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For the ♥ of Susan

By Thom O'Connor
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
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There’s nothing secret about it. Valentine’s Day notwithstanding, I ♥ Susan Arbetter –- and have since well before we met five years ago at WAMC. I fell instantly in ♥ with that voice. All else followed.

Each morning since moving upstate from New York City, I listened to Susan (pictured at left) and Joe Donahue cackle, snort, cheer, and delight in the foods that had sampled the day before -– or in real time in the studio. I knew when they invited me to bring a client for an on-air interview, I would be well advised to bring food! I quickly canvassed the best venues in my valley and accumulated a literal bushel of treats – from Howe Caverns’ fudge, morning-fresh eggs from Coopers Ark Farm, fresh strawberries from the Carrot Barn, and a knock-their-socks-off torte that owner/chef Ralph Buess was icing when I arrived at the George Mann Tory Tavern to fetch it.

I had heard Joe frequently referred to as Big Joe. Was I en route to meet the Capital Region’s golden-voiced Mama Cass Elliott?

It was Susan who greeted me when I arrived. Without ever having met, we “saw” one another. Me, with a chockfull bushel of goods; she, looking like Gina Lollabrigida of the airwaves, with more curves than Route 10 heading north.

"You’re a Pennsy girl,” I stuttered.

Seemingly surprised, she answered, “Yes. I’m from Pittsburgh. How did you know?”

I didn’t know how I knew. But I am from Pennsylvania -- and she embodied everything positive, fun, wholesome that that meant to me in that instant.

“It’s the hairdo,” I said, not knowing what I meant, but trying to save face. We laughed. She introduced me to everyone in the studio, including Joe, who is, indeed, a giant of a host.

Over time and monthly visits to the studio, we became friends of a sort, built on mutual respect for one another’s skillsets, work habits and follow-through.

It was only natural that I followed her career from WAMC to WMHT (New York Now). Unsolicited -– and maybe unwanted –- I sent an email critique after every show. I thoroughly enjoyed her manner of engaging politicos –- some as deadly as doormats -– making them come to life as her interview style relaxed them and soothed them into saying things that otherwise might never be voiced.

WMHT-TV was followed by her arrival at WCNY/Syracuse, which serves a 19-county viewing and listening broadcast area! There, Susan hosts/moderates "The Capitol Pressroom." She seems at home again, on radio.The Voice rules, entices, intrigues and embraces like a velvet glove.

Last September, by exclusive arrangement, this award-winning, NYS newscaster and political observer brought "The Capitol Pressroom" to our area via Open Stage Media (OSM) at Proctors. That meant that area residents could get to hear -– and see -- Susan Arbetter on OSM Government Channel 18. "The Capitol Pressroom" continues to be streamed live on Open Stage Media (OSM) at Proctors.

Just last week, she offered a special look at the arts in our funds-starved era. The focus of the program was Arts Programming in NYS. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and Curt Steinzor (Dance Alliance) joined Susan and Proctors CEO Philip Morris.

Susan teased about the segment: As a percentage of its annual budget, the cut proposed by the governor for the New York State Council on the Arts is among the largest of any state agency. Today we speak with a roundtable of guests on the issue featuring Philip Morris, the CEO of Proctors.

For readers who missed the interview, it is available HERE. Readers can stream future segments at www.thecapitolpressroom.com -- or simply watch Susan on OSM Channel 18 (Time Warner).

With so many wonderful things coming to life again in Schenectady, the ability to see and hear the insightful Susan Arbetter at the helm of "The Capital Pressroom" is at the top of my list of favorites (along with the crème brulee at Aperitivo Bistro and the entirely cool waitstaff at Ambition on Jay!)

If you want to know more about OSM at Proctors, ask Zebulon Schmidt, OSM programming manager: zschmidt@proctors.org or Joe Piazzo, OSM technical manager: jpiazzo@proctors.org
· OSM at Proctors: 382-3884; http://openstagemedia.com/

If the question is about Susan Arbetter or "The Capitol Pressroom," contact Caitlin Pompo, public relations manager: caitlin_pompo@wcny.org.

Thom O’Connor is a frequent blogger on dailygazette.com and a fulltime admirer of Susan Arbetter.

 
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