Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Keeping television history from becoming history

When I saw WNEP's tribute to former anchorman John Glawe, one thing seemed odd: it was a bunch of still pictures of a guy who spent his life in front of a television camera. While WNEP did say that it never taped its "Dialing for Dollars" segments, I was surprised that WNEP didn't have some news footage of him to show. After all, he was an anchorman, right?

Turns out there's a reason. WNEP's film archive was destroyed by an employee. But the folks on Montage Mountain Road aren't the only ones without anything to show for its years of broadcasting. WBRE lost its archive in the 1972 floods. WYOU, on the other hand, has managed to keep a film archive dating back to the 1960s, and even the 1950s. Longtime WGBI-WDAU-WYOU photographer Jack Scannella (right) managed to save the old film and the accompanying scripts, thus saving years and years of local history.

What has become of WYOU's archive? Randy Williams, former production manager for the Nexstar duopoly, has talked about creating the "Jack Scannella Film Archive," but I don't know if anything has happened. The film is probably still in the basement down on South Franklin Street, dusty, forgotten, and an easy victim for another Agnes-style flood.

In today's era of digital technology, we often forget about the "old days," when photographers would develop and cut their film for broadcast. We don't remember when the pictures were black and white. We can't fathom news footage without natural sound in the background. And unless someone saves the last piece of local television history, we'll never get a chance to know.

What can be done? WYOU can do the right thing, and see to it that Jack Scannella's efforts don't end up as a pile of dust. Is cost an issue? I'm sure something could be worked out with one of the local colleges, who would surely have the ability to digitize those negatives and tapes.

But we cannot let this final piece of television history disappear. If it does, we will have lost irreplaceable pieces of history, from the people who reported the news, to the newsmakers and the people of the era. And if you care about this, there's no better time than now to contact the people in charge at WYOU.

46 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you refer to Randy Williams as "former..."? As far as I know, he still is in charge of production there...

9:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Well, for one thing, you need to have people with a sense of history. You won't find it in people who did "two and flew," so you check those (Cholly?) as well as some long-timers with the perspective to know what is worth keeping. It's more than film and tape; it's a slide here, a mic flag there, some photos that might ordinarily get tossed.

Then you get them out of the station and take them home. You don't want some idiot mid-level manager to decide "we don't want this junk around," or some newbie to the world saying, "we don't have history here, we only have future."

The college idea is great; students are always looking for an interesting way to earn credits and, let's face it, this is even more interesting than listening to me lecturing MWF 9:00-9:50 3h/3 credits.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like this might be a great project for WVIA to undertake and make a series of local history shows out of ot the footage.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say WYOU/WDAU's archive should either be given to the Scannella family or to the UofS. For those of us who grew up in the Scranton area during the 60s/70s, our lives are sitting in those film cans deteriorating minute by minute.

Although WBRE's pre-1972 archive may have been lost in the Agnes Flood, they have virtually nothing from the Summer of 1972 forward to 1985 or so. It's my understanding that most of what they had was "borrowed" and not returned, with the inference being that it was stolen.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Randy Williams is in "charge" of anything...FORGET it. He will pass the buck or have somone else do it as with ALL things. The guys a joke in the business.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't let WVIA near it. They call themselves "The Leader in Local Programming" Did you ever see some of the garbage they produce? Besides, unless there was a boxcar full of cash involved, WVIA wouldn't go near it. Public Broadcasting? What a joke...

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why bash Randy? I worked with him for years and he`s the most fair manager an employee of Nexstar can have! He understands the business and is a good man!
As far as the film archive goes, I know that Randy and one of the WYOU directors, Alan Brocavich, who has a great sense of local TV history, have been making efforts to transfer the film to video.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Allan Z Quartermain said...

To the 7:52 p.m. poster:

Thanks Randy and Alan for that well-thought out, self-promoting post. Don't you two fools have work to do? It really took both of you to think up all that worthless drivel?

Randy Williams a fair man? Give me an f-ing break. He will screw someone over so fast, it will make your head spin. If he feels the last bit threatened by you, he'll screw you over. Don't trust him. Don't trust any penny-pinching manager at Nexstar Broadcasting.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That director Allan is a joke. He should get out of TV and go back to the military.... there, at least he won't have to "de-militarize" the union.

But he'll make life miserable for the rest of the bunch.

And talk about Randy... I've been with that company for a few years and the man has yet to utter a word to me.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WVIA has produced some strong local docs in recent years, including the piece on the Agnes Flood, Voices from Nam and others. Yes, PA Polka or Ballroom Dancing is a little hokey, but no worse than what some networks are producing, and with a lot more cash behind the productions...

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:47 p.m. poster is correct re: WVIA. "Public" in name only. And the radio side is even worse. Why don't they just stop trying to BS their listeners/viewers by calling the commercials "underwriting" announcements. Hell, the only thing they don't have are jingles and stupid music to go with the voice-overs. Whatta crock.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 1:07 PM Poster: Sounds like you know your co-workers well considering you can't even spell one of their names correctly. And it takes more than one person to decertify the union, it takes a majority of the people covered under the contract, which means a lot of people were unhappy with it. As for Randy, so he never said hello to you. Big deal. Does he have a reason to? And if it such a big deal to you, why don't you go out of your way and say hello to him. Grow up.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WVIA has produced some strong local docs in recent years, including the piece on the Agnes Flood, Voices from Nam and others.

A debatable point as far as I'm concerned. Watched the Nam doc and thought it came up way short of what it could have been. Do you have any idea how many men and women from NE PA served in SE Asia? WVIA dealt with, what, a half dozen vets, if that. The same thing with Stories From The Mines a few years back. The WARM doc was more of a testimonial to one former WARM jock(now affiliated with WVIA) than anything else. I think the need for PBS, locally and nationally, has come and gone.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WVIA could produce alot more if their top exec's weren't thinking ONLY about themselves with their $100K-plus salaries. Imagine if they really cared about people and the 'docs' the produce and not their own paychecks. Boo-hoo on the auction. No one cares about a piece on Agnes that's beautifully done when the guy behind it is making three times the amount of people who will ever see it.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...I really didn't think people were *that* stupid.

WVIA is part of the national public broadcasting. Unfortunately because the government doesn't provide enough cash they need to fall back on underwriting.

What you can and cant say during "underwriting" is very strict, and is very different from commericals.

People who don't know what they are talking about shouldn't be allowed to voice an opinion.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe that any of our local news broadcast orgs. have even the slightest sense of history as opposed to the newspapers. SO what if footage is destroyed, "we don't know who these clowns are anyway, because we aren't from this are originally."
All history is important and film/video history in particular; it would be intersting for instance if there is any local footage of some of the great political icons who spoke in our area during the TV age (Kennedy, Nixon, etc.). I did happen to catch a clip of Teddy Roosevelt in Wilkes-Barre on C-Span a year back and it floored me. We need to harness all local film and digitize it. The college project idea is an excellent one!

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are actually in the media? This stuff sounds like 8th grade girl drama.

Truth is, WVIA top exec(s) get paid a lot of money. They have to underwrite because the government doesn't give them enough money? Tough. I say pull all the government money and do away with public broadcasting supported by my tax dollar. Let them go commercial. Then see how much money re-broadcasting the WARM documentary umpteen times will pull in. Sink or swim.

As far as Randy at WYOU? If there's someone working there who a manager hasn't seen fit to mutter at least a "hello" to in passing, that's speaks to his "people person-ality". Either way who gives a flying leap?

And as far as preserving history? Maybe for preservation's sake but in reality how much footage will anyone want to ever fondly look back on that isn't the Agnes flood or local reaction to big events like JFK, etc. Burn the Scranton School Board footage and the like. Who cares? So what are we talking about preserving then, a dozen reels? Jeezus, give it to an intern and give him three days.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who don't know what they are talking about shouldn't be allowed to voice an opinion.

And who makes that decision, you? Speaking of stupid - if you think that PBS operates on any level for the public good, you need serious help.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 1:07pm poster: Once again, a thread with the potential for intelligent discussion gets dumbed down by some sad individual who has to carry out a personal grudge in a cowardly, anonymous way. He/she couldn't even spell the man's name right. Typical pro-union: Clueless.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the person who thought "Voices from Vietnam" was lacking...can you do better? I KNOW how many residents of NEPA were in the war, I know how many didn't make it back. Do you know how many of the vets don't want to talk about their time over there, how hard it was for them? The gentlemen that spoke to WVIA were kind enough to do so; to dredge up those painful memories of their buddies dying in beds next to them, so that the rest of us may learn a little something about a war that was highly criticized and much forgotten.

And to the 1:07Pm poster: Bitter much? No one's keeping you there. If you don't like it, the door works both ways.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got your "clueless" right here.
FUCK you and all this anti/pro union bullshit! It's a dead fucking horse. It's been nearly three years. Five since the shit stared...anonymously. Move On!
You're all scaring away the the truly meaningful bloggers.

Howard, the patients are running the asylum.

Enemy sighted. Enemy met. It's a mirror!

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Allan Z Quartermain said...

To the 3:36 poster: Go back to work, Alan. Do something productive for once in your life at WYOU...instead of using company computers on company time.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

Shut up about the union at WBRE/WYOU already. There's a lot of strong feelings on both sides, but face the facts, the union is no more there. Stop derailing the discussion on this post, or I'll close it like I did the Zobel post.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard, you start using a heavy hand to moderate this blog and you'll turn posters off, and they'll stay away. Let these discussions go where they go, like any good conversation. Jesus, I've seen more great boards/forums ruined by over-moderation, and I was so hoping this wouldn't be another victim. Let people vent. As you once said, and this isn't verbatim, it's only words on the internet. If certain individuals don't like what they read here, tough shit, don't come here, go somewhere else.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

Howard, you start using a heavy hand to moderate this blog and you'll turn posters off, and they'll stay away. Let these discussions go where they go, like any good conversation. Jesus, I've seen more great boards/forums ruined by over-moderation, and I was so hoping this wouldn't be another victim. Let people vent. As you once said, and this isn't verbatim, it's only words on the internet. If certain individuals don't like what they read here, tough shit, don't come here, go somewhere else.

If the posters I turn off are the ones who have nothing better to do than impersonate other people, or continually drag people through the mud, then good riddance. The reason why I started moderating comments was to keep the signal-to-noise ratio low, and while it's worked, some people don't get the message.

There are plenty of media-related boards and blogs where people can carry out their mindless agendas and impersonate other people. This isn't one of them.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right On, Howard!

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Howard, for restoring some order. There are, indeed, other places to openly post, vent, or bash.

PS Alan doesn't work weekends. Nor does he post here. He's got better, more productive things to do.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous sick and tired of WBRE garbage said...

To the 7:58 p.m. poster: Thanks Alan for letting us know that you don't post here. Good night wannabee War veteran.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I opened up a can of worms in my 7:52 post. But I will stand by what I said.
I also apologized to Alan for bringing his name into this. He doesn`t deserve this anonymous bashing.
All I wanted to do is give them credit for their efforts to preserve the film archive.
I`ve recently discovered this blog and love the topics. They keep me in the loop. However, some of the comments, especially the bitter sounding ones,remind me of the reasons I left the business I loved.
-Mark LaMura

2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to see Alan running around the building every night, and some nights he's actually working with the film. Seems productive to me.

And yes, he's nowhere near the building on weekends using company computers.

And yes, Howard, we need better moderation around here. It's a shame that it's gone on this far.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love everyone piling on WVIA's local docs but when was the last time any other local station even tried producing such a project???

Stories from the Mines was a great history story....along with many others...I don't see others trying to do this work.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I see it... this guy alan is taking heat for some very staunch beliefs he's made around that building.

While many people had to be on-board three years ago, it doesn't mean what was promised didn't backfire.

Ask any field guy about the situation... this guy alan's name will come up in a not-so-positive light.

I'm not bashing... this is only my two cents on the issue== a very polarized one as you can read above.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stories From The Mines focused on and singled out one very brief period in the long history of anthracite mining. I'll give it this much, it was an extrememly ambitious project, one which landed its producer a very lucrative position at WVIA. If I have this wrong, correct me; WVIA did not produce this doc, and did not underwrite much of it, if any of it at all. They aired it, they did not produce it.

Admittedly, I have watched it at least two times and enjoyed it, but continue to believe it fell way short of what it could have been. I got the sense that they ran out of money about 2/3 of the way through it, then just hurried to wrap it up.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least VIA cares enough -- however much investment -- to try and pull together something on a topic other than a 30-second spot on a car crash or arson fire or Pagnotti's latest brush with the law.
I only wish VIA was truly "public" in the sense of being able to cast off those stupid underwriting announcements that are really only commercials without the jingles.
Now, did anyone else catch the stupid YOU weather break Sunday evening in which the meteorological jock of the minute ask the rehetorical question: Will the rain ever end?
Come on, folks. Geez, why not also ask if winter will ever come?

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WVIA superfluous? Hardly.

Where else can I find 30+ hours a week of tenor Daniel O'Donnell?

Now if only PBS would stop scheduling meaningful programs in prime time so I can catch more Frankie Laine and doo-wop.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What takes more guts ? Making staunch beliefs in the open, or under the veil of anonyminity via the web ?

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as WVIA doing anything productive, THAT won;t happen. It might cut into Bill Kelly over $130,000 salary fro doing what? a couple of p; edge drives sometimes with his dog. But take alot of money to feed them both. So we know that SOME of that $130,000 is going towards food. The radio help makes like $6 something an hour and TV master control makes around $7 bucks an hour or so. Remember the great shows that had like I Love Lucy, Honeymooners, Star Trek. All that went out the window as soon as Kelly got control.

And.. Randy WIlliams...there isn't enough room on this blog to list all of the peopel that guy screwed.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$130,000 for Bill Kelly, try more around $150,000 with a car and other perks....Where is Rich Mates when you need him...

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is Rich Mates when you need him...

Oh, shit, another raw nerve may just have been struck. Matesy had lots of detractors. That aside, WVIA's tax status dictates that those salaries are public information, anyone know how to get hold of them? And when was the last time they were audited?

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
What takes more guts ? Making staunch beliefs in the open, or under the veil of anonyminity via the web ?

Do ya get it? Ya get it?
I get it.
That's rich!

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question:
WVIA's tax status dictates that those salaries are public information, anyone know how to get hold of them?

Answer:
I believe you can just call or go to the station and request a copy of the records...it is some type of IRS form that is a matter of public record for all non-profits...

8:47 AM  
Anonymous allan z quartermain said...

Yeah Mark...they keep you "in the loop" because you are on the same immaturity level as they are. You left WYOU, but you haven't left the high school attitude that 62 South Franklin Street creates among the anti-union WYOU production people. A suggestion for you: leave the business totally. Don't be involved in this petty bulls*it. Stay away from the WYOU children. Stop posting here. Have a nice day.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This discussion is going to go right in the toilet since it'll again turn into a pro or anti union thing. Before it does, let me say that several of the antis at WBRE/WYOU believed they would be paid back for helping destroy the union. They were not. They left. There were three of them, two are long gone. One remains. Why? I have no idea.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:22pm is way off on his/her facts.

One employee left to go back to school.

The other had a better offer from another station.

The other seems to be doing just fine in his job.

Offer of payment, eh ? Got any proof ?

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This now ties into any future flooding potential. I hope efforts will made to get the film AND video archive out of the basement at WBRE/WYOU. Put them in one of those PODS at least!

Howard, since I don`t use the cloak of anonimity, I ask that you post this comment.
Mr. 9:22. I was one of the three that led the first attempt to vote out the union (which as we know was not sucessful). I wasn`t promised any reward (I especially loved the lobster dinner rumor). I just felt that Nexstar did not need a union. Some believe that my promotion out of the union was due to our efforts. That is untrue. John Baloga left, and I had the most experience for the job. After 2 1/2 years I decided to pursue my original goal to become a teacher.

Allan Z Quartermain, thank you for your comments.
Your true identity intrigues me. I guess my high school attitude was eventually shared by 50%+1 anti-union employees at Nexstar. Also, I have never, and probably will never claim to be mature. Why ruin the fun?
However, television will always be in my heart. I will continue to play with the WYOU and WBRE children as long as I am welcome. I will continue to post as will you. But I will use my real name. Have a nice day.

-Mark

4:09 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

Union bickering has derailed yet another comment thread.

7:57 AM  

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