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.

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Comments

  • Bev

    We are very fortunate to have Hoppy and Tony to keep us informed. I still prefer the WV Radio Corporation pre-game and post-game coverage, but no one calls a game any better than Tony.

    Best wishes to both of you in hopes that you have many more years in WV.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      +1. Also prefer former pre- & post-game coverage.

  • JTC

    Tony has come into his own as a play by play announcer and is now considered one of the best, now lets try to find some color analysts for both basketball and football that do not put us to sleep and meet Tony's high standards.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    West Virginia University has two excellent ambassadors: Dr. Gee and Tony Caridi.

    Though I am not a WVU alum, no one calls a football game better than Mr. Caridi. I consider him the "Vin Scully" of college football radio broadcasters.

    Thank you, Mr. Caridi.

    • cutty77

      Vince Scully. You got to be kidding. I still Jack Flemimng.

      • Mason County Contrarian

        Sorry, my bad.

        I didn't know compliments for Mr. Caridi implied a dislike of anyone else. It wasn't my intention to belittle Mr. Fleming's body of work, only to commend Mr. Caridi.

        Fall weather, the smell of smoke from a campfire, trout fishing with my son on the Cranberry, and the Mountaineers on the radio with play-by-play by Tony Caridi.

        It doesn't get much better than that, my friends.

      • Guardian

        Having had the undeniable PLEASURE of listening to both Jack Fleming and Tony Caridi do Mountaineer football games, I feel compelled to say this - comparing Jack and Tony is completely unfair to both consumate professionals. They each had their own style and persona. Tony cannot be Jack, nor could Jack have been Tony. They just aren't wired the same way.

        But with all of that said, we have been blessed with our "Voice of the Mountaineers" over the years - in my lifetime, we've never, ever had a bad one.

        For the record, I also remember when Jay Randolph was the Voice of the Mountaineers - he too, was a good one that went on to some national acclaim, particularly in doing PGA golf.

        • ViennaGuy

          - Having had the undeniable PLEASURE of listening to both Jack Fleming and Tony Caridi do Mountaineer football games, I feel compelled to say this - comparing Jack and Tony is completely unfair to both consumate professionals. They each had their own style and persona. Tony cannot be Jack, nor could Jack have been Tony. They just aren't wired the same way. -

          AMEN. Very well stated.

  • DWM

    I've yet to find a person say they don't like Tony. Hoppy you have a high approval rating, but not as high as Tony's.

    I'm sure today's generation of WVU sports fans feel the same way about Tony as Jack Fleming's generation felt about him.

    Let's enjoy Tony while we have him and always remember, "it is a great day to be a Mountaineer, wherever you may be"

  • Jesse's girl

    I enjoyed your column and radio commentary this morning. In answer to one marginally literate comment, I have told "JR" to his face that I think you are a WV treasure--even when I have taken you to the woodshed. Were it not for your statewide show, a lot of dirt would still be a growing lump under the carpet. Your "MINGO" song was a scream and oh, so true.

    As to Tony Caridi, what a nice tribute. It was a fascinating the process by which Tony came to Morgantown. Most of us can look back to a seemingly small event which, in retrospect, led to many positive things in our life. And, no, they are not accidental, but purposeful events. While eating dinner, I “watch” Tony Caridi’s “Sportsline” streaming on my laptop. All the team is great, but I especially love Tony’s demeanor, humor and just plain adultness. Also, his bumper music is outstanding!!

    In today’s society, public acknowledgment of another’s talents, is rare. Those who took the snarky route about this column will never be guilty of public kindness. I am glad you are.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      What kind of Bumper Music does he play? I know he has picked up the banjo.

  • The bookman

    Coming to Morgantown in 1988, I have only known Metronews with Caridi on sports. Can't imagine it without him on the air in some capacity. Congratulations on your 30 year friendship with a consummate professional, and the insane luck of the coin that brought him here.

    As to the light hearted subject matter, it is good to have the other dimension from time to time. We all have a multitude of outlets to inform ourselves of the important news of our towns, state, country and world. Even in the most turbulent of times, life goes on. I choose to start my day with you, and then proceed to many other sites for the rest of the news. Thanks for the sounding board you provide, and the forum you provide for the rest of us to share our thoughts.

  • mntr bob

    Good commentary, as someone who grew up listening to Jack Fleming it took me a while to warm up to Tony. I appreciate his knowledge of the state and history. Congrats to Tony and keep up the great work.

  • Brandon

    I enjoy the occasional commentaries like this one. They are a nice break from politics and other events. Kind of like "and now, the rest of the story..." Who didn't like those? You guys below must be miserable.

  • Silas Lynch

    The world is at war; California poverty rate is equal to many third world countries; our nation's borders are being dismantled and dissolved and what do we spend time considering? Your method of hiring someone 30 years ago and how quickly Jim Justice constructed a practice field! No wonder I forgot to "tune in" to your show all last week.. I at least planned on tuning in and listening to "steam release" but NPR was playing classical music and steam release slipped my mind.....

    • dude

      And what can we do about any of it? NOTHING!

    • Jesse's girl

      Spoken like a true liberal. If you can find anything amiss in the world we must all engage in endless hand wringing. You just cannot stand anything positive from others. Meanwhile, it is the policies you and your like-minded project upon society which accounts for so much of today's problems, here and abroad.

      • Silas Lynch

        HEY NOW! No reason to get down right ugly about it and call me THAT!.. I do, however, have an overly liberal amount of charm about me . I'm sure that was what you were referencing....

      • Jason412

        Yeah, Silas, you and your pal Obummer take that liberal BS down the street.



        On Metronews, if someone disagrees with you, and they label you a liberal, it must be true!

      • Jesse's lucky

        I don't know if Silas is a liberal - don't read these comments that much - but Jesse's girl made a good response to counter Silas' insinuation that Hoppy shouldn't cover anything positive until every problem in the world is solved.

        There is a liberal 'think tank' in West Virginia that takes the approach that no one should be successful until everyone is successful. So that group's approach is to bring everyone down because someone is not happy.

        Sheesh.

        Tony Caridi does great, btw, as does Hoppy. Not being a life-long Mountaineer fan, I never heard Jack Fleming until toward the end of his career, and I would listen and wonder why the guy still had a job.

        • R. Springfield

          Maybe I should sing the "don't worry, be happy" song

          • Hop'sHip

            Or you can join us in a chorus of kumbaya. Just don't tell us where we can find a woman like that.

      • Hop'sHip

        Silas is a liberal? Speaking as one who has been labeled a liberal, we don't want him.

    • Hop'sHip

      Silas: I believe Mark Levin is available for online streaming. He might serve up what you desire in portions that would even satisfy your ravenous appetite.

  • Stephen

    Great commentary, Hoppy. Good to remember the little things and how they can make all the difference. Also reminds me of the great Asimov short story "The Machine That Won The War"...

  • Wirerowe

    Tony has been the rock and the steady as you go person of WVU sports in the face of the ebb and flow,ups and downs, soap opera dramas, zaniness and law suits

  • Paco

    Great story. Strange how seemingly insignificant happenings can shape our lives. Like a good pale ale Tony is an acquired taste. But worth the acquisition .

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    Recycling at column again huh?
    No surprised.
    Keep stealing money from JR as long as you can.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N So Charleston
    L8

  • Hop'sHip

    Hoppy: When you get around to writing that definitive effective management book, make sure you include that "when in doubt, flip a coin" principle. Was Tony heads or tails above that other candidate?

  • Randy

    Hoppy (if that's your real name), I find it a little suspect that you and "Tony" sound identical and have never been seen at the same time.Lauding "Tony" at yearly pay raise time raises even more eyebrows. Can you say double dipping into WV Radio Corp salary pool? "Tony" thought he had a job in York PA. I wonder how close that is to PITT. I can only wonder how with the ubiquity of cell phones and the rarity of phone booths how you "two" manage your Clark Kent/Superman type quick changes. The old ("them totally WV" pepperoni rolls went right through me and that explains my numerous trips to the bathroom stall routine) won't fool people for long at WV/WVU sporting events. It's a great day to be a West Virginian wherever you are. OMG!!!!! Isn't that like "somewhere East of wherever?" Maybe you and Obama hatched your evil scheme to take over the world when you and he had side by side cribs at the maternity ward in Kenya. You and "Tony" two separate people.?! That's like Area 51 and the female orgasm. I'll believe it when I see it. You make me sick.

    • Jonus Grumby

      Another crackpot.