Life has defining moments. Sometimes they are grand and self-evident; marriage, a career choice, a tragedy. Other defining moments are more innocuous, but become significant with the arc of time.
Thirty years ago yesterday, Tony Caridi started work for West Virginia Radio Corporation. Today, it’s hard to imagine not having Tony with our company and in our state. He has become, through his work with WVRC and as the Mountaineers play-by-play announcer, a significant presence in West Virginia.
But this is the story of how several unlikely events—or defining moments—brought us to this point. It starts, oddly enough, with a labor dispute.
In the mid 1970s, while working for a Martinsburg radio station, I was covering a strike at a brass foundry in Charles Town. At the scene, I met another radio reporter, Rick Mattioni.
We struck up a friendship and stayed in touch when Mattioni took a job managing the student radio station at Syracuse University. I later became news director of WAJR Morgantown, a West Virginia Radio Corporation station.
In 1984, while searching for an afternoon news person, I reached out to Mattioni to see if he had any candidates. Rick gave me several names, including one Tony Caridi, who had worked at the student station and was doing overnight news at WHEN in Syracuse.
I called Tony, but he told me he wasn’t interested because he was pretty sure he had a radio sports job in York, Pa. So I continued my search and came up with another very good candidate.
A few days later Tony called me back. He didn’t get the York job and he really wanted to do news in Morgantown. I suspected Tony was more of a sports guy, but he was talented and had a great work ethic, so we put his resume back in the mix.
I couldn’t decide between Tony and the other candidate. West Virginia Radio Corporation president Dale Miller (who was station general manager at the time) suggested we flip a coin.
We did. Tony won and he came to work for us. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tony migrated pretty quickly from news to sports, became host of Metronews “Statewide Sportsline,” did freelance radio and TV sports work until he took over for Jack Fleming in 1996 after the Voice of the Mountaineers fell ill.
In 1985 Tony met Joan, who was working in sales at West Virginia Radio. They were married three years later and now have three grown sons.
When asked about his 30th anniversary in West Virginia, Tony paraphrases Billy Graham, who said the biggest surprise in his life is how fast the time has gone. “Thirty years seems like 30 weeks,” Tony told me.
Sometimes Tony and I talk about how life would have been different if I had not covered that labor dispute, if Tony had gotten that job in York or a coin flip had gone the other way. The deeper question is why things worked out the way they did. Is it God’s will, fate, or just a series of cosmic accidents?
I’ll think about that today because of the anniversary, but not for too long. Then I’ll get back to just enjoying having Tony here as a good friend and a talented co-worker.