Archive for July, 2009

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JetAmerica: Pie-in-the-Sky

July 21, 2009

Like many Northwest Ohioans, I was excited when I heard JetAmerica would offer non-stop service to Newark from Toledo Express: “Broadway, here I come!”   Of course, the cheap seats were a show-stopper: airfare for as low as $9?  Who’s ever heard of such a bargain?  In my opinion, a city the size of Toledo deserves direct air service to the New York market, and to get that service at such affordable ticket prices deserved applause!  I wasn’t alone in my exuberance.  In its first week, JetAmerica booked 20 thousand reservations.  20 thousand people looking forward to  trips, some of whom were only able to afford it because of the $9 seats.  Turns out those bargain basement prices really just got you into the basement.  After months of hype and more than a half million dollars in free advertising from area media outlets, JetAmerica crashed without ever sending a plane up.  Cancelled.  Kaput.   As our friend Dick Epstein with the Better Business Bureau says: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”  It was, and it’s just another disappointing chapter in the story of Toledo Express.

When I moved here in 1994, I flew out of Toledo Express once or twice a month.  US Air, American, Delta, Northwest and  Continental all flew out of Toledo Express.  I bragged to my “big city” friends about parking in the front row, arriving at the airport sometimes just 20 minutes before a flight and still having time to stand in line for a cup of coffee before the plane took off.   I knew all the employees by their first names.  It didn’t bother me that I had to make a connection somewhere…the easy in-and-out was worth it.  The prices were competitive; in many cases cheaper than Detroit to encourage people to fly out of  Toledo.  I could never understand why people would go to all the trouble to drive an hour up to Detroit, pay outrageous prices for parking, fight the crowds and the long lines when I could breeze in and out of  Toledo and get home in 20 minutes.  I was Toledo Express Airport’s biggest fan.   But one by one, airlines have flown the coop, pulling up stakes altogether, or making ticket prices so expensive it just doesn’t make sense.   I still fly once a month, but now I fly almost exclusively out of Detroit Metro. 

JetAmerica’s not the first airline to disappoint Toledo and it probably won’t be the last.  But shame on them.   When JetAmerica charged into Toledo with such fanfare and pie-in-the-sky deals, Toledoans supported them by buying their tickets, and making vacation plans only to be left in the lurch.    Worse: they’ve ruined it for the next airline that wants to offer service.  Burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me, right?   Come on, Port Authority: Toledoans deserve an airport that can offer convenient service at competitive prices.   JetAmerica promised that but it turned out to be pie-in-the-sky.

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Walter Cronkite: America’s Anchorman

July 18, 2009

On February 3, 1959 when a plane crash killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and “The Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson, it became known as “The Day the Music Died.”   I wonder what July 17, 2009 will become known as?

Click picture for CBS report on the life of Walter Cronkite

Click picture for CBS report on the life of Walter Cronkite

When Walter Cronkite died, television news lost its quintessential anchor man, the ultimate authority and yes, sometimes father-figure to millions of viewers around the world.  He witnessed decades of history, and every night told us “That’s the way it is.”  When I was growing up, TV news was appointment television and my family had an appointment with Mr. Cronkite every weeknight at 6:30.  He was called “the most trusted man in America” and at no time was that more evident than in 1968 when he said on the air that the Vietnam War could not be won.  President Lyndon Johnson is quoted as saying “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America.”

Walter Cronkite was in equal parts serious, authoritative and warm with a dose of daredevil thrown in for good measure.  He put himself in the middle of World War II to cover it for United Press International, landing ashore on D-Day, parachuting with the 101st Airborne, and flying a bombing mission over Germany.  

On November 22, 1963–19 months after he became the anchorman for The CBS Evening News–he had the task of interrupting programming to tell the nation that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.  We saw then what truly set Walter Cronkite apart: he took off his glasses and wiped away a tear, sharing Americans’ heartbreak at losing their President. 

My very first memory of Walter Cronkite came in 1969 when I was four.  My dad woke me up to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.  I didn’t really know what was going on, but I could tell by Walter Cronkite’s childlike excitement this was something BIG, something I would never forget, and I never did. 

Space travel was always Walter Cronkite’s passion and in 1998 when then 77 year old John Glenn made another historic trip into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery, Cronkite was there, 81 years old, covering it for CNN.  My colleague Dick Berry covered the story for WTOL and interviewed Cronkite about his fascination with space travel.  He told Dick  “What I’d really like to do is go up to the moon. I’d like to see the earth rise over that moon horizon, that great blue globe, the only color in that whole dark of space.  It must be a tremendous sight.”

Enjoy the view, Mr. Cronkite.