MEET: Weekender, NEPA’S No. 1 Arts & Entertainment weekly

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First Posted: 3/30/2015

Weekender is an arts and entertainment publication based out of Wilkes-Barre. It was founded in 1993 and is distributed, for free, to hundreds of outlets throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. In this week’s “MEET” feature, we thought it might be fun to actually meet Weekender. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time Weekender has ever granted an interview.

What first inspired you to want to provide such extensive coverage of arts and entertainment to the people of NEPA? There was a need. Other towns and cities had such papers, and I felt Wilkes-Barre/Scranton needed one, too. Back in ’93, there were so many big bars and rock clubs all over the region, and so many bands, and people were always trying to figure out who was playing where on the weekends. I provided that info to everyone in one place. And it was more than just bars, bands and nightlife. I offered all sorts of insight into all of the fun things you can see in do in NEPA.

How have things changed over the years? Bars come and go. Bands come and go. And with me, editors, writers and staff come and go. But every year, there’s a new group of people that turn 21 that can go out and enjoy some of the nightlife that the region has to offer. I’m here for them, and I’m still here for the people that have been with me for years. I’ve got people that are now their 40s and 50s that have grown up reading me every week and still look for me on the streets every Wednesday. And I’ve got people, all the time, that are picking me up for the first time. And whether it’s music, or films, or theater, or the weekly model, or anything that I think might be fun and interesting, I try not to let people down. The one constant has been that, generally speaking, my readers like to party and have a good time. And so do I.

What do you enjoy doing your free time? People-watching. You’d be amazed at the stuff you see just sitting in a newspaper box all day on the street, or on a newspaper rack in a Turkey Hill. It’s pretty wild.

Some people call you an arts and entertainment paper. Some call you an alternative weekly. Which is it? I don’t get caught up in any of that. What did Elvis say when they asked him about Vietnam? “I’m just an entertainer.” That’s me as well. People can call me whatever they want. As long as they pick me up each week, I’m a pretty happy dude. I just like to be read.

Favorite color? Red, white and black, of course. Weekender colors.

Favorite music? In my line of work, you need to be open to everything, and I’m pretty eclectic. I dig some modern pop, and classic rock, and country, and dance. I also can hang with a good jam-band or some reggae. And I’ve always liked metal. And I provide stories about all of it.

When you first started, NEPA was not really on the tour schedule of many national acts. You saw that change. It’s true. In 1993, there was no amphitheater at Montage. In 1993, there was no arena in Wilkes-Barre Township. Back then, the chances of someone like Van Halen, Aersomith, Prince or Sting coming here was pretty unlikely. There just wasn’t a venue for them. But they’ve all been here. Now, we hear someone like Dave Matthews is coming for the third or fourth time, and we’re not surprised. We expect it. It’s been fun to be along for that ride and, quite often, provide my readers with interviews with such people.

Follow sports? RailRiders and Penguins, of course.

Favorite thing about NEPA? The people and the bars.

Speaking of bars, you yourself turned 21 last year. How’d you celebrate? I hit four or five of my favorite spots. My old friend, the Times Leader, offered to be my DD, which was cool. Let’s just say I was hurtin’ a bit the next day and we’ll leave it at that.

Favorite quote or catch phrase? “Every Wednesday.” That’s a Weekender thing. And though it goes back a few years now, I still get a kick out of the thought of Charlie Sheen running around saying “Winning” all the time. That was funny.

Favorite holiday? Around here, it’s gotta be St. Patty’s Day. It’s pretty epic, especially up in Scranton.

Do you like being online? Sure. These days, you need a great website to compliment the printed product. And it’s really nice for breaking entertainment news, which I can post immediately. I get tons of hits, and tons of people sharing my stories on social media, and I appreciate it. Shameless plug:

Do you like social media? Love it. It’s just another cool way for me to share my stories with people and interact with my readers.

Guilty pleasure? When I look good. Like when they give the press a good cleaning, and I have a great run off the presses. Sharp colors. Clear fonts. A nice design. I guess I’m a bit vain in that regard. I like to look sharp.

Most memorable or defining moment? Oh man, I’m sure some of the better ones are ones that I don’t remember. I mean, nightlife and partying are my business. And even with the issues themselves. it’s hard to say. I’ve done 52 issues a year for more than 21 years. That’s well over 1,000 issues. Obviously, that first one stands out. It was a special time. And some of the ones where I got in a little bit of trouble and caused some controversy were, in retrospect, a lot of fun. Some places even kicked me out for a while, but eventually, they wanted me back. I just like to keep it real. I don’t really like it when people call me “edgy.” It’s so cliché. I just try to be consistent, each week, with offering my readers quality arts and entertainment coverage, and yet as the same time, I will throw you a curve ball once in a while. That’s me. That’s what I do.