Archive for November, 2007

Check It Out: Lawrenceville
November 30, 2007

Before I blog about a cool way to spend your weekend, let me say this: Thank You! We just got the ratings for the month of November ( sweeps month ) and once again, our morning show won. We not only won the 5am and 6am hours, we had bigger audiences than we had a year ago. While the whole morning show crew is proud of its’ efforts, we know it would be impossible with you tuning in every morning.

While we love our jobs and like being part of your mornings, we alos want to be number one. We love the competition and we want to be able to keep saying we are “Pittsburgh’s #1 morning newscast”. There is a little more animated celebration on Melanie Taylor’s blog right now.

photo courtesy: Lawrenceville Corporation

Back to main topic of today’s blog. There’s a wonderful event going on this weekend that is guarnteed to raise some eyebrows and open some eyes. Lawrenceville’s renaissance is showcased in this weekend’s “Joy of Cookies” tour. The premise is simple: Over 30 businesses,s hops, bars and restaurants in Lawrenceville are opening their doors .. and to get you to walk through them, they are offering cookies made by various chefs around town.
The cookies are just the vehicle. The real attraction is the new Lawrenceville. The boutiques, the shops, the mix of eclectic business and the booming number of restaurants. Lawrenceville is undergoing a major change that has it poised to be the next “hot” neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

Don’t take my word for it. Kate Trimble is the executive director of Lawrenceville Corporation. The organization promotes the positives of the community – and she says right now there are more positives than she can describe. There is new, hip housing being built that starts in the $300K range as well as enough parking to handle the flow of folks along Butler street. Best of all, Butler street is becoming a one-stop shop for various forms of shopping .. and you can walk your way to the myriad of stores.

No wonder the New York Times singled out the neighborhood. Looking for a place to play this weekend? Take a look at Lawrenceville.

One last thing: How about this week is the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video? Am I the only one who feels old? I remember how I sat in front on my TV, like millions of Americans, to watch the debut. Now, 25 years have passed .. and the only thing that hasn’t changed is how strange and goofy Michael Jackson.

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Someone New on the Morning Crew
November 29, 2007

The only constant is change. That should the mantra for my business. I just walked in this morning and learned that Gus Rosendale is leaving us. Returning to his previous market in upstate New York/Vermont to become the new main anchor at his old station. Gus, we’ll miss you. You are one sharp dresser and an even better reporter.

Our morning show has also undergone some change. This fall, our executive producer in the mornings moved to Washington D.C. Dana Brown was more than just a talented producer, she was a good friend. We miss her and we still stay in touch. She’s off to do bigger and better things and soon, one day, achieve her dream of becoming a network TV news producer.

In the meantime, we have finally found Dana’s replacement. Meet Jennifer Sloan, our new executive producer.

She prefers to be in the background, but I thought I would give her some time in the spotlight so you could get to know her better. Jennifer comes to us from Houston. There, she produced the top-rated 11pm newscast. Before hitting Texas, Jennifer was in Tennessee and, before that, Toronto. Before she accepted the job here, Jennifer tells me she spent time watching our shows. She even took the time to read my blog!

On Thanksgiving Day, she began working the overnight shift with producer Nick Matoney. That might be the most difficult part of her job: just getting used to the hours. Everything else has been a smooth in her transition. She’s jumped right into the culture of the morning show and that includes drinking my coffee out of the pot with the missing spout. Most of all, she comes to us with a fresh set of eyes, an open mind and new ideas. It’s that new perspective that makes a good product even better.

So if you see Jennifer walking around Pittsburgh getting acquainted with her new town, please say “hello” .. or even better, buy her a Primanti’s sandwich so she can get the full Pittsburgh experience.

Dancing with the Stars
November 28, 2007

This probably is not cool given my employer but I am not a regular viewer of ABC’s smash-hit “Dancing with the Stars.” My reasons? Well, considering I get up at 2am, I’m not awake to see the show. Also, given my schedule, I never commit myself to watching a show week after week.

That being said, I have become somewhat of a fan of the program because we do show highlights every week during the morning news – and I have become fond of some of the participants and cannot stand others.

I was happy to see Emmitt Smith win – but I could not understand for the life of me why Marie Osmond finished in the top three. Plus, I don’t know what the judges are looking at sometimes when they make these decisions. But there is one observation I have made which make it easy for me to make this prediction: a male celebrity WILL win next season. Why? Well, consider Helio Castroneves won – and before that it was Emmitt Smith and Apolo Ohno. Coincidence? I think not.

Here’s why the men will always win.

When you watch a couple dance (whether you are a man or a woman), who are you really focusing on? Be honest now. Of course it’s the woman. We also watch the woman because she is usually the more glamorous and graceful of the pair. She is always the more elaborate costume and makes the more dramatic dance steps.

All the man has to do is not get in her way. With that being the premise, the female celebrities really have no chance because they are being compared to the other female dancers – and those women are professional. Do you really think Mel B. had a prayer against Julianne Graham? So eliminate the ladies and just focus on the men … and as long as the men follow the example of Helio – playing the straight man next to the more dazzling lady – they will win.

Mystery solved. Bet on the guys next season.

The Sad Sod Story
November 27, 2007

I was wrong.

While doing a live report on the pre-game show on WTAE, I said it was going to be a quagmire on Monday Night Football.

It was worse.

If you saw it, you know how bad the re-sodded stadium turf looked and played as the Steelers and Dolphins slogged to a 3-0 Pittsburgh win in the pouring rain. Now, before you write this off as a sports blog by a former sports guy, let me make my case.

There are more important things in the world than the turf at Heinz Field – like global warming – and I could think of a better use for $100K than re-sodding a football field. That being said, what happened last night was a national embarrassment.

Monday Night Football – for better or worse – is one of the best marketing tools for a city. The whole world is literally watching and this is a chance for people who never come to Pittsburgh to see the city in all it’s glory. This is why all the downtown building keep the lights on all night.

However, the post-game comments from the national media made one of Pittsburgh’s prized resources – Heinz Field – the butt of a national joke. Writers and commentators nationwide this morning are questioning whether the game should even have been played given the atrocious field conditions. NFL experts saying this was by far the worst field conditions for a game since the 1940’s .. and these are some of the nicer comments.

What troubles me most is that in every national story, there is a mention of the WPIAL championships being played two days before as if that was part of the problem and partly the reason the turf was so terrible. I sincerely hope the high schoolers do not get hung out to dry for what happened on Monday night and can still play their championships on the North Shore.

What I hope we did witness was a watershed moment. An awakening for the Steelers organization that it’s now time to move towards Field Turf, a widely used grass substitute which virtually every high school uses. It’s safer, more durable, it lasts longer and drains better. I know the Rooneys would love to have grass on their home field but what took place last night made it abundantly clear this cannot work.

The Steelers had the best of intentions. Now, it’s time to use the best of common sense.

Done Shopping Yet?
November 26, 2007

I hope everyone had a great holidays weekend. Hopefully your dinners went off without a hitch and you were able to work off all those extra calories by shopping. Yes — shopping!

What began as a attempt by retailers to get us to spend more money earlier has become a full-blown national holiday. Think about it. We are actually programmed to spend more money than we have on things we really don’t need and be used to accumulating more debt than we can handle. Sure, there are “sales” and “deals”, but how many of you actually wound up spending more than you planned?

Of course, the more we spend the better for the economy and that benefits all of us, but I cannot handle this “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” stuff. While Sharon did not go shopping this weekend, I actually attempted to go to the mall to buy something for the holidays on Sunday. Big mistake. I want a new cell phone – the Verizon Voyager ( see the photo below ) – which is also known as the “iPhone killer” because it has everything the iPhone has at 2/3 of the price. So I went to the mall and went to buy one – and they were sold out and weren’t going to have any in until the 15th.

That was enough for me. Between the lines, the parking lot mess and the lack of stock, I’m not going to the mall. Then again, I’m not much for on-line shopping because I like to actually hold the object in my hands before I buy it. I know I’m strange but I have my hang-ups.

I’m trying not a be a “Scrooge” here, but holiday shopping has become more hassle than it’s worth in my eyes – and there is probably no chance things are going to let up as we approach the end of the year. Therefore, I’ve decided ( and feel free to share this with anyone getting a gift from me this year ) I’m going to buy gift cards and be done with it.

Still – for you brave souls willing to go into the shopping wilderness, have fun and shop until you drop.

Giving Thanks
November 20, 2007

It’s a custom in the news biz to ask people what they are thankful for the day before Thanksgiving. For years, I have also compiled my list of things that I am thankful for – and with a few changes here and there – they have stayed pretty much the same.

I am thankful for family, friends and good health. I am grateful for employment and resources to enjoy my life. I am happy that – in some small way – my life allows me to give back to my community with both time and dollars.

However, there is something new that I am grateful for .. and a few years ago would never have considered a key part of my life .. and that is you. You – the people who both read my blog and send me responses. For years, I never knew what my audience was like and what they were thinking on any given day. Now I do.

Instantly, I can tell if you like something you see on Channel 4 and if something doesn’t please you. I can get your feelings on the topics we cover as well as the ones we don’t. Through my blog, I am able to share my life with you and you are able to share your adventures with me.

Most of all, I have gotten closer to the people who watch our station — making it truly a two-way relationship. Some of those people I have actually come to know by name through their responses to my blog. I do not know their faces, but I feel as close to them as some people I see face-to-face on a daily basis.

While I do not want to slight anyone, I do want to say “Happy Thanksgiving” to those who respond to my blogs on a regular basis. Some of you make it part of your morning route before starting the work day while some of you read at home after getting the family out the door. To all of you, thank you for giving me another reason to give “Thanks” on this holiday.

Finally, thanks to the folks here at WTAE and thepittsburghchannel.com. From web editor Chris Twomey’s invitation to start blogging to news director Bob Longo’s on-going support of this venture, thanks for giving me another outlet to get to know our viewers.

And to all of you, have a “Happy Thanksgiving”.

P.S. – You might have noticed that we went pink this morning. Here’s the inside scoop. Demetrius, Melanie and I decided to wear pink — just for fun. Knowing Kelly, we figured we wouldn’t tell her but somehow she would wear pink anyway. Well, you see the result. Kelly was kind of freaked out by all this. I guess we all just know each other very well. Maybe too well ..

Andrew will take a holiday break from blogging but will be on the air Thursday and Friday. He will return with more blogging fun on Monday morning. Until then, have a great holiday weekend.

Some Things Just Have to Be Said
November 20, 2007

I have been pretty happy-go-lucky in my recent posts. I was about to do so again when my Mandy, my friend and blog reader, reminded me that sometimes my blog needs to be about more than baby names and birthday greetings. With that in mind, some stories that bear further comment:

Local Man Charged with Assaulting and Killing 10-month-old
If you are a regular viewer of Channel 4 Action News, then there is no need for me to go into the details of this heinous crime. Suffice it to say, when I received the initial news of this during a morning broadcast last week, it was unsettling to say the least. It was the worse nightmare for any adult – whether you have a child or not.

Let me say this. My job is not to sit as judge and jury, but if this man is guilty of this horrific crime, there is no punishment strong enough for him. This is a crime that goes beyond description and beyond reason. Why would one human being even consider doing that – especially to one so young and so innocent. This world – for the most part – is filled with good people but tales like this make you question just where humanity is headed.

Charlie Batch gets state grant to build on old Homestead Bakery Site
While we all celebrate the on-field exploits of the Steelers, there is one member of the black and gold who deserves much more adulation – for something he accomplished without taking the field. Since returning to Pittsburgh from his days in Detroit, Charlie Batch has been giving both his time and his dollars to revitalize his dying hometown – Homestead.


Now, the Steelers back-up quarterback is about to play a starting role in bringing new life to dormant community. Batch received $480K in state money to begin construction of a residential and commercial development inside the old Homestead Bakery. It will create jobs, housing and new life for an area which has been down for years. As for as I’m concerned, that effort should garner Batch the team MVP award.

“Why Give Thanks When You Can Shop?”
Those are not my words. That’s from USA Today website. Their cover story is about how post-Thanksgiving day shopping is now taking place on Thanksgiving! Whether is stores with expanded hours or on-line, Americans are shopping even before they sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.

Now I’m not one to bash someone looking to save money in these difficult economic times. Who isn’t? But let’s get a grip people. If I’m not mistaken, don’t you actually save more money later in the holiday season because retailers are trying to reach sales goals and will do anything for a deal.

Let’s allow Thanksgiving to be a day to give thanks .. and not a day to shop for bargains. I really think this holiday shopping thing has gotten out of hand. Are we really that determined to be generous and save money at the same time – or are we just conditioned to spend this time of year because we are supposed to.

There. Just had to get a few things off my chest. Thanks for reading.

The Baby Name Game
November 19, 2007

Two of my dearest friends, Mike and Kerri Evans, are having a baby. It will be their first and they could not be happier. I had a chance to talk to them about their first offspring while sitting around with them – and Mike’s mom – Saturday as Ohio State slammed Michigan.

While we were watching and talking – the subject turned from having the baby to naming the baby. As I quickly discovered, that may prove more difficult and trying than the actual delivery. Mike and Kerri say they have received suggestions from friends, close family and perfect strangers – and everyone has an opinion.

There are those who want to name the child ( for which Mike and Kerri do not want to know the gender of ) after a family member like an aunt or uncle. Others want to name the kid something trendy ( anybody remember the Seinfield episode where George Constanza wanted to name his friends’ kid “Seven” and then “Soda” ). Still others wanted something a bit more modern like “Olivia” or “Tyler”.

After about 20 minutes of hearing all the suggestions and the resulting controversy, I might just pass on the whole kid thing and stick with a dog. At least no family members were offended when we settled on “Boobaloo“. Now, I’m just kidding but it really seems like naming your child is the biggest decision you are likely to make next to who you want to marry and where you buy your first home.

After giving this some thought, I think I have a few guidelines for naming your baby:

1. Please avoid the “hot”name this year. Remember some of the names of kids in the 1970’s? Enough said.

2. Remember the child has to live with whatever name you give him/her. So please take the time to envision what it will be like when that child is called upon in fifth-grade Algebra in the year 2019 – and if you aren’t laughing, then go with the name.

3. Don’t try to be hip. “Suri” may be great right now for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but when “Suri” confronts this pair when she becomes a college senior and asks “What were you thinking?” it’s not going to pretty.

4. Finally, Mike and Kerri, I have been told that “Andrew” is a great name for a boy. Timeless.

Let’s Eat
November 16, 2007

Friday night – and once again, I’m trying to get through the final few hours of my work day. It’s always hard on a day like this because I worked late last night and I’m plodding away on about four hours sleep. The good news? When this day is done, I can head home for a quick nap and Friday night fun.

More and more, that night on the town starts at a restaurant. Pittsburgh’s culinary reputation on the world stage has been pretty much limited to perogies and Primanti’s — but no longer. During my Thursday night “Check It Out” segments, I have had the chance to sample the ever-growing culture of culinary delights around town. Now, you can enjoy French and Thai dishes as well as meat and potatoes.

Each week, it seems, a new establishment is opening offering a new twist for your taste buds. “Manny’s” in the cultural district offers the first wine and cheese bar, “Passport Cafe” in Wexford brings French, Italian and Spanish dishes to town and “Bacchus” brings Forest Hills it’s first wine bar and dine-in dessert. Bigelow Grille has a creative 20-course tapas delight called “Alchemy” and “Seviche” let’s us enjoy Latin fare during the dark, cold days of winter.

These are just some of the new stops in town, while many of the old stand-by’s are taking thier games up a notch in order to stay competitive in the dog-eat-dog world of dining. My advice to you – if you can – go out and sample some of the dining delights in our town. If you are headed downtown for Light Up Night, you will not only find something to tempt your taste buds but also something within your price range. That’s the cool thing about competition: it keeps the costs down.

What will I be chomping down on tonight? After Kelly’s comments this morning, I’m think pizza — or perhaps sushi — or maybe just a big, juicy burger … or maybe … I don’t know, but whatever I want I know I won’t have to travel the world to find it. It’s right here in my town.

Happy Birthday Dad!
November 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad! Today, my father turns 70 – and celebrating in a very quiet way. He’s going out with my mother for dinner somewhere in suburban Chicago where they live. While I haven’t seen much of my father over the last 20 years since I left home for college, he is still the biggest influence on my life and still the model for the way I want to live my life. Let me tell you about him.

Wilson Stockey grew up in Chicago and was raised by his grandparents. From a very early age, my dad learned to be independent, self-reliant and driven. He was smart and intelligent – and managed to become a certified public account with International Harvester and later, the Internal Revenue Service.
He married the former Elizabeth Bey, and went onto have two children: myself and my brother, Brian. His work took us from Chicago to California to Missouri to Washington Dc before finally settling in Simsbury Connecticut. My dad always put his family first – and would do whatever he could to be there for us. In essence, be the father he never had. That meant getting home in time to watch us play sports or even being our coach when he didn’t think the coaches on hand weren’t looking out for our best interest.

He’s my biggest fan and cheerleader … and as my career moved forward, he put together scrapbooks with pictures and articles about what I had done. He has also overcome personal challenges and hardships, including heart surgery. He remains in good health and takes care of himself, watching his diet and exercising as much as his knees will allow.

He has given me many gifts – none greater than the skills he used to be a successful father and executive. His knack for public speaking, his ability to analyze situations with a critical eye and his thirst for knowledge.

He turns 70 today – but I will always look at him as I did in the above picture” A little kid who wants his father to hold him when things get scary and love him when the going gets rough. My only regret is that I will not get to hug my father today, but I will as soon as I see him during the holidays. I will tell him that not only do I love him, but also thank him for giving me so many gifts. Gifts that someday perhaps I will pass onto my children.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Not Manly Enough?
November 14, 2007

Along with some great compliments and positive e-mails, I do get my share on dumb replies from people. The latest came from a gentlemen from Pittsburgh named John. Here’s the printable part of what he had to say to me:

“You been chickified bro. Go back to sports. You did a great job there and acquire some guts.”

Normally, I would just read and ignore it, but believe it or not, Mr. Bednar brings up an interesting point. The gist of his e-mail is basically saying that somehow being open and honest about your feelings and emotions is a “chick” thing and makes you less of a man. That somehow by moving to news and covering stories that aren’t about on-field conquests by athletes has taken away my “guts”.

I think you can guess what my response to this premise is.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, be able to express your feelings makes you more of a man than hiding them. For years, men were always taught never to cry and never to show that you do have emotions. I subscribed to that for years and during my high school years, believe it or not, I was a bully. I used to beat up kids if I thought they looked at me the wrong way. I would never cry if someone said something to upset me. Instead, I would answer with my fists.

But that all changed when I got to be a senior in high school .. and wouldn’t you know it was a woman who got me to change my evil ways. My first real high school girlfriend caused to begin to look at myself very differently. We broke up before my senior prom, but the lessons I learned from her stay with me.

Today, I’m very proud that personality covers a range of emotions — from being a tough guy to being a more sensitive person. If anything, I think that is what being a man is all about. Knowing that if the moment calls for it I could drop the gloves and fight or, if the situation dictates, being a caring and concerned person.

John, I would ask you to acquire “some guts” and open yourself up to a world where you don’t have to hide who you are. Hey bro, you can be a man without having to be “macho”. I managed to do it in sports for years .. and now, I’m doing it in news.

When I Grow Up …
November 13, 2007

You probably know by now that I’m really just a overgrown kid, passionate about PlayStation, playing golf and doing things most mature 30-somethings have grown out of. I guess it’s because I really don’t feel the 39 years I have been around. I don’t feel like a grown-up. I feel like a kid in many ways and that goes for my career as well.

I guess that’s because I grew up wanting to do so many things. As a child, I wanted to a fireman .. and then President. By middle school, my goal was to get paid to be a cartoonist. As I got ready to graduate from college, my focus was on a career in business and marketing. After school, I still wanted to work on Wall Street. Even when I became a local TV sports anchor, I had dreams of becoming a network TV sports broadcaster.

So what about now? What do I want to do when I grow up? Truthfully, I do not know. The job I have now is perhaps the most fun I have ever had while pulling a paycheck – and while I hope I will be able to do this for the next 25 years, I know this won’t last forever. But my dreams don’t involve a new career but rather adding experiences and learning new things so that I can become well rounded as a reporter – and as a person.

In the next few years, I would like to get my MBA. I was accepted to the University of Illinois MBA program in 1990, but chose not to go because I wasn’t ready for grad school. My schedule now allows me to take part time classes .. and I may do that. I would also like to learn a foreign language — other than Spanish which I took in high school.

I also want improve my computer skills. While I’m pretty technically savvy, I could use a little more education. Also, I would like to write a book. Not the great American novel, mind you, but something of consequence. I’m not sure what I would write about but after blogging for so long I think I could write something that would have legs .. and last.

Finally, I want to do something that leaves a mark on the world. I think we all begin to think about our legacies in mid-life. I doubt I will ever do anything that will cause someone to actually cast a statue in my image but I want to leave some sign that I walked the Earth and left the world just a little bit better off than when I arrived.

This is what I want to do when I grow up … if I ever do grow up. I’m getting PlayStation 3 this Christmas so the maturation process might be on hold this winter.

Oops … I Almost Forgot
November 13, 2007

While I snapped all sorts of photos at Jen Miele’s Steeler party, I forget to post this photo of the cutest couple in the room ( at least the cutest couple I could get sitting together at the party ). That’s Melanie Taylor and her hubby, Jason.

Let me give Jason props for wearing the same jersey the entire game. His tradition is wearing different jerseys over the course of the afternoon — going from Steelers to Mets to whatever. He decided to stick with the home team this time around.

Here We Go Steelers
November 12, 2007

One of the perks of working mornings as opposed to my days as a sportscaster is that I get the chance to actually live the life of a Steeler fan .. and that means going to Steeler parties. I attended my first on Sunday, courtesy of Jen Miele and her husband, Jason.


That’s Jen and her dad along with her intern, Laura Gerhart. Jen is all about family, friends and neighbors and her Sunday Steeler bash was a perfect example. Jen cooked plenty of food -as well as provided some of our favorite beverages – as we watched the Steelers battle the Browns in the latest installment of the turnpike rivalry.

Recognize the ladies on the right? That’s Janelle Hall and Marcie Cipriani. And those guys on the left? They are the husbands. Casey is on the far left, and that is Janelle’s guy. Second from the left is Chris – and that’s Marcie’s soulmate … or so I am told.


There’s Jason on the left, Jen’s hubby, and some of their friends. There had to be about 30 or more people gathered around watching the closing minutes of a thrilling contest – Steelers won by three as Cleveland missed a game-tying field goal at the end.

So where was I during this madness? Actually, I left late third quarter and headed down to Heinz Field where some of my friends were watching the closing minutes at McFadden’s. That was two parties in one day for me. I can get used to this, although if I eat one more thing I think I’m going to explode.

A Brew with the Bloggers
November 9, 2007

Sorry I was off the last couple of days. Blog break .. but I’m back.

You know, when I write my daily entry, I know I’m not the only person who does it but I wonder what kind of people blog and why do they do it. Thursday night, I walked into a world of people just like me. People who blog.

Pittsburgh Bloggers is a local group which has made an effort to bring people like us – bloggers – together. Last night, they held their bi-monthly blogfest at Finnegan’s Wake on the North Shore. I thought not only would it be a chance to get to know those who have turned this medium into an art form, but it would make a great story, too.

When you walk in, it seems more like a get together of recent college grads than a bloggers convention. Most of the bloggers are young and there is no outward signs indicating that they speak to the public through the power of the Internet. In fact, most of the people I spoke with say they know their fellow bloggers by their blog address more so than their real name. Then, there are others who purposely hide their identity.

So why do these folks do it? Why do they blog – for no money mind you – daily? Some want to share their political thoughts and leanings, others want to share their lives and their experiences and then there are some who find it as an outlet for their creative juices. What I learned in the hour I spent with these 20-30 folks is that blogging is an inexact science – but one that is growing in popularity and influence. I also learned that there are no rules for blogging, no
safeguards and no secrets for success.

Finally, I was motivated to continue blogging. Thanks to your responses and as well as hearing their stories, I feel a responsibility to keep sharing my thoughts and ideas. Sometimes what you have to say isn’t always interesting or relevant, but if your words get even one person to think differently then you have blogged successfully.

Thanks to Cythia Closkey who invited us into Blogfest .. and thanks to all those bloggers who were so friendly and cordial. While I had never met these folks, I felt like I had an instant connection .. and I’m looking forward to going back to a meeting and actually enjoying a beer.

Look for my story on the faces behind the blogosphere on Channel 4 Action News starting at 5 .. and later on our website, thepittsburghchannel.com