This Just In: August 28 - September 4 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

This Just In: August 28 - September 4

A Full-Proof Operation

Summary: Two local men stir up a new business -- a vodka distillery. Reporter: Jon Delano, KDKA Channel 2 Airtime: 3 minutes, 6 seconds on Aug. 22 Visuals: * Inside a buzzing distillery full of very large stainless-steel vats. * One of the vodka-makers hand-labeling bottles of the finished product. Highlights: * When anchor Ken Rice announces, "A new vodka hit liquor stores today. It's made with Pennsylvania potatoes." * When Delano explains, "Well, Ken, I admit I did try a little sample or two of that vodka, but I'm gonna leave the heavy drinking to others. Let me just say that vodka-making was once very popular among Eastern Europeans here in the Pittsburgh area, particularly Poles and Russians. But that long ago disappeared after Prohibition back in the 1920s. In fact, nobody was making vodka at all in Pennsylvania until these two men, aided by a state economic-development grant, decided to give it a try." * When Delano clarifies, "No, it's not some illegal moonshine operation. ... And it's in a Glenshaw glass warehouse. Inspired by microbreweries, Prentiss Orr came up with the idea." * When Orr, a PR man, says: "I've never been a beer drinker, and I thought, ‘Oh, why wouldn't somebody make a great vodka ... ?'" * When his partner, Barry Young, a pharmacist, explains, "A lot of the calculations and um, science behind it translated nicely from pharmacy to liquor-making." Delano asks, incredulously, "Drugs?" Young answers, "Correct. Yes. Drugs to alcohol." * When Delano reveals, "Without swallowing, Orr samples each batch at least 25 times." * When Delano adds, "While most vodkas are made with grains, potato vodka is unique, says Orr." Orr elaborates, "I've tried many, many vodkas and what always appealed to me was that extra sweetness, ah, that you get ... that you don't find from other vodkas." * Delano's conclusion: "Boyd & Blair vodka is not cheap. ... [I]t's selling for around 29 bucks in the state stores. ... Since it's handmade by just these two guys, don't expect to find a whole lot of bottles on liquor shelves." What We Learned: Prohibition was one fucked-up time. And alcohol actually is a drug. Unanswered Question: Are they offering free samples? News Value: 7. Delano not only deftly takes us for a tour and explains the science behind the booze, but makes it more than just a promotional video by giving us some local history. At the same time, he manages to make his somewhat dry interview subjects interesting.

We Now Paws For This Important News Flash

Summary: Beware! Beware! The black bear is everywhere! (In Indiana County.) Reporter: Trina Orlando, KDKA Channel 2 Airtime: 2 minutes, 20 seconds on Aug. 22 Visuals: * Pictures of black bears spotted around the area over the summer. Highlights: * When anchor Ken Rice begins, "It's not all that uncommon to see bears in Western Pennsylvania, but more and more bears seem to be coming out of the woodwork in some local areas, and they're getting a little too close for comfort for some people." * When Orlando states, "This is generally the time of year for black bear sightings here in Indiana County, but this is no ordinary year. Game Commission officials say black bear sightings this year have more than doubled." * When she narrates, "When [this man and his wife] are working in the garden outside their Black Lick Township home, seeing a black bear is nothing out of the ordinary." * When the Black Lick man vividly describes a bear encounter: "He walked across the yard down over the hill, so I got in my truck and I drove down over the hill, and I watched him go across the yard -- there's a guard rail down there at the Township Building -- he got up and stood up on it for a little bit, lookin' for somethin' to eat, went across the road, started up across the field, then he come over and crossed the other road, went out across, and finally went up into the woods." * When a PA Game Commission officer informs us, "Traditionally in the years past, if I might get 20, 25 calls a year it was average. In the last couple of months, we've averaged almost 50 complaints … and that's really up." * When Orlando says, "Game Commission officers say there are several possible reasons for the spike in bear sightings, one of which is new development." She adds, "The Game Commission says black bears generally won't harm people. [The Black Lick resident] says he doesn't mind seeing a black bear from time to time, but knows first-hand they can be a nuisance." The man talks about the mess bears make with garbage. What We Learned: This is a great story -- for a cub reporter. Unanswered Question: Are people just spotting the same bear over and over again? News Value: 2. Grrrowl. I really want to know where this proverbial "woodwork" is that rice speaks of. Because I'd like to burn it!

The 2024 Pittsburgh Dyke March
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The 2024 Pittsburgh Dyke March

By Mars Johnson