Pete Scalia has left his TV job, but he's not giving up.
The 1991 Oak Hills High School alum, who started his broadcasting career in Cincinnati, left his Columbus morning TV anchor gig in September to launch #PSNeverGiveUp, a multimedia digital platform to inspire and entertain people by sharing uplifting "Never Give Up" stories.
Scalia, 47, is quite an inspiring story himself.
The Delhi Township native has been very public about his battle with severe rheumatoid arthritis while anchoring Columbus morning newscasts on WSYX-TV, WTTE-TV and top-rated WBNS-TV since 2011. He's had both hips and both knees replaced ("My cartilage was completely gone," he says); and his feet and hands are deformed.
"We shared all of this with viewers on air. We had a special bond with the viewers that most people don't have," Scalia says. By "we" he means his wife, Amy Scalia, founder of Cincy Chic (and Cbus Chic), to whom he proposed live on WLWT-TV when he was News 5 morning traffic reporter 2005-2008. Amy, a Harrison High School graduate, also still contributes to WKRC-TV, WSTR-TV and Sinclair Broadcast Group's digital platforms.
Before the surgery, his ABC6 and Fox28 coworkers "would meet me at my car in the parking lot with a wheelchair," says Scalia, who has lived in Pickerington, a Columbus suburb, since 2011.
Scalia was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis 17 years ago, at age 30. He had it under control for eight years, until he and Amy decided to start a family and he stopped taking a steroid called prednisone. That's when his face got puffy and he started having mobility issues. After fertility issues, and three children, "all my symptoms are back under control," he says.
Anchoring from home this year during the coronavirus pandemic, Scalia had a lot of time to "focus on what's important, what really mattered." He realized it was time to do "things that are important to me."
With Amy's marketing skills, they created PSNeverGiveUp. They've just launced a website. Next will come podcasts, videos, original music and – eventually – a foundation that could offer grants "for couples who are going through what Amy and I did, trying to conceive or having fertility issues," he says.
"Everyone has a 'never give up' moment in their own life. I was sharing my story on a national level, through the Arthritis Foundation, so why not share other people's stories?" says Scalia, who is involved in many Arthritis Foundation events. He was emcee for the Los Angeles Champions For A Cure virtual gala Oct. 24; the first-National Virtual Walk to Cure Arthritis earlier this year; and the annual Conference of Champions “Evening of Honors” in Baltimore (2018) and Atlanta (2019).
Scalia learned how to host on City Nights, a live weekly Northern Kentucky public access show from 1998 to 2003. After that, he toured nationally as the keyboards player for the Freekbass funk band (2004-05). He also has been a production assistant for WLWT-TV and WXIX-TV; the Bengals Radio Network stadium board operator; a WRRM-FM weekend DJ and morning show producer; a WSAI-AM studio producer for Dusty Rhodes and Nick Clooney; and editor of Cincinnati Profile magazine.
He left Channel 5 in 2008 to become morning anchor at Dayton's WKEF-TV and WRGT-TV. He commuted to Dayton from Fort Thomas for 3-1/2 years before they made the move to Columbus. Despite the challenges and deformities from RA, and the 100 mile commute home, Pete has continued to play keyboards around Greater Cincinnati with his father, Tony, and their band, Snidely Whiplash, as they've done for 30 years.
Leaving TV also lets him see more of his family. No longer is he getting up at 12:45 a.m., and going to bed right after supper, before kids Lola, Sofia and Nico.
"This has always been in the back of my mind. I always wanted to do my own thing. With technology now, I can do a podcast and some video elements from my home studio, or anywhere," he says.
"What's cool is, because I have more surgeries that I need on my feet, I can do this from my bed while I'm recovering."