Cabrini and PHL17: Something New

Steve_Highsmith_Mummers_2014_WIL_0172Dear friends,

I am staying connected with the Mummers and many of Philadelphia’s great traditions and causes, but there is a significant change that I wish to share.  In January, I will be leaving PHL17 and taking the position of Vice-President of Institutional Advancement at Cabrini College.  However, I will, at PHl17’s request and graciousness, and with the permission of Cabrini College, continue broadcasting the annual SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade in 2016, 2017 and beyond.  The college has presented me with the opportunity to be a part of a team making a positive difference in areas I find more important than ever and that build on the broadcast journalism career which I have enjoyed.  I thank PHL17 SVP & GM Vince Giannini and Cabrini College President Donald Taylor.   Here is the release issued by Cabrini.

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                              


Lori Iannella

OFFICE: 610.902.8255


Highsmith Returns to Cabrini as Vice President of Institutional Advancement


RADNOR, Pa. (Dec. 16, 2015) – After nearly four decades of serving the Greater Philadelphia area through news reporting, producing, and directing, Steve Highsmith ’88 returns to his alma mater, Cabrini College, to serve as vice president of institutional advancement.


Earlier today, Cabrini President Donald B. Taylor, Ph.D., announced the appointment of Highsmith—a 1988 Cabrini alumnus and former trustee—who will officially begin his role on January 11.


Highsmith will oversee the College’s alumni relations and fundraising efforts, focusing on annual giving and major gifts.


“As an active Cabrini alumnus, community advocate, and public figure, Steve exemplifies the impact that our graduates have on the communities they serve,” Taylor said. “I am confident his expertise and passion for the College’s mission will help us as we move Cabrini forward.”


Highsmith’s involvement at Cabrini did not stop with his education. A former trustee from 1998 to 2007, he served as the committee chair on the mission integration committee. In 1998 he was awarded the Cabrini College Distinguished Achievement Award. At Cabrini, Highsmith also established Adult Learner Scholarship with Judith M. Bradley, Cabrini’s former director of adult academic services, to assist matriculated students 25 years or older in completing a higher-education degree.


“Broadcasting provided me with the opportunity to uncover the vital stories, successes, and issues of the Greater Philadelphia area,” said Highsmith. “Now, I have the privilege of speaking with and learning from the Cabrini community—the alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members who live out the same Cabrini mission, in beautifully different ways.”


Previously, Highsmith served as director of community relations and local programming/news at PHL 17, producing and hosting PHL17’s “In Focus” program, and hosted special projects, such as election specials and the annual SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day, which he has helped broadcast for more than 20 years and will continue as the Host of the Parade on PHL17 in 2016, 2017 and into the future.


Highsmith has been on the Philadelphia news scene since 1981, first serving as morning news anchor and news director of WCAU Radio (CBS) and news anchor of the NJN Nightly News before joining “Inquirer News Tonight” on WPHL-TV in 1994 as chief political correspondent and anchor. He also served as NBC10 political correspondent and host of NBC10@Issue from 2005 to 2013.


His reporting credits include the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit, several national political conventions, and most recently, the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia.


Highsmith has been honored by the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, the Associated Press, the Radio and Television News Directors Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters. In 2011, Steve was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. He is also an inductee of the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Hall of Fame.


Active in the community, Highsmith serves as Treasurer of the Mummers Museum Board of Directors and as a member of the Board of Directors of CADEkids and Love The Mummers. He is a former member of the Boards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, as well as a former member of the Cabrini College Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Steve also has been involved in supporting other community and nonprofit efforts, such as the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, BuildaBridge International, Inn Dwelling, the Global Philadelphia Association, and Special Olympics.


Highsmith earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communication at Cabrini College and attended the University of Notre Dame. He resides with his wife Jayne in Bucks County and they have two children in college.


About Cabrini College

Students do extraordinary things at Cabrini College, a residential Catholic college welcoming learners of all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds. Since its founding in 1957 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the College has provided a transformational Education of the Heart, focusing on academic excellence, leadership development, and a commitment to social justice.


Cabrini enrolls approximately 1,300 undergraduates in more than 30 majors, pre-professional programs, concentrations and minors on its serene 112-acre campus located 30 minutes from Philadelphia. The College also enrolls approximately 1,000 students in graduate and professional studies programs at its main campus in Radnor, Pa., and at 13 off-site locations.



Crime Watch Daily

MattDoran2015Got a chance to meet and talk this week with Matt Doran, the new host of the one-hour daily show called Crime Watch Daily.  Very impressed with Matt’s attitude and ability.  He’s a veteran crime reporter from Australia and is leading a new investigative team based in Los Angeles.  We’ll likely be working with them on some Philadelphia stories.  I saw the pilot episode and it’s great.  The first Crime Watch Daily airs at 4pm on September 14 on PHL17.

Beware the effect of Mummers TV! …or This Kid’s Gone Adorably Mum Crazy

Perhaps MummersTV should come with a warning label.  Mummers fans living in the Philadelphia area know that for weeks PHL17 has been airing old Mummers Parades and recently added the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade to the on-air rotation. Well, thanks to mom Heather Lucas-Wolfinger we now have visual evidence of what that does to impressionable minds.

Check out this video of young James Wolfinger, Jr., armed with homemade costume and toy saxophone, as he watches the parade and repeatedly, watches his Dad perform with the 1st Prize winning Fralinger String Band.

So this is how it all can begin…



Debella & De-Future

DebellaIMG_20140416_135926_705Loved listening to John DeBella of WMGK this afternoon hilariously talking about how he got fired years ago because his ratings were too high.  True story.

DeBella today joined Sue Serio of Fox29, Blaise Howard of MoreFM, Matt Delucia of NBC10 and Kristin Long of Tribune Broadcasting (company that owns PHL17) in giving advice to 20 college students who this afternoon received scholarships from the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.  Lauren HightIMG_20140416_133742_555Lauren Hight (seen to the right) of Cabrini College is one of the recipients.

Insight was the main course served today to these future journalists and broadcasters.  Kristin Long read from obituaries and commencement addresses and you know what, it was good stuff.   All 5 speakers offered solid career advice and glimpses into career paths in the broadcasting business.  The event was  funny, real and thoughtful, and took place at Bala Golf Club in Philadelphia.  Nice job, Broadcast Pioneers.  And, John, you’ll always have Pittsburgh.

Madonna, the 1st time

Before Madonna was booked for the Indianapolis mini concert this weekend, the archival wizards at PHL17, Philadelphia, unearthed the reported 1st ever tv appearance, nearly 30 years ago, by a young and soon to be up and coming singer named Madonna. It aired in 1983 on the program “Dancin’ on Air” on PHl17.  This was not long after the release of her first single.  There’s so much in this video, it is priceless.,0,6841546.story


Telethon Time!

It’s time to take the next step in helping some of our neighbors!  The 46th annual MDA Labor Day Telethon takes place this Sunday night, September 4th, from 6pm to midnight on PHL17.   On behalf of so many people, thank yous go out to the firefighters of the IAFF, from Philadelphia to Reading, Upper Darby to Burlington County.  Thank you to great corporate supporters like Lowe’s, ACME, Genuardi’s, SuperFresh, Walgreen’s and more.  And, of course, thanks to the Harley Davidson owners and stores.  Your work makes a difference in the lives of people like Obie Hazzard III.  His mom and dad are great people.  His father is a Philadelphia Police Officer who lives up to the respect the badge deserves.  Young Obie was made an honorary chief last month in the Philadelphia Fire Department.   Lookin’ good, Obie!

This year is a new model for the telethon.  The roughly 21 hour event which used to run from Sunday night to Monday evening is no longer.  It’s just Sunday night this year.  As of this moment, Jerry Lewis will not make an appearance.  These two changes have happened for multiple reasons. Lewis himself announced earlier this year that he would retire.  What I know is that the folks at the Muscular Dystrophy Association respect the contributions and dedication of Jerry Lewis who has spent most of his life, even if imperfectly at times, trying to help people the government or corporations chose largely to ignore.  Television and viewing patterns and the business of television are very much different from what they used to be.  Change is one of the few constants.

What I am 100 percent certain of is that the children and adults living with neuromuscular diseases deserve just as much love, respect and attention as any one else. I know that MDA has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for research. That research has yielded some treatments and spurred current clinical trials with treatment potential.  I know families who appreciate MDA and those of you who contribute.  I’ve done a few telethons, but my connections with these families and with MDA are more than 1 night a year.  I’ve met with doctors and researchers in Philadelphia and in the suburbs who work with MDA clients or who work on research.  Some of this science may yield benefits for people with other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. 

It is my hope that as part of each of our efforts to find cures for a variety of illnesses, from heart disease to cancer,  we also remember our neighbors and classmates living with neuromuscular diseases and disorders. 

Smart people are laboring at Drexel University and other academic institutions to aid practical research efforts by small and large biopharmaceutical companies.  In laboratories work is being done on the genetics of diseases, which often involve some defect that makes the body fail to produce sufficient amounts of a needed protein or involve a problem with an enzyme.  The exact protein or enzyme, locations and timing vary with each illness.  The illness may be ALS, primarily affecting adults, or it could be a range of other diseases hitting young children, like brother and sister, Evan and Gracie, seen to the right. 

So much has been learned in recent years.  There is reason to hope.  But in the real world, this hope also needs money.  I contribute.  One way I do is taking part in Abbey Umali’s reading challenge.  Abbey, a national MDA Goodwill Ambassador, has not yet given me her final number of books read this summer, but I’ve pledged  a certain dollar amount for each book she’s read.  Last year she raised about $20,000 from people who took part in her effort and this year I think she’ll top that.  Whatever path you can take, thank you.

Please tune in the MDA Telethon this Sunday night, September 4th, from 6pm to Midnight on PHL17 and contribute if you can.  In the words of the kids I talked with at camp this year in Montgomery County, “Make a Muscle, Make a Difference.”

MDA Camp 2011!

Great kids, dedicated counselors and staff, and wonderful volunteers filled out a perfect sun-splashed day at MDA Summer Camp 2011 today.  Camp’s great all week but today the Harley Davidson owners led by Schaeffer’s and Classic HD came to Worcester Township, Montgomery County, outside of Philadelphia.  Crafts, too, were awesome.  Tyler made a strap for his guitar.  He is quite the electric guitar master.  He and his counselor, Max, lit up the stage for me for a few minutes.  Tyler is a huge Aerosmith and Beatles fan.   He burned the Beatles logo into his strap. The folks from Lowe’s were outstanding as usual in helping the campers build their floats for the big parade.  This year’s camp theme is “Holidays”, so the kids built floats that fit holidays.  I think the Thanksgiving one was especially clever.  Columbus Day was pretty cool.  I loved what Gracie and Evan, sister and brother,

 did.  They competed against each other.  She was Santa in his sleigh and Evan was a Valentine’s Day card.  He is one hip cowboy.  We cannot say enough about the counselors who genuinely bond with the kids and provide leadership and friendship.  The campers themselves truly love being there.  It’s a chance to be themselves, no constant explaining anything to anybody, and it’s a chance to really enjoy a week of swimming, crafting, hockey or soccer playing, music, pranks, a little mischief, and more.  MDA Summer Camp is fun.  It is made possible  by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which every year also channels tens of millions of dollars into research aimed at curing more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.  This year’s MDA Labor Day Telethon is Sunday night, September 4th, from 6 p.m. to midnight on PHl17 in Philadelphia.  Excuse me, I have to go. It’s time for Twister.


Make a Muscle.

Make Difference.