HS All-Stars 2020 (Round 2)

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.

A few weeks back here at “The Shop,” we started to bring you all the All-Stars for the past sports season involving teams in the RCN-TV viewing area.

We continue to honor those student-athletes this week. We’ll start in the DMV area by taking a look at those recognized for high school basketball.

First, here’s the DC State Athletic League releasing their girls and boys list, followed by teams identified by “Major Moves” spotlighting players from Virginia.

Next, here are the scholar-athlete award winners for District 11 for this past school year:

2A Scholar Athlete Winner
Harrison Bernhard- Northwestern Lehigh HS

3A Scholar Athlete Winner
Kenny Herrmann- Bethlehem Catholic HS

2A Essay Winner
Andrew Cerniglia- Notre Dame Green Pond HS

3A Essay Winner
Caden Wright- Emmaus HS

Here are the wrestling student-athlete award winners from each school in both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and the Colonial League:

2019-20 DXI WCA Scholar Athlete Information

And last but not least, the EPC girls and boys Sportsmanship Award Winners for the 2019-20 school year:

Avery Francis (Stroudsburg)
&
Sheamus McConnell (Pocono Mountain West)

Remember to keep checking back here at “The Shop” for more recognition of our local high school student-athletes’ achievements throughout the year and congratulations to this year’s honorees!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Victory At Sea

The views expressed in this blog arethose 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. 

For the many people who will be staying home for this year’s Fourth of July or for people who have RCN’s TiVo and DVR products, a tremendous way to spend the holiday would be to watch the documentary series marathon, “Victory at Sea” (followed by an encore performance of the 2019 Allentown Fireworks Spectacular).

This Emmy-Award Winning, limited-run series on NBC recounts historic battles and key moments in the United States victory over the Axis powers in World War II.

The idea for the show came from United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Harry Salomon.  While working on writing a historical review of World War II, Solomon uncovered millions of feet of actual newsreel footage, covering the wars’ darkest moments and the Allied Forces’s greatest victories.

After leaving the Navy in 1948 Solomon and fellow Harvard grad Robert Sarnoff, who was the son of NBC President David Sarnoff, approached the network about making a documentary series based on this footage.

The series was green-lighted by NBC for a whopping $500,000 budget (one of the largest of the time period) and was an instant hit.

The scenes were accompanied by legendary songwriter / composer Richard Rodgers, who was coming off several huge Broadway hits and is one of just two people ever to win an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy, an Academy Award and a Pulitzer prize.

Excerpts from this soundtrack have been used for many movies, television shows and special events ever since.

After its network run, the footage was re-edited again with a brand new narration and was released as a self-contained hour and a half long featured film.  A few years later, NBC re-edited the footage a third time for a television movie showing. Its success had also included a successful spin-off show called, “Project Twenty.”

See the best moments of the “Victory at Sea” saga as part of a special Independence Day marathon on RCN-TV, followed by the Allentown Fireworks Show.

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

 

 

 

Too Much to Watch?

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.

Maybe (and it’s a big maybe) a plethora of professional sports will return very shortly.  There certainly can be an argument made that it is foolhardy to come back when it appears the virus is also making a comeback.

But, for arguments sake, let’s assume that the current return of sports will come off as planned. A sports fan will find him or herself moving from four months of virtually nothing to watch except reruns of past games to figuring out what sport(s) deserve his utmost attention. All major sport organizations – MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL, NFL, MLS, and NWSL are scheduled to come back in the next few months.

Here are the plans:

MLB – Baseball teams will start play July 23 and 24. Teams will play a 60-game schedule and there will be some significant rule changes for the season. There will be a designated hitter used by all teams. Extra innings will start with a runner on second base. Any position player can pitch and a pitcher must face at least three batters, if necessary, in a given half inning. Teams will play against their division rivals 40 times and their regional rivals 20 times. The NL East will play the AL East in the regional rivalry games.

NBA – The National Basketball association will resume on July 30. Twenty-two teams will participate for the eight spots in the run to the playoffs. All games will be played near Orlando at the Disney World athletic complex. Florida virus numbers have soared in the past ten days. Eighty-eight games will be played in 16 days to determine playoff seeding.

NHL – The National Hockey League is set to skate back on July 30. Twenty-four teams will vie for the Stanley Cup. Sixteen teams will play eight best-of-5 series and the top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin to determine seeds. With that said, some contractual issues came up again this week that might make players reconsider their willingness to compete.

WNBA – The Women’s National Basketball Association will begin play in July in Florida. The teams will play a 22-game schedule followed by the playoffs. All games will be played in Florida.

MLS and NWSL – Men’s soccer will resume with a tournament beginning in Florida on July 8 and the women will start this weekend.

NFL – Games in the National Football League kick off on September 10. But, each day more cases are reported and there has been an upsurge of late approaching the numbers which were seen back in April.

Since almost everything is televised somewhere these days, will there be too much to watch or will owners and players realize in the next month that the risk is too great to play at all? Schedules are made and ready to be implemented. Will the players risk their health for their paychecks? The next few weeks are critical for owners, athletes, and fans. Lately, the news is not good.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. The Phillies did not benefit from the revised MLB schedule. Only the Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles look like “patsies” on their schedule. The Nationals, Braves, Mets, Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox could all be better than
the Phils.

2. Baseball, by the way, will be played in the home ball parks and may allow fans depending on the particular state guidelines in place at the time. Some stadiums will have fans; some will not. Unfair advantage? Wait and see.

3. The 76ers had the best home record of any NBA team before the shutdown.  They were an amazing 27-2. However, they were 10-24 on the road. This is the second worse road record of the 22 teams competing in the playoffs. The rest of their games this year will be played in Florida. The 76ers need to figure out how to win on the road.

4. Baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer will all have playoffs when the NFL is beginning and this is the time when we might see the surge in infections that some expect will occur when a second wave hits us. The outlook remains precarious at best.

5. At least there is golf. I have gotten used to watching without fans and still enjoying the competition. The PGA has had three terrific weekends and without the presence of Tiger. But, seven of their players were forced to
withdraw this past week in order to self quarantine. And golf allows for social distancing.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “The Lucy Show” Legacy

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 Classic Video Showplace, we took a look at the origins and beginning of “The Lucy Show,” the first series starring Lucille Ball after her record-setting role in her nine-year run as Lucy Ricardo with real-life husband, Desi Arnaz.

(The cast of “The Lucy Show” through the first three seasons)

Like her initial TV series, “The Lucy Show” was well-received by critics and fans alike and quickly became a top 20 staple in the Nielsen television ratings.

By the end of the show’s first season on the air, Arnaz, tired of the business aspect of the entertainment industry, asked Ball to buy him out as co-president of the show’s production company, Desilu.

Lucille took full control of the show’s direction from season two onward, and later named her new husband, Gary Morton, as co-executive producer.

After its first three, rather smooth years on television, this series was in for a rocky, yet equally successful run during the rest of its years on TV.

During the summer hiatus between the series’ third and fourth seasons (back when television seasons actually lasted nearly an entire year), Vance decided to step away from the project (more on that in a moment.)

Vance was initially replaced by Ann Southern (who then left because she demanded, but was denied, sharing top-billing with Lucy).  Joan Blondell, who was also a friend of Ball’s, was then brought in as her sidekick.  Despite the friendship, Lucille realized the on-camera chemistry was not working between the two and quickly replaced her with Mary Jane Croft, appearing in a different role than she had performed earlier in the series.  (Croft also played several characters on the original show, including the role of Lucy’s neighbor during “I Love Lucy’s” sixth season – the last of the 30-minute editions of this program.)

Vance’s departure from the show evolved from a continuing rift between her and Ball–one that started over miscommunication between both actors’ agents, studio executives and the show’s producers.  Vance would later return to appear on the show on a part-time basis and, eventually, the long-standing friendship between the two was renewed.

An argument between Ball and her longtime “Lucy” writing staff (two of which had worked with Lucy since her radio show, “My Favorite Husband”, in the 1940s) led to their dismissal. Lucille’s on-camera children were also fired from the show (despite Candy Moore becoming a very popular teen idol at that time) and the setting for the program shifted to a new location, with no mention of her children again for the rest of the show’s run.

One of the reasons for the show’s move to California: to make it more realistic when special guest stars would happen to cross paths with Lucy in her adventures.

Ball made another shrewd business decision as executive producer:  despite less than 5% of Americans having color television sets in 1963, she insisted on filming the episodes in color, pointing out they could make more money in syndication with colorized episodes.  Even so, CBS rejected that idea and continued to broadcast these shows in black-and-white for two more seasons, even though they were filmed in color.

Also, unlike most shows that were being produced in the early 1960s, “The Lucy Show” was filmed in front of a live audience (with a laugh track added only for jokes that did not get a good response).  The studio audience became a staple for many sitcoms in the decade that followed.

While Ball rarely ad-libbed lines during this production, there were several episodes in which mishaps occurred during filming that made it to the final cut.

One example included Lucy getting trapped in a shower filled with rapidly rising water, and Vance, without breaking character, was left to improv and create lines in order to buy time for Ball to recover from her unintentional misadventure. The scene, with a mistake and all, made it to the final version of the episode.

Another famous experience included fellow legendary comedians Bob Hope and Jack Benny trying to outdo each other with one liners while the cameras continue to roll without interruption.  While the live audience never seemed to catch on to these unexpected lines and occurrences, it’s fun to go back and watch an episode like this to see how these talented actors responded when things went off script.

The show itself was never canceled. Instead, Ball, tired of running the large Desilu Productions, sold the company to Paramount, and with it the rights to this incarnation of her show. The very next year she formed a new, smaller production unit (with herself as the creative head) and launched the equally popular “Here’s Lucy” sitcom, which ran for six additional seasons. 

You can see “The Lucy Show,” every Wednesday morning at 11am on RCN-TV.

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

 

 

SportsTalk’s Top 10 — Part 2

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 other agency, organization, employer or company.

As part of the 15-year anniversary of the RCN SportsTalk program we are celebrating this month, I started compiling a list of the top 10 shows that come to mind when looking back at the show’s history (see our previous blog for entries #1-#5).

Here are entries #6-#10, in no particular order:

6) Joe Craig, Gary Laubach & Dick Tracy – the pilot show

You never forget your first show…although, it seemed if you blinked, this one was over in a flashAlthough a lot has evolved since that first program, one of the first — and biggest — changes since the first few shows was that the program was only 30 minutes long back then.  With these three legendary sports personalities on for just a half hour, this program seemed to end shortly after we started.  Subsequent weeks revealed that, because of the outstanding talent we have as guests each week, the show had to expand to a 60-minute format, which we have continued to this day. Unlike most television shows now-a-days that are reducing their shows’ length to try to improve their pacing to meet people’s shortening attention spans, I’m proud to say that when our hour is up, guests and viewers alike always say, “Hey, I wish we had another hour to talk more.” 

7) Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs

I’m cheating here as we have been honored to have this international star on a few times over the years. She has discussed everything from her time in the Olympics to raising her daughter, Talitha, to topical social issues, to her story with her dad’s career, on which the movie “Lean On Me” was based. If I find out in advance that Keith Groller will not be with us and we’re discussing a topic I know she feels strongly about, she’s the first person I call to see if she’s available to fill in as a co-host.  Joetta is always a joy to speak with about all of her areas of expertise.

8) The Lumberjack Show at the Fair

SportsTalk Executive Producer Rick Geho has had some very good suggestions for me and the show over the years. One idea that I didn’t think was so great at the time involved one of our shows from the Allentown Fair. We were sharing the Farmerama Stage with a gentleman from Minnesota who performed a lumberjack show and Rick suggested that we have him on as a guest.

A lumberjack show…really?

But not only did this gentleman produce some wonderful stories and made for an entertaining show, but he bid me — live on the air — to participate in some of his show activities.  This included me throwing an axe over my head to try to hit a target 40 feet away.  Without any practice, I hit the target – a feat Mr. Craig and our RCN crew members still say to this day was one of the most shocking things they’ve seen in their careers (I tried to think of that as a compliment from them, but I’m not so sure).

9) The Dick Tracy “surprise” tribute show

This is actually the first show that came to mind when I sat down to do this … and will probably be one of the greatest SportsTalk episodes that I will ever be a part of. Coach Tracy was a mentor to me – I looked up to him as a kid watching Whitehall HS basketball games, he was my journalism and yearbook teacher as a high school student and a colleague and the most helpful person to me when I started announcing games in the Lehigh Valley as a radio announcer. Then later I had the honor to announce games with him for RCN-TV. When Coach “retired” from broadcasting I remembered a conversation from years earlier in which I asked him: if there was one day in which he could relive any of the great experiences in his life, what would it be?  His response was that he would actually enjoy a couple hours sitting around with his state championship Zephyr basketball team and just shoot the breeze with them.  I contacted everyone on that team along with some other special people in Dick’s life who came in and surprised him live on the air. Coach HATED tributes and the fact that we were able to bring his entire team back and keep this a secret from him while pulling off a successful show on LIVE TV is truly one of the most amazing accomplishments I will ever have achieved as producer of this program.

10) ???

Now I’m really taking an easy way out. Probably even if I had the rundown of all of our shows in front of me I couldn’t name a final entry in this list.  I’ve been blessed to have so many wonderful people volunteer their time to come in and share their stories and opinions with us. I’d like to think every show is a little unique from the previous ones so I am just going to keep the spot open for now and call it a tie between practically every other show we’ve done.

Thanks to all for the memories!!!

 

 

 

 

A Top 5 Perspective

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.

This past Sunday in The Morning Call, preeminent sports writer and RCN Sportstalk co-host, Keith Groller, offered up the results of a poll he took naming the Top Five Lehigh Valley high school basketball players of all time.  The headline suggested that there would be plenty of debate about the selections.  I am one who has no debate with the choices and I believe I speak with a bit of authority.  You see, I either played against or covered nine of the top 10 first and second team selections.  I believe the readers got it absolutely right.

The only player I did not see play “live” was the late Bob Mlkvy.  I did see plenty of video on him and his brother, Bill.  I also connected with him in a number of various gyms since he was the color analyst for the Blue Ridge Cable high school basketball games.  He still wore his sneakers of choice from back in the day – Converse All-Stars – to every broadcast.  When he went on to Temple, he became known as “The Owl without a Vowel”.  So many fans would tell me Bob Mlkvy basketball prowess stories that I cannot argue his position on the Top Five.  He is, also, on my list of one of the five nicest people I have met.

The next three players I had the privilege of watching.

Billy McCaffrey came from a family of outstanding athletes: brother Ed was an outstanding football and basketball player who went on to play in the NFL for the Denver Broncos; sister Monica was one of the great girls’ basketball players at Central Catholic before going on to Georgetown to play college basketball.  But “Billy the Kid” led Central to a State basketball championship and a state runner-up title.  Had he not fouled out in his second state final game, I feel he would have been part of two state titles.  He could and did do it all on the court.  He went on to play on a Duke team that won a national championship.

I was privileged to see the greatest single game performance I ever broadcast when Antoine Hubbard scored 63 points against Nazareth in a Salisbury win over the Blue Eagles.  He scored 40 of the last 48 points and 30 in the fourth quarter alone – and every player on the floor knew he was going to shoot and, yet, he could not be stopped.  He finished his career with over 2,000 points.  I have never been great at remembering specific games or performances, but that game is one I will lock away in my memory bank forever.

It was just over five years ago when Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman finished his career at Central Catholic.  But he thrilled the Lehigh Valley and our viewers for four years. I had the privilege to watch him get better and better each year.  He was All-State for all four years and I will never forget how he almost single-handily beat Philadelphia’s Neumann-Goretti in the PIAA state playoffs.  His team finished 29-1 that year and we were there for most of it.  It was, also, special to watch him on TV during his great career at Michigan.

The only person on the team that I played against is Larry Miller.  In my mind, he was the absolute best ever.  In the games my alma mater, Wilson High School, went up against his Catasauqua squad, he never scored fewer than 40 points.  I will never forget playing against Larry at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Arena for the District XI championship.  We could not stop him. I can still envision him rebounding an opponent’s missed shot, dribbling the length of the court, and dunking the basketball.  He could run, dribble, pass, rebound, and score better than anybody I ever saw in the Valley.  His 2,722 career high school points and 2000+ rebounds speak for themselves.  I have played or called high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley for over 60+ years.  I can say with complete confidence Larry Miller was the best I ever saw.

As an aside, let me add that no one causes me to reflect on the Lehigh Valley sports scene better than Keith Groller. I struggle every week to think of something to blog about.  Luckily, when I sit down at the keyboard, something always seems to come to mind.  But Keith finds a very interesting topic or two on a daily basis.  He is certainly at the top of the list for my all-time Lehigh Valley sports writers.  As Bob Hope used to say and I say to Keith, “Thanks for the memories”.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. If things weren’t bleak enough for Major League Baseball returning to the field this year because of bitter negotiations, now multiple teams are reporting positive tests for Covid-19. It’s the “bottom of the ninth” for baseball and there is no closer in sight.
  1. The situation in Florida is not helping the NBA’s return either. As you know, the plan was to play at the Disney complex, but Florida is seeing a resurgence of virus cases – over 4,000 this past Saturday.  Players are rightfully questioning what the right thing to do is.  I am getting the impression that our chance to see team sports this year may be fading.
  1. ESPN and NFL Nation put out their all-decade team and, along with that, they listed the best player on each NFC team. They chose Jason Peters as best for the Eagles.  The future Hall of Famer played for the Eagles all ten years of the decade starting in 2009 to the present.  Fletcher Cox received the Honorable Mention pick.
  1. Watching the Belmont horse race this weekend with no fans did not seem like a race at all. It felt a little bit like a practice session for a number of horses.  TV money is so good, I guess, that it truly PAYS to hold the events anyway.
  1. Until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, can anyone be sure of anything?

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “The Lucy Show” Origins

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.

According to legend (aka, “The ‘I Love Lucy‘ Book” by Bart Andrews) when “The Lucy Show” pilot was being filmed, co-star Vivian Vance and Executive Producer (and Lucille Ball’s former husband) Desi Arnaz were watching high above the stage on the catwalk, both in tears with Vance proclaiming, “It isn’t the same, is it?”

This, of course, was a reference to the impossible task of trying to repeat the amazing success of one of television’s all-time greatest comedies, “I Love Lucy,” which share ratings numbers that have rarely ever been matched, even to this day.

Still, the follow-up to the initial Lucille Ball-starred TV show had a tremendous run in its own right, packed with trend-setting elements and interesting storylines – both on and off screen.

First of all, it was one of the first shows to feature two divorced women living without their husbands while successfully raising young children.

The show was successful both in terms of popularity and critical acclaim, capturing several Emmy awards and nominations throughout its six-year run.  This, despite numerous cast, setting and show format changes, including its controversial switching from black-and-white to color photography.

According to “The Lucy Book” by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman, the show was never meant to last beyond one season and was a tool by Desilu Productions (owned by Arnaz and Ball) to try to reverse the production company’s trend of producing struggling television shows. The idea was to try to force CBS to buy a bundle of failing Desilu shows in order to have “The Lucy Show” on their schedule. (This technique is now employed by most major networks, forcing outlets to carry smaller, less-watched channels while holding highly successful network(s) as bait.)  

Ironically, Ball first balked at the idea of such a ploy, only to use this strategy in renewing this series in its later years.

Ball was initially hesitant to get back into television and only would do so after insisting that the original “I Love Lucy” writers, co-star Vance and other regular guest stars (Mary Jane Croft, Gale Gordon) would be involved in this production.

The show’s airing network, CBS, had some reservations before green-lighting the show. The TV executives felt that Ball would have trouble carrying the series without her husband on screen with her, like on “I Love Lucy.”  In another ironic twist, back in 1949, the same network wouldn’t believe that Arnaz could carry off the role of being Lucy’s husband – even though they were married in real life. It took Lucille’s ultimatum that Desi would play her husband or she wouldn’t do the show before CBS gave its approval for the original series.

Vance also needed persuasion to return to the small screen to become Lucy’s sidekick.  Tired of being called “Ethel” in public, she insisted on using her real name on the show and also demanded more glamorous clothes as opposed to the ones Lucille forced her to wear repeatedly on the original series.

With some of her most trusted friends, long-time colleagues – both on and off screen – and even her former husband serving as the show’s executive producer, Ball’s “The Lucy Show” was primed to be a major hit on CBS. 

However, this was just the beginning of a tumultuous relationship for many of the people involved, including ripping apart one of television’s best loved friendships.

More on this show in next week’s blog entry….

You can see “The Lucy Show,” every Wednesday morning at 11am on RCN-TV.

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

 

 

“Breaking Exclusive” News

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 other agency, organization, employer or company.

 I know this week I had teased part two of our SportsTalk Top 10 list, but I really think it is imperative I address something else in this week’s blog entry.

From time to time I feel called upon to blow our own horn just a bit. Yes, it may be self-serving and, to be completely honest, it’s not one of my strengths. But as I do represent a talented and hard-working group of people who work on the RCN Sports staff, I do feel the need, from time to time, to point out a few truths to sports fans.

For the record, I don’t do this every single time I notice, but there are some occurrences where I do feel obligated to point some things out and set the record straight.

And this is one of those more extreme examples that I often see.

Back in mid-April when I did my first “all remote access” edition of RCN SportsTalk, Notre Dame Head Baseball Coach Mike Bedics was on our show and revealed that nearly all of the local high school baseball coaches in the RCN viewing area – 32 of them – had gotten together and put a plan in place to participate in a high school baseball tournament in August.

Granted, there were still a lot of unknowns at that time as everyone – including our state government – had no idea how long the coronavirus would last.  Nor did anyone have any idea on what the “return to normalcy” and resulting regulations would look like.

Still, it was noted that a solid plan was in place, along with locations that would host games. All of them would be able to accommodate spacing out issues in cooperation with social distancing, Bedics explained, that if it was all possible and permissible under Department of Education regulations, the tournament would be played. It was also explained this was a way to give seniors who missed out on their final high school season a chance to play the sport they love one more time.

It was a great scoop we had, as the meeting had just taken place a few hours before we recorded the interview and it was an opportunity, once again, to let the RCN viewers in on something before anyone else in eastern Pennsylvania had any idea about it.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

Another local news agency came out with “breaking exclusive news,” citing local high school coaches have put together a plan to have a high school baseball tournament in August.  The story then pretty much repeated everything that was on our program – TWO MONTHS PRIOR – with of course the repetition of the phrase “breaking exclusive story” a few more times.  It ended with a codicil noting that it still needed local and state government approval (as we had stated on our program) but that local coaches were optimistic the games could be played.  Again, the exact same information that was on our show … over 8 WEEKS before.

I realized that not every single person in eastern Pennsylvania watches the RCN SportsTalk Show every week.  I also know that people may not be able to see every single episode … even though all of our shows are available to RCN customers through video on demand and/or DVR or TiVo the show.

However, if you do want to stay ahead of the curve and find out information before it is revealed elsewhere, you might want to schedule watching the show – in some way, shape or form – each week, so that you are not left out  nor have to wait a couple months to get local sports news.

*******

Speaking of RCN SportsTalk, we have some great new programs coming your way over the next several weeks…

… Former playing great & retiring Allen Head Basketball Coach Doug Snyder, stepping down after 24 years

Washington Nationals Beat Writer Jesse Dougherty with the latest on MLB’s attempt to restart their season

… Retiring Liberty Head Basketball Coach Chad Landis, stepping down after 12 years as head coach and eight more years as an assistant

… This fall’s incoming class of head football coaches in Easton, Pennsylvania

… New Allen High School Athletic Director Randy Atiyeh and new Head Basketball Coach Darnell Braswell

… New Dieruff High School Athletic Director David Stout and new head basketball coach Marlon Randall

… This fall’s defending District XI champions (in multiple sports)

… League and district administrators to talk about the Department of Education’s guidance and protocols for high school sports regarding the Coronavirus

… & more!!!

If a Tree Falls…

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.

We have all probably heard the philosophical thought – “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  If you think I am going to answer this question from my limited experience and observation, you are greatly mistaken.  I have no idea!

What I do have some idea about, however, is whether announcing an event one is not actually attending is truly announcing.  I offer up this weekend’s CBS golf production of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.  Because of the coronavirus, there are no fans allowed.  But, also, because of the virus, there are millions of fans just salivating over the ability to watch a LIVE sports production.

But the production itself has changed.  Not only are there no fans, but there are almost no announcers.  Jim Nantz, the CBS guru of golf, finds himself in the TV tower all by himself, with no analyst close by.  Color analyst Nick Faldo is nowhere near the tournament.  He did his analysis from Orlando, Florida.  He was joined by Frank Nobilo and Ian Baker-Finch.  Dottie Pepper and Mark Immelman walked the course with the players.  So it begs (and I mean really begs) the question – “If you are not at the event, are you really announcing?”

I will give you a couple of examples that I experienced during my 50+ years announcing sports.  On two occasions, I called a sporting event that was not happening at the time – one on purpose and one because of technical difficulties.

The first was a District XI track meet.  Since we were broadcasting a number of sporting events at the time, the District asked if we would cover the track championships.  Now, if you are not familiar with a track meet, it is very difficult to televise.  There are a number of events occurring at exactly the same time.  It is virtually impossible to cover this event because of those circumstances.  So, it was decided that we would tape all of the events and I would then announce them as we edited the competition so we could present each event separately.  It worked.

It certainly worked for me because I had all the results before announcing each competition.  I looked like a genius when I offered up favorites and potential outcomes.  Of course, I knew the outcomes ahead of time.  Suffice it to say, my “predictions” were rarely wrong (like never).

The other occasion was much more difficult.  I had called a high school football game and when I got back to the truck, I was told that during the entire game we had no audio.  Again, this was back in the day when everything was taped and not presented LIVE.  I was asked if I could watch the video in the truck and do an audio “redo”.

I gave it my best shot – calling ball carriers, tacklers, yards gained, yard line, penalties and such.  This was not easy and I don’t know whether I pulled it off successfully, but we showed the game and I heard no complaints.

Two years ago, an outside company did a Lafayette basketball game with their two announcers located in their home studio somewhere in the US, but not in Pennsylvania.  I watched.  It was okay, but surely not the same as being there.

I’ll finish the way I started – with a question.  If announcers are not at the event they are televising, is it really announcing?  You be the judge, or better yet, sit in your recliner, turn the sound down, and announce away.  You just might be pretty good at it.

I, for one, hope you are awful and we get back to doing the games the way we have in the past.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. It appears that “taking a knee” during the National Anthem might become commonplace in the NFL this year. More and more people are realizing it is about protesting racial inequality and police brutality and not about disrespecting the flag.
  1. Sadly, since I wrote about negotiations in my blog last week, no movement forward has been accomplished by Major League Baseball. It appears that the MLB might just impose their will on the players and dare them to strike.  I was hoping, as I am sure you were, this would have been resolved by now.
  1. Remember the former Penn State quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, who never lived up to the hype both at the college level and for the New York Jets? After two years, he was traded by the Jets after being a second round pick and never playing in a regular season game. He then went to the Raiders and lasted only three weeks.  Now he has decided to try baseball as a pitcher.  The odds are not on his side.  In high school, he had a 7.36 ERA and walked 40 batters in 25 2/3 innings.  The word is he has a lively, but erratic arm.  Sounds similar to his football arm.
  1. The NBA is coming back and they are not messing around with the virus. They are going to test players and staff EVERY OTHER day!  A COVID-19 test and antibody test will be administered on arrival day followed by continuous testing throughout the season. The resumption of play will occur in July.
  1. Watching golf this weekend with no fans did not seem that bad. I guess, like everything else these days, I am getting used to it.  But a Ryder Cup without obnoxious fans from around the world?  No thanks.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Roy Rogers- “The Movies”

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.

Roy Rogers starred in a television show which successfully ran for several years and had some unique stories of its own (which we will address in another blog entry).

But this week, we’ll focus on his early career and successful cinematic performances, many of which are airing this month on Monday mornings on RCN-TV.

Contrary to what you may think, one of the most popular cowboys of all time, Rogers was born in the non-western town of Cincinnati, Ohio. He traveled to different cities and toiled in several jobs before eventually starting his entertaining career as a musician in Inglewood, California.  His first gig was as a member of a short-lived musical group called “The Rocky Mountaineers” in 1931.

It took three more years (and participating in several additional failing musical groups) before Rogers, now a part of a group called “The Sons of the Pioneers,” recorded his first successful song, “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”  More musical successes soon followed which gave Rogers the start of his movie career in 1935.  However, once again, it took Rogers several years before he found success on the big screen.

In 1938, Republic Pictures held a contest looking for a singing cowboy; the contest included several established movie actors of the time. However, Rogers, still relatively unknown in the film industry, won the contest and soon hit it big with several successful movies.

(Rogers with Lynne Roberts in “Billy the Kid Returns“)

Two of his first big movie hits were the 1938 films “Billy The Kid Returns” (starring alongside the popular Smiley Burnette) and “Shine On, Harvest Moon” (co-starring with Mary Hart).

(Rogers and Hart in “Harvest Moon”)

Both of these films will be shown in the “RCN Movie Vault,’ airing on Monday, June 15, starting at 9 a.m.

By 1940 his surging popularity allowed him to rewrite his contract and included owning the rights to his likeness, leading to the sale of the popular Roy Rogers action figures.

Along with Gene Autry, Rogers became one of the most popular “B movies” Western stars in the 1940s and early 1950s.

He supported John Wayne in the 1940s classic, “Dark Command”, and for 16 consecutive years won the ‘Motion Picture Herald Top 10 Money Making Western Stars’ poll.

While his trademark song, “Happy Trails”, did not come along for several more years (the song was written by his future wife, Dale Evans), Rogers continued to cross-market his movie and music successes throughout the 1940s, resulting in a number of popular Western films still reviewed by film students to this day.

A unique aspect of Rogers’ films was that it would often spill out of the atypical Western genre. For example, sometimes his trustee horse, Trigger, would go off for several minutes on an animal adventure. It was a rarity in many Hollywood films to go several minutes without a single bit of dialogue nor hardly any musical accomplishments.

You can see the many different elements of Roy Rogers’ classic films on Monday mornings over the next several weeks on RCN-TV.

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