CATCHING UP & GIVING BACK

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.

I’ve always said, I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazing people in my life.

From the time I first broke into the broadcasting business until now, I remain just as lucky to stay in very close contact with some wonderful people and consider many of them close friends … even when we don’t see each other in person very often or as much as we used to.

Their generosity in sharing their time and advice to me has been the main driving force behind me continuing to speak to students at local school districts and making myself available to young aspiring broadcasting students.  I’ve never hesitated to give people my email (which is chris.michael@rcn.net) to give advice or answer any questions about the communications industry. I’m proud to say that there’s a long line of former students with whom I worked or gave advice to, who have gone on to achieve some wonderful accomplishments in this business.

I am also not alone in being a big fan of “giving back.”

I had the opportunity to check-in with a number of “old friends” recently.

A few include…

I frequently would cross paths with long-time Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare when I covered the Phillies in the early 2000s.  Lanny was one of a number of extremely classy and generous Major League Baseball broadcasters–nearly all of them were always congenial, friendly and very helpful to a (then) young announcer who was looking for tips on advancing in his career.

Frattare has used his vast knowledge of the communications industry along with his ability to work well with young people by working as an assistant professor for Waynesburg University for over ten years now.  In addition to being a great instructor, he’s constantly staying in touch with his former students and is very quick to reach out to alums with potential job opportunities for them.

When I covered the NFL and other pro sports teams for CBS Radio in New York City, a frequent colleague in the press box and on practice fields was Michael Longo.  Mike was not only a wonderful person and a great help to me in my earlier years (and still was in good shape when I saw him at a Phillies game two years ago) but was part of a dynamic broadcasting partnership.

His wife was Donna McQuillian, who may have been THE nicest person to me on my first professional sports reporting gigs.  McQuillian was, like me, a Temple University broadcast alum and immediately took me under her wing in showing me the “ropes.”  McQuillian was an early pioneer–she was the ONLY woman covering Philly pro sports teams for many years and was a true professional in the locker rooms and during live reports.  Both Michael and Donna were extremely giving of their knowledge and worked with young people throughout their careers.  Sadly, we lost Donna a few years ago to cancer, but Mike continues to work with aspiring broadcasters for a trade school in New Jersey.

Former colleague and frequent “SportsTalk” guest Jon Marks has also kept busy.  In addition to hosting the afternoon drive time show for Sportsradio WIP in Philadelphia, he splits his “spare” time hosting a national sports show on the weekend and teaching broadcasting students at a couple schools in the Delaware Valley area.

Even though he and his wife have been extra busy the last few years — they have two adorable and highly energetic kids — Jon continues to work with up-and-coming on-air personalities.  He’s actually one of three of my former co-workers at my old stomping grounds in Philly who teaches communication courses.

Giving back is something everyone can do and there are many ways to accomplish this.  I am extremely grateful to have so many quality role-models…both for my career and for myself as a person.  I consider myself very fortunate to have learned their valuable lessons and still have the opportunity to chat with many of these classy individuals to this day.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: The “Funny Side” of Leslie Nielsen

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.

This week, we continue our look at the life and career of Leslie Nielsen. Prior to 1980 and for the previous 30 years, Nielsen was largely typecast as a serious dramatic actor.  When Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker came up with their idea for the movie, Airplane!, they wanted to create a grand spoof of the Airport film serials and the other “tragedy films” that were popular in 1970s theaters. To do so, they wanted to find dramatic actors and non-traditional comedic personalities that you would never think of to star in a comedy film.

Their idea worked to perfection…but even the producers were surprised how well things worked.

By casting the “dramatic” acting of Nielsen in a role keying upon delivery of dead-pan comedic lines (some of the funniest in film history), the producers were astonished at how well the “serious” Nielsen dished out his comedic lines flawlessly.  The film — and Nielsen & #39’s delivery — was not a fluke.  Leslie would go on to have overwhelming success as a comedic actor for the next 30 years.

Due to the success of the movie, Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker were given the green light to create their own situation comedy and, no surprise, penned it with Leslie in mind as the main character.

Even though this series only lasted six episodes, the Police Squad series, which was reportedly cancelled by ABC because they “didn’t get the humor,” would go on to become one of the best comedy series of the early 1990s.

The man known in the industry for his dramatic performances was now one of the most sought-after comedy actors on the planet.

In addition to the Naked Gun/Files of Police Squad movies, Nielsen would star in successful spoofs like Spy Hard (picking apart films like the Die Hard, the James Bond film series and others) as well as ripping on classic horror films in Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  He also became the logical choice when Walt Disney decided to make a live-action version of the popular cartoon character, Mr. Magoo.

Even as he began to slow down as an actor at the age of 81, Nielsen would frequently steal scenes in his appearances as The President in the Scary Movie film series, as “Uncle Ben” in Superhero Movie and even in his last role as a cross-dressing bar owner in the horror-film spoof, Stan Helsing, starring Diora Baird and Keenan Thompson.

Leslie’s career spanned 60 years, appearing in more than 100 films and 150 television programs and portraying more than 220 characters Nielsen died in his sleep after complications from pneumonia in 2010. He was 84.
You can see many of Nielsen’s acting performances in films like Project: Kill as well as guest starring appearances on Bonanza and other classic television programs on RCN TV.

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

SPRING ALL-STARS 2021: 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.

Recently here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” we started recognizing the student-athletes from the RCN viewing area who were honored by their leagues and districts for the annual “All-Star” honors from the past year.

Today, we continue our salute to these award winners by highlighting Lehigh Valley girls lacrosse players and the standout wrestlers during the last school year.

First, here are the Easton All-EPC representatives, courtesy of the Red Rovers lacrosse squad.

1st teamers:

Lindsey Geiger, Sr., Midfielder (league MVP)

Lea Kreigher, Jr., Midfielder

Kylee Hager, Jr., Goalie

Alicia Rodriquez, Sr. Low Defense

2nd teamers:

Ava Milia, Jr. Low Attack

Eran Gleason, Jr., Low Defense

Reese Kreigher, So, Midfielder

Meghan Vizian, Jr., Utility

We’ll have more on the local girls lacrosse scene by having both the league and district champions on our July 8th edition of “RCN SportsTalk.”

Also, here are the top scholar-athlete representatives in the sport of wrestling from each school district in the District XI region. 

SCHOOL NAME  SCHOLAR ATHLETE
Bethlehem Catholic High School  Evan Gleason
E. Stroudsburg Area South High School  Ajay Hiller
Easton Area High School  Dominic Falcone
Freedom High School  Thaddeus Howland
Lehighton Area High School  Michael Yeakel
Liberty High School  Jackson Marcantonio
Louis E. Dieruff High School  Jerry Villanueva
Nazareth Area High School  Drew Clearie
North Schuylkill High School  Danny Grigas
Northampton Area High School  Jagger Condomitti
Northern Lehigh High School  Brenden Smay
Northwestern Lehigh High School  Benjamin Griffith
Notre Dame- Green Pond High School  Brett Ungar
Palisades High School  Gavin Kreschellok
Parkland High School  Luke Yatcilla
Pen Argyl Area High School  Tyler Taylor
Pocono Mountain West High School  Charlie Maloy
Pottsville Area High School  Sam Sterns
Saucon Valley High School  Sophia Riehl
Stroudsburg High School  Joshua Jasionowicz
Tamaqua Area High School  Nathan Wickersham


If you have some post-season honors or haven’t seen your favorite team or sport listed in our spring “all-star” listings recently, please encourage your respective league or district chairs to pass those lists to me at
chris.michael@rcn.net over the next few days.  We’ll be making our “last call” and posting our final edition of honoring this year’s student-athletes very soon here at “The Shop!”

America’s Guest

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.

So I’m watching golf this weekend and realize that the PGA Travelers Championship is being played at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.  I then realize that I played that course one Friday on the way to do a Lafayette game against Harvard or Yale (I don’t remember which).  I also remember playing the TPC course in New Jersey and the TPC Potomac at Avonel Farm, again through my Lafayette ties.

This got me to thinking about some of the great courses I have had the privilege of playing.  So I went to this site: https://golf.com/travel/best-golf-courses-pennsylvania-2020-2021-ranking/ and saw the list of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  I was shocked to discover that I had played or will play EIGHT of them, including four of the top five.  I was also shocked that I never PAID to play ANY of them.  Allow me to explain.

My good friend, Joe (I’m not sure he would want me to use his last name), a company president and RCN customer, gave me the moniker “America’s Guest” during one of the many rounds I played with him.  He came up with this name when he realized how my job often allowed me to play in charity tournaments paid for by the company.  Since he belonged to four different courses – Saucon Valley, Aronimink, Manufacturers, and the Philadelphia Cricket Club – he was not jealous, just amazed that I was able to play so many courses without paying, thus the term “America’s Guest”.  Here is a brief history of my journey through the very best courses in the state:

#20 –   Saucon Valley Grace – I have played this course many times as an invited guest, on media press day, or as part of a company-supported charity event.  Any time you are heading to Saucon Valley for golf, it is a special day.

#16 – Lehigh Country Club – This one is a yearly Sacred Heart charity event that RCN supports and graciously asks me to play.  Who am I to say no?

#14 – Saucon Valley – Old – This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  Each of these events called for Press days where the tournament specifics were offered up followed by lunch and a round on the golf course.  I am guessing that I have played the Old Course at least half a dozen times.  It is hard to believe there are 13 better courses in Pennsylvania.

#11 – Saucon Valley – Weyhill – This is the most exclusive of the three Saucon Valley courses and is the best.  Recent renovations have made it even better and more challenging.  I have played here by invitation only and have appreciated every one of those invitations.

#5 – Fox Chapel (Pittsburgh) – Another Joe (again, I will refrain from using his last name) invited me and a Lafayette colleague to travel to Pittsburgh.  We played in a Coca-Cola tournament on Thursday at Fox Chapel.  I managed to get Mets-Pirates tickets that night for the three of us through Mets catcher, Brian Schneider.  Joe is a huge baseball fan and I was so glad I could contribute something to the two days.  I’ll tell you about the next day shortly.

#4 – Philadelphia Cricket Club – Wissahickon – This is where the first Joe comes in.  I will be playing the Philadelphia Cricket Club on Friday, July 2.  Joe is always a terrific host and I look forward to another great day on another great golf course.

#3 – Aronimink – Joe again.  This time I played with the President of the Club and my Lafayette colleague and Joe.  It was a member-guest tournament.  My greatest memory was a par-three hole where I put my tee shot about six inches from the hole, tapped in for a two, got a stroke based on my handicap, and won a “skin” with a “net” hole-in-one.  My actual greatest memory was playing this golf course.  It is one of the most renowned courses in the country, not just Pennsylvania.

#1 – Oakmont – We culminated our weekend in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, playing the #1 course in Pennsylvania.  This occurred due to the generosity of Coca-Cola Joe.  He, too, is an amazing host.  Valet parking, lunch, a caddy with a great sense of humor, and one of the world’s great (and most difficult courses) made this a day to always remember and cherish.  I spent more time in sand traps than I wanted, but did not mind so much.

So I am forever indebted to a couple of “Joes” and to RCN for creating the opportunities to experience golf at its zenith.  I’m not quite sure why I was the recipient of such generosity, but I will tell you there is no downside.  Trust me, it is great to be “America’s Guest”. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. What will the Eagles end up doing with Zach Ertz? His days in Philly are supposedly over, but the next stage is taking a long time to happen.  No one wants his contract or a high trade price.  Teams, I think, are just waiting for him to be released before he is picked up.  This has become a mini-series.
  1. So the Phillies stop Jacob deGrom’s shutout streak at 31 innings by scoring two runs and raising his ERA to an amazingly low 0.69. The Phils lost anyway.
  1. It is still hard to fathom that both the 76ers and the Nets are out of the Eastern NBA Finals. With all that star power and talent, who would have believed this would happen?  The Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks have not won a title for a combined 113 years.  Yet, they are in the Eastern Finals.
  1. Tuesday, June 29, our Blue Mountain League Game of the Week features two teams in the top echelon of the standings – Northampton Giants at Hellertown Royals. It is on LIVE at 6:00pm.  The BML shuts down for July 4th week.  We will be back on July 13.
  1. There will be no blog next week due to the July 4th Enjoy your family and stay safe.

 

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: The “Serious” Side of Leslie Nielsen

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.

Over 40 years ago this month, arguably the greatest comedy in cinematic history, Airplane!, premiered in America.  To pay tribute, we take a look at one of the film’s most memorable characters. 

Ask someone to give you their favorite Leslie Nielsen acting role, and you’re likely to get at least a half dozen completely different answers, such as:

  • Commander John J. Adams in the ahead-of-its time sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet 
  • The tragic captain overruled into sailing into a monsoon in the 1972 epic blockbuster, The Poseidon Adventure 
  • His career-changing role as the straight-laced but hilarious Dr. Rumack in the classic drama-films’ spoof, Airplane!

(“Surely you don’t mean that…Yes, I do — and don’t call me Shirley!”) 

  • The bumbling detective Lt. Frank Dreblin on TV’s Police Squad and the wildly successful Naked Gun film series
  • TV guest appearances ranging from his “good sheriff turned gun-wielding serial killer” performance on Bonanza to his unique, musical singing role on The Love Boat 

…and many, many more!

Born Leslie William Nielsen on February 11, 1926 in Saskatchewan, Canada, he was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force before becoming a disc jockey and studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City.  Leslie was turned on to the acting bug by his famous half-uncle, Jean Hersholt, and his turn as the titular character, Dr. Christian, in the popular film, radio and television series in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s.

In his Boston Globe obituary it claimed that Nielsen was very shy as a teenager and desperately wanted to talk to and learn from his famous relative but Hersholt died before the two could actually meet.

In his Chicago Sun-Tribune obituary it was reported that his father was an abusive man who beat his wife and sons, and Leslie longed to escape. When he graduated from high school at 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, though he was legally deaf and actually wore hearing aids for most of his life.

Despite a great amount of self-admitted insecurities, Neilsen’s acting career kicked into high gear in 1950, performing in 46 live-action television productions within the year.

In 1956 he appeared in the film, The Vagabond King, helmed by White Christmas director Michael Curtiz, whom Nielsen would later refer to as “a charming sadist.”  While that movie was not viewed as a success (Nielsen would later nickname this film, “The Vagabond Turkey”) he himself drew praise for his performance and was signed to a long-term contract with MGM.

Over the next 24 years, Leslie would thrive in Hollywood as a dramatic actor.

With the exception of a rather bizarre, mostly musical edition of The Love Boat, in which he had to hang on and belt out tunes alongside singing giants like Cab Calloway, Ethel Merman, Della Reese and others, Nielsen was known throughout the entertainment industry as someone who could only do serious roles.

But that was all about to change forever.

You can see one of Neilsen’s dramatic roles in the 1976 action film, Project: Kill on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN-TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. We’ll have more on Nielsen’s career-altering role and subsequent successes, next week here at the Showplace.

 

SUMMER HOOPS: June 2021

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. 

As promised last month, here is an update on the status of the Lehigh Valley tournament and summer leagues, which frequently includes teams from our viewing area in the Delaware Valley and even from the DMV from time to time.

The summer league schedule did start earlier this month (one month later than “normal”) and kicked off with some soggy weather.

A number of games the first week were pushed inside due to rain and unplayable outdoor conditions.

However, a few local leagues that are in play this summer have had good weather of late and played a number of competitive games over the past two weeks.

Among those that have shone so far are Notre Dame – Green Pond, Allen, Whitehall, Northampton, Parkland and a few others.  All of these teams have been part of the Allentown recreational scholastic league.  The Forks Township league starts this week in full swing (although their first day for games was postponed due to rain) and they feature a complete lineup of teams rounding out a busy schedule.

However, there is also a number of local leagues that are struggling to get on the courts this summer and a few are not fielding teams nor are holding their annual tournaments.

At least, not at this time.

This past weekend the Cedar Beach Showcase was played. While there were some competitive games, the number of schools participating in this annual event was down dramatically from any previous year.  Less than a third of the number of boys teams that traditionally participate attended this weekend’s events. Also, there were too few girls teams participating to even have their tournament conducted.

Even as we approach the July 4th weekend, there’s still many things up in the air for the next two months for local summertime basketball action.

Keep checking back for more updates and pictures!

 

Name, Image, Likeness

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.

In October of 2019, I wrote a blog entitled, “What Happens Now?”  It concerned the battle that student-athletes were waging against the NCAA to have the right to market themselves and share some of the revenue.  That battle is finally coming to the forefront now as soon the courts and legislators will consider this issue.  I wrote then:

The quandary: Today, if you go into any store and buy a jersey, a poster, a mug, etc. with a player’s name, number, or face on it, the team or university derives some sort of royalty for that purchase.  The student-athlete receives nothing.  Obviously, the case can be made that the athlete is, in most cases, receiving a full scholarship and a complete education for his efforts.  Does the athlete deserve more or are they getting enough? 

All students have the ability to work after school hours in order to make some money.  Should we now consider athletes who “work” every day as a member of a team someone who should have the right to make money, if there is a demand for their wares directly associated with the university? 

Sports agents at the college level are often portrayed as sleazy people who sneak around in the shadows of NCAA athletics.  Now, a student-athlete risks everything if they are lured into an illegal arrangement with an agent to gain financial rewards.  Often, these stories center around students who come from poor backgrounds and the lure of financial gain is quite enticing even at the risk of losing eligibility and their scholarship.  Should they now openly be allowed to hire an agent to help them get the best deal for their talent? 

Colleges, universities, and the NCAA make billions of dollars on their product.  Coaches get paid millions at major sports institutions. Shouldn’t the athletes have the opportunity to share in those funds? 

And, finally, will this law make these young people more athlete than student?  Will they spend more time setting up appearances and endorsement opportunities that they spend in the classroom?  Will academics take a back seat to the now legal lure of making as much money as one can in the short time available to a student-athlete?  

These questions still need to be answered, but answers are on the way because the ability for student-athletes to market themselves is coming sooner rather than later.

This past week, the Patriot League and INFLCR entered into a partnership to aid student-athletes in sharing and managing their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL).  The Patriot League became the first NCAA Division I conference to provide league-wide support to their institutions and their student-athletes.  This partnership will provide tools to the student-athletes to manage their brands.

They said, “By providing each Patriot League institution with a department-wide INFLCR Verified solution, the conference is leading from the front and empowering all Patriot League student-athletes to grow their brands and educate themselves on the new opportunities that are coming soon from NIL.”

Granted the Patriot League is not the Big Ten, the SEC, or the Pac-Ten, but theirs is the first step towards fairly giving a student-athlete the opportunity to share in some of the vast amounts of money that fill the coffers of colleges and universities brought on by their athletic programs and, more importantly, by their athletes. In the near future, my original question will also be answered: What happens now?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. It was nice to see the maturity of Jon Rahm come to fruition on Sunday at the U. S. Open. There was a time when his anger over a poor shot would get the best of him.  Something, whether it is marriage, a new baby, or maturity, has caused him to change for the better.  Not only did he win on Sunday, but his interviews afterwards showed him to be very likable.
  1. Oh, those poor Philadelphia fans! Their hopes rested on the 76ers winning an NBA championship and then on Sunday night, those hopes were dashed by Atlanta.  The 76ers were the more talented team and blew big leads in three of their four losses. They managed to lose game 7 at home in front of their people.  This one was hard to take, except for the fact the Philadelphia fans are used to it.  But it still hurts.
  1. Now the attention of the Philadelphia fans turns to watching the Phillies. They show no signs of being able to put together a winning streak to excite their following.  The Flyers had a bad year preceded by a terrible Eagles’ season.  We know what happened to the Sixers.  It does not look like the Phillies can be the cure.
  1. It was great to see a big crowd at the 50th McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic. Fans meant money for this great charity and seemed to inspire the players to play a very entertaining game.  There is nothing better than a beautiful night, sitting outdoors, and experiencing the great efforts of young athletes.  Congratulations to all who were a part of the game.
  1. Speaking of congratulations, Bethlehem Catholic’s and Penn State’s Joe Kovacs is going to the Olympics. He finished second in the shot put at the Olympic Trials this past Friday in Oregon.  Joe is the former gold medalist at the World Championships and a 2016 Olympic silver medalist.

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Dan Blocker

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 of the most popular characters on 1960s’ television was the loveable, good-natured Eric “Hoss” Cartwright on the long-running western, Bonanza, played by the equally jovial, larger-than-life personality, Dan Blocker. 

Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was born in DeKalb, Texas, on December 10, 1928.  After attending a Texas Military school, he was a standout in college football for four years before being drafted into the United States Army to fight in the Korean War. He received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in battle.

Between 1953-1958, Blocker taught high school English and drama, in addition to teaching at middle and elementary schools.  During the latter year, he received a small part in a Three Stooges’ movie, where he was billed as “Don” Blocker.  He and his wife then moved to California for Dan to try his hand at acting.

Over the next few years Blocker earned several guest appearances on television (including playing the blacksmith on Gunsmoke — the show that would spark a string of successful western-themed TV shows, including Bonanza).

He also appeared in several film projects, including two movies co-starring Frank Sinatra:  Come Blow Your Horn and The Lady in Cement.

Stanley Kubrick attempted to cast Blocker in his film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  Peter Sellers elected not to add the role of Major T.J. “King” Kong to his multiple other roles, but according to the film’s co-writer, Terry Southern, Blocker’s agent rejected the script. The role went to Slim Pickens, who played the iconic scene of riding an atomic bomb down while waving his cowboy hat.

However, the role that would make Dan a household name was that of “Hoss” … a character he portrayed for 13 seasons.  He even helped launch a string of restaurants called the Bonanza (not to be confused with the Ponderosa chain) and frequently appeared in character as “Hoss” for publicity events.

Blocker was selected for several guest-starring appearances on NBC’s popular The Flip Wilson Show comedy hour and the Jack Benny hour-long TV specials in the later 1960s.  However, most of Blocker’s acting in the 1960s and early 1970s was primarily spent on The Ponderosa.

According to Bear Family Records, Blocker portrayed his character based on the following line:

“We shall pass this way on Earth but once, if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again.”

By many accounts, the actor and his on-screen personality had very similar views on life and towards other people.  Both the fictional “Hoss” and actor Dan Blocker were warm, gregarious and larger-than-life individuals and were admired by people inside and outside of Hollywood.

On May 13, 1972 before Bonanza’s 14th season premiere was scheduled to begin shooting, Blocker went in for gallbladder surgery but developed a blog clot during the procedure and died that same day.  He was 43.

Until Blocker’s death, an unwritten rule in television was never to acknowledge a character’s “death” on screen.  However, after starting the fall 1972 season with no mention of Hoss’ non-appearance on the show, and facing mounting pressure from fans to acknowledge his passing, the writers and producers knew they had to break rank.  On a November episode the cast “announced” Hoss’ death–although the reason for his character’s passing was not mentioned during the program’s original run.

The loss of Blocker to the show marked the beginning of the end of Bonanza.  Without Hoss’ good-natured personality to balance the show, the ratings fell hard that final year, and most fans of the show will clearly state that the Ponderosa was never the same.  Even subsequent incarnations of the show seemed to fail miserably when compared to the first 13 seasons with Blocker in the saddle for this iconic western program.

Dan’s legacy lives on in his sons.  David is a successful Emmy Award-winning film producer and Dirk Blocker has appeared in a number of films and most recently as a regular on the wildly popular NBC comedy, Brooklyn 99.

Tune in or set your DVRs to see Dan Blocker’s legendary turn as “Hoss” on Bonanza every Sunday morning at 9am on RCN-TV.

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

 

 

 

SPRING 2021 WINNERS

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. 

There were a number of great stories for the District XI spring tournament champions this year!

The Central Catholic lacrosse team became the first Lehigh Valley team ever to reach the semifinal round of the PIAA state playoffs…then went two steps further and brought home the school’s second state title so far here in 2021.

After many years of reaching both the league and district finals but failing to win any titles, the Easton girls lacrosse team finally got over the hump and captured the first league and district championships in school history.

In softball, Northampton and Whitehall — two teams that have long histories of successes but haven’t won a title in the last few years — met for the 6A District XI championship.

I had an opportunity to take in the game and it was one of the most competitive finals I ever saw!

After trading one-run leads early, Northampton built a three-run lead late, before Whitehall stormed back to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning.  The K-Kids responded in the bottom of the seventh with a timely hit to capture the title.
 

 Northampton head coach Kristy Henritzy knew exactly what that moment felt like as she shared a similar experience when she won the district title as a player back in 1996 (that same team would go on to win a state championship).  It was the school’s first championship since 2013. 

Tune into “RCN SportsTalk” over the next few weeks to hear the thoughts of our district winning teams and other local success stories from schools in the RCN-TV viewing area.  There were some tremendous accomplishments by student-athletes in Eastern Pennsylvania and I know there’s some very interesting interviews that you’ll want to hear.

If you’re not home to watch any of the district winning teams on our show when they air, be sure to set your DVRs or watch the program “on demand” … these episodes are free to watch for RCN customers for up to two months from their initial air dates.

One other local sports news note…

The 2021 District XI Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar Athlete Information was announced this past week.  The district winners are: 

2A Scholar Athlete Winner

Brett Ungar- Notre Dame Green Pond High School

3A Scholar Athlete Winner

Dominic Falcone- Easton Area High School

2A Essay Winner

Danny Grigas- North Schuylkill High School

3A Essay Winner

Evan Gleason- Bethlehem Catholic High School

Congratulations to all of these winners and check back to “The Shop” as more postseason awards and honors become available!!

Right Place – Right Time

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.

I hope you are old enough to remember the names of some famous Yankees – Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, and Joe Dimaggio.  Now imagine that Phil Rizzuto is your next door neighbor.  Imagine as a 7-year-old that Phil Rizzuto would take you to the Yankee games and you would ride home with him and Yogi and “Joltin’ Joe”.  That is exactly how the childhood of Lafayette grad Mark Holtzman was spent.

Now imagine that as a 1980 graduate you worked for sports agency, ProServ, went on to Reebok, the NFL, and finally fulfilled your lifelong dream of working for the Yankees.  Yup, that happened to Mark Holtzman, too.

I interviewed Mark this past Thursday on Primetime Pards.  Trust me; he has plenty of stories with a great deal of name-dropping, claiming to always be in the right place at the right time.  I think he also possessed a great deal of marketing skills.  You be the judge:

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Phillies had three consecutive “walk-off” wins this week and one was against the Yankees. The Phillies win on Saturday was before a crowd of 38,450, the largest since 2019.  Many Yankee fans went home disappointed especially after tying the game in the ninth inning with a 3-run home run.  The Phils beat the Yanks again on Sunday taking the series.
  1. The 76ers have enticed me to watch their NBA games from the opening tip-off. It has been a long, long time since that has occurred.  They play defense, share the ball, and are coached to take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses.  In a nutshell, that is the way basketball should be played.  I expect them to win the Atlanta series and face the Brooklyn Nets next.  I will be watching!
  1. Being an American sports fan, I discovered, to my amazement, that the top two most Google searched sports were Soccer (39%) and Cricket (8%). Basketball, football, and golf rounded out the top five, but those three only accounted for a total of 20% of the searches.  What???
  1. Congratulations to the Central Catholic Viking lacrosse team for being the first District XI team to capture a PIAA state title. On Saturday, they beat undefeated Mars by a 14-5 score to win the AA championship.  Central outscored their opponents in the state playoffs 65-18 and finished with a 23-1 record.
  1. This week features our first Blue Mountain League Game of the Week. The games will be on Tuesday nights LIVE at 6:00pm.  The McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic is on tap Thursday, June 17, at Nazareth’s Andrew Leh Stadium.  We will have the game on a tape-delayed basis at 10:00pm.  Support a great cause and get out to the game.