Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bits of Life Over Cream Sherry

I'm drinking the smallest glass of cream sherry ever right now because I wanted a little something before bed, but I didn't want to be up until 11am drinking a more regular sized glass of sherry. My drinking habits tend to run in the "nursing" department, but that's not bad when it comes to figuring out who can drive home at the end of the night.

I went to the first rehearsal for the Living Christmas Tree tonight. There is a kind of sacrilegious feeling to playing Christmas-like music before Halloween has even happened. This is on top of all the Christmas creep I've been trying to ignore in stores. Really retail people? You really think that by saying some people want to get their shopping done early means it's okay to make the rest of us suffer? Really?

That said, I'm looking forward to the early winter/holiday season. I love Thanksgiving and I love those early days of cold weather where you can make the house feel cozy by baking, wearing lots of wool and fleece; and eventually listening to more holiday-themed music. I swear I haven't had a lobotomy.

My main goal right now is making sure I'm caught up at work and getting as much violin practicing in as I can stand before my well-earned, much-needed vacation. I'm playing in a wedding on Veteran's Day which involves a lot of unfamiliar country and religious-pop music. I probably didn't charge the bride enough for my services, seeing as how I had to write out the violin part for one of the songs, but I don't mind in some crazy way. I think all artists and musicians undersell themselves at times just because they enjoy the challenge, or are having enough fun doing it to think about asking for more cash.

Speaking of violin, I have a new student as of Wednesday. She's a 7 year old who has never played violin. I heard through the grapevine that her mom really doesn't want her to go the Suzuki route, which is fine with me.

On the exercise front, I've been asked if I want to be a sub for Zumba classes at the YMCA. I don't have a routine together, so I had to decline. Part of me keeps thinking I should work on creating a routine just because it would be fun to actually use the training I received before my licensee authorization runs outs. I can't justify signing up for the Zumba Instructor Network, which has a monthly fee, in order to maintain my licensee authorization if I don't even have a routine!

Lastly, my body can tell it's time for winter because it wants me to fill up on carbs and sugar as the amount of daylight diminishes. I'm trying to resist the best I can, or at least counter some of my weak moments with appropriate time in the gym, but I can almost feel the other kind of Christmas creep threatening in the form of weight gain. Here's to at least holding steady over the holidays!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Goodbye to Cable 8 News


Tonight's 10pm newscast of Cable 8 News on Time Warner Channel 8 in Chautauqua County and Warren, Pennsylvania will be the last for that news show. After today, Cable 8 News is being absorbed into YNN Buffalo as part of the Time Warner Cable YNN (Your News Now) network.

The Cable 8 news program will be greatly missed in this area. It was the only television news program dedicated to covering Chautauqua County news and sports. While the Buffalo TV stations do cover the big stories, they generally don't come down here to report on stories like the various city, town, and village board meetings; school board meetings, county legislature meetings, and other more "mundane" items that aren't sexy and splashy, but have a great affect on area residents. They also don't give top billing to our athletic sports at area schools and colleges like Cable 8 has done for over a decade.

Fortunately, while the news show will be no more, there will still be 2 news reporters and a sports reporter dedicated to Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany Counties to provide stories to YNN Buffalo. While I don't completely understand how it will work, our local stories will air sometime in the "wheel" of YNN Buffalo's 24 hour news programming. There is a chance now that stories that come out of this area, if interesting or big enough, can be more easily distributed to other YNN stations around New York State

There have been some hints of these changes over the past year. A glossy, happy story titled, Covering the Community, appeared in the Buffalo News on June 11, 2011. Another story, Staff changes expected at YNN, appeared as part of a business section article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle on March 22, 2011. Even with my inside contacts and friends who work for Time Warner/YNN, I don't feel comfortable giving an explanation of why this has all come about and what it means going forward.

I am grateful for the 10 plus years of Cable 8 News. Sure, they weren't as slick as some of the larger TV markets, but when you consider this was the first full-time TV job for many of the people who came across our airwaves, then it brings some perspective. Cable 8 News was a springboard for many to go onto bigger markets:
  • Former Sports Director Kevin Carroll anchors the YNN Buffalo sports desk. 
  • Former News Reporter Dayna Roselli is the Morning News Co-Anchor at KLAS-TV (CBS) in Las Vegas. 
  • Former News Reporter Casey Bortnick reports for YNN Rochester. 
  • Former Sports Reporter Jay Harris is a sports producer for WIVB.  
  • Former Sports Director Jeff Russo anchors the sports desk at WKBW.
  • Former News Reporter Sawyer Van Horn works for NECN (New England Cable News) 
  • Former Sports Director Don Heins is the weekend sports anchor for YNN Buffalo.
  • Former News Director Elizabeth Carey reports for Business First & WKBW.
  • Former Sports Director Ron Vitrano is the Sports Director for ESPN Radio in Tallahassee, FL. 
  • Former News Director Stephanie Hoey is the Account Manager at NBC CT, formerly a WKBW reporter and Executive Producer of Special Projects for NBC.
Anyone reading this who can think of others I missed, please add them in comments.

On a personal note, the 6 years I anchored a newscast for WKZA and then WRFA-LP would not have been possible if not for Cable 8 News. They provided me their nightly news script that I re-worked into a radio-friendly script to read for the 2 minutes of airtime I was given each week day.  Without them, I would not have had the material to create a newscast. I'm indebted to Mark Goshgarian and the other reporters for providing me that information for all those years. It's been a fun ride with all of the Cable 8 staff. Here's to seeing you somewhere in the "wheel"!

UPDATE: I'm still working on confirming these details, but apparently how the "wheel" will work is that YNN Buffalo will carve a 10 minute block in the 7 and 10 o'clock newscasts following the "Weather On the 9's" after the top of the hour for news stories from this area. Whether that includes local sports, I do not know yet. While 10 minutes is nowhere near the same as having 20 minutes of local news, at least Time Warner subscribers can still tune in about the same time as they used to with Cable 8 to see the news for the day for this area. I will update as I learn more.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slow Death of Radio: Part 2

This week has turned into a rather dark one for the radio industry.

Yesterday, Clear Channel laid off about 150 employees at radio station across the country due to heavy debt issues (Partial list of those laid off here and here). The people laid off were mostly on-air staff ranging from talk show hosts, news reporters, DJs, producers of those shows, and others. They are being replaced with syndicated programming that Clear Channel doesn't have to pay an extra dime for since they already have the rights to those shows. Once again, radio markets lose. Of local interest, Brendan O'Riordan, who had worked as a news reporter for WJTN from late 2000 to early 2002, was one of people let go from WHAM in Rochester. These are talented radio people and their on-air presence will be sorely missed.

I wrote about how local radio is dying in a 2004 post called, Slow Death of Radio. What I said then has been clearly demonstrated by Clear Channel this week. A Syracuse Post-Standard article does a great job at filling in those details and other historical background on how the hell this all has come to be.

On the brighter side, since 2004, two local stations have come on the air in Jamestown and in the Southern Tier. One of those is not-for-profit, Arts Council-owned WRFA-LP. The other is Seneca Nation-owned commercial station WGWE. Both stations provide local programming and local hosts. Money is probably the biggest issue why WRFA doesn't have more live on-air staff and local programming but they are fortunate to have some dedicated volunteers along with some of the hardest working radio guys I've met with Public Affairs Director Jason Sample, General Manager Dennis Drew, and Consultant Steve Shulman.

On a not so brighter side, a good chunk of the money WRFA receives has come the past few years from a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Earlier year, there were threats to cut money to CPB and National Public Radio (NPR). Fortunately, that did not happen, but now the GOP has geared up again to go after funding to NPR.

Why should you care?

When you have radio conglomerates where local programming is homogenized across the country, public radio is often one of the few places where you can hear a local newscast or hear local personalities. Of course, with the syndication of NPR programming, the chances that you'll hear much difference from one NPR station to the next is just as bad as listening to any given Clear Channel Kiss station (note: WKZA in Jamestown is NOT a Clear Channel Kiss station). Local radio has become less personal and more canned across the country. Fortunately, in Jamestown we still have local voices on the air, but there are a lot of instances where those voices are pre-recorded and aired later in the day.

My probably unrealistic hope is that Clear Channel will get to a point in its financial state where it's forced to divest itself of some of the radio stations it owns, thus potentially allowing the ownership of some of those stations to return to independent groups that don't already own over 3 stations in a market. Given the economy and the cost of running a radio station, I don't know if this will ever come to be.

Please support your local radio stations that do provide local programming and local personalities. Consider donating to the public radio stations that depend on local listeners to extend that small bit of federal funding they may receive to exist. I'll repeat my urgings from 2004 to contact your representatives in Congress to tell them not to cut funding to CPB or NPR; and to urge them to scale back the flawed Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tweeting Fun & the Erie County Executive Debate

For some odd reason, I decided to watch the Erie County Executive Debate on WNED tonight. I had gotten the heads-up about it from earlier in the day about what hash-tags to use (#ECDebate) if you were going to tweet while watching, so I thought, "Well, this could be fun."

Totes fun.

Okay, I've been out of the politics game for quite awhile even though I still do stuff here and there depending on what my husband begs me to do. There are no contested races in my election district this Fall and that's including the mayoral race for the City of Jamestown. Many people are lacking reasons to get to the polls in this county. It's pretty damn sad. And then I look to the north to Erie County and see there's a County Executive race. That could be fun.

The debate was proof of such fun. I'm a Democrat, so I was rooting for Comptroller Mark Poloncarz. Disclosure, etc. That said, I've seen and heard enough debates to know when one side is doing a better job than the other. Poloncarz missed some opportunities in his statements, but overall he crushed incumbent County Executive Chris Collins. You almost got the impression like this was Collins' first time on the political debate circuit.

From a fluff standpoint, someone needs to get Collins better make-up so that he doesn't look like he's sweatin' like Nixon all over the podium (actually thought of the Buffalo band first before the actual historic reference).

All that aside, it's the #ECDebate twitter tag that made this all fun. I laughed out loud so many times tonight. It reminded me of the old Bfloblog days of watching Sabres games and the live blogging/comments. Maybe it's the whole MST3K feel to it all. Anyway, I want to thank all the WNY Tweeps who made my Thursday night and helped me become a little more educated on what's happening politically in Erie County.

Away, Away

We're on a mini-vaca in an area where they're experiencing forest fires (thanks asshole arsonist). It's an area that makes Clift...