An “Anti-Debate” on our future

If you are sick of the garbage on Facebook these days, don’t blame your friends and neighbors and cranky uncles and strange nephews.
Is it really our fault for buying into the horse$— that our leaders are trying to feed us? Especially when they do their best to put whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherries on it to make it look like something we’d want?
Most political debate right now doesn’t involve debate at all. Rather than having a discussion on common ground (ie, debate) both sides throw out carefully crafted facts meant to speak to their supporters… while ignoring most of the rest of what the other side says. Our country is having the opposite of debate, an anti-debate on our future.
Candidate A: The sky is blue and anything else is a lie!
Candidate B: The grass is green and anything else is a lie!
This election cycle has also resoundingly set aside the wonderfully American cornerstone that “we’re all Americans, exchanging ideas to the betterment of our country” and put into the mainstream the long-festering notion that “if you don’t vote with my side, you are a bad person.”
Candidate A: Blue sky and B has done horrible things!
Candidate B: Green grass and A has done horrible things!
Candidate A: B IS A TERRIBLE PERSON and so are B’s fans
Candidate B: A IS A TERRIBLE PERSON and so are A’s fans
Candidate A: YELLLLLL!!!
Candidate B: YELLLLLL!!!
This ginned up hatred makes it difficult for many of us to see the truth. When you hate something, you’re willing to believe anything about it, even outrageous nonsense.
After the debate, I wrote we get the leaders we deserve. This is true to the extent that if most of us thought a little more, with a little less hatred, we wouldn’t be in this nightmare.
But overall, I think the truth is more scary– our leaders are a reflection of us. Maybe a fun house mirror reflection sometimes, but a reflection none the less.
I do think that this will be the most important vote I have ever cast, and I do, very calmly, believe there is a better candidate among the two. I also think that anyone who sees this status as an opportunity to say “That’s why my candidate is better!” is part of the problem.

George Richert is quietly one of the best people you’ll ever meet

By Steve Cichon | | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY — I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with George Richert twice– both at WBEN, where he was a news man and I was a producer, and at Channel 4– where I was a producer and he was an assignment editor, then reporter.

WBEN's Newsday at Noon host George Richert interviews Broadcasting legend Ralph Hubbell, 1997.
WBEN’s Newsday at Noon host George Richert interviews Broadcasting legend Ralph Hubbell, 1997. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The world of news and TV news is suffering a giant hole in the wake of George’s leaving– not just because he’s an experienced voice of reason, not just because he is a tremendous story teller, not just because of the way he is able to cut through the noise of a situation to find and tell the best story– for all of which he’ll be missed.

George is just about the greatest human being that any of us might have the chance to meet.

His style as a reporter and guy is simple, bare bones, and really perfect. He’s compassionate without being sappy. He’s direct without being overbearing. He’s kind so quietly it often goes unnoticed.

George quietly and faithfully understands and appreciates all that goes on around him, holds onto the best in it, and  tries to let the bad slip away.

He very steadfastly, without drama or affect, does what is put before him. He works in the same way people of our grandfathers’ generation grabbed their lunch pail, went to work, let the work be their reward, and showed those around them that actions mean more than words.

One of the ways you can judge a TV reporter is by looking at a photog’s face when he or she finds out they are assigned to work together that night. Often the look is like someone waved dirty socks under the photojournalist’s nose. Sometimes it’s not the look as much as the straightened back– steeling themselves for spending the day with an arrogant jerk or weirdo… or even worse– an arrogant jerk weirdo.

When you’re assigned to work with George, your day brightens and a smile crosses your face.

As he walked off the set on one his final nights at Channel 4, the note George wrote to the photojournalists who’ve toiled along side him for the past two decades shows the kind of man he is. It was shared on Facebook by Channel 4 videographer Paul Ivancic.

“The Photographers Lounge” On Feb 12, 2016 11:18 PM, “Richert, George” <> wrote:
Dear Photographers,

I don’t even remember who it was who first invited me to have dinner in the Photographers’ Lounge, but I want to thank you all for tolerating it.
I’ve tried to earn the right to be there because I think it represents a sort of brotherhood with our big sister.

It’s hardly a ‘Lounge’ at all…More like a simple table for the purpose of eating fast and getting back to work.
After all, that seems to be the life of a photographer.

You run from story to story, often times finding creative ways to make something out of absolutely nothing.
Yet, when the script finally comes in, your hard work still doesn’t usually live up to the high expectations of what’s written.

Reporters like me run around looking stressed out, when you have the ultimate deadline resting on your shoulders; the final minutes and seconds before a story or a show airs.
You’re usually the first to realize that a VO wasn’t shot at all, or that certain file simply doesn’t exist, and yet you’re expected to somehow “make it live”.
Reporters like me get to sit in the car while you stay out and shoot the b-roll we need or set up the LIVE shot.
You battle the elements and clock to make a dark LIVE shot look halfway decent, but often times the only feedback you get is to “iris down!”.

For you, I love the days when your creative talents shine through and you get a lot of compliments.
But I realize most days you must feel like masterpiece painter who’s only given two colors, and ten minutes to work with.

I want you know that you’re the UNSUNG HEROES and the backbone of this industry, and I will never forget you.
My favorite part of this job has been driving around with each of you and sharing the highs and lows of our lives each day.
Those are the lifelong bonds that I will miss the most.
From the bottom of my heart… Thank You.

With Love & Respect,


Good luck George… I hope the Bishop knows how lucky he is to have you.

The 1,000th look at critical, mundane: What BN Chronicles is all about

By Steve Cichon

Every week, I read a week’s worth of The Buffalo News from some gone-by year, looking for articles, photos, and ads that shed some interesting light on our past, help provide some clarity to our collective community memory of the great people, places, and institutions of Western New York, and help explain where we are now.

Western New York historian Steve Cichon combs through old editions of The Buffalo News to gather material for BN Chronicles. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)
Western New York historian Steve Cichon combs through old editions of The Buffalo News to gather material for BN Chronicles. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

This week, The News will publish my 1,000th BN Chronicles look into Buffalo’s past.

We are all excited and thankful about the renaissance Buffalo is currently enjoying, but I think projects like BN Chronicles help us to remember — even amid all that is new and exciting — what truly makes Buffalo unique.

Every place has history, but few places have so much, so varied, so unheralded history as Buffalo.

In a city like New York or Boston or Chicago, there is likely at least one college professor who is an expert on every fascinating facet of those cities’ past. Books have been written that tell the complete stories of nearly every neighborhood, group of people, and institution.

Here, we are playing 50 years of catch up. For a half-century, as a community, we had a general self-defeatist attitude thinking that if it had to do with Buffalo or its past, it was probably not worth thinking about or keeping.

Now we realize our strength is in a future planted firmly in and building upon our past. The way to build Buffalo’s future is to collect and codify its past making for a deeper, richer experience not only for us, but also for the newcomers to our city who arrive daily.

It is the big things and the little things. Buffalo was suffering from a sort of mass depression, and many of the great moments of our pop culture history limped away and vanished unnoticed. Now that the depression is lifted, we are wondering what became of the way we have lived our Buffalo lives over the last 50 or 60 years.

In the ’50s and ’60s, we steamrolled our past with good intentions, expecting our city of 600,000 people to grow to 2 million. We wanted to build roads and giant skyscrapers to be prepared. In the ’70s and ’80s, the hemorrhaging of industry, jobs, and people left us reeling and wondering if the last person leaving Buffalo would turn off the light. The ’90s and 2000s saw more people realizing our resilient and friendly people were our strength, and seeds were planted to show off our assets and bring people back.

As the writer of the BN Chronicles, I enjoy taking the opportunity to share the snapshots in time that help tell us the story of how we got to the place we are right now. How our industries wound up decimated. Why the waterfront, Buffalo schools and Peace Bridge have been difficult puzzles to solve for years. But also the good news. The men and women who believed in this city when few others did. The sometimes terrible, but certainly well-intentioned and hopeful development that took place through the years. The people and places who through it all kept Buffalo the wonderful blue-collar spirited community it remains today.

But along with the heavy lifting, come some of the stories of our lives that have been lost to time. We are able to look at the city where you could not walk more than two blocks without hitting a corner gin mill, a firebox, and a milk machine. Maybe we are reminded to tell our kids and grandkids that when we did well in school, we took our report cards to Loblaw’s to get a free day at Crystal Beach.

Whether it is the earth-shattering headlines or the warm and fuzzy “whatever-happened-tos,” it is more than just nostalgia. The most important piece of what happens in the stories of the BN Chronicles is taking a step back and seeing how all these vestiges of our past have shaped who we are today. It is what makes us in Buffalo unique, and each story told adds to the critical mass that is bringing new life to our community.

This first appeared at

aaaBuffaloStoriesBNChronicles Watermark


Great moments of childhood, now tinged with hate

By Steve Cichon | | @stevebuffalo

The item that was “The Red Ryder b-b gun” of my youth has now been branded as hateful. When I rode my “Dukes of Hazzard” big wheel around the streets of South Buffalo as a 6 and 7 year old, the Dukes stood for what is right and wonderful in this world.

That's me (left) with my Dukes of Hazzard big wheel, c.1982
That’s me (left) with my Dukes of Hazzard big wheel, c.1982. Note the rebel flag sticker just above the shaking hands.

The Dukes always did the right things, for the right reasons, the right way. (Except maybe climbing into their car through the window without opening the door– Copying that move in our old AMC Spirit got me in trouble a few times.)

I don’t think I gave much thought to the “rebel flag” that was clearly a featured emblem on their car “The General Lee,” and also, as seen in this photo, clearly a part of my big wheel. I really hope you don’t find it racist that I still harbor warm feelings for my big wheel and my one-time favorite TV show (even though you couldn’t pay me to watch more than five minutes of it now– not because it’s racist, but because it’s dumb.)

Of course, in the years since cruising down Allegany Street in the saddle of my orange plastic pride and joy, I’ve given plenty of thought to the meaning of that flag.

First I’ll say seeing it fly makes me uncomfortable. But I’ll also say, I’m certain there are many who have displayed that flag who are not racist. I’m also certain that not everyone who has displayed the flag has done so with the thought of doing so as emblematic of racism or a racist culture.

I honestly and earnestly believe that the familiar rebel flag offers many folks a feeling of connection to ancestors and a sense of pride in history. But when you fly a flag… or put a bumper sticker on your car… you are allowing a symbol to represent you, and symbols always have nuanced meaning for every individual under the sun.

Many of us all have a visceral reaction and likely pass immediate judgement about people who put those place oval stickers on their cars. What might be true of someone who likes Key West? The Outer Banks? Ellicottville? How about a Yankees bumper sticker? Or a Vote Bush sticker? Or a Vote Obama sticker? How about MD physician plates on a Honda Civic? MD plates on a BMW SUV? A rubber scrotum hanging from the tow hitch?

It’s fair to say that each of these different instances will cause different reactions in each one of us. It’s also fair to say that each of these reactions were created by someone making a choice on how to present themselves in public.

Generally, I know my reaction to someone flaunting the rebel flag is a negative one. Regardless of what the symbol means to that person inside, I wonder how they can offer that symbol up as representative of who they are– when we all know for so many people it means little other than backwards racism.

But here again, I understand the dichotomy, as I warmly remember the care-free summers I spent cruising around my neighborhood, my ride emblazoned with what is now an official symbol of hate.

The Anatomy of a Viral Post… Was it Worth It?

By Steve Cichon

If you do anything online, some part of you hopes it goes viral, right?

One week ago, at this very moment, I was sitting at my desk, looking around at my mountains of stuff, trying to find something to write about for my Tuesday post for Trending Buffalo, when my eyes locked in on a pile of 1991 newspapers I’d been meaning to go through.

radioshackad-218x300I wrote about a Radio Shack ad that was just about right on top of the pile. Virtually all the technology in the ad for “America’s Technology Store” had been replaced in my life by my iPhone. So I allow words to vomit-forth from my fat fingers onto keyboard for a half hour or so, and I have a blog post.

A couple of days later, I got an email from the Huffington Post. They “want to sign me up as a writer,” and they like my Radio Shack blog, and want to repost it on their website. “All they need is a brief bio and a photo” to get the ball rolling. I was intrigued, but I also speak the language of modern media. They wanted my work for free in exchange for internet fame. OK.

Later that afternoon, just before starting to make a pan of gołąbki (Polish cabbage rolls), I quickly scrawled the following bio: Steve Cichon is a writer, historian, and “retired” radio newsman in Buffalo, NY. He has worn self-tie bow ties since the ’80s, written three books, and has turned his borderline unhealthy obsession with Buffalo’s pop culture history into a career. More from Steve at

Along with that, I sent a photo my wife took of me while we were having breakfast at the Lake Effect Diner one Sunday morning a few months ago.

Then it was back to boiling cabbage, browning onion, and mixing raw ground beef with my fingers. By the time I got the pigs-in-a-blanket in the oven, a friend had seen my blog post on Huffington and posted it on Facebook, tagging me.

By the time I went to bed, it had been shared by over 1,000 people on Huffington’s Facebook page.

Early the next morning, I got several texts and Facebook messages that the Today Show was teasing a story about my blog. They wound up doing a lengthy segment, using my Radio Shack image, a few of my one-liners, and my math. They used my story, didn’t add anything to it,and didn’t give me any credit.

It's really something to wake up hearing Al Roker using your jokes on the Today Show.
It’s really something to wake up hearing Al Roker using your jokes on the Today Show.

My friends got mad, but as I wrote on Facebook, “I’m glad people are offended for me, I guess because as a long time radio/TV producer, you get used to other people presenting your work. To be honest:: If I was reading this on the radio… I probably would have credited the Huffington Post, too. Maybe the author— but maybe not. I’m really not too broken up about it… or broken up at all, really. But its nice to see friends have your back, you know?”

The story of a viral blog, unattributed, made its way around the Buffalo News newsroom, and reporter Jill Terreri talked to me that day for a piece in “Off Main Street.” The headline on the few paragraphs she wrote was, “The Man Behind the Story.” Sharing that in social media the next day was another chance for my friends to enjoy my new found “fame.”

The Today show wasn’t the only place to “borrow” the story. Google images shows hundreds of instances where websites have posted the 1991 Radio Shack ad.

So now, here I sit… having fed the media a viral post wondering, was it worth it?

The upside is, between nationally read and syndicated websites, national television, and social media, there is no doubt that millions have seen my work.

Downside? Immediately, anyone would notice the trolls. Hundreds of nasty things written about me and my writing, some of them emailed directly to me so I couldn’t miss them. But that’s life on the internet.

The real downside is, while I wrote it, it’s no longer my work. It’s now in the public domain. I made that 1991 Buffalo News Radio Shack ad image with my cellphone here in my office early last Tuesday morning. Now, though, it will be floating around the internet forever, my contribution stripped. And don’t think the payment was on the front end. I was not paid for writing that blog at any point. Hundreds of websites, millions of clicks, making money– but none for the original creative force.

No attribution bothers me more than no cash, but neither one will ever keep me up at night. Honestly, I knew what I was signing up for in turning my piece over to Huffington. Not that it would air on the Today Show, but that I was basically handing off rights to my writing so that more people could enjoy it.

This isn’t about sour grapes, or railing against modern media. I’m really not complaining. I know the game, and I play it. It’s actually benefical for me to say that I’ve written a viral blog post, that I’ve written for the Huffington Post, and that my work has appeared on the Today Show.

It’s been kind of fun watching it unfold. But it’s also kind of sad knowing, when producers do little more than cut and paste, that some guy writing a blog in Buffalo is actually producing segments for network television at the same time.

So, anyway, I was thinking…. I wonder if Viral Nova would want this one?

This page originally appeared at

One guy’s 2013: Imperfectly perfect

By Steve Cichon

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.”


Can we all agree this is a dumb thing to say?

Stupid as it is, though, when you break it down, you begin to see the complexity underlying the thought.

What does “greener” mean? There are infinite shades of green, and we all have our own unique notion of which color green the grass should be. What’s greener for you, might be less green for me.

And what about the other side of the fence? Are you going to climb that fence, or try to make your own grass closer to your neighbor’s?

Maybe he started with better grass seed. Maybe he has a $10,000 underground irrigation system that constantly waters the lawn at the perfect rate, while you hose yours down twice a week. But did you know he never eats out to pay for the system and the water?

He also gets it sprayed every week, so his kids and dog have to stay off the grass about half the time.

Greener grass, but at what cost? Especially when plenty of people like the natural look of your lawn better than the chemical look of his.

You need to figure out what that lawn you covet is worth to you, and if its worth the sacrifice. Nothing good comes without sacrifice.

Even though my wife generally cuts the grass at our house, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about these sorts of questions in 2013 as I “retired” from radio.

People always ask why I left. After 20 years of broadcasting and 10 years as a radio newsman, I walked away from my dream job as WBEN News Director to start my own business. Buffalo Stories LLC is really my big boy dream job.

People always ask what I do. I create and write for people, I help people learn to create and write for themselves, and I use my experience to help figure out what individuals, businesses, and non-profits need from their public persona to get them where they want to be.

I shoot video, write books, create websites, teach college classes, look into souls, bring people together for the common good.

In a sentence, I listen to people and use my skills to help them take what they already have and form it so they can better live their passion.

It’s what working for myself has allowed me to do, too. I am living my passions: helping people succeed, and helping Buffalo succeed by weaving threads of our glorious-yet-too-often maligned past into our future.

So when people ask, these are the things I tell them. I am extraordinarily blessed that they are all true. What I don’t usually talk about is that working from home and being your own boss isn’t all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

Before I move onto bigger and better years, let me be honest for a moment about 2013.

It’s been hard. It’s been really hard. I’m not complaining, and I’m new at it, but it’s hard.

It’s hard to share a workspace with the rest of your life, including a wife and a dog. It’s hard to walk away from 15 items on the to-do list to walk into the next room to make dinner. It’s also hard to walk away from the dinner table and head back to work. It’s tough to get up at 5am to get some work done so I can spend some of the rest of the day with family or work on other projects now that I’m a “free man.” It’s torturous to wonder if I’ll ever land enough of the clients and projects I love.

It’s also a tough pill to swallow that the gains this year have not been financial. I’ve actually brought in, over the last six months, a tad less than I would have had I stayed in radio.

But nothing good comes without sacrifice. For all of the nonsense, in the last six months I’ve played roles in amazing projects, been hired by amazing people, and now have some truly extraordinary things on the horizon. I’m helping businesses and non-profits succeed. I’m writing books. I’m teaching. I’m working on TV documentaries about our beautiful extraordinary city and it’s people. I’m building on small successes, and planting seeds which will grow strong as time wears on.

Greener grass? I rototilled in 2013. I hoed and raked and seeded and watered, and most of it is lush, green, and beautiful. It’s even OK that a few spots came up brown, because it’s not only the results I’m proud of, but the vigilance and hard work, too. No shortcuts, no baloney. I think it’s the better way, despite the hardships.

I hope you can find your green patches from 2013, and hope that you’ve steeled your spine to do the work, and set your vision to make 2014 the best year yet.

This page originally appeared at

Just trying to be nice

By Steve Cichon

We are in an age where people love to be offended, even when they have no right to be, and it manifests itself in all sorts of strange ways.

Saying “Happy Holidays, ma’am” to this woman could very easily get you stabbed in 2013.
Saying “Happy Holidays, ma’am” to this woman could very easily get you stabbed in 2013.

Certain words and phrases, meant to share warm tidings and respect, are quickly becoming (if they aren’t already) taboo, and it makes my brain want to explode like oatmeal left in the microwave too long.

Specifically two phrases, always offered to convey gladness of heart and civility, seem now to inspire my fists to leap forth in rage against people who would rather take offense than appreciate what is being shared in a simple word or two.

Today, I’m thinking about “Happy Holidays” and “ma’am.”


I am a church-going Christian. When I wish you “Happy Holidays,” I have three goals in mind:

1.) I am wishing (praying, actually) that you and your family are touched by the beauty of this season.

2.) Brevity. Depending on the timing, I don’t want to say, “Hey! I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a happy new year, and possibly nice Hanukkah, too.” That’s a lot of words. I say “Happy holidays” (even in CHURCH, when I’m wearing MINISTERIAL GARMENTS and stuff) to convey all the goodness of all those things.

3.) Inclusion. On Christmas eve, I’ll wish everyone and anyone a Merry Christmas. I would hope that even people who don’t celebrate Christmas can feel and appreciate the overwhelming beauty in people during holiday, even if that means sitting home and quietly reading or going out for Chinese food because there is nothing else to do.

It’s not a war on Christmas when I wish someone Happy Holidays. “Happy Holidays” is what’s in my heart, and I’m sharing it with you. If someone else wants to start listening to Christmas music on Columbus Day and wishing people a Merry Christmas while they are still raking leaves, they should be allowed to do so. But it’s not for me.

Personally, I think wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” while you still have Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge is a bit much, especially when you don’t mean it. Worrying about whether a miserable cashier mindlessly grumbles Thank you for shopping at Walmart and doesn’t mean it, or if they grumble happy holidays or Merry Christmas– it doesn’t much matter to me.

Unfortunately, the feeling is usually more “f-you” than whatever the words are meant to convey anyway. Either way, I usually try to smile, and offer some cheer in their day, and say warm words which I truly mean one way or another.

If someone warmly looks me in the eye, and tells me to have a great holiday, I get it, and give it back. Bask in it and share it. Preach the gospel, use words when necessary.

I don’t like that teachers and store clerks and other people aren’t allowed to say Merry Christmas, but I also think living it is more important. And living it involves looking into people’s hearts and leaving some love — not indignation– behind.

Or, if you want to treat people’s however-thinly-inspired attempts at warm tidings disrespectfully, maybe you should go for the throat and just drop an f-bomb on them.


Ma’am is the one that really kills me. I strive to treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Whether you are a 7 year-old female, or a 79 year-old female; whether you are serving me or being served by me, I will address you as “ma’am,” and humbly treat you with the dignity and respect afforded to someone worthy of the title “ma’am.” Too often the response is not respectful in turn.

“Do I look that old?”

“My mother is a ma’am!”

Get over yourself. Like I said, I make no judgement calls. No matter your age, no matter your station in life, you deserve my respect and I pay it to you with a respectful title. I respectfully request that you not scoff in my face when I offer you the respect you deserve, whether you realize it or not.

If you ask me, “Do I look that old,” the answer is probably yes. Some people, myself among them, don’t take compliments well, and I understand that this might somehow be related to that. However, I can’t control that you are no longer 19 and a size whatever, and calling you ma’am seems to underline that in your head.

The truth is, I’d call a 19 year-old in size-whatever ma’am as well. And I (or someone like me) did call you ma’am, you just didn’t hear it because you didn’t care back then what a screwball in a bow tie called you. Now you feel old and you take it out on me. Get over yourself. Learn to appreciate people respecting you for being a human being and a woman. Please. I’d hate to have to turn to the only other generic greeting I have for females, and I fear it would cause much more consternation.

So I guess it’s your choice, ladies. Would you like thank you, ma’am, or ‘s’up, slut? If you’d be offended by “slut,” you should likely be appreciative the opposite, “ma’am.”

Yes, I am pontificating. Yes, I suppose I’m being judgmental and a tad hypocritical, too. But people’s reaction to my intentions really doesn’t change the intention in my heart.

So, I say to everyone reading this, with a warm smile, “Happy Holidays, ma’am,” even if you’re dropping an “f-you, slut” on me.

This page originally appeared at

Remember your audience– and your audience doesn’t want to remember OJ

By Steve Cichon

It was jarring. A relatively new-to-Buffalo TV news guy just referred to “former Bill OJ Simpson.” Um, yeah, we know dude. No need to remind us. Thanks.

There is no need for any further description of OJ Simpson. We all know who he is. If they are running some random story about a random old Bill, because he’s an old Bill, feel free to mention it.

But just landing in Buffalo, and deciding to start the latest on his current legal drama by reminding us of one of our most painful civic realities, just to show us that you, too, are aware of this heart-wrenching connection is too-smart by half and shouldn’t happen.

Personally, I’ve written and read hundreds of OJ stories as a news man, and never called him “former Bill OJ Simpson” on first reference. Ever. The words are superfluous, because we all know. What’s worse— we don’t want to hear about it, so no need to mention it.

Even worse than that, it had nothing to do with the story. I could write a book about why its a bad idea, and as a former news director, if you said that on my watch, I would write a book about it.

It’s not all or even mostly this guy’s fault. Part of the issue is the lack of surrounding crew. Ten years ago, you made that mistake once, and there were a dozen producers, photogs, etc to tell you the right thing to say. Now, chances are you are your own producer and photog.

A few months ago, a newbie weather guy mentioned elly-COTT-ville in a forecast. No one corrected the poor SOB and he continued to say it all morning.

I’m thankful we’re to the time of year when I can experience the youthful enthusiasm with which we’re told that one shouldn’t put their hand or foot in a snowblower. By a 22 year old woman with a mint julip accent— who may or not not have ever seen snow.

Like in anything else in life, you write for your audience. Not every fact which is new or interesting to you is new or interesting for your audience. It’s local news for local people. It’s not for someone from Germany or Florida or Rochester. It’s local….meant to appeal to locals.

Dad knows best, so shut the eff up

By Steve Cichon

I did something great yesterday. I told myself to shut the f*** up, and I really meant it.

For a very long time, I’ve been doing an exaggerated impression of my dad, saying with disgust, “Just… shut… the f*** … up–”

He was not a fan of people annoying him by going “chirp, chirp, chirp” as he’d say while doing the blah, blah, blah hand motion.

Dad, 1984. He’d have preferred you just have an Old Milwaukee tall boy and shut up.
Dad, 1984. He’d have preferred you just have an Old Milwaukee tall boy and shut up.

Now, my dad was a great father and fantastic in many ways. In this case, though, he was fantastically lacking in patience, and fantastically succinct in his expression of that lack of patience.

That phrase, an exasperated, “Just… shut… the f*** … uuUUP–” came out of his mouth when he was at the end of his rope, but more “tired of it” than angry. Of course, that made it an expression commonly uttered by the ol’man, in that exact peculiar way. That strong suggestion would be offered to us kids, to my mother, to the dog, and to the TV when Don Paul was talking about something that didn’t have to do with whether it was going to rain tomorrow.

“Just… shut… the f*** … uuUUP–”

When I first started saying this phrase in this way in the company of my wife, she no doubt recognized the dramatic style as a nod to the Master of the cranky curse-riddled tirade. As time went on though, and as more and more of my personality (d)evolved into something closer to that of my ol’man’s– I think that phrase has become mine.

We are at a point where my wife knows I’m thinking it even before I do most of the time. She’ll smile, and say, “C’mon, say it.” Honestly, we both know I say it mostly for comedic effect. But as time wears on, that little kernel of truth which makes comedy funny– my actual living, breathing desire for that person to STFU… well, that little kernel seems to be growing into a greater desire for clamped mouths every time I say it. Soon, I too will be swearing at TV weathermen.

But yesterday, I was talking things over with myself, mostly being a whiny bitch, when out of nowhere, I realized what I sounded like in my own head, and had enough. I told myself to just… shut… the f*** … up. Dad would have been proud, because I meant it just as much as the ol’man meant it when Don Paul started cracking jokes about Thanksgiving leftovers one time in 1991 or so.

We all have problems, and even those of us who try to maintain a steely exterior, might sometimes get a little whiny in the doubts that share with ourselves about those problems. I know it’s not the solution for everything, but wow– realizing you’re always a loser when you play the self-pity game, and figuratively punching yourself in the face is really a great feeling.

So, the next time you start to feel all “woe is me,” remind yourself to just… shut… the f*** … up. Or call me to complain. I’ll be happy to channel the ol’man and tell you exactly what I think you should do.

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If voting isn’t hard, you’re doing it wrong

By Steve Cichon

How do you vote? I’ve been doing it for decades now, and I’m still not sure how to do it.


In theory, sometimes it’s easy. There’s a good looking, charming, passionate, good-hearted candidate who shows leadership and with whom you mostly agree on most issues, and the other guy is a criminal buffoon with the mark of Satan on his forehead.

But it’s never that easy. If you’re doing it right, voting is hard. It’s generally the one chance in life we have to choose the people who are some way in charge of us on some level. If you could vote for your next boss at work, would you base it on the letter next to his or her name?

Those letters mean very little to me, as most of the time, they are only two or three talking points different from one another. Even conservative and liberal are ideas that seem to evolve more quickly than they used to, and views I think of as conservative all the sudden are liberal, and vice-versa.

The labels seem vague and useless, but what does matter to me often leaves me scratching my head, too. It’s different every time, and each race has different elements that are more or less important, but nearly every time, I wind up picking as I’m sitting there with my bubble sheet ballot. Just like at a restaurant with a big menu.

This gravy-covered entree sounds delicious, but will likely give me heartburn. I know I won’t be wowed with this lean meat and salad-y one, but it’s almost as tasty and way more healthy.  Sounds stark, but get the baked potato with the gravy one and the ranch dressing on the salad, they might be just about the same.

For me, the worst case election scenario involves two candidates who on paper seem equally appealing to me. One is a candidate who has the best heart, is passionate, positive and forward looking– but is a bit murky or just plain opposite of me on a bunch of big issues.

The other is a smarmy sort of guy– who if he was in business, you might recommend to a friend because he gets the job done– but you’d also recommend that your friend watch this guy, because you don’t trust him as far as you can throw him. This guy, though, shares your vision for the future of the city or the state or the world or whatever.

Isn’t that a tough choice? In my world, it seems to happen in every election. Maybe it’s my decades of “not being allowed to cheer in the press box,” and my role as someone who has to critically examine both sides every time.

I usually finding myself going with the good guy, with the hopes that he or she will make decisions based on what they truly feel is right for the community every time. Or at least most of the time, right? If there isn’t a good guy, I go with someone in whom I see passion. Even if I agree with someone, I can’t necessarily trust that person to do the right thing for the right reasons every time.

I think most people would agree with this, which is why so many polls show people hating Congress, but liking their Congressman. “I met my guy at a spaghetti dinner for the cub scouts and he was great; the other 434 can jump off a cliff.”

I think most of us are charmed by most of the politicians we meet, because they are generally civically minded people who are trying to do good.

There are very few politicians who are “evil,” or deserve to jump off a cliff. There are a few who are in it just for themselves, and maybe a couple more few who just like to see their names on signs on people’s lawns. But even most of those politicians have a pretty large measure of trying to do some good for the communities they serve. They are not evil sociopaths as they are sometimes branded by opponents or people on Facebook.

Sometimes good guys get caught up in baloney, but bad guys look for baloney to get caught up in. So gimme the good guy. I guess.

I find voting hard. I think it should be.

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