Thursday, March 13, 2008

If I had to do it all again

I'm almost 54 now. I'm a fulltime news blogger now and with the economy being what it is, and the news business being what is, who knows how long this will last. Day after day there's a steady drumbeat of bad economic news and it's quite often hard to figure out how I survive in these economic times. One might be tempted to wish I'd picked some "safer" business to get into 35 years ago.

Today, however, I'm reminded of how great the radio business has been to me. I met that guy at the top of the page through this business. He's Nick Young and we worked together at the old WHDH Radio in Boston in the '80s and then he moved down to New York City to work for the RKO Radio Network and when an editor's gig opened up there, Nick told his boss and his boss called me. He helped us settle in Westchester County and we had some good times over pizza at Nick and Deb's house. You can do a lot of good things when Nick Young is putting in a good word for you. I could've done better in the two years I was at RKO to reward Nick's confidence but what's done is done.

Nick is now the voice of the CBS World News Roundup, which today celebrated its 70th birthday. I think Nick's boss today was Nick's boss then. I haven't seen Nick since the day we said goodbye in 1986. "I'll always be your friend," I said. It's a darned small business with wonderful people and if I had to do it all again, I'd have a better idea of how good I had it every step of the way.

It must be great to carry on a show that featured such stalwarts at Richard C. Hottelet, and Robert Trout, and Dallas Townsend, and Douglas Edwards. Here's the very first broadcast in 1938.

I sure have met some wonderful people in the 35 years I've been in this industry that's been dying, they tell us, for the last 30.

When I was in college, everyone wanted to be in the news business and I saw no way to fit in. Somewhere... somehow... they all dropped by the wayside and I stayed in the business, waking up every day and hoping this wouldn't be the day the bubble burst and I was exposed as a news fraud.

Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Battling boredom

My blogging colleague, DaveG, who runs one of the best blogs I've ever found, writes about another snowstorm that has hit his section of Ohio.

Dave's a lucky guy. Here in Minnesota, everyone is tired of winter, which greeted us with the usual -2 this morning. That's -2 with about 4 inches of snow remaining on the ground -- most of it crunchy and pointless and, down by the road, we have the usual muddy glaciers.

Would I trade it for summer? Of course. I'd even settle for spring. But I wouldn't mind a good snowstorm, either, and that's the problem with winter this year: sheer boredom.

When we lived in New England, we had winters like this all the time, and each night, it seemed, we'd see the evening news video every night with blizzards from Minnesota. Then we moved here and we have nothing but boring, every-day-pretty-much-the-same winters and we see video each night on the news with heavy snowstorms in Ohio and New England.

At least today I was able to get out to Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM) for another session with flight instructor Blaise Eisenbeil. And, like last time, my ability to fly an airplane seems to be coming back. The takeoffs and landings were much better and I made about 7 "pretty good" landings. They were divided pretty equally between soft field and short field and Blaise is pretty demanding about being precise.

I carried too much speed on final fairly consistently and I still haven't been able to 'recalibrate' my visual clues so I'm flaring a bit too early, but the pace of improvement is very encouraging and Blaise signed off my flight review.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

We have met the enemy

One of these days, more pilots will understand that one reason for the decline in general aviation is general aviators.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Berkshire comeback

When I was growing up in Central Massachusetts, I felt about the Berkshires the way most people in Massachusetts feel about the Berkshires -- they're out by California somewhere. As luck would have it, and it is luck, my third job in radio took me to the Berkshires. I ended up meeting my wife there, I wouldn't have gotten the call to Boston if I didn't work at one particular station and if Boston hadn't called, neither would New York and, then neither would the Berkshires again, and then neither would Minnesota. And so on and so on and so on.

It may be one of those places, though, that you don't want spend too much more time there because you can't go home again, much like Jeff Opdyke and his wife discovered when the Wall St. Journal columnist and his wife discovered when they moved back to Baton Rouge from the northeast several years ago. Baton Rouge. Berkshires. Same thing.

In my first trip through the Berkshires -- as a poor and soon-to-be-ditched spouse -- I lived in Pittsfield. In the winters, a newsman, Jeff Gluck, at the competing station in town and I would ski in the morning at Jiminy Peak (we got "press passes," which was probably unethical, but so what? We made about $125 a week), and then work in the afternoons. How many people can do that?

Tonight I watched a James Taylor concert, recorded last summer at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. I saw Star Wars II at the Colonial Theater, and then it was going to be torn down. Tonight was the first time I've followed its restoration, which -- like everything else -- has been documented on You Tube.

At the time, Pittsfield was home to General Electric, and was the largest manufacturing facility for large power transformers in the world. It employed more than 5,000 people and was the primary polluter of the Hudson River. It closed during my second foray through the Berkshires.

It's hard to make a living in the Berkshires, which perhaps is why most people make their fortune in New York and then move there. I haven't been to Pittsfield in quite a few years now. Maybe this summer.