St. John’s Alumnus Tells Inspirational Stories using
21st Century Tools
From an early age, Tony Rossi (’91SVC, ’97G) knew he wanted to
be a storyteller. “I was always a sucker for a good story, he said
recently, regardless of the medium in which it was told – be it
television, radio, film, books or music.”
Today, as Radio Host/Producer for The Christophers, Tony
tells inspiring stories about the famous and not-so-famous, using
the media he grew up loving. The Christophers is a Catholic media
organization that uses the media to showcase examples of people
living out Gospel values in their everyday lives, and Tony has been
on staff since 1996.
Embracing a Challenge
Tony was attracted to St. John’s because of its renowned
Mass Communications program and the Catholic nature of the
institution. He enjoyed writing, but was unsure how he would pursue
a career in media.
During his first two years at St. John’s, Tony devoted nearly all
his free time to caring for his grandfather, who was suffering from
Parkinson’s disease. Prior to Tony’s junior year his grandfather
passed away, but he wondered whether he had enough time left in
school to master the equipment in the University’s state-of-the-art
“I had gone on a tour (of the TV Center) and was intimidated by all
the equipment,” he noted.
One day Tony found encouragement when he came upon a Christophers
pamphlet in the back of his church following Mass. Entitled,
“Failure isn’t Fatal,” it made a lasting impression. “That
helped motivate me to join TV Club,” he stressed, adding that he
soon signed up for his first production class and attended his
first TV Club meeting.
Once there, Tony was warmly received by older members, who were
encouraging and eager to teach. “It was the nature of the people
there that kept me coming back. They put us to work right away.”
Rather than feeling intimidated, Tony quickly familiarized himself
with nearly every aspect of the TV Center. He also joined the TV
Center’s crew of student workers, assisting professors with their
At TV Club, Tony’s peers encouraged him to develop his own ideas,
and provided him with the resources to film and edit them. He could
tell stories and collaborate with others as they told theirs.
Tony continued his membership as a graduate student, remaining
there until he finished his master’s degree. While he never
interned, he felt that immersing himself in the TV Club experience
served as an internship of sorts. “I was there pretty much every
moment I wasn’t in class,” he said, stressing that he enjoyed the
camaraderie and collaboration that were a hallmark of his years
Stories of Faith
Since finding that pamphlet in church, Tony kept The Christophers
in mind as an organization he might like to work for someday. After
receiving his master’s degree in English he applied, and was hired
a few months later as a production assistant. Less than 18 months
later, Tony found himself responsible for the all elements of
producing the organization’s weekly television show.
While the television show has ceased production after a successful
55-year run, the organization has a weekly radio show, for which
Tony now serves as host as well as producer. Christopher
Closeup is available on Sirius XM’s “The Catholic Channel” and
the Relevant Radio Network, and is also available in podcast form
through The Christophers website.
Today, Tony not only oversees the radio show, but is responsible
for the annual Christopher Awards ceremony, and serves as
Editor-in-Chief of all their printed publications and social
Since becoming host, Tony has interviewed celebrities such as
author Dean Koontz, actors Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves
Raymond), Gary Sinise and Jim Caviezel (who played Jesus
Christ in Passion of the Christ), among others, but is
quick to point out the many everyday people The Christophers have
showcased. The common thread running through all these interviews
is people sharing stories with a positive message.
“It’s nice to see how many people are willing to discuss their
faith. They’re not pushing it down people’s throats. It’s an
integral part of their lives, and often got them through some very
difficult times, and has the potential to help others.” He added,
“There’s a lot more goodness and good people in the world than
reading the news would lead you to believe.”
Tony stressed that he’s pleased to have found a career that
integrates his strong faith with his love of storytelling. “If I
had my way, I would continue doing what I do in some form for the
rest of my life. We’re sharing good stories about good people.
We’re sharing insights that don’t always get play in the mainstream
He added that speaking to these people has helped strengthen his
own faith, and sees a definite connection to that moment over 20
years ago when he came upon the Christophers pamphlet.
He also remains heavily active in alumni circles and close to the
friends he made in TV Club. “People say they’ll stay in touch
after college but often never do. This group has stayed together.
Everybody has different personalities and interests, but we spent
all that time together in a close knit area working together toward
a common goal. The friendships I made in college are the strongest