Guy Junker’s broadcasting career spanned from Three Rivers Stadium to the Vatican, and back home

Now that he has announced his intention to retire after a 44-year career as a radio and television sports broadcaster, Guy Junker sat down on Monday and considered all his jobs.

At 13, he was a newspaper delivery boy and a bowler before the modernization of the bowling alleys.

He was inside Three Rivers Stadium for the immaculate reception in 1972, a salesman peddling hot dogs.

“A guy hugs me,” Junker recalls, “and I kept saying, ‘That won’t count. The ball hit Frenchy Fuqua. ”

Never was he more grateful to have been wrong.

A year later, earning $100 a week for Beaver Falls radio station WMBA, he traveled to Baltimore in 1979 to cover the Pittsburgh Pirates’ final World Series title.

“I thought I had the best job in the world,” he said.

That job blossomed into several others on radio and TV — even as a Tribune-Review columnist for 17 years. He has been a sports presenter on WTAE-TV Channel 4 since 2006 after an earlier stint from 1984 to 1990. Along the way, he made a lifelong friend, Stan Savran, with whom he shared a microphone on the radio and on television for 13 years.

Junker covered four Super Bowls, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ five Stanley Cup runs, Pitt in the Elite 8, and the 1987 Fiesta Bowl when Penn State beat Miami and won the national championship.

Yet he doesn’t recall any events that affected him, such as his audience with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1978. It happened while he was interning for the BBC in London in his final semester. at Penn State. Junker’s friend knew a pastor back home who worked in the Vatican and invited them inside.

“When the Swiss Guards carried him into the room, I got a little choked,” Junker said of Pope Paul, who died later that summer. “He spoke to people a lot in French, Italian, English and Spanish, not just hello.”

Interestingly, Junker’s sports memorabilia doesn’t necessarily involve games.

“Bill Mazeroski was my idol growing up,” he said. “I got to be in a commercial with Elroy Face for Thermal Twin Windows. Being by his first name with him and sitting down and having a few beers as a buddy or co-worker was pretty cool.

All of this together, including eight regional Emmys, makes for an impressive career. He also worked for TribLive Radio and Penn State football on Saturdays and Steelers radio on Sundays in the fall.

But he said Monday is the time.

“I have friends from high school who retired within the last year,” said Junker, who graduated from Baldwin in 1974. “One, two weeks after he retired, he had a stroke. Another had colon cancer. I had a few dead friends. I’m just beginning to realize, “I’ve worked enough nights, weekends, and holidays and missed so many family functions over the years, I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“Since I was 13, I’ve been working seven days a week,” Junker, 66, said.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute. I’ve just reached the point of my life – while still healthy – I’m going to play a little golf and enjoy some time off.

Junker is looking forward to retirement, but he insists, “I’m not going to sit on the couch.”

He works for Awesome Films, a Pittsburgh video agency that produces shows for Penn State hockey and other schools. He will write and host these shows and do a few podcasts. Additionally, he will be a regular guest Thursday on Savran’s ESPN radio show.

Before his retirement, he will cover the Pirates’ home opener on April 12. His final mission will be the NFL Draft from April 28-30.

“I thought about trying to hang on to a Stanley Cup run.” he said, “but if (the Penguins) made it to the Finals by any chance, it would be July 4 and I don’t want to give up another summer.”

Through it all, Junker is grateful to have the opportunity to build a career in his hometown.

“To survive in a town this long and have it be your own town – some of my friends have moved elsewhere for work – luckily the farthest I had to go was Beaver County,” he said. .

“I’m grateful for that.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Jerry by email at jdipaola@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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