Archive for July, 2008

Tech Instead of Talk
July 31, 2008

Every so often we have a good morning show debate which goes on behind the scenes of course. This morning, a portion took place on camera and more happened when we went to commercial break.

The origin of our discussion was Ashley DiParlo’s “Plugged In” story about e-mail addiction and how to “ween” ( I hope I spelled that right ) yourself of fot it. Yes, I’m one of those people who loves e-mail, text and the like … and I don’t have a Blackberry.

The discussion between myself and Kelly is what is proper when it comes to communication. If you don’t want to talk to someone, is a brief acknowledgement via e-mail or text appropriate? Should you text or e-mail while you are engaged in a face-to-face conversation?

Demetrius, Kelly Ashley and I: Discussing social etiquette in the age of technology

The bottom line in all this discussion was that we have lost the ability to communicate as people and become more and more dependant on the ease of technology to talk with one another. I’m guilty of it as well. I make most of my phone calls in my car because I’m a captive audience there and it gives me something to do while I’m driving. I admit I’m sometimes barley paying attention when I am talking an driving.

Now, with the help of texting and various blackberry models, we no longer even have to converse with people with our voice. I have had detailed conversations with people exclusively via texting. I have in-depth discussions with friends back and forth using exclusively e-mail. It’s to the point that I prefer the written word to the spoken word … and I grew up in the days before e-mail even existed.

The point here is that while we have used technology to get information to people faster, we are quickly losing our grasp on the art of communication. This should shock many of you when you realize it’s coming from me: a professionally-trained broadcaster.

I’m trying to put the blackberry down and back away and get back to talking with people again. I enjoy actually talking to people at parties and gatherings, not sitting by my phone waiting for the next text message. I encourage you to do the same and rediscover the joy of conversation. And don’t worry, you don’t have go into what Ashley called “e-mail bankruptcy”. No need to erase your entire e-mail account in order to discover the joys to human contact.

The Casino Gamble
July 30, 2008


That’s the sound I hear every time I drive down I-79 and pass the Meadows Lands in Washington County. The sound of money being plopped into slots machines and subsequently into the coffers of the county. The temporary slots casino at the Meadows has been a major hit by all accounts while the construction continues in earnest next door.

I mention this relatively normal business development because of what is happening just up the road in Pittsburgh. While Washington County’s casino plan has gone off without a hitch, Pittsburgh is still plodding along. Actually, the project has come to a standstill thanks to a financing fiasco that forced license-holder Don Barden to bring in more financial muscle to try and get the project jump-started.

Now the new money man, multi-millionaire Neil Bluhm, says the project is on shaky ground unless his new financing plan is approved. There’s also been talk about putting the license up for re-bid. Already the project is delayed by at least a month and given what’s happened recently, the project could be backed up even longer … perhaps into the next decade. I haven’t even mentioned the other projects which are hitched to the casino’s success: the Pens new arena and the redevelopment of the Hill district.

This has been an absolute mess. What should be making millions for the county already has yet to yield dollar one. NOw, it could be put on hold indefinitely. I don’t have any answers because this is not my area of expertise. I’m just frustrated like every other county resident should be that this possible financial boom for the area has so far been a bust …. and could blow up in the coming days unless the gaming board and local leaders get this project back on track.

Right now, Pittsburgh’s gamble on slots has been just that: a gamble that has yielded a partially-built parking garage and little else. Amazing, when you drive down I-79 and go by the Meadows where the same license has yielded a jackpot for residents, taxpayers and new business in Washington county. You can just hear how different the two projects are when you pass by the Meadows exit.

Quiet. Listen.


Point of Pride?
July 29, 2008

I don’t wear the garb.

I don’t have a bracket on my license plate that says it.

However, when you come to my desk at WTAE, it doesn’t take long to figure out where I went to school. My mouse pad has the retro logo of my school, Ohio University.

I’m a graduate of the Athens-based school, circa 1989. I studied in the school’s Honors Tutorial College and graduated in three years summa cum laude with a bachelor of science in communications.

Despite the excitement, growth and new programs at my alma mater, when people talk about Ohio University two things come to the forefront. First, everybody gets my school confused with Ohio State. That drives me absolutely nuts ( to begin with, our colors are green and white and out football team hasn’t won even a conference title since 1969 ).

The second thing that comes up when my school is mentioned is Princeton. Not that Ohio University, despite its remarkably successful programs, will ever be confused with the Ivy league school. No, the Princeton connection comes from a list that the Princeton released each year ranking schools based on various criteria. The most popular rankings? The party school list.

The list makes every newscast and talk show nationwide … and guess which school always makes the list? That’s right, Ohio University.

Sure we have made party lists before. Some years,we topped the charts of the Playboy magazine party school poll. One year, we were even left off the charts only to learn later that Playboy singled us out by refusing to rank the “professionals” with the “amateurs”. Still, it’s the Princeton list that has cemented my school’s rep as party central.

Should I be proud of this? Perhaps. After all, it puts Ohio’s name in national circles beyond our other prominent connection. NBC’s Matt Lauer graduated from my alma mater. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity and if this annual list puts Ohio University on the national radar, then that’s a good thing.

At the same time, while there is a great party atmosphere at Ohio, there is much more to this little gem in the middle of nowhere than drinking. It’s an international campus with more than 10% of the enrollment coming fron outside the U.S. It’s become a education leader in the world of journalism, osteopathic medicine and sports business. The Honors Tutorial College, where I graduated from, is the only program in the nation based on the tutorial form of education created at Oxford University.

So how should I take the news of being one of America’s top party schools? Probably the same way most parents take the news that thier son or daughter has become a heavy metal rock star. At least they succeeded in their field of endeavor and we still love then, even if the choice was not one they would have made.

One Person Did Make a Difference
July 28, 2008

I’m sure you have heard by now of the passing of Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch from pancreatic cancer. While the fact this disease ultimately claimed his life is not a surprise given the virtually terminal nature of the illness, his passing still hurts and the emotional response both locally and nationally shows just how many lives he touched.

My words about his passing will not be the best, the most moving or the deepest thoughts about this man …. a man I never met. What I will see is that professor Pausch proved an adage that we often pay lip service to: that one person can make a difference.

We tell our children to reach for the stars and be all they can be, because they can make a difference as individuals. While that’s quite moving and inspiring, the truth is that we live in a society that doesn’t allow individuals to impact large numbers of people … at least in a legal way. Corporations run the world, politicians rarely listen to individual citizens and the bureaucracy of this country is so vast and deep, red tape holds down our dreams and desires.

Randy Pausch, his wife Jai and his three children: He said of his fate “I will not be able to raise my three children and that makes me sad”. Those words still bring tears to my eyes.

However, Randy Pausch impacted his community, his country and his world through a confluence of events. His message, his terminal disease and the power of modern technology worked to bring his story, unfiltered, to the masses. It was a message meant for his children, but resonated with children of all ages world-wide.

Randy Pausch made a difference in this world because left us with a blueprint to live our lives and to approach our deaths. He gave us an example of the attitude and courage necessary to execute the blueprint. Now, it’s up to us to not let Pausch’s lesson become lost amid the various things we have been taught over the years. While Pausch’s message is inspiring, it’s not for the faint of heart.

Why Image Isn’t Everything
July 25, 2008

You may not be aware of this, but the WTAE studios are located just off the Parkway East in Wilkinsburg. It’s our home base. We are proud residents of Wilkinsburg and actively involved in the local chamber of commerce. Also, like many Wilkinsburg businesses and residents, we’re not proud of the latest news to come out of our neighborhood.

From the April shooting death of 12-year-old Kholen Germany to the horrific death of 18-year-old Kia Johnson who had her unborn child cut out of her body, Wilkinsburg has been in the headlines – and not in a positive way. Such senseless violence makes people, for better or worse, equate Wilkinsburg with violence and crime. Wilkinsburg’s image has taken a pounding no doubt.

Now before you go and blame the media, like some in the community have, let me take the time say this: We cover the news and these stories are the news of the day. We do cover positive events happening in our backyard, but it’s not a question of balance. It’s a question of priority and right now, violence in our neighborhoods is the priority.

That being said, there are good things happening in Wilkinsburg. From a actively trying to restore pride and a sense of community to the development of newer housing for residents, there are attempts to recapture what made Wilkinsburg such a thriving community decades ago. Then, there are professionals I know who have decided to move to Wilkinsburg, believing the location and the opportunity for development make it a location poised for growth.

We all at WTAE want nothing but the best for this community and we’ll do what we can as residents and workers in this area to help make that happen. I just want everyone to know that what you see in the news about Wilkinsburg is only part of the story … an ugly part of the story. It’s not indicative of they way the majority of residents are and certainly not want we want people to think when they see Wilkinsburg.

Let’s hope these tragic episodes will be the last of the violence and let’s hope that all of Wilkinsburg, including us here at WTAE, will be able to be proud of what this part of Pittsburgh has become … and what it will be for years to come.

Praise for a Pioneer
July 24, 2008

Before today’s entry … I just want to say “thanks” to all the folks who obviously read the blog about “Facebook” … and invited me to be their “friends”. I now have more friends than I know what to do with.


Onto today’s entry …. and we all owe someone a debt of gratitude. Whether you are a man or woman, black or white, there is someone who layed down the foundation for you. There’s somebody who blazed the trail in your field allowing you to enjoy the all the fruits of your labors. For me, it’s a gentleman from New Jersey who I did not know until this morning.

Sherman Maxwell died yesterday … at the age of 100. He lived a full life, but it’s what he did back in 1929 that forever would change my life and the lives of any African-American who has broadcasted a sporting event. “Jocko” ( and I have no idea where the nickname came from ) was the first black sportscaster in this country. He started by broadcasting sports news on New Jersey radio stations in 1929 and continued until 1967. In between, he supported himself with a job at the post office because the radio stations would not pay him.

Sherman Maxwell: A pioneer in my field ( photo courtesy: Amanda Brown/Newark Star-Ledger )

He used the airwaves to tell the story of Negro League baseball teams and even owned a team at one point during his life. Maxwell also wrote sports stories for New Jersey newspapers. According to his son, “sports was his life. He read about sports and talked about sports”.

Maxwell may never be as revered … and is not likely to be remembered … the way Jackie Robinson is. He, of course, broke baseball’s color barrier but true equality is never achieved in one stroke. It’s breaking down little barriers that opened the gates for all … and in his corner of the world, Sherman Maxwell did just that.

I started my career as a sportscaster and continued for 10 years in that role here at WTAE. I enjoyed that run because a man eight decades earlier decided that African-Americans could indeed be sports broadcasters. Today, sportscasting giants like HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, CBS’ James Brown, Mike Tirico of ESPN … and our own Jon Burton … all owe Mr. Maxwell a big “thank you” for paving the way for all of us.

He may not a man you will remember long after reading this article, but for this moment let’s all remember his contribution to his profession and to his country.

Women Behaving Badly
July 23, 2008

For those of you that follow the battle of the sexes, let me declare right now that women have finally won that battle in sports. After years of fighting for equality in the professional sports arena, they have proven to be the equal of their male counterparts …. when to comes to misbehaving.

Two incidents over the past week have shown that female athletes can be just as sniping, vicious and angry as their male counterparts. Exhibit number one comes from the world of racing where much-hyped Indy driver Danica Patrick exchanged words with the only other female driver in the circuit, Milka Duno. Words would have been enough, but the confrontation almost got physical when Duno tossed a towel in Patrick’s face … and then showed her “the hand”. See the video for yourself.

The second exhibit was something I had never seen on any level: an all-out brawl between two WNBA teams. The Detrit Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks started exhanging punches, including a physical exchange between a male assistant coach and the league premier player, Lisa Leslie. Once again, check it out for yourself as well as the analysis from our friends at ESPN.

While both instances show the intensity and emotional nature of sports exists on both the female and male level, the sad part about this is that both altercations got national attention because it was women going against other women. These kind of battles happen every day in sports but as soon as a group of women get into it, suddenly it’s played and replayed all over the media.

As a fan of womens pro sports like golf, I can appreciate the level of skill and believe on many levels the male and female game in many sports is not that much different. It would be my hope that the women who continue to bring a touch of class to the games they play. For the most part, they have done that. Be it taking time to sign autographs and visit with fans, or just play the game without all the crap and selfishness often found in mens pro sports.

On one talk show today, someone actually said that the brawl was “good” for the WNBA. It would bring attention to league still considered second-tier in the sports world. That may very well be true, but not all publicity is good publicity especially when it showcases your stars behaving badly.

Figuring Out Facebook
July 22, 2008

While I like to think I’m hip to the latest thing in technology, the truth is I’m always one step behind the curve in certain areas. Sure, I’m usually the first to get the latest video game and have the newest additions to my iPod touch, I’m not so savvy when it comes to being plugged into chatting and communicating on the web.

Proof of this can be found on my Facebook page. That’s right, I have a Facebook page … and it happened completely by accident. A few months ago, we were trying to track down a picture of a high school student killed in a car crash. More and more, the media will access sites like Facebook to find photos and information about the victim. Of course, to access what I needed, I had to register. I did this … and forgot I had done so.

Well, here we are four months later, and I am getting more requests daily from people to be “my friend”. I guess I should be flattered, after all I’m hearing from people I haven’t talked to since high school. However, I’, also getting requests from people who I don’t even now. Those who have, at best, a distant connection to me through an event or something like that.

Even worse, I haven’t put together much of a Facebook page … and apologized to friends for doing so. While I just put my picture on the page last week … and just finished my bio this morning … others have elaborate photo essays of their lives on their pages. Looks like just too much work to keep that paghe updated.

I find it interesting that people, who would never look in your direction on the street are more than willing to put their life stories on Facebook. As for me, I just included the information you can find on my bio on our station website and my insights and philosophies are the same ones on my blog.

I do find it intriguing that now Facebook is getting a face lift and allowing you to write quick messages and “scribble” on the walls of other friends. However, there is still something missing from this on-line experience for me: the lack of verbal communication. It’s become so easy, via e-mail or Facebook, to talk with someone without really talking to them. I’m someone who actually enjoys hearing a person’s voice and find the digital world denies us that one-on-one communication.

Still, if this is the way of the future, than who am I to stop it. Want to be my “friend”? Feel free to stop by my Facebook page. I’ll try to update it with some pics, but I’m not promising anything.

Becoming The Domestic One
July 21, 2008

First, let me apologize for not putting up any new candid photos recently. I can’t seem to find my camera and Sharon doesn’t know where it is. Looks like I’m going shopping soon.

Back to today’s blog … and even before I started working a split shift, I found working the morning and leaving the office midday created some new duties for me. Since Sharon works during the normal workday, I was the only one home to handle the “domestic” chores. That means I have had to learn skills that I thought I would never have to.

For instance, I’m the laundry person in the house. What was once one of the most intimidating chores on the planet has become something I think I’m actually getting better at. I know now about whites and colors, when and when not to use fabric softener and even which setting on the dryer works best and fastest. It’s also a somewhat humbling experience. Here you are in the morning anchoring Pittsburgh’s top-rated newscast and then, hours later, folding up your wife unmentionables as they come out of the driver.

I’m also the guy who winds up cleaning up the kitchen, picking up after the dog and taking out the trash. In between, I make all the phone calls during the day to schedule repair work to be done around the house ( just last week I got the carpet steam cleaned ) and the service calls which include the exterminator ( who I need to call today ). I actually like doing domestic stuff. While it’s part of the responsibility of being married, it also helps me think and relax during the middle of the day before I have to go back to work … and it’s nice for Sharon to come home after a hard day’s work and not worry about this stuff.

The only thing I’m really not good at doing is cooking. Sharon will tell you every now and then I will cook something elaborate ( and I admit I follow the Mens Health “A Man, A Plan and a Can” article to the letter when I’m cooking ), I rarely make anything that doesn’t involve take out. I want to get better and I want to learn how to cook every day stuff, but I’m a little nervous. It just seems to be a lot of work and if I don’t get it right, I feel like I have wasted time and food.

On that note, any of you who have any ideas on how to make daily cooking a bit less stressful and a bit less work, I’m all ears.

Finally, I will say this: now that I am an adult, I can certainly appreciate all my mother did. She did all the domestic work around the house and somehow managed to raise two kids at the same time. Makes what I have to do on a daily basis relatively easy.

Positive About Pittsburgh
July 18, 2008

Over my 13 years in this town, I have met some people who don’t have a positive image of the town they live in. From the city itself, to its traffic to its lack of culture, some people who live here just “poo poo” it.

Now I know why.

This morning’s “USA Today” has an article about our city called “Pittsburgh Forges Ahead”. While it’s supposed to be a positive spin out the “New Pittsburgh”, it winds up slinging more barbs about the ‘Burgh than bouquets. One quote from a visitor from Seattle in the first paragraph says it all: “Pittsburgh’s pretty. Too bad it has such a bad image”.

A bad image. That’s apparently what the rest of the planet has about Pittsburgh, but I’m not sure why. We’re about to turn 250 and undergoing a renaissance like none seen before. You know we have been chosen as “America’s Most Livable City” and such …. and yet, people out the region still think that a trip to Pittsburgh won’t amount to much more than a time warp ride back to the turn of the century. The 19th century.

I am living proof that Pittsburgh is a city with which you can fall in love. I came here 13 years ago, before Pittsburgh’s current boom, and dreaded the prospect of spending 3 years of my life here. I was from the east coast and the reputation of Pittsburgh was of that “Steel Town”. However, through my time spent here, which now totals 13 years, I consider myself fortunate to be a part of the place.

The city from the North Shore: One of the more underrated views of Pittsburgh ( courtesy : Associated Press )

I love the people, the teams, the neighborhoods, the quirks and the craziness. I love a town where you are only one relationship removed from any resident. OK, I hate the traffic which seems to be getting worse year after year, but right now there is no place I would rather be. This is more than where I live. This is my home.

I think the solution to converting the country’s thinking about our town is to keep getting people to visit. One weekend in Pittsburgh may not make you a “Pittsburgher”, but it will make you see what we see about our town. Whether it’s another major sporting event, a convention or if you invite an old college friend to come visit, get people to come to this town. One stay is guaranteed to change any person’s mind.

It changed mine.

A Profile in Courage
July 17, 2008

It was the worse news you could imagine to start your day.

John Challis,  student from Freedom High school who graduated just last month, has terminal cancer. This morning, we learned just how long his life will be. Doctors have given him just one week to live.

Just writing those words causes my heart to ache and my emotions to stir. While he’s far from being the world’s first terminal cancer patient, he is someone we have all gotten to know over the past few weeks though the stories that have been told about him the media …. and now, to see a young man full of life and hope suddenly being told he has a week to live is the cruelest thing I can imagine. However, I think that John will handle this last est bit of devastation with the kind of maturity and bravery rarely seen by people his age … or any age.

I have never met John in person, but I have watched him through the stories we have done on him in the past few weeks. His inspirational graduation message, his tour of duty in the Pirates clubhouse serving as manager for the day and his meeting with his baseball hero, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. At each stop, he has taken in the moment like he’s smelling a rose that has newly blossomed. While taking in each moment, he has left something at each stop: a message of hope and life.

We all like to think if our days were numbered we would live our life as bravely and as dignified as John Challis has. In reality, we do not know how we would handle such a fate until it happens. John Challis has handled it in a way that makes him more than a role model and more than an inspiration. He is, in my mind, a hero and that is the ultimate compliment I can pay him.

I do not know how he will spend his last week and frankly, it’s nobody’s business but his. However, if his actions over the last few months is any indication, he will live it to the fullest and enjoy every moment and every breath.

Our tribute to him should be to live our lives in the same deliberate way.

A Deep Divide
July 16, 2008

I thought I would wait until all the craziness died down before blogging about the most recent campaign trail  flap: the comments from the reverend Jesse Jackson concerning Senator Barack Obama … and perhaps the bigger issue at play here.

For those of you who might not remember, Jackson was caught on camera saying that Obama is “talking down” to black people and he wanted to cut of a rather sensitive portion of the Senator’s anatomy. I think that’s a bit much for someone who disagrees with Obama on a point of policy, but that’s me.

Rev. Jesse Jackson & Senator Barack Obama: A deep divide over an issue that should unite the pair

The issue in which Jackson took aim at Obama was the Senator’s contention that African-Americans, and young African-American males in particular, need to take responsibility for their lives and their actions. More to the point, young black males need to stop having children out of wedlock and, if they do, they need to become providers for the children and the families they have created.


I cannot believe anyone has a problem with Obama’s contention. Sure, young males of all racial backgrounds have become dads out of wedlock, but statistically, the rate is higher among African-American males. I commend the Senator for taking a public stand on an issue of social responsibility in the midst of a close campaign for the top office in the land. Let’s be honest, it’s not going to win him any votes among the larger electorate since the majority of voters are not African-Americans. The majority is more concerned with the war and the economy than whether another child is born without a dad. That maybe a cold truth, but it’s still a truth.

The Senator is not “talking down” to African-Americans, he’s talking to them and confronting the younger part of the demographic with the challenge to reverse a history of poverty and single-parent homes. How could anyone disagree with that? Sounds like the Reverend Jackson is more worried about losing his moral high ground and status in the African-American community with such critical comments of Senator Obama.

Comedian Dennis Miller once quipped that parenting was the hardest job in the world, but the easiest one to get. In his wordsds “just screw up once and it’s yours”. In many ways, he was right. One moment of misplaced passion can bring a life into the world and can change the life of two people forever. I think Senator Obama’s call for personal responsibility on the part of young black men should start even before they become fathers. It should start before they take that step that brings that life into the world.

As for the Reverend Jackson, perhaps his call for emergency surgery is correct. But instead of removing a part of the Senator’s anatomy, maybe he needs to have something done to his own body. Perhaps brain surgery is in order.

Cover Story
July 15, 2008

The most interesting moments on the morning show are often those you never get to see. I’m speaking about what happens during the commercial breaks.

While we are paying the bills running commercials, the studio will often be alive with discussion from politics to what we all did that weekend. Today’s topic: men’s magazines.

That’s right, the folks on the morning show crew debated the pros and cons of men’s magazines. You know what I’m talking about GQ, Maxim, Esquire and Details. I will admit I do read some of these publications, but for various reasons. I read GQ because of the great articles and the occasional fashion tips. Maximis something I don’t read because of essentially what it is: a soft porn magazine posing as a men’s magazine. Then, there is Details. Demetrius gave me a free publication because he got a free one as well.

I have to tell you, Details doesn’t offer much at all. Bad writing, boring articles and fashion tips for those of you making over $100K and live in Los Angeles. The only reason this latest issue got our attention was one rather interesting article, perhaps the only one I’ve ever seen in the magazine.

Entitles “Are You “That Guy””, it has a list of 56 items that if you do them, folks will roll their eyes at you. Now, I never think I’m “that guy”, but about 15 of those 56 items relate to me. Here’s a look at some of those things that might make me “that guy”:

      * You initiate fist bumps

     * You have a downloaded ring tone

      * You call your friends and colleagues by their last names

    *  You refer to any last-stop bar as “the 19th hole”

Of course, I was in a state of panic when I started realizing that I had so many of these traits, but then I took a deep breath and thought about it. Men’s magazines, and womens publications as well, play to your fears. The fear of not being cool, not being trendy and not having the “hip” new look.

Truthis, very few of us could afford half the stuff in those magazines and if we tried to live that lifestyle, our lives would be more about possession than it would be about our passions. Let’s be honest with ourselves, these magazines paint a picture of cool that few of us can hope to achieve and since when do they have the moral authority to determine if I’m “that guy”?

It was a interesting debate about an unexpected subject this morning. Just thought I would share some of the behind-the-scenes stuff with you. Of course, after hearing this you might wonder about us. Don’t worry. We’re all pretty normal for the most part.

I’m blaming it on caffeine, which will make you do strange things at five in the morning.

What Time Is It Again?
July 14, 2008

I know our viewers get into a routine and when it changes, it can throw folks completely off their game. So I thought as a courtesy to those who take the time to read my blog, I would let you know what’s going on that might have you scratching your head in the coming days.

Wendy Bell is home getting to know the two newest additions to her family, her twin boys. While she is away, I will be filling in for her spot on Channel Four Action News at 5pm oppositie MIchelle Wright. I’ve done this turnaround from time to time in the past and I always get a few calls and e-mails from people wondering is that me in the mornings and the evenings or if I might be on tape.

Hanging with Michelle Wright. It must be 5pm.

In truth, working the 5am and the 5pm is fun and enlightening. It’s interesting to see how a story which may begin at 5am that day develops and is told when 5pm comes around. Take the fire in McKeesport from Friday. We covered it live as “breaking news” when we had little detail at 6:30am. By the time I came back for the news at 5pm, I was able to hear the stories told from the residents’ perspective and we also learned that fire alarms were ignored because they go off “all the time”.

This temporary assignment will likely be more physically demanding than mentally taxing. Consider this schedule: I wake up at 2:15am, get to work at 3:30am and anchor from 5am to 7am. I’m usually out of here by 9am but return by 3:30pm and anchor the 5pm show. Best case scenario, with rush hour traffic, I”m home by 7pm. That means a lot of quick naps during the day and not much time to play golf during the week.

Then, there is the mental part of it. I have already had those moments when I’m in the studio and I look at the clock and say out loud “is it 5am or 5pm?”. The running joke in the newsroom is that if it’s 5, then Andrew is working.

Still, I’m excited to help out the station is this unique way in the coming weeks. It’s just another new experience for someone who’s still learning the ropes. I just hope that one morning when I’m half awake I don’t turn to Kelly and call her “Michelle” by mistake.

Courage in the Morning
July 11, 2008

The one thing about my job that makes it different from anything else is its unpredictable nature. I come to work every morning not knowing what is going to happen or what will unfold. It could be good news or bad. It could be a matter of life or death.

This morning about 6:15, Kelly and myself were winding down a normal Friday broadcast after a long Thursday night at Kennywood when real life suddenly came out of nowhere at hit us smack in the face. Sky 4 was over a raging fire in McKeesport. An apartment building had caught fire and began burning. Covering fires are not exactly a new experience for us, but it’s what happened while the fire was burning that took our breath away.

Sky 4 zoomed into a part of a building where firefighters were bringing a ladder to the the 5th floor. Kelly and myself watched and narrated as the firefighter climbed up, grabbed a child and took him to safety. Then, several residents climbed down that same ladder and all the while the fire was burning nearby. According to the resident who handed the child to the firefighter, they were trapped and 30 more seconds and they would have perished in the flames.

It was courageous on the part of not only the firefighters, but also the residents. To risk life and limb to save one another was nothing short of amazing …. and I had a front row seat to watch this drama unfold. This is “reality” TV and unlike the TV show, it truly involves life and death.

This is what makes what we do so amazing. You just never know what the day will bring. This day brought an example of courage and bravery like I had never seen before … and can only hope to witness again someday.