Friday, April 28, 2006

Dude, Where's My Congressman?

The pictures of Representative John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park, NY) partying with Union College students, posted by Elizabeth Benjamin at Capitol Confidential, are the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

I love you, man...Concordiensis, the Union College paper, reports that Sweeney showed up at a frat party and proceeded to get down with the brothers in a big way. From the story:
Witnesses affirm that Mr. Sweeney appeared to have been under the influence of alcohol at the party. One student saw the representative drinking a Keystone Light beer. "He was clearly not in the normal state of mind. He had definitely been drinking, there is no question about it," commented sophomore Kenneth Falcon, who attended the party.
You'd have to be pretty wasted to drink Keystone Light.

Hide the Remote

No problem!Speaking of turning things off (see the post below) did you know that this is national TV-Turnoff Week? Don't feel bad; the only people aware of this are the folks who hang around down at the at the Honest Weight Food Co-op. The other 298 million Americans had no idea.

The TV turnoff crowd cite childhood obesity as a big reason to hit the off button, and suggest kids should do more reading and less TV watching. What? Kids can't get fat sitting around reading books? How about we make this National Get Off Your Fat Ass And Do Something week?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

First Day of Sweeps

May ratings begin and WNYT unveils its new ad campaign.

My sentiments exactly.

Line of Duty

It sounds like something out of Paul Grondahl's series last week about the days of old-time newspapering, where reporters and cops bellied up to the same bars in nighttown Albany. Except it wasn't the old-times, it was Tuesday ---and the cop was Ken Wilcox, who died later that night in a one-car accident on I-90.

The Times Union's story today about Wilcox's death centers around reporter Steve Barnes first-hand account of the police detective's long evening at Noche, the swank Broadway nightspot. It's an unexpected shot to the gut after a day of the all the tragic line of duty death stuff; In a world where timing is everything, having a reporter sitting down the bar can be about as bad as it gets.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sign of the Times (Union)

What would you rather have: Your name on this building or a few more reporters?The Times Union is deep in negotiations on a deal for the naming rights to the Pepsi Arena. Back in March, Albany County found that nobody was interested in their $350-thousand a year offer and opened up a new, more flexible search.

The only newspaper we could find playing in the bigs of corporate naming rights is The St. Petersburg Times, which shelled out $33 mil for Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum. Then there's Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, PA., but that's not a paper. It's not much of a magazine for that matter.

Besides the obvious ethical questions, everyone's wondering what it would be called. The Times Union Arena? The T-U Arena? The Rex? I sort of like Xanadu.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Last week, folks in the CapitalNews 9 newsroom found that they were forbidden from reading Albany Eye. Why? Because the words bullsh*t and fu*king appeared in our Wednesday edition. This triggered whatever software they use to keep people away from nasty web sites. We later sanitized the words to circumvent the restriction. I suspect that it was the F-word that set off the alarm.

While aggressive internet filtering may make sense in a regular workplace, it's a bad idea in a newsroom. Researching stories sometimes leads to unsavory places ---and missing something on the web may mean a lost opportunity. We've heard that some media outlets block commerce sites like eBay; that's another bad idea. If someone is doing inappropriate things with their internet access it takes a network administrator about thirty seconds to figure that out, without resorting to draconian filtering.

There's no doubt that the web is a can of worms for employers. Last month, after Jun Wang was arrested on export violation charges, the Health Department fired him because he allegedly used his computer to "access nonwork-related Internet sites." By that standard, the entire Empire State Plaza would be vacant.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Standup Guy

Oooooo...Slide in a little closer to your Uncle Paul, my little buttercup.Does WROW use a special microphone for its Friday morning remotes at CapitalNews 9? Considering the way Paul Vandenburgh drools over the cable news station's female anchors and reporters, they really should have some sort of moisture-resistant equipment. Maybe someone from engineering can get back to us on that.

Publicity is publicity, so I'm not blaming CN9, but WROW's weekly visits are about the most inane thing on morning radio ---and that's saying a lot. Friday found Vandenburgh complimenting reporter Danielle Strauss on her interview with one of the Mexicans busted during this week's immigration raid at IFCO. He kept saying, repeatedly, that it was an excellent "stand-up". Not to be all nit-picky, but a stand-up is not an interview, a stand-up is when the reporter speaks to the camera. She was gracious enough not to correct him.

Since Albany Eye is all about helping people, we'd like Mr. Vandenburgh to see this handy glossary of TV news jargon. Don't overdue it, you'll sound geeky ---on top of sounding like a letch.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Giving It Away

Who needs this, anyway?Let's face it, most of you would sooner chop off one of your fingers than pay for news on the web. Who can blame you ---and what are you really missing by not having The Gazette online, or the godforsaken Amsterdam Recorder? Still, it's frustrating that instead of figuring out how to profit from the internet, papers like The Gazette slam shut the door. Is it possible to make money with your newspaper on the web? Absolutely, but it takes work. It also takes a new mindset from people who can't get past the idea of you putting $.50 down on the counter. They call it a business decision; I call it alienating your customers.

Maybe I'm just cheap, but I'm not paying $2.95 a week for that. How about you? Take our "exclusive" online poll over in the margin.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday

Yesterday I mentioned the Times Union's big 150th birthday special edition coming on Friday. You'll want to pick up a copy of that ---as well as several for your kids to bring to school and one to stash down in the cellar for future generations.

While I'm spending the morning with my 150th anniversary edition of the paper and a huge pot of coffee, I'll be listening as the birthday-fest carries over on the radio. WAMC's Roundtable (9am-noon) will broadcast live from the Times Union on Friday, featuring interviews with Paul Grondahl, Ruth Fantasia, and Bill Dowd. As if that's not enough, you'll be able to listen to a live taping of The Media Project, complete with pre and post show banter from Alan Chartock, Rex Smith, and Elisa Streeter.

If this media stuff excites you, expect a morning of orgasmic pleasure.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You Don't Look a Day Over 100

EDITORS NOTE: The language in this post has been cleaned up. Folks at CapitalNews 9 found their access blocked because of the nasty words.

The Times Union celebrates 150 glorious years on Friday, publishing a gala special edition featuring "historic covers, archival photos, timeline and more." Editor Rex Smith kicked off the celebration early by printing the word bullsh*t in his column on Saturday. He was explaining why the paper used the word in an earlier story about State Senator Ada Smith, but would not use the word fu*king in the same story. Here's the bullsh*t:
Asked Tuesday whether she thought she has a problem controlling her anger, Smith replied: "No. I mean I don't tolerate -- excuse my expression -- bullsh*t, but I don't think I have a real anger management problem.
And this is the fu*king:
According to Jackson, Smith responded by throwing her coffee in Jackson's face and screamed: "You need to keep your (expletive) mouth shut."
Naturally, this got me wondering. Imagine if Smith had said, "I don't tolerate -- excuse my expression -- fu*king bullsh*t." I've heard those words together frequently, so it's not farfetched. Would the paper then have printed it as "(expletive) bullsh*t?" I'm guessing you won't have to wait another 150 years to see the evil F-bomb in the TU, but only if it's used in a direct quote and important to the context of what was said.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

College Bound

Many college radio stations are an eclectic mess of radio chaos. Turn one on and you may just as easily hear reggae as some guy spinning old jazz 78s. Not so at WVCR. For years, the Siena College station has tightly programmed much of its day, sounding more like FLY 92 than WRPI. And it may be the sounding more like FLY 92 part that has something to do with switching their format to a Jack-like mix of hits from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.

WVCR's advisor, John Kelly, used to be one of the top dogs at Pamal Broadcasting (formerly Albany Broadcasting), which owns FLY ---and Jim Morrell, who heads the company, is a prominent donor at Siena. The last time WVCR changed its format? That was when Albany Broadcasting's urban JAMZ 96.3 was losing listeners to WVCR. Conspiracy theorists may now discuss among yourselves.

There will be a different sound when WVCR starts airing ValleyCat baseball; that will be the sound of people turning off their radios.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Looking for Clues

I could get really gross over this, but I'm not going there.The Fly 92 Fugitive has still not been found, but the clues keep coming. One listener in the hunt for the $15,000 prize turned up a Price Chopper receipt that was allegedly left behind by the Fugitive; it was inside a copy of The Devil Wears Prada at the Pittsfield Barnes & Nobel. The receipt, which promises that the store has All Your Party Needs, lists among other things Tampax and KY Warming gel. I'm not sure what kind of party you'd be having with those items, but if you recall the disturbing photo of the condom in the sink at Candy and Potter's house, the sky's the limit.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Filthy Killer Easter Chicks

First they took away our lawn darts. Now -right before Easter- comes this dire warning about cute, fluffy little animals :
The New York State Consumer Protection Board is warning parents that bringing home baby chicks or ducklings this Easter could expose their children to salmonella poisoning.
Oh, my God! I thought you just got that from under-cooked eggs ---who knew you could catch it from raw chicks? Fortunately, this is explained further:
Salmonella bacteria, microscopic creatures that are transmitted from the feces of animals or people to other animals or people, are a common cause of food borne illness.
Ughhh, feces! And you thought Peeps were disgusting.

Friday, April 14, 2006

And Now Greg Floyd With the Traffic...

You want me to do what?Did anybody mention to Greg Floyd that he'd be doing traffic reports at WRGB? Wednesday night, Floyd appeared in a promo that ran in prime explaining where to expect traffic problems on Thursday morning. At home, we looked at one another and started laughing hysterically ---but I guess we aren't your typical viewers. I wouldn't say that this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen on local TV, because I've seen lots of stupid things. Is it in the top twenty? Absolutely. In fact, I'd put it at number 12, right after Databurst.

Databurst was an innovation of former WRGB news director Gary Whitaker. He figured you could reduce all the important stuff from a newscast, such as phone numbers and full screen graphics, down to a few frames each and fire them off in as burst of data, hence the ingenious name. Viewers could tape Databurst and then play it back frame by frame to write down the info. Don't cite the KFC spot and tell me they were ahead of their time. It was stupid in 1989 and it's stupid now.

Off the Air

This showed up on WMHT's web site Thursday:
Attention - Due to a malfunction involving the WMHT TV antenna, we are unable to broadcast programming to viewers who receive the station through a home antenna (indoor or outdoor). This situation may last for several days. Time Warner Cable and satellite customers are not affected. We apologize for any inconvienence(sic) this may cause you.
I think the spell checker must be broken, too.

According to a story in today's TU, a fire at the transmitter site took out an obscure and hard to replace gizmo that funnels all that public TV goodness into the antenna. GM Deborah Onslow described the event as "spontaneous combustion." That sounds very X-Files, to me. Either way, it's going to take a lot of tote bags to fix that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Great Moments in Capital Region Media #37

A face made for radio.The Smellster.

That's what Dan Lynch used to call syndicated talk radio ranter Mike Gallagher when he hosted afternoons on WGY. For you young'uns, Lynch was once managing editor of the Times Union and later wrote a column.

A feud of sorts erupted between the two, and when Lynch discovered that Gallagher's real name is Michael P. Smelstor, he went to town. You can still hear Smellster...err...Gallagher locally on Amsterdam's WVTL (that's kinda sorta local). For your reading pleasure, we've managed to dredge up some vintage columns Dan Lynch wrote about the up and coming radio star:

Dan Lynch Discovers Gallagher's Real Name

The Smellster's Services and Consortium

Famous Last Words

No Place to Wash off the Slime


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The $1200 Moustache

Just when moustaches are finally back in style, this happens...Last week we told you about the effort to help WNYT reporter Mark Mulholland's family keep up with expenses associated with his wife's cancer treatments. By the end of Saturday night's gala auction in Lake George, Kelly's Kause had raised $153,000. The most unusual item on the auction block? Meteorologist Bob Kovachick's moustache. In an apparently spontaneous gesture, someone decided it would be a good idea for WNYT's Doppler King to give up his lip fur for the Kause; The Capital Region's most famous facial hair netted $1200 and Mr. Kovachick was shorn on the spot. Ouch!

Shaving him for real is one thing; let's see how long it takes for his whiskers to disappear from all those weather promos.

Wake Up and Smell the News

Can't get enough Ed O'Brien and Tom Mailey? You're in luck. Starting Monday, CBS 6 will run its morning news during the 7am - 8am hour on WNYA (UPN). There should be plenty of room on the couch to get comfortable. Nobody watches that station in the morning, but I'm guessing that the dynamic chemistry between O'Brien and Mailey may turn things around. In the Fall, WNYA switches its affiliation to Murdoch's MyNetworkTV, whose target for their prime programming is going to be young women. This is obviously a great idea, because everyone knows how much the young women love Ed O'Brien and Tom Mailey.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Citizen Bloggers

The Times Union's been all over this idea of knighting community members as bloggers. The results have been mixed. The most recent additions are three blogs about Albany schools, one by high school students(they haven't posted since April 2), one by the heads of the PTA(absolutely unreadable), and one by veteran Albany teacher Dave Peterson. Mr. Peterson has been teaching at Albany High School since 1974; his blog deserves a look, not because he has any brilliant insight about what's going on in the troubled schools, but because you MUST see his unbridled use of unnecessary and inappropriate quotation marks.

The dude's been there for thirty-plus years and they spell his name wrong?Whenever Peterson wants to "emphasize" a word or make a "point" he "hauls out" the quotation marks. His writing makes me "wonder" how he ever "got out" of college, much less been "allowed" to teach ---and "Mr. Pete" complains that "kids" can't "write?" What he "needs" is an "editor." Maybe someone from the "English department" needs to run down there and smack his hand every time it "strays" near the quote key. I'm not "Joe Grammar," but I know something that's "messed up" when I see it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The World's a Stage

Last Friday's item about the phony photo on the front page of The Record seems to have struck a nerve. It seems a lot of you share my feeling that serious newspapers don't print cheesy stock pics on their cover.

You can't spell Assembly without ASS.Then one reader sent the screen grab on the left, which shows Jim Tedisco unplugging his stupid budget countdown clock. Big deal, right? Nope ---not unless it was the second time that day Tedisco had unplugged the clock. Our tipster says that a well known local TV "journalist" missed the first go-round, and urged staffers to reset the clock and have the Assembly Minority Leader do it again. The camera-hungry lawmaker was happy to oblige.

If The Record is guilty of being tacky, what do you call staging news images? I'd call it a serious breech of ethics.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


After months saber rattling and empty posturing, WRGB has folded up like a cheap suitcase. Under an agreement approved by union employees last night, the station's NABET workers will not face the 15% wage cuts threatened by GM Bob Furlong ---and on top of that, they'll get a $1500 signing bonus and the profit sharing money that had been withheld in January. A message on the union's web site, says:
The men and women of the local wish to thank the viewers, labor community, politicians and advertisers that supported us; we could never have done it alone. Now we must ask you to support us by tuning back in to CBS 6 and spending your advertising dollars as we try to restore the station to its former prominence.
Good luck with that prominence thing.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Get Me a Phony Picture, Stat!

Why bother shooting real photos when you can order them up from a stock photo house?How much do I love you? I love you so much that I climbed into a dumpster to find this copy of Wednesday's Record ---all because I didn't want you to miss this ridiculous stock photo that they used on the cover. What hospital is that? General Hospital? Wow! I didn't realize that General Hospital is in Troy. Would you like a better look? Maybe a close up of the models in the picture?

Remember: Dumpster diving. That's how much I love you.

In the Knight Time

It's going to be an interesting evening at the State Museum. Tonight is the 9th annual Fairy Tale Trial, a benefit for Literacy Volunteers Mohawk/Hudson, touted as a night of "theatrical fun and fundraising with local celebrities." This year's production takes you to the court of King Arthur for The Sword and the Stoned; here's a partial list of the cast:
The Lady of Lark Street: Fred LeBrun - The Times-Union
Guinevere: Mary Darcy - WAMC
Nights of the Roundtable: Joe Donohue and Susan Arbetter - WAMC
Sir Launcelot: John Gray - FOX 23
King Arthur: Jeff Wilkin - Daily Gazette
We'd earlier heard that DA David Soares would play the prosecutor---and that John Gray's character was originally named Sir Prancelot but not anymore. Tickets to the show, which was penned by OiNk ringleader Michael Carrese, are $35; Cocktails & Hors d'oevres at 6; Heads up on the cash bar, but there's a (presumably free) beer tasting sponsored by Brewery Ommegang! Drink enough of that and even Fred LeBrun will look good in a skirt.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Pause for the Kause

Mark and Kelly Mulholland with their children.Most of you probably aren't aware of what's been going on with WNYT Saratoga-North Country news chief Mark Mulholland. In 2003, his wife Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer ---and in 2005 they learned that it had spread to her sternum and ribs. Now they're fighting the disease with treatments that include non-traditional therapies that aren't covered by insurance.

This Saturday, Kelly's Kause, a group formed to help the Mulholland's with their expenses, is holding a gala event in Lake George featuring an auction and music by The Burners UK. Tickets are sold-out, but you can chip in by donating at this secure site. Take a minute to read about what they've been up against; maybe there's a way you can help.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Politics of Politics

New York Observer politics writer Ben Smith has jumped ship and swam over to the Daily News. He had to leave behind his popular blog, The Politicker, but has set up a new site called The Daily Politics; he'll also pen a weekly column.

Speaking of reporters, news folks have always complained bitterly when competitors label something exclusive that ain't. Now that they have blogs, instead of just complaining to each other they can complain to you. Such was the case yesterday when the TU's Jay Jochnowitz got cheesed off at the Post over an Ada Smith piece they slapped with the EXCLUSIVE tag. Jochnowitz took his grievance to the paper's Capitol Confidential blog yesterday, reminding the Post of the definition of the word exclusive.

While Capitol Confidential tells readers that the comments are moderated, this apparently doesn't apply to comments about Fred Dicker. One of them labeled the Post reporter as having a "mental illness". I don't think I need to remind everyone that Room 363 isn't that big.

Now Hear This

Who taught all those radio people to do that fake, syrupy announcer voice? You know the one. Just turn on FLY 92 or another station like that for a little while and you'll hear it. It's a treacle laced sing-songy thing that makes your skin crawl ---but somewhere along the line, it became the benchmark sound in American radio. Yecch. Is that what they teach people at radio school?

As much as I hate the phony baloney stuff, I enjoy listening to people who sound real, and that's why I like J.R. Gach's morning show on The Bone. Gach can talk like nobody's business ---and the part of his show that I've been enjoying most lately are his phone calls to WNYT meteorologist Jason Gough. If you read his columns in Capital Region Living, you'd figure you have a major league geek on your hands, but Gough's down-home style is a perfect match for Gach's show, and provides some really entertaining radio. If you don't want to listen to the whole show, tune in at 8am to hear what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sue Who?

Sue Kelly: Not in love with the sound of her own voice.Alan Chartock has interviewed just about every state and federal lawmaker in WAMC's vast listening area, except for one: Sue Kelly. Kelly has represented the Hudson Valley in Congress since 1994, but apparently has never had the time to talk to Chartock. The interviews are well known to anyone who listens to the station, turning up on the Capitol Connection show or as bite sized Congressional Corner nuggets during The Roundtable and Midday Magazine. Why a politician would pass up the opportunity to address such a large and influential audience is a mystery ---and it's not like they get on there and find themselves being grilled. The conversations with Alan Chartock aren't confrontational, but congenial affairs that allow room for the lawmaker to come off sounding pretty darn good. So what's with Sue? As they say in the business, her office didn't get back to us in time for inclusion in this piece. I mean really... Would you answer an email from someone called Albany Eye?

Oh... At the top we said just about every state and federal lawmaker. The one other one who won't come on is George Pataki.

Above the Fold

Nothing conveys truthiness like a manly fold of the arms.It is now absolutely clear: If you wish to be taken seriously in this world, you must stand with your arms folded. Don't take my word for it, just have a look at the front of the business section in today's Times Union. A story about local telecom providers is accompanied by two photos, showing four men (including the ubiquitous Kevin O'Connor) with their arms crossed. It all reeks of power and success.

Or maybe it just reeks of photographers needing to come up with something new. Business publications and annual reports are riddled with this visual cliche, which starts looking like a parody when you see so many people doing it. And as evidenced in today's paper, half the time it makes people look like they want to kick your ass.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ruff Times

Please don't lock me up...WRGB general sales managers Matt Sames can see that things are going to the dogs. And the cats, too. Sames is part owner of Pet Lodge of Clifton Park, as well as two other pet boarding and day care facilities in Plattsburgh and Williston, VT.

Sames, recently honored as one the Business Review's 40 under Forty, is a savvy marketer who knows how important it is to get some press ---that's why he took his story to Capital News 9. I suppose it would be a conflict of interest to have your own station do a piece, but feeding a story to the competition is OK. Oh well, business is business, and it's not like he's buying advertising from them.

Anywho, the most interesting thing about Pet Lodge is that the place is studded with web cams so you can check on Fido or Fluffy while they're checked in. If you already feel guilty, this may not help; I have a hard time not thinking of Albany County Jail when I look at those cameras.