Chris Michael

About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Bela Lugosi’s Early Years

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.
Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

We are counting down to RCN-TV’s Halloween Marathon here at The Showplace. 
It’s hard to have a comprehensive look at Halloween-themed movie classics without a discussion on the intriguing career of one Bela Lugosi.
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, Austria-Hungary. He dropped out of school at the age of 12, and at 18 began his acting career. Like the fictional Vito Corleone, Bela used his hometown in formulating his stage name.
Bela spent the next 20 years performing in foreign silent films and stage productions in various countries. He also fought in World War I and suffered injuries that would later come back to impact his acting career.
Lugosi arrived in America in October 1920 and worked odd jobs before forming a stock company comprised of fellow immigrants performing in various Eastern United States cities.
His first American film role was that of a villain in the silent movie, The Silent Command. Other film opportunities–all from New York City film companies–followed with Lugosi almost always cast in an antagonist or villainous role.
Bela was first approached about his signature role as Dracula for a Broadway production in the summer of 1927. The play was a hit and ran for 261 productions over a two-year span. The success earned Lugosi two starring movie jobs (Prisoners, The Veiled Woman). His two films were also successful, causing Lugosi to stay in Hollywood, but he failed to find any additional work in films.
He returned to his role as Dracula on the stage to continued critical acclaim. Despite this, when Universal Studios decided to produce the film version of Dracula, Lugosi was not initially cast in the titular role.
Throughout 1929 Bela continued to lobby for the part, constantly contacting Universal’s executives asking for the part. Dracula producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. also was not interested in Lugosi, in spite of the good reviews for his stage portrayal. Laemmle instead considered other actors, including Paul Muni, Chester Morris, Ian Keith, John Wray, Joseph Schildkraut, Arthur Edmund Carewe, and William Courtenay.
Lugosi happened to be in Los Angeles with a touring company of the play when the film was being cast.
Against the mounting swell of studio opinion, Lugosi ultimately won the executives over. One of the deciding factors was him accepting a paltry $500 per week salary for seven weeks of work, amounting to $3,500 for the entire production. (By comparison, supporting actress Helen Chandler was paid $750 per week and had less than half the amount of lines as the titular character had).
Bela had now captured the starring cinematic role he had long coveted. The film, along with Lugosi’s starring performance, were both major successes, but the Hungarian born actor would so begin to regret these turn of events.
We’ll have more on Lugosi’s life and career coming up next week here at “The Showplace.”
In the meantime, be on the lookout for Bela Lugosi in various horror flicks on RCN-TV like White Zombie, Ghosts on the Loose and other classics often seen this time of year. To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

HS FB POLL: 10/18/21

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
Unfortunately, police activity ended up being the big story of the weekend, instead of any individual or team “on the field” highlights – as it should be.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Nazareth football team (this time at the Emmaus high school stadium) was besieged with a shooting threat to their game.
The anonymous 911 call, threatening bodily harm, precipitated radical changes to what should have been one of the biggest and most exciting regular season nights for high school football in the Lehigh Valley.
Fans were banned from attending, single-handedly ruining the Hornets’ homecoming activities – one of the biggest highlights of the students’ school year.
Sports has always been a means to escape the tribulations of the more serious aspects of life. But more and more over the last 18 months, it has been the more sinister elements of society invading what should be fun events for everyone.

#2
As we head down the home stretch of the high school football season, it’ll be an interesting final couple weeks as the district playoff picture comes into shape. This is always an interesting time for local sports fans, media members and even coaches and athletic directors to try to get a handle on the rather complex system used to see playoff teams and decide who gets into the postseason…and who doesn’t.
The system is based on having every team play the same amount of games and, in most cases, the same teams as everybody else.
This is certainly not the case this year, with many schools electing to play teams outside of the Lehigh valley and of course, the fact that Covid-19 has mangled this fall schedule.
A bunch of teams will, at best, play only nine games this fall and a few other teams will only play eight…and that’s if we don’t have any more disruptions over the next few weeks.
While very complicated and occasionally controversial, the weighted “PowerPoint” system has overall been very fair for all sports and District XI. The formula, however, is based on the concept that every team plays exactly the same amount of games. This year, its’ strategy will obviously be tested with all the different elements and problems that local schools have had to deal with.

#3
Head coaches from the school districts that have been more extremely cautious about protecting their kids from the virus report being hampered in terms of their “on the field” productivity. At some schools, any sign of a single symptom requires at least a three-day quarantine from the rest of the team which, depending on what day this diagnosis takes place, virtually eliminates that player from preparing for that week’s game.
There are clearly larger issues here and the student athletes’ health is the primary concern, as it should be. But in terms of sports, it has already made a challenging fall season even tougher to navigate for local coaches trying to prepare for games each week.
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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Emmaus
2) Parkland
3) Freedom
4) Nazareth
5) Easton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Palmerton
4) Bangor
5) Northern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to check the “upcoming events” here on the website and check it frequently as there continues to be changes from day to day.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Suspense

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

“Be prepared for an episode that will keep you in…suspense!”

This was the opening line to one of the greatest radio dramas of all-time, along with one of the earliest successful shows on television.

The radio version of Suspense was a perennial ratings favorite for nearly 20 years. In fact, it was one of the very last original programs to survive well beyond radio’s “Golden Age” until it was finally cancelled in 1962.

The television version of the program launched in 1949 incorporating many similarly written episodes from radio, which “borrowed” ideas from literary greats Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens and others.

As the name suggests, the program would always present many twists and turns, building tension throughout each episode to a thrilling and dramatic climax. While not always straying into the bizarre world of a show like The Twilight Zone, each episode’s spine-tingling finales were surprisingly fresh throughout the show’s entire run.

Each show featured different guest stars, who always seemed to get caught up in a web of mystery and did a great job of quickly allowing its audience to identify with them to bring viewers into the potential dangers.

Adding to the excitement of these programs was that the shows were originally broadcast live–meaning no retakes and anything could happen!

Another reason to revisit this early TV classic? You’d be surprised how many future television “regulars” and cinematic stars made early career appearances on this television program. In fact, it’s hard to go more than one or two episodes without seeing a recognizable face. Among them include:

Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Phyllis, Young Frankenstein)
Lloyd Bridges (High Noon, Airplane, Hot Shots)
Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Raven)
Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, How The Grinch Stole Christmas)
Conrad Janis (Mork and Mindy, The Buddy Holly Story, The Cable Guy)
Brian Keith (Family Affair, The Parent Trap)
Robert Emhardt (The Andy Griffith Show)
Royal Dano (Twin Peaks, Bonanza, Gunsmoke)
Richard H. Harris (Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls)
Academy Award Winning Eileen Heckart (The First Wives Club, Lou Grant)

…and others.

For most seasons, the program was run under the watchful eyes of Richard Mulligan. Mulligan would later win an Emmy for directing The Moon and the Sixpence, in which Lawrence Olivier made his TV debut. Later, he would go on to direct film classics To Kill A Mockingbird, Fear Strikes Out and The Others as well as 1991’s The Man In The Moon, which launched the career of Reese Witherspoon.

Tune in for Suspense, every Wednesday at 12 noon and Fridays at 1 pm on RCN-TV. You may also want to DVR episodes and binge-watch your favorites leading up to RCN’s annual Halloween Marathon (check back to our website soon for more details on this great annual tradition!)

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

HS FB POLL: 10/11/21

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
Congratulations to Emmaus field hockey head coach Sue Butz-Stavin for surpassing 1,000 coaching victories for her career this past week.
We alerted you she was closing in on this milestone achievement a month ago here at “The Shop.” Now achieved, it is truly staggering to take in all the consistent success she has had over the last several decades and to ingest all that she has accomplished in her career.
Among one of the more mind-blowing statistics about her legendary coaching run: the last time her Green Hornet team did NOT win a district title…Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.
How long will this amazing streak continue? The local field hockey playoff season begins next week. Coach Butz-Stavin will be a guest on SportsTalk in a couple weeks to talk about her momentous accomplishments and this fall’s post-season action.

#2
We made a unique choice for our tape-delayed RCN broadcast this Friday, which features Catasauqua facing Pine Grove.
There are quite a few reasons it became one of our picks for this weekend.
For one, it’ll be the first time we feature the Catasauqua football team in eight years on our network. Also, this week’s contest is scheduled to be the first game played at the school district’s brand new/refurbished Alumni Stadium.
It’s been tough seeing teams like the Rough Riders and the other schools schedule games outside our coverage area, but it will be our pleasure to break our own protocols for this one week and feature a regular season game featuring a non-Lehigh Valley opponent for the special circumstance.
It should be a great night for Catasauqua residents and their sports fans. We wish everyone with the Roughies program all the best on this special evening this Friday!

#3
Of course, the big football story last weekend was the Central Catholic / Nazareth game being postponed due to a bomb threat. I already have a call in to Nazareth head coach Tom Falzone and Central head coach Tim McGorry to talk with them about the incident. I will have details on all that happened that night this Friday when we have the Blue Eagles game against Emmaus and Central’s game against Whitehall on Saturday. Both games will be live on RCN-TV.
By the way, Friday’s live contest game will feature our number four and number one ranked teams, respectively, squaring off against each other in our polls (see more on that below.)
Elsewhere, it was great seeing Notre Dame-Green Pond getting back to action last Friday after missing two games because of Covid-19 issues. The Crusaders weren’t exactly thrilled with the game’s end result. They played undefeated North Schuylkill and suffered their first loss of the year – by a significant margin.
While Notre Dame returned to the playing field, two other Lehigh Valley games were canceled this past weekend — Dieruff versus Pocono Mountain East and Easton at Bethlehem Catholic — both because of the virus.
It certainly has been another unique fall sports season.

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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.
Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.
Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Emmaus
2) Parkland
3) Freedom
4) Nazareth
5) Easton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Northern Lehigh
4) Wilson
5) Bangor

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Desi Arnaz

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation. Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In celebration and appreciation of Hispanic Heritage Month, we here at the Showplace are honoring the tremendous achievements and accomplishments of trailblazing entertainers of Latin origin.
This week…Desi Arnaz.
To most people, he’s known as the straight man and real-life (as well as the fictional) first wife of I Love Lucy’s Lucille Ball.
However, Desi Arnaz is one of the most innovative television pioneers in the industry and created techniques that are still used to this day.
Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III was born in Santiago, Cuba in 1917 — the son of the town’s mayor and grandson of the popular Bacardi Rum Company.
Forced from his home due to civil unrest, Desi worked numerous jobs in Florida before forming his own band and getting a major boost from established Hispanic bandleader Xavier Cugat.
According to his autobiography entitled, “A Book,” Arnaz claims to have sparked the line-dancing craze in America, out of desperation when his late-arriving band proved to be less than capable to perform at a famous nightclub in Miami.
Arnaz’s popularity would grow as a bandleader around the country–performing in person and on the radio until he started getting roles in films. While occasionally landing a role in a major picture, most of his movies, by his own admission, were so poorly produced and then received, that he referred to them in his autobiography as “D films.”
However, it was on the set of the film, Too Many Girls, where he met, and subsequently married, Ball. He also began studying film techniques and, without any formal training, used his on the job learning when CBS pitched a television show idea to his wife.
Determined to spend more time with her husband, Ball insisted that Desi star and produce the show himself. While CBS and the show’s sponsor, Phillip Morris, balked at Arnaz playing Lucy’s on-screen husband (claiming now one would believe they were married), the couple toured across the country performing acts which proved that United States citizens would “buy in” to the comedy created by the real-life married duo.
Because of various production issues, Arnaz soon realized that the best possible way of shooting the “Lucy” show would be to record the program on film and to use three cameras, later editing together the best shots. This revolutionary idea paved the way for programs–previously recorded live on one or, at most, two cameras–to be preserved and later rebroadcast again. Thus, syndication was born!
These techniques also allowed mistakes by camera to be deleted and gave directors time to pick and choose the best shots instead of having to pick one on the fly.
Despite this practice later being used by nearly every situation comedy to this day, CBS also rejected this technical theory as ridiculous and implausible. So convinced that it would work, Desi and Lucy sent out to prove this theory by forming their own production company, called “Desilu Productions”, and making these shooting techniques a reality.
Arnaz’s brilliant business savvy and behind-the-scenes work ideas continued to grow Desilu and produced many successful early television series. In addition to I Love Lucy, Arnaz oversaw the productions of The Untouchables, The Ann Sothern Show, Our Miss Brooks, Westinghouse Playhouse, The Lucy Show and many others.
At its popularity’s peak, Desilu (the name derived from a combination of “Desi” and “Lucy) was the second most successful TV production company in the world.
Three years after Lucy divorced Desi, Arnaz slowly began to cut back on his television work, selling his half of Desilu to his now ex-wife. His contributions to the industry should not be overlooked. One could argue that his ideas and the tenacity he showed to prove that his theories would work changed the landscape of television forever.
You can see The Lucy Show, which Arnaz helped create and develop and on which he as executive producer, on RCN TV. To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

HS FB POLL: 10/4/21

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
The revolving door in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South Division continues to swing around in high school football.

Consider the following so far:
Central Catholic defeated Emmaus and Parkland but got crushed by Freedom and Easton. The Patriots lost to both Emmaus and Parkland but dominated Nazareth — a team that keeps improving each week and almost beat the Trojans.

The Red Rovers now have three wins but were routed by both Freedom and Parkland, and have Emmaus and Nazareth looming on the horizon.

Whitehall started the year 3-0 but has now lost two in a row by significant margins and has several more tough opponents coming up throughout the rest of its regular season schedule.

As you saw on RCN TV last weekend, the Blue Eagles recorded its fourth victory with a 17-6 win over Liberty and have lots of great talent coming out of their sophomore program. They could be contenders again after winning the district title the last two seasons but, as we broke the news during the broadcast, they now will be without their top wide receiver, Nolan Lobb, for several weeks.

Meanwhile, the Hornets have responded from its lone, early season loss to Central by out-scoring its last three opponents by over 150 points.

It appears Emmaus has emerged as the team to beat in this competitive division, which is a good thing for RCN customers: we already have the Hornets scheduled for three of its toughest games coming up over the next month on RCN-TV! All three contests will probably decide the EPC-South championship.

#2
Meanwhile, in the EPC – North, Northampton continues to dominate against teams from the Pocono region. As in the past, the Koncrete Kids beat up on teams from the Northern tier of the District 11 area – some struggling to even field a team. This year’s squad could be different as they’ve already pulled off one of the year’s biggest upsets week one by surprising Bethlehem Catholic. They could very well beat Whitehall at the end of the regular season and then make noise by beating more Lehigh Valley teams come playoff time.

#3
There were also some key games in the Colonial League this past weekend.

Saucon Valley, a team that was ranked number five in our preseason poll but had managed just one win so far through five games, upset last week’s #5 team, Bangor.

Wilson lost its first game of the year on its home field last Saturday, 42-6, to Northwestern. The Warriors have had a great start but can’t afford to pick up too many more losses in a very competitive 4A playoff field–only four teams qualify for the playoffs in this classification this fall.

Catasauqua got back on the winning path. Like Northampton, they are mostly playing teams from outside our coverage area. We will get a great look at how strong the Rough Riders are this season when they face off against Lehigh Valley 2A teams starting week 10.

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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Emmaus
2) Parkland
3) Freedom
4) Nazareth
5) Easton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Wilson
4) Northern Lehigh
5) Catasauqua

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Jose Ferrer

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In celebration and appreciation of Hispanic Heritage Month, we here at the Showplace are honoring the tremendous achievements and accomplishments of trailblazing entertainers of Latin origin.

This week…Jose Ferrer.

José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January, 8, 1912. In 1924, his family moved to New York and he was raised at a Swiss boarding school before earning his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Princeton University.

While attending graduate school for Romance Languages at Columbia University in the mid-1930s, Ferrer began performing in stage productions in Long Island. Over the next ten years, Ferrer not only starred in a number of increasingly larger stage productions–ultimately appearing on Broadwayin the early 1940s–but also began producing and directing.

Three of his most notable stage roles include the title role in the critically acclaimed Charlie’s Aunt, Iago in the Broadway production of Othello, and taking over the starring role from Danny Kaye in Let’s Face It!

Ferrer earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his first-ever film role playing opposite Ingrid Bergman in the 1948 epic, Joan of Arc. Ferrer continued to star in (and often direct) a number of successful films, radio plays and stage productions for several years.

Ferrer’s biggest film contribution came playing the titular character in 1950’s Cyrano de Burgerac directed by Stanley Kramer. Ferrer had won a Tony Award by playing the same character on Broadway and won the Oscar playing Cyrano on the big screen. In doing so, Ferrer became the first Hispanic to win a Best Actor Academy Award.

Ferrer continued to star in and direct high profile films and plays for the next several years. Highlights include the original Moulin Rouge, Miss Sadie Thompson (along with Rita Hayworth), Anything Can Happen and The Caine Mutiny, co-starring with Humphrey Bogart and Van Johnson.

Between 1952-53, Ferrer also directed the highly successful Stalag 17 along with directing fellow legends Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in The Fourposter. Those two plays earned over 1100 performances!

1953 was also the year Ferrer married Rosemary Clooney (just before she reached stardom with White Christmas)–the first of two times the pair were married.

Ferrer made his film directorial debut in 1955’s The Strike and added screenwriting to his resume with The Great Man a year later.

He continued to act, direct, produce and write plays and films throughout the rest of his life. In 1991, he was cast in a Broadway play, Conversations with My Father, but withdrew due to poor health. He passed on a few months later.

Ferrer’s contributions to American theatre were recognized in 1981, when he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. In 1985, he became the first actor ever to receive the newly created National Medal of Arts.

Posthumously, the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA) renamed its Tespis Award to the HOLA José Ferrer Tespis Award. The United States Postal Service issued a stamp in Ferrer’s honor in its Distinguished Americans series.

Be on the lockout for Jose Ferrer in the groundbreaking, award-winning title role film version of Cyrano de Burgerac on RCN TV. To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

HS FB POLL: 9/27/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here are 3 local sports observations, before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1

It was another great weekend for the 34th Annual Celtic Classic Highlands Games and Festival.

It was once again my privilege to host the United States National Championship held in Bethlehem along with my partner, Dr. Harrison Bailey, who returned for this year’s broadcast on RCN TV.

Each year the competitors put on a tremendous show and are truly larger than life characters — both figuratively and literally (one participant this year was 6-ft-8, 385 pounds). This year’s caber toss thrown by participants weighed in at over 19 feet and 153 lbs.

These athletes are entertaining to watch for both die-hard Celtic athletic fans as well as first-time viewers.

Be sure to catch the action this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. on RCN- TV, as well as reliving all of the great moments and memories from this year’s events. All of our broadcast games, events and stage performances can be watched through RCN On Demand, which is free for RCN customers.

#2

There’s been some outstanding fall teams in the Lehigh Valley outside the sport of football.

Among the pleasant surprises so far this season include the Emmaus and Northern Lehigh girls soccer teams, an undefeated Nazareth field hockey squad, who just scored a win over previously undefeated Whitehall, the Emmaus girls cross country team, who have now won over 40 consecutive matches in a row and many others. It should be an exciting league and district playoff season when it commences in a few weeks.

#3

We’ve continued to bring you a steady stream of competitive high school football games each weekend on RCN TV this fall. Last Friday, Freedom and Nazareth were tied at 14-14 before the Patriots went on an impressive offensive showing in the 4th quarter to record the victory.

Elsewhere, the steady onslaught of Lehigh Valley teams beating up on squads from the EPC North continued, which included Emmaus winning 84 – 0 over East Stroudsburg North. There seems to be growing discontent in the region about this widening disparity between the teams. Also, some local schools are frustrated that they have to butt heads against the best teams in District 11 each week, while other Valley schools rack up easy wins, matched up against teams that barely have enough players to field a team.

Once we finally rid ourselves of COVID-19 concerns, expect this issue to become even more prominently discussed and more loudly debated in local sports conversations.

Meanwhile…

Two more games were postponed last weekend due to COVID-19 — including one featuring our previously number one ranked team, Notre Dame. Because of the Crusaders’ inactivity and Northwestern’s big win last weekend, the Tigers will move into the number one spot in our poll for the Colonial League teams.

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That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Emmaus
2) Central Catholic
3) Parkland
4) Freedom
5) Nazareth

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Northwestern
2) Notre Dame-GP
3) Wilson
4) Bangor
5) Northern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Michael Landon’s Later Years

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

Last week we took a look at the early highs and lows in the life of classic TV star Michael Landon, who broke on to the entertainment scene with his breakout performance in “Bonanza.” This week, we will take a look at his “second act.”

After failing with the first series entrusted to him by the NBC Network, Michael Landon was approached to be the writer and director for an unusual new program–one that was based on a series of books revolving around a little girl growing up in the midwest in the 1870s.

Landon read the show’s synopsis and agreed to take the role, but with one provision…he would also portray the lead male/father character on the show. NBC initially wasn’t convinced the program would ever make it to air.

The television network’s initiative to limit or cancel virtually all “rural” programming in the early 1970s backfired. While some new programs like All In The Family, Good Times, Maude, The Jeffersons and a few others had great success, NBC and CBS came under critical fire for their decisions to cancel other popular programming based on their belief that people no longer wanted to see non-urban based shows. But with Landon agreeing to take responsibility for this new project, NBC relented and green-lighted the project.

Little House on the Prairie launched in 1973 as a two-hour movie and was an immediate hit, finishing 13th overall in the Nielsen ratings in its first year, and climbed as high as seventh overall a few years later.

When the show’s featured actress, Melissa Gilbert, lost her own father early during the show’s production, Gilbert said Landon stepped in and provided a much-needed patriarchal figure in her life–both personally and professionally.

Landon would go on to create, write and direct three additional shows — Highway To Heaven, (a Top 30 ratings show its first three seasons), the two-time Emmy nominated Where Pigeons Go To Die and the less popular Father Murphy in the 1980s, a vehicle for athlete-turned-actor Merlin Olsen, which ran for two full seasons.

Landon remained loyal throughout his projects, frequently using the same production people on all of his shows. Additionally for “Highway,“ he not only brought attention to previously discussed medical issues people were facing but also brought real-life cancer patients and disabled people to the set. His decision to work with disabled people led him to hire a couple of adults with disabilities to write episodes for him.

Tragedy struck again in 1991. CBS green-lighted a new Landon show called, Us, but before it got into full production, Michael was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April. He called a press conference revealing his condition was terminal and answered all the media’s questions. However, various media outlets and tabloid “journalists” printed outrageous stories about Michael, his wife and his family and his ordeal.

Landon succumbed to the cancer less than three months after the diagnosis. He was 54.

During his life and also posthumously, he was honored with various awards, from touching on his skills as a producer, writer, director and actor to his contributions to youth, people in need and the entertainment industry.

Keep checking back to The Showplace for interesting stories and unique accomplishments in the early years of the television and movie industries. To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

HS FB POLL: 9/20/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area, I want to give people a heads-up of some “can’t miss” episodes of the RCN SportsTalk show over the next few weeks!

Our guests and show topics will include…

Coaches and players from this year’s PIAA State Champion  Allentown Central Catholic Vikings

Legendary Emmaus Field Hockey Head Coach Sue Butz-Stavin, who is closing in on 1,000 coaching victories for her career

Good Counsel Head Football Coach Andy Stefanelli of the DMV, discussing MaxPrep’s declaration that he’s playing one of the top five most competitive schedules in the country

Doctors and athletic trainers discussing the continuing concerns and issues in playing sports and suggested precautions to utilize to stay healthy in the COVID-10 era

Last but certainly not least, RCN’s Gary Laubach will talk Lafayette football, local sports issues and will also reveal some personal news about himself and his great career

Make sure you set reminders, schedule your DVRs and check out the shows through On-Demand (free for RCN customers) for some of the biggest shows and very important interviews!

Each new show will debut on Thursday evenings at 7 pm on RCN-TV!

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Now, it’s time to look at this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.

Our preseason #1 team — the Parkland Trojans — are now the ONLY Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South’s undefeated team through the first four weeks of the season. Parkland defeated Freedom, 19-15 last Friday night. If you missed the game, RCN customers can watch it for free through RCN On Demand!

Our #2 and #3 teams (Freedom and Nazareth) face off against each other this Friday. You can watch that game live on RCN TV at 7pm.

Our preseason top Colonial League team — Notre Dame also remains undefeated, after a hard-fought win over Northern Lehigh. Northwestern, our number two preseason team, also is 4-0.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Parkland
2) Freedom
3) Nazareth
4) Emmaus
5) Central Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame-GP
2) Northwestern
3) Bangor
4) Wilson
5) Catasauqua

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.