Archive for November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving
November 27, 2008

A good holiday to all of you. Just like many of you, I will be off Thanksgiving and the entire holiday weekend. Unlike many of you, it will be the first Thanksgiving day I have actually had off in 15 years! Such is the life of those who work in TV news.

Having the holiday off is just one thing I have to be thankful for.

I am thankful I have a loving wife … and a loving dog ( as long as I have some food or treat in my hand ).

I am blessed to be employed during this time of economic hardship for so many.

I am grateful to have so many friends over the years who offered to have me join their families during Turkey day in between the 6 & 11pm news.

I am thankful that I have my health ( though I am working to drop a couple of pounds ).

I feel fortunate both my parents are still with us ( and they are not giving me grief about why they don’t have grand kids yet ).

I’m thankful to work with such wonderful people ( although people get completely out of hand around here when there is free food in the newsroom ).

I’m very fortunate to live in Pittsburgh ( we did not go through the economic boom, so we are not suffering the economic bust some other areas are experiencing ).

I’m so happy I found Facebook. ( It’s been great seeing and reuniting with my high school friends from 20 years back ).

Finally, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read my blog. This has been such a blessing. An outlet to share my feelings and to rant and rave about the world. Because you taken the time to read it, I have dedicated myself to writing it.

Please — have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! See you on Monday.

Advertisements

Think About This Holiday Travelers ….
November 26, 2008

Before I start blogging, a shout out to Sage and Elena. While I was at the gas station between broadcasts, these young women came up to me and said “hello”. They are college students, one goes to Slippery Rock and the other goes to Howard. They are both studying public relations and told me they were big WTAE fans. I wish them both well in their pursuit of graduation and career success.

Now, something for you holiday travelers to consider.

 A federal task force, entrusted with coming up with some rules for airlines to follow in the event of those lengthy ground delays, was unable to do so. Given a year to come up with a plan, this “tarmac task force” was only able to come up with “guidelines for model contingency plans for airlines and airports to follow in cases of extended tarmac delays”. That according to the Associated Press.

airplane-tarmac

Air travelers’ bill of rights? Not according to the airlines which can’t come up with rules to follow when a plane and its passengers are delayed on the tarmac.

OK, let me get this straight. Given the public outcry following many instances of people being stuck on a plane for three hours or more with no bathroom and no food and water, this is the best they could do? It borders on imprisonment for people to be trapped on planes on airport tarmacs … unable to leave and forced to stay in conditions that are more than just inconvenient.

Of course, we should not be suprised this task force got nothing accomplished. It was made up of airline industry officials. I have an idea. Why not put these “task force” members on a plane and wheel them out to the middle of the runway at some airport and leave them on the plane until they come up with a passenger’s bill of rights that their industry would actually enforce.

I guarantee you they would come up with actual rules after the peanuts ran out … and the toilets stopped working.

Becoming Addicted … to “Crack”berry
November 25, 2008

The best thing about being an adult with no kids is that the holidays can begin and end whenever you want them to. You don’t have to wait for Black Friday to start your holiday shopping and no one says you cannot give gifts after December 25th ( although since my wife is Serbian, we exchange gifts on January 7th, Greek Orthodox Christmas ).

With that as a prelude, I bought myself my Christmas gift for the year. Since I tend to be relatively frugal during the year, I like to splurge on myself come the holidays. Nothing crazy mind you, but something I would not get for myself during the year. Since you probably know me to be a high-tech guy, I decided to get something that was hot and cutting edge. In this case, I got myself a Blackberry: the Blackberry storm.

 

 

vzw-blackberry-storm-left

The Blackberry Storm: Now I understand why they call it “Crackberry”

Now this may not seem like much to you, but since I do not have a Blackberry from work it meant a lot to get one of my own. Since the Storm was the hottest gadget on the market, I bought into the hype and got one on the first day they hit stores. It seemed very reasonable in price ( $199 after the rebate ) and since I tend to e-mail, text and call incessantly why not get a product that combines them all in one.

Well, here it is, day four and I am addicted. I mean it’s horrible. I look at it constantly, check for messages, text more than I ever have and try ever new option the phone has. I know this sounds unnatural, but I love the way it looks, they way it feels in my hand and the millions of options have yet to discover.

I know this does not sound normal, but what I love about it is the touch screen. Ever since I got my iPod Touch, I have become addicted to the whole touch screen concept … and believe that is the only way to go. Listening to me go on, you might think I’m a bit abnormal. I guess this is what they mean when they call this thing “Crackberry”.

I guess as I get older, I become more enamored with technology. It seems every year there is something that does more and better than the devices before. Being into tech is not a bad thing, just as long as you do not lose the skills of interpersonal communication. So many times I see young people who may be able to text with one hand and surf the web with the other but unable to look you in the eye and formulate a complete sentence. That is not good.

However, technology is a great thing if used in conjunction with what makes us human. That being said, I may spend my holiday weekend locked away in my house playing with my little toy … and communicating with the world via my Blackberry!

A Homewood Tradition
November 21, 2008

When we here about Pittsburgh and it’s vibrant communities, the names Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, East Liberty, Mount Washington and Lawrenceville usually come to mind. They are communities known for great dining and as wonderful places to live.

Rarely do you hear about Homewood, except when there is trouble. Be it a shooting or some sort of crime, that’s about the only time you hear about Homewood. That is a shame because Homewood is just like Shadyside, East Liberty and the like in one respect … it is a community. It’s a place where people live, work and try to make their home a better place.

Case in point, I want to tell you about a place in Homewood which I have gone to every two weeks for more than a decade. Henderson’s Barber Shop is located on Frankstown Avenue in Homewood. It’s owned by the Hendersons, the father and son who have managed the place for years. It;s not large, only about four barber’s chairs, but it does get busy as the weekend draws near. There are waiting chairs and on the walls, ripped out pages from the local newspapers the after Barack Obama won the election.

steve-henderson-001

Steve Henderson at Henderson’s Barber Shop. I have been going to the Homewood-based shop for ten years

It’s a place where old friends gather … and new friends are made. Often you see older gentlemen talking about life, the community, what’s in the news and the Steelers. I started going because frankly I needed a place to get a haircut and I didn’t know anyone in Murrysville ( where I lived at the time ) who knew how to cut my hair.

The son, Steve, always cuts my hair … and he takes his craft seriously. He knows my hair and anytime I want something different, he is always attentive and receptive. We’ll talk about sports while he cuts and I read the newspaper. It takes less then 20 minutes … and he’s done. The cut is very reasonable ( and ladies, listen up ) just $15.

I think Henderson’s represents what this community is all about. Hard-working people trying to provide a service necessary to the community. They have done this very quietly over the years, but their success has been recognized. On the wall, there is a picture of Steve shaking hands with Governor Ed Rendell outside the shop.

The best part of Henderson’s is that once you have been there, you become part of the fabric of this business  … and the community. I did not know that until very recently. There is a billboard on the wall and, on it, are pinned local business cards as well pictures from the community as it looked in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. One day, I walked in and saw a newspaper story pinned to the board. It was a story from the Pittsburgh Courier … about my promotion.

I guess I had finally become part of the gang.

Bad Move by the Big 3
November 20, 2008

I will give it to the CEO’s of the Big 3 automakers … they have guts!

Did you see them testifying before Congress on Wednesday? If you are not up to speed on this, here’s the Cliff Notes version: Ford, GM and Chrysler are on the verge of bankruptcy and are asking Congress to bail them out. Their argument – and it’s a valid one – is that if the auto industry collapse, the entire country goes down in flames.

However, the automakers looked more like those tobacco execs who went to Capitol Hill in the 1990’s and tried to tell congress, with a straight face, that nicotine was not addictive. But not even the tobacco chiefs were so brazen as to show up smoking cigars. The auto execs did something along those lines … and perhaps even worse.

Congress Autos

The leaders of Ford, GM & Chrysler on Capitol Hill today: Asking for $25B from Congress … and taking their private jets to the meeting.

Sure, the three showed up in hybrid cars to stress their push for fuel efficiency. However, it was how the flew to Washington from Detroit that was so difficult to swallow. Seems they all flew individual private jets … and when questioned before Congress … admitted it! For someone claiming poverty, it looks bad to show up on a pricey jet. As one lawmaker said today, it’s like a millionaire showing up at a soup kitchen with their hat out. Sad, when you consider they represent thousands of employees who may lose their jobs in all o fthis.

Still, I think the auto guys will get their billions … and probably be back for more. Given the current economic situation and the need to stabilize the root industries of this country. This is why Americans are so angry with this mess! It’s the blatant mismanagement of companies and resources that have put us in this hole … and the only way to climb out is for you and me to foot the bill.

I’m sorry to vent again folks, but every day there is something new to enrage us with this economic mess. It’s just frustrating that these companies cannot solve their own woes and now have to ask us for a handout … and who is to say they won’t be back for more cash.

Who says it will stop with the auto industry?

Why can’t every major industry that is in trouble ask for more from taxpayers?

Where will it end?

Probably not with automakers, hat in hand, beggin for a bailout.

PittGirl Pulls the Plug
November 19, 2008

When I started blogging, I really had no idea what I was doing. I was new to the whole concept when I started typing away in 2006. As for role models, there were not that many. However, it was clear what worked and what didn’t in the blogosphere …. and one local woman discovered the secret to success.

Her name is PittGirl and Tuesday she finally pulled the plug on her popular blog The Burgh Blog. It was a simple, well-written daily discussion of Pittsburgh culture and popular Pittsburgh people. She took aim at some and poke fun at others. Most of all, I think what she did was get us to pay attention to the news and current events. Let’s face it, you had to know what was up in Pittsburgh to understand her blog.

While all these elements make for a good blog, what made her so interesting is that we never knew who PittGirl was. Her anonymity was her greatest weapon … and her greatest asset. She didn’t hide behind it as much she used it to truly say what she felt and what was on her mind. Had she used it to just rip on people, I doubt she would have had thousands log onto her site daily.

pittgirl_bigger

PittGirl’s logo: Who is the lady in silhouette? Someone knows and that’s why she’s done blogging.

I will admit I did not read her blog daily, but when I did I discovered how interesting and well written it was. It was written with an attitude and, in her own words, her readers span the spectrum. Older and younger, rich and poor, connected and common folk.

Unfortunately, it was her desire to blog from the shadows that ultimately became her undoing. The guessing game as to her identity became almost as important as the blog itself. When we spoke via e-mail, she told me that finally the pursuit of her identity forced her to give up her blog. 

” I learned that my identity had been discovered and that small bits of info were leaking out. For my job’s sake, I wanted to shut it down proactively.”

PittGirl also told me she never considered herself a blogger, but a writer and hopes to continue to do so in the future. I hope so as well, though I doubt she will be able to impact as many minds as she did as a blogger. I know she had an impact on this blogger.

Goodbye PittGirl. All of us in the local blogging game will miss you.

Snow Falls on Pittsburgh
November 18, 2008

Hope everyone had a good weekend! I certainly did … even though the refs blew the call at the end of the Steelers game denying Troy Polamalu a touchdown, but I digress.

I enjoyed watching the snow fall today. It was the first real snowfall of the season … and while it not as much as fell in the mountains, it was still great to see the pristine white stuff fall over the buildings. As beautiful as Pittsburgh can be on a glorious summer day, it’s even more breathtaking as the snow fills the skies. ( Sorry about the dirty action cam lens below ):

andrew4

The winter also brings out a change in all our wardrobe, even the local TV reporters. For the men, that often meaning slapping on our blue and white Action News jackets. However, for the ladies, it means something different. For them, it means breaking out the winter hats.

Here are some pictures of what this year’s fashionable reporters will be wearing during their lives shots. For the always sharply-attired Jen Miele, our Westmoreland county bureau chief, it means going with the all white look and that is not easy to pull off. As usual, she does …. with style.

andrew3

Next is morning show reporter Amber Nicotra. A North Hills native, Amber has it going on with the dark fedora to match her wool overcoat. Doesn’t it look great next to the grey and white background of Heinz Field?

 andrew2

 Wait! There’s more. You will have to watch some evening to see the Swedish Alp inspired chapeau that Shannon Perrine is wearing. I love it!

And what about me? Well, I do have a hat. A fedora actually, but rarely do I get to wear it on the air since I sit in the studio much of the time. I bought it ten years ago and I think it has stood the test of time. However, hats just aren’t “in” for guys. That’s OK, because its the ladies who are keeping hats a hot fashion item. Besides, we men have a hard enough time finding a shirt and tie to wear. Please don’t confuse us with a hat as well.

Overtaken By Reality
November 14, 2008

I was going to blog about tomorrow’s return of James Bond to theatres tomorrow in the movie “Quantum of Solace”. As you know, I’m a very big Bond fan. If you have any doubts, I suggest you check out the article in the Trib in which I took their personality test in the Trib Ticket in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. However, my own joy over the return of my favorite film series was overtaken by reality.

A friend of mine was laid off today. He is not alone. This was a brutal day for such local standards as US Steel which laid off workers. It was a difficult day because while the economy is in the toilet, these moves came out of the blue.

This is a difficult time for workers in this country. Already being challenged by technology and stagnant wages, now the financial mess has finally begun to hit the workforce hard. Every day we are reporting job losses in the thousands affecting every industry. Truly no one is safe from this blood letting in order to save the company.

Being laid off is more than just about losing your job. For many, it’s about losing their identity. So often in life, who we are is linked to what we do and when that is gone, we become lost. Then, there is the uncertainty about what we will do next. Where will we earn the money to support ourselves and our families and how long will it be before we are working again. Will my money last until I find that next job … and what if I don’t get another job? These are questions that go through the mind of the those suddenly released from their jobs.

There’s also that inner feeling: a feeling of sickness and helplessness. There’s a nervousness about the future and a fight to hold back the tears after learning, often without warning, that you are no longer employed. Of course you are wondering how would I know. I mean what does a TV anchor in Pittsburgh know about the trials and tribulations of unemployment? The answer … is plenty. I was laid off once.

I can still remember being told I was no longer employed. A sense of failure and frustration overcame me. While it was early in my life, it stays with me to this day. It also launched my life into a different direction … as a broadcast journalist. I guess I can say if not for being laid off, I would not have ended up here.

I just hope this financial madness comes to an end because while its difficult to read stories about murders and killings, it’s just as hard to read about layoffs. In each situation, a person’s life is affected … and there is a painful aftermath.

Sorry for the somber entry. Try to have a pleasant weekend.

A Controversy in the Making?
November 13, 2008

As you may have noticed during the last few months, I have developed a passion for politics. It’s probably thanks to our recent election, but not a day goes by when I’m not looking at some column on-line about politics or clicking onto one of my favorite websites, realpolitics.com. Still, the election is over and I’m ready to move on live with the choices we have made as a collective country for the next four years.

Barack Obama won and John McCain lost, but I see a controversy coming on the horizon sure to have people on both sides fuming.

Time magazine will pick it’s Person of the Year next month. It’s an annual honor bestowed to the greatest newsmaker of the past calendar. A tribute to the person who has the biggest impact on the our nation and the world. Now, conventional wisdom says in a year where politics were king, selecting Obama is a no-brainer and the closest thing to a sure lock.

Or is it?

John Friedman writes the column Media Web for the website Marketwatch. He is someone I enjoy reading because discusses media issues and he is always even-handed, never hinting that he is swinging one way or the other. In his latest column, he asked a question: Who will Time select as its Person on the year: Barack Obama or Sarah Palin?

poty06

Time Person of the Year 2006: “You”. They have been known to defy conventional wisdom with their choice before. Will they do it again this year?

I can see just the thought of Palin being selected enraging Obama supporters, believing their candidate is being disrespected. Even those who may supported McCain would likely sit there and say “are you kidding?”. Well, Jon makes a compelling argument as to why Palin should be considered as seriously as Obama for this honor.

Think about it. While Obama ignited dormant passion in the political scene and became the first African-American to win the Presidency, Palin pulled quite a coup of her own. She was a virtual unknown in the lower 49 when McCain picked her as a running mate. Virtually overnight, as Jon writes, she became perhaps the best known woman in the country and more popular than maybe any of the men running for office. Whether you consider her as a leader or laughable, America could not get enough of Palin.

Think about this: she lost the election in a blowout last week and news organizations are stumbling all over themselves to interview her. I have seen more of her on TV this week than I have of Obama … and she lost. Our new President has yet to take office an all the talk this week is about her possibly running in 2012. Only someone who’s got star qualities can get that kind of pub.

So who will Time choose: Obama or Palin? I’m guessing time may not have the guts to go with Palin and try and defend it. At the same time, they do work in the world of publishing. With every other magazine cover in January heralding Obama’s inauguration, what better way to sell magazines than to buck the trend.

And remember this: Time’s past winners have included Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin. It’s clear they are not afraid to go against conventional wisdom and play against what might be the popular choice. I’ll be sure to pick up a copy next month .. and let’s remember, it’s Person of the Year, not Man of the year anymore.

My Neighbor, The Pens Fan
November 12, 2008

Moving to the nights reunited me with my long-time friend, Wendy. We have known each other for ten years but rarely worked together until now. All that time away though has caused me to miss out on some of the changes in Wendy’s life. No, I’m not talking about the twins. I’m talking about the Pens.

Wendy, if you could not tell from the “Let’s Go Pens” video and her frequent reference to the team is a hardcore hockey fan. She loves her team and there are few games she missed, whether she goes to the games or watches here at the office.

Tonight was one of those hockey nights. Wendy’s team was trailing the Detroit Red Wings, the team that capture the cup last season, by two goals late. Pittsburgh rallied and forced overtime and scored in the extra session. However, the game wasn’t nearly as entertaining as Wendy.

I did not have to watch the screen to know what was happening. With every Pens goal, Wendy let out a scream and with every Detroit goal, she was decimated. She was as up-and-down as much, if not more, than the team itself. When Pittsburgh did score the game-winning goal, she let loose with an ear-piercing scream followed by what looked to be a victory lap around the newsroom.

Where was I during all this? Sitting right across from her, no further than five feet from her desk. She apologized for her burst of joy, but I don’t mind. I think it’s great that she loves her team so much that a regular season game can get her fired up. Imagine what she will be like come playoff time.

It’s amazing. Here I am the former sportscaster and it’s Wendy who has more passion and enthusiasm for hockey than I do.

A Wii Bit of Fun
November 11, 2008

I mentioned yesterday that Sharon had won the Wii in a silent auction at a dinner we attended on Saturday night. Now, I had heard about the Wii and most of the talk is about how hard it is to acquire. I heard about parents bribing store owners last holiday season to secure one.

I guess we were lucky. Sharon wanted it so bad that after she made her last bid 5 minutes before the auction closed, she made me stand next to the item and make sure no one else made a bid on it. I felt a little silly but if she had her heart set on it, who was I to say no.  Sharon has one in her office and she says its a great stress reliever.

wii-001

Sharon takes her golf swings on the Wii

We finally got it home Saturday night and I installed it Sunday morning and gave it a try. I have to tell you, it’s one of the coolest things I have ever played. I mean I am a Playstation guy as many of you know, but this Wii was so much fun. It’s like you’re playing tennis or golf, making all the moves and swings. No wonder there is a little strap to put on your hand while you play. I can see now why some people have lost control and either thrown it at the screen or knocked something over in the process.

Best of all, you can create a cartoon version of yourself to play these games. I have to admit, while “virtual Andrew” looks pretty generic “virtual Sharon” really does look like her and seems to play golf like her as well ( I will leave my comment on her golf game there ).

wii-002

Sharon gets ready tee it up on Wii.

If you are going to get a Wii for your child this holiday season, I say go for it and don’t be surprised if you have to go to a charity function to get one. Once again, they are hard to keep in stock.

The Holiday Fun Start Early
November 10, 2008

Walking through the malls, reading the papers and even watching TV it’s difficult to escape the fact that the holiday season is starting. In some stores, the sales have begun. Now I have to admit Christmas shopping is not something I do in November. Heck, I don’t even get to decorating my house until mid-December.

However, there is one thing I don’t mind starting early – and that’s the holiday party season. I love going to parties before and after Christmas, all the way until the New Year. Well, this weekend, Sharon and I attended perhaps the earliest holiday bash we have ever been to.

hvhs-dinner

Sharon and I front of the Christmas tree at the Holiday Ball. She received many nice compliments on her dress which she tells me she got “on sale” in Vancouver.

During the last few years, I have done some volunteer work with Heritage Valley Health Systems ( HVHS ) which runs hospitals in Beaver and Sewickley. Sharon and I have served as honorary chairs of numerous fund-raising events. While we may not live in that area, we do know the importance of a hospital in any community and if there is anything we can do to help, we are certainly willing.

This weekend, we were the invited guests of HVHS CEO Norm Mitry and his lovely wife, Peggy, to attend another HVHS tradition: their holiday ball. Norm tells me they have been doing this for 28 years and the idea behind the event is simple: have a holiday party early enough in the season so that everyone is still in town and can attend.

Ihvhs3

At our table: Kelly Pratte ( the lovely wife of KDKA’s Rob Pratte ), yours truly, Sharon and our gracious hosts, Norm and Peggy Mitry.

It was a wonderful night: dinner, dancing and the silent auction at the Seven Oaks Country Club in Ohioville. It was nice just to attend an event and not have to serve as emcee, although I did read of some auction item winners at evening’s end. A list that included Sharon who decided to bid on the one thing that she says will bring her true happiness: a Wii. We’ll talk about that in another blog.

I took some pics from the night. I thought I would show them to you and let you know I am officially in the yuletide spirit. Don’t worry though, there’s no need to run from me if there is mistletoe nearby. I’m not quite that festive yet.

The Simple Joys of Life
November 7, 2008

We survived a presidential election, half the football season … and the biggest point drop in Wall Street history. Yet somehow, we are still here and moving on with our lives.

I mention this because our crack staff of meteorologists tell me this stretch of Indian summer is about to end, meaning today’s 70-degree temps might be the last time we enjoy a day without a coat for a while. Judging by Joe DeNardo’s winter forecast, we could be in for a long, snowy winter.

sunny-003

The setting sun hitting the Clemente statue.

So while driving along the North shore before work, I pulled out my camera and took some snapshots of perhaps the last spring like day we will have for a while, hopefully capturing what makes like so special. The ordinary joys of life. Please enjoy these final pictures of Indian Summer.

sunny-001

The view of downtown from just outside PNC Park

sunny-002A couple taking an afternoon stroll along the North Shore

sunny-004

A grandfather and his grandson at the Stargell statue.

Nothing profound here. Just a few moments in our beautiful city on a beautiful late fall day.

The Day After
November 6, 2008

Editor’s note: I wrote much of this entry shortly after President-elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, but chose to wait a day to post. You will see why.

I just finished watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. Then I went home, had a glass of wine before finally going to bed. When I awoke the next morning, I noticed the sun crept into the bedroom at the same pace and in the same place as it had the day before. I walked outside on this gorgeous day and noticed nothing different about the street on which I live.I walked “Boobaloo” and he did what he always does which is pee on every mailbox post on my street.

It was the morning of Wednesday November 5th … and nothing had changed. At the same time, everything had changed.

An African-American was elected President the night before.

Let’s forget about politics for a moment. Let’s forget about Republican and Democrat for just a few paragraphs. Let’s think about what has happened.This country was born in 1776, but it took over 232 years for the promise of our founding fathers to be realized. To actually see that “all men are created equal”. Whether you agree with him or not, to see an African-American rise to the highest and most powerful office in the land is a statement in itself.

abc-president

It’s a statement about ourselves and our country. We have come so far, far enough that America chose to look past race and bias and look at the candidates as they are. America looked at their policies their practices, their beliefs and their being, and picked the man they felt would be best to run this country.

Is Barack Obama the right choice? Will he help our country out of economic debt and war? Who can really say, but to know that the majority of this country chose a man who less than 45 years ago would considered less than a citizen says volumes about who we are as a people and what we want our country to be.

What I can promise you is that his ascension to the Presidency will be a turning point for young African-American men. These youths are at risk, with one out of every four being dead, in jail or on drugs. Now, those kids can no longer say there is nothing for them in the larger world. There is now a world of possibilities … and a world of hope for them.

I won’t tell you how I voted. I’m allowed that bit of privacy, but I can tell you as an African-American I am moved. It will be hard not to look at Obama taking the oath of office on January 20th and not consider the possibilities for people who look like me.

I spoke to my father this morning. Living outside Chicago, he watch the proceedings at Grant Park and he told me cried tears of joy. He told me at the age of 71, he could die a happy man because he saw the two events he thought he would never see in his lifetime: An African-American in the White House and his beloved Chicago White Sox win the World Series, which they did in 2005.

Now is the time to show our collective pride, because once Obama takes office he becomes a politician … held to the same standard as the previous 43 men who held the position. It’s how it should be in a country where Presidents are now analyzed by “the content of their character, not the color of their skin”.

Election Night 2008
November 5, 2008

I’m writing this blog in moments when I can catch my breath during this amazing night. While many of you saw this unfold at home, I’m watching in the midst of the newsroom here at WTAE.

election-night-001

6:30pm — Everybody line up … we got election night pizza!

It’s a scene of controlled chaos as almost everyone is on call tonight. We have several TV’s in front of us, bringing us coverage from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox ( sorry, MSNBC is too high on our cable systems to get on our cable system in house ). The coverage is just dizzying. All the networks are flashing stats and numbers, projecting state-by-state which candidate won, and using every piece of technology known to man … from virtual reality rooms to holograms in which reporters images are burned into the studio.

election-night-002

News director Bob Longo capturing the night on camera

No such magic here at channel 4, though Aaron Saykin did find a nice static map to use as he shows us voting patterns in Pennsylvania. Also, Michelle Wright is doing video updates on thepittsburghchannel.com.

election-night-003

Wendy and I on the set for election night updates

8:30pm: Pennsylvania is in the Obama column, projected by ABC, CBS and NBC. What does it mean? It doesn’t mean the election is over, but it meant the margin or error was very slim for McCain.

8:50pm: When Ohio went in the Obama camp, there was a sense in this newsroom that the issue had been decided. As you know, Ohio and Pennsylvania were pivotal to McCain and he campaigned hard in both states. Once I saw McCain had lost both, I felt as if this was less of a contest and more of a coronation. Looking at the thousands in Chicago waiting for Obama to speak, I got the sense that a seismic shift was taking place.

election-night-004

Our webstaff getting the word out on election night

9:06pm: I’m back after my first flub during an update, calling Barack Obama “Barack Obomber”. Oops it happens with live TV. In the newsroom, we are watching the returns from the states that closed at 9pm and Obama is now within 100 electoral votes of clinching the election. At the same time, Bob Mayo has found an interesting local story. A group of pregnant women at a Pittsburgh hospital having to go to court to secure their right to vote before the state’s 8pm deadline.

election-night-005

Watching the returns roll in on election night

10:34PM: Just got back into the newsroom and saw Oprah talking to Robin Roberts on ABC … and I think she is near tears. I’m sure she is not alone as many African-Americans wait for Obama to officially clinch the Presidency. Meanwhile, we are watching some local races … and there are some upsets brewing there as well. As for atmosphere in here, it’s really exciting and more than a bit overwhelming. I don’t think I have ever experienced such energy and such anticipation in my professional career as I am sensing right now.

11:55pm: I just got off the set after the 11pm news … and the wrap-up of this historic election. I feel good because we did a good job covering the election. I’m excited because I got through my first election night without incident. I’m proud because America proved that it can choose a path without regards to race. It is an historic night, an amazing night and one that I will never forget .. for many reasons.