For 30 years, Paul Joncich, now the manager of media relations at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, worked as a broadcast journalist at TV stations in California, Colorado, Arizona, and Ohio before taking over in 2012 as the 12 and 4 p.m. anchor in Las Vegas at KLAS-TV, CBS.
The winner of two regional Emmys joined the medical school in September 2017.
The youngest of five children, Joncich was born in Southern California. His father, an electrical engineer, eventually started his own company manufacturing precision measuring devices. Joncich says his mother, a homemaker, did an “awesome job caring for the family and keeping her kids in line.”
As a youngster, Joncich, today a champion of the benefits of physical fitness who plays on National Adult Baseball Association and United States Tennis Association league teams, says growing up, he was “always playing ball.” One day he’d be shooting a basketball at a backboard attached to the garage roof that was built by his father out of plywood, and the next he’d be playing tackle football on the front lawn with neighborhood kids.
He also would spend “countless days” catching a tennis ball that he threw against the family home’s garage door. Joncich says the “bam, bam bam” sound “had to be obnoxious, but my parents never complained.”
In high school he played quarterback on the football team and shortstop on the baseball team, utilizing the reflexes he began to develop years before in the driveway. He earned a baseball scholarship to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications arts.
Today, Joncich and his wife of 23 years, Jennifer, have three children, all active in sports.
What is your daily training regimen for both baseball and tennis?
One thing I do everyday is swing a baseball bat. It keeps my hands strong and my back loose. For the last 23 years my wife has been asking me not to swing it in the house: ‘PJ, watch out for the dog, you’re gonna hit the lamp.’ She says it every single time, but so far, I’ve yet to break anything. I also try to lift weights two to three times a week and do pushups and stretch most mornings. I typically play tennis once or twice a week, practicing with my teammates at Dragonridge Country Club, as well as playing a doubles match on Sunday.
I see great value in sprinting, even as we age. I feel like that quick-twitch coordination and burst is so important to maintain. So instead of jogging around the neighborhood or track, I do 40, 60, and 100-yard sprints occasionally. I know it looks kind of odd to see an older dude sprinting down the street, and it hurts the next day, but I never want to lose the ability to run as fast as I can. I call it “running from the bear.” The old-age bear that’s always nipping at our heels.” During the spring and summer, I also play in an over-35 baseball league. It’s mostly guys who played high school and college baseball. We love the game and still enjoy the competition. My favorite part is standing in the batter’s box trying to beat the pitcher. Sometimes, when I lay awake at night, I think of hitting a double off the wall. Call me weird, but I love baseball.
Why do you still compete in athletics?
I compete because I love to win. Particularly in team sports, battling together and sharing the joy of victory with your teammates. There’s nothing like it. The tennis team I play on made it all the way to the USTA Nationals in Orlando last month and the baseball team I play on won the NABA World Series in Phoenix for the fourth time this year. These are fun goals to work toward, fight for, and then look back upon. Training keeps me in shape and I’m rarely bored.
During your participation in athletics, any injuries that made you shut it down for a while?
I’m always battling injuries. This year’s: a sprained neck that hurt so much I couldn’t turn my head to see traffic, tennis elbow that made it difficult to even lift a gallon of milk, a pulled quadriceps that hurt with every long stride. Years ago I severed my Achilles tendon playing touch football and was out of commission for a year. I vowed to use the time to learn the piano, but the only thing I learned is that playing the piano is harder than it looks. I also developed a great respect for people in wheelchairs. Pro tip: If it looks like someone in a wheelchair or on crutches needs help opening a door or reaching an item on the top shelf at the grocery store, just go ahead and help them…
Why did you decide on TV journalism as a career choice? Please give examples of stories you’re most proud of.
Growing up, I was always interested in the news. At breakfast, I’d read the Los Angeles Times while listening to KFWB NewsRadio in Los Angeles. During my 30 years of reporting and anchoring, there were so many memorable stories...Early in my career, I did a 20-minute live report on the airport runway as Pope John Paul II landed for his visit to Monterey, California. In 1991, I was reporting live outside the Good Guys appliance store in Sacramento when bullets started flying during one of the largest hostage operations in U.S. history. It was deeply disturbing to see hostages being shot directly in front of me. I was live on the streets of Cleveland when fans began throwing rocks at the huge LeBron James murals and burning their jerseys after LeBron James announced he was “taking his talents” to Miami. I witnessed an execution inside San Quentin Prison and reported in Moscow while they were taking down statues of communist leaders. Being live on the air while history was unfolding was a rush, but when people ask me if I miss being on TV, I can very honestly say I do not.
Why did you decide to go into public relations and, more specifically, media relations with the school of medicine?
When I left TV in 2017, my very first choice was to work for a university because I wanted to be around smart people, feel the energy of the students, and the rhythm of the academic calendar. I’m thrilled to have landed at UNLV, and working for the medical school. I honestly don’t feel like I’m doing PR. I feel like I’m working for a cause. Most everyone agrees we need more quality physicians in Southern Nevada, so let’s get on with it.