I'm thinking if you're asked to sing the national anthem before the start of any event, you should really take it seriously and learn the words and music. We've all heard poor renditions of the anthm over the years. Usually it's simply some artistic twist on the music that makes it go bad. But the singer usually knows the lyrics and doesn't need the crowd to sing along and provide the "bouncing ball".
Singer Alexis Normand is Canadian, so it may be understandable that she is not completely familiar with all the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
But I'm thinking she should have learned the lyrics before agreeing to sing the anthem of the United States before Saturday's Memorial Cup hockey game between the Portland Winterhawks and Halifax Mooseheads.
After successfully belting out "O Canada," Normand tackled Francis Scott Key's famous song. Here is what happened:
This sort of makes Rosanne Barr look like a Grammy winner, doesn't it?
I'm thinking Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black felt about the same Monday afternoon as Ryan Miller did in this photo when he couldn't do anything about a puck that was about to hit the back of the net. During the Sabres end of season news conference, any hopes Black had to offer some reasoned commentary ended when two members of the media peppered him on the timing of the Sabres season ticket price increase announcement and the perceived lack of availability of team owner Terry Pegula. And while I won't apologize for the press for asking the questions, I will raise my hand and at least say it was the "way" and "tone" that the questions were delivered that derailed the season-ending session.
But here's what I'm thinking.
What happened at that press conference was a manifestation of how this town feels about its sports teams. They come up short of the playoffs, we're told we're "rebuilding" and some of the key names who occupy the top management offices remain in place. All that while, in some cases, the price of a ticket goes up. If you've spent any amount of time in Buffalo, you've heard this before. And you'll undoubtedly hear it again.
Ted Black and Darcy Regier saw up close and personal the frustration of many a fan through the tone of the questions lobbed by Jerry Sullivan and Mike Harrington. It was heated indeed. And Ted Black admittedly lost his cool too, even offering a rare apology at the end of the session.
While many are taking sides and pointing the finger at the media or the Sabres management in the verbal spar, I'm saying it's just the same conversation that's being had on the streets of "hockey heaven". Fans are frustrated. And I think it's a good sign Ted Black has a temper to lose. Does anyone honestly think he wants anything other than the same thing the fans do? A winning season. Playoffs. Maybe even a cup.
I'll completely agree that fans receiving a season ticket price increase notification in the mail on the day of the final game and "fan appreciation day" is a timing blunder, but I'd challenge anyone to find many entertainment options where the price is staying the same or going down. If the cost of tickets needs to go up, so be it. But at least think twice about when you send out the notice. And the fact that Terry Pegula is a billionaire really shouldn't have anything to do with how much a ticket costs. The Sabres, or any professional sports franchise for that fact, aren't a charity or not for profit.
Finally, as for Terry Pegula being made available for the media? How many owners have a press conference at the end of a losing season? I think we can all agree that Pegula has done more good than bad for this community by snatching up the Sabres and investing millions in our waterfront. Pegula has entrusted Black and Regier to lead the team. That's where the anger should be directed. Had we gone to the playoffs and Pegula didn't do an end of season news conference, would we be having the same conversation? I think not.
Sports is simple. When you win, people smile. When you lose, people are mad.
If you're from Buffalo, I hope this is interesting. But it shouldn't be new. And if you're not from Buffalo, this writing may explain the attitude of many a Buffalo sports fan.
This is the land where we judge the success of our seasons by how close we get to almost making it to the playoffs.
For the past few weeks at work, I've been hearing the chatter in the hallways that goes something like this: "We're only four points out of the 8th spot" or "If we win tonight and two other teams lose, we might be within three points of the 8th spot"! And then there is my favorite conversation on the radio that suggests we're better off simply losing out, losing our remaining games, to make certain we have a good shot in the draft. How pathetic.
But it doesn't end there. It's relentless and it happens year after year. It happens in football season and in hockey season. And if that's not enough, it even happens during the off season. We hope for change at the deadlines and in the drafts and our hopes are most often dashed. We certainly can't forget the 24/7 Mario Williams watch can we? Days went by and we sat on the edge of our seats wondering if we would win the prize. This was it! Mario could be the off season ticket to the NFL post season. We all know how that went.
In other towns the trading deadlines and drafts are times to bolster their teams and make them better. In this town, those days are better than the regular season! These pivotal days offer us hope that maybe we will make the moves that will help us finally bring home the championship hardware. Again, hopes dashed.
I can't criticize the brass of the Bills and Sabres for not trying. They've spent sizeable amounts of money and invested in the teams. But the formulas just seem cursed. Think about it. Wide right! No goal! John Rigas! Mario Williams! And that's just a handful in the bag of Buffalo sports bitter pills. Oh, and don't be caught saying we missed Briere and Drury after we let them slip away. That's truly taboo.
Sure, we all want a Superbowl or Stanley Cup championship. But I'd settle for just being more excited about our teams during their respective seasons than on days like today, the NHL trade deadline. Today is a day we hear Buffalo Sabres fans hoping for a trade involving the players who once brought us such great joys and hopes. Who could imagine, just a year or two ago, talk of trades involving Pominville, Vanek or Miller. Now it's just part of the Buffalo sports conversation.
I know great teams are built over years and I know it takes bold moves on days like today to lay the foundation for a true championship team. But forgive me for being from Buffalo and saying "we've been here and done this before". And we always buy into the hope that it WILL work. Let's hope it does.....this time.
But we'll have to do it with one or two fewer of our favorites here in "Pominville".
Right from the start, I'll tell you I hate these things.
I can tell you the worst part of the East basket on for me as a kid would be when I got through the chocolate and found the marshmallow peeps at the bottom. Inevitably they'd be stuck to the fake green grass alongside the jellybeans(not much my favorite either) just lying in wait. Maybe my sisters would make a trade?
What is it about Peeps that so many people love? In case you haven't heard, they're now 60 years old, are manufactured just north of Philadelphia and are enjoying a growing success. Why? They're marshmallows coated with colorful crystallized sugar. Yuck.
I married into a Peep family. My wife and sisters-in-law love these things. Around this time of year the Peeps start to show up at the door, dropped off by a thoughtful family member who picked them up on sale. I'll open the freezer and find them sitting next to the ice cream(they're good frozen I'm told). And if I time things right, I may walk in the house when the kids pop the Peeps in the microwave and pull the gooey mess out on a paper plate and devour them. Yes, my kids inherited the taste for Peeps.
60 years and going stronger than ever, I find Peeps to be a "love 'em or hate 'em" proposition. Where do you fit in? And feel free to share how you eat your "Peeps".
So it's the first day of Spring, it's below freezing and the ground is white! Welcome to Buffalo, where Spring can mean 80 degrees(like it was a year ago) or lake effect snow as it is today. But we're Buffalonians and we just grin and "bear" it.
Well I might suggest that a little "bear" may be just the 'pick me up' we all need on this unseasonable start to Spring.
"Luna", the new polar bear cub at The Buffalo Zoo, is bringing smiles to our faces as the little one gets a taste of the environment she loves. SNOW! I think this video will cheer you up on this otherwise blustery and frightful first day of Spring!
Back in the day when I first started out in the newsroom at WBEN, we were on the air at 930 on the AM dial. That's it! All we needed to do was communicate with you in one place. It worked great! And boy was it easy.
But times have changed.
I remember back in the early 90's when then Program Director Kevin Keenan was posting the AccuWeather forecast on our new website wben.com. I wondered, why? Won't they just get the weather on the radio when we read it?
Well, obviously, through the years I've changed too!
I'd like to take this opportunity to make sure you're aware of the diverse resources your have now in getting the programming we offer at WBEN. No longer are we only available only at 930 on the AM dial. We've added 107.7 on the FM dial, streaming from wben.com, our mobile app and streaming from our mobile-enable website. And just when you thought we were done offering you options to find WBEN, we want to alert you that if you have HD radios that we're there too!
More and more new vehicles are coming equipped with HD radios. Essentially, HD radio enables us to offer more than one radio station on one individual frequency. When it comes to WBEN, you can now find us at 102.5 FM HD-2. It's a very strong signal and the very best clarity that can be achieved, similar in nature to HDTV. If you have one of the dozens of vehicles equipped with an HD radio, tune to 102.5 FM. When you get the HD lock on your screen, hump up to 102.5 FM HD-2 and you'll hear WBEN.
As technology changes the way we can receive your favorite radio programming, WBEN is keeping up and making sure we're available to you wherever you are and with whatever technology you have available to you. We're still the same reliable, informative and entertaining WBEN. We're just available in a variety of different ways.
Whether you're in your kitchen at home, in your office in the Buffalo area, with your smartphone on the beach in Florida or in your vehicle equipped with an HD Radio, WBEN can be with you.
It really has to be just about THE prank of all pranks. And those responsible didn't even set out to do what actually happened in the end.
These two unidentified twenty-something's pranked Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix by getting through to his office. But they got cold feet when he actually answered, so they hung up. Buddy, being a persistent NFL GM, kept calling the number back because he was led to believe the call came from Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik.
Those two guys were pretty persistent too as they picked up the phone to call Dominik too and prank him as well. Just as Dominik was picking up the line, Nix rang through to the guys and they answered, conferencing them all together. So Nix and Dominik did all the talking while the two pranksters stayed hush and recorded the conversation on another phone.
When you put it all together it's all quite amazing. It truly is a masterful prank that will go down in the history books.
Nix and Dominik talked for several minutes, complaining about the newly instituted 72 hour rule for NFL free agency and Nix went on to lament about the predicament his club is in with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. As a casual observer and fan of either team, it's all pretty interesting stuff. It's some inside information and insight to the inner-workings of the NFL.
But step back a bit and think about the ramifications of this amazing stunt. At the very least it makes the Bills and Tampa club look pretty bad. It makes you wonder how Buddy Nix thought he was really calling Mark Dominik as the phone call begins with Nix questioning Dominik why there's no voicemail and why no one answers his phone.
Most of us have been the victim of an embarrassing prank in our lifetimes. Fortunately, most of these pranks are harmless and end up being a good story. But in the case, there's a lot on the line. Millions and millions of dollars are at stake in free agency and in the NFL draft that's approaching. The livelihood of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nix and Dominik could also be on the line following this prank.
As you would expect, the Buffalo Bills are looking into the legal aspects of the release of the phone call audio by the website Deadspin.com. At first glance, legal experts tell WBEN the two who recorded the call could be in some serious legal hot water and Deadspin may have some issues of its own as well.
But while the social media world erupts with amusing commentary about the masterfully pulled-off prank, it'll be interesting to see who gets the last laugh. Somehow I don;t think it will be the two pranksters.
And finally, think about this. In a day and age when two young men can successfully prank two top NFL executives and record their conversation unknowingly, we're waiting to see whether white or black smoke comes from a chimney high atop The Vatican.
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is making headlines again in the heated debate over gun ownership in New York State. Sheriff Howard, running for re-election, has been quick to oppose the state's tough new NY SAFE ACT which restricts gun ownership in the Empire State. Now, on WBEN's Hardline Program, Sheriff Howard is floating the idea of removing one's right to own a gun if that individual is convicted of DWI. Sheriff Howard says the measure would target irresponsible gun ownership in suggesting, "you would temporarily or maybe permanently lose your right to possess a firearm because you have acted irresponsibly". SO let's take a look at this 'up close'.
At first glance, most of those who are in favor of gun ownership and gun rights(myself included) are raising their eyebrows and saying "not a good idea". We have a Constitutional right to bear arms and DWI or any other similar infraction shouldn't have an impact on that right. Is speeding next? What about texting and driving? Those too are acts of irresponsibility and the same argument could be made. If we're irresponsible to break those laws, should gun ownership be questioned? Where would it stop?
But let's return to the DWI scenario. I think it's different. And here's why.
While there are numerous incidents of a one-time DWI chalked up by the person who got behind the wheel for the first time in their life under the influence, the statistics tell a different story. Most who are stopped for DWI and ultimately convicted, have done the deed before. Numerous times. They just weren't caught. That's certainly not responsible behavior, but furthermore, do we want guns in the hands of a portion of the population that has a high likelihood of having a problem with alcohol? Unlike speeding or texting, alcohol impacts judgment. Having good and rational judgment has a great deal to do with responsible use of a firearm.
Before you start to cry "liberal" on me, Because that's far from the case, just think about this a bit further. I'm not ready to take away the right to own a gun for a DWI. But would suspending that right to bear arms for a period of time upon a DWI conviction(and certainly repeat convictions) be such a crazy thing?
I clearly support the right to bear arms and have demonstrated a willingness to stand behind that with actions. But I also am surrounded by gun owners who preach responsible ownership and I'm willing to discuss and leave the door open to suspending the right to gun possession from individuals who demonstrate problem drinking.
The knee-jerk response seems to be a loud scream that it's infringing on my rights. But I question the judgment of anyone who at least won't think this through and see a connection between the dangers of holding a gun and abusing alcohol. It's just a different weapon from the one they drove under the influence.
Let's have a discussion and see where this goes. It certainly could have an impact on the outcome of the race for Erie County Sheriff.
As a lifelong Western New Yorker, I sometimes get the feeling there is a sector of this community that wants to save everything, remember everything and live in the past. While I don't want to come off as someone with no regard to history, preservation and our roots, it's simply not rational or economically feasible to save every structure in this area that has a page of historical significance.
As a frequent traveler of Route 5 along the Lake Erie shoreline, I pass the century-old Bethlehem Steel Administration building often. Most times I don't even notice it. It's surrounded by the decaying remnants of a historically-significant steel mill and some second-life industry that's occupying the completely industrial zone. To the north the building is bordered by the rejuvenated Buffalo waterfront and to the south by Woodlawn Beach State Park. Imagine if we could connect the two with additional public use waterfront acreage and not have to divert visitors attention as we drive them by the old steel mill and hope they won't notice what an eyesore it truly is.
I'll take the preservationists word that the building has some historical significance. So too did the churches that have been demolished and other real estate in the region that simply doesn't make geographic or economic sense to save. I'm guessing Lackawanna's future would be better bolstered by a rejuvenated waterfront industrial or recreational redo than a shell of a building that will be home to a historic marker out front.
We have a rich and treasured past here in Western New York. And we should celebrate it. But, at the same time, with limited resources we should be pretty darn choosy about what we save and spend money on to invest in the future.
With no disrespect to those who disagree and have protested at the building, my bet is that most who read this won't truly miss the building, if they even knew it was there to begin with.
I have to say, when Tom Bauerle came to me several weeks ago and said he wanted to broadcast his show from the February 28th Albany Gun Rally, I thought it was a pretty good idea. It would bring Tom and his listeners closer to the workings of democracy and out state government. So I agreed.
But when he went on to propose we send a bus full of listeners to Albany for the protest, I scratched my head and thought, really? Would anyone seriously take a full weekday, spend ten hours on a bus, all for a two hour rally?
Well I'm not sure why I questioned it at first. Obviously the answer is a resounding YES!
Our Promotions Manager Krystyna Karstedt quickly jumped into action as we opened registration online and saw the numbers grow by the hour for the free trip. Carl Paladino jumped onboard and supported a bus with his businesses along with Firearms training of WNY and The Buffalo Gun Center. But we did wonder, will they show up for a 5:30am departure? Again, the answer is a resounding yes as our parking lot at the WBEN studios in Amherst started to fill and come to life by 4am.
It really doesn't matter to me or WBEN where you stand on this issue of the NY SAFE ACT. What matters to us is that people have the passion for their beliefs and that they'll fight within their Constitutional rights for what they think is right. .These people aboard both our buses, more than eighty strong, are working Western New Yorkers who are taking a day of their life to rally for what they believe in. That's what it's all about.
I've met every single person on the buses and all are friendly and excited, despite being a tad tired. There is a sense of excitement aboard the buses as a group of mainly strangers who came together on the radio make a day-long trip to have their voices heard.
What will happen when the rally is over and the people and buses leave? No one knows for sure. The hopes of those aboard the buses is that a repeal will be in the works. But when all is said and done and the last person leaves the rally and the buses arrive back home, one thing is for sure.
Democracy worked and allowed a group of people passionate about an issue and their rights to be heard.