Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo’

 

Christmas In California

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

christmas-in-californiaWe received some great gifts when we got married thirty years ago. Most are long gone. Some were quickly spent. At least one gift lives on.

Bob and Terry were our friends from Buffalo. They gave us the artwork that hangs today over the Christmas tree. It’s called “Christmas in California.”

In Hamden it hung prominently above the fireplace. Here in SoCal it’s in the loft, our family meeting space.

It represented a goal… or maybe a fantasy. This year it’s come true. We spend our first Christmas in California tomorrow.

I miss wearing my red hat and tracking Santa on TV. I miss working so others could have this holiday at home with their families. I don’t miss winter.

Christmas in California is just as the picture shows.

We’ll be spending this evening with our cousins, then living the tradition of a movie and Chinese food tomorrow.

Have a great holiday. I hope you get everything you want.

Holy Crap Was I Skinny! Video Found As I Clean

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

PM Magazine/Buffalo hosts Jan Stager and Geoff Fox - circa 1980

Jan Stager and I hosted PM Magazine/Buffalo starting in September 1980. She was great. We don’t speak often enough, but remain friends.

Jan was from Kent, Ohio and had worked in Wasau and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Me… well, you know.

This episode looks to be early on, possibly Fall 1980. I had been working in TV a matter of weeks or months by then!

I was so skinny the Buffalo Evening News’ TV critic said Chef Tell should fatten me up! Suggestion taken.

Also, please note the hair hat. That is not what my hair wants to do.

Here’s the way the show worked. Sometimes you had local stories, but most of the time the hosts introduced stories ‘on the reel’ from other stations.

We’d look at the list on totally unrelated stories scheduled on any given show, then find a location that might tie-in to some or all of them.

Right.

That was the goal.

The connections were often tenuous.

For each story, which of course we hadn’t seen, there’d be a suggested script. We’d look at the script, find out from the producer how much time was allotted, then ad lib our ‘ins-and-outs.’

TelePrompter? We don’t need no stinkin’ TelePrompter!

30+ Years Ago: Friends With Cameras

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Click, click, click. Shooting photos is no big deal today. The incremental cost is zero. That wasn’t the case in the early 80s. There was film in the camera. You paid for that.

Beside the cost you never knew good or bad until the film was processed. You paid for that too.

Tonight my email brought these two actual film photos from August 25, 1981. My camera toting, film buying, friend was Jon Wolfert. Jon is King of Jingles. The Wolferts own JAM Creative Productions¹ in Dallas.

The two shots below were taken in the WGR-TV parking lot on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. I’m standing with my PM Magazine/Buffalo co-host, Jan Stager.

It was Sunny in Buffalo. Surprised? It’s true. Summer’s in Buffalo are bathed in sunlight. They make up for it starting around Halloween when the Sun disappears for the next 5½ months.

Thanks Jon. What a cool surprise to receive on this chilly mid-winter’s night, even though it was half a lifetime, forty pounds and one awful hairstyle ago!

¹ – If you’ve never seen a jingle being sung and played, watch this. You will be astounded!

At Dinner: The Snow Dispute

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Here’s a little taste of tonight’s dinner. Ann, Noah and I were sitting together at the Greek Olive. We were at a window booth looking out into the parking lot.

Noah: Oh my God, it’s snowing!
Geoff: That’s flurries Noah.
Noah: No, look it’s sticking. It’s on the cars. That’s snow.
Geoff: Flurries.
Noah: No, it’s really snowing.

This is what happens when you allow San Diegans (San Diegites?) to move east where there’s actual weather. They just can’t handle it.

Basically tonight is like early October in Buffalo. Live with it.

My Lake Effect Snow Story

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

This evening at 4:45 the Weather Service office in Buffalo relayed a report from West Seneca, NY. A volunteer observer measured 32″ of snow from Thursday’s persistent lake effect snowband.

I wasn’t surprised.

Winter weather in the Buffalo area is brutal. The city itself gets ‘only’ around 80″ of snow per year. The snow belt south of town can get as much as 150″. East of Lake Ontario, closer to Syracuse, it’s even worse.

The area east of Lake Ontario is the “snow capital” of the east. The higher elevations between Watertown and Syracuse, commonly known as the Tug Hill Plateau, receives of more than 200 inches a year. In fact, the town of Hooker, located in Lewis county, recorded 466 inches of snow during the winter of 1976-77! – source: National Weather Service Buffalo Forecast Office

I lived in Buffalo from 1980 through 1984. I will never forget those winters. It seemed to snow nearly every day even if only flurries.

The best way to explain Buffalo’s Lake Effect snow is with a little story. It was the day Helaine and I got our marriage license. We were living in Buffalo. We were getting married in Pennsylvania. The closest place to get a license was Erie, PA, about 100 miles away.

As we left our apartment skies were cloudy. By South Buffalo there were flurries. We paid our toll and got on the New York State Thruway. We passed West Seneca in heavy snow.

I was used to Western New York driving conditions so we continued southwest on the Thruway paralleling Lake Erie’s shoreline. By Dunkirk the snow was back down to flurries. Soon we were in bright sunshine. I remember the skies over Erie being blue and cloud free!

We paid our money, showed our blood tests (another story for another day–blood tests almost kept us from getting married) and got our license.

As we headed back to Buffalo every bit of weather was in the exact same place we left it!

From Erie’s sunshine we hit flurries in Dunkirk. Over the course of a few miles the snow ramped up in intensity. It was snowing heavily as we passed through West Seneca then back to flurries by South Buffalo. I parked under cloudy skies back at our Gates Circle apartment where there was no sign any new snow had fallen.

That’s the power of Lake Effect snow: Persistence!

Lake Effect snow bands are often just a few miles wide, but within those few miles snowfall rates of 4 or 5 inches per hour are possible. The strength of cold air aloft and alignment of wind decides where the snow goes and its intensity. The wind needs a long ‘fetch’ over Lake Erie to be effective as a snow maker. That limits where Lake Effect snow can fall.

As long as the cold wind blows the snow can fall for hours or even days! A few miles often decides whether you get feet of snow or just a dusting.

There are only a handful of places in the world where this setup of cold air and properly aligned body of water exist. Buffalo and Syracuse just got lucky I guess.

My Pat Trinkley Story: Weekends at TV2 Buffalo

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

At WGR (and then WGRZ), TV2 in Buffalo, I worked with a guy named Pat Trinkley. Pat was our weekend director. He was young and, as I remember a pretty good director.

Unfortunately it was the weekend!

In television… and most everything… weekends aren’t staffed as weekdays are. The crew was inexperienced and overwhelmed. Weather was when they regrouped.

For a director and crew weather is the easiest part of the newscast. The camera is stationary. The meteorologist or weathercaster is running his own graphics. You can almost sit back and let it happen.

In Buffalo Pat only had one cue to hear during my ‘cast.

After working a map I turned to the camera and said, “Let’s look at the current conditions.”

Pat was supposed to hit a button and switch from my weather graphics to a character generator which produced the “Currents” page.

Nothing.

I vamped a few seconds and then, again, called for “current conditions at Buffalo International.”

I was new at weather. I could ad lib, but I’d ridden into a box canyon. Once you’ve finished your narrative and called for the conditions you’re stuck.

I tried once more then having received no response took two steps forward and squarely faced the camera. I probably stooped just a little which I do when I make a close approach to the lens.

“Pat! I’m talking to you. May I have the currents?”

It was awkward. What options were there? It worked.

I was upset.

I was already stockpiling airchecks hoping to spring myself to a larger market. This tape wouldn’t make the cut and that was what had me the most ticked. Opportunity lost.

I steamed out to the parking lot, got in my car and drove home for dinner. A few hours later I was back for the eleven. The six o’clock broadcast was behind me now.

I was in the weather area when Pat walked in my direction. Now I was worried. I’d called him out on-the-air. Maybe he was angry with me?

“When you called my name on the air,” he began, “my mother heard it.”

Uh oh. This isn’t good.

“She really liked that!” And with that he smiled.

I mentioned his name when I could. He never missed a cue again.

They Fired Joey Reynolds

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Word came last night WOR radio let Joey Reynolds go. I can’t help but feel bad because Joey is one of the reasons radio attracted me so much and why I made it my career for 11 years. Though I lived in Queens and had both WMCA and WABC at my beck and call I gravitated to WKBW in Buffalo, a station I could only hear after dark.

Joey was having a party in the studio and I was invited night-after-night. As good as Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie and Gary Stevens were they were never as approachable as Joey seemed. I sent my self addressed stamped envelope off to Buffalo to get my purple membership card in the Royal Order of the Night People. I wanted in!

I remember hearing about Joey at other stations as his career bounced up-and-down after ‘KB. At one point he was selling jingles (or so I remember) made to be sung over the intro to records. There are some songs I can’t hear today without hearing some now defunct station’s call letters sung over the front!

A few years ago Joey went to WOR New York where he held down the free form all-night talk show. He’s still that party guy I remember with an infectious laugh that’s instantly recognizable.

Even in the best of times you don’t make money keeping a radio station on-the-air 24/7. Nowadays all-nights are a liability in an otherwise awful economic time for radio. Joey was replaced by a syndicated show–one host for scores of stations across the entire country.

Among the things I remember most about Joey is a jingle from his show. Whereas most radio stations and disk jockeys had jingles cut in Dallas by Pams or TM (or now by my friend Jon Wolfert at Jam) Joey had a jingle sung by the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons!

I’ll bet you I haven’t heard this in 40+ years–until now.

[pro-player height="30px" type="MP3"]http://www.geofffox.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/joey_reynolds.mp3[/pro-player]

Explosion In Middletown

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

kleen energy plant.gifAround 11:30 this morning my house shuddered. We’ve been hit by flying branches in storms. This was different. There was no sound, just a compression shock. I got out of bed and headed downstairs.

Helaine was on the sofa. She perceived it differently from me. She said we should check the house. I opened the door and saw nothing. We went to the basement and garage. Nothing again.

The house shook from an explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown. That’s around 20 miles from here. Their website says it’s “in construction”:

620 MW – Siemens-Combined Cycle, ISO & FERC 345kV Interconnect Approved –Pipeline Delivered – Dual Fuel – Gas & Oil Fired – Water Cooled

Helaine said the shake reminded her of an explosion while we were in Buffalo.

An untrained worker was moving a propane tank with a forklift. The tank fell and the valve sheared off. The propane, being heavier than air, spread out along the ground.

From Wikipedia:

The North Division Street explosion was a powerful explosion on December 27, 1983 in a warehouse at the intersection of North Division and Grosvenor Streets in Buffalo, New York. The building contained an illegal 500-gallon propane tank whose valve was broken off while it was being moved and the building was evacuated. The propane started to leak and eventually reached an open flame. The tank exploded, killing all five firefighters assigned to Ladder 5 and two civilians; and damaging a dozen city blocks and causing millions of dollars of damage in fire equipment.

When it happened Helaine thought a car had run into our house! Within thirty seconds of her calling me at the TV station every phone in the place was ringing.

Right now I’m listening to emergency responders on an Internet delivered scanner channel. There’s lots of activity which seems well coordinated. There’s talk of victims and casuaties. It’s horrific.

I wanted to make sure Ann Nyberg knew about this. By the time I called her she was already at the station helping with our coverage. Stories unfold much more quickly now than in ’83. I’ve posted on Twitter and Facebook and the replies have been coming at a steady pace.

This is a tragedy.

Weighty Decisions

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

FeetonScale.jpgWhen I first started hosting PM Magazine/Buffalo one of the TV critics (there were two back then) wrote it might be nice for Chef Tell to fatten me up! May I please have that metabolism back?

I know I weigh too much because for the last year I have avoided getting on the scale (or looking at my 401-K).

As a bachelor I was totally disorganized. There was usually no food in the house. I could gorge on Hydrox cookies, when I had them, because I’d also go days without eating or minimal eating.

When Helaine and I started dating she starting baking. Is the way to a man’s heart through his stomach? Yes. Well at least it was the shortcut to mine. Helaine bakes butter cookies tasty enough to bring world peace!

We got engaged, she moved in and I began to eat well and on a regular basis.

Helaine is the best thing that ever happened to me. Eating regularly on the other hand has taken its toll. I’m close to 40 pounds over my Buffalo weight!

You might not notice my girth on TV because I buy clothes often enough to (mainly) fit into what I wear. Trust me–it’s there.

I don’t want to look my age. I also don’t want to be unhealthy. I am dieting.

OK–I’ve dieted before. It only works for a while because dieting is a treatment, not a cure. I’m trying to diet smarter.

My attack is different this time because I am going directly after the low hanging fruit, what I eat after I get home from work. Think cattle free range grazing!

I still have a little fruit at night but nothing that’s been ‘manufactured’. I’m also avoiding that occasional bag of pretzels I’d snatch from the vending machine.

The easy first four pounds are off. Now comes the more difficult part.

I’m never going back to my Buffalo weight. If I can lose another 15 pounds I’ll be ecstatic, but even 10 more will make me happy.

It’s in the mid teens outside today. Hopefully in another few months the warmth will return and Helaine and I will be able to start walking Sleeping Giant. You can’t exercise your way to weight loss, but it will help.

The Forecast From Hell

Friday, December 18th, 2009

snowy-wood-pile.jpgThe past few days have been bitterly cold. Very unusual this early. It’s been an easy forecast to make. This Sunday there might be snow. It’s the forecast from hell!

All the computer models are pointing in different directions. The implication is there will be a big snowstorm. I just can’t tell you where.

Up in Buffalo, safely removed from this particular tumult, Don Paul threw out a forecast suggestion for us in the Northeast: “Accumulations may range from 3″ to 3′.”

He suggested we mumble that line and move on.

The models are seeded with real world data to get them initialized, but my usual favorite (GFS) has initialized with a poor understanding of a strong low in the Gulf of Mexico. Other models are forecasting snowfall in the multi-foot range. Are they any better initialized?

Our data is limited and often flawed. There are many places for which no data is received. I don’t quite understand how these models attempt to compensate for all the things we don’t measure. It has to weaken the model output.

As a meteorologist the uncertainty bothers me no end.

We’ve had a little discussion going on over at Facebook. Some of the talk is technical. This is generally a time when meteorologists talk it out. The scenarios are so complex it’s possible to miss something so talking is valuable.

In the end all our individual forecasts will vary a little. Most of the time most of us will be mostly right… and we’ll relax knowing we’ve dodged the bullet for now. There is no upside to being wrong.

After twenty five plus years these winter forecasts have gotten no easier to make. I’m sweating it out with you.