It feels like yesterday I was walking across the stage at Napa High School during the scholarship ceremony. I heard my name “John Cardinale” called over the microphone as I had received the Sons of Italy, Western Foundation Scholarship. I was proud the Italian-American community had selected me. That was in 2015. Soon I would be heading to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State a long way from Napa, and a much bigger city. My goal was to become a broadcast journalist. Growing up watching news in the Bay Area I was always drawn to the effects local journalism can have on a community. I thought to myself, If I can get a job in Television news out of college that would be great.
I’ll always remember my first day of school when the professor said, “Look around. Most of you want to be a T.V. news broadcaster. 50% of you will, and 25% of you will move on after your first job.” This was when reality hit me, my goal would be harder than itseemed. But I was undeterred. In my junior year of college, I auditioned to anchor for Cronkite News, which aired on Arizona PBS. I was selected to anchor the Thursday show. In addition, I was making weekly trips to the U.S.-Mexico Border reporting on critical issues.
One day when recruiters were at the school looking to hire, a woman noticed me. I’ll never forget her looking at me and saying, “I have a job for you.” Being a young man with a dream, I hopped on the opportunity. I graduated college in 2019 and moved to my first T.V. News job in Duluth, Minnesota as a weekend anchor and reporter at KBJR 6 the NBC affiliate. My time in Duluth was far from easy. I was even further away from Napa, and the cold winters were brutal. But what kept me going was everyone back home who was rooting me on, including those who were a part of my local lodge #2043. After two years in Duluth, I received the call to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and serve as an investigative reporter. This was an opportunity I had wanted. I always loved investigative journalism. There is something I enjoy about keeping the community informed by uncovering what’s going on behind closed doors and holding public leaders accountable. This is the journalism that matters, and what got me into the news in the first place.
So, in 2021, I packed my bags and moved. I quickly hit the ground running and began working on 30-minute investigative specials with the Target 7 team at KOAT, the ABC affiliate in Albuquerque. Our first special was on the homeless crisis. We traveled to Denver, Colorado after local leaders in Albuquerque said Denver had found a solution to homelessness and they wanted to implement it in our city. We exposed the good and bad of what Denver did and brought it back to our viewers in Albuquerque. It was that report, that got us a nomination for a Rocky Mountain Emmy award, a news division of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
On November 4, I attended the award gala for the Emmys in Phoenix, surrounded by my co-workers, friends, and family. We were up against 3 other reports, and that night we took home an Emmy statuette. Many have asked me, “What is it like to win a Regional Emmy?”My answer is, “It feels great, but the work is far from over.”So much happens in the world around us that we do not know about, and it’s a journalist’s job to uncover and inform. The real reward at the end of the day is making a difference and creating an impact. “Il Leone” is Lion in Italian. Lions symbolize leadership, courage, strength, and pride. During my journey so far, I’ve had to use all four. I had to have the courage to take a leap of faith and go after my dreams, the strength and courage to hold public figures accountable, and always prideful to be an Italian American who is hopefully creating an impact through my work.
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Sons and Daughters of Italy in America
Grand Lodge of California
P. O. Box 2467
Fairfield, CA 94533
Phone: (415) 586-1316