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.

DAWK & MITCH

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.

My very first full-length sit-down interview with a professional athlete was Eagles’ Safety Brian Dawkins.

I was nervous as all-heck.

Dawkins was just entering his prime and was one of the biggest sports personalities in all of Philadelphia.  I had been working at Philly’s Sportsradio WIP (the number one sports radio station in the nation at that time) and I had done some group interviews, but nothing “one on one.”

Of course, I figured if I messed up this interview, I might never get another chance again and my entire career would be ruined!  I had heard some horrible stories from seasoned journalists about how rude pro athletes can be (along with lots of encouraging words) but I was afraid he’d turn out to be another Chase Utley–someone who always appears gracious on camera but bites reporters’ heads off the second they ask a question that he has the slightest problem with.

I could not have been more wrong.

Brian was as wonderful a big time personality as I ever had the good fortune to interview.  He said he was honored to be interviewed by me (I knew he didn’t, but what a thing to say??) and made for pleasant talk before the interview, joked around a little, and then gave clear and well thought out responses to all of my questions.  I could not have imagined a better experience and it was a tremendous confidence boost for the hundreds of sit-down interviews I’ve done since.

I had the good fortune to interview Brian again twice more…once when he was “on the way out” of Philly (one of the dumbest things the Eagles did–and they’ve made a lot of “brain dead” decisions).  Dawkins was once again as kind and as considerate as he was the first time, even though he was no longer on top of the world and his career as an athlete was in decline.

A few years after that, I had him on RCN SportsTalk this time as a retired ball player who looked back at his career and his road ahead as a family man, a tremendous banquet event and inspirational speaker and as a businessman.  He was, and is, a tremendous person and a joy to interview.

Brian Mitchell is very similar to Dawkins.

Both are tremendous athletes who have done great work in their respective communities.  Both are terrific interviewees and give deep, thought-provoking answers and are pleasures to speak with.

Also, both athletes “get it;” aka, they’ve always known they are not “God’s gift” to mankind, even though they both are two of the greatest football players I (and millions of others) have ever seen.

I also first had a sit-down interview with Mitchell when he first came to the Eagles.  Although it was later in his career and, by this time, it was not my first “one on one” with a pro athlete either, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him and had a great radio interview with him.

Shortly after Mitchell retired, I interviewed him again for television and, just like Dawkins, he was a great person to speak with and gave just as wonderful an interview as before.

And this week, much like Dawk did, Mitchell will be giving a sit-down interview on this Thursday’s SportsTalk program.

Much like the third time I interviewed Dawkins, Mitchell will be looking back at his career and all his highlights, including memorable experiences with his playing time in Washington, Philadelphia and New York.  But he will also be discussing growing up in less-than-ideal conditions, how football helped save his life and many more important issues than just “Xs and Os.”

We hope you will tune in to hear his stories and insights.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: James Stewart

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.

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.

One familiar face on television screens this time of year is that of Jimmy Stewart in the annual holiday traditional airing of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

But many people do not know that this 1946 film was a commercial failure upon release and there were many other Stewart-led movies that received much greater attention.  The time period of the “Wonderful Life’s” release marked a low-point in this legendary actor’s career as he seriously considered retiring from film-making altogether, as Stewart found very few roles offered to him.

James Maitland Stewart, the son of a hardware store owner, initially did not want to become a movie star when he left home to attend Princeton University and was planning on returning to his hometown of Indiana Pennsylvania to take over the family business.

But future movie stars Margret Sullivan and Henry Fonda would play huge roles in his life and his decision to “play around” in the theatre while on the East Coast. 

According to his biography by Marc Eliot, Stewart had a crush on Sullivan and continued to pursue her from afar by continuing to act on stage with her in various theatrical productions.

Slowly, Stewart began the foundations of his lasting “everyman approach” to acting and started to get starring roles in the theatre.  This eventually led to a casting call in Hollywood. where he once-again roomed with Fonda and the two became life-long best friends.

Sullivan was well-aware of Jimmy’s shyness/lack of ego and desire for the spotlight, and would ask directors to cast Stewart opposite her in leading roles, in films like “The Shopworm Angel,” The Mortal Storm” and “The Shop Around The Corner” (later remade in the more contemporary “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan).

Other leading ladies like Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Deitrich and Ginger Rogers would also request the unassuming Stewart to play opposite of–guaranteeing them of top-billing.

But soon it was Jimmy that was becoming the major star, with featured performances in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,” “Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You,”  “Destry Rides Again” and “The Philadelphia Story,” in which he won the Academy Award for Best Leading Actor.

Stewart was well on his way to earning the title of the third greatest American Male Actor of all time as ranked by the American Film Institute.

But that’s when World War II broke out.

Stewart enlisted in the Air Force as a pilot and led several successful bombing raids in defeating the Axis Powers.  He eventually was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and was awarded the United States Air Force Distinguished Service Medal.

After becoming a decorated war hero, Stewart was anxious for his triumphant return to Hollywood to resume his acting career…but Hollywood wasn’t quite ready for him after the war.  We’ll have more on the life of James Stewart next week here at the Showplace.

In the meantime, you can see Stewart’s early work in films like “Made for Each Other” and more on RCN TV.

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

FINAL HS FB POLL 2020

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.

Well…we MADE it!

Honestly, back in August when I first heard the unofficial .. and then the “official”… plan for fall sports in the Lehigh Valley, I was skeptical.

The local administrators had put in a TON of time putting together an action plan for trying to play as many games as protocols allowed–limiting the amount of travel, the number of teams any one school would face and other modifications to try to keep kids safe.

By the third week of October, the playoffs had started for all fall sports but football, and only a handful of schools had to cancel more than one sporting event due to COVID.  Considering how the weather usually wreaks havoc with scheduling, this was really an amazing accomplishment to get in as many games as they did.

Then things changed.

The number of reported cases of the virus spiked and numerous schools across the region either closed or reverted back to “hybrid” learning strategies.  Sports teams either had to cancel their seasons or forfeit games–a few while in the running for championships.

Journalists in the area who have covered sports for many more years than I have agreed it was THE wildest ending to a fall sports campaign they had ever seen.  Games were canceled due to one school reporting COVID cases, then that school would be “OK” and the games were back on…only to have the OTHER school have to postpone or forfeit because THEY then had reported cases.

Some games were announced as “cancelled completely” one day, only to have that change and be played a few days later.  Some games were played on Mondays, Thursdays and even Sundays–days that were unheard of (and used to be ‘off-limits’) in previous years.

Sometimes there were different sets of rules even within the same school district.  Parkland had nearly all of its fall sports teams continue with state championship runs despite having the school closed due to the virus.  Meanwhile, the football team had to end their playoff hunt prematurely, even though they would have been heavy favorites to beat Stroudsburg and advance in the district playoffs.

So it is with just as much skepticism (and I sincerely hope I’m wrong) that we will be embarking on the winter sports season in a few weeks, and I’m hoping the number of cases can miraculously drop dramatically between now and then.

But before we do, it’s time to take our final look at our RCN high school football polls for our Lehigh Valley teams.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Nazareth

2) Freedom        

3) Emmaus  

4) Parkland

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) Palisades

4) Northern Lehigh

5) Southern 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

There weren’t too many surprises for our Colonial League poll–four of the five teams finished the season in exactly the same spot they started in our pre-season poll back in mid-September.  The only exception was Northern Lehigh — the lone “honorable mention” team in our pre-season picks — moved up into the #4 spot, while the team that owned that spot back in September — Saucon Valley — had its season prematurely end because of the virus.

The EPC Poll had a couple wrinkles, with Nazareth (our pre-season #5 team) reaching and winning the district championship game (SportsTalk Co-Host Keith Groller had them much lower in his own personal poll–listing them fifth in their own division, let alone making our top five in the area–something that did not set well with many of our Blue Eagles’ viewers).  Central Catholic was another team that received pre-season votes but did not make our “Top 5” in September.  However, a playoff win over “our” #5 team, Bethlehem Catholic, and their subsequent win in the 4A District Title game gave the Vikings the credibility to move up over the Golden Hawks.

Traditionally, we have not done a basketball poll in the winter–with the sports seasons overlapping and the holiday season “interrupting” the winter season, it usually doesn’t provide the regular, weekly interest of a football poll.  However, 2020 is not your typical year.  With our high school football season ending nearly a month earlier than normal, it’s something I’m considering incorporating in our blogs and “SportsTalk” show for over the next few months.

Would you like a high school basketball poll this winter?  And, how would you like to see it laid out–EPC vs. Colonial?  Big schools vs. small?  Boundary vs. non-boundary?

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts and check back in a couple weeks to see what the majority of our readers would like to see!

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Congratulations, It’s A Boy”

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. 

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. 

 

Congratulations, It’s A Boy may never be mentioned in the same breath as Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Vertigo or other all-time greats.

The plot is simple: a swinging bachelor has to grow up after his young 16-year-old illegitimate son he did not know about shows up and wants to spend time with him.

It is a light-hearted movie with some decent jokes and humorous moments and is a fine flick to watch if you’re in the mood for a feel-good film.

However, it is a significant vehicle to see five very special people involved in this production–three of them actors just before they embarked on other roles that would make them household names.

Bill Bixby plays the role of the bachelor and, prior to this film, was seen in small roles on some prominent television shows like My Favorite Martian.  He did have starring roles but on unsuccessful TV shows (The Magician), and had larger parts in rather mediocre film releases (The Apple Dumpling Gang.)

Shortly after starring in Congratulations, he would take over the role as Dr. Bruce Banner–the alter ego to the Incredible Hulk.  Bixby would end up playing this role throughout the remainder of his life, starring as the beaten down protagonist in search of a remedy for his experimentation with gamma ray radiation. His own “Hulk” television show and later television movies spanned three decades.

Congratulations also starred Jack Albertson, who had much greater success in films than Bixby at this point, but was a couple years away from starring in the role that he would be best remembered by – Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Tom Bosley was also featured in this film, just a few years before he would become “Mister C,” son to Ron Howard’s Richie Cunningham on the long-running sitcom Happy Days.  Bosley would also continue to star in popular shows like Murder, She Wrote and The Father Dowling Mysteries and had other prominent television guest starring appearances.

Last but not least, the film stars Ann Southern who had already made a name for herself in comedic films and television performances.  So good, in fact, that the Queen of Comedy, Lucille Ball, once referred to Southern as the “best comedian in the business, bar none.”

One more prominent name associated with Congratulations was its producer, Aaron Spelling.  Later in this same decade, Spelling would embark on creating shows like Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, Fantasy Island, Dynasty and Hart to Hart and then Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Charmed, 7th Heaven and more.

To see the full listing of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

 

DMV Update/HS Football Poll

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 the high school football landscape in Pennsylvania, a quick update on scholastic sports down in the DMV.

As we mentioned a few months ago, most high schools in this region postponed their fall sports until the spring season and their winter sports will be starting later than normal.

This doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been any significant news from a local sports perspective.

One of the biggest noteworthy additions came at Maryland’s National Christian Academy, where former collegiate coach Kenny Johnson was named the school’s athletic director and the boys basketball head coach.

Johnson not only brings a wealth of experience in coaching at the scholastic, collegiate and AAU levels but also has great insights on the recruiting process, preparing kids to play at the next level and many other aspects of basketball. He’s also coached players that are now playing in the NBA and shared some great stories about them with me recently.

Here is a clip of our interview with Coach Johnson–one of several winter sports interviews featuring teams from both Eastern Pennsylvania and the greater Washington, DC region that will be on upcoming editions of RCN SportsTalk.

Many schools in the DMV have not had any “official” practices.  Others have had limited “skill sessions” on school grounds. However, early in the new year, expect the high school basketball action to heat up provided that the reported COVID-19 cases don’t increase too dramatically over the next month and a half.

That brings us to our second-to-last week for the SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our media voters usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules, this change for our poll will make things a bit more interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

Without the crowning of official Colonial League and EPC champions, our poll will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, 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) Nazareth

2) Freedom        

3) Emmaus  

4) Parkland

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) Palisades

4) Northern Lehigh

5) Southern 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

HS FB POLL: 11/10

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.

One of the great traditional football rivalry games that was able to be played in the Lehigh Valley this year was the battle for the Slate Belt title — Bangor versus Pen Argyl.

The game went right down to the wire with a last minute game-winning touchdown by the Green Knights, led by first year Head Coach Brady Mutton (a recent guest on SportsTalk–which you can view again through RCN on demand).  It was a great day for football last Saturday and terrific for football fans of that region to have this traditional rivalry game played, albeit with limited capacity, during the pandemic.

Here are the annual awards of the 101st meeting between these two teams:

Charles R. Sampson Award: Recognizes the outstanding lineman in the annual game.
Recipient:  Reese Karp

Bangor Most Valuable Player Award: (Sponsored by the Slater Football Alumni)
Recipient:  Jared Reto

Pen Argyl Most Valuable Player Award: (Sponsored by the Green & White Athletic Association of Pen Argyl)
Recipient:  Collin McKeague

Slate Belt Award: Awarded to the victor of this year’s Pen Argyl – Bangor game.
Recipient:  Pen Argyl Green Knights 28-21

That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN On Demand.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules, this change for our poll will make things a bit more interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

Without the crowning of official Colonial League and EPC champions, our poll will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

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

We actually didn’t have much movement this week.  The only EPC change was Emmaus’s loss teamed with Freedom’s win last weekend, causing the two schools to flip-flop positions.

The top three teams in the Colonial League all won last weekend. Our fourth and fifth ranked teams, Saucon Valley (forfeit due to COVID-19) and Southern Lehigh (lost to Whitehall), both had their playoff runs come to an end last weekend.

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) Nazareth

2) Freedom

3)  Emmaus  

4) Parkland

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) Palisades

4) Saucon Valley

5) Southern 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.

Tune in to this week’s SportsTalk show as RCN commentator John Leone will recap last weekend’s playoff games and look ahead to this weekend’s Class 5A/3A championship games and the 6A/4A/2A semifinal matchups this week.

We’ll also visit with members of the Parkland girls volleyball team, who last weekend captured their seventh straight District XI 4A championship–their 10th district title in the last 11 seasons–and will be competing in their first round of state competition this upcoming weekend.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Man With A Camera

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.

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 the early 1970s, Charles Bronson was THE biggest movie box office draw in the world (according to allmovies.com).

Just a handful of his starring roles include the “Death Wish” movie series, “The Magnificent Seven,” “Mr. Majesty”, “The Great Escape,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

He was also offered top billing in other iconic films including the lead role of Tuco in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” before turning it down and asked for, but was eventually rejected for, the role of “Superman,” that eventually went to Christopher Reeve.

Before all of those flicks, Bronson played the lead role in the TV series “Man with a Camera.”

After receiving bit parts on both the big and small screens for almost a decade, “Camera” marked Bronson’s first-ever starring role.

Bronson portrayed the fictional Mike Kovac, a former war correspondent turned freelance photographer. His uncanny ability to get unique camera shots that no other photographer can match, leads him to finding out information which involves Kovac in a series of heart-pounding adventures.

“Man With A Camera” was produced by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s Desilu Studios and aired for two seasons on ABC.  While most of the series’ storylines were set as occurring in New York City, all location shooting for the program was done in Hollywood.

After “Camera” was cancelled in 1960, Bronson did not stay idle for long. His very next project was “The Magnificent Seven,” which started an amazing run of top-tiered movies, and vaulted Bronson into the stratosphere among the industry’s most popular figures. He’s still regarded as one of the toughest on-screen action figures of all time to this day.

The show also marked some very early on-screen appearances by future stars like:

  • Yvonne Craig (“Batman,” “Kissin’ Cousins”)
  • Angie Dickinson (“Rio Bravo,” “Police Woman”)
  • Norma Crane (“Fiddler On The Roof, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!”)
  • Harry Dean Stanton (“The Godfather Part II,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”)

…to name a few.

You can see “Man With A Camera,” every Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. this fall on RCN TV.

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

 

 

HS FB POLL: 11/3

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.

2020 has certainly been a bizarre year to say the least and that trend continued as we reached the end of the high school football regular season in the District XI region.

On the one hand, many people would have been thoroughly shocked back in August if we made it through Halloween without a rash of games being canceled in the Lehigh Valley this fall.

District Football Chair Jason Zimmerman was on SportsTalk last week to give his insights on all the things that went well for high school sports so far this fall.  He made a point of saying that both he as well as most local administrators were thrilled with getting in as many games as they have and felt that we are overly fortunate just to be able to get to a football postseason.

(He also gave a preview of some of the changes that will be taking place for this fall’s postseason–including brand new information on spectator attendance policies!  If you missed the program, RCN customers can watch it again for free through RCN on demand.)

However….

While we had only a handful of cancellations through September and most of October, we now enter the postseason with at least six local teams coming off a weekend in which their games were canceled because of Covid concerns.

Four of the 10 teams mentioned in this week’s polls did not play last weekend as they looked to embark on a postseason run but are  coming off what ended up being a rare “bye week” to close out the regular season.  Notre Dame, who had played well through September and October, will enter the Class 3A district playoffs as the top seed out of the Lehigh Valley, yet haven’t played a game in two weeks and are still facing speculation if they will be healthy enough to play this weekend.

Saucon Valley School District also reported at least two cases of the coronavirus on Friday, yet are scheduled to play Bethlehem Catholic this Saturday.

Interesting times, indeed.

That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules, this change for our poll will make things a bit more interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

Without the crowning of official Colonial League and EPC champions, our poll will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, 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) Nazareth

2) Emmaus  

3) Freedom

4) Parkland

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) Palisades

4) Southern Lehigh

5) Saucon Valley

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: “Junction’s” Tragic Fates

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.

 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 here at the Showplace, we talked about the origins of Petticoat Junction, from its beginnings as the popular spin-off from The Beverly Hillbillies through a great amount of success in the ratings through the mid-1960s.

Despite numerous cast changes throughout the show’s run, Junction was a perennial ratings hit and posted big overall numbers right up until its final years.

But real life issues slowly started to creep in and affected life in even this most rural, fictional town of Hooterville.

Smiley Burnette, the former singing cowboy, western film star and longtime sidekick to Gene Autry had become arguably the most popular figure on the show. Around the middle of season four his health started to decline and his appearances became less frequent.  Shortly after season four wrapped, Burnette succumbed to leukemia just after celebrating his 56th birthday.

Burnett’s cohort operating the show’s popular train, The Cannonball, was Rufe Davis, who also started to have health issues.  He left the regular cast after season five, although he did return for a few guest appearances in season seven.

Davis was replaced by Byron Foulger, for two years before he too became too ill to finish out the show’s final season. (He passed away the same day the final episode of Petticoat Junction aired.)

But the show’s biggest loss was yet to come.  

Series star and veteran radio/television character actress Bea Benaderet, who portrayed the show’s matriarch Kate Bradley, was diagnosed with lung cancer during the show’s third season.

Initially, she tried to hide her condition from the crew and even her castmates. But slowly her weight loss became more apparent and she began making less frequent appearances on the show during season five — all due to her treatment for the cancer.  After initially looking much more frail when she returned to the show after a long hiatus, she appeared to begin to make a recovery by the end of season five. 

However, in the time between the end of season five and the beginning of shooting season six, the cancer returned…and it was spreading rapidly.

Show Creator and Executive Producer Paul Henning moved up the decision that one of Kate’s daughters would have a baby early in the sixth season so Benaderet could be part of that program.  However, because of the cancer’s advancement, she only appeared in that particular episode through a voice over.  Her character was either written out of the next several shows or a stand-in, who’s back would face the camera, would be on the set for a limited time with no lines.  

Benaderet never returned to the set again.  She passed away a short time after recording her last audio appearance–13 days prior to her final episode’s air date.

Following her real life death (and a time slot change from their familiar Tuesday evenings to the dreaded Saturday night lineup), the show fell out of the Nielsen Top 30 ratings for the first time.  Announcing a main character’s death on a show was non-existent for 1960’s television and so the surviving characters initially mentioned her briefly in plot lines but CBS insisted the scriptwriters say that Kate was simply “out of town.”

Ironically, the ratings later improved during the show’s final year.  June Lockhart took over as the program’s new female lead and other new cast members began connecting to and bringing back audience members to Hooterville once again.  However, after the seventh season (and despite solid ratings), the CBS Network canceled the show due to the now infamous “Rural Purge.”

There’s also great stories about the Bradley’s family dog, the hotel used as the show’s main setting, an interesting history of the train used on the program and how the Bradley daughters made history with ties to the Beatles … but we’ll save those stories for another Showplace entry in the future.

You can return to visit the Shady Rest and all the people of Hooterville by tuning in to Petticoat Junction on RCN TV as the show airs Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m.

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

 

HS FB POLL: 10/27

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.

While no one has been able to stop our number one ranked Colonial League football team, Notre Dame, the coronavirus did deliver a bit of a blow to them last weekend. With several students testing positive, all athletics at the school were shut down this past week, including the Crusaders game against Pen Argyl last Friday night.  (The virus also impacted the school’s girls volleyball team as their championship game was canceled – thereby handing Southern Lehigh the league crown.)

Otherwise, there were a plethora of outstanding and competitive games throughout the Lehigh Valley last weekend.  Every EPC winner had to struggle to get a “W” with the exceptions of Nazareth, Freedom and Parkland.

In the end, however, there weren’t many surprises as far as the final outcome nor its winners.

Emmaus‘s three-point win over Whitehall will set up a very interesting matchup that you will be able to see on RCN TV this Friday night as the Hornets will take on Parkland. Gary Laubach and Mike Joseph will now call the game for both RCN and statewide for PCN, Friday night at 7:00 p.m.

That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules, this change for our poll will make things a bit more interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

Without the crowning of official Colonial League and EPC champions, our poll will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, 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) Nazareth

2) Parkland

3) Freedom

4) Emmaus

5) Bethlehem 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) Palisades

4) Saucon Valley

5) Southern 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.

On this week’s “SportsTalk”…

Our guests will include District XI Football Chair Jason Zimmerman to get everyone set for the final weekend of regular season games, discuss playoff possibilities and the revamped playoff format used only for this coronavirus-shortened season.

We’ll also have members of the Moravian Academy girls tennis team that have won multiple championships this month alone, including winning the Colonial League regular season and tournament titles, District 11 2A championship, the Individual Singles title and more!