Pompeani father-daughter duo returns to alma mater for talk on TV industry

Written By Robert Berger, Co-News Editor

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Students and faculty filled the Lawrence Hall Ballroom last Tuesday to hear Bob and Celina Pompeani share advice on broadcasting and the current state of the industry.

“I always look forward to coming back,” Pompeani said afterward. “I think one of the best things this university does is bring back people who are active, and they have teachers who are active, that helps.”

A graduate of the class of 1982, Bob Pompeani began working with KDKA as a sports anchor shortly after graduating. He is now in his 35th year with the station and hosts The Nightly Sports Call and The Bob Pompeani show on The Pittsburgh CW. He also provides play-by-play for Pittsburgh Steelers preseason games while continuing to anchor.

Celina Pompeani graduated Point Park with a degree in broadcast journalism in 2013. She began working with the news station WTOV-9 in Steubenville, Ohio, during her junior year. After working with the station as the weekend news anchor, she took her current job with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a host, reporter and producer for PensTV in September 2014.

Celina also recently signed on as the traffic reporter for KDKA morning news broadcasts.

“I like to get up around 1:45, I do 3 a.m until 9:00 at KDKA and then fly down to the arena until 5 p.m.,” Celina Pompeani said. “But on game nights, I’m there until 10 at night.”

When explaining his background, Bob Pompeani explained that his original aspirations were to become a golfer. After coming down with a bad case of strep throat that resulted in open heart surgery, he decided to attend Point Park for sports broadcasting.

“It affected my aorta valve in my heart chamber and I needed two open-heart surgeries,” Pompeani said. “It changed my golf swing, and really I couldn’t play the same way.”

For Celina Pompeani, it was an urge to break into the family business that brought her to Point Park. Throughout the discussion, she was able to relate to students as she had many professors the students in attendance currently have for class.

“My professors were fantastic,” Celina Pompeani said. “Dave Fibili’s radio announcing class was so hands on…I do so much voice-over work for the Penguins and everything from that class helps me.”

Another key point addressed was the importance of social media and how the Penguins use new media. One example was how they use Facebook Live to broadcast prior to games. She also added how important it is for students to be aware of their personal social media usage.

“I like to post hanging out with friends and having a good time but watch what you post and where you post it,” Celina Pompeani said.

Bob Pompeani added to that, saying he enjoys using social media as a tool to get closer to his viewers. He agreed that a smart presence is important and that athletes even hurt their reputation through social media posts.

He continued to say that in the current state of television broadcast, the most difficult aspect is distributing the product. Social media is one tool used to help.

“You had to wait until five or six o’clock to watch the local news,” Bob Pompeani said. “The 24-hour news cycle is now 24 seconds… you have to figure out ways to get information out quickly.”

Celina Pompeani shared that another way the industry is changing is that nearly every professional sports team has their own media team. This allows for exclusive stories and constant coverage.

“Six years ago, these jobs didn’t exist,” Celina Pompeani said.

Bob Pompeian explained how news stations are now competing with this type of coverage. He noted he hosts a nightly and weekly show dedicated to Pittsburgh sports. He said local stations set themselves apart from national outlets by providing this type of in-depth Pittsburgh coverage.

The duo also addressed the importance of making connections in the industry.

Celina Pompeani said that many of her opportunities have come from connections made while in college. She even worked at a radio station in West Virginia while attending Point Park.

“I’ve always tried to keep in touch with my boss at the Penguins even before I worked there.” Celina Pompeani said. “And when the opportunity became available… he pulled up my email and called me.”

Bob Pompeani also stressed how important it is to be nice to everyone because they might help in the future.

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice,” Bob Pompeani said. “I truly believe that applies to everybody.”

At the end, the floor was turned over to students for a question and answer segment. One topic to come out of this was how on-camera performance can be improved. Bob Pompeani went on to say that preparation is the most important in his case as he doesn’t want to not have an answer on live television. Celina Pompeani added that on Pens TV she has no teleprompter and must rely on talking points she prepares beforehand.

Freshman broadcast reporting major Shane Kennedy was in the audience along with his mass communications class. For Kennedy, social media was the most interesting topic.

“The best piece of advice I learned is that on social media you need to expand your brand and be prepared for what you’re talking about,” Kennedy said.

This was the third and final event of the semester for the Pittsburgh Center for Sports Media and Marketing. This semester, the center brought Jeff Gregor and Dan Cho of Turner Broadcasting and Dejan Kovacevic of DK Pittsburgh Sports.

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