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April 11, 2019

Meet Our Volunteers: Liz & Rita

WNET’s two tour guides extraordinaire Liz K. and Rita K. have been volunteering at WNET for more than 50 years combined. Let’s learn more about them!

RITA: I have a degree in Early Childhood Education from NYU. I was a volunteer in my hometown when I saw an ad in the newspaper that THIRTEEN was seeking volunteers for a broadcast production. I enjoyed the experience so much I interviewed with the Volunteer Coordinator at the time and was hired!

LIZ: I spent my entire career in Information Technology, starting as a programmer at Pan Am and finally retiring after 18 years with Citibank as Senior Technology Officer. I was lucky enough to see the progression of technology from the huge and slow mainframes of the 1970s to the tiny extraordinarily powerful devices of today. I viewed my retirement as a chance to give back, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I kept scanning possibilities on the electronic bulletin boards hoping I’d know it when I saw it – and then I did – an opening for a tour guide at THIRTEEN. As an avid viewer for many years and an experienced corporate public speaker I just couldn’t resist the challenge – even though it meant going all the way over to Tenth Avenue!

RITA: I started when our studios were located on 58th Street. At the time, we had an informal tour program in progress. When Bill Baker became President of WNET we moved our studios to 33rd Street, where the tour program became rather important for visitors to see how our programs develop and go to air. To emphasize this process, I “produced” a small talk show with Dr. Baker. After a while, it was suggested that we create a permanent volunteer staff and promote station tours. I was asked to make this happen, and I did!

LIZ: On the very first day I became a volunteer, Rita introduced me to Bill Moyers who just happened to be standing in the corridor – and I was star struck! I had always so admired him, and he was so welcoming and gracious – I realized he was absolutely as charming in person as he was on his interview show.  He really made me feel like a part of the team. I’ve just celebrated my tenth anniversary of volunteering at WNET and have worked with Rita offering tours to the public during that entire time. When we moved to Worldwide Plaza in 2011, we worked very hard to construct a newly designed tour program that would ensure that the process of putting a show on the air could still be made understandable to our visitors, most of whom are viewers. Thanks to our wonderful staff in Operations, we’ve been able to provide even better information to the visitors!

RITA: In addition to WNET, I have just completed nearly twenty years of volunteering for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. We were a staff of five other PRO-VOLS (those who have been volunteering for more than 15 years!).

LIZ: I’m also a docent volunteer at the Morgan Library & Museum so I’m often preparing for or giving tours there. Although the subject matter is much different than at WNET, the exhibits change every few months. So far I’ve given tours on exhibitions as diverse as Surrealism drawings, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther and 18th century French paintings! It’s been quite an education.

RITA: Currently I am reading biographies of Michelle Obama and Isaac Mizrahi, though my real hobby is being able to volunteer for all these years. It has been a wonderful learning experience.

If you’d like to experience Rita and Liz’s tour of WNET for your yourself, email tours@wnet.org.

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