Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Charles Osgood


Did you see Sunday Morning this week?

Always the classiest show. Even more classy in how they handled Charles Osgood's goodbye.

I used to work with Charlie. I'll get to that in a moment.

The first time I saw him in person wasn't at the television studio. I was a DJ on the radio and saw him at Shea Stadium watching his Mets. Charlie, or Charles as I knew him then, was on his way back to his seat with hot dogs and cold drinks in tow. The place was crowded and the sun was out. Perfect day for a ball game. He didn't know me from Adam but I knew who he was. What I didn't know was that I would get to know him a lot better.

I eventually landed at CBS with Harry Smith, Kathleen Sullivan and my new friend Charles. I didn't know how talented he was.  I really didn't know how nice and gracious he was.

I learned first hand.

What began as happenstance (when you're brand new, you can't pick who you work with) blossomed into a real friendship.

Things I learned from his last show included the nugget that both of us grew up in Maryland and both of us were paper boys. I was the worst,  leaving a person's newspaper at the end of their sidewalk so it could blow away. And then wondering why they wouldn't give me a tip. Charles, in an old segment, showed us the correct way to throw a newspaper on the porch. And that piece didn't say it but I'll bet he did better than fine in the tip department.
Charlie and Faith Daniels

Other things I learned...

His real name, thank you Ted Koppel, is Charles Osgood Wood.

That he began on the radio and eventually settled on television at CBS News.

Smart move CBS.

Another smart move was him never giving up his radio show--The Osgood File. I read that there is a small, select, group of people who are considered radio legends. Charles is in that group.

And he should be.

Some of my personal memories..

Throwing a birthday party for my mother and Charlie and his wonderful wife Jean came. My mom said to him, "You're so good with words, you should write a book." He gently and sweetly replied to my mom, "I've written four."

Me? I just about burst into flames.

After my stroke, I went to the CBS Broadcast Center, to see my old friend and meteorologist, George Cullen. It was early in the morning, around 6 a.m., and he wondered who might be there that early. "I know," he said, "Charlie's here." We went upstairs and there he was. He said to me, "Your book is on my desk. Could you hang around so I can interview you for The Osgood File ?"

He did and I was soon on the air coast to coast. It meant the world to me. Those are things you never forget.

Thank you Charlie.

At the end of Sunday Morning he announced the new host would be Jane Pauley. From Kuralt to Osgood to Pauley. That's a great bunch right there. After telling him it was an honor to follow in his footsteps she then said Charlie's bow tie was going to the Smithsonian.

Heady stuff.

Last but not least Charlie repeated what had been said throughout, "I'll see you on the radio."

Not a dry eye in this house.

Bonne Chance Mr. Osgood Bonne Chance.


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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Things I Think About

Here are a few things swirling around in my head....

I'm tired of this election.

In the words of Chris Rock, "Tied, Tied, Tied," of it.

I'll bet you are too.

It seems like it's gone on forever. Forever. I have a theory about that. Cable news has been on 24/7 for a good while now and I don't know if we are better off for it.  Since they're on all the time, every day starts with a hole you have to fill. And lots of times they fill it with things you've heard about the election and the candidates over.and.over.and.over.before.

It's not just them but the networks, the newspapers, the websites, and the blogs.

They've determined that breathless headlines about virtually nothing get eyeballs. And they do. I'm as guilty as everyone else in reading and viewing all this but I'm getting worn out. What do I mean getting? I've been worn out.

Another thing.

The next time you go grocery shopping, when you're checking out, glance at the magazines at the check out counter. People, Us, Talk, The National Enquirer, The Globe. There's many more but you get the drift. Okay, now look at the covers. Yeesh. They make me shake my head. I can't believe people buy this stuff and they buy it in droves.

They've been writing about Jennifer Anniston for years. For years. Not her fault. And now that Angelina and Brad have split, well, the magazines are like baying hounds on the scent. And that scent includes writing even more about Jennifer 'cause you see, Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Anniston years ago before he was married to Angelina Jolie.

They think there has to be a connection.

Eye roll.

The Enquirer has on it's current cover that one presidential candidate will win the debate with a new secret plan. It says that the plan is inside the magazine. Now wouldn't you think if it were secret it wouldn't be inside The Enquirer inside a grocery store?

I'm just asking.

Last thing.

Now that summer's over here come the commercials for Christmas toys. I'm late to this party in saying this but when I was a kid all that began after Thanksgiving. Not so today. Since I have kids myself I see the commercials right along with them.

Griffin's pointed out, more than once, that the toys they're sure you should get are not so great. I've taught Miles to wait for the announcer to say,"Each sold separately." Sometimes you get a,"Batteries sold separately," as well. He  waits and slyly looks at me when the voice says that.

I feel sorry for kids today.

In between watching their shows on Disney or between Sponge Bob or between cartoons they get hammered to buy dreck. Parents have rooms full of toys that Little Johnnie played with.

Once.

Who said life is fair?

And those are some of the things I think about.



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Friday, September 23, 2016

Birthday

I know, I know, I write about my twins a lot.
Miles and Griffin today

But.

This is the first time I'm writing about them as teenagers. Today is their Birthday and today they are 13.

It seems like a moment ago they were little and now they're like, guys. If you're not a parent that last sentence falls under the category of, "Yeah, right." If you are a parent it makes perfect sense.

We went through all kinds of things with them when they were younger....diapers, naps (boy I wish they still took them lol), teefus coming in, teefus going out with the Tooth Fairy. All kinds of things.

Man, my wife and I cried on their first day of school. It wasn't school school but crying nonetheless.

Did you know they have a graduation ceremony for pre-school?

The first graduation ceremony I had was for high school. But, there we were, the parents taking pictures and all the kids as cute as they could be.

There was a time Griffin was terrified of shots and just mentioning them got whatever was (supposed to be) ailing him to disappear real quick. Griffin's not terrified anymore, he takes them very calmly now.

I remember old friends...The Wiggles, Little Bear, Thomas the Train, Phineas and Ferb, Kipper the Dog, and of course Sponge Bob Square Pants. They still watch Kipper and Sponge Bob today.

Even though they were born in New York, they're Florida boys. They grew up here. They've never seen snow and they want to. Dad has seen enough snow for a hundred men but that's neither here nor there.

I remember their first plane ride. They were so excited. We were scheduled to leave for the airport at 6 in the morning. They were up, dressed, at 4 a.m., ready to go.

They're going to have a sleepover for their Birthday.

That will include six boys. Say that again. Last year they had one and it was chaos upstairs. I was awakened at 5 in the morning to the sounds of bedlam in their room. All the lights were on and there was shouting and a fight because, as one of the kids said, Miles was hogging the remote for the video games.

Things died down quickly and order was restored. Later on Miles told me that in that fight, "Dad, I bit him!"

I gotta say Dad was pretty proud.

So now they are no longer pre-teens but actual teenagers.

Happy Birthday Miles and Griffin.

Dad loves you very much.

Let the Games begin.
One of my favorite pictures of them


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Dear William

My brother passed away last week.

Now there's a sentence I've never written before.

His name was Bill, Billy to me. Yes, he'd been ill for awhile, and yes, he was in the hospital more times than you could count, this year alone, but you're never quite ready for something like that. I would find myself crying just thinking of him.

When you're young you think you'll live forever, you think everyone will live forever.

It doesn't work like that.

Billy was a good person. It was eye opening and heartening to see the stream of friends and family that came through his home to see him at the end. What was even more impressive was hearing them talk about him.

As the saying goes, "All good."

His wife, Debbie, says Billy never met a stranger.

Let's talk about Debbie for a moment.

She was by his side, always. You know the vows, for better or for worse? Well, she turned that for worse part, out. When Billy wanted to go somewhere, she took him. When Billy was bedridden, she was right there. When Billy was in the hospital, she was bedside all the time. She fed him, Debbie took him to dialysis, she was sweet and kind to my brother.
Debbie and My Maya

I told her more than once that she's an angel. I said at Billy's service that you see the Rock of Gibraltar on television but she is the real Rock.

Love me some Debbie.

Let me tell you a bit more about my brother. He loved to drive. He loved to do that as long as I can remember. Billy drove a bus and all the people who went to places on that bus always requested him.

It was like that.

When I was a young man Billy had his first new car, a looong time ago. The monthly car payment was $39.95. I told you it was a long time ago. Well as sometimes happens he couldn't make those payments, and since my Dad was the co-signer of the loan, Dad gave the car and the payments to me.

That car was nine months old and had 30,000 miles on it.

I did tell you Billy loved to drive.

Was there a bigger Ravens fan? If they were on the telly, guess who was in front of the telly? He had a Ravens hat, more than one, and he knew that team inside and out. The word fan comes from the word fanatic.

That would be Billy.

My twins knew their Uncle Billy very well. When he and Debbie came to visit it was great. And you should have seen the look on their faces when he took his prosthetic off. What started off as a "I don't believe it," turned into "That was so cool!"

Billy was something else.

Rest in Peace my Brother, I'll see you in Heaven.
Billy and his daughter Kimberly



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Monday, September 12, 2016

Caveat Emptor

This was printed in The Orlando Sentinel on September 9, 2016.

I used to believe everything on the Internet.

Silly me.

Everything you read there ain't necessarily so.

I went to the web to find out how many Grammys Stevie Wonder had won. There was a number. Turns out it was wrong.

What?

Like that song goes, you have to shop around. You have to go to multiple sites to see if the answer or answers measure up. You can find all kinds of stuff on the Internet but that doesn't mean you should take it as gospel.

Since we’re talking…



In the old days as far as news went you had to be right on something you said. Now it seems you have to be first.

There's a difference.

I can say you're ten feet tall and have one eye in the middle of your forehead. Truth is I don't actually know that but what the hey.  

People react to what you say first and believe it. What people don't hear is the retraction the next day and what is not real becomes real.

Television is also full of people, talking over each other, determined to get their point across. It doesn't matter whether it's a truthful point or not. I'm not crazy about all the shouting but you know what I love? Every now and then real slips through the cracks and you see a real moment on the screen. All of a sudden the camera is just eavesdropping and folks say and do things you can't believe they say and do.


Also, I'm a Facebook guy and I dabble in Twitter. I also read newspapers, plural, because I like knowing things. What gets me every time are the comments people leave after an article or a post. Man, they can be mean. My mom used to say when we were young, "Be sweet." Obviously there are people out there who didn't hear that from their mothers. I think the anonymity helps folks write things they wouldn't say to your face. If they did, the next sound you'd hear is the sound of a fistfight.

If you had to write your real name and address, instead of barkingdog155, it would get real civil, real quick.

Plus…


We're in the Age of Innuendo. 

People can say, "I've heard..." about someone and repeat it as if it's true. They used to call that gossip. In junior high or high school that kind of stuff can get you on a list you don't want to be on. People say things about other people these days that are fishy at best and they say them like they're not.

Be careful what you believe.

Okay, off my soap box I go.

The saying is caveat emptor.

Buyer beware.






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Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 11, 2001

I was in Los Angeles doing The Early Show. The reason I was in LA was the first Latin Grammys was scheduled to be held that night and I was there to cover it.

When you do the morning show, you do it to East Coast time. So 7-9 a.m. becomes 4-6 LA time.

The city was dark, bustling, but dark. We were broadcasting from CBS News' LA Bureau and there weren't a lot of us there that early. A camera operator, makeup, me, and our guest for the morning. His name was Juanes, he's from Colombia, and he was up for a slew of Grammys that night. Juanes was there to be interviewed by me and to perform live.

Sleepy eyed yawns were the order of the day.

We finished, packed up, and my dear friend, who also handled the makeup, Barbara Dally and I went across the street to Canter's Deli to have a bagel for breakfast.

Things picked up once we got there.

As we were ordering, a waiter came up to me and said, "You're from New York, right?" I answered that I was and then he said something that was hard to process, "A plane hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center." I remember saying, "A Piper Cub?" "No," he answered, "A jet airliner. And another one just hit the second tower."

We ran back to the set so we could watch it in real time. There are tvs on the set but they're not called tvs, they're called monitors. They were showing the WTC and one tower had a gaping hole in it with black smoke billowing out. I had never seen anything like that and thought, "This doesn't look good."

We turned the sound up and they abruptly cut to Washington, DC. The first words I heard were from my co-host Bryant Gumbel, "Oh my, the Pentagon is under attack." You know the deal, there were two other airliners that had been hijacked that day. One went down in Pennsylvania, the other in DC.

That was the one Bryant was talking about.

It was awful.

By evening both towers of the World Trade Center had come down, the Pentagon was in flames, thousands of people had died, survivors were shell shocked, and America would never be the same again.

The next day I couldn't get back home to New York, all the flights had been cancelled. In fact, every flight across the country was on the ground. The sky was empty. The only time I've ever seen that. I'd be fine if I never saw that again.

All the morning shows were dark as America tried to sort things out. The news was on all the time. The papers had story after story about what had happened and the stories were so sad.

A week later they opened up LAX and I was on the first flight to New York. We flew on the red eye and when we got over Wall Street, there was a stampede to the side of the plane that showed Ground Zero. We saw a big hole in the ground with lots of smoke and I remember it was quiet as quiet could be on that jet.

Our show eventually got back on the air.

It was a parade of survivors plus people who'd lost their mothers, their fathers, their husbands, their wives, their sisters, their brothers. A parade of people who held out hope that their loved ones were still alive in the rubble. We interviewed Fire Chiefs, Police Commanders, First Responders and more.

There was a photograph on the front page of The Daily News that showed firefighters in Brooklyn getting on a fire engine. You could see the WTC burning in the background. They couldn't wait to get there to do some good. Turns out they all lost their lives trying to do that good.

To this day I can't watch documentaries of 9-11. It just tears me up. I wasn't alive for Pearl Harbor but I was alive for this.




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