Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It Pays to Advertise

If you ever listen to Paul Vandenburgh's show on WROW, you've heard him talk incessently about Carlson Wagonlit Travel. They are the wizards who organize his frequent trips, including the Where In the World is Paul Tour that's coming in a couple of weeks. According to a Business Review story, the travel agency has filed for Chapter 11. See, it's true. Advertising really does things for your business.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Alt Weekly Blues

One of our readers writes:
Don't you find it a little sad the Metroland has resorted to using a syndicated front pager? More and more of the thing is ads and classifieds anyways ---and they can't write their own piece?
The front page story in question is about "corporate food" and was penned by well known Texas activist Jim Hightower. It originally appeared in the March edition of Lowdown, Hightower's newsletter. Jim Hightower's no slouch ---but when your local alternative press starts abandoning local reporting, you've got to wonder what's going on.

It's hard to say how many people are really interested in Metroland's news section and how many go directly to the reviews and arts listings. And the naughty bits. My sense is that there's a small core of earnest, conscientious folks who demand the other side of the story. And then there are the rest of us.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


It looks like Glenn Heller's ongoing internut rant against WAMC's Alan Chartock is losing traction in Wikipedia. Heller recently tried to dominate the online encyclopedia's entry on Chartock, using it as an extension of his anti-Alan web site, A war of sorts ensued, with people deleting or "vandalizing" (that's Wikipedia's term, not mine) Heller's entries. The funniest of these was someone who kept renaming the link to Heller's site as the WAMC Northeast BUTT PIRATE Network.

Yes, it's a stinky stew that simmers when angry people with too much time on their hands get computers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sesame Street on Eagle Street

Card playing robot dogs not your thing? Head down to the Governor's Mansion today where Sesame Street's Elmo will appear at an event hosted by the Office of Mental Health. No word on whether it will be the real Elmo appearing or someone dressed in an Elmo suit. An appearance by the real Elmo would be noteworthy, because it would mean a visit from Emmy Award winning puppeteer Kevin Clash, the man behind the immensely popular red furry Muppet.

My youngest is beyond Sesame Street days, but if I remember correctly, Elmo always seemed a little retarded appeared to be developmentally disabled, so he's perfect for this event.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Atomic Dog

Oscar: I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. Which one do you want?  Murray: What's the green?  Oscar: It's either very new cheese or very old meat.I don't really get all that nanotech stuff, but here's something I can understand: robot dogs playing cards. This press release from UAlbany for a Wednesday event:
Students, Robotic Dogs Match Blackjack Skills at the University at Albany's Annual RoboShow

What: Sony's AIBO ERS-7 robotic dogs to navigate, flash their LEDs, dance, and play ball during University at Albany Robotics students experimental research project demonstrations. Students have taught the dogs how to play Black Jack against humans and how to play soccer.
Yeah, I know ---the dogs in the picture are playing poker, not blackjack. It's still funny.

Name Game

Here's some exciting news: WB 45 has changed their call letters to WCWN. The updated calls put the station in line with their new network affiliation, the recently formed CW Network. General Manager Diane Howard told the Business Review:
This name change will be important to our overall strategy for building a new brand for the station.
This is interesting, because channel number and call letters are becoming irrelevant in the age of cable. How many people actually watch WCWN on channel 45 over the air any more? It's more likely that the station will brand itself CW Albany or CW Capital Region or something like that. The Capital Region's WC is probably not on the short list.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pull In For Free Wi-Fi

The random nature of this world is a mysterious thing. Niskayuna police say that Wendy Gresens of Schenectady collided with a car driven by Times Union feature writer Kristi Gustafson yesterday ---and then rammed another vehicle through the front window of Panera Bread at Mohawk Commons. Gustafson was not hurt, but two other people, including Gresens, received minor injuries. Photos of the accident have not yet appeared on Albany2Go's Seen page.

Chris Jones, whose car was pushed through the window, was reportedly "taking soup and sandwiches home to share with his family for Mother's Day." Way to go all out for mom, big spender. Please disregard the snarky comment. Albany Eye sincerely hopes Mr. Jones and his family enjoyed a happy Mother's Day.

It's a Gas

There's a word in TV for CBS 6's $100 gas giveaway contest: desperate.

The way it works (this was mentioned in TU ethics writer Mark McGuire's the Friday column) is that folks win $100 gas card if they're the sixth person to call in when prompted during the late news. Trying to buy an audience isn't something new, but usually when TV stations dip into the contest cesspool they give away something really big.

Can you get more people to watch this way? Yes. History has shown that the same mooks who fill out ratings books are the sort who will stay up until 11 and call in for a TV giveaway. The last time I checked, mooks 18-49 was not a demo listed in the ratings book, but if it were, WRGB would be golden.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ethics Schmethics

I knew it was a bad idea to criticize the Times Union for putting its name on the Pepsi Arena. Only a week after questioning the ethical implications of the paper's naming rights deal, comes a Mark McGuire column in the TU questioning the ethics of this web site.

Besides giving me way too much credit for being an "influential watchdog" and "insightful", McGuire quotes some amusing stuff from email we exchanged, including my take on anonymous blogging, which I said, "May be sneaky and cowardly but I'm not sure it's unethical."

A Noble Undertaking

The New York State Funeral Directors Association has donated $40,000 to help mortuary science students hard hit in the aftermath of Katrina. Their press release explains:
Many students are displaced and face commutes of up to two hours each way in order to complete their education -- some even living in their cars due to the lack of available housing.
Now that sucks. What do you tell people you meet out at bars? "Yeah...I'm studying to work in a funeral home ---and right now I'm living out of my car." Good luck with that.

In the other hand, if you're sick of the media stuff and considering a career change, maybe this is for you. In New York, to become a funeral director you need 22 credit hours in mortuary arts and sciences and 22 in something called "funeral service education." If you already have some electives under your belt, you could get your degree in three semesters at Hudson Valley. Adds a whole new spin to burying the lead, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Kid Power

Listening to Joe Bruno and Shirley Ann Jackson proves that something can suck and blow at the same time.I've gotta say, the Tech Valley Kids Summit sounds a lot more interesting than the adult version. Tomorrow's event at RPI is setting out to "inspire a love of math, science, engineering and technology in middle school students," and will feature hands-on sessions involving cool hi-tech stuff. Best of all? The keynote speaker is Bill Nye the Science Guy. Nye is well known to kids and adults for his TV show that makes science and technology fun; he's the teacher we all wish we had in high school.

The summiteers will also learn that nothing in this world comes without a price. To learn that lesson, they will be forced to sit and listen to remarks from Joe Bruno and RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Hump Day Report

As Heard on WROW
Someone called the WROW morning show to talk about soda being banned from schools:
Paul Vandenburgh: The idea that these kids are developmentally disabled -in terms of their girth- that it has something to do with the beverage companies is unbelievable.

Caller: Well Said, Paul.
Paging Dr. Freud
I'm not getting any funnier, but my typos are. From Monday's item about the LCA show, this amusing keyboard slip:
One person who wrote liked the song, but loved (Liz) Benjamin's slinky low cut dress, which offered a view from Bighamton to Buffalo and everything in between.
The Good News Is That We Got The Naming Rights To the Pepsi
The bad news? Circulation is down. The paper reports that the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations numbers show the TU's daily editions down 2.7% and the Sunday dreadnought off a whopping 4.4%. Publisher Mark Aldam predicted that the next audit would show increases. Or else.

Local Band Makes Good
Area rockers The Decadent Royals managed to get one of their songs played on the Howard Stern Show recently, apparently during a segment about junk the show receives in the mail. Howard said, wait a second, this is good stuff; you can try downloading the clip from the show here if you feel adventurous.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Return of the Funny Flack

Hey, Richard Arthur's back! The Albany County DA's office has been pretty busy since David Soares's trip to Canada, so it looks like the DA's former PR man is picking up the flack slack for Rachel McEneny. He returned in grand style, sending out an email with this subject line mocking the name of recently convicted burglar Lee Marvin Hall. It read:
Hall Gets Decked
That's some funny stuff ---but it would have been even better to work in a Dirty Dozen reference to riff on Hall being named after Lee Marvin.


The Times Union is TURNing to you for advice. The paper's new initiative, the Times Union Reader's Network, asks folks to sign on and become a resource for the editors and reporters. When they want to know something, they'll send you an email, which is like totally interactive. The paper explains:
We may ask general questions like "How are we doing?" or more specific ones like "We are writing a story about people who collect stamps. Do you know someone we should contact?" or "The President signed new tax legislation today. How will the changes affect you?"
Maybe they ask what we think of the paper putting it's name on a government owned building? The possibilities are endless. I think it's great that the paper tries new things, like when they started up a registration system for online content. Whatever happened to that, anyway? I think I forgot my password.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Roar of the Grease Paint

The 106th annual Legislative Correspondents Association Dinner was Saturday night and by all accounts this year's show didn't disappoint. Most of the working stiffs I rub elbows with caught Friday night's dress rehearsal, rather than Saturday's $250 a plate gala, which included appearances by Hillary Clinton and Bill Weld.
Highlights (besides Michael Carrese's ever popular Sheldon Silver schtick) included WNYT morning anchor Phil Bayly belting out a parody of Bob Hope's signature song Thanks For The Memory, as George Pataki, and Rick Karlin and The Times's Jennifer Medina as John Spencer and K.T. McFarland singing I'm Candidate the Eight (Henry the Eighth).

Also widely commented upon has been Liz Benjamin's take on Jeanine Pirro, singing Senate Race (Beauty School) Dropout. One person who wrote liked the song, but loved Benjamin's slinky low cut dress, which offered a view from Binghamton to Buffalo and everything in between.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Ethics Center

OK, so the Times Union closed on the naming rights to the Pepsi Arena; we hoed that row pretty thoroughly last week, so what more is there to say? Just this: The paper hasn't just put its name on a building, they've put their name on a building owned by the government. People can explain all day why this is OK, but it isn't. When you go into business with the ones you're supposed to be watching, you're not starting to slide down the slippery slope, you're half way to the bottom.

Morning Radio Roundup

This week's stupidest press release came from The River:
ALBANY - The River Morning Crew with Randi and Tred will broadcast live outside The River Studios located at Riverhill Center, 1203 Troy-Schenectady Road on Friday, May 5th at 7am as they attempt to make the Capital Region's Biggest Burger! Randi & Tred will be starting off the Barbecue Season by attempting to cook a 20 pound burger!
What will those wacky morning teams think of next? Cover this story and I will personally come to your newsroom and beat you with a spatula.

Big Changes at FLY 92: Candy and Potter are leaving for a gig at WLNK, Charlotte. What the hell will we do without the special magic that Candy and Potter brought to Capitaland radio? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

The Wakin' Up With the Wolf Show wants all you truckers out there to stay off the road May 15 to protest fuel prices. Everyone else can help by not purchasing any gas. Buy all the fuel you want on May 14 and May 16, but not May 15. That should show the oil companies.

Finally, Heidi Kelly, newscaster on WROW's Paul Vandenburgh Show, had this to say about convicted terrorist Zacharias Moussaui:
He's the scum that scum scrapes off its shoe.
She must have overslept the day they taught about objectivity at the New School.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be

Now that they have their labor woes behind them, WRGB is hiring. This from the Sunday TU:
Video Journalist WRGB-TV in Albany, New York is looking for a full-time video journalist. Duties include reporting and shooting and editing videotape for newscasts. We're looking for a creative storyteller with the ability to develop sources and enterprise information.
This video journalist business evolved as a way to break up the traditional reporter/photog team and put more newsgathering power on the street ---and at WRGB, it's not a union position. This will make CBS 6 the first network affiliate in the market to go with VJs; CapitalNews 9 has done so since signing on.

There are a lot of photogs that will never be reporters, and reporters I can't quite see dragging a camera around, but at the end of the day, which skill do you think will remain most valuable?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

No Winners

Ken Wilcox
"The Times Union reporting on the life and tragic death of Detective Ken Wilcox has been accurate and fair."
That's what Rex Smith has been saying since Thursday's explosive story detailing Wilcox's last hours, which the paper says were spent at Noche, a trendy Albany nightspot.

Since then the TU has been obliquely threatened by the police union, slammed by Wilcox's family and friends, and accused of downright lying about what happened that night. Even the NAACP has taken up the Wilcox cause, throwing an unnecessary tinge of race into the mix. The paper has stood its ground ---but not without going far out of the way to make amends, running a front page Sunday profile of the late detective and devoting a page at their web site to his story.

Other local media? They've largely left the Noche story to the paper, lacking the sources and the will to pursue it. They've also mostly ignored the implications of Wilcox's reported .03 blood alcohol content. As blogger Democracy in Albany asked, what was his BAC when he showed up at work?

We'll see what (if anything) we know when the Albany Police conclude their investigation. Should the TU's version of events be verified, they'll face the ugly task of discrediting the story of a grieving family.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post implied that other media outlets hadn't bothered to interview Steve Barnes. This was incorrect. They tried, but were declined on-camera interviews. Barnes confirmed his version of events for those that contacted him.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rise Up and Unite

The man is keeping me down.Today is May Day, the international worker's holiday, and today I call on my brothers and sisters to support our comrades at CapitalNews 9. I've heard that the good folks at CN9 are still being denied access to Albany Eye. People who work there say that since we wrote about the cable news channel's internet policy, we were placed on the S-List. And that doesn't stand for special. What's up with that? And this after all the good things we've said about them.

Here's how you can do your part to help the hardworking newshounds at Time Warner enjoy a moment of pleasure during their grueling day: write a polite note the Capital News 9 General Manager Al Marlin and urge him to release Albany Eye from the web filter. You're not doing it for me. You're doing it for workers everywhere.