The Biography of Peter Jaroff

Society says that family is a group of people that are bonded together kinetically. You cannot choose this group of people you are born into and many not like them very much but will always have a common bond. What I have found to be true, is that family is there for each other no matter; it holds itself together with love and affection. It does not matter if one is blood related. What matters is that there is a shared unconditional love. Through the good and bad times , family remains constant. Peter Jaroff has lived a journey filled with lessons and life changing experiences. He knows the importance of family very well.

His journey began with a dream to be just like Mickey Mantle. He was the second shortest boy in his class, but like all of the other fourth graders, he dreamt of being one of the greatest baseball center fielders in the MLB. Peter was born in Detriot, Michigan. He and his family moved back and forth quiet a bit, but by the time he was in fourth grade they had settled down in a suburb of New York City.

Peter grew up as an only child with two sisters and one brother. His mother was a current events aficionado and his father a journalist for Time and Life magazines. His father covered the Kennedy campaign in 1960, when Peter was only four years old. His mother took him to watch his father covering the story. Peter did not get to shake Kennedy’s hand and his only reasoning for this was that he was not wearing a watch. All of the older politicians were wearing expensive watches and Peter was simply too young and unestablished to be worthy of shaking the future president’s hand.

Three years later, President Kennedy was assassinated. His parents, especially his mother, were the ultimate “Kennedy supporters.” Peter’s younger sister was born three days before the incident. His mother was so heartbroken by Kennedy’s death that she spent many of her days in the darkness. The Kennedy event was “wrenching for a lot of families”, so monumental that one could compare its effect to the tragic events of September 11th. Peter, too young to understand, couldn’t help but wonder if the former president had been burried naked.

Peter’s parents divorced when he was ten years old. It was jarring and Peter could have never prepared himself for this event. His parents felt it was important for him and his siblings to spend adequate time with their mother and father. Even though his parents were not together, he and his siblings were still able to develop a strong sense of family. Peter has experienced the hardships of divorce more than once in his lifetime. He and his college sweetheart went their separate ways eleven years after they tied the knot. The marriage left him with two beautiful sons.

He is now married to Becky, who he met while working at ABC. Becoming Mickey Mantle wasn’t quite in Peter’s ballpark, so he decided to get a job in news. As a child he always watched NBC nightly news, after all news ran through his blood. But, he never imagined that he would be working at ABC. As an English major at Grinnel College in Iowa, he developed excellent broadcast skills. College is a time to explore and get involved and Peter was very involved in being a disc jockey for his school radio station. Peter admits that he has “a little pang of regret” because he did not fully take advantage of his opportunities. He would have liked to do more exploring.

Taking advantage of all opportunities that are given in college can open many doors. The activities that he did partake in were what led him to his first job.  His first communications jobs took place at a look radio station after he graduated and he quickly moved on to television. His first day in the newsroom was very nerve racking. He had never worked in television before, nor did he go to school for it. There was chaos and Peter did not understand why producers and writers were preparing for the 6pm news at 9 in the morning. In addition to getting used to the chaotic atmosphere, he also had to edit videotape, which he had never done before. Peter described it as a “huge editing desk, with zillions of buttons that looked like an airplane cockpit”. He drew out a detailed map of all buttons on the machinery, took it home, and memorized each part. He was determined to learn everything that he needed to advance in the field. His hard work paid off and about five years after his college graduation he became the morning show news producer for WPVI-TV in Philadelphia in 1982. He spent 25 stressful but exciting years working in news.

Peter and his wife Becky have set forth on new journeys in their lives. They enjoyed their time working in television but wanted something more. Becky, who left a few years before Peter, went back to school to earn her masters and PhD. She quickly got a job upon graduating and now teaches English at Ursinus College. Peter, has been teaching in the BTMM department at Temple University for the past few years.  He now feels that his job is less defined. Working as a professor, much of his work is done outside of the classroom. His job does not end when he leaves the office. He teaches on campus and then goes home to grade papers, email students, and review projects.

Switching from television to teaching has filled up time in his life; especially since both of his sons have left the nest. They now live in Los Angeles and New York. Having them gone has been tougher on Petter than it has wife. He built his entire life around them and now that they are gone. Peter has devoted so much of his time to raising the children, that he says now he “is unsure of how to organize his life.”  Peter told me that “One thing I miss about not having the boys around when they were younger is that children can find joy in the simplest things, as we get older we forget about that.” Even simple trips to the laundromat were exciting for them. He admired the bliss and innocence of his children and in a way, he wishes that he had grown up a little less anxious and lived a little more. He still has many goals that he is trying to accomplish. For instance, he wants a job that will make him feel happier. He has learned that “a job isn’t going to give me everything, its still work.” Granted, he is generally in a better mood now that he has left television. He is still searching within himself and wants to become more accepting of what kind of situation he finds himself in day to day and be able to derive more joy from the things that he does.

One thing that he has found joy in is his family. When the day doesn’t go well he is able to focus on family. He is able to rest on the fact that he raised his sons well. He grew up with a crazy family but they were always a big part of his life. Like many families, Peter’s experienced hardships. Growing up, his parents went through a divorce and in his adulthood he went through a divorce. I believe that there is a lesson in everything and ironically, in Peter’s life, divorce brought him closer to his family. Because he had a fractioned family it made the importance even stronger.


May 8, 2012. Uncategorized.

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