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Young Candidates Impress at Trib Jr. Reporter Final Auditions

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

After the 2012-13 Trib Total Media Junior Reporter final auditions wrapped on Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center, PensTV host Katie O’Malley asked Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Mike Lange if he thought they had their work cut out for them in choosing a winner.

Lange laughed and said, “Yes, we do,” jokingly adding, “We better be careful!”

He was referring to their own broadcasting positions with the organization, because the kids were just that good. Lange, O’Malley and the rest of the judges’ panel – which included Trib Total Media CEO Ralph Martin, PensTV and Penguins 24/7 radio personality Steve Mears and Penguins beat reporter Josh Yohe – were blown away by the way the children prepared for their opportunities and how they performed during their auditions.

Finalist Josh Sitler, 8, teaches Mike Lange a secret handshake at the Trib Total Media Junior Reporter auditions.

“These kids are all great,” Martin said with a smile. “It’s amazing how poised they are. It’s amazing the questions they ask. It’s a great couple of hours for us because we get to laugh so much.”

The Trib Jr. Reporter interviews Penguins players and coaches during the course of the season and goes on assignment for team events. To be considered for the opportunity, young fans between the ages of 7-12 had to submit a one-minute audition video on YouTube along with an essay on why they would make a good Trib Jr. Reporter in 100 words or less.

Five lucky candidates were chosen for these final auditions. Each child went in separately and began by answering questions from the panel – which was also a chance to show off their personalities. One of the most memorable candidates was 8-year-old Josh Sitler, who beat-boxed, breakdanced and generally had the judges in stitches the whole time he was in the room.

Though he seemed to be brimming with confidence during his audition, Josh admitted he was actually super nervous while he was in the room. But like a true professional, he didn’t show it one bit.

“I’m a little bit shaky right now, my legs are shaking like crazy,” Josh said. “I thought there were going to be like three people, but wow. There seemed to be like one million!”

After the kids met with the panel, they got to conduct an interview of their own – with Lange himself.

The amount of thought and preparation the kids put into their questions shined through as they asked Lange about the current Penguins squad, his own career and experiences and of course, his famous Lange-isms (and those are just a few of the topics covered!).

“I’m almost dumbfounded, really, with their ability to put things together and ask questions at that age and have everything together,” Lange marveled. “They were terrific. They really, really were with the way they handled themselves.”

While the judges were thoroughly impressed, the kids and their families couldn’t be more elated about the Penguins and Trib Total Media providing them with an opportunity like this.

“It’s once in a lifetime!” Sitler exclaimed about the experience.

Demitri Shiry and his daughter Vianna, 11, were heading to vacation in Ocean City, Maryland when they found out she was one of the final candidates for the Jr. Reporter position. So they drove the seven hours back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night for the opportunity.

“This was very special for her, so we wanted to make it happen,” Demetri said. “This is just such a cool experience for her to have. The Penguins organization has just meant so much to the city. It’s just a tremendous group of people, and the contributions they’ve made on and off the ice just speak for themselves.”

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks to find out which young fan was chosen to be the 2012-13 Trib Total Media Junior Reporter. Their first assignment will be reporting from the 2012 Annual Penguins Alumni Charity Golf Classic.

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