Alumni excel in Pennsylvania TV, radio industries

University Park, Pa. — The news anchor in Lancaster who greets you every morning when you turn on the TV. The sports reporter in Scranton who updates you on the latest trades. The meteorologist in Pittsburgh who gives you the weekend forecast. All of them are Penn State alumni. And all are working for Pennsylvania television stations.

An audit conducted in July by the Penn State College of Communications found that 121 Penn State alumni are currently working at Pennsylvania TV stations. Of those, 73 are graduates of the College of Communications.

A related survey of the broadcasting industry found that 136 Penn State alumni are employed at Pennsylvania radio stations. Of those, 59 are College of Communications graduates.

Penn State alumni can be found at 28 television stations in every major city in Pennsylvania.

For example, the news anchor in Lancaster is Susan Shapiro at WGAL-TV, who graduated in 1977 with a degree in journalism. The meteorologist in Pittsburgh is Julie Bologna at WPXI-TV, a 1994 graduate who also majored in journalism, and the sports reporter in Scranton is Jim Coles at WNEP-TV, a 1977 graduate with a degree in mass communications.

The station that employs the most Penn State graduates is WTAJ-TV in the Altoona-Johnstown-State College market. Seventeen Penn State alumni work at the station, including general manager Philip Dubrow, who graduated from the College of Communications in 1995 with a degree in broadcast-cable.

“We’ve always had a tradition of having a lot of Penn Staters,” Dubrow said. “A lot of Penn State graduates want to stay in the area, and being a CBS affiliate and a local news leader, people turn to us.”

WTAJ’s studios in Altoona are located just 46 miles from the University Park campus. In addition, WTAJ’s internship program accepts primarily Penn State students, and the station often hires former interns, Dubrow said. WTAJ works closely with the University and is involved in events such as Homecoming, Blue-White Weekend and Arts Fest. “We bleed blue and white,” Dubrow said.

WNEP-TV in Scranton also employs an impressive number of Penn Staters. Twelve Penn State alumni -- nine of them College of Communications graduates -- fill a variety of positions at the ABC affiliate, including meteorologists, anchors and producers. Chuck Morgan, the general manager of WNEP, said that the number of Penn State alumni at the station is not surprising.

“Penn State provides an outstanding educational opportunity and we reside and operate in Penn State country,” he said.

Doug Anderson, dean of the College of Communications, said the program’s three-pronged approach that emphasizes conceptual and practical coursework, taking advantage of on-campus media opportunities and widespread participation in off-campus internships gives Penn State graduates an edge in the hiring process.

“We are proud to have such a strong presence in both the television and radio industries in the Commonwealth,” said Anderson. “We stress a broad-based education that includes relevant experience in the classroom and in the field. Our facilities are top-notch, with both television and radio studios, as well as a new multimedia laboratory and newsroom soon to open at Innovation Park.

“In addition, students gain practical experience at media outlets run under the auspices of the College -- ‘Centre County Report,’ a weekly television news program that airs throughout Pennsylvania and parts of New York, and ComRadio, a 24/7 Web-based station that utilizes the talents of more than 200 students. We also have a very successful internship program that encourages students to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field while completing their degree.”

Alumni with degrees in journalism, telecommunications, broadcast-cable, broadcast journalism, advertising, public relations, media studies, mass communications, and film and video from the College of Communications currently work in television in Pennsylvania.

The College of Communications -- home to some 3,500 undergraduates -- is the nation’s largest accredited communications program, and is one of the only two accredited programs in Pennsylvania.

The audit and survey combined results from the Penn State Alumni Association database, individual information from radio and TV stations, and interviews with executives and human resources directors at stations across the state to produce the list of alumni working in radio and TV in Pennsylvania.

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Last Updated November 22, 2010