When she started at WKBW-TV, Joanna Pasceri served as a news writer, writing copy for Keith Radford, the station’s 11 p.m. news anchor. Twenty-two years later, she left Channel 7 as Radford’s co-anchor.
Pasceri was a local girl who worked her way up and, in the eyes of viewers, she was one of us.
Her television career may have ended before she wanted it to, but as the first public information officer for Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr., Pasceri still delivers news. Each day, she relays the results of Supreme and County Court proceedings to reporters from radio, newspapers and television. People need to know what’s going on in the district attorney’s office, she said.
Pasceri, 50, and her husband of 28 years live in the Town of Tonawanda. They have two children.
People Talk: Has being off the air changed your life?
Joanna Pasceri: Tremendously. Believe it or not, I am so much happier. The pressure to be “on” at all times is gone. I can now focus on developing other skills. When you are on television that is your main job – to sit in that chair and communicate flawlessly. It’s a huge job. It wasn’t tremendously difficult for me, but you don’t realize the pressure until you’re done. I can relax. Thousands of people are not watching me speak now.
PT: Was your departure in December expected?
JP: I was told a month before that I would not be in my current position in the new year. I could have worked out my contract and I decided not to. There I was in the newspaper: Joanna leaving. All this buzz. When you do something in television, you can’t just sneak out the door. … It got leaked out that my replacement was hired.
PT: What role did age play?
JP: In this market, there are women older than me still on television mostly because their stations are doing well. Channel 7 was having some ratings issues so I knew some changes would be made. I wasn’t completely surprised it happened because we know women getting older in television is a concern, especially if there are other issues at play. I mean if your numbers are great, you probably are going to be fine. But look around. How many older woman anchors do you see? There’s not that many out there.
PT: Is national news any different?
JP: We had Diane Sawyer. The thing is, now we’re back to not having a woman as a main anchor on the national level. I’m not saying they’re doing that on purpose, but we still have a long way to go to prove our value in television as we get older and we’re no longer sex objects. Do you remember Christine Craft? She wrote the book “Too Old, Too Ugly, Not Deferential to Men.” We have made great strides since then, but it will never go away. It’s a visual medium.
PT: Which workplace holds more drama?
JP: Television, way more drama. It’s more real at the DA’s office. Television news is a subjective industry. It’s a show, and whether you succeed or not could be based solely on whether you’re liked or not by whoever is in charge.
PT: Where could you stand some improvement?
JP: To reveal to you what I feel is a personal flaw is something I don’t think I can do. It’s a private thing for me. I don’t think I’m perfect, FYI.
PT: Are you still a news hound?
JP: Absolutely. You can’t take it out of your blood. After 28 years, it doesn’t just disappear. But I’m different now. Before, I felt pressured to really be up on everything. Now I’m more choosy. I pick the things I’m interested in, like politics. I’ve always had an interest in it – locally. The direction of our community interests me. The accountability of our leaders interests me.
PT: Where do you get most of your news?
PT: Didn’t you start out wanting to be a newspaper reporter?
JP: Yes, but I did an internship at the Jamestown Post Journal in my sophomore year and I could not stand the smell of the glue they used (to paste together sheets of typewritten news copy). It would permeate the newsroom. It was horrible. And there was something that was not quite clicking. Then I walked into the campus TV station and I fell in love.
PT: What do you do best?
JP: I have a great intuition when it comes to people. I have a good sense of who they are, what makes them tick, what they’re good at. I’ve helped so many people advance in their careers, I guess that’s why I wasn’t worried about my own. Everywhere I go I size up people and find them very interesting. Everybody can teach you something.
PT: What kind of a mother are you?
JP: Demanding. My husband is the pushover. I’m the disciplinarian. Ask my daughters. I hold them accountable.