Copyright © 2013 by SUNY Oneonta
- 108 Ravine Parkway
- Oneonta, NY 13820
Emmy-award winning ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio, a 1977 SUNY Oneonta graduate, presented the keynote address this past April at our annual Student Research & Creative Activity Day, which showcased work by a record-breaking 216 participants. More than 120 presentations on topics ranging from homophobia to holograms were on display in what Paolantonio called an “extraordinary event.”
“We never had anything like this when I was here in the 1970s,” he said. “It’s a spectacular gathering of ideas and inventiveness and creation. I’m a little overwhelmed, actually, by the power and ingenuity of the students here at Oneonta State. You are fantastic.”
Paolantonio recalled some of the mentors and experiences that influenced his path—from the English professor who encouraged him to join The State Times to the lifelong friends he made as a resident advisor in Hulbert Hall. “A lot of people on this magnificent hilltop helped me along the way, and that’s the beauty of this college.”
During his two-day visit, Paolantonio spoke to students in three Communication Arts classes, met with WONY and State Times members, and was the featured guest on a combined edition of Late Night Oneonta and Final Countdown, two weekly shows produced by the college’s student-run TV station.
Billy Blake, a senior Mass Communications major from Albany who aspires to a career as a sports broadcaster, said he was a little nervous about interviewing such a celebrity on the air, but Paolantonio immediately put him at ease. “He was great; he really enjoyed it. After the show, he gave us his ESPN card and asked us to keep in touch. I actually sent him an email after his visit to say thank-you, and he emailed me back. I think he genuinely cares about us.”
For Late Night Oneonta executive producer Kara Olney—who made her first foray into the TV industry during a summer internship at WABC’s Live! With Kelly—it was inspiring to meet someone from a small school who made it big. “It helps to know that it wasn’t just handed to him,” said Olney, a senior majoring in Mass Communications and Computer Art. “He really worked at it. He’s brilliant at what he does. He’s not just there by chance; he’s there because he made it happen.”
Photo caption: Sal Paolantonio speaks to students in a Communication Studies class on interviewing. Photo by Michael Forster Rothbart.