One-Third Season Review

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.

It’s been a tough year so far in 2020, with bad news continuing last week for sports fans in our viewing areas.

Obviously, the Coronavirus and the resulting postponements and cancellations is the big story in both sports and the world in general.  

The PIAA last Thursday canceled both the winter HS championships and the entire spring sports season, which has made our high school broadcasting campaign come to a premature end.  (although we are going to have a TON of things to talk about on upcoming “SportsTalk” shows.)

So as we reached the end of the scholastic season, yet are only one-third of the way through 2020, we’ve already had some very big events in our viewing area that will stick with me for quite some time.

Here’s a few of my memories and thoughts on 2020 so far…

1) The passing of Rocky Groller

While he had been sick and in declining health for almost a year-and-a-half, it was still a shock when, very early in the new year, Sports Talk co-host Keith Groller’s dad passed away – a few hours before we were going to do our first show of 2020.

I had crossed paths with Keith’s dad off and on for several decades.  Every time I ran into him I always remarked how congenial and thoroughly entertaining he was to me and the people around him and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of sports.

Some will remember him for his athletics at Allentown High School.  My initial thoughts, however, were of his work serving the community for most of his adult life as a local firefighter.

When Keith called me to tell me the news late that afternoon, and with very little time to do a detailed dedication segment on that day’s show, I quickly drove up Airport Road to take a snapshot of his beloved East Side Fire Station and did an impromptu tribute to Keith’s dad. 

Rocky obviously got a much greater and more detailed send off a few days later in print and at his funeral from his son, but it was an incredibly emotional way to start off our year.

2) The Lack of Attention for Swimming Teams

With basketball and wrestling taking the lion’s share of the media and fans’ attention every winter sport season, the sport of swimming is largely overshadowed in terms of getting publicity.

I featured a few swimming teams on SportsTalk this winter, including an Emmaus team that was breaking all kinds of records and will probably continue to do so with many of this year’s athletes returning for next season.

The crowning moment for this sport is the PIAA championships when, for perhaps the only time in these student-athletes’ lives, their efforts are broadcast on television by the Pennsylvania Cable Network (RCN down position 97).

Sadly, in a year in which there were so many positive stories to report for this sport and many schools across the state represented, the health issues caused the stoppage of the championship meet the day before they were to take place.  The seniors who should have ended their high school careers with their greatest moments in front of their biggest audience, missed out on that golden opportunity.

3) My “Encore” Shows

One of my more enjoyable tasks over the last month has been to go back through some of our older SportsTalk shows and pick out some fan favorites.

Since the program started, I’ve tracked which shows our viewers have commented on the most and frequently have people request to see shows broadcast again (of course, our more recent programs are available through audio podcasts here on the website for you to hear for yourself at any time.)

In going back through my records, I’ve stumbled across some great memories of the wonderful people that I have had the opportunity to talk with and were honored they came in to share their own experiences with us.

It’s made me even more happy that I have gotten quite a few comments from viewers catching these shows over the last few weeks.  I appreciate people reaching out to tell me that they either missed that particular show the first time but were glad they caught it this time, or people telling me they really enjoyed seeing these programs again. 

Thanks to all of you for your feedback!

4) The Nazareth Girls Basketball Team

For the first few months of 2020 at every opportunity I had, I pointed out what an abundance of talent we have for girls basketball in Eastern Pennsylvania this year.

My statements in January and February proved true as, for the first time in decades, we had no less than three teams advance to the PIAA quarterfinals – all three were still alive when the PIAA postseason was stopped.

We had several great teams on SportsTalk this winter for both girls and boys basketball as well as wrestling and girls and boys swimming and diving (and for the record, all were very appreciative and sent some wonderful thanks of appreciation for being on).  By far the most emotional responses I received, both in “print” and through phone calls, was from the Nazareth community.

The Blue Eagles were riding an emotional rollercoaster after coming within a whisker of beating Bethlehem Catholic for the EPC title.  They continued their run by going to double overtime (with several dramatic last-game shots) to win the District 11 title. This was followed by two more State playoff wins, which made this year’s team a record-setter on several levels…only to have their quest for gold come to an abrupt halt. 

That’s why I decided to ask Head Coach Rich Bickert and his players to come into our studio.

When I schedule guests for shows, I always try to balance a number of variables and not just feature the teams/sports conversations that would automatically grab everyone’s attention.  One of those variables is to be a resource for our viewers and to act as an arm for them for expression. Clearly, they not only earned the opportunity for recognition with their outstanding season but our efforts at RCN to feature them touched a nerve and did more than simply talk about some great basketball.

As we have all said and thought over the last few months, it’s been an “interesting” year. I’m hoping for the rest of 2020 we will have quite a bit more positive memories to reflect upon.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE #2: Dangerous Assignment

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. 

(Donlevy, left, portraying Super Spy Steve Mitchell in Dangerous Assignment)

Spy thriller fans will probably argue forever about whether Sean Connery, Roger Moore or Daniel Craig is the best James Bond ever.

Barry Nelson initially played the “Jimmy Bond” character in an episode of TV show Climax entitled “Casino Royale”.  But you can make a strong argument that Brian Donlevy was the first actor to play a 007-esque character on the screen several years earlier.

Donlevy starred as the suave and sophisticated undercover spy in the early 1950s classic television show, Dangerous Assignment, where he was sent to exotic locations to complete impossible missions, using wit and fighting techniques (along with some unique technological gadgets) in order to save the world from villainy.

Right down to a quick opening teaser before the credits (over a decade before the first full-length Bond film, Dr. No) the format for the on-screen spy film was born.  Shortly after the introduction, Steve Mitchell (Donleavy) would report to his supervisor’s office (there was no “Moneypenny” yet) who would outline his upcoming mission, give key facts about the plot and supply him with the technology and inside information necessary for defeating his nemesis for that evening’s program.

From there, Mitchell would travel the world, charm women (his delivery paralleled Humphrey Bogart more than any actor who would later handle the role of Bond) and escape death-defying predicaments, with some rather uniquely choreographed fight scenes.  Like almost every James Bond film, Mitchell always won the day and featured were very intriguing storylines and exciting climaxes worth watching.

Guest stars included Hugh Beaumont who, within a couple years, would find success as Ward Cleaver on the classic Leave it to Beaver series, and Harry Guardino, who also guest starred in over a hundred television programs spanning a four decades career, in shows ranging from Studio One to Murder, She Wrote.

Another guest star includes a rare TV performance by Paul Frees who performed many commercial voice-overs and created famous cartoon voice. He was even regarded as the original “man of a thousand voices” (according to “The A to Z of Old Time Radio”) while working in the same time period as venerable voice master Mel Blanc.

Despite having success on NBC Radio, the show initially failed to grab a network television sponsor. Donleavy invested his own money and produced the first 39 episodes before the series was eventually picked up and later distributed by NBC Television.

Assignment additionally produced a total 167 radio programs made both before and after its run on the small screen.  It was also unique in that it was one of the first shows to have success in the syndicated market, decades before shows like Baywatch, Star Trek: The Next Generation and others began utilizing this valuable outlet.

Years later, TV comedy Police Squad, which spoofed many great spy and police-driven classics, paid homage to this Donleavy-led program by poking fun at a few of the show’s quirks, and even titled one of its initial episodes, “A Dangerous Assignment.”  Fans of Frank Drebin may want to revisit these shows to get a glimpse of the inside jokes. 

You can see the premiere episode of Dangerous Assignment as it debuts on the RCN TV spring schedule this Friday at 11:30 am.

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

 

 

High School All-Stars 2020 (Round 1)

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.

The local principals, athletic directors and, in some cases, the newly created “High School Coaches Association” have given permission to release information on the first set of high school sports all-stars from the past winter sports season. The High School Coaches Association was formed by local coaches after the Colonial League administrators chose not to participate in creating league all-star teams this year.

First, here are the All-Star basketball team members for the Colonial League:

1st team

*Abe Atiyeh (Moravian Academy), *Brendan Boyle (Notre Dame-Green Pond), *Daryl Coleman (Southern Lehigh), *Kody Kratzer (Palmerton), Nate Owens (Bangor), Jihad Range (Wilson)

(* identifies unanimous choice)

Note: Saucon Valley high school declined their votes.

2nd team

Chris Andrews (Southern Lehigh), Patrick Foley (Salisbury), Justin Hosier (Palmerton), CJ Miles (Bangor), Zach Moyer (Northern Lehigh), Derek Troxell (Catasauqua)

Honorable Mention

Liam Carey (Palisades), Connor Fehr (Pen Argyl), Luke Hallman (Northwestern), Nick Henry (Northwestern), Kyle Hoff (Southern Lehigh), Jared Jacobs (Notre Dame-Green Pond), Derelle McKinney (Wilson), Abel Saft (Moravian Academy), Bobby Snyder (Palisades), Quintin Stephens (Salisbury).

Here is the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s All-Star listing for local wrestling…

Weight Team Wrestler Name School Grade
106 1st Charlie Bunting Nazareth 9
106 2nd Cael McIntyre Bethlehem Catholic 9
106 3rd CJ Horvath Freedom 9
113 1st Luis Vargas Freedom 12
113 2nd Andreo Ferraina Nazareth 11
113 3rd Andrew Harmon Bethlehem Catholic 9
120 1st Luis Vargas Freedom 12
120 2nd Andreo Ferraina Nazareth 11
120 3rd Andrew Harmon Bethlehem Catholic 9
126 1st David Kreidler Central Catholic 11
126 2nd Matt Mayer Bethlehem Catholic 11
126 3rd Noah Reichelderfer Northampton 11
132 1st Dagen Condomitti Northampton 9
132 2nd Patrick Noonan Stroudsburg 12
132 3rd Evan Gleason Bethlehem Catholic 11
138 1st Kenny Herrmann Bethlehem Catholic 12
138 2nd Steven Storm PM East 12
138 3rd Ethan Szerencsits Northampton 12
145 1st DaShawn Farber Nazareth 12
145 2nd Matt Lackman Bethlehem Catholic 12
145 3rd CJ Fritz Northampton 10
152 1st Cole Handlovic Bethlehem Catholic 12
152 2nd Jagger Condomitti Northampton 11
152 3rd Jake Dressler Nazareth 12
160 1st Nathan Stefanik Nazareth 12
160 2nd Kai Clark Whitehall 12
160 3rd Jamir Jiminez Bethlehem Catholic 11
170 1st Lenny Pinto Stroudsburg 11
170 2nd Connor Herceg Nazareth 12
170 3rd Dominic Falcone Easton 11
182 1st Caden Wright Emmaus 12
182 2nd Isaiah Reinert Easton 11
182 3rd Drew Clearie Nazareth 11
195 1st Isaac Kassis Dieruff 12
195 2nd Jon Owens PM West 11
195 3rd Joe Capobianco Nazareth 11
220 1st Stephen Schott Nazareth 12
220 2nd Matthew Cruise Easton 10
220 3rd Makei Hubert Northampton 10
HWT 1st Blake Lambert Northampton 12
HWT 2nd Karam Chakif Dieruff 12
HWT 3rd Sebastian Khamis Stroudsburg 11
EPC Conference Wrestling MVP Cole Handlovic Bethlehem Catholic

Congratulations to all the local wrestling for their honors this year.

I will continue reaching out to athletic directors and league and district administrators over the next few weeks trying to recognize as many All-Stars as we can in our Pennsylvania and DC markets.

Keep checking back to “The Sports Talk Shop” each week for those lists!


PROGRAMMING NOTE:

For this Thursday’s edition of “Sports Talk,” we are going to bring back one of the most popular spring sports shows we’ve ever done.  It will be our “Former High School Baseball Coaches” show, featuring some of the winningest baseball managers in eastern Pennsylvania history.  I know I had a lot of fun hosting this program and our guests told me after the show they had a ball being on.  (One coach just thanked me again for having him on when I saw him a few weeks ago at a basketball playoff game.)

If you missed this program when it originally aired or wanted to hear some great stories involving some really good baseball coaches and players, be sure not to miss it.

Classic Video Showplace #1: Tales of Tomorrow

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 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.


Imagine “The Twilight Zone” LIVE!

That’s what you’ll experience when watching Tales of Tomorrow, a precursor to the classic Zone series that featured legendary TV and cinematic names.

Each week, Tales of Tomorrow viewers tuned in to see supernatural adventures performed live in front of television cameras.

And unlike other science fiction comic stories of that era aimed at children, Tales of Tomorrow targeted adults and geared its stories for more mature audiences.

This sci-fi thrilling series features an anthology format, with reoccurring characters traveling through the supernatural, taking on new adventures weekly in a style used decades later by shows such as The X-Files, American Horror Story and True Detective.

Included in Tales are early screen performances from:

Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cars 3)

Lon Chaney, Jr. (Wolf Man series, Son of Dracula)

Leslie Nielsen (Scary Movie, Naked Gun film series)

Cloris Leachman (Malcolm in the Middle, Young Frankenstein)

Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas) Bruce Cabot (King Kong)

Lee J. Cobb (On the Waterfront, The Exorcist)

Several of its featured stars would go on to become Academy and Emmy Award winners and nominees.

Furthermore, one of the series directors was Charles S. Dubin, who later directed more episodes of M*A*S*H than anyone else.  His other directorial credits include Hawaii 5-0, Murder, She Wrote, The Rockford Files and the 1965 television production of Cinderella, starring Lesley Ann Warren.

Tales also serves as an early vehicle for Arthur C. Clarke who, in addition to writing novels that would be made into the 2001: A Space Odyssey film series, would later be regarded as one of the “Big 3” science fiction writers of all time.

Some of the storylines for Tales of Tomorrow were “borrowed” by Rod Sterling a decade later when he made The Twilight Zone.  Tune in to see if you can spot any of the original plots that would resurface again years later.

There was also one episode in which an actor forgot that the show was live and made a classic blooper – see if you can spot it. 

Catch the RCN-TV debut of Tales of Tomorrow this coming Tuesday night at 10:30pm. The pilot episode, “Ice From Space,” features Paul Newman and Raymond Bailey. Bailey would later enjoy cult TV status as banker Milburn Drysdale on the long-running TV hit, The Beverly Hillbillies.

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

 

 

State Playoff Recaps #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. 

The high school basketball season came to a grinding halt once the PIAA followed the NBA, NCAA, NHL, Major League Baseball and other major sports organizations in cancelling sports events due to the Coronavirus.

It was disappointing that a number of schools in the RCN-TV viewing areas in both Pennsylvania and Washington, DC were literally having their greatest seasons ever.  However, caution won out and the 2020 campaign for several local teams came to a quick end, or, in Pennsylvania, “on hold.”

In the DMV, where play was stopped right before the respective championship games, the governing bodies made the quick decision to declare all remaining teams “co-state champions.”

In Pennsylvania, it’s a much tougher call with three rounds of playoff games yet to be played and 96 schools on the boys and girls side still “alive” in state play, waiting anxiously for their season’s fate to be determined.  According to a statement released by the PIAA last week, those basketball playoff games, as well as the swimming championships, are still technically postponed until a later date.

One Lehigh Valley athletic director shared with me that, after checking with the Pennsylvania Department of Education late last week, the earliest possible start to any spring sports action would be April 7.  Another AD had opined to me on Saturday that the winter playoff games could resume as early as April 13, if all went well in dealing with the coronavirus situation.

However, President Trump’s message Sunday night calling for continuing social distancing, reduced travel and “stay home” initiatives through at least April 30 have suspended those plans now as well.

With the PA state playoff games in mind, here are highlights of our last (for now) high school state basketball broadcasts on RCN-TV for this season.

 

Don’t forget, all of our high school broadcasts are available for purchase–check out the contact information here on our website for details.

Just because games are halted doesn’t mean there’s no sports news to report.  One of the things I am working on this week is contacting our local athletic directors, administrators and coaches as we get a jump on recapping the winter sports season’s All-Star teams and post-season award listings.  Check back next week for those honorees!

 

State Playoff Recaps #1

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

Before the high school playoff season came to a grinding halt due to the world health concerns, we had a number of competitive PIAA state basketball teams on RCN-TV, involving teams in and around our coverage areas.

Check out some of our high school basketball postseason highlights…


 


PROGRAMMING NOTE:

Out of concerns for our residents with the current medical issues going on right now, we are not going to be bringing in any guests on our live “SportsTalk” programs on Thursday evenings.  Instead, we are going to be bringing you encore editions of some of our most popular shows over the last few years.  Keep tuning in at our program’s regularly scheduled times for some of your favorite all-time guests and topics on our show.

Once the sports world starts resuming activities, we’ll resume our live programs each week.  I am in contact with a number of interesting guests that I have been in continued contact with to reschedule once our shows resume and we will also have features on your favorite local sports teams once the spring seasons are permitted to return to their respective fields of play.

 

Winter Recaps/Thinking Spring

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 week is an interesting week for those of us heavily involved in local sports.

The winter sports playoff season is currently suspended due to the health concerns over the coronavirus, but the spring sports teams already have been practicing for two weeks, although things are currently “in-limbo” with the “first games” now postponed until at least March 29th.  Who knows which sports season will resume activities first, and how will schools proceed when/if both start play at the same time?

So for this week here at “The Shop,” we’ll highlight some of our recent high school winter sports coverage…


 

Winter Playoff Recaps #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.

Traditionally, the first weekend of the PIAA playoffs isn’t all that revealing.

I’ve seen some of the most lopsided blowouts in the first round of state post-season action–and that was BEFORE they expanded the number of teams that qualified for the playoffs.  Now, it’s not uncommon to see teams with records below .500 matched-up against some of the best in the state…resulting in some rather ugly final scores.

Fortunately, we’ve had some competitive games over the last 10 days…feel free to check out the highlights below.


To see the entire broadcasts, RCN customers can check them out for free through RCN On-Demand.

Also, you can purchase DVD copies of these games by calling 610-443-2909 and see more information about purchasing shows and games produced by RCN-TV here on our website!

 

Winter Playoff Recaps #1

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. 

The high school and college playoff seasons are in full swing and the RCN Sports crew has been busy bringing you the best of the post-season action on RCN-TV.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights of our recent playoff games. For RCN video customers, these will be available free for the next two months On Demand. DVDs of these games in their entirety also can be purchased by calling 610-443-2909.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Be sure to bookmark and keep checking the RCN-TV website for the latest on our broadcast schedule over the next few weeks as we commence with our PIAA State Playoff games and cover even more high school and Lafayette basketball playoff games over the next month!

Winter Regular Season Recap #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. 

The playoffs have already gotten underway for basketball, wrestling and swimming in Pennsylvania.

As we turn our attention to the post-season, here are video highlights of recent basketball games and wrestling matches broadcast on RCN-TV…

 

And, as a special treat for our high school wrestling fans in Eastern Pennsylvania, here is…hot off the “press”… the schedule and brackets for this weekend’s Northeast Regional wrestling tournament, featuring not only some of the top wrestlers from Pennsylvania, but a number of student-athletes ranked among the wrestling elite nationally.

Feb 20 NEAAA Bracket

Be sure to bookmark and check out the RCN broadcast schedule as we embark on the playoff runs for both high school basketball and wrestling, along with the best of Lafayette Men’s and Women’s Basketball as the Leopards look to make a run in the Patriot League playoffs!