I stopped by yesterday morning to watch a demolition crew take apart the old WNEP building near the airport in Avoca, and I will admit to some mixed feelings.
First, some great people worked here, and some amazing television came out of this building over the years. It knocked the area on its arse, and it left the other television stations in the dust. Groundbreaking. Revolutionary for the time. It was a joy to watch.
I came here a few times while I was in high school, late at night, to watch J. Kristopher do the 11 pm weather outside. J. was always kind and gracious. It was a real kick.
On the other hand, this building was the scene of the worst job interview of my life.
It was 1983. The ink on my Marywood College degree was still wet. I don't remember if I called or I wrote, but I did manage to get a job interview. The words "job interview" are used loosely. Paul Stueber was news director at the time. I got a tour of the place, which was really neat. All Paul did was talk about himself and the station. As I sat in the chair across from his desk, I wondered why he had me there. His interest in me was absolutely zero.
I wasn't crushed when I walked out of there, but it was close. Looking at it objectively, I was smart enough to work at WNEP. I had the news sense to work at WNEP. I saw some of the people hired in that era. Clearly, I believed I could do just as well, if not better. Unfortunately, I had just a few years of radio experience under my belt, and it wasn't enough to get my foot in the door. While I understood that, I didn't get why Stueber had me in if he had no intention of hiring me.
I also had a miserable interview at WDAU at around the same time, but it wasn't as horrible as the WNEP experience. At least, WDAU gave me a writing test, and they sat me down on the news set to record a test news broadcast. I sat with news director Tom Powell for a few minutes afterward. He read my copy, grumbled a few things, and sent me on my way. Don't call us...
I went back to work at WARM radio for the next several years, followed by time at WYOU. I value both experiences. Good people. Good places. Good management. I did contact Stueber a couple more times in the 80's. I couldn't get beyond a phone call. You can't say I didn't try.
Let's fast forward several years. It's 1998 and I was producing the morning news at WYOU. It was merging with WBRE. I was told my services were no longer required. Just before I took an offer from a station in Charleston, West Virginia, I called Paul Stueber again. He was in his second tour of duty at WNEP. Now, the station was at its current location in Moosic. Stueber had me in for a talk. We watched a tape of some of my work. This interview was much better than the first. We hit it off.
I left. And waited.
One of my references called me to say it wasn't going to happen. Some people who had Stueber's ear didn't like me. West Virginia, here I come!
Well, there was a rally. People who liked me talked with Stueber. He contacted others, not on my reference list, who said nice things. We compromised. I didn't get the "on air" job that I sought, but Stueber did offer me a producer's job. Timing was on my side here. WNEP was very short on producers at the time, and I was a known, albeit not universally liked, commodity. We Italians have a saying. "An egg today is better than a chicken tomorrow." I took the egg, and the rest is history. Stueber put me on the air a few months later.
Paul Stueber and I got along great after I joined the staff. Even though I had been in the news business for nearly twenty years before I joined WNEP, he taught me quite a bit. I greatly enjoyed working for him, and I was lucky to do so.
Strangely enough, I took the demolition photos on the 23rd anniversary of Stueber's second departure from WNEP.
From what I read, a car wash will replace the former WNEP building. You cannot take away the memories, good and bad, of what happened there.