Pat Ciarrocchi, Respected News Journalist for KYW-TV and Co-Host of Talk Philly, Stays True to Wilmington Roots
First lady of Philly news: Newscaster Pat Ciarrocchi got her start in Wilmington. She remains strongly connected to the city
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Ciarrocchi grew up in southern Chester County, where her father co-founded Modern Mushroom Farms, which is still owned and operated by her family. She now lives in Merion with her husband, David Fineman. But Wilmington has always been her second home. When she was a child, it was “the big city,” where the family came to shop at Wanamaker’s department store, visit extended family, and connect with the rich Italian history and close-knit community at St. Anthony of Padua.
“Wilmington represents my Italian-American community, much more so than where I grew up. It’s my connection to my history and my family’s past,” she says. “To have begun my career in Wilmington and still be able to broadcast there now—that’s very special to me.”
Her ties to the local community were further strengthened with her acceptance to Padua Academy. “It was one of a long line of yeses in my life that I really believe were divinely inspired,” Ciarrocchi says. It was on the Padua school newspaper that she got her first taste of journalism. “I loved everything about journalism. I really lost myself in it,” she says.
Part of the first generation in her family to attend college, Ciarrocchi continued her all-female, Catholic education at Rosemont College on the Main Line. She says she appreciated the faith-based grounding of the schools she attended, as well as their educational focus on women. A committed Catholic, she feels “the divine presence” in herself and believes it exists in every person. “I feel that as I’ve moved along in life, I’ve been divinely inspired,” she says. “I disagree with some things the church has done, but this is my faith path. My faith means a lot to me.”
Ciarrocchi’s faith informs all aspects of her life, says Rosalie Mirenda, president of Neumann University and Ciarrocchi’s close friend. “She is unabashed about speaking and addressing the importance of her faith in her personal and professional life,” says Mirenda. “That’s very special, almost unheard of.”
After graduating from college, Ciarrocchi began freelancing for The News Journal and waitressing at The Red Fox Inn in Toughkenamon. She received her big break when she waited on Steve Courtin, sales manager of WAMS, then a Delaware AM station. They chatted; she mentioned she was looking for work as a broadcast journalist, and he told her about an opening at the station for an advertising copy writer. It wasn’t reporting, but it was an in, so she jumped at the opportunity.
Eighteen months later she was asked to substitute for a vacationing on-air reporter. It wasn’t long before she was recruited by WDEL. Ciarrocchi still refers to Courtin as her “Broadcast Godfather.”
The early to mid-1970s was not an easy time for a woman trying to make it in journalism, but Ciarrocchi’s talent couldn’t be overlooked.