Bob Pompeani and his daughter, Chelsea, share their love for broadcast journalism
by Abby DiBenedetto | Photographs by Adam Milliron
“You have to have this willingness to work and the energy, and it can’t be fake — people can tell when it’s fake. I always tell my kids, ‘Be yourself, show your personality,’ and I know they both do.” —Bob Pompeani, Sports Anchor for KDKA-TV
“I see how much fun he has with his job, and I’ve always wanted to love my job the way he does.” —Chelsea Pompeani, Reporter for JET 24 / FOX66 News
KDKA-TV Pittsburgh has long produced superior anchors and reporters. By working hard and reporting honestly, these journalists solidify their roles as beloved figures in the city’s history. Bob Pompeani is one of these revered anchors. Over the years, his reporting has become the cornerstone of Pittsburgh sports, and now — as he celebrates his 30th anniversary at KDKA — his daughter Chelsea is breaking into the business.
I first met Chelsea at Take Your Daughter To Work Day circa 1999, standing huddled on set with the other KDKA kids. We were anxiously awaiting our 15 minutes of fame (a brief Hometown Hello segment that would most likely air during the afternoon news). While most of us just had to remember to chime in on the words, “Hometown Hello!,” Chelsea Pompeani led the pack, introducing the group.
While she may not have known it then, Chelsea was a natural, destined to follow in her fathers footsteps. “In grade school, my teachers would ask everyone what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I would say that I wanted to be on Broadway,” Chelsea says. “But my sister and I would come to KDKA more and more as we got older, and he [Bob] would take us on the set, and we would start reading, and I think that’s when it happened.”
Now, as a reporter for JET 24/FOX 66 in Erie, Pa., Chelsea affirms it was her father’s passion for his career that really inspired her. “I see how much fun he has with his job, and I’ve always wanted to love my job the way he does.”
As we photograph the father-daughter duo in the KDKA studio, it is clear that even after three decades, Bob Pompeani is still genuinely in love with his job. He enthusiastically tells us stories about working in the city he loves (and some about his biggest bloopers in the business!). Even in the midst of a funny story, Bob pauses, sincerely advising Chelsea on what to do if she were in a similar situation, then goes back to cracking jokes about his on-air makeup mishaps. His passion for Pittsburgh news is undeniable and his dedication to mentoring his daughters in the same field is immense.
Chelsea and I continue our chat in the greenroom as Bob sits close by, beaming with happiness. “I am very proud right now,” he says. “Because it’s not easy to get that first job. She was really determined to get it.”
“I must have emailed hundreds of places,” Chelsea says. Her hard work paid off, and before long, she was heading to Erie for a live audition. “The interview was kind of uncomfortable because I didn’t know anyone at the station,” she says. “But at the same time, I was like, ‘This is it.’ My future depends on this moment right here, so you can’t break under pressure.”
Chelsea’s determination to succeed and confident demeanor is due to the continuous support from her family. “I’m always throwing little quotes and beliefs at them [his daughters Chelsea and Celina],” Bob says. “One of my favorites is about attitude. Things that happen to you in your life are 10 percent. It’s how you react to them that represents the other 90 percent. There are days that aren’t going to work your way, but you cant allow that to affect you.”
“If I’m having a bad day at work, my dad always tells me to kill people with kindness,” Chelsea says. “You can’t let things get to you. You’ve got to have thick skin.”
Chelsea plans on using her father’s advice when paving the path toward her dream job. “I would love to report for an entertainment channel or be the host of American Idol, like Ryan Seacrest,” she says. “I love that upbeat style of reporting. Giuliana Rancic is probably one of my biggest role models. I like her inflection and the way she reports.”
Bob chimes in with a smile saying,“My dream is, I want to work together with Chelsea and Celina before they go wherever they want to go down the road,” he says. “I think it would be cool to have us all here at this station. I remember Patti Burns and Bill Burns, Patti and Daddy, and I loved those guys. That’s definitely a goal.”
I have no doubt that Bob, Chelsea, and Celina Pompeani will achieve their goals. Their work ethic and constant desire to improve in their craft is instrumental to having success. “Even 30 years into it, I don’t look at myself as a finished product. I want to keep getting better,” Bob says. “You have to have this willingness to work and the energy, and it can’t be fake — people can tell when it’s fake. I always tell my kids, ‘Be yourself, show your personality,’ and I know they both do.”
This article is featured in the June 2012 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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