Watch: Hannah Montana opens Jack Reed’s health law defense

March 29th, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed comes across as a pretty straight-laced guy, but he’s got a humorous side – he’s an avowed fan of Will Ferrell, for example. He’s also got a 5-year-old daughter, who successfully suggested her dad utilize Hannah Montana’s theme song as his entrance music when Reed appeared Wednesday on CNN:

More substantively, Reed disputed the idea that this week’s Supreme Court arguments were a train wreck for defenders of the president’s health care law. “I’m confident they’ll uphold it,” he said, according to a transcript.

Reed suggested that a decision to strike down the law could jeopardize the constitutionality of Medicare, because it would allow opponents of the program to argue it is “an imposition of a tax for health care I don’t want or don’t need. That will pick up with greater fervor if this [law] is struck down.”

Happy 57th birthday, WPRI – watch vintage videos to celebrate

March 27th, 2012 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Happy birthday to – us! WPRI 12 turns 57 years old today.

As I related a year ago, WPRI came on the air as WPRO-TV on March 27, 1955, with the backing of the old Cherry & Webb clothing store. The station has had eight parent companies in the intervening years; our current parent, Providence-based LIN Media, has owned WPRI since 2001.

Paul Darling, who worked for Channel 12 and WPRO radio in the 1950s and ’60s, has self-published a book called “We Were Pioneers” filled with great photos from the era; you can click through the whole thing here. You can also read about our fancy triangular headquarters in this 1975 issue of RCA Broadcast News [pdf].

Last year at this time the oldest YouTube clip of WPRI was this groovy 1982 sign-on, but now the Wayback Machine has served up a short station ID from 1978 (plus the tail end of a spray creme commercial):

And here’s a terrific compilation of three station promos that aired on June 23, 1990, during a Saturday night telecast of “The Man With One Red Shoe” on ABC, our network at the time. The promos feature Walter Cryan, Karen Adams, the Bristol 4th of July Parade and Almacs – how Rhode Island can you get?

Your Twitter meme of the day – #PensionValentines

February 10th, 2012 at 5:49 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

You’ve read about #HealthPolicyValentines. You’ve boned up on #FedValentines. But this is Rhode Island. Shouldn’t we be writing pension – er, #PensionValentines? Here are a few that have popped up so far.

  • “Hey girl, you made a defined contribution to my heart and now I’ve got a hybrid plan: you + me = us.” – @tednesi
  • a reply to mine: “You will not get friends with defined benefits from that.” – @DonBotts
  • “My love for you is growing like an early ’90s Providence COLA. Compounded.” – @white_tim
  • “Roses are red / violets are blue / I’d give up my COLA / to spend a lifetime with you.” – @AndrewGobeil

Leave your #PensionValentine in comments. Tim suggested that if you’re really ambitious, you should come up with an #OPEBValentine.

From the vault: The wonkiest New Year’s Eve ball-drop ever

January 2nd, 2012 at 5:30 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Have you ever wondered what a Nesi’s Notes New Year’s Eve TV special would be like?

Well, it would probably bear a resemblance to the commentary Ben Grauer offered on “The Tonight Show” as the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve 1965. He manages to get in an increase in the payroll tax, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a possible subway strike, the war in Vietnam and more (no pensions, alas):

Eat your heart out, Ryan Seacrest.

Annals of RI sex scandals, late 1800s clam shack edition

December 14th, 2011 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

From a recent Atlantic article on sex scandals down the decades by historian David Greenberg:

[New York's] other senator, Roscoe Conkling, had seen his own affair—with the wife of a former governor of Rhode Island—splashed across the front page of The Times. (Admittedly, the affair made the paper only after the ex-governor threatened to shoot Conkling in a Narragansett clam joint.)

We’ve all been there.

A bit of Googling shows the wronged husband was William Sprague IV, Rhode Island’s governor from 1860 to 1863 and U.S. Senator from 1863 to 1875 (as well as son of the governor whose murder led to the notorious execution of John Gordon). An entire book has been written about his marriage (“Kate Chase and William Sprague: Politics and Gender in a Civil War Marriage”) and its Amazon page describes him as “a wealthy industrialist, the ‘boy governor’ of Rhode Island, a dashing military figure, and an alcoholic.”

Providence’s Stark makes headlines with free Starbucks offer

August 11th, 2011 at 1:20 pm by under Nesi's Notes

This is a post about an “experiment in social sharing of physical goods using digital currency on mobile phones.”

Not interested yet? What if I told you this is also a post about how to get a free drink at Starbucks?

For that you can thank Providence’s own Jonathan Stark. On July 20, Stark posted his Starbucks card’s information online and invited anybody in the world to buy something with it. He also invited people to put money on the card. (You can find out its current balance using the card’s Twitter feed.)

“Based on the similarity to the ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ trays at convenience stores in the US, I’ve adopted a similar ‘get a coffee, give a coffee’ terminology for Jonathan’s Card,” he writes on his website.

Stark, a mobile Web consultant, is grabbing headlines all over the place for his quirky test of human nature in the Twitter era. (Local political types may know Stark’s brother Matt as Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’ director of policy.) More than $10,000 has been spent – and donated – since he started his experiment.

“The vast majority of people are being cool, which is the main takeaway,” Stark told CNN.

You can get the card here. Its balance has fluctuated between $15.90 and zip just in the half-hour since I started writing this post. As Stark points out, the enormous number of transactions that have taken place also show that mobile payments likely have a huge potential future in the United States.

When he’s not using Starbucks as a sociological laboratory, Stark is active in the Providence tech scene with groups like Providence Geeks and Betaspring. For more, check out this interview I did with him back in my PBN days.

Providence named the 10th-best city for singles in America

July 25th, 2011 at 5:06 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Looking for Mr. or Ms. Right? Apparently you’ve come to the right place.

Providence is No. 10 on Travel + Leisure magazine’s new list of America’s Best Cities for Singles. Voters in the magazine’s America’s Favorite Cities survey “love the neighborhood joints (and beer) in this Rhode Island city, where one of the best areas for meeting singles is Federal Hill,” reporter Erica Ho writes.

“You’ll find bars, lounges, and Italian restaurants that stay open late for dancing,” Ho continues. “If you’re not the bar type, you’ll do well meeting locals at the great coffeehouses or art galleries.”

Topping the list at No. 1 is New Orleans, followed by Austin, Texas; Las Vegas; New York City; and Chicago.

Providence also ranks nine spots higher on the T+L list than No. 19 Boston, which fell seven spots compared with last year.

Chafee’s staff surprises him with birthday cake

March 25th, 2011 at 4:32 pm by under General Talk, Nesi's Notes

Happy birthday to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who turns 58 tomorrow.

To celebrate, Chafee’s staff surprised him at the State House this afternoon with a Heath Bar Crunch Cake from Gregg’s – purchased at the one in Warwick, natch.

The governor’s press office sent along this photo of him cutting the cake up in the gubernatorial suite:

Behind Chafee are, from left to right: Christine DiFilippo, an executive assistant; Brian Daniels, his director of policy; Deputy Chief of Staff Jamia McDonald (partially blocked by Chafee); and Donna Dell’Aquila, also an executive assistant. Photo was snapped by Samuel Lovett, a communications aide.

Guess whose birthday is Sunday? WPRI Channel 12′s

March 25th, 2011 at 7:00 am by under General Talk

WPRI-TV 12 will celebrate its 56th birthday on Sunday. Don’t we look good for our age?

WPRI came on the air March 27, 1955 as WPRO-TV - apparently two years behind schedule after Rehoboth wouldn’t let us build a transmitter there and then Hurricane Carol destroyed the one we did build in Johnston, according to this insanely detailed Wikipedia article.

The station was started up by none other than Cherry & Webb – yep, the furniture clothing store. That’s not as strange as it sounds now; our august competition in Cranston was the brainchild of the venerable Outlet Company department store. TV stations were just another way to sell sofas and apparel, I guess.

WPRI has had a total of eight owners in the intervening 56 years by my count. Happily for us, the days of getting passed around are long gone; our current parent, Providence-based LIN Media, has owned the station since 2001, the second-longest uninterrupted stretch of ownership in our history.

YouTube is filled with nostalgic clips of local stations back in the day, so I thought I’d take a look at what they had for us. The earliest video of WPRI is this quite welcoming morning sign-on clip from August 1982, during our ABC affiliate period:

Even better, though, is this little ditty from 1984 shown at the end of the broadcast day that sings, “We’re with you on Channel 12!” surrounded by some extraordinarily cheerful ’80s people. Check it out:

I wonder where all those big cut-out “12s” ended up? Maybe they’re in a closet somewhere here in the studio. I want one.

But of course, what really matters here at WPRI 12 is the news. Here’s Walter Cryan and Janice Glynn kicking off the late news after the 1987 Academy Awards:

(For the record, my posting of these clips is entirely journalistic and does not represent any sort of statement or endorsement of them and their being put online by LIN.)

Update: Mea culpa – earlier I described Cherry & Webb as a defunct furniture store, but a trusted reader informed me it was a women’s clothing store. And he, of course, is right. I feel like I vaguely remember an advertising jingle they had?

Suitably chastened, and with the help of my Twitter followers, I boned up on my Cherry & Webb history. It had grown to 35 stores in five of the six New England states by the time it filed for bankruptcy in March 2000; its merchandise was liquidated shortly thereafter.

Interesting, too: Cherry & Webb was apparently a division of the Outlet Company until it was spun off in a 1982 buyout, meaning Outlet started up both the first two TV stations in Rhode Island, WJAR and then us. Here’s how the Projo described the company a few years ago:

Designed as an alternative to mall department stores, Cherry & Webb carries an array of designer-brand professional and casual apparel for women, as well as cosmetics and accessories.

Founded in 1888 in Massachusetts, Cherry & Webb was owned from 1963 to 1982 by the Outlet Co.

The chain peaked with 65 stores in the late 1980s, when it began closing unprofitable stores. Since then, it has gone through several ownership and management changes, and even name changes. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, it was known as Cherry Webb & Touraine, after it acquired the Touraine chain in 1981.


Update #2: I take it back – if the Projo is right that Outlet bought Cherry & Webb in 1963, that means WPRI was started by the latter when it was still an independent business.

RI tops in drug use, last in coal consumption

February 3rd, 2011 at 9:10 am by under General Talk

Here’s a good Rorscharch test: Do you prefer “The United States of Awesome” or “The United States of Shame”?

Here’s the U.S. of Awesome, a map created by blogger Ilya Gerner showing something that each of the 50 states is best at – Rhode Island uses less coal than anywhere else, apparently:

And as a counterpoint, here’s the U.S. of Shame, as rendered by the site – Rhode Islanders use more drugs per capita (!) than any other state’s residents:

My one quibble with the Shame map is that its subtitle – “What is your state the worst at?” – is a little off. If those figures are accurate, Rhode Island is actually really, really good at drug use.

For more of this, check out the maps I posted last fall renaming all 50 states by the TV shows and movies most associated with them.

Blogging will be light today while I work on special projects. And don’t forget – our “Dirty Little Secret” Target 12 investigation airs tonight at 10 p.m. on Fox and 11 on WPRI 12. Here’s a preview with Tim White from this morning’s “Rhode Show”:

A map of the 50 states – by their TV shows

November 22nd, 2010 at 8:00 am by under General Talk

This seemed like an appropriate choice for a TV station’s website.

Andrew Shears, a geography expert at Kent State, created this map identifying all 50 states by the most representative TV show set in each one. He picked “Family Guy” to represent Rhode Island (“No competition”) and “Cheers” for Massachusetts, though he noted that the Bay State is home to a lot of legal procedurals. Check it out:

This is actually Shears’ second version of the map. He remixed the original based on the huge amount of feedback he got in the two weeks after he first posted it. From Shears’ comments, it sounds like Minnesotans were particularly aggrieved that he originally chose “Coach” rather than “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” for them.

As it happens, Shears was inspired by a similar map on The Huffington Post that went through the same exercise with movies instead of TV shows. “There’s Something About Mary” stood in for Rhode Island there, with “The Departed” doing the honors for Massachusetts.

Shears has offered his own take on that map, too. He stuck with “Mary” for Rhode Island but switched to “Good Will Hunting” for Massachusetts. (I support that.) Here’s his film one:

Other suggestions? Leave them in comments.