Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

 

How I Met Jerry Coleman

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

jerry coleman baseball cardJerry Coleman died today. Seven decades in baseball. World Series MVP as a player. Broadcaster. Manager.

I met Jerry in the late 70s. I was working in Philadelphia radio and our helicopter traffic guy, Walt McDonald, knew Jerry from San Diego. Could he arrange for me to watch a Phillies/Padres game from the broadcast booth as Jerry did play-by-play?

Done.

I headed to the Vet a few Saturdays later and was escorted into the booth directly behind home plate. I was a little overwhelmed. Jerry Coleman was a big deal former major leaguer with a very distinctive voice. There was no mistaking whose hand I was shaking. He didn’t pass unnoticed in a baseball stadium.

The Padres took an early lead, but between innings Coleman explained how the Phillies looked like they’d figured out the Padres pitcher, who was beginning to tire. I saw none of this, but nodded anyway.

Next inning the Phillies blew it open! The Padres pitcher was chased, just as Coleman predicted and when he predicted it.

Both Jerry Coleman and his broadcast partner, Dave Campbell, were gracious that afternoon. It was my own personal reality show to take in and remember.

Over 35 years later, I still remember. It still makes me smile. I am one of many who will not forget Jerry Coleman.

The Sign At 2212 Walnut Street

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

I just got a tweet with a blast from the past.

Candy Egan Perri @kuteskatergirl 7h
@geofffox I just drove past the WPEN building, it looks exactly the same. #Philadelphia

It’s still there! The WPEN sign along the eastern edge 2212 Walnut Street in Center City Philadelphia. Considering WPEN hasn’t been at 2212 since the late 70s that’s quite an accomplishment.

Chalk it up to benign neglect. It’s probably cheaper to leave it where it is than pull it down.

I started at WPEN late in 1974. It was the WKRP of Philadelphia–bad signal, underfinanced and AM. Even in ’74 music on AM was a tough sell.

We played oldies. We had a good product. That alone was not enough. We just couldn’t compete.

At one time WPEN was a big deal. It even provided the seed that made Dick Clark a big deal.

If any program can be designated the prototype for Dick Clark’s legendary dance show, that distinction goes to WPEN’s 950 Club, named for the station’s location on the AM dial. Originated in 1945 and hosted by the popular duo of Joe Grady and Ed Hurst, the 950 Club was the first radio show on which a studio audience was invited to dance to records being broadcast over the air. The show, which saluted a different high school each day, quickly became the focus of the area’s bobby-sox set, who, seeking admission, deluged WPEN with two to three thousand pieces of mail each week. – American Bandstand
Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire

That studio was still there, in a terrible state of disrepair, when I arrived. It even had a name: The William Penn Room. Could it be more Philly?

I loved that building.

There was a fire escape at the end of the 3rd floor hallway, just past the studios, where you could go for a smoke (I was a smoker). We also went to try and catch a glimpse of the Moore College of Art girl’s dorm at the corner.

The statute of limitations has expired, right?

A big metal thermometer was mounted on the exterior brick next to the fire escape’s door. On-air I’d refer to the temperature “On the 95PEN Weather Fire Escape!”

I’d never before worked in a commercial district right in the middle of a big city. It was much more exciting than a suburban office park or studios built at the edge of the towers. It made me feel more grown-up, more professional.

WPEN was my favorite job in radio. It’s nice to have this reason to remember and smile.

I hope they never take down the sign.

I Met Helaine 31 Years Ago Today

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

July 28, 1980 was sunny summer day. I remember that.

It didn’t begin as a special Monday when I made my pre-dawn drive from Center City Philadelphia to my job in Bala Cynwyd. It turned out to be one of the most significant days of my life!

Indulge me if you’ve heard this story before.

I was the morning drive disk jockey at WIFI in Philadelphia. I was desperately trying to get my first job on TV. I had tapes out everywhere.

Sometime around 9:30 AM I got a call from Farrell Meisel. He offered me the opportunity to co-host PM Magazine/Buffalo at WGR-TV.

I said yes!

There were no PCs or cellphones in 1980. I had to wait until 10:00 AM to leave the studio and find my friends.

I bolted as soon as I could and began to rush toward the radio station’s front door. As I rounded a blind corner a young woman who had just started at the station approached from the other direction. Boom! I knocked her on her butt.

That was Helaine! That was how we met.

A friend of mine (my secretive friend from the San Fernando Valley) was working for a major music act at the time. They were coming to Philadelphia that weekend. I asked Helaine if she’d like to go to his concert with me?

It was only after figuring out the date Barry Manilow played the Mann Music Center in Philly that we were able to finally figure out this date, July 28th. For the last 31 years we only had an approximation.

Thank you Internet for holding all data known to man including Manilow’s concert schedule from 1980.

Two weeks later I was gone. Helaine and I had no contact for a year and a half¹!

We did finally get together again. We have lived happily ever after. I’ll save that story for another time.

As fateful days go how many are more significant than 7/28/80 is to Helaine and me? The entire path of our lives changed in the course of 30 minutes. I think that’s worth celebrating!

¹ – I was an idiot. I’m sure all’s well that end’s well, but I was an idiot. Did I mention I was an idiot?

She Found A Photo Of Me From 1975

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I got this photo earlier tonight from Candy Egan Perri, my Facebook friend. She took it in 1975. I am on-the-air in the WPEN studios, 2212 Walnut street in Center City Philadelphia. I was doing 6-10 PM back then.

I remember that shirt. I remember that vest. I remember those Clevite Brush headphones.

Eagles Should Have Played: I’m With Rendell

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Note: After writing this I reconsidered my opinion. I am leaving the original up, but you should read the comments which were important in my decision. – Geoff

The Philadelphia Eagles play the Minnesota Vikings tomorrow night. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday night at 8:30 PM. At game time nearby Philadelphia International reported visibility of 3/4 mile in moderate snow and blowing snow. The wind was out of the northwest at 21 mph. It was 25°.

Under anyone’s sense of the word it was cold… brutally cold in Philadelphia. It was unpleasant to be outside. For those improperly prepared it was dangerous!

The game shouldn’t have been postponed!

Speaking on KYW-TV in Philly former Philadelphia Mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said,

This is football; football’s played in bad weather. I think the fans would have gotten there, the subways work and the major arteries are still open, and other fans would have stayed home – but you play football regardless of the weather.

He’s right even though the current Mayor had declared a State of Emergency in the city.

If I was broadcasting in Philadelphia I would have encouraged viewers to stay home. People would have anyway! The game would have still been available on TV staffed by a crew ready for bad winter weather.

I’m an Eagles fan. This delay probably benefits the Eagles. It makes no difference.

It’s unfair to the other NFL teams who’ve had to suffer through pass deflecting winds, frozen fields and limited visibility.

A Tale Of Two Front Pages

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Sunday night on NBC’s primetime football game Bob Costas admonished the NY Giants not to listen to the radio today! Is there reception where they’ll be hiding? I’m sure the feeling in Philadelphia is very different.

With that in mind here are the front pages from today’s New York Daily News and Philadelphia Daily News.

Why Am I a Philadelphia Eagles Fan?

Monday, December 13th, 2010

There was a little chatter over on Facebook after the Eagles victory in Dallas. One commenter asked, “How are you an Eagle fan? A kid from NY and live in CT. Shame on you. Lol!” Good question.

I lived in Philadelphia from 1975-80. This was a very important period of my life because it was during those years in Philadelphia I realized I was a grown-up!

Is that how it normally works? Probably not. Most people ease into being grown-ups. Not me.

I had my cathartic moment at a poker table full of friends. We were at Louie and Gloria Wuhl’s house in Cherry Hill playing our usual Thursday night game. It was just a bunch of guys having fun. Poker was necessary, but secondary. It was an incredibly good time.

Anyway, one Thursday I looked around at the other people at the table. They were all professionals. They were all grown-ups. Many already had the responsibility of a family.

I paused a moment.

They were treating me as an equal. Therefore I was an equal. If they were adults… holy crap I was too!

Seriously, it all came to me at the poker table at Lou and Gloria’s house.

Since that moment Philadelphia has taken on more importance than just the nearly five years I spent there would imply.

During my time in Philadelphia I was invited to attend an Eagles game. My friend Marlene’s father Frank had a bunch of seasons tickets. He didn’t want to lose them, but the Eagles sucked and not many people wanted go.

Marlene and I drove to the Vet in my little Triumph Spitfire. It was one of those days that still felt like summer though the calendar showed fall. The Sun was shining. I remember puffy clouds overhead.

We climbed the ramps at Veterans Stadium to Section 614 (around the 30 yard line, but on the shady side of the field). As we passed from the concession area to the seats I looked down. An American Flag was being held aloft by a small army of people. It covered the entire field! A chill went up my spine.

Though the Eagles went on to lose that game I became hooked!

Frank sold me two of his seats and I began to attend religiously, staying the entire game no matter what the weather or score. Trust me, both were often ugly.

Here’s the funny thing. Today a stadium is probably the last place I’d want to go to see a game. The view is better at home. The bathroom is closer. The food is more reasonably priced. Helaine can turn the sound down if things aren’t going right.

I’m still an Eagles fan!

A Day Of Sports

Monday, October 18th, 2010

As you might imagine the Foxes spent the day watching the Eagles then the Phillies. We weren’t disappointed. Both teams won.

Interestingly neither game was carried to Cablevision customers in some of the Philadelphia suburbs. I hope Cablevision paid their customer service operators hazardous duty pay today. Let the cursing begin!

Both games had interesting moments. Kevin Kolb the Eagles quarterback aired it out and played like the passer he’s supposed to be, but disappointingly never has been. For the Phils pitcher Roy Oswalt scored from second on a play where he ran past the third base coach’s very visible stop sign then slid into home wearing a warmup jacket and gloves! The only thing missing was a red cup full of beer!

On a day like today it is difficult not to take advantage of technology. The Eagles game wasn’t on TV here so I borrowed a friend’s DirecTV to-go package. Computer quality is good, but not yet as good as a broadcast channel.

We watched the Phils live on Fox through the DVR allowing us to pause the action. Actually that’s where technology came back to bite me!

As Ryan Madson pitched to the Giants in the ninth I opened Facebook. For me there were two outs to go but on Facebook a friend had revealed the game was over. Oops.

I tried to tell Helaine I didn’t know, but it’s not the kind of thing anyone hides well. Certainly not me.

Ask Me Anything–Why A Philadelphia Fan?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I’m currently answering all your questions. Read more about it here.

Dave writes, “As you grew up in NYC, have lived in the Buffalo area and now CT how did you and Helaine become such avid Philly sports fans?

Yeah, funny thing isn’t it? A lot of my friends don’t understand.

Helaine’s explanation is easier. She grew up in Philadelphia, the only child of a father who was a rabid Philly sports fan. It was from him she learned to talk back to the TV and question balls and strikes even when the Phils are up by a dozen. They shared a Phils season ticket package as she grew up.

My answer is a little more difficult. I grew up in New York and was a marginal sports fan. Nothing serious. I attended a few games–even a Mets game at the pre-Shea Stadium Polo Grounds!

I worked in Philadelphia on the radio from 1975 to 1980. Philly is where I realized I was an adult. Normally you slide into adulthood gradually. Not me.

It happened in the late 70s when I began playing poker every Thursday night with a bunch of guys around my age. Most of them had families. All of them had responsibilities. Each was accomplished in his own way. It was an impressive group.

They were adults and treated me as an equal. Therefore, I realized in one Eureka moment, I too was an adult. I was ready for adult pursuits.

At the same time a friend whose father was a season ticket holder to the Eagles asked if I wanted to buy two of them. Bingo! My love of Philly sports began.

I sat through a 4-10 Eagles season in Section 614. I never left before the final gun.

I attended a load of Phillies games at the Vet. I was there for the Phils-Dodgers playoff game where the fans rattled Bert Hooten so badly he had to be pulled!

I find watching sports with my wife among the most enjoyable parts of our relationship. She knows a lot more about the games than me!

Restyling The Blog Continues

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

2010-blog-screencap.jpgIt was 5:30 AM by the time I got to bed this morning. Helaine’s extra unencumbered sleep was courtesy of my blog redesign. I hit a problem around 3:45 AM. If left alone my worry was I’d never be able to unravel it.

I have no training in this. It’s all self taught… incompletely self taught! Every time I code I find more I don’t know.

My goal is cleaner and bolder. Over time websites deteriorate and lose their tightness¹. This one has.

There are many similarities between the new and old look. I suppose that’s unavoidable. At the same time there are lots of differences. Some are visible, but many lie in the invisible way the blog functions… how it’s feed if you will.

The new look runs on WordPress using a theme based on “Byty,” itself a child theme which runs under the Thematic framework. That last sentence was just to show how meticulously detailed and arcane the whole process is.

Nothing is straightforward. Nothing is where I expect it to be. Here’s a link to the home page with some bells and whistles revealed.

I threw up my hands and spent some quality time on the phone with Gary Choronzy. Gary often serves as my website guru since those things I lost sleep over Gary can do in his sleep!

Most (not all) of the styling is done. Even Gary was surprised how far I’d come already. Now I enter the phase where the loose ends get tidied up. Of course there will be loose ends that slip by regardless of my diligence.

When the switch gets thrown everything changes at once. The website moves from Chicago to the suburbs of Philadelphia. Some pieces will untestable until that moment. There is little chance to go back.

It’s all exciting and simultaneously daunting.

If you’d like to take a sneak peek it’s temporarily visible here. Comments welcome.

¹ – Around a year ago I went to Karl Rove’s website while following a news story. Rove is not my cup of tea, but his website was really well done. No more. It is a perfect example of how tightness goes away with time. Pieces have been added that don’t fit.

It’s tough to look at the site and think I once used it as a model of what I wanted.