Archive for November, 2006

My Best of 2006
November 28, 2006

I was reading Maxim magazine the other day ( don’t ask me why ) and they, like every other magazine, came out with thier year-end list. Problem was, none of the events happened in 2006 and those that did were baffling to say the least. For instance, “Point Break” was thier DVD of the year. Great, but it came out 5 years ago. They gave singer Ashlee Simpson top comeback honors. Excuse me, when did she come back from the disaster that her career has become.

With that in mind, here’s my year end list of the best. Feel free to agreee, disagree or just dismiss the whole list.

BEST SONG/VIDEO: Christina Aguilera, “Ain’t No Other Man”:
I never listened to her music — until I saw this video. Now, the song is my ringtone.

BEST PERFORMANCE ON CAMERA: Sally Wiggin, “Steeler Nation”:
She’s one deep thinker. Her responses in this NFL Films documentary are pure brilliance.

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR: Pittsburgh Steelers.
Greatest post-season run in history — and they didn’t even win thier division.

COLLAPSE OF THE YEAR: Same as above.
Making history agaain — and still not the best team in thier division.

BEST BLING: Steeler Super Bowl Ring.
Great to see one for the thumb, but I think the virtual ring we designed prior to the unveiling looks better.

“She’s got soul, she’s got class, she’s got style ….” ( lyrics borrowed from Ms Aguilera).

He lived his dream during his brief tenure as mayor — and that’s why we celebrate him in death.

GROWING UP FAST: Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Sidney Crosby
Two 20-somethings thrown into high-pressure situations and maturing before our eyes.

Am I the only person who’s flabbergasted that this clown Tom Cruise gets this much attention?

I can finally find my favorite music videos from the 80’s – and not have to wair for VH1.

BEST TV AD: National City Points Spot:
You know an ad has hit its mark if you fin yourself humming the music at 4am in the morning.

TOP DVD: “Wedding Crashers”
The first 20 minutes of the DVD were great. Then again, I love anything Vince Vaughn does

TOP TREND IN MY WORLD: Text messaging.
With keyboards on cellphones easier to use, why call when you can just leave a message?

BIGGEST WASTE OF MONEY: North Shore Connector.
$435M to connect the North Shore to downtown? Anybody heard of the Clemente Bridge?

BAD GIRL OF THE YEAR: Actress Sienna Miller.
She came to shoot a movie and instead shot herself in the foot. Ripping the city of Pittsburgh – apologizing – and then cussing out a bartender. Her actions are the real “Mystery of Pittsburgh”.

Enjoy and discuss.

10 Reasons to Give Thanks
November 21, 2006

I think everyone can come up with 10 reasons to give “thanks” on this thanksgiving holiday. Here’s my list of what I’ll be thinking about – and thanking the Lord for – before I dive into dinner. In no particular order:

1. For the continued good health of mom and dad who are also near 70.

2. For our dog , Boobaloo. An abused bischon/poodle, he wandered into our lives and forever changed us and the way we love each other.

3. Football. Pro, college or high school, there is nothing better – especially on Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping the Detroit Lions actually give us a good game this Thursday and not another turkey.
4. For Bob O’Connor. Getting to know him and getting to see him fulfill his lifelong dream. He always wanted to be mayor of Pittsburgh. While his tenure was too short, his impact will be felt for years to come.

5. For my wife Sharon. Her common sense, her forgiving nature and her love and support. With apologizes to Lou Gehrig, I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

6. For golf – western Pa’s great golf courses – and my golfing buddy Big Joe. What would I do without them?

7. For the giving people of Western PA. I go to charity events all the time and I am still amazed at how generous wit their dollars and their time.

8. For my new job in the mornings. WTAE has given me a chance to move my career in a new direction and given me a home the last 11 years.
9. For Kelly, Demetrius, Melanie and Dana (our morning show producer). They have become my second family and only because of their support and friendship have I been able to make a smooth transition.

10. For Playstation 2 and “hopefully” 3. Honey, I hope you got the hint for the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours — and good luck with your list. May your life be as blessed as mine has been.

Now I Get It
November 17, 2006

If you are a fan of NFL Films, you know they mix football film video with powerful music and well-crafted writing to bring drama to our favorite game. However, NFL Films has outdone itself with its latest endeavor.

If you caught our newscast Wednesday, you may have seen my special report on “Steeler Nation.” That’s the title of NFL Films’ half-hour look at the army of Steelers fans from coast to coast — and beyond. It tells how this passion for Pittsburgh originated from the nearly devastating steel mill closings of the late 70’s and early 80’s. People had to leave Pittsburgh to find work – causing the city to lose one-third of its population. While they left for greener pastures, they never forgot their roots and that longing for home turned into a love of the Steelers — the most visible symbol of the city.

What really touched me is the way the story was told. It was done without little football and used stories of passion and love for the Steelers. Personal tales were told by everyone from Poison band leader Bret Michaels to a pastor in Patriots country who bleeds black and gold. In between the narrator, we hear Steeler Nation’s story being told by such Pittsburgh people as WDVE’s Scott Paulsen, UPMC sports psychologist Paul Friday and our own Sally Wiggin. Sally was eloquent and her descriptions capture the cult that is Steeler Nation. Of course, she has had 26 years of this stuff.
I’m a relative novice having covered the club for a decade before moving to news. In that time, when I traveled with the team I saw this Steeler Nation phenomenon first hand. Steeler fans outnumbering the home team fans and creating a home away from home. While I watched it for years, I never understood it until I saw this special from NFL Films. The story and the way it was told touched me and moved me. I’m both proud and embarrassed to say I finally get it.

Plus — let’s give big props to Keith Crossrow. The Mount Lebanon native and NFL Films producer put his heart and soul into this project and the result is perhaps the best piece NFL Films has ever done. It airs Saturday at 12:30pm on the NFL Network.

The name is Stockey … Andrew Stockey
November 10, 2006

Friday night, I will be serving as emcee of the Variety Children’s charity event downtown. It’s a black tie event, so I will have to pull out the old “monkey suit” as some call it. However, going ties and tails reveals something about every man’s fantasy so ladies, listen closely.

No matter what your man tells you, when we put on a tuxedo — at least for a moment — we imagine ourselves being James Bond, secret agent 007. I know I look into the mirror once I have my bow-tie set and hear the James Bond theme running through my head and I’m sure I’m not alone. Then again, none of us look as good as the guy below.

That’s Daniel Craig. The sixth actor to play the suave and sophisticated secret agent and he makes his debut next weekend in “Casino Royale” which based upon Ian Fleming’s first book about his fictional British spy. How do I know so much about James Bond? If you read my bio, you will see I consider myself a huge James Bond fan. I have seen every movie and have almost all the soundtracks as well as several books. I’m very excited about the film and we’re planning to have a group ( which includes reporters Gus Rosendale and Aaron Saykin ) go see the premiere next Friday.

What is is about Bond? I wish I could tell you. It’s not just the girls or the gadgets or the bad guys, but it’s a combination of all those things that wind up being every man’s fantasy. Of course, I take that fantasy to the extreme. My computer screen saver is the movie poster and I check the Bond news website daily. You should check it out, too:

Pierce Brosnan was my favorite Bond actor. “Licence to Kill” was my favorite Bond film, but I think “Casino Royale” will be great because it takes us back to the beginning – to Bond’s roots. We find out why he’s a sexist and a womanizer and so cold and callous when it comes to killing. I can’t wait for next Friday. Then again, I can’t wait to wear the tux tonight.

Katie and Me
November 7, 2006

She’s America’s Sweetheart.

My parents and my dog seem to like me.

She made history as the first woman to solo anchor an network evening newscast.

I’m the first graduate of Simsbury High School to be on television. Check that. ESPN’s soccer analyst Rob Stone also graduated from SHS.

She gets paid $15M a year.

I’m currently in negotiations with WTAE, but I’m setting my sights a little lower.

So what could I possibly have in common with Katie Couric. More than you might imagine. I know she worked for years at NBC and now at CBS, but she has always been one of my favorite broadcasters and one of my role models in the business along with Bryant Gumbel.

She began her network career 15 years ago, just like myself. While her audience was larger and the pressure on her was greater as she began the “Today” show, we both were novices in our business. Hoping to prove to those around us that we could do the job. She proved to be an adept interviewer and I managed to show some talent as a sportscaster.

This summer, both our lives changed dramatically. You might say we switched roles. After 15 years, I moved from nights to mornings and from sports to news. Katie did almost the reverse. She switched from mornings to evenings and from co-host to solo anchor.

While my move was not heralded in the quite the same manner, there were some similar pressures and doubts among the viewing public. Can he/she do hard news? Will the viewers accept him/her in this new role?

I guess the jury is still out on Katie, but I’m pulling for her to be successful ( as long as she comes in second to “World News Tonight” on ABC ). It might be a small way, but I feel a certain tie – a certain kinship with Katie because in many ways she approaches her life and her job. Just like me, she believes what we do isn’t always about ratings. It’s about helping me people and giving back to the community ( Katie’s emphasis has been on colerectal cancer while I have been active in breast cancer research locally ).

We even have toned down our dress styles to match our new duties. That’s where the comparisons end. I won’t be trying to emulate her in the footwear department.

The Mean Season
November 2, 2006

I though the nasty hits linebackers put on quarterbacks and the cheap shots hockey enforcers often apply to the opposition were about as bad as it got. Then — I became a news anchor — and started reporting on political campaigns.

While I have had some experience on covering election night events in my first job at Fox News, this is the first full campaign I have reported on as a member of the media. I have to tell you — the accusations, insults and mudslinging — it makes the cheap shots former Penguin Darius Kasparaitus would give an opponent seem like love taps.

You can see this every hour of every day — right here on WTAE. The political commercials have been rather scathing — and they are only getting worse as we near election day. Charges by opponents of candidates taking bribes, kickbacks and other illegal stuff fill the breaks during our morning broadcast. I’m not going to tell you that one spot in worse than another or that one candidate is spewing more sludge than the other, but you can tell who’s winning and who’s losing in a race just by the tone of the commercials.

Case in point, the contentious race for the Senate between Bob Casey and Rick Santorum. While both candidates have used negative advertising throughout, the negative ads from the Casey camp seem to shrinking as we near November 7th. Then again, when you are ahead by double digits in the polls, you can afford to take the high ground and tout your virtues as opposed to ridiculing your opponents vices.

I just worry about how this will affect the undecided voters out there. I’m sure there are more than few of you who have not made up their minds and want to make an informed choice. This kind of advertising doesn’t make that easier — or even possible. Voter confusion is only compounded by the attention to the latest gaffe by John Kerry. Frankly, I don’t think either side benefits when Kerry’s “botched joke” gets so much play — and not just from the media.

In a perfect worlds, I would love to see less negative advertising and more discussion of the issues that affect my world, my family and my life. I would also like to play a round at Pebble Beach with Tiger Woods and Natalie Gulbis, but that’s not going to happen either. I would just hope that somehow, some way we could have an intelligence discussion prior to an election as opposed to all this name-calling and backstabbing that makes both candidates in a race look like petulant children. Here’s to perhaps better behavior in 2008.

I can dream, can’t I?