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Q & A with WRTI's Drivetime Diva: Jill Pasternak

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Jill Pasternak

[*This article originally appeared in the 2008 spring issue of TEMPO, WRTI's member magazine from 1997 to 2008.]

How long have you been at WRTI?
I started in September 1997 - so it’s been almost 10 years. My radio days began at WMHT in Schenectady, New York, and then I was at WFLN for 10 years and WQXR in New York City before moving over to WRTI. I’ve been on air for about 23 years.

Recent honors:
I’ve been included in Who’s Who in American Women for 2007-2008. And Crossover has won awards from the PA Association of Broadcasting  for the past two years.

Something WRTI members would be surprised to know about you:
I’m a cat lady. I’ve had three families of cats and currently sleep with two emasculated males named Tigger and Butsy. Tigger was a laboratory cat and Butsy was abandoned. Another cat named Boris Pasternak passed away about eight years ago - he was very sweet and looked like a big Russian. My cats love when I play the harp.

Are you a musician? What is your musical background?
I’m a professional harpist. I studied at Juilliard and was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris. I freelanced in New York City and was on staff at Radio City Music Hall and the City Center Ballet, and did many Broadway shows and recordings.

What’s the best part of your job at WRTI? What’s the worst?
I love everything I do! I feel very lucky to be here. It’s very gratifying work and I have the freedom to be extremely creative.

The music you always turn to when you need a lift:
Tango music. Astor Piazzolla, in particular, affects me deeply - emotionally and physically. The music is sensual and very romantic. I also adore all film music by Ennio Morricone.

If you could spend a day with anyone who was/is influential in the arts, who would it be?
I would spend a day with Leonard Bernstein. He just got it! What a Renaissance man. Also, Sondheim. He understand the human nature and gets to the core - he moves us.

Do you have a secret ambition?
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a nightclub singer and chanteuse like Edith Piaf.

Your free time is spent:
I like interior decorating and shopping for household items and furniture.

Your earliest memory associated with music:
My mother always told this story about how I was humming in my highchair when I was 10  months old and she thought the radio was on.

Do you have non-musical hobbies or pursuits?
I love crossword puzzles and I used to do a lot of handwork - sewing and embroidering. But my passion is dancing tango. I went to Buenos Aires twice with the WRTI Travel Club and learned to dance it while I was there - I was enthralled!

Some favorite movies:
Driving Miss Daisy - a brilliant movie; Cinema Paradiso; Cabaret; Howard’s End; Jean de Florette; and The Piano.

One of your favorite Broadway musicals:
A Chorus Line.

What brings a smile to your face?
Animals - they’re wonderful! I am member of PETA, The Fund for Animals, The Human Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Turn-offs:
Lying and liars.

Favorite restaurants:
In Philadelphia, The Palm and Ralph’s.

A few songs that you love:
“I’ll be Seeing You”, “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla; and “As Time Goes By” - the original version.

Words to live by:
Explore who you are. Take risks. Use yourself - you may discover a whole new person inside.