My Co-Host Reunion

We’ve spoken many times over the years, but I haven’t seen Susan since Buffalo! I’ve been trying to catch her since we came to SoCal but our schedules never meshed. She is a producer on House HGTV’s House Hunter Renovation.


I had a lunch date today in Century City. Google said without traffic it takes an hour. When exactly is this without traffic time? With traffic this morning it was nearly two hours! It comes with the SoCal territory.

Lunch was good. Lots of interesting topics from an expert/friend.

As I walked to my car to drive back to Orange County I picked up the phone to text Susan Hunt. Susan was my second co-host on PM Magazine/Buffalo. She’s lived here on-and-off for years.

One show near Mother’s Day, Susan’s mom, Sis, and my mom co-hosted. Very cool.

We’ve spoken many times over the years, but I haven’t seen Susan since Buffalo! I’ve been trying to catch her since we came to SoCal but our schedules never meshed. She is a producer on HGTV’s “House Hunters: Renovation”.

Yes, I know. We all love those shows. The original has spun off lots of children. Simple concept. Well executed. Natural viewer interest.

When Susan answered my text, I drove right over. My trip went through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood before crossing the Hollywood Hills through Laurel Canyon. Pietown, House Hunter’s production company, is located on the Studio City/North Hollywood line in the Valley.

Wow — she looked great. I think the photo that accompanies this is truly indicative of how we both felt when we saw each other. It’s been a long time.

IMG_20140618_175213Lots of stories. Lot of reminiscences. Some updating on how, when and where life has taken us.

She’s leaving soon for four months of production back east. We’ll get together on her return.

The car’s clock read 5:03 as I pulled out of the lot. Two full hours to get home. Like I said, it comes with the territory.

Who’s The Sexiest Man Alive… Again

Every year when People Magazine announces the Sexiest Man Alive a producer decides, “Wouldn’t it be a fun idea to replace the real photo with Geoff?” Here is the 2009 edition.

Geoff-People-Mag.jpgEvery year when People Magazine announces the Sexiest Man Alive a producer decides, “Wouldn’t it be a fun idea to replace the real photo with Geoff?” Here is the 2009 edition.

Thanks to Nick upstairs who wrangled this out of Photoshop. Thanks to Johnny Depp who provided the facial hair.

From Television City In Hollywood

I smiled, waved and passed unmolested back to the editing booth where my secretive friend was finishing his work.

television-city-in-hollywood.jpgI joined my friend from the secret location for a drive to Television City in Hollywood. Built in 1951 it was the first all-television studio complex built here… maybe in America. Along with CBS offices it’s also where HBO’s Real Time and Foxes American Idol are done. It was where Carol Burnett and Bob Barker worked.

I have been before, but it’s still impressive.

My friend was busy reworking a show recorded in 1967 for repackaging on a DVD. He worked in an old line analog online edit suite.

evan-astrowsky.jpgAfter noon I borrowed his car and headed into the heart of Koreatown to visit Evan Astrowsky. Evan was a producer on Inside Space, the show I hosted on SciFi. Now he’s a movie producer–one of a number of hats he wears.

I parked on the street, limiting my time with Evan. At four Wilshire Boulevard turns into a pumpkin for parked cars.

Already ‘passed’ I headed back to Television City and drove right in. Outside on Beverly Boulevard a line of mostly young woman waited for “So You Think You Can Dance.” I smiled, waved and passed unmolested back to the editing booth where my secretive friend was finishing his work.

Tonight it’s off for sushi with two friends from college.


Preserving Memory

This is ‘never been seen before’ video from a live concert.

sdhc-card.jpgIt’s possible you’re using your last computer with a hard drive. The hard drive is doomed. CDs sort of exists, but only because DVD players play them. Media for storage is changing rapidly. The idea of moving parts and noise aren’t appealing when the alternative has neither.

I was just looking at an ad for SDHC cards. That’s what the Canon Xsi uses. I have 2-8GB cards. In RAW, the largest files possible, I still get nearly 500 shots per card! These cards are going for under $20. Have we come to the point where it makes more sense to consider these cards as single use devices?

The bigger problem is the changing formats and standards mean some old media has been orphaned. That didn’t happen with paper! Even analog TVs have taken 60 years to finally become obsolete (next week).

My friend the producer from the secret location in the San Fernando Valley is working on some archived video of a Frank Sinatra performance. This is ‘never been seen before’ video from a live concert. It is on 2″ videotape–what was called “quad.” There are fewer than a handful of machines left, even out there, that can play this concert.

If you’ve got data on a floppy you may be facing the same problem. I first used the 8″ and 5.25″ then 3.5″ disks. I have a 3.5″ USB drive in a cabinet.

God knows what data has already been, or soon will be, lost. Moving to faster and better storage systems is good in the abstract, but we really need to protect data playback–and we’re really not.

I Owe A Lot To Jack Reilly

“We all laughed in the control room,” he said. “Would you like to come to New York and do some fill-in for us?” he asked.

Jack Reilly passed away today. I can’t begin to tell you how much I owe him.

From TVNewser:

Jack Reilly, the former Good Morning America executive producer and later vice president of news at CNBC, passed away this morning at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York at the age of 84.

Reilly was VP and managing editor of CNBC from 1994 to 1998. Before that, he was the executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America from 1986 to 1994. Reilly transformed GMA, a faltering #2 show, into the nation’s top-rated morning show – a position the show held for more than five years.

reilly_jack.jpgThe time was the mid-90s and I was working here in New Haven. One afternoon our news director Liz Crane (now Liz Gray) asked me if I’d like to do the weather on Good Morning America/Sunday. “This Week with David Brinkley” was interviewing someone at Yale, had already asked for our satellite truck and then as an afterthought asked if we would also supply a weatherman.

This was a big deal to me and I told EVERYONE I knew to watch. Truth is, this kind of affiliate hit was nice but inconsequential to the network. You do it. Your friends and family see you. Life goes on.

The first hit followed an interview with tennis great Tracy Austin. She had just gotten married. While Dana King (I love Dana King) conducted the interview from New York Tracy stayed at home in a room full of wedding gifts.

Dana finished the interview and briefly introduced me. This was my chance to play it straight–just do the weather. I didn’t.

“Dana, if you talk to Tracy again, would you ask if she got the Corning Ware we sent?”

After the weather ended our sat truck operator ran out of the truck. “The producer wants to speak to you.”

Oh s**t. I was in trouble. I could feel it. On the other end of the line was Jack Reilly.

“We all laughed in the control room,” he said. “Would you like to come to New York and do some fill-in for us?” he asked.


I continued to be GMA’s go-to guy working weeks at-a-time until one winter’s day Spencer Christian got stranded on the West Coast. A lower level producer called and asked me to fill-in. I felt committed to do the day in Connecticut–a big weather day.

That was it for me. The GMA calls stopped. I have second guessed myself a million times on that call.

I aggressively pursued trying to get back in their good graces–but it didn’t happen. A few years ago I gave up.

I liked working at the network. What made it better was parachuting in while keeping this job. It was a very cool place to work–seriously big time with loads of people and pressure to perform.

Jack Reilly made that happen. It didn’t matter to him I was working in New Haven. He saw me. He laughed. He followed his gut.

Later on he was squeezed out at ABC. The show was never quite the same after that. Whether the Today Show passed GMA while Jack was there or after I can’t remember.

Jack Reilly is a lot of what TV was and no longer is. He will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends. Thanks Jack.

We Nearly Got Killed On The Way To Our Vacation

By the time we’d seen the car it was too late. Had I been in my normal spot we’d be dead.

The title is serious. We almost got killed on I-91 just north of Hartford! I didn’t tell the story during our vacation because it was a little too spooky.

It was just before 5:00 AM last Saturday and we were northbound to Bradley. The road was dark. There was light traffic. I was doing around 70 mph. I’m usually a left lane driver, but was in the center as we passed the highway jumble that is Hartford.

“Look out,” Helaine yelled.

I turned my head left and for less than a second watched a car approach and then pass me. He was in the northbound left lane but he was heading soutbound at a high rate of speed! We probably passed each other at 150 mph.

For a moment neither Helaine nor I could get the image out of our minds. By the time we’d seen the car it was too late. Had I been in my normal spot we’d be dead.

I grabbed her hand and we proceeded silently for a moment. Then I picked up my cell and dialed 911.

“He’s probably in Downtown Hartford by now,” I told the State Police dispatcher. I dialed our TV station’s newsroom next.

Jason, a producer, answered. “Call the State Police in a few minutes,” I said. “Check and see if anything happens.”

All we could do was hope the driver figured out what was going on and exited the highway. There was no reported accident.

When it’s your time, it’s your time. It wasn’t ours yet.

Close To A Bullseye–Thankfully

We were on for two and a half hours this afternoon. I was on… who knows? A lot. Too much. Does it matter?

Amazingly today’s snow is about to come to an end. It’s outta here early, but on target for accumulation–even the little bit of sleet on the coast came as forecast.

This is as close to a bullseye as I get. I can’t let it get me complacent. I haven’t totally mastered Mother Nature yet.

We were on for two and a half hours this afternoon. I was on… who knows? A lot. Every other block. Too much. Does it matter?

In a situation like this there is a rundown. I don’t always see it, but even if I did there are so many hits it’s tough to remember from moment-to-moment. A producer will come and talk to me about the first hit in their show, but still two hits from now. Why bother? I will nod and try my best but I’m up to my eyeballs.

When the station rebuilt our in-studio weather presence they added a working Weather Center and pod area adjacent to the anchors. In both these I can be on-camera while having access to the computers that will be on-the-air. This is an amazing help. I never would have guessed the extent.

I am now exhausted. Isn’t that weird. It’s not like I was stacking boxes or doing something physically tiring. I’m still exhausted.

Glad this came on a Friday and not a Monday.

You Get What You Pay For–News Version

Helluva scoop if it were only true.

The big buzz in media (all media, not just TV) is user created content. It’s free–what’s not to like?

From CNN’s iReport–“Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable.”

Helluva scoop if it were only true. I’ll let a professional writer pick it up. This is from the Washington Post.

A false Internet report that Apple’s Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack briefly slammed his company’s stock and raised fresh questions about the delicate relationship between traditional and new media.

The posting on — a citizen journalist site owned by Time Warner’s CNN — is the most recent incident in which a faulty online report created brief, but wrenching, confusion among investors.

Apple quickly denied the report about its chief executive, but not before its stock dropped more than 2 percent, hitting a 17-month low of $94.65. It later recovered, climbing as much as 4 percent, before closing at $97.07, down 3 percent for the day.

CNN has tried to distance itself from the iReport site and its ‘reporters’. That’s going to be tough. It’s CNN’s cred that keeps the site active. In the last month CNN used nearly 1,300 iReport submissions which encourages even more participation.

Having journalism performed by actual journalists doesn’t guarantee accuracy, but it seems to be a step in the right direction when you supervise the reporter and he/she is answerable. Citizen journalists are not. Actually, that’s not totally true as the Steve Jobs heart attack citizen journalist might be answerable to the SEC.

Last September I wrote about my upset with Fox News ‘assigning’ a story to viewers. I didn’t say it was FNC but why hide it.

[T]oday I also watched an instance of what I don’t want to see with cellphone video. I’m not going to say which cable network it was, because I can’t find anything about it on their website, and it just might be ‘freelancing’ by a producer or anchor.

The anchor showed a still from an air show, mentioned where one was taking place today, and asked for viewer video. Uh… isn’t that why they have reporters and camera crews?

I understand getting video of spot news, unanticipated events, from viewers. This is totally different. This is an assignment. I’m not even sure a business can legally ask people to work for free, can they?

Regardless, it bothers me.

It still bothers me.

My Friday Nighttime At Nightline

The Nightline set is, to be kind, tiny. The street traffic behind the anchor plays off a server and is shown on a rear projection TV. Is nothing real?

When I came to WTNH the director of our evening newscasts was a young guy named Jeff Winn&#185. He had the thankless task of directing our newscasts on a chromakey set. This is much too complex to explain here except to say any mistake Jeff made was glaringly obvious to even a casual viewer. It was that obvious. Luckily, Jeff was good at what he did. Mistakes were few.

He left us and went on to bigger things. Again, too complex to explain here, plus if I thought about his career versus mine I’d openly weep. Jeff has seven Emmys, as do I. His are the much larger, heavier, impressive, national ones. Jeff won most of them directing “Real Sports” on HBO. He still does that on a monthly basis.

Jeff’s day night job is directing ABC News Nightline. Originally Ted Koppel’s nightly wrap-up of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and then a daily single subject half hour of hard news, Nightline post-Ted is flashier, lighter and more feature oriented. It’s also stronger in the ratings than it’s been in years, recently beating Letterman.

I’ve been meaning to watch Jeff direct for years but never had the chance. I went last night.

The drive to New York was speedy and without incident until the Bronx. What had been a wide open highway became a slow moving bumper-to-bumper grind. I broke free, headed down the West Side Highway and pulled into an open and totally legal parking space on Columbus Avenue directly across the street from ABC’s entrance.

Really–I found legal on-street parking in Manhattan. I’m available for autographs later.

When Nightline first went to its rotating three anchor configuration it came from a windowed studio above Times Square. Even now you can watch the traffic behind the anchor. Don’t be fooled (as I was). They moved around a year ago and now come from TV-3, the same studio as World News with Charlie Gibson. The Nightline set is, to be kind, tiny. The street traffic behind the anchor plays off a server and is shown on a rear projection TV. Is nothing real?

For much of the evening Jeff is ‘on a leash,’ even when there’s nothing to do. If a major story broke, he would direct live coverage across the full network. That is no small responsibility. ABC has standby staff just-in-case 24/7.

We took the grand tour to the control room passing through Nightline’s sparsely staffed offices. Most of the action happens here during the day. The show is anchored live, but the packages are mainly pre-produced at a more convenient hour. TV work isn’t as glamorous when you consider so much of it is “second shift.”

ABC’s New York headquarters is a confusing collection of mainly connected buildings on Manhattan’s West Side between 66th and 67th from Columbus Avenue to Central Park West. There are a few apartment buildings interspresed, but most of the block is ABC’s.

Back when I did some freelance work at the network (weather fill-ins on Good Morning America–you never call anymore–I’m crushed) I never ventured far from my studio (TV-2) lest I get lost! In some of the interconnections the floors don’t even line up!

The control room itself is very impressive with two rows of arena type seating, a few individual positions farther back and a separate audio booth. The production crew face a winged wall of large high definition flat panel monitors. Each monitor is split to show individual inputs as needed. Most are pretty standard cameras and servers, but I also saw tie-lines to Washington and Europe (feeding Arab language broadcasts back to New York last night).

Jeff sat down and with the technical director and assistant director went through the show’s scripts page-by-page making sure each input was properly marked and available. As far as I could tell only one small change was made during this run-through. A courtesy font for a photograph came positioned over the person’s face. It was moved to air in a less intrusive spot.

As 11:35 PM approached more and more people drifted in. By airtime there were around a dozen people at work. Actually, the show starts 15 seconds early as an animated countdown streams to the network. I’m hoping that’s a tradition carried over from the good old days, because by now the affiliates had better have synchronized clocks, wouldn’t you think?

One floor down Martin Bashir anchored. His only contact with the upstairs crew was electronic. I enjoyed when he read about someone being taken to the hospital and in his British English left out the article “the.” “He was taken to hospital,” was what the audience heard.

The show was flawless… at least it looked flawless to me. In many ways the production resembled a local newscast, but with longer packages, no live shots and more help. The producer even shuffled extra promo content in to help fill the show’s scheduled time.

Jeff and the team were relaxed and playful as the show aired. These are people working together every night. They know their jobs and at this level I suspect screw-ups aren’t tolerated long.

A little after midnight we were done.

&#185 – Our other director was Tom O’Brien, who moved out of directing to sales and then management. He is now general manager at WNBC in New York after a long stay as GM at KXAS Dallas.

Mt. Rushmore With Fireworks

Fireworks look good on TV, but this was a few steps beyond good. It’s tough not to feel a little sense of country with that iconic sculpture in the frame.

Mt. Rushmore with fireworks

Originally uploaded by caveman10

As my weathercast was ending tonight, Brian Coleman our producer, clicked the button to my IFB earpiece and said, “Mt. Rushmore.”

I was walking across the studio at the time, moving from the chroma key to the “weather pod.” Looking down, I was trying not to trip on cables. Mt. Rushmore? What the hell was he talking about? Was news breaking from Mt Rushmore?

I continued my walk while explaining the details of the extended forecast, which was on-the-air. Then, as I approach the pod. I saw different images in a monitor. The most amazing fireworks were being launched from behind the Mt. Rushmore Monument. The faces of the presidents were brightly lit as the show went on overhead. Quickly I changed gears, now calling for the live video feed.

Fireworks look good on TV, but this was a few steps beyond good. It’s tough not to feel a little sense of country with that iconic sculpture in the frame.

It’s funny how sometimes you just blindly trust the Internet to have what you want. I assumed when I started writing this I’d be able to find a photo to demonstrate my point. The one above, uploaded by “Caveman10” on Flickr, really captures the essence of what I saw.

Late Night Shows Return

The DVR has two tuners. Tonight, I recorded Letterman and Leno simultaneously.

The truth is, I wanted Leno to suck because I’d like to see the writers prevail against the producers. I’m not going to lie. Over the long run, what they get will help a lot of others… maybe someday me.

Letterman first. You’ve read by now, he’s bearded.

Because of a deal his production company cut with the writers, he was back with a full crew. It is a strategic move on the part of the writers to put NBC at a competitive disadvantage. Leno has no such waiver.

The show was fresh. Robin Williams was manic. The prepared bits weren’t anything special, but the show has been allowed to catch its breath and was very enjoyable.

There was more than one gratuitous nod to the Writers Guild, including the top-10 list. Alan Zweibel and Nora Ephron were among the ten writers presenting.

The writers continue to win the PR war versus the producers. So far, it’s a Pyrrhic victory.

Leno also came back fresh. I was surprised and disappointed the monologue and a taped bit were pre-written. The Guild had hoped there would be no written material. There will be cries of “scab” tomorrow.

I understand Jay’s in a tough position. On one hand, his writers are striking. On the other, his mortal opponent, David Letterman, has a full staff.

Should he risk a fatal blow to his show in order to morally support the writers?

Leno claimed to have written the monologue and other material himself. I can’t imagine how that’s true.

The big guest was Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate. Huckabee is very at ease on TV and came across warm and approachable. He played bass guitar as they came out of commercial.

People applauded the intricate guitar lead, but that wasn’t Huckabee’s part. It made no difference. A ‘guy off the street’ jumping in with that band is still impressive.

Jay’s show was entertaining, for Jay’s show. I suspect tomorrow’s ratings will show writers to be overvalued and Leno outranking Letterman. The real effect won’t be seen until later in the week… or maybe next.

The producer’s great strength in this fight is, they’re a faceless monolith who sell no product directly to consumers. In essence, they’re anonymous.

Come On Down

Let me tell you something about Matt Scott, fellow meteorologist at the TV station. He LOVES game shows. Matt is obsessed. That’s why it was no surprise when he asked me, last week, if I’d like to go to Foxwoods to see The Price Is Right Live tonight.

TPIR Live is an offshoot of the TV show. There’s a version playing semi-permanently in Las Vegas and another show which travels. That’s the one that was here tonight.

If he had his druthers, Matt would be hosting a game show right now. Seriously, now, as you’re reading this. Of course he’d have to fight me for it. Hell, I even offered to host a game show in Singapore (an offer that was not accepted, much to my dismay).

Frustration aside, we both thought this might be fun and it was.

The live version was hosted at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods, which seats around 1,400. We got our tickets and signed in around 5:00 PM.

Yes, you sign in. Someone really does take a Sharpie and put your name on a sticky price tag. Yes, I wore mine. Matt wore his too.

We had split for dinner (Steakhouse – excellent) and returned to the theater a little before the 7:00 PM show time. The place was packed. Up front, ushers were leading the crowd in a cross between calisthenics and cheerleading.

The Price Is Right is a show dependent on the collective power of its studio audience. This group would be primed.

At 7:00 PM the announcer came out, continuing the warm-up and keeping the audience up. Clips of Bob Barker and the long running&#176 Price Is Right showed on large screens.

A few minutes later came ‘the’ music. You know it. You can hum it. Edd Kalehoff’s timeless theme music was blasting through the theater.

And then, they came on down!

Finally, an introduction for the host, and Roger Lodge appeared. Thin and of medium height, he was wearing a dark suit and carrying a stick microphone.

It wasn’t Bob Barker, but no one minded. Lodge hosted Blind Date in syndication, so he was a reasonably known commodity. He was their celebrity host and they embraced him.

The actual show lasted over an hour and a half. Each pricing game had a new set of four contestants. Lots of people won $25 in free slot play, which was doled out like sand at the beach.

As for the larger prizes, I’m really not sure how much was given away. An excited woman won $525 on PLINKO. I wanted to yell at her when she dropped one puck from the far edge of the game.

Oh yeah, PLINKO was there as was the big wheel and that Astroturf putting green. The set, somewhat worn from travel, was a dead ringer for the on-air set (which also looks a little tired when seen live).

The show ended with the Showcase Showdown in which both contestants overbid (one by over $25,000)! Neither won the 4-day Carnival Cruise nor the Honda FIT (a car I’d never heard of before tonight). Still, the audience left happy.

It’s probably time to say nice things about Roger Lodge, and I will. He did an excellent job as the host. It’s a job that’s significantly more difficult than it looks.

You’re not only hosting, you’re the guest wrangler – trying to make sure the contestants are entertaining.

Matt had arranged for us to see the backstage area. The producer, Chris, was ready to take us when Roger appeared to join us. He could not have been nicer.

I wouldn’t have been surprised to run into jerk! This is a position that could easily attract an ass, especially after a long run on-the-road.

He was friendly and talkative and obviously proud of his body of work. I always thought he was very funny on Blind Date. He was very good at this too.

We said our goodbyes and Matt and I headed to the car.

As some sort of wannabe intellectual, I should look down my nose at tonight’s adventure. I can’t. I had a genuinely fun time. And, I spent the evening in a room with well over a thousand other people who can say the same thing.

&#176 – Long running, yes. Original, no! Price was on NBC when I was a kid, hosted by Bill Cullen.

On Our Anniversary, We’re On The Radio

Today is Helaine and my 24th wedding anniversary. That was reason enough to head to Milford, and the WPLR studios to join Chaz and AJ on-the-air.

Actually, the story begins in September.

Helaine and I were driving to Long Island to catch a plane for Florida and my mom’s birthday. Chaz and AJ were on the radio talking about marriage and anniversaries. I picked up my phone and dialed their number.

A few seconds later I was on-the-air, schmoozing away. The conversation was good – in other words, they let me have my way, telling any story I wanted and dominating the conversation.

Hey, I admit it.

Finally, they asked how long I’d been married. I told them 24 years as of November 24th.

A millisecond later, Helaine’s voice bellowed from the seat next to me. “26th, a**hole.”

OK, that’s probably not a good mistake to make. I have no excuses. Guys mostly understand. Women mostly don’t.

It was with that conversation in mind that Chaz and AJ invited us on this morning. Jesse, the producer, arranged for us to be on from 8-9:00 AM.

Helaine was nervous. She’d never been on-the-air. The closer we came, the more she dreaded her decision. She did what she could to guarantee they’d like her. She baked!

Early this morning, in the rain and gloom, we headed out. I carried “Clicky,” my camera. Helaine carried two trays of baked goods.

Trust me – Helaine’s baked goods are irresistible. Her cakes and cookies could easily diffuse tensions in the Middle East. And two disk jockeys? Please, they were on their way to being putty in her hands!

We headed up to the studio a little before 8:00. Chaz and AJ use three studios. Chaz is in one, with Billy Winn. AJ is in another. Producer Jesse is in a third.

It took Helaine a few seconds, but she quickly warmed up to be on the radio. She was dynamite. We retold most of our ‘standard’ fare: How I resisted commitment. How we negotiated a wedding date. How all men are pond scum!

All the good stuff is about my shortcomings.

It’s tough to tell, but I think we were a success. And, I think the radio bug spread a little from me to Helaine.

In the past we’ve discussed what it might be like to do a husband/wife morning show on-the-air. This was our chance to see if it had any promise at all. It does.

That’s not to say we’ll ever really do it, but it’s fun to think about. It’s certainly something that could be done without hurting my ‘day job.’

When our hour ended, I asked if we could have an aircheck. That disk should be coming within the next few days and we’ll have a better chance to assess exactly how we did.

No matter what, it was a lot of fun. And, though it might not sound romantic in the abstract, being with Helaine… having a good time… made it a perfect part of our anniversary celebration.

Blogger’s note: Earlier today, some of the photos posted on the site might not have been visible. If you ever run into empty boxes or other things that don’t look Kosher, would you please let me know?

Back On The Radio

Yesterday, I wrote about my bad decision… sleeping late on Sunday. That came back to bite me on the ass today!

My alarm was set for 4:00 AM. I went upstairs around 8:30, fell asleep by 9:00 and was awake again before midnight.

I assumed that position you assume when you’re awake, but don’t want to give in and get up. I wanted… no, I needed more sleep. Not to be.

I went downstairs and watched the clock.

I was in the car by 5:00 AM, heading to Hartford for my radio appearance on WCCC. My only detour was for coffee at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Cromwell.

WCCC is old school. It’s not owned by a conglomerate. Its promos have the old, fun feel of a station close to its listeners. It’s live 24-7 with no voice tracking.

Even cooler, WCCC is in an old house, near St. Francis Hospital, in Hartford. This is not some chi-chi refurb. If you moved out the radio gear, you could move a family right in!

WCCC’s air product is a little hard edged for me. After all, 20hours a day, this station is really rocking. I’m not sure I am equal to that task.

I made myself comfy in the studio while the show’s producer, Jen, handed me a packet of ‘nearly’ news to read. I could sense things were going to be really casual… and they were.

Sebastian runs the show. He is the ‘name’ talent around which the show revolves. He’s been in the market forever, in good times and bad.

It’s a very good time right now.

In the studio with Sebastian are Pete Lamoureux, who does sports, and Don Steele, the all around announcer guy and the person who runs the ‘board’, the audio console which controls everything you hear. As was the case with Sebastian, they could not have been nicer.

Sebastian walked in the studio at 6:00 AM and we were off and running. Over the years morning shows have started moving to earlier start times. Lots of shows begin at 5:00 or 5:30. Like I said, this is old school.

I wonder if they know how good they have it? They got reasonably good hours and carte blanche to say nearly anything&#185

My job was to be second (or possibly third or fourth) banana. There was a time I would have objected. Not now. I embraced this opportunity for what it was – a chance to have a good time in a medium I’m still madly in love with.

When Sebastian said anything funny (or was intended to be funny), I laughed. That’s part of the job. Ask Ed McMahon.

I was fresh meat so there was lots of conversation that centered around me. How Helaine and I met. What it was like after 23 years at the TV station. Who was fun and not fun to work with. Stuff like that.

There are some stories I’ve told a million times. I had no trouble telling them again.

Sebastian can be tough, but he was easy on me. I was glad for that. OK – he did ask if I color my hair (NO!). The four hours went quickly.

I spent some time with Michael Picozzi, the program director, before heading south down I-91 toward home.

I was back to the bed around 11:30. There was no trouble falling asleep this time. I was ready.

&#185 – I shied away from a funny use of the acronym MILF. Later, when I told Sebastian I’d censored myself, he laughed and asked why?

Weird Stuff In Space

A few years ago I had a question about the Cassini space probe. I sent an email to Carolyn Porco of the imaging team, who I didn’t know. She answered my query and put me on her mailing list.

This is a great mailing list – possibly the best I’m on!

Cassini has been orbiting Saturn for a while, moving in and out of the rings and past Saturn’s multitude of moons. I’d put a number, but no one really knows how many there are, plus a lot depends on your definition of a moon!

One of the latest stops for Cassini was a nice photo session with Hyperion. It’s reddish in color and pock marked with craters. Like so much else in space, Hyperion is potato shaped.

The potato factor has been constant topic of conversation between Dave brody, my former producer on Inside Space, and me. We have no idea why the natural order of space has chosen this particular vegetable to model so much on.

On most solid planets and moons, an incoming meteorite blasts into the surface, ejecting a significant portion of what was there. On hyperion, an oncoming meteorite hitting the surface would primarily compress it. Very little would be blasted back into space – even with Hyperion’s minimal gravity.

All I could think of was Styrofoam. Hyperion acts as if it’s made of Styrofoam!

Like Styrofoam, Hyperion is isn’t very dense. If you had a large enough bathtub, Hyperion would float (as would Saturn itself). Hyperion has half the density of water.

I’m getting a little jealous. It seems we know more about Saturn and its moons than we know about Earth and ours. The Cassini instrumentation is quite good and has produced tons of data.

In fact, Casini was able to measure its effect on Hyperion as it looked on from 30,000+ miles away.