I once worked in Pennsylvania State Government, meeting and writing a speech for the governor and broadcasting a news story about a new group of buses being introduced to the Keystone State.
It all started when I served as editor of my college newspaper, “The Communitarian” of the Delaware County Community College. I ran a series of articles of county government officials on their advice for an upcoming presidential election. I got high praise from my political science teacher at the two-year college until I — as editor-in-chief — endorsed George McGovern for president a week later and the professor, a die-hard Republican, chastised me for editorializing against Richard M Nixon.
My journalism work was rewarded with a grant to study state government through a fellowship program.
I was honored by the James A Finnegan Foundation that was established in the memory of James A Finnegan who was secretary of the Commonwealth from 1955 to 1958. The program provided practical training in government for undergraduate students by offering a 10-week paid internship in executive agencies located in Harrisburg each summer.
I worked in the public relations department of PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation). While there, I wrote a speech for then-Governor Milton J Shapp, who used it verbatim for a bridge opening somewhere in the state.
I had met the governor weeks earlier at a fancy dinner provided us fellowship winners at a hotel in Philadelphia. It was a real honor to dine with him and for him to later use the speech that I had written.
My other achievement while working in state government was to do a “voice-over” for a television broadcast which introduced a new series of buses the state had purchased from Japan. The buses would “kneel” when coming to a complete stop in order to aid the elderly and the handicapped when entering the bus. Ramps were later introduced and it was a real joy to watch the presentation on TV.
I’ll never forget how my roommate and I watched the program from nearby Camp Hill, PA, and listened to my voice describing the new devices, ending the broadcast with the sign off: “This is Michael Contos, WGOL Harrisburg,”
It was a thrill, a capital thrill!