, Sherlock.
I don't think anyone was mistaking this week's poll (Do you plan to do the majority of your holiday shopping online or in a traditional store?) as sophisticated research, but if it's necessary to explain that to people who read the Business Review, so be it.

By the way, the Hudson Register-Star still holds the record for most inane online poll ever.

UPDATE: Related from Gawker.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Goodbye, Valhalla

It used to be that radio stations were ramshackle places in weird locations. There was the legendary WQBK studio in Glenmont, where DJs were sometimes late for their shift because a train was rolling through (or stopped) at the crossing on Smultz Hill Road ---or WGNA's converted brick mansion up in East Greenbush. Now another of these character packed spots has been vacated, as PYX 106 has moved the last of their staffers out of the ugly concrete block building that was known as "The Bunker". The studios were just a minute off of Route 7, but it seemed like another world, surrounded by woods overlooking the Mohawk River. It is rumored that certain illicit plants grow wild in the brush around the back of the building.

Now, instead of deer and raccoons, the station's neighbors will be the real estate agents and stock brokers at the sterile Riverhill Center complex. Take a look at the photos of the old joint that Uncle Vito has on his website and imagine moving to a place where you're not even allowed to have a cup of coffee at your desk. No wonder radio is in trouble.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Stems n' Seeds

I'll tell your where you can stick your 15 degree February live shots...Departure
Reporter Lindsay Cohen is leaving WNYT for West Palm CBS affiliate WPEC. Cohen was always solid, but may best be remembered for standing outside during those god forsaken 11pm live shots in the rain or freezing cold. Couple of more weeks and you'll all wish you were moving to Florida.

"I'm Not Getting Paid for This Crap"
From the Governor's press office on Friday:
First Lady Libby Pataki today participated in the seventh annual Scholastic Read For 2006 global classroom reading initiative by reading to children at Uriah Hill Early Childhood Center in Peekskill, a school Governor Pataki attended as a child.
That's gotta be worth something.

You Write the Promo
You think your job sucks? How would you like to be the promo person who has to introduce Greg Floyd to CBS 6 viewers? Sheesh!
Maybe this would be helpful: An advertising slogan generator that spits out catchy branding statements. Just plug in the name Greg Floyd and you're ready to rock. Click "Sloganize" for more. My suggestion? Greg Floyd. He's not just Liz Bishop's boy toy anymore.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sky's the Limit

Old SchoolWe are lucky to have the Albany Patroons back, but we're nothing short of blessed to have Micheal Ray Richardson as the coach.
Maybe you've read about Richardson's post game antics and tirades against his players. Phil Jackson, he ain't, but in Richardson we have a bona fide character, somebody who's instantly the area's most interesting and colorful sports figure.
Richardson's shooting star career first landed him in town when he played for the Pats during their 1987-88 championship season ---this was following his expulsion from the NBA for drug use. Richardson may best be remembered for one of the great post game interviews of all time:
REPORTER: What do you think is happening to the team?
RICHARDSON: The ship be sinking.
REPORTER: How far can it sink?
RICHARDSON: Sky's the limit.
Since then, Richardson's found his way to clean and sober. If you try real hard you might actually find a copy of the Chris Rock narrated TNT documentary Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray?, or a copy of his autobiography. Meanwhile let's hope Richardson can adjust his style so there's a little more Zen Buddhist and a little less Bobby Knight.

Taking It To the Streets

NABET Local 21 has taken its fight against WRGB to the station's advertisers. In addition to their lawn sign and billboard campaign, the union has started sending letters to CBS 6 clients urging them not to support the station ---and now they're planning to to show up on advertiser's doorsteps asking customers to shop elesewhere.

You'd think they might target big companies like Price Chopper and Raymour and Flanigan, but no, the union has announced it will go after Worden's Furniture and Gift Shop on Pawling Avenue in Troy. Who? My sentiments exactly.
I'm guessing that they chose this place because they can get close to the front door to meet and greet the customers. Most big stores are insulated by acres of parking lot ---private property where picketing and leafletting are forbidden.

We'll see what happens, because the union's efforts really seem to need some focus. Dozens of people who know I work in the media have asked me the same question: What's the deal with those Turn Off CBS 6 signs?

Getting Schooled

I absolutely HATE teachers ---but I've got no problem taking their money!If I were a NYSUT member, I'd be on the phone today screaming at my local rep about all those ads they're running on the Paul Vandenburgh show.

Few groups have been maligned as consistently and severely as public school teachers on the WROW morning show. For as long as I can remember, Vandenburgh's denounced them as overpaid, under worked, and the recipients of what he thinks are extravagant benefits. That's why I was so surprised to hear the union advertising on Vandenburgh with commercials featuring NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi.

Why would a union that represents so many hard working people spend a nickel of its money supporting someone with such contempt for their members? I guess we'll know the answer if we don't hear Vandenburgh slamming teachers anymore.