The journalists and contributors of have many stories to tell, but not all of them will fit in the news feed. Our blogs will take you behind the scenes with anecdotes and interesting side stories associated with everyday reporting in Pennsylvania’s state capital and beyond.

Christman Blog – Kane Makes It Unanimous: She Doesn’t Belong in the Race

This blog post is taken from commentary in this weekend’s edition of Radio Pennsylvania Roundtable, hosted by Brad Christman. You can listen to the entire show, which includes Kathleen Kane’s statement here on

The great tragedy of this whole situation (the Kathleen Kane saga) may be that Kane had a chance to be the crusading power of justice she envisions in her own mind. The porn email scandal that has rocked Harrisburg – and was uncovered by her initial investigation of the handling of the Sandusky probe – could have been a shining moment for her, because…like Kathleen Kane or not…she is right about those who were involved in the inappropriate email chains. But her crusading effort is overshadowed and tainted by Kane’s use of the emails as a weapon in her own personal political agenda and legal battles. All along, the emails were used as a “chip” she would threaten to throw into the pot as her personal legal situation got murkier and murkier. As a result, any cries of justice in her efforts were overwhelmingly drowned out by the noise of a politician using her office as an arsenal for her own personal battles.

Kathleen Kane is not running again, and she seems to be the last person on the planet to have realized that. Her announcement this week fell on mostly indifferent ears even within her own party, as Democratic candidates and strategists noted that it was determined long ago that Kane was a non-factor in the coming election – whether she was a candidate or not.

Brad Christman is the News Director of the Radio PA Network, based in Harrisburg, and is the host of the network’s flagship program Radio Pennsylvania Roundtable. He has covered Harrisburg for the past 22 years.

Christman Blog: Remembering Gulf War I – 23 Years Later

January 16th is one of those dates that always makes me stop and reflect for a bit. I’m sure most of us can probably remember where we were and what we were doing 23 years ago tonight when operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm.

On the evening of January 16, 1991, I was set up to broadcast a high school basketball game in Greencastle, PA. The school had set up a TV in a classroom across the hall from the gym and prior to going on the air I watched the first bombs fall on Baghdad. Of course, in 1991 smart phones were science fiction and breaking news was not instantaneously transmitted to our pockets, so the school officials there asked me to make the announcement to the crowd that our boys were in the air in the skies over Baghdad. I did so right before they played the National Anthem and there was a stunned silence, with the exception of the audible gasps when I said the war was finally underway. I say “finally” because if you remember, the start of the first Gulf War was anticipated for weeks and months following Iraq’s move on Kuwait on August 2, 1990.

I’ll never forget the tears, the looks of concern or that heavy feeling of history in the gymnasium that night as the National Anthem filled the air. The game itself seemed like an afterthought as we spent most of the broadcast focusing on what was happening half-a-world away from Greencastle, PA that night.

Of course, I’ll also never forget going home to watch the first-ever live television broadcast of a war as Peter Arnett, Bernie Shaw and John Holliman nervously reported from Baghdad.

January 16th…it’s just one of those dates that sticks with me.


(Brad Christman is the News Director for Radio PA in Harrisburg)



Christman Blog: I Hate to Say I Told Ya So, But…

Two weeks ago, I asked you to watch the state legislature during their frantic week-long sprint to the state budget deadline. And, I asked you to remember…

So what happened? Well, we did get a budget, but that was the one thing lawmakers had to accomplish by law. That on-time budget will be the headline on most of the junk mail your local lawmaker sends you the rest of this year (you’re paying for that postage, by the way).

But was the budget on time? As we head into the second week of July, lawmakers have yet to approve key portions of the fiscal code, the set of laws that allows the state to spend the money it approved on June 30th. The House and Senate have been engaged in a skirmish likely stemming from leftover hard feelings from the votes that did and did not take place in the final week of June.

As for the other issues that week, let’s take a look at how these high-paid lawmakers handled the big issues…

Transportation Funding: FAIL
This one is especially concerning given the fact that it’s a crisis that has been building for years and it’s a matter of public safety for every Pennsylvanian who gets into a moving vehicle that touches Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges. Not only did lawmakers fail to act, the transportation funding plan became a pawn in chess game, apparently being held up by lawmakers who had their own personal agendas.

Pension Reform: FAIL
Did this one ever really have a chance this spring? It looked like lawmakers were just going through the motions down the stretch and never expected this one to gain traction.

Liquor Privatization / Expansion: FAIL or SUCCESS (depending on your position)
Again, did we really think this had a chance? It seemed like the unions were calling the shots all the way on this one, and when push came to shove, Republicans were accusing Democrats of holding up transportation funding in an effort to kill alcohol privatization…all at the behest of, you guessed it, the unions.

Remember that a lot of work goes into doing nothing in Harrisburg, so the coming three month vacation is a welcome respite to most of your lawmakers. Hopefully they’ll use that time to plan ahead for fall and show us a little more than they did in the spring session.


(Brad Christman is the News Director for Radio Pennsylvania and has covered 19 state budgets)


Christman Blog: What’s Your Work Philosophy?

It’s January and you return to your very well-paid job from a nice holiday break – a month and a half holiday break. Certainly everyone can relate to that.

Your boss welcomes you back and then informs you that he has several big and important projects for you to complete by mid-year. In fact, some of them are so important that the very financial future of the company is at stake. The good news, though, is that you have 6 whole months to make it happen.

What is your approach?

Do you jump into action, prioritizing and tackling each project independently and thoughtfully, spreading the work out so that you have adequate time to devote to each initiative? After all, this is very important. Remember…the entire company is trusting and counting on YOU.

Oh, did I mention that you can’t get fired for another year and a half? Yes, no matter how badly you bungle things, short of breaking the law, you’re guaranteed to be employed through December of 2014.

So, maybe you take a different approach to your assignments this year. Perhaps you spend 5 months and 23 days arguing with co-workers, demanding you get your way on everything and enlisting outside special interests to come in and bad-mouth anyone else’s ideas. Then, 6 days before your boss’s deadline, and with none of your work actually done, you can try to squeeze everything into one week before heading out the door bragging about how well-deserved your three month summer vacation is, regardless of how many of your projects are left unfinished. Why, you might even issue a press release boasting of your accomplishments.

Those are two possibilities for your approach to this important work assignment. Guess which one your state lawmakers took on the major issues of transportation funding, pension reform, alcohol privatization and the state budget in 2013.

Oh, sure, there was lots of talking, followed by more talking and then concluding with…talking, but here we are – 6 days before the expected end of the fiscal year – and not a single major initiative is finished in Harrisburg. Not one. In fact, a birdie is whispering in my ear that it’s quite possible this final week of the fiscal year is about to get off to an even rockier start than expected.

The games people play…with your company. With your money…

There is a silver lining to all this. Remember that boss I mentioned? Well, that boss is you. Remember that when you watch your employees’ performance in Harrisburg this week. Remember it when you’re looking at the condition of your company, also known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Most of all, remember it when you pull the curtain in November of 2014 and issue your worker evaluations, and don’t be fooled by those clever employees, who know about the power you hold in 2014 and will certainly try to convince you, maybe even bribe you, into believing that they are valuable members of the team and deserve to be retained for another 2-to-6 year contract. They’ll fill your inbox with full-color memos (produced on the company printer you paid for, by the way) detailing what they think, which usually fills up more space than would detailing what they accomplish. They’ll smile in your presence and tell you everything is just fine and dandy with your company.

But you’ll know better because you’ll remember everything you’ve seen this year…


(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania and a veteran of 19 state budget seasons in Harrisburg)


Christman Blog: Farewell to “The Office”

Since 2005, the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin has called Scranton, Pennsylvania its TV home. Production of the NBC series The Office didn’t take place in Lackawanna County, but the constant references to local businesses and other real-life features of the region were a boost to locals over the sitcom’s 9-season run.

Yes, you can go to Scranton and have a drink at Poor Richard’s Pub. You can go shopping at the Steamtown Mall. There’s even an Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe, whose pizza was declared in one episode to be better than the “hot circle of garbage” served by rival Pizza by Alfredo. If you watch closely, you can also see actual Scranton-donated props among the cubicles, including newspapers and radio bumper stickers.

Quite frankly, The Office put Scranton on the TV map.

During Monday’s Ask the Governor taping, I asked Tom Corbett about the show’s impact on northeast PA. He says Pennsylvania has a little bit of a “chip on its shoulder,” perhaps feeling under-appreciated by the rest of the nation, but he says the people of Scranton were very proud to be the fictional neighbors of Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute, Jim Halpert, Pam Beesley and the rest of The Office staff. Despite the off-beat characters, the governor believes the show showed that Scranton is a great place to live.

The Office debuted in 2005, and was nearly cancelled after its initial 6-episode run. The show was finally green-lighted for a 2nd season and proceeded to take the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2006. Although suffering through the departure of lead actor Steve Carrell (the aforementioned Michael Scott) after season 7, the sitcom has brought us some of the funniest and most original TV laughs in the past decade. Despite being based on a British version created by Ricky Gervais, the mockumentary style format was a true original concept for American television.

Scranton’s sitcom swansong comes as the final episode of The Office airs Thursday night at 9pm on NBC. The final episode will be preceded by a one-hour retrospective at 8pm.


(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania and a self-proclaimed “Office junkie”)


Christman Blog: The Overlooked Answer

Yes, that was “Ask the Governor” you saw on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews last night, and the Huffington Post, and the Philly and Pittsburgh news sites.

The video from Monday’s taping of Ask the Governor is now viral.

While critics of Governor Tom Corbett bask in the glow of his comments about job applicants and drug use, it should be noted that when asked about Pennsylvania’s slide from 7th to 49th in job growth since 2011, there was a better, more cogent answer proffered.

Job growth measures the rate of increases in hiring, a figure that can fluctuate wildly depending on how a state fared through the “Great Recession.” Now, make no mistake, the economic woes of the past 5 years have affected us all, and there are many Pennsylvanians still feeling the serious burn of the near-depression. That being said, Pennsylvania did fare better than many other states and that was the main focus of Governor Corbett’s answer Monday:

“The statistic of 49 percent (sic) is really an indication of year-to-year, the rate of growth, how fast you are growing and we have been doing better in Pennsylvania than other states , but other states were so far down that they grew – percentage wise – in their area, fast. It looks like it’s fast…they had more ground to make up than we did,” Corbett said.

Of course, the reference to drug-abusing job applicants that followed this answer is now the headline, and likely will be for several more days, but it’s important that the governor’s broader answer not get lost in the revelry of backlash since Monday. As always, the real story is bigger than the headline.

(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania and co-hosts “Ask the Governor”)




Christman Blog: The JoePa Legacy Question

Today marks one year since the death of Joe Paterno. At any other time in his tenure at Penn State, Paterno’s death and the subsequent anniversaries would be cause for overwhelming demonstrations of love, grief and a remembrance of Penn State football glory.

January of 2012, however, was like no other time in the history of Penn State University. Former Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was in a prison cell awaiting trial on unspeakable crimes; Paterno had been unceremoniously fired two months prior; and school trustees and other officials were scrambling to save any scrap of their former reputations. It was against this backdrop that Joseph Vincent Paterno slipped away in a hospital room on January 22, 2012.

It will be argued for decades whether or not Paterno received a fair shake in the days after Sandusky was charged, and then in the subsequent Freeh Report which named him – along with Graham Spanier, Tim Curley & Gary Schultz – as a prime culprit in an alleged conspiracy to sweep the Sandusky matter under the rug. The three surviving members of that quartet have yet to see their day in court. For Joe Paterno, no such day will come.

The Freeh Report included email chains between Spanier, Curley and Schultz, but no such emails from Paterno were found among the evidence laid out by the former FBI Director and his team. That’s because Joe didn’t use email. He had no smart phone, didn’t text and didn’t utilize social media like Twitter, which he once irreverently referred to as “Tweetlety Doo.” As such, there’s no electronic trail of Paterno’s role – or lack thereof – in the discussions that did take place behind closed doors in the Penn State athletic department from 1998 through 2011. One basic fact is often overlooked though: in this Keystone Cops version of an administration under former President Graham Spanier, Joe Paterno is the one person who did report the Sandusky allegations through the proper university channels.

For Paterno fans, there is that much. To sustain credibility, however, those same fans will have to admit that Joe let many people down when he did not follow up after seeing that no action was taken against Sandusky following his reporting the matter to Tim Curley. Let down most of all, the children who Sandusky continued to exploit and abuse. Even Joe knew that he didn’t do enough, saying he wished he had “done more.” That is why the Paterno legacy will remain tainted and why the first anniversary of his passing is met with a confusing and controversial multi-level of sadness among objective followers.

In the coming year, we’ll see more trials, more testimony and more finger pointing. We’ll hear others tell us what Joe Paterno did or didn’t know, and what he did or didn’t do over the now-scrutinized final decade-and-a-half of his 61-year tenure at Penn State. Paterno himself, though, is not here to confirm or deny anything we’ll hear from the mouths of defendants and attorneys who will be trying any tactic they can muster to keep their clients out of prison. Joe cannot take the stand, and without his direct testimony, his place in history will be forever debated.


(Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania)


Christman Blog: PAMatters – 1,000 Posts and Counting

I’m usually not one for empty platitudes associated with round numbers, but this one has meaning. has reached the 1,000-post milestone – that’s one thousand news stories, blog entries, video clips and audio offerings since our inception last year.

We are proud to have “Ask the Governor” as our cornerstone program and I’m pleased to announce it will return for more monthly installments in 2013. This is one of the few venues in which Governor Tom Corbett is available for direct interaction. Communicating your question or comment to the governor is as simple as clicking on the link for “Ask the Gov” at the top of this page and filling out the online form. That’s all. Then check back after the next scheduled taping to hear the governor take on the issues that matter to Pennsylvanians (you can see the date for the next taping in that Ask the Gov section). Our emails to date have addressed everything from the death penalty to pot holes, although pot holes never made it into the show. Taxes are, of course, a popular subject, especially those pesky property taxes and we expect and hope for more of your great questions in 2013 and beyond. Please tell your family, friends and neighbors to become regular contributors to the show by submitting their questions.

As PAMatters now begins to build to 2,000 posts, we will remain your one-stop-shop for coverage of issues that matter to YOU. Visit us regularly for Ask the Governor, Radio PA Roundtable, reporter blogs and the headlines that impact your life.

Thank you for your support so far and look for more great things to come from and Radio PA in 2013 and beyond…


Christman Blog: A Moment with Arlen That Didn’t Make It to Air

It was 1997 and a major event was unfolding in Philadelphia. General Colin Powell had brought together all living U.S. Presidents, with the exception of the ailing Ronald Reagan, for “The Presidents Summit for America’s Future.” It was the grand kickoff for his America’s Promise initiative. In addition to Presidents Ford, Carter, Bush41 and Clinton, Philadelphia was a virtual who’s who that week. I met movie stars, sports legends and even had a brief chat with Tony Robbins, which later resulted in his self-help cassette series being shipped to my office (not sure what he was implying with that).

Amid all the chaos of those 2 and a half days in Philadelphia, I met up with Arlen Specter near Independence Hall. President Clinton was about to speak to a gathering crowd and we were both seeking out some quiet time amidst a sea of people. At that time I had known Specter for several years, dating back to my days in local radio in Chambersburg and our many interviews together during his frequent stops at Letterkenny Army Depot and other Franklin County locales. My move to Radio Pennsylvania in 1994 allowed me to interact with the senator on an even more frequent basis and I think he had great regard for our network.

We were standing along a walkway back toward the Market Street section of Independence Mall and Senator Specter offered to be interviewed. He was standing just off to the side of the main foot traffic and I was facing him with my back to the sidewalk. We had been talking for about 5 minutes or so when I suddenly felt a hand in the middle of my back give me a not-so-gentle shove. Completely caught off guard, I stumbled into Senator Specter, who caught me just before we would have tumbled into some bushes. We both spun around just in time to see a group of very large men, formed in a circle, pushing through the crowd making sure not to stop for anything as inconvenient as other people. I stood on my toes to get a better look and I saw what they were so aggressively protecting. It was Oprah.

Yes, Arlen Specter and I had just been pushed aside, and rudely so I might add, by Oprah Winfrey’s entourage. I wish I had been thinking on my feet enough to fall to the ground writhing in perceived pain. Maybe I could have retired years ago.

Anyway, as I reflected on Arlen Specter’s life on the day of his death, that story brought a smile to my face. I have never shared that tale on the air or in writing before and I thought you might enjoy reading it.

Arlen Specter passed away yesterday at the age of 82.


[Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania]


BLOG: The National Conventions According to Google

The candidates’ wives are proving to be real assets in the presidential race.  After Ann Romney stole the show last week in Tampa, Michele Obama was the most searched speaker leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  “We saw her searches skyrocket as she took to the podium, increasing 500% as she started to speak,” Abbi Tatton with the Google Elections Team tells us.

Political cartoonist Jeff Darcy says it better than I ever could.

When I checked in with the Google Elections Team from the Republican National Convention, last week, I learned that the related search terms are sometimes the most telling.  For instance, the top-related search term for GOP VP pick Paul Ryan was briefly “shirtless.”  In light of the famous actor’s eyebrow-raising RNC speech, it would seem that “Clint Eastwood” is one of the top-related search terms for President Barack Obama this week.

The platforms and issues may not be what’s hot online just yet, but give it time.  Tatton says Pew Research has found that one in three of us will be using online video to research the candidates this year.

Google’s most-searched DNC speakers leading up to the convention.